Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Charles Taylor on Trial, Chichakli's Motion is Denied
Former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, almost unnoticed, made his first non-appearance before the special court that has charged him with 11 counts of crimes against humanity.

Saying he was being railroaded, and having fired his attorney in order to conduct his own defense, Taylor boycotted the trial, but the opening statement by the prosecution was given anyway. It detailed the horrendous atrocities Taylor presided over in the interests of making money.

This trial of Taylor for overseeing mass murder, butchery, rape and abduction (particularly of children), is hugely important for establishing the rule of law not only in Liberia but across Africa. Taylor, who not only abused his own population but aided and abetted Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Russian organized crime, South African organized crime and a host of other inhabitants of the criminal/terrorist underworld, never believed the rule of law should be applied.

Now he is getting the kind of trial he never afforded anyone else. His opponents and those deemed threats, were summarily executed. His proxy army in Sierra Leone, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), amputated the arms, legs, ears and lips of children as young as 2 years old and raped women over 70 years of age. The trial is to obtain a small measure of justice for the countless victims of his desire for money, diamonds and power.

One of Taylor's facilitators was Viktor Bout, the Russian arms dealer, who, along with his U.S.-Syrian friend and accountant Richard Chichakli, have had their assets frozen by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Chichakli, now in Moscow, has vigorously disputed his designation. On Monday a U.S. District court judge filleted Chichakli in a ruling, denying his motions to dismiss, upholding Treasury's actions and generally leaving Chichakli completely in the cold.

So, the wheels of justice grind slowly, but they may, at least in some cases, lead to a proper end.

Taylor is facing a day he never dreamed would come, confident that his ability to bully, corrupt and murder would protect him. Chichakli, whose favorite tactic is bullying any who deal with his case, can yell his obscenities all he wants, he has lost in court.

These cases are important if one believes the rule of law is important. The impunity with which Taylor and Africa's other Big Men have operated has brought the continent to its knees. Those who facilitate their butchery through weapons sales and other support should likewise be held accountable.
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