Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, took the stand on Tuesday to defend himself against 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The first African leader to be tried by an international tribunal, Taylor is deemed responsible for atrocities committed during the civil war in Sierra Leone (1991-2002), in a tale of murder, rape, amputations, child soldiers and diamonds.

The New York Times:

Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, took the stand in his own defense at The Hague on Tuesday and immediately denied a catalog of horrifying charges based on testimony by prosecution witnesses telling stories of violence, rape, amputation and even cannibalism.

“This whole case against me is a case of deceit, deception and lies,” he told the Special Court for Sierra Leone sitting at The Hague.

It was his first time in the stand. Mr. Taylor — the first African leader to be tried for war crimes — said he had “fought all my life to do what I thought was right,” news reports said.

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