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Liberians react to former president's conviction

Liberian Lutheran church leaders reacted to the news at the end of April that the International Court of Justice at The Hague had convicted Charles Taylor, the country's former president and rebel leader.

Taylor, who beginning in 1989 led a bloody civil war in Liberia that spilled into neighboring countries, was convicted of 11 counts of war crimes in Sierra Leone. It marked the first time since the end of the Cold War that a head of state had been convicted of war crimes.

"The job done at The Hague was the right thing," said Rose Bennard-Farhat. "A lot of us have been really affected [and] have suffered a lot with setbacks in life ... because of Charles Taylor."

The National Women's League Fellowship director for the Lutheran Church in Liberia said she has only now, at age 42, been able to return to school. "Women have suffered," she said. "Our children have suffered."

Naomi Ford-Wilson, the newly elected general secretary of the Liberian church, said that before the court's decision, the 11 counts of war crimes "created friction between the two countries. ... If [the decision] had gone the other way, the reaction would have been a negative one between the two countries."

Both women say Taylor's conviction will be good for Liberia's relationships with neighboring countries. As for his imprisonment, "we can know that there is no way he can meddle in politics here in Liberia," Ford-Wilson said.


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