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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 03:48 GMT
US denies Charles Taylor bounty
Charles Taylor
Liberia's former leader lives in exile in Nigeria
Washington denies it has plans to offer a $2m bounty for the capture of Liberia's exiled former leader, Charles Taylor.

A bill approving an $87bn aid package for Iraq and Afghanistan included a reward for "an indictee of the Special Court for Sierra Leone".

Nigeria said the offer, assumed for Mr Taylor's detainment, verged on state-sponsored terrorism.

The US says the money could be "an additional tool" if the need arises.

Nigerian shock

"We strongly oppose any violent or other illegal actions against Nigerian authorities aimed at obtaining custody of Charles Taylor," US State Department spokeswoman Susan Pittman said.

"Apprehension of indictees should be conducted by appropriate authorities."

SIERRA LEONE SPECIAL COURT
Amputee
Established by UN and Sierra Leone
Try those most to blame for war crimes
Mandate till 2005
Local and international prosecutors, judges
Funded by UK, US and others
Mr Taylor went into exile in Nigeria as part of a plan to end Liberia's civil war.

Ms Pittman said the US had supported the warlord leaving Liberia because it believed it would save lives.

Many assumed that the Americans would leave the matter there.

Nigeria expressed shock at the reward which it said would encourage lawless and illegal behaviour.

It said it would resist any attempt to capture Mr Taylor, adding that Liberia's ex-leader was under the protection of the Nigerian Government.

Mr Taylor's presence on Nigerian soil was the result of a plan agreed by African nations to resolve the conflict in Liberia, he added.

Entourage

Security has been increased around Mr Taylor's compound in Calabar, in the far south-east of the country, following reports of the alleged US bounty.

The ex-leader has been there since August when he arrived with around 100 other people, although many have now left. According to a Liberian official close to Mr Taylor, this is partly for security reasons and partly because they found life there rather dull.

Mr Taylor was indicted by the war crimes court in Sierra Leone while he was still Liberia's president.

It is seeking to try him on charges that he armed and trained Sierra Leone's rebels who waged a campaign of rape and dismemberment during the country's civil war.

As a former warlord, he was also involved in the bloodshed in his own country.

Ms Pittman said Washington regarded Nigeria as a good place from which Mr Taylor could "address the indictment".




SEE ALSO:
Nigeria slams 'US Taylor bounty'
08 Nov 03  |  Africa
Taylor appeals war crimes charge
31 Oct 03  |  Africa
Bringing justice to Sierra Leone
17 Jan 02  |  Africa
Taylor 'pulling Liberia strings'
10 Oct 03  |  Africa
Nigeria warns exiled Taylor
17 Sep 03  |  Africa
Nigeria defends Taylor exile
12 Aug 03  |  Africa


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