Arusha, October 14, 2013 (FH) – Former Liberian president Charles Taylor has asked to serve his 50-year jail sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity in a Rwandan rather than a British prison, according to international media reports.

1 min 11Approximate reading time

In a letter to the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), Taylor says it will be easier for his family to visit him in Africa, and that he fears being attacked in a British jail.

The Appeals Court of the SCSL confirmed Taylor’s sentence on September 26. He was convicted of aiding and abetting rebels who committed atrocities during the civil war in Sierra Leone.

The UK confirmed last week it was ready to take Taylor in one of its jails. Sweden and Rwanda had also offered.

"My position is that serving my sentence in Rwanda, in my home continent of Africa, would be substantially more humane not only on my own account, but also on account of the impact on my family," the BBC quotes Taylor as saying in his letter dated October 10.

"My name is now associated with horrendous atrocities,” the BBC further quoted him as saying.  “Prison inmates, whether from the region or not, are likely to be inclined to inflict their own brand of justice by attacking me."

He noted that in 2011, Bosnian war criminal Radislav Krstic was attacked in a British jail by three Muslim men, apparently in revenge for his role in the Bosnian conflict.

Taylor is the first ex-head of state to be convicted by an international court since  the end of the Second World War. His trial opened before the SCSL in June 2007. The Netherlands agreed to host the trial at the request of the new Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who feared that a trial in Sierra Leone could destabilize the region. But the Netherlands’ agreement came with the condition that Taylor, if convicted, should serve his sentence in another country.