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Britain charges ex-wife of Charles Taylor with torture

The ex-wife of former Liberian President Charles Taylor has been charged with torture. Agnes Reeves Taylor is accused of participating in the act during Liberia's civil war from 1989 to 1991.

Agnes Reeves Taylor, an ex-wife of former Liberian President Charles Taylor's, was charged last week in the United Kingdom with torture during her country's civil war.

Taylor, who has an address in east London, faces four allegations dating back to December 1989, when forces loyal to Charles Taylor launched their first attack on Liberian territory.

She was arrested on Thursday by the United Kingdom's war crimes team. Taylor reportedly shook her head repeatedly as the prosecutor read out a summary of the case. She will formally enter a plea later this month.

Charles Taylor was Liberia's president from 1997 and 2003. He was convicted in The Hague in 2012 of war crimes, including terrorism, murder, rape and using child soldiers. He is serving a 50-year prison sentence in the United Kingdom.

'Severe pain'

Two charges relate to claims that, between December 23, 1989, and January 1, 1991, Taylor "intentionally inflicted severe pain or suffering on an individual in the performance or purported performance of her official duties" in the central Liberian city of Gbarnga, which was the base of Taylor's rebellion against then President Samuel Doe.

An artist's sketch of Agnes Reeves Taylor in a London court

An artist's sketch of Agnes Reeves Taylor in a London court

It is alleged that she "agreed with others" on a course of action that "would necessarily amount to or involve the commission of the offense of torture."

The Geneva-based organization Civitas Maxima, which has documented war crimes during the Liberian civil wars, reported that the charges against Reeves Taylor are highly significant.

"This landmark case marks the second time someone formerly associated with the NPFL (Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia), has been charged with crimes committed during Liberia's civil wars," the organization announced in a statement.

ot/mkg (AFP, Reuters)