Monrovia – Liberians residing in the United Kingdom were puzzled Thursday after a London war crimes team picked up a woman on suspicion of torturing people during the Liberian civil war nearly 30 years ago.
Both the Associated Press and BBC report that 51-year-old was held in custody over allegations relating to atrocities during the Liberian civil war between 1989 and 1993.
According to the report, British Metropolitan Police officers arrested the woman at an address in east London just after 7am this morning.
Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front (NPFL) has been accused of a wide range of human rights abuses and the large numbers of deaths during the conflict eventually led to the involvement of the UN and the Economic Community of West African States.
In March 2015, Mr. Taylor was ordered to serve the rest of his jail term in the UK, after losing a request to be transferred to Rwanda.
He had argued that he was being denied his rights to a family life, because his wife and children had not been granted UK visas.
The judges rejected this argument, saying they had not properly applied.A UN-backed court convicted him of war crimes over his support for rebels who committed atrocities in Sierra Leone.
An act of parliament was passed to allow for Taylor to serve his sentence in the UK, at the cost of the British government, following his conviction.
Mr. Taylor was sentenced in 2012 and arrived in the UK October 2014, having unsuccessfully challenged the decision to be detained there.
A final peace agreement led to the election of Taylor as President of Liberia in 1997. A second civil war broke out in 1999 and Taylor was forced into exile in 2003.
He was later jailed for committing war crimes in neighbouring Sierra Leone. Police said searches were being carried out at two addresses in east and central London.
Pair in London Have Been on Radar
Two of Mr. Taylor’s relatives, his wife, Dr. Agnes Reeves-Taylor and her sister, Laurice Reeves, currently reside in the United Kingdom, but only one of them, Agnes lives in East London where she reportedly owns one of two homes.
A war crimes police spokesman said Thursday: ‘We continue to liaise with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Crown Prosecution Service regarding this investigation.’
Reeves-Taylor, according to the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of Treasury was born on September 27, 1965, making her 51, the same age as the woman arrested Thursday.
In February 2011, her brother, Cindor Reeves, credited with helping to build a war crimes case against her former husband, Charles Taylor was denied asylum by the Immigration and Refugee Board in Canada.
Cindor, who was at the centre of Sierra Leone’s blood diamond trade, where gems were exchanged for arms amid the slaughter of innocent people and slave-like conditions in the mines, submitted copies of documents for weapon purchases and diamond smuggling to the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, helping build much of the case against Taylor.
On the Radar for Some Time
His sister, Agnes, served as Permanent Representative of Liberia to the International Maritime Organization from 1999 to 2005.
Prior to that she was chairman of the board of the Liberian Petroleum Refining Corporation from 1998 – 2003.
She has been on the faculty of the Gabriel International College of Community Developments (GABIC) on whose website she is described as a highly creative and articulate policy and management expert with background in public, private and not for profit sector strategic management and partnership development.
She has a DBA in Business Administration, an MA: International Studies and Diplomacy, an LLM in International Law and an MSc in Economics.
Reeves-Taylor has reportedly been under investigation by British authorities for more than three years following the release of the final TRC report.
FrontPageAfrica has learned from diplomatic sources that the Liberian authorities in the UK have inquired from Scotland Yard but were told no confirmation because it’s an ongoing investigation. Scotland Yard has three days to question a suspect and must charge or release the person.
In July 2012, Taylor-Reeves was removed from both the United Nations Travel and Assets Freeze ban where she was listed as an ex-wife and associate with ongoing ties to Mr. Taylor. She was delisted from the US Treasury Department listing in July 2012.
The UN Committee monitoring sanctions against Liberia in 2001 placed a ban on the former president and more than 130 people from travelling abroad – including his wife, a son and two ex-wives.
The list, approved on Tuesday by the UN committee monitoring sanctions against Liberia, named senior government officials, military commanders and business executives prohibited from travelling.
The resolution at the time ordered nations to “take the necessary measures” to prevent those listed – and their spouses – from travelling through their countries as part of sanctions meant to punish the Liberian government for backing rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone.
The Security Council also urged countries to crack down on the import of rough diamonds from Liberia. Gems smuggled through the West African nation, dubbed “blood diamonds”, are believed to have funded the brutal, decade-long campaign waged by Sierra Leone’s rebels.