Former Liberian President and war crimes convict Charles Taylor is requesting the Liberian government to pay his pension and other benefits “for his service to the nation.”
He is currently serving a 50-year-jail term imposed by the UN-backed Sierra Leone Special Court for war crimes.
In a letter to the Liberian legislature dated September 12 last year which was read in the Senate Tuesday, Taylor said he is entitled to benefits as a former president and requested the Senate to ensure that he receives his just benefits for the period August 2003 to 2012, AfricaReview reports.
Taylor who was forced to resign his post in 2003 under international and rebel pressure was eventually convicted on April 26,
2012 of war crimes by the Special Court sitting at The Hague.
He has since lodged an appeal against the sentence.
He was tried and found guilty of supplying arms to and encouraging the rebel RUF in neighbouring Sierra Leone in a campaign of terror involving murder, amputations, rape, sexual slavery and conscription of child soldiers.
Prior to his departure from Liberia in 2003, an Act providing for pension benefits for the president and vice president, speaker and deputy speaker of the house of representatives, president pro-tempore of the senate and chief justice was passed by the then senate and house of representatives.
A new Executive Law which deals with immunities for presidents and vice presidents states that a former president of the Republic of Liberia who had been gainfully employed by government shall receive from government a pension equal to 50 per cent of the salary of the incumbent president.
The law also provides that a former president shall be provided a personal staff and facilities for the rest of his life. The amount allowed for this should not be less than $25,000 per annum.
“I am without notice as to why finance ministers of the Republic have failed and/or refused to comply with the law of the land as regards my annuities. The fact is that I have not received my entitlement as set out under our laws…” the convicted former president wrote in his letter.
Senators Dan Morais and John Whitfield who are members of Taylor’s National Patriotic Party supported for their former leader’s demands, with Senator Whitfield saying that he would support any court action against government if it ignored the demands.
There are other political commentators who also believe Taylor’s demands are legitimate because others like former interim president Dr Amos Sawyer, who was Taylor’s vice-president and later served three months as president, Madam Ruth Sando Perry, who acted as the chairperson of the collective presidency during the civil war, and Charles G. Bryant, who served as head of the transitional government following Taylor’s departure, are all currently receiving their benefits in keeping with Liberian law.
However Mr Jerome Toe, a legal luminary and human rights lawyer, says Taylor is not entitled to any benefits because he was forced out of power by the rebel forces and did not leave honourably like other former presidents did.
During a radio talk show on Wednesday, Mr Toe said Taylor operated a criminal empire and that under his regime Liberia became a failed state, and hence cannot be considered a legitimate former president.