Ward & Ward Partner and Georgetown University Adjunct Professor of Law Mark Vlasic was featured in a Devex article on Charles Taylor, entitled “Ex-Liberian Leader’s War Crimes Case Revisited Ahead of Supermodel’s Testimony.”
Ex-Liberian Leader’s War Crimes Case Revisited Ahead of Supermodel’s Testimony
By Ivy Mungcal on 04 August 2010
Supermodel Naomi Campbell is set to testify Thursday (August 5) before an international court in the Netherlands on a case that experts see as the potential link between former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s supposed war crimes and illegal financial activities.
This testimony is about the “blood diamond” Campbell supposedly received from Taylor, which could prove that the former African leader used his country’s resources to enrich himself. Such allegations are the reasons why the World Bank and United Nations created certain mechanisms to recover stolen country wealth, a Georgetown law professor observes.
The illicit financial transactions and diamond trade that supposedly funded Taylor’s crimes against neighboring Sierra Leone prompted World Bank President Robert Zoellick and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to create the Stolen Asset Recovery initiative, explains Mark V. Vlasic, who also serves as international legal adviser to the Charles Taylor/Liberia Asset Recover Team at Ward & Ward PLLC. The StAR, Vlasic explains, ensures that “there are no safe havens for stolen assets.”
Vlasic says war crimes often, and unfortunately, trigger economic crimes such as illegal trade, corruption and plunder.
“Sadly, it seems that the link between war crimes and economic crimes is that one leads to the other,” writes Vlasic in an opinion piece for the Washington Times. “Without money from blood diamonds and other natural resources, Mr. Taylor was limited in what he was able to accomplish. But with supporters, business associates and friends in multiple countries and global financial centers willing to look the other way, Mr. Taylor’s particular brand of evil was able to flourish not just via warfare, but also through financial transactions throughout the world.”
Vlasic adds that if Campbell did receive a “blood diamond” from the former president, prosecutors will gain critical evidence for their case. If prosecutors are able to establish a link between Taylor’s plunder of state coffers, war crimes and illegal diamond trade, they will be able to show how some people are willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent people as well as squander millions of dollars.
Taylor is also facing 11 counts of crimes against humanity, war crimes and other transgressions against international law with the Special Court for Sierra Leone, an independent judicial body created for trying crimes committed during the country’s civil war. These charges are based on allegations that he founded, supported and funded the Revolutionary United Front, a rebel group responsible for atrocities in Sierra Leone, Liberia’s neighbor country.
Taylor allegedly funded the group’s activities by engaging in the trade of “blood diamonds” and anomalous government practices.
Campbell supposedly received a “blood diamond” from Taylor during a 1997 dinner hosted by former South African President Nelson Mandela at his Table Mountain residence in Cape Town.