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War criminal Charles Taylor held in Durham's Frankland Prison
AN African warlord convicted of plotting some of the most brutal crimes in human history is being held in a high-security prison in the North-East, The Northern Echo can reveal.
Charles Taylor, who was sentenced to 50 years for war crimes and crimes against humanity, was moved from the Hague, where he had been since the start of his trial in 2007, to HMP Frankland, on the outskirts of Durham City.
And last night it emerged that his wife has complained that the former Liberian president is being housed with "common British prisoners", adding: "You cannot treat a former head of state that way."
Frankland houses 800 of the most dangerous offenders in the prison system, counting among its inmates, murderers, terrorists and paedophiles.
One source said Taylor is "keeping his head down” with many other prisoners not knowing who he was, while an expert on the prison system said Taylor was unlikely to be targeted and would be regarded as a “celebrity”.
The 65-year-old former president lost his appeal in September over a catalogue of gruesome crimes committed by the Sierra Leonean rebels he aided and abetted during that country’s bloody civil war.
The conflict claimed 120,000 lives and featured mutilations, drugged child soldiers and sex slaves.
In 2006 the British government agreed to jail Taylor in the United Kingdom in the event that he was convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) at his trial.
The verdict in 2012 ruled that he was guilty of all 11 counts of "aiding and abetting" war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Judges ruled that during his presidency from 1997 and 2003 and in exchange for “blood diamonds” mined by slave labour, Taylor provided the rebels with arms and ammunition.
Presiding Judge Richard Lussick said in his sentecing statement: "The accused has been found responsible for aiding and abetting as well as planning some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history."
Taylor’s family have alleged he is being ill-treated at Frankland prison. But these claims have been dismissed as “nonsense” by the Ministry of Justice.
His wife Victoria Addison Taylor - who had a child with him while at the Hague - revealed Taylor's whereabouts after leaving the Hague.
Speaking to a French news agency, she said: "He is being incarcerated in Frankland prison.
“They took him to this prison where high (risk) criminals, terrorists and other common British criminals are kept and he is being classified as a high risk prisoner…he is going through humiliation and you cannot treat a former head of state that way.”
Former prisoner and Guardian prison correspondent Eric Allison said: “HMP Frankland is probably about the most security conscious prison in the country.
“He will be in a single cell and will have a fair bit of association with other prisoners.
“Whereas in a normal prison Category A prisoners are kept in a separate unit, at Frankland they are kept with the main population.
“He won’t be on a special wing, unless he misbehaves and then he will be down the in segregation.
“He will be on what they call normal location and will wear yellow patches to signify he is an escape risk, or Category A .
“Apart from that he will be given the opportunity to work in a workshop if he wants to.”
Mr Allison added: “I don’t think he will be a target for anybody – he’s not a sex offender. I think he will be treated as a bit of a celebrity.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said it would not confirm the locations or individual prisoners but added any allegations of ill-treatment were “total nonsense”.
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