Face justice, critics tell Taylor
MONROVIA, Liberia (CNN) -- Charles Taylor's departure from Liberia leaves unanswered issues surrounding the former president.
He has accepted political asylum in Nigeria but his opponents say he must face justice.
The latest push to drive him out began earlier this summer when a U.N.-backed court in Sierra Leone charged Taylor with war crimes for allegedly aiding and training rebels in that neighboring country in exchange for diamonds.
The Sierra Leone rebels engaged in torture, rape and abduction and killed thousands of civilians.
"We need to have Charles Taylor turned over to us and put into a detention cell where he will receive a fair and open trial," said David Crane, the chief prosecutor for the special court for Sierra Leone. "He is presumed innocent until proven guilty."
"Nigeria is a sophisticated country. They understand the concept of international law. I truly cannot believe that such a country as Nigeria would knowingly and willfully in the long-term harbor a war crimes fugitive such as the likes of Charles Taylor."
Taylor denies the charges against him. In a speech Saturday he said he and his government were helpless when rebels in his own country attacked because the international community turned a blind eye.
"Our greatest friend and ally, the United States, refused to acknowledge the existence of a war in Liberia for so many years as death, murder and mayhem raged in the country," he said.
He said his government found British weapons in the countryside where the rebels fought and had arrested combatants who said the United States had financed their training.
When the international community finally acknowledged the conflict's existence, Taylor said, the United States and other members of the U.N. Security Council tried to prevent the lifting of the arms embargo on Liberia, which kept the government from defending itself against rebel fighters.
"It did not stop there," Taylor said. With economic sanctions and a travel ban on him and members of his government, Liberian leaders could not visit various world leaders to plead its case, he said.
Sanctions were then placed on diamonds, further isolating the country and stripping Liberia of its ability to pay for food and medicine, while sanctions on Liberia's timber industry put half a million people out of work, he said.
All this was part of a "grand scheme of propaganda," said Taylor, accusing Washington of backing the main rebel group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).
"This is an American war against this republic," Taylor said. "LURD is a surrogate force."
But on Monday, before he officially relinquished his office to Moses Blah, Taylor said he had no hard feelings for President George W. Bush.
"I know he has a good heart even though he is very misled with lies and misinformation, but I know that god will reveal the truth to him," he said.
"I have nothing against him. I believe he has made decisions based on lies."
And in his final speech in Monrovia, Taylor declared: "History will remember me kindly."