Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, was found guilty by an international tribunal of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sierra Leone during the nation’s civil war between 1996 and 2002, making him the first head of state to be convicted of such crimes since the Nuremberg Trials following World War II, le Nouvel Observateur and the New York Times reported. The Atlantic and Libération explored the particularity of this case, in which Taylor was convicted of “aiding and abetting” such crimes in a nation neighboring his own and for crimes he encouraged in his own nation years before, while looking at the political implications of the first conviction of a head of state in more than a half century.
Famed Chinese dissident figure Chen Guangcheng escaped house arrest last week before calling, on Friday, April 27, for an investigation into abuse he claimed his family and he experienced while under house arrest. This as the emblematic blind lawyer was reported to be in hiding at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, according to CNN, NPR and the Christian Science Monitor. As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads to China for a pre-scheduled economic summit of the world’s two largest economies, the case has overshadowed these bilateral efforts as Clinton and President Barack Obama have called for greater human rights in a markedly vague response to the events, according to AFP and the New York Times.
A politically tense week for China, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, April 25, that Bo Xilai, a former head of the Communist Party in Chongqing, had been involved in a wiretapping scheme that reached as high as President Hu Jintao. This after being dismissed in March as his wife, Gu Kailai, was under investigation in the suspected murder of a British businessman, le Figaro and BBC reported. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao used Bo’s departure as an opportunity to call for reforms, such as Western-style liberalization and an end to corruption, according to the Washington Post and le Monde.
Ukrainian officials said on Saturday, April 28, that an investigation had not determined who was responsible for four explosions the day before in the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk that left at least 30 injured, as political factions debated whether the attacks were terrorist actions or were related to the imprisonment of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko for abuse of power, the Washington Post, la Croix and RFI reported. As the Euro 2012 soccer cup is set to be held in Poland and Ukraine in six weeks, uncertainty about the nation grew even more. The European Union had already expressed concern about the incarceration of Tymoshenko, who started a hunger strike April 20, claiming she had been mistreated in prison, as covered by AFP and Bloomberg.
The day after Norwegian General Robert Mood arrived in Syria to assume his duties as head of the United Nations military observer mission there, at least three suicide bombings hit the northwestern city of Idlib on Monday, April 30, killing at least 20 people, predominantly security forces, le Nouvel Observateur and le Parisien reported. These attacks came after two others left about 10 dead in Damascus on Friday, April 27, and a series of attacks over the weekend caused 70 deaths, according to the LA Times. As the movement against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad shifts toward suicide bombings, the Christian Science Monitor explored the adoption of jihadist tact