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Charles Taylor’s ex-wife refused bail over torture charges

A British court on Friday denied bail to an ex-wife of jailed former Liberian president Charles Taylor, ahead of her trial on charges of torture during his rebellion.

Agnes Reeves Taylor, who lives in east London, faces four allegations dating back to December 1989, when forces loyal to her former husband launched their first attack on Liberian territory.

She appeared in London’s Old Bailey court via video link, speaking only to confirm her name before a judge rejected her application for bail.

Two charges relate to claims that between December 23, 1989, and January 1, 1991, Taylor “intentionally inflicted severe pain or suffering on an individual in the performance or purported performance of her official duties” in the central Liberian city of Gbarnga.

Gbarnga was the base of Taylor’s rebellion against president Samuel Doe, which deteriorated into one of Africa’s bloodiest conflicts.

Another count relates to the same period and the same allegation, but this time in Gborplay, on the border with Ivory Coast.

The fourth count says that between the same period, Taylor “agreed with others” on a course of action that “would necessarily amount to or involve the commission of the offence of torture”.

Charles Taylor, once Liberia’s most feared rebel fighter who served as president from 1997 to 2003, is serving a 50-year sentence in a British jail for his role in fuelling the civil conflict in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

The couple divorced in 1996.

No date was set for the beginning of the trial, but it is expected to take place in October.

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