UNITED NATIONS — Former Liberian president Charles Taylor, testifying in his war crimes trial in The Hague on Thursday, said that his government had awarded American televangelist Pat Robertson a gold mining concession in 1999 and that Robertson later offered to lobby the Bush administration on the government’s behalf.
The revelations came in the midst of Taylor’s U.N.-backed trial on 11 counts of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone’s 1990s civil war. Taylor is accused of directing a Sierra Leonean rebel group, the United Revolutionary Front, in a campaign aimed at securing access to the country’s diamond mines. The rebel movement stands accused of committing mass atrocities in the West African country in the late 1990s, including the mutilation of thousands of civilians.
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Prosecutors at the Special Court for Sierra Leone contend that Taylor offered concessions to Westerners in exchange for lobbying work aimed at enhancing his image in the United States. They maintain that he also spent an additional $2.6 million paying lobbying and public relations firms to influence in his favor the policies of former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.