Backstory: Ex-Liberian Leader Boycotts Tribunal

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Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia whose trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity began this morning in The Hague, declined to appear for the opening statements and fired his lawyer, saying he would not receive a fair hearing before the international tribunal, the Associated Press reports.

Background on the long road of political quandaries that eventually led to Taylor's arrest in March 2006 in Nigeria appears in this May 2005 article in U.S.News & World Report: "Africa's Most Wanted."