Spider Holes

Yanukovych and other dictators on the run (Photos)

Yanukovych has fled his Kiev pleasure palace—but he's hardly the first tyrant to try to evade justice. From Milosevic to Manuel Noriega, a rogue's gallery of fugitive leaders.

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Viktor Yanukovych

In November, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (here on a visit to China) looked unassailable. He'd just rejected a trade agreement that would have moved the country closer to Europe in order to turn towards Big Brother Russia, which rewarded him with promises of financial aid for his shaky economy. Fast-forward to February, when violence between the EuroMaidan protesters and police reached a bloody denouement with the shooting of activists in downtown Kiev and Yanukovych's hurried flight to Crimea. He left behind a mansion full of golden toilets and half-burnt documents detailing his alleged corruption. As of press time, the ex-president remains on the lam, with parliamentarians promising to refer him for trial at The Hague. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

Pool photo by Evert Jan Daniels

Charles Taylor

Liberia's former brutal warlord president Charles Taylor fomented chaos in neighboring Sierra Leone, arming rebels—who mutilated and raped countless children and women—in exchange for blood diamonds. In 2003, he left Liberia in a deal to end his own country's bloody civil war—and three years later, when his host country Nigeria indicated it wouldn't stop the new powers in Monrovia from extraditing him and handing him over to UN peacekeepers, Taylor disappeared from his villa-in-exile. He was found trying to cross the border into Cameroon, disguised in white flowing robes and with a stash of U.S. dollars in his getaway jeep. Last September, a special court at the Hague rejected Taylor's appeal for his war crimes convictions and upheld his 50-year prison sentence. (EVERT JAN DANIELS/AFP/GettyImages)

Pool photo by Chris Hondros

Saddam Hussein

Who can forget Saddam Hussein's spider hole—the sordid lair where the ex-Iraqi dictator was found in December 2003 after eight months of evading U.S. forces? The eight-foot-deep tunnel, dug 10 miles south of his hometown of Tikrit, held two AK-47s, a pistol and $750,000. Hussein was tried in Baghdad (pictured here) for crimes against humanity, found guilty in 2006, and hanged. (REUTERS/Chris Hondros/Pool)

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Slobodan Milosevic

He whipped his fellow Serbs into an orgy of ethnic cleansing, plunging the former Yugoslavia into a terrible civil war that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats. But Slobodan Milošević never saw true justice—he died in his cell in the middle of his Hague trial for crimes against humanity. After stepping down from power, the ex-president resisted arrest at his residence, waving a gun and threatening to kill himself, his wife and his 35-year-old daughter. Eventually, negotiators convinced him to surrender; as they drove him away, his daughter supposedly dashed after the car in grief, firing at its wheels with her father's own gun. (PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images)

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Manuel Noriega

Former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega may have thought America was on his side (after all, he worked with the CIA for three decades) but in 1989 it became clear that Washington was no longer willing to prop up his rule. So Noriega took advantage of a tried and true tactic—seeking refuge in a foreign embassy—after U.S. troops invaded his country and forced him from power. Along with 19 aides and supporters, Noriega holed up in the Vatican's Panama City outpost. ("Noriega has spoken very little and does not go out on the patio," an embassy priest confided to the media at the time. "Generally he stays in his room.") Lauching "Operation Nifty Package," Navy SEALs tried to flush the dictator out with psychological warfare—namely, blaring Twisted Sister and Bon Jovi at ear-shattering decibels until the Holy See complained to George H.W. Bush. Noriega surrendered after 10 days and has been spending time in U.S., French and Panamanian prisons ever since. (CARLOS SCHIEBECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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Muammar Ghaddafi

He ruled Libya for more than 40 years through methods of total repression and absolute terror— but  Muammar Ghaddafi's life ended not with a Hague trial, but with a whimper. After fleeing Tripoli as rebels encroached, the tyrant and his family (sans his Ukrainian nurses) headed to Sirte, in Gaddafi's tribal heartland. For several months, the desert city held off rebel assaults, until October 2011, when Gaddafi and a group of loyalists attempted to escape in a convoy of 75 vehicles. NATO planes bombed the convoy; Gaddafi slithered on his belly into a nearby drainage pipe; and after a brief firefight, rebels extracted him and swiftly executed him. (ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)


Nicolae Ceausescu

After the Romanian people threw off the Iron Curtain in 1989 and his army turned against him, dictator Nicolae Ceausescu attempted to flee with his wife via helicopter before the pilot convinced the couple that the aircraft would be shot from the sky if they refused arrest. Within days, the Ceausescus had been tried in a kangaroo court and shot by a firing squad.  (Keystone/Getty Images)


Idi Amin

Africa's bloodiest despot Idi Amin was blamed for the murder of tens of thousands of Ugandans in the 1970s, but he ended his days in relative peace—after fleeing Kampala in 1979, he spent 24 years in exile in Saudi Arabia before passing away from natural causes in his late '70s. (REUTERS/Uganda National Archive)

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Che Guevara

Latin America's revolutionary hottie Che Guevara (born Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna) thought he had a shot at fomenting revolution in Bolivia—but the CIA and the Bolivian army had other ideas. Soldiers stormed Guevara's guerilla encampment in the Yuro ravine in October of 1967, trussed up the Marxist rebel and riddled his body with bullets. Right before he died, the authorities reportedly asked Guevara whether he was thinking about his own mortality. He is said to have replied: "I'm thinking about the immortality of the revolution."


Benito Mussolini

In July of 1943, Hitler ally and leader of Italy Benito Mussolini was arrested after leaving a meeting with King Vittorio Emanuele. The haggard prisoner was then shuttled around the Italian countryside and held at a Hotel prison in the mountains of Abruzzo before being rescued in the Gran Sasso raid. He headed to Berlin to rendezvous with the Führer and then returned to Italy as a puppet ruler for two years. In 1945, with the Axis defeat, he tried to flee with his mistress to Spain but were discovered by communist partisans and shot along with their entourage.

Hulton Archive/Getty

Leon Trotsky

Mensheviks, Mexico, Ice Pick. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)