Liberian warlord convicted to 50 years for horrific crimes
LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands - Agence France-PresseA U.N.-backed war crimes court sentenced Liberia’s former president Charles Taylor to 50 years in jail yesterday for arming rebels in Sierra Leone in return for “blood diamonds.”
Taylor, 64, was convicted last month of all 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for aiding and abetting Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) during the country’s brutal 1991-2001 civil war. In return, the court said, he was paid in diamonds mined by slave labor in areas under control of the rebels, who murdered, raped and kept sex slaves, hacked off limbs and forced children under 15 to fight. “The accused has been found responsible for aiding and abetting some of the most heinous crimes in human history,” said Special Court for Sierra Leone judge Richard Lussick yesterday. Taylor has two weeks to appeal. He will remain in the U.N.’s detention unit in The Hague until his appeal procedure is finalized.
Taylor’s sentence will be served in a British prison. London’s offer in 2007 to host Taylor in custody if he was found guilty was part of the deal to put him on trial in the Netherlands-based court.