Former Liberian Leader Charles Taylor Jailed For 50 Years


Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was jailed for 50 years on Wednesday for helping Sierra Leonean rebels commit what a court in The Hague called some of the worst war crimes in history.
Taylor, 64, was the first head of state convicted by an international court since the trials of Nazis after World War Two and the sentence set a precedent for the emerging system of international justice.

In an 11-year war that ended in 2002, Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front rebels murdered, raped and mutilated their way across Liberia's West African neighbour, helped by Taylor as he profited from a trade in so-called blood diamonds.
"He was found responsible for aiding and abetting some of the most heinous and brutal crimes in recorded history," said the Special Court for Sierra Leone's presiding judge Richard Lussick, emphasising that the world was "entering a new era of accountability."
Although shorter than the 80 years that prosecutors had sought, the sentence set a precedent for an international justice system aimed at deterring future war crimes. The court rejected defence appeals for leniency.
"It is really significant that Taylor's status as a former head of state was taken as an aggravating factor as far as his sentence was concerned," said Geraldine Mattioli-Zeltner of Human Rights Watch.
"That is a very important precedent and I hope that Syria's Bashar al-Assad and Sudan's Omar Hassan al-Bashir take note."
Accused of genocide in Darfur, Sudan's President Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court. The court will soon start the trial of Ivory Coast's ex-president, Laurent Gbagbo. President Assad does not currently face charges over the bloody suppression of an uprising.
Dressed in a blue suit and yellow tie, Taylor sat impassively through the roughly 45-minute sentencing.

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