Taylor War Crimes Sentence Could Set Precedent


Former Liberian President Charles Taylor could be jailed for the rest of his life on Wednesday when he is sentenced by an international court for backing Sierra Leonean rebels in their war of murder, rape and mutilation.
Prosecutors seek an 80-year sentence for Taylor, 64 - the first head of state convicted by an international court since World War Two - and the decision could set a precedent for other war crimes courts.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone ruled last month that Taylor aided and abetted Revolutionary United Front rebels during an 11-year war which left 50,000 dead in Liberia's West African neighbour by 2002.
The rebels raped and murdered civilians. They hacked off the limbs of thousands of people in a campaign of terror while Taylor profited from trading in so-called blood diamonds that helped finance the conflict.
The court's judges said Taylor knew about the brutality and had nonetheless helped equip and fund the rebels, giving them satellite phones and money.
"Charles Taylor's sentence should reflect the gravity of his heinous crimes," said Elise Keppler of Human Rights Watch.
"Sentencing is a crucial step in bringing redress to Sierra Leonean victims and reinforcing the principle that no one is above the law - not even a head of state."
Not since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg has a head of state been found guilty by an international tribunal, and Taylor's sentencing could also set a precedent.
The International Criminal Court, which recently marked its 10th anniversary, will soon begin the trial of Laurent Gbagbo, the former Ivory Coast president, who faces charges of crimes against humanity.
Accused of genocide, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is also wanted by the court.
News Source: Reuters

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