LONDON, UK – Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia convicted in April of aiding and abetting rebels in Sierra Leone during the 1991-2002 civil war, has been sentenced to 50 years in jail.
According to The Financial Times, the prosecution at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, had asked for a sentence of not less than 80 years, which Taylor and his defence counsel had called “manifestly disproportionate and excessive.”
Taylor is likely to serve his time in a British jail, although the 64-year-old insists he has been wrongfully convicted and is likely to appeal against the sentence, in a process which could last up to six months.
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During Taylor’s sentencing on Wednesday, Judge Richard Lussick said the crimes in Sierra Leone were “some of the most heinous in human history”, according to the BBC.
Dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and golden tie, Taylor listened with his eyes closed as the sentence was handed down, the Agence France Presse reports. He had asked judges to consider his age when making their decision, promising that he posed “no threat to society.”
In April the court found Taylor guilty on 11 counts in connection with atrocities including rape and murder during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war, in which some 50,000 people were killed and thousands more badly mutilated, with limbs hacked off.
Taylor became the first former head of state to be convicted by an international war crimes court since the Nuremberg trials that followed World War II, the Associated Press reports.
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