Taylor's 50-Year War Crimes Sentence Upheld

Charles Taylor’s 50-Year Sentence Upheld For War Crimes In Sierra Leone

The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) upheld its 50-year sentence for Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, Thursday in The Hague.

“The appeals chamber… affirms the sentence of 50 years in prison and orders that the sentence be imposed immediately,” judge George King announced in the SCSL chamber.

The decision comes as part of Taylor’s appeal of his April, 2012 conviction on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The court’s decision affirmed the original conviction and the sentence imposed.

“This final decision affirms Mr. Taylor’s criminal responsibility for grave crimes which caused untold suffering to many thousands, if not tens of thousands, of victims in Sierra Leone. Today’s judgment brings some measure of justice to those victims who suffered so horribly because of Charles Taylor,” Special Prosecutor Brenda Hollis said following the decision.

Taylor, sentenced in May, 2012, was the first world leader to be convicted of war crimes since World War II. Having served as president of Liberia from 1997 until his resignation in 2003, Taylor was found guilty of supplying Sierra Leone’s violent rebels—the Revolutionary United Front and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council—in its civil war, becoming rich off of African conflict diamonds in the process. Taylor has maintained his innocence throughout.

“Never, ever did I receive, whether it is mayonnaise or coffee or whatever jar, never received any diamonds from the RUF. It’s a lie, it’s a diabolical lie. Never,” Taylor said during his trial.

In reading the sentence at his original trial, presiding judge Richard Lussick had harsh words for the former president.

“The accused has been found responsible for aiding and abetting as well as planning some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history,” Lussick said.

According to the BBC, the UK has offered to accept Taylor at a British prison. Sweden and Rwanda serve as potential alternate sites for Taylor’s detention.

The full judgment from Thursday’s ruling can be found on the SCSL’s Web site.