Liberian leader sentenced to 50 years in prison for war crimes
The first former head of state convicted of war crimes since World War II was sentenced to 50 years in prison on Wednesday by an international court in The Hague, Netherlands. The court charged Charles Taylor last month of aiding rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone in a campaign of terror, involving murder, rape, sexual slavery, and the recruitment of children younger than 15. The prosecution requested the Special Court for Sierra Leone issue a sentence of 80 years for Taylor, who was the president of Liberia from 1997 to 2003, but the judges found the recommendation “excessive” citing the “limited scope” of the conviction in some points.
Taylor, 64, is appealing his conviction and will receive credit for time already served since March 2006. The former Liberian president does not view himself as a war criminal, but instead a victim; a leader wronged by corruption and a hypocritical hand of justice with a political agenda. In his final courtroom stand last week, Taylor said, “I never stood a chance. Only time will tell how many other African heads of state will be destroyed.” Taylor was found guilty of all 11 counts of aiding and abetting the deadly rebel campaign in Sierra Leone and mining diamonds to pay for guns. Taylor is expected to serve out his sentence in a British prison.