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Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, sentenced for War Crimes

June 1, 2012

Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, was sentenced this week to 50 years in prison. The sentence was issued by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the body that convicted him last month for crimes against humanity and war crimes, including supporting Sierra Leone’s former rebels, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).

The New York Times reports:

“In what was viewed as a watershed case for modern human rights law, Mr. Taylor was the first former head of state convicted by an international tribunal since the Nuremberg trials in Germany after World War II.


Mr. Taylor was found guilty of “aiding and abetting, as well as planning, some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history,” said Richard Lussick, the judge who presided over the sentencing here in an international criminal court near The Hague. He said the lengthy prison term underscored Mr. Taylor’s position as a government’s leader during the time the crimes were committed.”


Taylor’s crimes included murder, rape, slavery, violence and other inhumane acts, and the use of child soldiers. A complete list of the charges can be found here. By the rules of the court, Taylor could not impose a life sentence or the death penalty. It is required to impose a set prison term.

Both sides may appeal the sentence. The defense argues the sentence is “excessive” and “disproportionate to [Taylor’s] circumstances, his age and his health.” The prosecution had sought an 80-year sentence. Once the appeal process, expected to take a year, finishes, Taylor will serve his sentence in a prison in Britain. Taylor, who is 64, will in all likelihood spend the rest of his life in prison.

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