News24

Charles Taylor to be sentenced

2012-05-30 10:56

Leidschendam - Former Liberian president Charles Taylor will be sentenced for war crimes by a UN court Wednesday after being convicted for arming Sierra Leone rebels in return for "blood diamonds".

Special Court for Sierra Leone judge Richard Lussick will deliver the ruling at a hearing due to start at 09:00 GMT, the first sentence against a former head of state at an international court since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg in 1946.

Chief prosecutor Brenda Hollis has recommended 80 years behind bars for Taylor, once one of the most powerful men in west Africa and a driving force behind Sierra Leone's brutal decade-long war which claimed 120 000 lives.

But the defence says such a sentence would be "excessive" as it would condemn Taylor to life behind bars.

Throughout the trial Taylor himself maintained his innocence and insisted he was instrumental in eventually ending Sierra Leone's 1991-2001 civil war.

The former president was convicted on April 26 on all 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for aiding and abetting Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels and their alliance partners.

In return, the court said, Taylor, 64, was paid in diamonds mined by slave labour in areas under the control of rebels who murdered, raped and kept sex-slaves while hacking off limbs and forcing children under 15 to fight.

Should Taylor get jail time, it will be served in a British prison. The court cannot impose a life sentence, only a definite number of years.