War crimes court hears Taylor appeal

2013-01-22 10:54
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP) (Charles Taylor)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The Hague - Prosecutors and lawyers defending former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor on Tuesday begin their appeals at Sierra Leone's UN-backed special court against his 50-year prison sentence for fuelling the west African nation's savage civil war.

Appeals judges are to listen to arguments both from prosecutors demanding a heavier sentence and from the former strongman's lawyers calling for his sentence to be quashed or reduced.

The hearing is to begin at 10:00 at the Special Court for Sierre Leone's headquarters in the leafy suburb of Leidschendam outside The Hague.

The case will be dominated by particularly complex legal arguments - with both sides saying judges made mistakes in law in convicting Taylor in April last year and sentencing him in May.

The UN-backed court's 50-year sentence against Taylor, 64, for "some of the most heinous crimes in human history" was widely welcomed around the world at the time.

Judges said he aided and abetted rebel forces fighting against Freetown during Sierra Leone's 10-year civil war, known for its mutilations, drugged child soldiers and sex slaves.

In return, trial judges found, Taylor was paid in "blood diamonds" mined by slave labour in areas kept under the countrol of ruthless Sierra Leonean rebels.

The historic sentence was the first handed down against a former head of state in an international court since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg in 1946.

Prosecutors, who declined to comment ahead of the hearing, are to argue that trial judges made a mistake by only convicting Taylor of aiding and abetting the notorious Revolutionary United Front and other rebel groups.

Miscarriage of justice

In one of four grounds of appeal, they said the court should have convicted Taylor for actively issuing orders to the RUF and its ally, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).

"The appropriate sentence should have been 80 years in order to reflect the totality of his overall conduct and culpability," prosecutors insisted.

Taylor's defence has filed 42 grounds of appeal, calling the trial chamber's decision a "miscarriage of justice", and asked appeals judges to reverse the conviction and quash the sentence.

"The colossal judgement, over 2 500 pages in length, is plagued throughout by internal inconsistencies, misstatements of evidence and conflicting findings," Taylor's lawyer Morris Anyah said in court papers.

Taylor, said Anyah, "was never in Sierra Leone when these crimes were committed" and furthermore he was so "engulfed at the time in many other domestic issues that it was not possible for him to be leading rebels in other countries to fight wars".

Appeals judges are expected to have a decision by September, SCSL spokesperson Solomon Moriba said, with the ex-Liberian president remaining behind bars at the UN's detention unit in The Hague until appeals proceedings are finalised.

If his appeal fails, Taylor will serve his sentence in a British jail.

Read more on:    charles taylor  |  liberia  |  charles taylor trial  |  west africa
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 40% on outdoor accessories!

Tents, sleeping, day packs and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Month End Madness Sale!

Save up to 60% on across a wide range of goods from books to electronics, DVDs and many more. Sale end 31 January 2015. Shop now!

Valentine’s Day gifts – 14 Feb!

Gifts to spoil him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off fragrances

Get 30% off fragrances for him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off All Textbooks

Save up to 30% off an extensive range of prescribed textbooks for all major universities and FET colleges. Shop Now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something is blocking the flow of things today and it is easy to become frustrated and pessimistic. The problem is that your mind...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.