Former president of Liberia sentenced to 50 years in prison for war crimes
Charles Taylor first individual convicted by international court since Nazi leaders
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has been sentenced to 50 years
behind bar - likely a life sentence for the 64-year-old Taylor, after a
U.N.-backed court sentenced him to 50 years in prison for aiding and
abetting war crimes. Taylor is the first former head of state to be
convicted by an international court for war crimes since the Nuremberg
trials of Nazi leaders after World War II.
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was convicted of helping plan war crimes with Revolutionary United Front rebels in Sierra Leone.
Taylor was convicted last month on 11 counts of terrorism, murder, rape, sexual slavery, outrages on personal dignity, conscripting child soldiers, enslavement and pillage. He will serve his prison sentence in Britain.
Judge Richard Lussick, pronouncing Taylor's sentence in the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague said that while Taylor had never set foot in Sierra Leone he had left a heavy footprint there. He said the effect of Taylor's crimes on families of the victims was "devastating."
"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," the judge said.
He said the court found when weighing its sentence that Taylor's abuse of his positions as president and member of the West African regional leadership body ECOWAS was "an aggravating factor of great weight."
Lussick added that while convictions for aiding and abetting in crimes generally warranted lower prison terms, this was not the case for Taylor, whose leadership role "puts him in a class of his own."
Prosecutors had originally sought an 80-year sentence to reflect the central role that Taylor played in the Sierra Leone conflict, his lawyers rejected claims he played a central part and requested a proportionate sentence.
Courtenay Griffiths, one of the defense attorneys, said the sentence in effect meant Taylor would die in prison. Brenda Hollis, Chief of the prosecution team says that the prosecution also would study the judgment and decide whether to mount an appeal. She said the sentence brought some measure of justice "for those lucky enough to survive."
"The sentence today does not replace amputated limbs, does not bring back those who have been murdered or forced to become sexual slaves," Hollis said.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Charles taylor, Liberia, Sierra Leone, civil war, rebels, war atrocities
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