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Sierra Leone warlord to serve 50 years in British prison

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 11th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Found guilty in the use of child soldiers, terrorism and rape, the infamous Sierra Leone warlord Charles Taylor has been sentenced to 50 years to be served in a British prison. The former president of Liberia was convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 11 separate counts of war crimes.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The conviction of Charles Taylor is a landmark moment for international justice," United Kingdom Justice Minister Jeremy Wright declared.

It was a controversial edict. To send Taylor to a British prison could cost the U.K. taxpayer up to 80,000-a-year for his maximum security prison.

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Taylor lost his appeal last month against his convictions, which made him the first former head of state convicted by an international court since the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders after the Second World War.

Taylor helped rebels 10 years ago go on a murderous rampage Sierra Leone, raping, murdering and mutilating tens of thousands of innocent victims. He also had aided and abetted crimes committed by Revolutionary United Front and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council rebels.

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"Their primary purpose was to spread terror," Presiding Judge George Gelaga King said. "Brutal violence was purposefully unleashed against civilians with the purpose of making them afraid, afraid that there would be more violence if they continued to resist."

The brutal civil war in Sierra Leone during the 1990s left 50,000 people dead. Thousands more were left mutilated in the conflict. Rebel groups frequently hacked off the limbs of their victims and carved their initials into opponents.

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Taylor helped to plan attacks in return for "blood diamonds" mined by slave laborers in Sierra Leone and political influence in the volatile West African region.

Taylor also actually planned some of the attacks carried out by Sierra Leone rebel groups, the Revolutionary United Front and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council. The trial opened in June 2007 in The Hague. He pleaded not guilty to all 11 charges. Closing arguments took place in February and March 2011.

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During the trial, live testimony from over 90 prosecution witnesses was heard, as well as written statements from four additional witnesses. Supermodel Naomi Campbell was called to testify about a gift of diamonds from Taylor.

Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in May of last year. The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) dismissed the appeal and confirmed the sentence on September 26 this year.

"International justice is central to foreign policy. It is essential for securing the rights of individuals and states, and for securing peace and reconciliation," Wright said.

"The conviction of Charles Taylor is a landmark moment for international justice. It clearly demonstrates that those who commit atrocities will be held to account and that no matter their position they will not enjoy impunity."

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