Former Liberian President Charles G. Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison on Wednesday for providing, in return for "blood diamonds," arms and other supplies to rebels who committed war crimes in Sierra Leone during its civil war in the 1990s, according to the Washington Post. Taylor, who was sentenced in an international criminal court near The Hague in the Netherlands, was the first head of state to be convicted by an international court since the post-World War II Nuremberg Trials.
The Washington Post reports:
Taylor, wearing a blue suit and gold tie, stood grim-faced and silent as Presiding Judge Richard Lussick of Samoa imposed what will likely amount to a life sentence for the 64 year old.
Lussick said Taylor’s position as head of state at the time of his crimes put him in a “class of his own” when judges came to setting the sentence — one of the longest ever handed down by the Special Court for Sierra Leone or any other international tribunal.
Taylor shipped arms, ammunition and other supplies to rebels in Sierra Leone in return for personal wealth in the form of diamonds mined by slave labor and to gain increasing political clout in the volatile West Africa region.
Taylor’s reaction in court Wednesday was in stark contrast to the delight of survivors who gathered in the Sierra Leone capital, Freetown, to watch a live feed of the sentencing.
“That makes me the happiest person on earth,” said Alimami Kanu, who was 11 when rebels backed by Taylor hacked off his right hand. He was one of thousands of civilians mutilated during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war that ended in 2002 with some 50,000 dead.
Human rights activists and international law experts also hailed the tough sentence as a warning shot for war criminals.
Read more at the Washington Post.