Taylor war crimes sentence could set precedent
30 May 2012, 10:53
Amsterdam - Former
Liberian President Charles Taylor could be jailed for the rest of his
life on Wednesday when he is sentenced by an international court for
backing Sierra Leonean rebels in their war of murder, rape and
Prosecutors seek an 80-year sentence for Taylor, 64 - the first
head of state convicted by an international court since World War Two -
and the decision could set a precedent for other war crimes courts.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone ruled last month that Taylor
aided and abetted Revolutionary United Front rebels during an 11-year
war which left 50,000 dead in Liberia's West African neighbour by 2002.
The rebels raped and murdered civilians. They hacked off the
limbs of thousands of people in a campaign of terror while Taylor
profited from trading in so-called blood diamonds that helped finance
The court's judges said Taylor knew about the brutality and had
nonetheless helped equip and fund the rebels, giving them satellite
phones and money.
"Charles Taylor's sentence should reflect the gravity of his heinous crimes," said Elise Keppler of Human Rights Watch.
"Sentencing is a crucial step in bringing redress to Sierra
Leonean victims and reinforcing the principle that no one is above the
law - not even a head of state."
Not since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg has a head of state been
found guilty by an international tribunal, and Taylor's sentencing could
also set a precedent.