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S Leone victims hail Taylor jail sentence

30 May 2012, 15:23

 Freetown - Victims of Sierra Leone's civil war on Wednesday welcomed a 50-year prison term for Liberia's former leader Charles Taylor for backing the rebels who wrought terror in their country.

A stunned silence filled courtroom buildings in Freetown where hundreds had gathered in front of giant television screens to hear Taylor's fate.

Al Hadji Jusu Jarka - former chairperson of the association of amputees, who had both arms cut off by the rebels whom Taylor was convicted of aiding and abetting in exchange for "blood diamonds" - voiced relief.

"The curtain has now been drawn on Charles Taylor," the war survivor said. "I hope he will be haunted by his deeds as he languishes in jail."

As the sentence was read out, those watching from Freetown showed little outward joy. They had sat stonily as judge Richard Lussick gave a harrowing account of the gruesome crimes committed during the 11-year conflict.

The audience included victims, leaders and civil society representatives.

Human rights activist Charles Mambu said of the sentence: "That's excellent! It shows that it's no longer business as usual. Us as human rights defenders, we are happy over the sentence."P



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