Photo by Toussiant Kluiters/AFP/GettyImages
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was sentenced on Wednesday to 50 years in prison for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Last month, the U.N.-backed court found Taylor guilty on 11 charges in connection with arming notoriously brutal rebels in nearby Sierra Leone in exchange for so-called blood diamonds. It's the first time a former head of state has been convicted in an international court since the Nuremburg military tribunal.
According to the Associated Press, Taylor, 64, will serve his time in Britain, but will likely remain near The Hague in the Netherlands while both the defense and prosecution consider appeals. The defense, likely to file an immediate appeal, had asked for a sentence that would have allowed Taylor some hope of release before he dies. The prosecution, meanwhile, had asked for an 80-year sentence.
Prosecutor Brenda Hollis told the AP: "It is important in our view that those responsible for criminal misconduct on a massive scale are not given a volume discount," apparently referring to the 50-year sentence. Prosecutors may also appeal to attempt to assign more responsibility for the crimes examined by the court, the New York Times notes. Taylor was found guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes against humanity, but not guilty of directly controlling the rebels in Sierra Leone.
At the sentencing, the presiding judge, Richard Lussick, said that the court agreed unanimously on the 50-year sentence, noting that there was no precedent for a former head of state. An 80-year sentence, he said, was "excessive," because Taylor was not convicted on charges of directly carrying out the war crimes, the Telegraph explains.