Taylor sentenced 50 years in jail
Convicted former Liberian President Charles Taylor, age 64, has on Wednesday been sentenced to 50 years in jail by the United Nations backed Sierra Leone war crimes court in the Hague, Netherlands.
"Mr. Taylor benefitted from this terror and the destruction," said the presiding Judge of the court Richard Lussick before announcing his 50 years jail term, after the April 26 conviction on all 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for aiding and abetting the war in neighbouring Sierra Leone.
The prosecution had recommended a sentence of 80 years in jail, but the his defense lawyers pleaded with the court for a lighter sentence, because they said 80 years was too excessive.
The trial chamber said that issues relating to his age, health condition, time in Nigeria before his arrest in 2006 and his contribution to peace mediation process to end the Sierra Leone civil war were not significant enough to mitigate a tough penalty for grave crimes against humanity, dismissing Taylor's defense plea.
"He was found responsible for aiding and abetting some of the most heinous and brutal crimes in recorded history," Judge Lussick said.
Regarding the defense argument that the former Liberian leader was cleared of having the greatest responsibility for the crimes and commanding and controlling the defunct RUF rebels in a Joint Criminal Enterprise, the court countered that because Taylor was knowledgeable of the crimes committed, that could not be a mitigating factor.
"Leadership must be carried out by example by the prosecution of crimes not the commission of crimes." the Judge said in announcing the sentence.
He said the court saw the extraterritoriality of Taylor's crimes as an aggravating factor.
According to Judge Lussick, the former Liberian head of state was not single out for prosecution, as claimed by himself and his defense lawyers.
The defense and prosecution have the right to appeal Taylor's sentencing, a process that could take place in six months.Tweet