Ruling Expected Thursday in Charles Taylor War-Crimes Appeal

Wednesday, 25 Sep 2013 10:23 AM

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A United Nations-backed special court will rule Thursday on former Liberian President Charles Taylor's appeal of his conviction on war crimes during the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone, the Voice of America reports.
Taylor, 64, was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison last year on 11 counts of crimes against humanity, including terrorism, murder, rape and military conscription of children during Sierra Leone’s 1991-2002 civil war.

“He was found responsible for aiding and abetting some of the most heinous and brutal crimes in recorded history,” said Richard Lussick, presiding judge at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in pronouncing sentence on Taylor in May 2012.

Prosecutors — who had sought an 80-year sentence — presented evidence that Taylor had provided the Revolutionary United Front rebels in Sierra Leone with weapons and other items in exchange for diamonds. Human Rights Watch has said the RUF was involved in recruiting child soldiers.

The former president maintained his innocence throughout the trial.
His lawyers say there was no evidence that Taylor was directly involved with assisting the rebels, who have been accused of killing and mutilating thousands of civilians during the 11-year war.

Court hearings in the case have been delayed by the former leader's refusal to cooperate. 
Indicted in 2003, Taylor was arrested in March 2006 while in exile in Nigeria. He was moved to The Hague three months later.
At his trial, more than 90 witnesses were called to testify on charges that child soldiers under Taylor's command were forced to ingest amphetamines and marijuana before being sent into battle.
The tribunal, which has no death penalty, was established to punish individuals responsible for war crimes and other large-scale violations of human-rights in Sierra Leone. 

Taylor’s trial in The Hague involved only the civil war in that country. It did not cover alleged atrocities committed by Taylor and his armed forces in Liberia in the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as the murder of a man in front of his 10-year-old son, reported by the New York Times.

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