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Sierra Leone Court Upholds War Crimes Sentences for Rebel Leaders


Sierra Leone's war crimes court has upheld prison sentences of up to 50 years for three former rebel leaders convicted of crimes against humanity during the country's civil war.

The presiding judge at the Special Court for Sierra Leone Friday rejected appeals from Alex Tamba Brima, Santigie Borbor Kanu and Brima Bazzy Kamara to reduce their lengthy sentences. He said he saw no reason to interfere with the sentences.

The U.N.-backed tribunal gave jail terms of 50 years each to Brima and Kanu last July, and sentenced Kamara to 45 years in prison.

The court had convicted the three men on charges including murder, rape, enslavement and using child soldiers during Sierra Leone's 11-year civil war, which ended in 2002.

The Special Court prosecutor welcomed Friday's decision, saying it renders the men legally responsible for great suffering inflicted on the people of Sierra Leone.

The men led the Armed Forces Revolution Council, a rebel faction that toppled Sierra Leone's elected government in 1997 and set up a junta with another rebel group.

The court also is trying former Liberian President Charles Taylor for allegedly backing Sierra Leone rebels during the civil war. His trial is being held at The Hague, in the Netherlands, because of fears that holding the trial in Sierra Leone could cause unrest both there and in neighboring Liberia.

Taylor faces 11 counts of murder, rape and recruiting child soldiers. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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