September 26, 2013
Court Upholds Conviction, 50-Year Sentence for Charles Taylor
A U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal has upheld the conviction of former Liberian president Charles Taylor.
The appeals chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone also upheld Taylor's 50-year prison sentence and ruled that it be imposed immediately.
Taylor was found guilty last year of arming and otherwise aiding rebels in Sierra Leone during that country's brutal civil war.
Taylor's lawyers appealed, arguing that he knew nothing about the war crimes and did not help with logistics or supplies.
The prosecution in the case also appealed, saying Taylor's sentence was too lenient.
Last year Taylor told judges at his sentencing hearing in the Netherlands he has "deepest sympathies" for those who suffered during Sierra Leone's civil war, which ended in 2002. But he stopped short of admitting any wrongdoing or apologizing.
The 64-year-old former president was convicted on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity -- including acts of terrorism, murder, rape and the recruitment of child soldiers.
The court said that although Taylor did not have command and control of the rebels, he was aware of their activities and provided them with weapons and other supplies.
Taylor's trial was held at the Hague because of fears his presence might spark unrest in Sierra Leone.
He was the first African head of state to be brought before an international tribunal to face charges for mass atrocities and violations of international humanitarian law.