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Charles Taylor Appeals War Crimes Case

Prosecutors have urged a U.N.-backed Special Court of Sierra Leone to reject an appeal from former Liberian President Charles Taylor to have his war crimes conviction overturned.

Mr. Taylor is appealing his conviction and a 50-year prison sentence for acts of terrorism, murder, rape and recruiting child soldiers during Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war.

A two-day session of oral arguments got underway at The Hague on Tuesday.

During the session, Mr. Taylor's attorney, Christopher Gosnell, argued there was no information indicating the former Liberian leader knew that specific weapons or ammunition that he may have provided would be used in committing crimes.

Prosecuting attorney Nicholas Koumjian said the defense team's argument was difficult to accept.



"Under the defense proposal, if a person knowingly aids and abets atrocities knowing people are going to be killed and raped, but they do it for political advantage, or they do it for a military alliance, or they do it simply for greed - simply to make money - then they are not responsible, because their purpose was not the crimes; their purpose was military advantage or their purpose was money."



Last year, the special court convicted Mr. Taylor on 11 counts, saying that while he did not command and control rebels who committed atrocities, he was aware of their activities and provided them with weapons and other supplies.

Prosecutors are seeking stiffer penalties for Mr. Taylor. They want the court to impose an 80-year sentence on the 64-year-old former leader.

Mr. Taylor has said his actions were "done with honor" to bring peace to neighboring Sierra Leone, and that without that peace "Liberia would not be able to move forward."

He is the first former head of state since World War II to be convicted by an international war crimes court.

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