News / Africa

Liberia's Taylor Sentenced to 50 Years for War Crimes

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor listens to the judge at the opening of the sentencing judgement hearing at the court in Leidschendam, near The Hague, May 30, 2012.Former Liberian President Charles Taylor listens to the judge at the opening of the sentencing judgement hearing at the court in Leidschendam, near The Hague, May 30, 2012.
x
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor listens to the judge at the opening of the sentencing judgement hearing at the court in Leidschendam, near The Hague, May 30, 2012.
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor listens to the judge at the opening of the sentencing judgement hearing at the court in Leidschendam, near The Hague, May 30, 2012.
Lisa Bryant
PARIS - Former Liberian president Charles Taylor has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for aiding and abetting horrific war crimes committed during Sierra Leone's civil war. Both defense and prosecution are expected to appeal the sentence by an international court in The Hague.  Taylor is expected to serve any jail term in a British prison.

Dressed in a dark blue suit and yellow tie, Taylor listened somberly to his sentence that was read by presiding judge Richard Lussick.

"Mr. Taylor, for the forgoing reasons, the trial chamber unanimously sentences you to a single term of imprisonment of 50 years for all the counts on which you have been found guilty," said Lussick.

Watch related video of Taylor sentencing

Found guilty on 11 counts

Last month, the Special Court for Sierra Leone found Taylor guilty on 11 counts of aiding and abetting rebels who killed, raped and mutilated thousands of people during Sierra Leone's civil war. He is the first African leader to be convicted by an international court and, more generally, the first head of state to face such a conviction since World War II.

The prison sentence handed to Taylor is less than the 80 years the prosecution requested. But the court also dismissed a slew of mitigating factors the defense argued should lighten his sentence, noting his special status as a former head of state.

"The trial chamber wishes to underscore the gravity it attaches to Mr. Taylor's betrayal of public trust. In the trial chamber's view, this betrayal outweighs the distinctions that might otherwise pertain to the modes of liability discussed above," said Lussick.

'Heinous' crimes, culture of impunity

Reacting to the sentence, Sierra Leone's government said some justice had been done. Sierra Leone researcher for Amnesty International, Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus, also expressed satisfaction.

"But what I think is more important to remember today is that while Taylor has been handed a 50-year sentence, for a lot of the survivors of the war in Sierra Leone and Liberia, justice is still not complete. Most of them are still struggling to make a daily living. There's still a culture of impunity," said Sherman-Nikolaus.

Judge Lussick's remarks during the sentencing reflected that sentiment.

"For those who survived these crimes, the long-term impact on their lives is devastating. Amputees without arms who now have to live on charity because they can no longer work. Young girls who have been publicly stigmatized and will never recover from the trauma of rape and sexual slavery to which they were subjected," he said.

Lussick described the crimes in Sierra Leone as some of the most heinous in history.

David Crane, former chief prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, called the 50-year sentence "appropriate." Crane spoke to VOA reporter Joe De Capua about the sentence. To listen to the interview, click on the player below.

De Capua interview with David Crane.
De Capua interview with David Crane.i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs