News / Africa

Court Upholds Taylor Conviction, 50-Year Sentence

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor, left, pictured at the Special Court for Sierra Leone near The Hague, Netherlands, Sept. 26, 2013.
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor, left, pictured at the Special Court for Sierra Leone near The Hague, Netherlands, Sept. 26, 2013.
Nina de VriesVOA News
A U.N.-backed special court in The Hague has upheld the conviction and sentencing of former Liberian president Charles Taylor.  Taylor had appealed the court's ruling that he is guilty of arming and aiding rebels in Sierra Leone during that country's civil war, which killed 50,000 people.  The ruling means his 50-year prison sentence will stand. 

Sierra Leoneans listened to a live broadcast of the appeal verdict Thursday at offices of the court in the capital, Freetown. 

Hassan Barrie was a victim of Sierra Leone's civil war.  During the conflict, which ran from 1991 to 2002, rebel fighters would often cut off people's limbs. Barrie was fortunate he didn't lose any limbs, but he still suffered.  Rebels captured and beat him, injuring his leg permanently.  He now walks with crutches. Despite the trauma of war, Barrie is pleased with Taylor's long sentence.

"During the war, I suffered, I suffered a lot but praise to God, I'm alive," he said.

The Trial of Charles Taylor

  • Taylor was sentenced in 2012 to 50 years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • Taylor pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of humanitarian law.
  • The crimes were committed after November 30, 1996, during Sierra Leone's civil war.
  • Taylor denied he received blood diamonds from rebels in Sierra Leone in exchange for weapons.
  • Supermodel Naomi Campbell testified about a gift of diamonds believed to have been from Taylor

One of the rebel groups Taylor helped to arm and plot attacks was the Revolutionary United Front  (RUF).  The group pushed child soldiers into combat by giving them drugs and alcohol.  Rebels also raped thousands of women and young girls, many who were forced into becoming sex slaves.

Kabba Kargbo, who was recruited as a child soldier, said the 50-year sentence is too light.

"The sentence is not harsh because our feeling back here when we were involved in the war, was not our own making, because people forced us to go, to be child soldiers," Kargbo said.

Taylor's lawyers had appealed his sentence on 42 grounds, essentially saying that he knew nothing about the war crimes. The prosecution also appealed, arguing that Taylor's sentence was too short.

The appeals chamber stated Thursday his convictions have been proved beyond doubt.

Some people who came out to the special court in Freetown were so young during the war they do not really remember it, like Susan Yamson, who is now 17 years old.
Yamson said sometimes she cannot believe all that happened to her country.

"We're all humans," she said. We should not treat each over as slaves."

The Special Court in Sierra Leone held trials for other rebel groups involved in Sierra Leone's civil war, but Taylor's trial was moved to The Hague for security reasons.

Now that all the trials are over, one part of the court building in Freetown will be turned into a peace museum.  It is currently used to house local female prisoners.

The rest of the court building may be used by Sierra Leone's Supreme Court.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: David Cameron
October 10, 2013 11:14 AM
Yes it it is very clear that the UN and the Hague are biased and selective in bringing to justice Mr Taylor, whilst turning a blind eye to others who are still allowed to travel quite freely. I wonder whether their conscience bothers them as they go about their
work at the Courts, knowing others have adroitly avoided justice.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid