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.
    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 video of Taylor sentencing

    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

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: saumya from: india
    May 30, 2012 12:32 PM
    The first time a head of state has been found guilty by an international tribunal since the Nazi trials at Nuremburg. Here is a look at Taylor and his atrocities in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
    http://liveoncampus.com/wire/show/3384227
    He has ruled Liberia for six years before being forced into exile in Nigeria.

    by: Optimist from: Everywhere
    May 30, 2012 10:42 AM
    Everyone of us are hoping other dictators in Africa receive similar sentence once they are caught. I know for fact Meles Zenawi has committed if not more than Charles Taylor, but as much as deaths and destruction to a specific ethnic group in Ethiopia, Somalis from Ogadenia. I hope he will be brought to justice and face a similar trial of crimes against humanity.

    by: Mayen Aluong Aman from: Juba, South Sudan
    May 30, 2012 9:06 AM

    I hope the ongoing Peace Negotiation between the Republic of South Sudan and Sudan will yield positive outcomes.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora