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Sierra Leone Court Sentences Rebel Leaders for War Crimes

A Sierra Leone court has sentenced three former rebel leaders to decades in prison for war crimes committed during the country's civil war.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone Thursday gave jail terms of 50 years each to Alex Tamba Brima and Santigie Barbor Kanu. Another rebel leader, Brima Bazzy Kamara, received a 45-year sentence. These are the first sentences handed out by the court.

The U.N.-backed tribunal last month convicted the three men on charges that included murder, rape, enslavement, and using child soldiers.

Presiding Judge Julia Sebutinde said the men committed some of the most "heinous, brutal, and atrocious crimes in human history."

The men led the Armed Forces Revolution Council, a rebel faction that toppled Sierra Leone's elected government in 1997 and set up a junta with another rebel group.

The court was created to try those most responsible for the atrocities committed during the 11-year civil war, which ended in 2002.

The court also is trying former Liberian President Charles Taylor for allegedly backing Sierra Leone rebels.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.