Former Liberian President Charles Taylor Sentenced to 50 Years for War Crimes

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Former Liberian President Charles Taylor Sentenced to 50 Years for War Crimes

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison Wednesday by an international court in The Hague, Netherlands, for aiding "some of the most heinous and brutal [war] crimes recorded in human history," CNN reports. The Special Court for Sierra Leone convicted Taylor last month of supplying and encouraging rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone in a campaign of terror that involved murder, rape, sexual slavery and the conscription of child soldiers. He was also found guilty of using Sierra Leone's diamond deposits to help fuel its civil war with weapons while enriching himself with what have come to be commonly known as "blood diamonds." Taylor was president of Liberia from 1997 to 2003; the crimes he was convicted of supporting occurred over the course of five years and reached a peak in 1998 and 1999. Sierra Leone's civil war lasted from 1991 to 2002, leaving 50,000 dead or missing. Though Taylor was not on the battlefield in Sierra Leone, the court saw his position of power as president of the neighboring country as making him directly responsible for the bloodshed he encouraged. Taylor, however, does not see himself as a war criminal but as a victim of corruption. "I never stood a chance," he said last week during his final courtroom stand. "Only time will tell how many other African heads of state will be destroyed." There is no death penalty in international criminal law, and Taylor, 64, will serve out his sentence in a British prison. He is the first former head of state to be convicted of war crimes since World War II.

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