Brutal warlord ‘deserves’ life in jail

Liberia’s former president has been sentenced to 50 years in jail for being “in a class of his own” for war crimes committed during the civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Judges at a United Nations-backed tribunal in The Hague in the Netherlands said his leadership role and exploitation of the conflict to extract so-called blood diamonds meant he deserved one of the longest prison sentences the court had handed down so far.

Taylor (64) was found guilty last month of 11 counts of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity committed while  he supported rebels between 1996 and 2002 in return for gems.

The offences included murder, rape, sexual slavery, recruiting child soldiers and enforced amputations.

Delivering the decision at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Judge Richard Lussick said Taylor’s crimes were of the “utmost gravity in terms of scale and brutality”.
“The lives of many more innocent civilians in Sierra Leone were lost or destroyed as a direct result of his actions. The special status of Mr Taylor as a head of state puts him in a different category of offenders for the purpose of sentencing.”


Taylor gave no response as Lussick handed down what would in effect be a life sentence. His lawyers have 14 days to lodge an appeal.

Adama Dempster of the Liberian Human Rights Protection Forum said: “Fifty years is a lot, but it’s about bringing redress for the victims. It’s also about reinforcing the principle that no man is above the law. It serves as a precedent to dictators and those who encourage war.”

Taylor’s sentence is likely to be served in the United Kingdom. – © Guardian News & Media 2012

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Owen Bowcott
Owen Bowcott works from London. Owen is a correspondent for the Guardian based in London. He is formerly the Guardian's Ireland correspondent and also worked on the foreign newsdesk. Owen Bowcott has over 4364 followers on Twitter.
Advertising

Eastern Cape schools to only open for grades 3, 6...

The province says the increase in Covid-19 cases has made it re-evaluate some decisions

Malawi celebrates independence day, but the first president left his...

The historical record shows that Malawi’s difficulties under Hastings Banda were evident at the very moment of the country’s founding

Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku’s first rule: Don’t panic

As Gauteng braces for its Covid-19 peak, the province’s MEC for health, Bandile Masuku, is putting his training to the test as he leads efforts to tackle the impending public health crisis
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday