I wake up in the morning and I read of all the carnage going on in different parts of Africa and I wonder how we can do such heinous to things to each other. Africa is the bedrock of civilization yet we behave like barbarians to each other. When will it end? When will things change? When will we learn that we can only move forward when we start loving each other, instead of hate. Charles Taylor did terrible things to Africans, now he’s got his. Read more—
(CNN) — The first former head of state to be convicted of war crimes since World War II was sentenced to 50 years in prison Wednesday by an international court in The Hague, Netherlands.
The court convicted Charles Taylor last month of aiding rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone in a campaign of terror, involving murder, rape, sexual slavery and the conscription children younger than 15.
The prosecution had asked the Special Court for Sierra Leone for a sentence of 80 years for Taylor, the president of Liberia from 1997 to 2003, but the judges found the recommendation “excessive” citing the “limited scope” of the conviction in some points.
There is no death penalty in international criminal law, and Taylor, 64, would serve out his sentence in a British prison.
Taylor directed his gaze downward while Presiding Judge Richard Lussick read the sentencing statement, which included a horror cabinet of atrocities committed in Sierra Leone by rebels the former president backed.
The former Liberian president is appealing his conviction and will receive credit for time already served since March 2006.
He does not see himself as a war criminal but as a victim — a leader wronged by corruption and a hypocritical hand of justice with a political agenda.
“I never stood a chance,” he said last week during his final courtroom stand last week. “Only time will tell how many other African heads of state will be destroyed.”
Taylor made a plea for why he should be spared the harshest sentence for his conviction on aiding and abetting war crimes.
He said he was saddened by last month’s guilty verdict, in which the court said he had assisted Revolutionary United Front rebels who fueled Sierra Leone’s long and bloody civil war that ultimately left 50,000 dead or missing.
Taylor, who has expressed no remorse, has insisted his intent was far from what had been portrayed by prosecutors and described himself as a peacemaker.
He blamed money for an unfair trial, claiming prosecutors received millions of dollars from the United States government and witnesses were paid off.
Last month’s landmark ruling by the Special Court for Sierra Leone against Taylor was the first war crimes conviction of a former head of state by an international court since the Nuremberg trials after World War II that convicted Adm. Karl Doenitz, who became president of Germany briefly after Adolf Hitler’s suicide.
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was tried by an international tribunal, but he died before a judgment was issued.
Taylor, 64, was found guilty of all 11 counts of aiding and abetting the deadly rebel campaign in Sierra Leone and mining diamonds to pay for guns.
The prosecutors failed, however, to prove that Taylor assumed direct command over the rebels who committed the atrocities.
He was a pivotal figure in Liberian politics for decades and was forced out of office under international pressure in 2003. He fled to Nigeria, where border guards arrested him three years later as he was attempting to cross into Chad.
The United Nations and the Sierra Leone government jointly set up the special tribunal to try those who played the biggest role in the atrocities. The court was moved to Netherlands from Sierra Leone, where emotions about the civil war still run high.