31 May 2012
Special Court for Sierra Leone sentences Charles Taylor to 50 years in prison
On 30 May, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) sentenced Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, to 50 years in prison for planning and aiding and abetting crimes that were committed by rebel forces in Sierra Leone during the civil war (1991-2002).
He was convicted on eleven charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes for his role in Sierra Leone’s civil war. The SCSL held that Charles Taylor did not command the rebels, as was alleged by the prosecution. However, the Court did find that he sold diamonds for and supplied fighters and weapons to the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), and knew that the rebels committed atrocities against civilians.
Taylor has been sentenced to a term of 50 years in prison. Justice Richard Lussick, reading out the judgment, stated that case law of the SCSL and other Tribunals “holds that aiding and abetting as a mode of liability generally warrants a lesser sentence than that imposed for more direct forms of participation”, but his leadership role puts Taylor “in a class of his own.” Justice Lussick also stated that “In the Trial Chamber’s view, this betrayal [of the public trust] outweighs the distinction that might otherwise pertain to the modes of liability discussed above.”