27 August 2013

Liberia: War Crimes Court to Rule On Charles Taylor Appeal

A war crimes court will rule next month on the appeal of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who is seeking to overturn his conviction and 50-year prison sentence.

The U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone said Tuesday that its appeals chamber will issue its judgment on Taylor on September 26 in The Hague.

Last year, the tribunal ruled that Taylor helped to plan, aid and abet brutal crimes committed by rebels during Sierra Leone's civil war. The court found him guilty on 11 charges, including acts of terrorism, murder, rape, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers.

Defense lawyers appealed, arguing that judges had made systematic errors during Taylor's trial, and that the sentence was too severe.

Prosecutors also appealed, arguing that Taylor personally ordered rebels to commit crimes, and that his sentence was too light. The prosecutors want Taylor's prison time to be increased to 80 years.

Taylor was president of Liberia from 1997 to 2003, when he was forced to resign under international pressure.

He was accused of giving weapons to a Sierra Leone rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front, in exchange for so-called blood diamonds.

After a three-year exile in Nigeria, he was returned to Liberia in 2006 and transferred to the Special Court.

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