UK & World News
Charles Taylor Gets 50 Years For War Crimes
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor, the first African leader to be convicted of war crimes, has been jailed for 50 years.
The 64-year-old is likely to serve his term in the UK as Britain is the only country to say it is willing to take him in.
Taylor was found guilty last month of aiding and arming rebels who killed and mutilated thousands in neighbouring Sierra Leone during a brutal civil war which went on for more than a decade.
In the UN-backed war crimes court near The Hague, judge Richard Lussick said there was no legal precedent by which to determine a sentence, but the term was intended to reflect Taylor's position of authority.
"He was found responsible for aiding and abetting some of the most heinous and brutal crimes in recorded history," he said, reading out the sentencing.
"Leadership must be carried out by example by the prosecution of crimes not the commission of crimes."
He said the sentence is intended to "underscore the gravity it attached to the betrayal of public trust."
The prosecution demanded an 80-year sentence in one of Britain's maximum security jails, but Taylor appealed for a shorter sentence.
Both sides are expected to appeal.
Taylor is the first head of state to be convicted by an international tribunal since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg, after he became notorious for feeding the illicit trade in blood or conflict diamonds.
Taylor was convicted of 11 counts of murder, rape, conscripting child soldiers and sexual slavery during the civil war in Sierra Leone.
More than 120,000 people were killed.
Reacting from Sierra Leone, deputy minister of information Sheka Tarawalie said: "Today the people of Sierra Leone, the victims, and ordinary observers inside and outside the country would believe that some kind of justice has been done."
Geraldine Mattioli-Zeltner of Human Rights Watch said: "It is really significant that Taylor's status as a former head of state was taken as an aggravating factor as far as his sentence was concerned."
The trial, which saw model Naomi Campbell testify she had received diamonds from Taylor at a dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela, finished in March 2011.