UK & World News
Taylor To Serve War Crimes Sentence In UK
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor will serve his 50-year war crimes sentence in a UK prison, the Government has confirmed.
Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said Taylor would be transferred to a British jail following his conviction by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
The ex-warlord was sentenced in May 2012 for aiding rebels who committed atrocities during Sierra Leone's civil war.
He was found guilty of 11 crimes including terrorism, murder, rape and the use of child soldiers by groups fighting in the 1991-2002 conflict.
Judge Richard Lussick said Taylor was responsible for "some of the most heinous crimes in human history".
The conviction made him the first former head of state to be found guilty of war crimes since World War II.
Taylor has always claimed he is innocent, saying he only made contact with the rebels to urge them to stop fighting.
Sweden and Rwanda were thought to be possible destinations for his to serve his sentence, but Mr Wright confirmed his transfer to the UK in a written statement to Parliament.
He said: "International justice is central to foreign policy.
"It is essential for securing the rights of individuals and states, and for securing peace and reconciliation.
"The conviction of Charles Taylor is a landmark moment for international justice.
"It clearly demonstrates that those who commit atrocities will be held to account and that no matter their position they will not enjoy impunity."
More than 50,000 people were killed during Sierra Leone's brutal 11-year civil war.
Thousands more were left mutilated in the conflict that became known for the extreme cruelty of rival rebel groups who hacked off the limbs of their victims and carved their initials into their opponents' flesh.
Taylor helped plan attacks in return for "blood diamonds" mined by slave labourers in Sierra Leone and political influence in the volatile West African region.
He was convicted not only of aiding and abetting Sierra Leone rebels from Liberia, but also for actually planning some of the attacks carried out by rebel groups such as the Revolutionary United Front and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell and actress Mia Farrow gave evidence at the trial about Taylor apparently giving Ms Campbell blood diamonds in 1997 after a dinner in South Africa hosted by Nelson Mandela.
It is not the first time Britain has hosted a foreign war criminal - four men convicted of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia served time in British jails.
The men spent time in high-security prisons, with one former Bosnian Serb general stabbed at Wakefield prison apparently in retaliation for the massacre of Muslims in the UN safe haven of Srebrenica in 1995.
The former president of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, would have stayed in a British jail on his conviction, but died in 2006 while he was on trial in The Hague.