Prosecutors in the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor have said that he should be handed an 80-year sentence following his war crimes conviction in The Hague last week. In a brief, the team told the Special Court for Sierra Leone that the “extreme magnitude” of the crimes he committed warranted the long-term sentence.
The 64-year old was found guilty on 11 counts, including rape and murder, relating to the Sierra Leone civil war. He will be sentenced on 30 May. During the 1991-2002 civil war Taylor, who was president of Liberia, backed the Revolutionary United Front rebels who killed tens of thousands of people.
In return, he received “blood diamonds” collected by enslaved Sierra Leonians. In their sentencing brief, the prosecution team stated that Taylor “was not a simple weapons procurer or financier”.
Instead, they say he “planned the bloodiest chapter in Sierra Leone’s war – the Freetown invasion” and was instrumental in supporting the rebels in their strategy of “murders, rapes, sexual slavery, looting, child soldiers… and other forms of physical violence and acts of terror”. An 80-year sentence, the prosecutors claim, would reflect the severity of the crimes and the central role he had in facilitating them.
After a five-year trial, Taylor became the first former head of state convicted by an international court since the Nuremburg trial of Nazis after World War II when he was found guilty on April 26.
A sentence hearing is expected to be held on 16 May, with the sentence to be handed down on 30 May. Taylor has a right to appeal against the conviction, but if he loses that appeal he is expected to serve his sentence in a British prison.