[JURIST] The UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website] Thursday sentenced three former leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council [MIPT backgrounder] to at least 45 years of imprisonment each [hearing transcript, PDF; press release, PDF]. Brima Bazzy Kamara was sentenced to serve 45 years, while Alex Tamba Brima and Santigie Borbor Kanu were each sentenced to 50 years after being convicted of committing war crimes [JURIST report] while leading the militia that took over Sierra Leone's government in 1997. SCSL prosecutor Stephen Rapp welcomed the lengthy sentences, saying the crimes committed by Brima, Kamara, and Kanu "shock the conscience of humankind" [press release, PDF]. The group raped, murdered, and mutilated civilians, burned villages, and abducted thousands of children to fight as soldiers or work as laborers in diamond mines. The verdict, which came more than 2 years after the trial started [JURIST report], was the first ever conviction on the recruitment and use of child soldiers by an international tribunal.
The three militia leaders have the right to appeal their conviction. If that appeal fails, it is likely that they will serve their sentences in Europe out of concerns for security. BBC News has more.