The chief prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website] recommended Thursday that former Liberian president Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] be sentenced to 80 years for war crimes. Taylor was convicted [JURIST report] last week on all 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 16, and sentencing will take place May 30. The court may not impose the death penalty or a life sentence. Both the prosecution and the defense will have the opportunity to appeal within 14 days of the sentence. Also this week Morris Anyah was assigned as lead defense counsel [press release, PDF] for Taylor's appeal. He has served as co-counsel on Taylor's defense team since 2007.
In February Taylor's lawyers asked that the SCSL reopen the case [JURIST report] in light of new evidence, but the request was denied. The SCSL heard closing arguments [JURIST report] in March 2011. Taylor has denied the charges [JURIST report] against him, which include murder, rape, sexual slavery and acts of terrorism stemming from from a "campaign to terrorize the civilian population" of Sierra Leone [JURIST news archive]. Taylor's defense lawyers opened their case [JURIST report] in July 2009 and have claimed that he could not have commanded rebel forces in Sierra Leone while acting as the president of Liberia. His trial continued after the court denied his motion for acquittal [JURIST report] in May 2009.