The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website] on Wednesday sentenced [press release, PDF] former Liberian president Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to 50 years in prison for war crimes committed during the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone [JURIST news archive]. The sentence came after Trial Chamber II convicted [judgment, PDF] Taylor of planning as well as aiding and abetting crimes committed by rebel forces in exchange for diamonds during the civil war, including acts of terrorism, murder, rape, sexual slavery, conscripting or enlisting children into armed forces, enslavement and pillage. The three justices noted that although aiding and abetting is usually given a lesser punishment, the significance and seriousness of Taylor's case "puts him in a class of his own." Taylor will be detained and serve his time in a prison in the UK but still has 14 days starting from the date of the sentencing judgment to appeal.
Wednesday's sentence seemed not to be heavily affected by Taylor's request [JURIST report] earlier this month that the court sentence him based on "reconciliation, not retribution." He expressed [transcript, PDF] sadness for the death of civilians during the civil war, but he stated that he was not responsible for the actions committed by the rebel forces, contrary to the sentencing judgment. However, the term of imprisonment was 30 years shorter than what the prosecutors initially demanded. A week before Taylor's request, the prosecution asked the court for a 80-year sentence against Taylor after he was convicted [JURIST reports] in April on all 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.