[JURIST] Former Liberian president Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] asked Wednesday to be sentenced [press release, PDF] with an eye toward “reconciliation, not retribution.” Speaking during a sentencing hearing before the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website] in The Hague, Taylor claimed [transcript text, PDF] he had “sadness and deepest sympathy for the atrocities and crimes suffered in Sierra Leone” but that he was not responsible for actions taken by rebel forces during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war. Taylor went on to say “my actions were genuine and done with one thing in mind—helping to bring peace to Sierra Leone, thus providing an enabling environment for progress in both countries.” Taylor did not go so far as to apologize or express remorse for his role in the war. Sentencing will be announced on May 30 and both the prosecution and the defense will have the opportunity to appeal within 14 days of that announcement.
Taylor was convicted [JURIST report] last month on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone’s civil war. The court unanimously found him responsible for acts of terrorism, murder, rape and sexual slavery, other inhumane acts, outrages on personal dignity, physical violence, enslavement, pillage, and the conscription and enlistment of child soldiers stemming from from a “campaign to terrorize the civilian population” of Sierra Leone [JURIST news archive]. Earlier this month, the chief prosecutor at the SCSL recommended an 80-year sentence [JURIST report] for Taylor.