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Charles Taylor offers sympathy to victims

May 16, 2012 at 8:04 AM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, May 16 (UPI) -- Former Liberian leader Charles Taylor says prosecution witnesses were paid or coerced to testify at his war crimes trial at The Hague in the Netherlands.

In a statement Wednesday from a witness box, Taylor condemned atrocities around the world and expressed sympathy for victims of war crimes in Sierra Leone, the BBC reported.

It was Taylor's last chance to address the Special Court for Sierra Leone before he is sentenced May 30. He was convicted in April of aiding and abetting in the commission of 11 war crimes or crimes against humanity during overlapping wars in Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone.

The 64-year-old former president could face up to 80 years in prison for supporting Revolutionary United Front rebels. He was found to have used so-called blood diamonds to purchase weapons to fuel the rebellion.

Taylor is the first sitting or former head of state to face prosecution by a U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal.

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