Global Witness: Liberia's turn for justice

May 30, 2012 at 12:55 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 30 (UPI) -- With former Liberian President Charles Taylor sentenced to jail, an advocacy group said it was time for the Liberian government to establish its own court.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone announced from The Hague that former Liberian President Charles Taylor was sentenced Wednesday to 50 years in prison for planning and for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity committed by rebel forces in Sierra Leone.

Taylor was convicted in April on 11 counts of aiding and abetting in war crimes during overlapping civil wars. The court found Taylor knew of rebel atrocities committed in Sierra Leone during the country's 1991-2002 civil war. He was accused of using so-called blood diamonds to purchase weapons to fuel the rebellion.

Patrick Alley, founding director of Global Witness, said the Liberian government hasn't set up its own hybrid war crimes court.

"A quarter of a million people died in Liberia's equally brutal civil wars and yet many of those who committed these crimes, including companies and individuals that helped Taylor exploit the region's resources to fund war, continue to live freely," he said in a statement.

Prosecutors had asked for an 80-year prison term for the former Liberian president. Human Rights Watch said the sentence should serve as a message to other heads of state suspected of committing atrocities in their country.

Taylor, 64, is expected to issue an appeal to his prison term.

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