Charles Taylor loses war crimes appeal

Sept. 26, 2013 at 12:52 PM
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- A special court for former Liberian President Charles Taylor affirmed his 50-year sentence imposed for war crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone's civil war.

At least 50,000 people were killed during the 11-year civil war in Sierra Leone that ended in 2001.Taylor was sentenced by a U.N. special court in May 2012 to 50 years in prison for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity committed by rebel forces in the West African country during the conflict.

An appeals court for the Special Court for Sierra Leone issued a unanimous decision to uphold the 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity filed against the former Liberian president.

The court said Thursday it dismissed a challenge from the defense by restating its charges were based on a combination of direct, circumstantial and hearsay evidence.

"None of its findings were based on uncorroborated hearsay evidence," a court statement said.

The court said it also dismissed a challenge from the defense that said the conviction was "legally erroneous" because Taylor hadn't assisted individual soldiers in committing crimes against humanity. The appeals chamber affirmed the court's original position, however, that Taylor "aided and abetted the planning, preparation and execution of that strategy and thus the crimes."

Prosecutors, in a 77-page sentencing brief filed last year, described decapitated heads placed at checkpoints, public disembowelments, public rapes and the burning to death of civilians during the height of the war.

The court said Thursday the former president's sentence will be enforced immediately.

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