By Zach Waksman
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – A prosecutor’s brief submitted Thursday recommends that former Liberia President Charles Taylor, who was convicted of war crimes before the Special Court for Sierra Leone on April 26, serve 80 years for his transgressions. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 16. His ultimate fate will be announced on May 30.
On April 26, Taylor was found guilty on eleven charges—including acts of terrorism, rape, pillage, and sexual slavery—pertaining to his involvement in Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war. He provided support to the Revolutionary United Front in the form of arms and finances in exchange for “blood diamonds.” According to the brief, his participation was “willing and enthusiastic,” and continued even as he publicly took part in peace negotiations. The brief called him a “two-faced Janus.” Taylor is the first former head of state to be convicted by an international tribunal since the Nuremberg Trials that took place after World War II.
In describing the former Liberian leader, the Prosecutor’s brief described him as more than “a simple weapons procurer or financier who sat on the sidelines of a civil war raging in a neighbouring country …” Instead, he helped plan the three bloodiest incursions of the conflict, including the invasion of Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital. Thousands of people died, with thousands more raped, enslaved, or crippled by limb amputation. Taylor’s involvement proved so direct that the prosecutor concluded that “but for [his] criminal conduct, thousands of people would not have had limbs amputated, would not have been raped, would not have been killed.”
Each party will have one hour for closing arguments at the May 16 hearing. Taylor will also have permission to speak for 30 minutes. If convicted, he will serve his sentence in a British prison.
For more information, please see:
Liberian Observer — Prosecutor Seeks 80 Years for Taylor — 05 May 2012
Guardian (UK) — Charles Taylor Should Face 80 Years in Jail, UN Prosecution Urges — 04 May 2012
BBC — Sierra Leone Trial: 80 Years Urged for Charles Taylor — 03 May 2012
Special Court for Sierra Leone — Prosecution Sentencing Brief — 03 May 2012
Liberian Journal — Charles Taylor’s War Crimes Sentence Hearing Set for May 16 — 26 April 2012