Charles Taylor to serve 50-year sentence in UK

[JURIST] Former Liberian president Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] will serve his 50-year sentence for war crimes [JURIST report] in the UK, according to a written statement to Parliament [text, PDF] from the UK Ministry of Justice [official website] on Thursday. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice Jeremy Wright [official profile] said that Taylor will be transferred to the UK, pursuant to a request by Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) President George Gelaga King [official websites]. Wright said that the UK's "offer to enforce any sentence imposed on former President Taylor by the SCSL was crucial to ensuring that he could be transferred to The Hague to stand trial for his crimes." SCSL sentences may be enforced in the UK pursuant to the International Tribunals (Sierra Leone) Act 2007 [text, PDF], and the UK will cover any associated costs. Wright said that Taylor's conviction is a "landmark moment for international justice."

In September the SCSL rejected an appeal [judgment] by Taylor. According to a press release [text] from the court, Taylor's lawyers appealed his convictions on 42 grounds, arguing that the Trial Chamber erred in evaluating evidence and that the 50-year sentence was "manifestly unreasonable." The court ruled that his guilt had been proved beyond doubt and upheld Taylor's 50-year sentence. The sentence came after Trial Chamber II convicted Taylor of planning as well as aiding and abetting crimes committed by rebel forces in exchange for diamonds during the civil war, including acts of terrorism, murder, rape, sexual slavery, conscripting or enlisting children into armed forces, enslavement and pillage.

 

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