Liberia’s former president Charles Taylor was found guilty of war crimes by the Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone in the Hague. The judges issued the verdict today, marking the first time that an international tribunal convicts a former African president.
The judges found that prosecutors proved beyond reasonable doubt that Taylor was “criminally responsible” for war crimes by supporting brutal Sierra Leone RUF (Revolutionary United Front) rebels in return for blood diamonds.
The former Liberian President pleaded not guilty to all 11 counts, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, murder, rape, torture and recruiting of child soldiers committed during the long civil war in Sierra Leone (1989-2003) that left over 500,000 dead.
In a blue suit and red tie, Taylor appeared calm when the judges read the verdict, aired live on large screens in Freetown and Monrovia. The sentence against Charles Taylor will be handed down in a hearing on May 30.