Liberia’s ex-President Charles Taylor has been sentenced to 50 years in jail by a UN-backed war crimes court.
Last month Taylor was found guilty of aiding and abetting rebels in Sierra Leone during the 1991-2002 civil war.
Special Court for Sierra Leone judges said the sentence reflected his status as head of state at the time and his betrayal of public trust.
Taylor, 64, insists he is innocent and his lawyer has told the BBC he will appeal against the sentence.
In Sierra Leone, where victims of the war gathered in silence to watch the hearing on a large screen in a courtroom in the capital, Freetown, the sentence was welcomed.
The chairman of the country’s Amputees’ Association, Edward Conteh, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme it came as a “relief” as Taylor was likely to spend the rest of his life in jail.
“It is a step forward as justice has been done, though the magnitude of the sentence is not commensurate with the atrocities committed,” AP news agency quotes Deputy Information Minister Sheku Tarawali as saying.
Taylor, wearing a suit and yellow tie, showed no emotion during the hearing.
“The accused has been found responsible for aiding and abetting some of the most heinous crimes in human history,” Judge Richard Lussick said.
The crimes – which took place over five years – included cutting off the limbs of their victims and cutting open pregnant women to settle bets over the sex of their unborn children, he said.
The prosecution had wanted an 80-year prison term to reflect the severity of the crimes and the central role that Taylor had in facilitating them.
But the judge said that would have been excessive – taking into account the limited scope of his involvement in planning operations in Sierra Leone.
Read more at the BBC…