Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was found guilty of war crimes on Thursday for the role he played in Sierra Leone's bloody civil war. The verdict was welcomed by human rights groups and crowds in Freetown. The United Nations-backed special court is expected to sentence him late next month.
Liberia's former President Charles Taylor was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity Thursday by a U.N.-backed special tribunal in The Hague. Taylor, 64, faces a possible sentence of life in prison for his role in the atrocities committed during Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war.
Taylor was found guilty on 11 counts, including murder, conscription of child soldiers, rape and sexual slavery. He was tried before a Special Court for Sierra Leone for supplying weapons to the brutal rebel group Revolutionary United Front (RUF) during Sierra Leone's bloody civil war, which ended in 2001. In return, the rebels reportedly supplied him with raw diamonds.
In her summation of the case, Prosecutor Brenda Hollis argued that Taylor was directly responsible for the horrors in Sierra Leone. She built the case that, with Taylor's approval, the RUF terrorized villagers in Sierra Leone, cutting the limbs off of countless victims, forcing young girls into sexual slavery, and turning children and teenagers, with the help of drugs, into violent soldiers. More than 100,000 people are believed to have died during the conflict.
"The accused is criminally responsible ... for aiding and abetting in the crimes," Presiding Judge Richard Lussick said as he read out the court's decision.
Taylor's attorney, Courtenay Griffiths, told reporters after the verdict was announced that the case based on "tainted and corrupt evidence."