Ex-Liberian President was found guilty today of war crimes during a conflict that left 50,000 people dead, MSNBC is reporting. The U.N. supported the historic ruling, after Taylor was charged with murder, rape, conscripting child soldiers and sexual slavery during wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone. However, the ex-President was only found guilty of some of the charges against him.
Taylor was convicted of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity. He supported notoriously brutal rebels in exchange for blood diamonds. He was the first head of state to be convicted by an international court since the post-World War II Nuremberg military trial.
The warlord-turned president provided arms, ammunition, communications equipment and planning to rebels who committed countless atrocities in the 1991-2002 Sierra Leone civil war, presiding Judge Richard Lussick said. Taylor was cleared by the Special Court for Sierra Leone of direct command responsibility, as he had no direct control over the rebels he supported.
Taylor, who was president of Liberia from 1997 to 2003, has a sentencing hearing scheduled for May 16. His sentence will be given two weeks later.
Thousands of people celebrated in Sierra Leone after he was convicted. Human rights advocates said the case is a reminder that even the most powerful people don’t enjoy impunity.
Written by: Karen Benardello