Judges weigh jail term for war crimes convict Taylor | News | DW | 16.05.2012
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Judges weigh jail term for war crimes convict Taylor

Prosecutors and defense lawyers argue further in The Hague Wednesday over the length of jail term for the Liberian war crimes convict Charles Taylor. Judges are expected to give him 30 minutes to make an address.

Prosecutors before the special court set up in the aftermath of Sierra Leone's 1991–2001 civil war want Taylor jailed in Britain on cumulative terms amounting to 80 years.

His defense attorneys have already characterized this as "excessive" and have signaled that he will appeal the conviction.

Taylor is expected to address the court on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, chief prosecutor Brenda Hollis said the 64-year-old should be jailed for 80 years.

"His involvement was more pervasive than that of other senior RUF leaders ... he was the person continually fuelling the fire," Hollis told the court.

The UN-backed-court for Sierra Leone is to pronounce its sentence on May 30.

Intertwined civil wars

Last month, tribunal judges found the former warlord-turned-president guilty of arming and aiding Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels who killed thousands in neighboring Sierra Leone in a grisly mix of massacres, mutilations and trading in uncut gems called "blood diamonds." Intertwined civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia claimed more than 50,000 lives.

Then Liberian President Taylor in military uniform as he makes a televised address in 2003

Taylor in miltiary garb in 2003

The Liberian was convicted on 11 charges, including terrorism, rape and conscripting child soldiers, but judges concluded that Taylor's role "fell short of command and control" of rebel forces inside Sierra Leone. The RUF's feared leader Foday Sankoh died in 2003. Tayor was Liberia's president from 1997 until 2003, when he departed as his own country's civil war ebbed.

Authorities arrested Taylor in Nigerian exile in 2006 as he tried to flee further and sent him back to Sierra Leone and then on to The Hague because of security concerns.

ipj/mz (AFP, Reuter, AP)