Taylor responsible for Sierra Leone crimes
|Ex Liberian President|
LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands (AP) — In a historic ruling, an international court convicted former Liberian President Charles Taylor on Thursday of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity for supporting notoriously brutal rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone in return for blood diamonds.
Presiding Judge Richard Lussick said the 64-year-old warlord-turned-president provided arms, ammunition, communications equipment and planning to rebels responsible for countless atrocities in the 1991-2002 Sierra Leone civil war. Lussick called the support "sustained and significant."
"Mr. Taylor, the trial chamber unanimously finds you guilty" of 11 charges including terror, murder, rape and conscripting child soldiers, Lussick told
Human rights activists hailed the convictions as a watershed moment in the fight against impunity for national leaders responsible for atrocities.
conviction sends a powerful message that even those in the highest level
positions can be held to account for grave crimes," said Elise Keppler of Human Rights Watch.
"Not since Taylor
has an international or hybrid war crimes court issued a judgment against a current
or former head of state. This is a victory for Sierra Leonean victims, and all
those seeking justice when the worst abuses are committed." Nuremberg
While judges convicted him of aiding and abetting atrocities by rebels, they cleared him of direct command responsibility, saying he had no direct control over the rebels he supported.