Having convicted former Liberian President Charles Taylor of various crimes against humanity, atrocities committed during his brutal regime, which was deposed in 2003, the International Criminal Court in The Hague, has handed down a sentence of incarceration for a period of 50 years with six years of time served.
Preliminary to announcing the sentence, the court recounted some of the horrific testimony given by survivors of Taylor’s reign of terror against the people of Sierra Leone. Taylor had risen to power in Liberia as the head of a rebel group that unseated the previous President, Samuel Doe. While Taylor was not found guilty of having personally been involved in the atrocities in the Sierra Leone Civil War, he was found guilty of having supported the brutality with both material supplies of arms and men and being knowledgeable of them and having helped to plan and direct them. The maximum sentence in this type of crime is 80 years. Taylor is 64 years old. This sentence of 44 years amounts to life in prison.
The Court decided that Taylor has shown no signs of remorse over the crimes and is unlikely to be rehabilitated by incarceration. They also found that Taylor was not singled out as a scapegoat for the atrocities. Taylor has been in custody in The Hague since 2006, and was in “custody” in Nigeria for over two years under “house arrest.” Taylor’s defense attorneys had requested that credit for time served by given for the time in Nigeria as well as the time served in custody by the Sierra Leone Special Court, but the ICC decided that the time in Nigeria was time spent avoiding arrest and incarceration. The ICC rejected all of Taylor’s defense teams arguments for mitigation of sentence. The ICC found, however, that the extra-territorial nature of Taylor’s crimes and his abuse and betrayal of public trust in his position, as well as his personal profiting from the pilfering of diamonds from Sierra Leone during the civil war, as aggravating his guilt making his crimes equivalent to the crimes of those who were physically involved in the atrocities.