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Taylor Sierra Leone war crimes trial verdict welcome

We are very much relieved that Taylor will be punished for his crimes against humanity. At Sierra Care, we have been following this story from day one of Taylor’s indictment.
 Please read this excerpt from the BBC World:

Human rights groups have welcomed the guilty verdict against former Liberian leader Charles Taylor.

The UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague said he aided and abetted war crimes during the Sierra Leone civil war.

Taylor, 64, has been on trial for almost five years.

“This is an incredibly significant decision,” Elise Keppler from the campaign group Human Rights Watch told the BBC.

“Charles Taylor has been called to account for the crimes in Sierra Leone. It is an incredible day for international justice but most of all for victims in Sierra Leone and everywhere,” she added.

Taylor was accused of backing rebels who killed tens of thousands of people in Sierra Leone’s 1991-2002 civil war. He was convicted on 11 counts including terror, murder and rape – but cleared of ordering the crimes.

David Crane was the first prosecutor for the Special court for Sierra Leone. In 2003 he signed the indictment against Charles Taylor. He told the BBC’s Newshour programme that it was irrelevant that he was not convicted on all charges.

“When I drafted that indictment and signed it there were three [charges] and you only had to [find him guilty on] one, so therefore at the end of the day it’s what they did with the charges that matters, and they found him guilty as charged… of the horror story in Sierra Leone,” he said.

Taylor is the first former head of state convicted by an international court since the Nuremburg military tribunal of Nazis after World War II.

Another group, Amnesty International, said the verdict sent an important message to all high-ranking state officials.

Diamonds for weapons

“While today’s conviction brings some measure of justice to the people of Sierra Leone, Taylor and the others sentenced by the Special Court are just the tip of the iceberg,” the group’s Brima Abdulai Sheriff said in a statement.

The US State Department said the ruling sent “a strong message to all perpetrators of atrocities, including those in the highest positions of power, that they will be held accountable”.