THE HAGUE (Reuters) – On Thursday Charles Taylor, Liberia’s president from 1997 to 2003, was found guilty of war crimes in Sierra Leone by the special tribunal to try those responsible for atrocities committed during the civil war in that country.
At 64, he became the first former African head of state convicted by an international court.
“The accused is criminally responsible (…) to have aided and abetted the commission of crimes,” said Judge Richard Lussick, listing the eleven charges, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) .
Reading the judgment lasted over two hours.
Charles Taylor was held in particular for his alleged responsibility for war crimes against humanity and, in particular murder, rape, sexual slavery and conscripting child soldiers during the war in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2002, which killed more than 50,000 people and thousands maimed.
Wearing a dark blue suit and maroon tie, Taylor, who pleaded not guilty, remained calm and silent reading of the verdict.
Charles Taylor was indicted in 2003 during the last years of his term by the SCSL before being arrested three years later. He was transferred in 2006 to be held in a room relocated the SCSL, in buildings of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
He is accused of commanding and covertly armed the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone, which borders Liberia, providing them with weapons in exchange for diamonds.