Charles Taylor Takes Stand in Sentencing Phase of War Crimes Trial

Posted May 16th, 2012 at 6:25 am (UTC-5)
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Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has taken the stand in his own defense at a U.N.-backed tribunal, as judges heard oral arguments Wednesday in the sentencing phase of his war crimes trial.

Taylor said the Hague-based court “did not have the full contextual picture” of his case when it found him guilty last month on 11 counts of crimes against humanity, including acts of terrorism, murder and rape.

He also accused the prosecution of paying witnesses to testify against him and accused the court of being part of a Western conspiracy against him and other black Africans.

Taylor's attorneys have rejected the prosecution's call for an 80-year jail sentence in a British prison, saying the sentence is overly harsh and places too much blame for Sierra Leone's wartime atrocities on Taylor.

Prosecutors said Taylor masterminded Sierra Leone's civil war in the 1990s, arming and assisting rebels in exchange for “blood diamonds” mined in eastern Sierra Leone.

He is due to be sentenced on May 30.

The court found Taylor did not have command and control of the rebels, but was aware of their activities and provided them with weapons and other supplies.

He is the first African head of state to be brought before an international tribunal to face charges for mass atrocities and violations of international humanitarian law.