Judges to Hear Oral Arguments in Charles Taylor Sentencing

Posted May 16th, 2012 at 3:20 am (UTC-5)
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Former Liberian President Charles Taylor is expected to speak in his own defense on Wednesday as judges hear oral arguments in the sentencing phase of his war crimes trial.

The U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone last month found Taylor guilty on 11 counts of crimes against humanity, including acts of terrorism, murder and rape.

Taylor is expected to reject the prosecution's call for an 80-year jail sentence in a British prison. His attorneys say the proposed 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 at the Hague-based court 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.

Taylor and his lawyers have rejected the tribunal, saying it is part of a Western conspiracy against him and other black Africans.

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.