The United Nations special court for Sierra Leone in The Hague has turn down an appeal application by former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor who was sentence to 50 years in prison in May 2012.
Mr. Taylor was found guilty in his trial of 11 crimes including terrorism, rape, murder and the use of child soldiers by rebel groups in neighboring Sierra Leone during the civil war of 1991-2002.
The court said Charles Taylor had supplied weapons to the Revolutionary United Front rebels in exchange for a constant flow of so-called blood diamonds.
He was therefore, sentenced to 50 years imprisonment in May 2012 for aiding rebels who committed atrocities in Sierra Leone during the country’s civil war.
But Mr. Taylor has always insisted he is innocent and his only contact with the rebels was to urge them to stop fighting and did not fuel it.
His lawyers also say there were legal errors during his trial. But judge George King told the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) that Mr. Taylor’s trial is fail.
“The appeals chamber affirms the sentence of 50 years in prison and orders that the sentence be imposed immediately, his conduct had a significant effect on the commission of crimes in Sierra Leone”.
“The Appeals Chamber is of the opinion that the sentence imposed by the trial chamber is fair in the light of the totality of the crimes committed,” Judge King said.
Judge King also said Taylor’s lawyers had failed to demonstrate any errors in the trial chamber’s reasoning.
This means that Charles Taylor will immediately begin his sentence in a foreign jail. The UK has offered to accept him at a British prison and other possible destinations include Sweden or Rwanda.
The appeal hearing was broadcast live on national television in Sierra Leone and local reporters say people are happy that the court has upheld its earlier ruling by bringing justice to the people of Sierra Leone
Presidential spokesman in Sierra Leone, Unisa Sesay told the BBC Focus on Africa Programme that the trial had brought relief to Sierra Leone.
“The end of the Charles Taylor trial presents a final closure to a long and sad episode in our nation’s history.
“It’s fair and open nature, although torturous, is a practical demonstration of accountability and rule of law in state governance”, he added.
Various Human rights groups have welcomed the outcome of the appeal including Amnesty International.
In a statement, Amnesty International said the trial sent a clear message to leaders across the world that no-one is immune from justice.
“The conviction of those responsible for crimes committed during Sierra Leone’s conflict has brought some measure of justice for the tens of thousands of victims; the conviction of Charles Taylor must pave the way for further prosecutions’’, the statement said.
Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor was born on the 28th of January 1948 and he became the 22nd President of Liberia, serving from 2 August 1997 until he resigned in 2003 in an effort led by African leaders and the United States of America to end the vicious civil war in both Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa News