Liberia's Taylor to serve sentence in UK jail

Former president and warlord to serve out his 50-year war crimes sentence in British prison, UK government says.

    Liberia's Taylor to serve sentence in UK jail
    As president from 1997 to 2003, Taylor supplied guns and ammunition to rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone [AFP]

    Liberia's former president and warlord Charles Taylor is to serve out his 50-year prison sentence for war crimes in a British jail, Britain confirmed on Thursday.

    Taylor, 65, is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars in Britain after the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in The Hague upheld his sentence for arming rebels during Sierra Leone's brutal civil war during the 1990s.

    "Former president Taylor will now be transferred to a prison in the UK to serve that sentence," Britain's junior justice minister Jeremy Wright said in a statement to parliament.

    The justice ministry refused to disclose which jail would house the former strongman. "We don't comment on individual cases," a ministry spokeswoman told AFP news agency.

    SCSL public affairs chief Peter Andersen confirmed that the order to send Taylor to a British jail was made public on Thursday.

    But Andersen reiterated that the specific jail "would be a matter for the British authorities".

    He confirmed that Taylor on Thursday afternoon was still at the UN's detention unit in The Hague.

    Crimes against humanity

    Taylor's landmark sentence - on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity - was the first handed down by an international court against a former head of state since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg in 1946.

    He had been arrested in 2006 and sentenced at The Hague last year for "some of the most heinous crimes in human history".

    As Liberia's president from 1997 to 2003, Taylor supplied guns and ammunition to rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone in a conflict notorious for its mutilations, drugged child soldiers and sex slaves, judges said.

    He had maintained his innocence throughout the seven-year case in a trial which had heard evidence from witnesses including actress Mia Farrow and supermodel Naomi Campbell - who told of a gift of diamonds believed to have been given by Taylor in 1997.

    The British government had offered in 2007 to house Taylor in a British jail if he was convicted, and to cover the costs of his imprisonment.

    His lawyer Morris Anyah had suggested after his appeal was turned down last month, that the former west African strongman would prefer to go to Rwanda to be closer to his family.

    Thursday's decision "will leave Charles Taylor more isolated from his family, friends and broader support structures than would have been the case had he been ordered to serve out his sentence in Rwanda", Anyah said.

    SOURCE: AFP


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