The Hague: Liberia's ex-president Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in jail by a UN-backed war crimes court on Wednesday for aiding and abetting rebels in Sierra Leone during the 1991-2002 civil war.
Special Court for Sierra Leone judges here said the sentence reflected Taylor's status as head of state at the time and his betrayal of public trust, BBC reporetd. He was found guilty last month.
While sentencing, Judge Richard Lussick described the crimes in Sierra Leone as some of the most heinous in human history.
The prosecution had sought 80-year prison term for Taylor. The judge, however, said that would have been excessive -- taking into account the limited scope of his involvement in planning operations in Sierra Leone.
Judge Lussick, however, said in return for a constant flow of diamonds, Taylor provided arms and logistical and moral support to the Revolutionary United Front rebels - prolonging the conflict and the suffering of people in Sierra Leone.
"While Mr Taylor never set foot in Sierra Leone, his heavy footprint is there," the judge said.
In April, the court in its landmark ruling found Taylor guilty on 11 counts, relating to atrocities that included rape and murder.
Taylor became the first former head of state to be convicted of war crimes by an international court since the Nuremburg trials of Nazis by victorious Allied forces after World War II in 1945-46.
First Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 15:40