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A United Nations-backed court in The Hague has convicted former Liberian president Charles Taylor of war crimes.

The 64-year-old was found guilty of “aiding and abetting” rebel fighters who waged an 11-year civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Taylor is the first head of state convicted by an international court since the post-World War II Nuremberg trials. He is likely to be sentenced by the end of May and will serve his prison term in Britain.

The court heard how Taylor supported a notoriously brutal rebellion, which led to the deaths of around 50,000 people, in return for so-called blood diamonds.

Prosecutor Brenda Hollis says the verdict “reinforces the new reality that heads of state cannot hide behind their positions, and will be held to account for war crimes”.

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