The former Liberian President Charles Taylor has lost his appeal against a 50-year jail term for war crimes at a special UN-backed tribunal in The Hague.
Rejecting defence claims that trial judges had made legal and factual errors, the appeal court upheld Taylor’s conviction for aiding and abetting what one judge called “brutal and heinous” crimes.
The ex Liberian president was found guilty in May last year of backing rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone who were notorious for atrocities during the country’s long civil war between 1991-2002.
Despite proclaiming his innocence he was convicted of 11 crimes including aiding and abetting murder, rape, and the use of child soldiers. Witnesses said he armed rebels in exchange for diamonds mined by slave labourers.
Taylor is the first former head of state to be found guilty by an international war crimes court since the Second World War.
Many saw the case as a sign that no longer would African warlords escape justice.