Charles Taylor found guilty of war crimes

The Hague, Netherlands–An international tribunal convicted former Liberian President Charles Taylor on Thursday of planning, aiding and abetting war crimes during the civil war in Sierra Leone, the 1990s conflict that gave rise to the term “blood diamond” because the stones were used to provide guns and ammunition for rebel groups.

Handed down in The Hague, the ruling in the case said that the now-64-year-old Taylor was guilty of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, rape, the enlistment of child soldiers and sexual slavery, according to various news reports. He provided weapons, food, medical supplies, fuel and equipment to forces in Sierra Leone that committed atrocities during that country’s civil war.

In return for supplying weapons, Taylor received blood or “conflict” diamonds from Sierra Leone, including one 45-carat and two 25-carat diamonds, the judge said during the trial.

However, Taylor was found not guilty of either ordering or planning the atrocities.

The six-year-long trial attracted widespread media attention, most notably in the summer of 2010 when supermodel Naomi Campbell took the stand to testify about some diamonds, which she referred to as “dirty little pebbles,” she had received from the former Liberian leader in 1997.

In a statement issued Thursday, the U.S. State Department welcomed the ruling and said the trial is of “enormous historical and legal significance,” because Taylor is the first “powerful” head of state to be brought to judgment before an international tribunal on charges of mass atrocities and violations of international humanitarian law.

The sentencing hearing for Taylor, who has maintained his innocence, is set for May 16. A final decision on his sentence is expected later that month.

We publish courtesy of National Jeweler

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