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Ex Liberian president Taylor found guilty of 'aiding and abetting' war crimes

Liberia , Fri, 27 Apr 2012 ANI

Liberia, Apr 27(ANI): Former Liberian president Charles Taylor has been found guilty of arming Sierra Leone rebels, who paid him in "blood diamonds".

The UN court ruled that Taylor's practical assistance, including trade in blood diamonds and moral support had substantial impact on the commission of war crimes and "he knew it well".

"The accused knew of atrocities being perpetrated against civilians in Sierre Leone and of propensity to commit crimes. Notwithstanding such knowledge, the accused continued to provide support to the RUF during the period crimes were committed," the Telegraph quoted a judge, as saying.

The court, however, cleared him of direct command responsibility, saying he had no direct control over the rebels he supported.

Human rights activists have welcomed the judgment as a watershed moment against national leaders responsible for perpetrating atrocities.

"Taylor's conviction sends a powerful message that even those in the highest level positions can be held to account for grave crimes. Not since Nuremberg has an international or hybrid war crimes court issued a judgment against a current or former head of state. This is a victory for Sierra Leonean victims, and all those seeking justice when the worst abuses are committed," a Human Rights Watch worker Elise Keppler said

Taylor had earlier pleaded not guilty to all counts, and claimed that he was a peacemaker in West Africa.

Some 94 witnesses took the stand for the prosecution and 21 for the defence during Taylor's trial, which began on June 4, 2007. Taylor himself testified for 81 hours. (ANI)

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