Liberia's Charles Taylor guilty of war crimes in S Leone

Liberia's Charles Taylor guilty of war crimes in S Leone

Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor was today convicted of war crimes for arming Sierra Leone's rebels in return for diamonds in the first verdict against a modern former head of state by a global court.

"The trial chamber finds you guilty of aiding and abetting of all these crimes," presiding judge Richard Lussick told the Special Court for Sierra Leone, adding that Taylor would be sentenced on May 30.

Taylor, 64, was convicted of helping mineral-rich Sierra Leone's rebel forces wage a terror campaign against the west African country's people during a decade-long civil war in which 120,000 people died.

Taylor was paid in illegally-mined so-called blood diamonds stuffed in mayonnaise jars by Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, who murdered, raped and maimed, notably by chopping off limbs with machetes.

Taylor was transferred from Freetown to the special court in the suburbs of The Hague in mid-2006 for a high profile-trial that included testimony by British supermodel Naomi Campbell and actress Mia Farrow.

His sentence -- to be served in a British prison -- will be determined by the "severity of his crimes," the SCSL said earlier.

He is the first former head of state to be tried in an international court since Admiral Karl Doenitz, who was briefly Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's appointed successor at the end of World War II and was convicted by the Nueremberg tribunal.

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