Arusha, April 26, 2012 (FH) – The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) today pronounced former Liberian president Charles Taylor guilty on eleven charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was found guilty on the basis of “aiding and abetting”, rather than command control.

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The court presided by Judge Richard Lussick found that Taylor provided military, operational and financial support to Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in Sierra Leone in the knowledge that they were committing serious crimes, including murder, rape, sexual slavery, conscripting and using child soldiers.

The verdict was handed down in The Hague and streamed live over the Internet.

A sentencing hearing was set for May 16 and the sentence will be pronounced on May 30.

The trial opened in June 2007. The Prosecution called 94 witnesses to the bar, including 32 “insiders”, former allies of Charles Taylor who ultimately testified against him.

Taylor was indicted in June 2003 but the arrest warrant remained secret until he agreed to leave power in August 2003, after being granted political asylum by Nigeria. In March 2006, he was nevertheless arrested in Nigeria and transferred to the custody of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

The Dutch government agreed to host the trial following a request from Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who feared instability in Liberia if Taylor were tried in Sierra Leone. The Netherlands agreed on the basis that if Taylor were convicted he would serve his sentence elsewhere. The UK agreed to take him.