The Hague, May 11, 2012 (FH) - Charles Taylor Defence team told Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) judges in The Hague that the prosecution’s request for Taylor to serve a maximum of 80 years in jail was “manifestly disproportionate and excessive.”

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In a brief filed on May 3, 2012 the Prosecution asked the judges to sentence Taylor to a maximum jail term of 80 years. A sentence hearing has been slated for next Wednesday.

In their sentencing submission filed on May 10, 2012, Courtenay Griffiths and Terry Munyard argue that blaming Charles Taylor for the “the entirety of the Sierra Leonean conflict might assuage the conscience of Sierra Leoneans who committed atrocities themselves, but it will not ultimately contribute to peace and reconciliation in the sub-region”.

On April 26, SCSL judges found Taylor guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Sierra Leone between 1996 and 2002. The judges said that Taylor supported, armed and financed rebels. However, they noted that Taylor was not liable for the actions of the rebel forces in Sierra Leone under the doctrines of command responsibility or joint criminal enterprise.

According to the defence,  Charles Taylor should have the benefit of mitigation for reasons including his role in the peace process in Sierra Leone, his willingness to step down from the Liberian presidency in order to save his country from more atrocities, his empathy for the victims (enhanced by his conversion to Judaism) and the time that he has already served in detention.

Defence lawyers added in their brief that Charles Taylor was 64 and the father of 15, including a baby born while he was in detention.

Both the prosecution and the defense will make oral submissions on sentencing before the judges this Wednesday. Taylor will also have the opportunity to address the Court for 30 minutes.

The judges will deliver their verdict on Taylor’s sentence on May 30, 2012.