May 30 - Prosecution may appeal for a harsher sentence for former Liberian president Charles Taylor. Sarah Sheffer reports.
In an unprecedented sentencing, a special war crimes court dealt former Liberian President Charles Taylor a 50 year jail sentence for helping Sierra Leonean rebels wage a savage war. Taylor is the first head of state convicted by an international court since the World War Two Nazi trials at Nuremberg. He was found guilty of backing rebels who murdered, raped and mutilated tens of thousands of people in an 11-year war that ended in 2002. The chief prosecutor in the case said Taylor deserved a harsher sentence. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF PROSECUTOR OF THE SPECIAL COURT FOR SIERRA LEONE BRENDA HOLLIS SAYING: "Attorneys propose and judges dispose, we proposed eighty years, the judges disposition was fifty years. And I said we will very carefully review their sentencing judgment to determine if we will appeal, and ask that the sentence imposed be of a longer duration." Taylor's defense lawyer criticized the prosecution, saying the ruling sent the wrong signal to the international community. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEFENCE LAWYER COURTENAY GRIFFITHS SAYING: "What lesson does that send to president Assad? Maybe the lesson is if you are a sitting leader and the international community wants to get rid of you, either you get murdered like Colonel Gaddafi or you hang on until the bitter end." A member of parliament from Sierra Leone, however, welcomed the sentencing. (SOUNDBITE) (English), SIERRA LEONE MP, IBRAHIM SORIE, SAYING: "People of Sierra Leone have been waiting for this day and indeed they have gotten it now. 50 years sentence, to us is quite acceptable and it's just like a life sentence, given his age." Both the defence and the prosecution are expected to appeal the verdict. Sarah Sheffer, Reuters.