Liberia's Taylor to Hear Appeal Ruling on September 26


The international court handling the appeal of Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor against his conviction for war crimes in Sierra Leone announced Tuesday it would deliver its judgement next month.

Taylor, 65, was found guilty last year of lending support to Sierra Leonean rebels who waged a terror campaign during a civil war that claimed 120,000 lives between 1991 and 2001, in exchange for "blood diamonds" mined by slave labor.

The Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone set the date for the appeal ruling on September 26, the court said in a statement from The Hague.

Taylor's sentencing in May 2012 for "some of the most heinous crimes in human history" was the first handed down by an international court against a former head of state since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg in 1946.

As Liberia's president from 1997 to 2003, Taylor gave rebels guns and ammunition during the conflict, known for its mutilations, drugged child soldiers and sex slaves, trial judges found.

Taylor's defense argued at his appeal hearing in January that there was no evidence linking him to crimes committed by Sierra Leone's brutal rebel forces, nor did he provide logistics, guns and ammunition.

The defense claimed the trial judges made legal mistakes in their findings against Taylor. It has asked the appeals judges to reverse the conviction and quash the sentence.

The prosecution has argued that Taylor's sentence was unduly lenient and should be increased to 80 years.

Taylor's trial, which ended in March 2011, saw a number of high-profile witnesses testify including British supermodel Naomi Campbell, who told the court she received a gift of "dirty diamonds", said to be from the flamboyant Taylor.

The Liberian ex-president remains behind bars at the U.N.'s detention unit in The Hague until appeals proceedings are finalized.

If his appeal fails, Taylor will serve his sentence in a British jail.

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