Former Liberian president Charles Taylor has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for his role in war crimes committed during the Sierra Leone civil war that took place in the 1990s.
Taylor was found guilty by the same judge who presided over his sentencing in an international criminal court on Wed., May 30.
The once-powerful warlord was charged with aiding and abetting, as well as planning, some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history, the judge said at the hearing.
Leadership must be carried out by example by the prosecution of crimes, not the commission of crimes, the judge, Richard Lussick, added in a statement read before the court.
The conviction of Charles Taylor marks the first time a head of state has been convicted by an international court since the Nuremberg trials that followed World War II.
Although Taylor is set to spend the next five decades in prison, prosecutors had sought an even longer 80-year sentence, according to the New York Times.
If Taylor carries out the full term to which he's been sentenced, he will likely spend the rest of his life in confinement.
Taylor's legal team has decided to appeal.
The sentence is clearly excessive, clearly disproportionate to his circumstances, his age and his health and does not take into account the fact that he stepped down from office voluntarily, Morris Anya, one of the lawyers representing Taylor, said in a statement.
During the trial, Taylor testified that the 11 charges of murder, rape, conscripting child soldiers, enslavement and pillaging against him were lies.
This whole case is a case of deceit, deception, lies, Taylor said. I am not guilty of all of these charges, not even a minute part of the charges.
Charles Taylor, the twenty-second president of Liberia, is widely seen as the person responsible for a series of civil conflicts in Liberia and its eastern neighbor, Sierra Leone, that occurred between 1989 and 2003 and left some 400,000 people dead.
Taylor resigned in 2003 at the peak of the controversy, and he is also reportedly known to have aided the arming of the notorious Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone.
Funded by the sale of illegally-mined blood diamonds, Taylor became the driving force behind a deadly decade-long conflict in which the RUF struck terror in the region due to the killing, raping and maiming of thousands.
Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) earned a reputation for extreme violence and was known to force children, some as young as 10, to carry guns.
Jesus Christ was accused of being a murderer in his time, he once told the BBC in an interview.
In 2003, Taylor fled to Nigeria and hid there until 2006, when the country extradited him. It was later discovered that the former warlord had been cruising around the country in a luxury Jaguar adorned with blacked out windows and diplomatic plates.