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Charles Taylor Trial: Verdict Due In Landmark Sierra Leone War Crimes Case

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Charles Taylor is facing 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity
Charles Taylor is facing 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity

Former Liberian leader Charles Taylor will likely be imprisoned in the UK if international judges find him guilty of war crimes after a five year trial on Thursday.

A verdict is due on 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague.

Taylor is accused of building a rebel army which used terror tactics to slaughter and mutilate thousands during Sierra Leone's 11-year civil war.

If found guilty, Taylor would become the first former head of state to be convicted of war crimes by an international court since the Nuremburg trials after the Second World War.

It is likely Taylor would be imprisoned in the UK, after the Netherlands agreed to host the trial only if he served his term abroad.

More than 120,000 people died in the Sierra Leone conflict between 1991 and 2002.

Taylor is accused of providing guns to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in return for diamonds while he was leader of Liberia.

The RUF was infamous for using child soldiers, who were often drugged on cocaine and gunpowder when they carried out their killings. The RUF was also known for brutally amputating its victims' limbs with machetes, with up to 20,000 victims reported.

Taylor was indicted by a United Nations Special Court in 2003 on charges of murder, rape and sexual slavery.

After the indictment Taylor fled into Nigeria, but was arrested in 2006 after attempting to cross the border into Cameroon, and forced to face the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

His trial at The Hague began in 2007 but quickly descended into chaos after Taylor fired his lawyer and attempted to boycott proceedings.

The trial resumed in 2008, and hit the headlines again in 2010 when supermodel Naomi Campbell and actress Mia Farrow gave evidence.

The prosecution has attempted to prove Taylor used 'blood diamonds' to pay for the RUF by linking uncut stones he gave Campbell in 1997.

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