Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for war crimes committed in Sierra Leone.
Handing him the sentence at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague on Wednesday, judge Richard Lussick said that Taylor had "been found responsible for aiding and abetting some of the most heinous crimes in human history," Associated Press reported.
He described Taylor's crimes as of the "utmost gravity in terms of scale and brutality."
Last month Taylor was found guilty of helping Revolutionary United Front rebels conduct their reign of terror during 1991-2002 civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone, in which 50,000 people died.
He was accused of providing rebels with weapons and funding the rebels as they carried out appalling atrocities on civilians.
Taylor was rewarded for his support of the rebels with blood diamonds. Enforced mutilations, amputations and sexual slavery were carried out as part of the rebels' ruthless campaign against civilians, some of these committed by child soldiers recruited and brutally trained to kill.
"The lives of many more innocent civilians in Sierra Leone were lost or destroyed as a direct result of his actions," Lussick said.
Although the sentence subtracts the six years he has already served since his arrest in 2006, it still means that the former president would be 108 if he served his entire sentence before his release.
The former president, wearing a grey suit and gold tie, showed no emotion as the sentence was handed to him.
Prosecutors had demanded Taylor be given an 80 year sentence. However considering that the former President had did not command the rebels, Lussick told the court that such a prison term was "excessive."
Taylor is to expected to serve his sentence in a British prison, after the UK offered to house the former president in 2006 if he was convicted.
It has previously been speculated that Taylor could be held in high security Belmarsh prison before being transferred to Norwich, which has special facilities for elderly prisoners.
However his defence counsel has argued that Taylor would be "culturally isolated" if he served in Britain, The Financial Times reported.
Taylor claims he is innocent and it is likely he will appeal against the sentence, a process that could take six months, the BBC News has reported.
In April he expressed sadness for "crimes suffered by individuals and families in Sierra Leone," but told the court that he behaved "with honour" to bring peace to Sierra Leone.
He added: "I was convinced that unless there was peace in Sierra Leone, Liberia would not be able to move forward. I pushed the peace process hard, contrary to how I have been portrayed in this court."
His sentence on Wednesday serves as a significant benchmark for further cases, as Taylor is the first head of state to be convicted of war crimes since World War II.
Taylor's six-year trial sets many precedents, as his arrest sent the message that African warlords could not avoid justice for their crimes. The trial was held in The Hague in the Netherlands instead of Sierra Leone as there were concerns that Taylor's presence would ignite fresh conflict in the region.
Model Naomi Campbell appeared at the trial in 2010 over allegations that she received blood diamonds from Taylor at a charity ball hosted by Nelson Mandela in 1997.
She said she received some three "small, dirty-looking stones" while staying in a South African government chalet but said she had no idea who had given her them.
Actress Mia Farrow also testified at the trial, contradicting Campbell and telling the court that "Naomi Campbell said they came from Charles Taylor."
Campbell gave the "dirty stones" to Jeremy Ratcliffe, who was head of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund at the time. Radcliffe was cleared of wrongdoing and the diamonds were handed to the South African government.
On Wednesday Amnesty International described the sentencing of Taylor as a "milestone" but said they remained concerned that "thousands of people who suffered atrocities during a decade of armed conflict are yet to see their perpetrators brought to justice."
The Sierra Leone conflict spread to neighbouring countries as well as Liberia, including areas of the Ivory Coast and Guinea. Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, who faces charges of crimes against humanity, will face the International Criminal Court at The Hague next month.