A three-judge panel unanimously decided that former Liberian President Charles Taylor was guilty of 11 counts linked to war crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone. The ruthless dictator was found to have aided rebel forces in a campaign of terror resulting in thousands of murders, brutal rapes, and sexual slavery. He also raided diamond mines and drugged children who were forced to join the army. Prosecutor Brenda Hollis said, “this judgment affirms that with leadership comes not just power and authority, but also responsibility and accountability. No person, no matter how powerful, is above the law.”
The landmark case is the first war crimes conviction of a former head of state by an international court since the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders after World War II. In Freetown, Sierra Leone, a sense of relief was the overall feeling in a nation riddled with violence and poverty. Despite all the evidence, Taylor maintains his innocence. His sentencing hearing is set for May 16.