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Former Liberia president Charles Taylor gets 50 years for Sierra Leone atrocities


April 26: Former Liberian President Charles Taylor looks down as he waits for the start of a hearing to deliver verdict in the court room of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam, near The Hague, Netherlands. (AP)

Judges at an international war crimes court have sentenced former Liberian President Charles Taylor to 50 years in prison following his landmark conviction for supporting rebels in Sierra Leone who murdered and mutilated thousands during their country's brutal civil war in return for blood diamonds.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone found Taylor guilty last month on 11 charges of aiding and abetting the rebels who went on a bloody rampage during the decade-long war that ended in 2002 with more than 50,000 dead.

Presiding Judge Richard Lussick says the crimes Taylor was convicted of were of the "utmost gravity in terms of scale and brutality."

The 64-year-old warlord-turned-president is the first former head of state convicted by an international war crimes court since World War II.