Liberia's Charles Taylor gets 50 years in jail

In a historic ruling, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, backed by the UN, has sentenced former Liberian leader Charles Taylor to 50 years in prison.

Taylor is the first head of state to be sentenced in the history of international prosecutions. While serving as president of Liberia, Taylor was accused of helping violent militias in neighbouring Sierra Leone during the 1991-2002 civil war. However, he never set foot in that country.

From the BBC:

The accused has been found responsible for aiding and abetting some of the most heinous crimes in human history,” Judge Richard Lussick said.

The crimes – which took place over five years – included cutting off the limbs of their victims and cutting open pregnant women to settle bets over the sex of their unborn children, he said.

Taylor will serve his time in a British jail. The BBC explains:

Because of fears his trial could renew instability in West Africa, Taylor, 64, was put on trial at a special UN-backed court in The Hague.

The Netherlands only agreed to host his trial as long as he was imprisoned in another country if he was convicted.

In June that year, the UK government offered to house Taylor in a British jail if he was convicted.