Former Liberian President Charles Taylor could be headed for a British prison after losing the final appeal against his convictions for crimes against humanity.
The head of an international tribunal is likely to rule in the next few days where Taylor will serve his 50-year sentence, nearly 18 months after he was convicted of 11 counts of aiding rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone during a brutal civil war in the 1990s which left 50,000 people dead.
As part of an international deal, the Government agreed he could stay in a British jail and is believed to be the only country to have offered facilities.
It is not the first time that Britain has hosted foreign war criminals: four men convicted of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia served time in British jails. The men spent time in high security prisons with one former Bosnian-Serb general stabbed at Wakefield prison, apparently in retaliation for the massacre of Muslims in the UN safe haven of Srebrenica in 1995.
The former president of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, would have stayed in a British jail but died in 2006 while he was on trial in the Hague.
The tribunal ruled that Taylor, 65, was aware that the rebel groups he was supporting were committing grave atrocities. Children were drugged and forced to fight, while rival rebel groups raped, mutilated and tortured as they battled for supremacy in the 11-year-conflict. Taylor continued to provide financial, material and tactical support for the Revolutionary United Front and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council rebels, despite being fully aware of their methods, the chamber found.
“Taylor’s conviction sends a powerful message,” Elise Keppler of Human Rights Watch said after the verdict.