Former Liberian President Charles Taylor is to appeal against his conviction for war crimes by a UN-backed court at The Hague, his lawyers have said.
Taylor, 64, who has repeatedly insisted he is innocent of the charges against him, initially told the BBC he would launch an appeal after he was handed a 50-year jail sentence on May 30 for aiding and abetting rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone during the 1991-2001 civil war.
On Tuesday, the Special Court for Sierra Leone said Taylor’s legal team had filed a formal notice of their intention to appeal the court’s decision, the Associated Press reported. His lawyer, Morris Anyah, told the news agency that the defense has requested additional time – until July 19 – to formally lodge the appeal, given the size of the 2000-page sentencing judgement.
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In April the court found Taylor guilty on 11 counts in connection with atrocities including rape and murder during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war, in which some 50,000 people were killed and thousands more badly mutilated, with limbs hacked off.
Taylor became the first former head of state to be convicted by an international war crimes court since the Nuremberg trials that followed World War II, the Associated Press reported.
According to the Agence France Presse, should Taylor’s appeal fail he will serve his sentence in a UK prison as part of a 2007 deal. Taylor was transferred to The Hague, in the Netherlands, in 2006 due to concerns that putting him on trial in Sierra Leone would destabilize the region.
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