A UN-backed war crimes court has sentenced former Liberian president Charles Taylor to 50 years in prison for arming Sierra Leone rebels in return for "blood diamonds".
"The trial chamber unanimously sentences you to a single term of imprisonment for 50 years on all counts," said Special Court for Sierra Leone judge Richard Lussick at the court based just outside The Hague today.
"The accused has been found responsible for aiding and abetting some of the most heinous crimes in human history."
Taylor, 64, dressed in a smart dark suit, white shirt and golden tie, listened with his eyes closed and a drawn face as the judge handed down the sentence, which Taylor can appeal.
The former president was convicted on April 26 on all 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for aiding and abetting Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) during the country's 1991-2001 civil war.
In return, the court said, Taylor was paid in diamonds mined by slave labour in areas under control of rebels who murdered, raped and kept sex slaves while hacking off limbs and forcing children under 15 to fight.