Liberia war criminal Charles Taylor sent to UK jail: Court

Liberia's ex-warlord Charles Taylor (above) was on Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013, transferred from The Hague to a British prison to serve his 50-year sentence for war crimes, the Special Court for Sierra Leone said. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
Liberia's ex-warlord Charles Taylor (above) was on Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013, transferred from The Hague to a British prison to serve his 50-year sentence for war crimes, the Special Court for Sierra Leone said. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Liberia's ex-warlord Charles Taylor was on Tuesday transferred from The Hague to a British prison to serve his 50-year sentence for war crimes, the Special Court for Sierra Leone said.

"Charles Ghankay Taylor... was transferred today from the Netherlands and the custody of the Special Court to the United Kingdom, where he will serve the remainder of his 50-year sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity," the SCSL' Freetown office said in a statement.

A chartered plane flew Taylor, accompanied by guards, to Britain where he arrived at 1000 GMT and "was handed over to representatives of Her Majesty's Prison Service", the court said.

London said last week that Taylor would serve the rest of his sentence in a British jail, according to a confidential deal made in 2007 shortly after Taylor's arrest.

Taylor had asked to serve his sentence in a Rwandan prison rather than in Britain in order to be closer to his family, and Kigali had said on Tuesday that it was ready to consider the request.

The court said however that no other country had offered or accepted to enforce the remainder of Taylor's sentence.

A justice ministry official in London declined to confirm that Taylor was in Britain or say in which prison he would serve his time.

"We do not comment on individual cases," a justice ministry spokeswoman told AFP.

The former president, 65, is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars after the UN-backed SCSL last month upheld his sentence for arming rebels during Sierra Leone's brutal civil war during the 1990s.

Several Sierra Leone prisoners convicted by the SCSL court are already incarcerated in a special Rwandan jail that meets international standards.

Taylor's landmark sentence - on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity - was the first handed down by an international court against a former head of state since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg in 1946.

He had been arrested in 2006 and sentenced at The Hague last year for "some of the most heinous crimes in human history".

As Liberia's president from 1997 to 2003, Taylor supplied guns and ammunition to rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone in a conflict notorious for its mutilations, drugged child soldiers and sex slaves, judges said.

Taylor will be given credit for the time he served in detention since his arrest in March 2006, the court said.