Charles Taylor, the 22nd President of the Republic of Liberia and convicted war criminal, was sentenced to fifty years imprisonment by an international criminal tribunal in The Hague last week for his crimes committed during the civil war in Sierra Leone.
According to the New York Times, Taylor was convicted for "his part in fomenting widespread brutality that included murder, rape, the use of child soldiers, the mutilation of thousands of civilians and the mining of diamonds to pay for guns and ammunition."
Although the prosecution requested eighty years and is considering an appeal, either sentence may amount to life for the sixty-four year old former African leader, who will serve it out in a prison in the United Kingdom.
Jailing Taylor, however, has proven difficult in the past. In 1985, he escaped from the Plymouth County Correctional Facility in Massachusetts, allegedly with aid from the CIA. Considering whatever utility Taylor had, if any, ended with the cold war, it is unlikely he can again look to western intelligence agencies for relief.
As I've written before, international war criminals receive sentences for crimes against humanity that seem harsh by global standards. But to many Americans convicted in Texas and Federal courts of victimless drug, sex, and violent crimes against
single victims, fifty years is another day at the office.