An international war crimes court unanimously upheld the conviction and 50-year sentence of former Liberian President Charles Taylor for aiding rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone, ruling today that his financial, material, and tactical support fueled horrendous crimes against civilians. The appeals chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone upheld Taylor's April 2012 conviction on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including terrorism, murder, rape, and using child soldiers.
Importantly, today's ruling goes against an appeals decision by the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, in which former Serbian Gen. Momcilo Perisic was acquitted of aiding and abetting war crimes. Judges said in order to aid and abet a crime, a suspect has to have "specifically directed" aid toward committing crimes. But judges in the Taylor case openly disagreed with that. They said the key to culpability for aiding and abetting a crime was that a suspect's participation encouraged the commission of crimes and had a substantial effect on the crimes actually being committed—not the particular manner in which a suspect was involved. (Read more Charles Taylor stories.)