Vienna, 27 September 2013 Press release

Spindelegger on appeal rejection and sentence for Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor: "Important step for justice and law"

Vienna, 26 September 2013 – Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger welcomed the verdict of the Special Court for Sierra Leone upholding the prison sentence for former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, and called it an important step for international law and justice. "The verdict is a break-through in the fight against impunity", the Vice-Chancellor said in a first reaction.

The former Liberian president Charles Taylor had been convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the civil war in Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002 in the first instance proceedings of April 2012. The Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague has now also confirmed that he was accountable for thousand-fold murder, torture and rape and rejecting Taylor’s appeal upheld his 50-year prison sentence.

Spindelegger said the conviction of a former president made it clear that even people at the highest levels of power would be held accountable for their actions. The Vice-Chancellor continued to say that respect for human rights, the protection of civilians in conflicts and compliance with the rule of law are traditional, central elements of Austrian foreign policy.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone, that made history in 2007 when it found perpetrators guilty of recruiting child soldiers and classified the deployment of child soldiers as a war crime, has been receiving financial support from Austria for many years. Austrian judge and expert in the rights of children, Renate Winter, who was appointed to the UN Committee on the Rights of Children last year, is one of the judges of the Appeal Chamber and served as President of the Special Court from 2008 to 2010.

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