Taylor verdict 'historic': UN rights chief
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the war crimes conviction of Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor Thursday means tyrannical rulers can no longer retire on blood money.
"This is undoubtedly a historic moment in the development of international justice," Pillay said in a statement.
"A former president, who once wielded immense influence in a neighbouring country where tens of thousands of people were killed, mutilated, raped, robbed and repeatedly displaced for years on end, has been arrested, tried in a fair and thorough international procedure, and has now been convicted of very serious crimes."
The Special Court for Sierra Leone convicted Taylor, 64, of helping rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone wage a campaign of terror against the mineral-rich country's people during a decade-long civil war that killed 120,000.
Taylor was paid in so-called blood diamonds, illegally mined by Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, who were known for murdering and raping civilians and chopping off limbs with machetes.
After being overthrown in 2003 Taylor fled to Nigeria, which extradited him three years later under international pressure.
Pillay said the verdict was a "stark warning" to other heads of state.
"The days when tyrants and mass murderers could, even when they had been deposed, retire to a life of luxury in another land are over," she said.
"And so they should be. Few things are more repugnant than seeing people with so much blood on their hands, living on stolen money with no prospect of their victims seeing justice carried out."
© 2012 AFP