Court to give Taylor verdict in war crimes milestone

THE HAGUE - A special court delivers its verdict on Thursday on whether Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor is guilty of crimes against humanity by supporting and directing rebels who pillaged, raped and murdered during the Sierra Leone civil war.
The verdict will be the first passed on a former head of state by the Hague's international courts in what human rights advocates say is a reminder that even the most powerful do not enjoy impunity.
Yugoslav ex-president Slobodan Milosevic died in The Hague in 2006 before the war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia could reach a verdict. The one in Taylor's case, the first test of international justice against a former head of state, will be watched closely in much of Africa and beyond.
Taylor, who was president of Liberia from 1997 to 2003, is accused of backing and giving orders to Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in the 11-year civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone that killed some 50,000 people.
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