, KIGALI, Oct 15 – Liberia’s ex-warlord Charles Taylor has asked to serve his 50-year prison sentence for war crimes in a Rwandan jail rather than in Britain, Kigali said on Tuesday.
The former president, 65, is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars after the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in The Hague last week upheld his sentence for arming rebels during Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war during the 1990s.
London said last week that Taylor would serve his time in a British jail, but Taylor has since appealed to be sent to Rwanda.
Rwanda’s justice ministry said in a statement that the SCSL court has “contacted government on the matter, but that the Kigali administration would only make the next step after an official request has been brought before it”.
However, Kigali is “ready to make appropriate deliberations” on whether Taylor can serve his sentence in a Rwanda jail, Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye said in a statement.
Taylor’s lawyer Morris Anyah had suggested after his appeal was turned down last month, that the former west African strongman would prefer to go to Rwanda to be closer to his family.
Several Sierra Leone prisoners convicted by the SCSL court are already incarcerated in a special Rwandan jail that meets international standards.
Taylor’s landmark sentence – on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity – was the first handed down by an international court against a former head of state since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg in 1946.
He had been arrested in 2006 and sentenced at The Hague last year for “some of the most heinous crimes in human history”.
As Liberia’s president from 1997 to 2003, Taylor supplied guns and ammunition to rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone in a conflict notorious for its mutilations, drugged child soldiers and sex slaves, judges said.