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Ex-President Charles Taylor/FILE

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Convicted warlord Taylor says prosecutors paid witnesses

Ex-President Charles Taylor/FILE

THE HAGUE, May 16 – Convicted Liberian warlord Charles Taylor on Wednesday accused prosecutors of paying and intimidating witnesses as he address a UN court in The Hague.

“Witnesses were paid, coerced and in many cases threatened with prosecution if they did not give statements,” the former Liberian president told Sierra Leone’s special court in The Hague at a hearing ahead of his sentencing on May 30.

Taylor, 64, was found guilty by the UN-backed court last month for aiding and abetting war crimes.

In the first judgement against an ex-head of state by a world court since the World War II Nuremberg trials, Taylor was convicted on all 11 counts including murder and rape committed by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, who paid him for arms with diamonds mined by slave labour.

Brenda Hollis, the court’s chief prosecutor, suggested earlier this month Taylor be given an 80-year sentence but his lawyers have argued that such punishment would be excessive and unjustified.

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