March 25, 2015 / 2:38 PM / in 3 years

Liberian ex-president must serve out sentence in Britain: court

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Former Liberian President Charles Taylor must spend the rest of his life in a British jail after judges at an international court in The Hague denied his request to serve out his 50-year prison sentence in Rwanda.

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor appears in court at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam, western Netherlands, January 22, 2013. REUTERS/Peter Dejong/Pool

Taylor, 67, was convicted in 2012 of aiding and abetting the murderous militias that raped, mutilated and murdered their way across Sierra Leone during its civil war, becoming the first head of state to be sentenced by an international court since World War Two.

His lawyers had argued that detaining him far from home, where his wife Victoria needed a difficult-to-obtain visa to visit him at great cost, amounted to a denial of his right to a family life and thus an infringement of his human rights.

“The motion is denied in its entirety,” the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone said in a ruling filed on January 30 but only made public on Wednesday.

The judges said Britain had denied a visa on one occasion because she failed to comply with official requirements and Taylor was using this visa denial to his wife and children as a way of forcing his transfer to Rwanda.

A British official rejected her visa application because she failed to demonstrate she had the means to support herself during the visit and intended to leave the country afterwards.

Britain is one of four countries - including Finland, Sweden and Rwanda - that have agreed to provide prison space for criminals convicted by the court.

More than 50,000 people were killed during Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war, which ended in 2002. Many tens of thousands more were mutilated, with their limbs or hands chopped off by the militias supported from neighboring Liberia using the proceeds of “blood diamonds” mined in the country.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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