A U.N.-backed war crimes court sentenced the former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor, to 50 years in jail on Wednesday for arming rebels in Sierra Leone in return for “blood diamonds.”

Mr. Taylor, 64, was convicted last month of all 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for aiding and abetting Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front during the country's brutal 1991-2001 civil war.

In return, the court said, he was paid in diamonds mined by slave labour in areas under control of the rebels, who murdered, raped and kept sex slaves, hacked off limbs and forced children to fight.

“The accused has been found responsible for aiding and abetting some of the most heinous crimes in human history,” said Special Court for Sierra Leone judge Richard Lussick on Wednesday.

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