AMSTERDAM - Former Liberian president Charles Taylor deserves an 80-year sentence for the war crimes he was convicted of last week, including aiding and abetting murder and rape on a mass scale, prosecutors said in a written filing Thursday.
Judges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone ruled April 26 that Taylor played a crucial role in helping rebels continue a bloody rampage during that West African nation's 11-year civil war, which ended in 2002 with more than 50,000 dead.
They found Taylor guilty of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in arming the Sierra Leone rebels in exchange for "blood diamonds" mined by slave laborers and smuggled across the border.
In a written submission Thursday, prosecutor Brenda Hollis said an 80-year sentence would "reflect the essential role Mr. Taylor played in crimes of such extreme scope and gravity." The court does not have the death penalty.
Taylor's conviction, the first of a former head of state since the aftermath of World War II, is seen as a landmark in international war-crimes law.
Taylor, 64, will be sentenced May 30. The defense must submit its counter-recommendation by May 10, and oral arguments are scheduled for May 16 - including a chance for Taylor to address the court in person.
Taylor fled into exile in Nigeria after being indicted by the court in 2003 and wasn't arrested for three years. While the Sierra Leone court is based in that country's capital, Taylor's trial was in the Hague, Netherlands, for fear it could destabilize the region.
Taylor has insisted he was an innocent victim of neocolonialism and a political process aimed at preventing him from returning to power in Liberia.