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Ex-Liberia leader Charles Taylor to serve war crime sentence in British jail

Former Liberian President Charles Ghankay Taylor in the courtroom of the Special Court for Sierra Leone prior to the appeal judgement, in The Hague, The Netherlands on 26 September 2013.Koen Van Weel / Pool via EPA, file

LONDON - Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president sentenced to 50 years in prison for crimes against humanity, will serve his jail term in Britain, the U.K. government said on Thursday.

Taylor, 64, was charged with murder, rape, conscripting child soldiers and sexual slavery during intertwined wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone. However, the court found him guilty of only some of the charges.

He is the first head of state to be sent to prison by an international court since Nazi leaders were sentenced at Nuremberg after World War II.

Last month, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, based in The Hague, upheld his conviction for using the proceeds of 'blood diamonds' mined in the conflict zone to finance rebels who raped, murdered and mutilated their way across Liberia's northern neighbor during its 11-year civil war.

The tribunal found Taylor guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity by supporting notoriously brutal rebels in return for "blood diamonds."

"The conviction of Charles Taylor is a landmark moment for international justice," British justice minister Jeremy Wright wrote in a statement to parliament.

"It clearly demonstrates that those who commit atrocities will be held to account and that no matter their position they will not enjoy impunity," he said.

“The United Kingdom's offer to enforce any sentence imposed on former President Taylor by the SCSL was crucial to ensuring that he could be transferred to The Hague to stand trial for his crimes.”

Related: Liberia's Charles Taylor jailed for 50 years over 'heinous and brutal crimes'