Former Liberian President, Mr. Charles Taylor who was recently convicted on 11- counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, is expected to speak for the first time during his sentencing hearing on tomorrow.
Taylor, according to a statement issued by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone at the beginning of the week, will be given 30 minutes to address the court, while his lawyers and prosecutors will be given one hour each to deliver their briefs.
Lawyers representing the former president have already criticized the 80-years jail sentence terms being sought for by prosecutors, saying it is excessive.
In a sentencing brief filed earlier this month, the Prosecution asked the judges to sentence Taylor to a maximum jail term of 80 years. But the defense team has asked the judges to do otherwise.
The defense told Special Court judges in The Hague that the prosecution's request for Taylor to serve a maximum of 80 years in jail is "disproportionate" and "excessive."
In their sentencing submission filed on Thursday May 10, 2012, defense lawyers noted that "the 80-year sentence advocated by the Prosecution is manifestly disproportionate and excessive; it is not justified."
"What amounts to an 'appropriate sentence,' the Defense submits, will not ultimately be determined by the number of years imposed, as the Prosecution suggests, but rather more crucially, by the Trial Chamber's reasoned approach, which should clearly set out the basis upon which the penalty is imposed," the defense argue in their brief.
The defense further stated, "An 'appropriate sentence,' we submit, is one that is rationally contrived, objectively reasoned and justifiable in law and on the facts of the case. It is not one that is simply designed to have Mr. Taylor 'put away for a long time,' as others have contrived."
The defense opined in their sentencing brief that Mr. Taylor should have the benefit of mitigation for several reasons including his role in the peace process in Sierra Leone, his willingness to step down from the Liberian presidency in order to save his country from more atrocities, the time that he has already served in detention and the manner in which he has cooperated with the Court during his trial.
The defense also referenced Mr. Taylor's age and the fact that he is a family man as reasons why he should benefit from mitigation. Taylor was convicted on 26 April 2012 on all 11 counts of an indictment alleging war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.
The Judges found that he had participated in planning crimes committed by rebels during military operations in Kono, Makeni and Freetown between December 1998 and February 1999.
The Judges also found that he aided and abetted the rebels in the commission of crimes during the war in Sierra Leone by providing arms and ammunition, military personnel, operational support and moral support.
The judges did not find that Mr. Taylor had superior responsibility over members of rebel groups, or that he was criminally responsible by virtue of having participated in a joint criminal enterprise.
The sentencing judgment will be delivered on Wednesday, 30 May 2012.