Former Liberian President Charles Taylor said Wednesday that he was "saddened" by the guilty verdict for abetting war crimes in Sierra Leone and said his role in the conflict was much different from how it had been portrayed.
"What I did to bring peace to Sierra Leone was done with honour," Taylor said, as he addressed the international court in the Netherlands that found him guilty last month.
"I pushed the peace process hard, contrary to how I have been portrayed in this court."
In a speech that lasted about 30 minutes, Taylor blamed his predicament on the United States several times and compared what he was convicted of to the abuses he said the United States committed during the Iraq War.
Warning that other African leaders could receive similar unjust fates, Taylor said: "I never stood a chance. Only time will tell how many other African heads of state will be destroyed."
Prosecutors have said the former Liberian president deserves an 80-year prison sentence to reflect the gravity of the crimes.
The judges are due to deliver their sentencing judgment on May 30.
In an earlier statement, Brenda Hollis, chief prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, said "Should the trial chamber decide to impose a global sentence, 80 years' imprisonment would be appropriate”.
"But for Charles Taylor's criminal conduct, thousands of people would not have had limbs amputated, would not have been raped, would not have been killed," Hollis said.
"The recommended sentence provides fair and adequate response to the outrage these crimes caused in victims, their families and relatives."
The sentencing hearing Wednesday was taking place on the same day that another trial of international import in The Hague was just getting under way, that of Ratko Mladic, who is accused of orchestrating a horrific campaign of ethnic cleansing during the bloody civil war that ripped apart Yugoslavia.