Photo: AP Images

Charles Taylor has been successfully convicted for his war crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC) today.

Taylor (64)has been fighting the 11 charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes since he was indicted in 2003, and the conviction today has many human-rights groups excited for the warning it sends to other African dictators.

“Taylor’s conviction sends a powerful message that even those in the highest level positions can be held to account for grave crimes,” said Elise Keppler of Human Rights Watch

Taylor is the first African leader to be tried under the ICC, and the first head of state to be successfully tried by an international court since the Nuremburg trials after World War Two. He pled not-guilty to the charges.

The former president of Liberia supported rebels groups in neighbouring Sierra Leone during their civil war, in exchange for access to their natural resources, including diamonds. The war started in 1991 and ended in 2002.

Taylor provided “sustained and significant” support, said Presiding Judge Richard Lussick. This included providing arms and ammunition to rebels as well as communication equipment. The rebels were responsible for extensive crimes against humanity including mass rape, the use of child soldiers and enslavement.

Taylor will serve his sentence in Britain. The length of his imprisonment will be determined two weeks after his sentencing on May 16.