THE HAGUE — Former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who was convicted for sponsoring atrocities in Sierra Leone, will serve his 50-year sentence in a British prison, Justice Minister Jeremy Wright announced Thursday in a letter to Parliament.
Taylor, 65, is the first former head of state convicted by an international war crimes court since World War II.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone found him guilty in April 2012 of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including terrorism, murder, rape, and using child soldiers. His conviction and sentence were upheld on appeal last month.
In his letter to Britain’s Parliament, Wright called Taylor’s conviction, ‘‘a landmark moment for international justice.’’
In the Liberian capital, Monrovia, Taylor’s brother-in-law Arthur Saye said Taylor should serve his sentence in Rwanda like other rebels convicted by the Sierra Leone court.
‘‘Mr. Taylor is an African; he’s someone who believes in eating his African foods and what have you,’’ Saye said.
‘‘And what happened took place in Africa. Yes, they tried him in another country, but why must he be subjected to serve his term in a white man’s country?’’
Saye expressed fears for Taylor’s safety if he is imprisoned in Britain.
The court’s president, Judge George Gelaga King, said in a written order dated Oct. 4 and released Thursday that in choosing a British prison he took account of Taylor’s family situation and the ability of other possible states to ensure his physical safety.