World News Brief, Thursday May 31

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor sentenced to 50 years in prison for his part in Sierra Leone's civil war; Suu Kyi addresses migrant workers in Bangkok; China buys up Spain's $938 million assets in Brazilian construction company; Syrian diplomats expelled from 13 countries after Kofi Annan says Syrian situation at tipping point; European Central Bank won't fund recapitalisation of Spain's Bankia SA; and more

Top of the Agenda: International War Crimes Court Sentences Former Liberian President

The Special Court for Sierra Leone near The Hague today sentenced former Liberian president Charles Taylor to fifty years in prison (NYT) for aiding and abetting "heinous and brutal crimes" during Sierra Leone's civil war in the 1990s. In April, the court found Taylor guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes connected with the use of child soldiers and the mutilation of thousands of civilians. Taylor's legal team said it would appeal the "excessive" sentence, while the prosecution indicated it might also appeal in an effort to have the sentence lengthened. Taylor, whose trial began in 2006, is the court's last defendant.


"Charles Taylor is a villain who terrorized, oppressed, and repressed his people. Instead of being a leader, he decided he would be a ruler. When he became president of Liberia in 1997, he had a chance to wash away the gangster attitude of the evil regime that preceded him. Instead, he chose a path of violence, sparking a bloody civil war among the people who had elected him to lead," Leymah Gbowee writes for Newsweek.

"The six-year trial heard harrowing stories of how Taylor's forces unleashed a maelstrom of brutality across the region. Taylor aimed to make billions from exploiting the richest diamond fields in the world, and as many as 50,000 people were killed in the blood-soaked conflict that embroiled Sierra Leone and Liberia, even spreading into Ivory Coast and Guinea," writes TIME's Leo Cendrowicz.



Suu Kyi Visits Thailand

Myanmar opposition leader and pro-democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi began a visit to neighboring Thailand Tuesday evening--her first trip abroad in twenty-four years--and addressed thousands of Myanmar's migrant workers (al-Jazeera) in a town south of Bangkok today.

CHINA: The government-backed State Grid Corp. announced yesterday it would buy assets of Spain's Actividades de Construccion y Servicios (WSJ) in Brazil for $938.2 million, in the latest instance of China buying up the assets of a European company bogged down by the continent's ongoing debt crisis.



Syrian diplomats expelled from 13 countries

European Central Bank won't fund recapitalisation of Spain's Bankia SA

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