09/26/2013 05:49 EDT | Updated 11/26/2013 05:12 EST

Court to deliver appeals verdict in Charles Taylor's Sierra Leone war crimes convictions

LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands - Judges at a U.N.-backed tribunal are delivering their judgment in former Liberian president Charles Taylor's appeal against his convictions and 50-year sentence for planning and aiding atrocities by rebels in Sierra Leone's bloody civil war.

Taylor, 65, became the first former head of state convicted by an international war crimes court since World War II when the Special Court for Sierra Leone found him guilty on April 26, 2012, of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including terrorism, murder, rape and using child soldiers.

The court said he provided crucial aid to rebels and planned attacks in return for "blood diamonds" mined by slave labourers in Sierra Leone and political influence in the volatile West African region.

Judges are handing down their decision Thursday in his appeal.