In Liberia, where Charles Taylor's name elicits both hatred and fierce loyalty, some said Wednesday they felt humiliated by the 50-year jail sentence for their former head of state.
Others voiced relief that the one-time warlord was punished for fueling a bloody civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone, wondering only why he was not put behind bars for bloodshed he brought to his own country.
As proceedings got underway in The Hague, about 100 people gathered around a large television in a Monrovia teahouse to watch on CNN the sentencing of the man who led a rebel army before being elected president of Liberia.
A heated debate raged before the screening began -- some insisted Taylor would get no more than 10 years in jail, others demanded the full 80 years requested by the prosecution for aiding rebel war crimes in Sierra Leone.
But one could hear a pin drop when judge Richard Lussick began reading out the sentencing judgement, and his pronouncement was greeted by more stunned silence before comments began flying over the outcome.
"I anticipated that the court would sentence Mr. Taylor for 80 years or more, but at least Liberians must be appreciative that the sentence has been reduced to 50 years," said university student Sao Bass, 34.
However, he added: "I believe in the black solidarity, and so I do not feel good as an African to see my former president sentenced to life imprisonment. It is really a sad day for me."
Many on the continent have criticised the international justice system for focusing too much attention on African leaders.
Boaikai Sirleaf, a 37-year-old teacher, felt the same, adding that he was "saddened that the Liberians would be humiliated and reduced in this manner."
"I see trouble that the international system has landed a judgement against not only my former president, but Liberians. This is something to make us sad because we share the same country, culture and identity."
Taylor was Liberia's president from 1997 to 2003 after being elected in the hope this would put an end to Liberia's own civil war. However, fighting soon resumed as he faced an uprising against his own government.
He fled to Nigeria in 2003 after being indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He was captured and extradited to The Hague 2006.
Taylor retains significant pockets of support in Liberia, notably by those who supported his bid to overthrow the detested regime of Samuel Doe which sparked a civil war in 1989 eventually fought by a panoply of factions.
However many remain deeply bitter that atrocities caused by Taylor during his reign as warlord in his own country have gone unpunished.
"To judge Mr. Taylor for what occurred in Sierra Leone and ignore what occurred in Liberia is for me a betrayal from the part of the international community," said Ruth Mendee, 43.
"My two children were raped in front of me, and those who did it are still here. I agree that justice must be done for what happened in Sierra Leone, but are we Liberians not humans who deserve justice?"
The country held a South-African styled Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which issued a final report in 2009, but no-one implicated has been prosecuted.
With the heavy ethnic undertones to the war -- which left some seen as heroes for protecting their own group by committing atrocities against others -- many feel that prosecuting anyone would dangerously divide the nation.
The country has been at peace since 2003 and is slowly rebuilding under Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
However, tensions remain high and her recent re-election was marred by violence and an opposition boycott.
Sirleaf, who admitted to financing Taylor in the early days of his rebellion, was named on a TRC list of those who should be barred from public office.
Some Liberians said the sentence received by Taylor should serve as a stiff warning to other African leaders.
"I believe that the 50 years imprisonment is fair, considering the gravity of the crimes he committed," said Johnny Lewis, a teacher. "I wish that heads of African states that monitored the trial will learn lesson from this trial."© ANP/AFP