UN-backed special court for Sierra Leone indicts seven

UN-backed special court for Sierra Leone indicts seven

The United Nations-backed special court for Sierra Leone has indicted seven suspects - including a senior government politician and two former rebel leaders - implicated in a decade's worth of atrocities and human rights violations in that country.

Declaring an end to "the dark days of the rule of the gun," the chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, David M. Crane, said in accordance with arrest warrants authorized by its judges, five people had been arrested and taken into the Court's custody, including former Internal Affairs Minister Sam Hinga Norman and former Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leader Foday Sankoh.

Heralding "a new dawn" for Sierra Leone and all of West Africa, the chief prosecutor read out the wide-ranging indictments yesterday on behalf of the country's traumatized and war-weary people. The charges involve acts ranging from murder, sexual slavery and rape, to forced conscription of children and attacks on UN peacekeepers.

The other three men arrested were Issa Sesay, Alex Tamba Brima and Morris Kallon. Two other indictments, for Sam Bockarie and Johnny Paul Koromah, were announced but neither is in the Court's custody.

The Special Court, which contains a mix of international and national judges, was set up to indict and try those considered to have the greatest responsibility for war crimes committed during 10 years of brutal conflict.