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Security Council welcomes indictments handed down by Sierra Leone court

Security Council welcomes indictments handed down by Sierra Leone court

UN Security Council in session
The members of the United Nations Security Council today welcomed the indictments handed down by the Special Court for Sierra Leone as the start of a judicial process aimed at bringing to justice those individuals who bear the greatest responsibility for the suffering inflicted on the people of the country throughout 10 years of conflict.

Noting the UN-backed Court's indictments against seven individuals charged with war crimes and other serious violations of humanitarian law, the Council's President, Ambassador Mamady Traoré of Guinea, said in a press statement that by holding individuals accountable through fair and transparent judicial process, the Special Court "will strengthen national reconciliation and contribute to the Security Council's goal of lasting peace in Sierra Leone."

Ambassador Traoré said the 15-nation Council also congratulated the people and Government of Sierra Leone for their commitment to achieving justice and national reconciliation through the work of the Special Court, and through the contribution of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and for their support to the Court since its establishment.

"Members called on other States in the region to support the efforts of the Special Court in combating impunity and addressing accountability for the atrocities that have been committed in Sierra Leone," Ambassador Traoré said. They also expressed appreciation to those countries that have contributed to the Court's funding and operations and urged States to continue to provide support to the tribunal as it enters the next phase of its work.

Meanwhile yesterday, the Court announced that former rebel leader Foday Sankoh and three others held under the indictments will make their first court appearance on Saturday.

The Court, which contains a mix of international and national judges, announced the scheduled appearances following its indictment on 10 March of seven suspects on charges ranging from murder, sexual slavery and rape, to forced conscription of children and attacks on UN peacekeepers.

Five of the seven indicted are in the Court's custody; outstanding warrants are out for the other two suspects, Johnny Paul Koroma, former head of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and a former associate, Sam Bokarie, who is in Liberia.

In addition to Mr. Sankoh, the other three who will appear before the Court are Issa Hassan Sessay, former Interim Head of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Alex Tamba Brima and Morris Kallon, former leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).

David M. Crane, the chief prosecutor for the Court, declared an end to the "dark days of the rule of the gun" in Sierra Leone when he announced the indictments. Vowing to keep up the international pressure to bring the accused to justice, he said, "The international criminal case continues. Further indictments will follow."