Sierra Leone: UN-backed court calls for proof of former rebel leader's death

Sierra Leone: UN-backed court calls for proof of former rebel leader's death

Following news reports that ex-rebel leader Sam Bockarie had been killed during an apparent attempt by Liberian authorities to arrest him, the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone demanded that Monrovia turn over the body of the fugitive war crimes suspect for positive identification.

In a statement released yesterday, the Court's Chief Prosecutor, David Crane, called on the Liberian Government to provide proof of Mr. Bockarie's death. "If reports of Mr. Bockarie's death are true, I ask Liberian authorities to provide proof and request that they turn his body over to us for forensic examination and positive identification," he said.

On 7 March, the Court indicted Mr. Bockarie and fellow fugitive Johnny Paul Koroma for alleged atrocities - ranging from murder and sexual slavery to forced conscription of children and attacks on UN peacekeepers - committed during Sierra Leone's 10-year civil war. Both were connected with the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF).

Earlier this week, Mr. Crane challenged Liberian President Charles Taylor to arrest and surrender the pair, even offering specific details regarding their whereabouts.