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Prosecutor of UN-assisted Sierra Leone special court to step down

Prosecutor of UN-assisted Sierra Leone special court to step down

The Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, set up with United Nations help to try those most responsible for war crimes committed during the West African country's civil war in the 1990s, today notified Secretary General Kofi Annan that he will leave his post this summer.

David M. Crane wrote Mr. Annan that he would not seek reappointment and will step down on 15 July.

Mr. Crane was appointed in April 2002 and issued his first set of indictments seven months later. Six of the eight indictees – including former Internal Affairs Minister Sam Hinga Norman and former Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leader Foday Sankoh – were arrested in Operation Justice on 10 March 2003 in Sierra Leone. Since then there have been five other indictments issued. Nine of these indictees are in custody and being tried in three joint criminal trials.

Following Mr Crane's 17-count indictment on war crimes and crimes against humanity of then-President Charles Taylor of Liberia, Mr. Taylor fled to Calabar, Nigeria. Mr. Taylor is only the second Head of State in history, and the first African, ever to be indicted for war crimes.

Mr. Crane told the Secretary General that he hoped he could serve mankind and the United Nations in another capacity someday. By statute only the Secretary General can appoint a Prosecutor for the Special Court.

The Special Court is the world's first hybrid international war crimes tribunal, and was established by an agreement in January 2002 between the United Nations and the Republic of Sierra Leone. It is headquartered in the capital Freetown.