Sierra Leone: UN-backed court increases sentences for two former militia leaders
The United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) today increased the sentences of two former leaders of a pro-Government militia who were convicted last year of war crimes committed during the country’s prolonged civil war in the 1990s.
The Special Court Appeals Chamber, in a majority judgment, today upheld war crimes convictions of the two men on counts of murder and cruel treatment and increased their sentences substantially.
Moinina Fofana, who had been sentenced to concurrent sentences totalling six years, has now been sentenced to 15 years. Allieu Kondewa’s sentence was increased from eight to 20 years.
Prosecutors at their trial last year said Mr. Fofana served as National Director of War for the pro-government militia, the Civil Defence Forces (CDF) while Mr. Kondewa acted as High Priest for the militia.
During Sierra Leone’s civil war the CDF, whose members included tribally-based traditional hunters, supported the Government against rebel groups, including the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).
Today’s judgment overturned convictions imposed by the Trial Chamber against Mr. Fofana and Mr. Kondewa for collective punishments, and against Mr. Kondewa for recruiting child soldiers.
However, the Appeals Chamber, by a majority, also entered two new convictions against both men for murder and inhumane acts as crimes against humanity.
The SCSL is mandated to try those bearing the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian and Sierra Leonean law within the country’s borders since 30 November 1996. It is the second international war crimes tribunal established in Africa.