Sierra Leone: UN-backed court convicts three rebel leaders for war crimes

26 February 2009

Three men who led a rebel movement during the most brutal phase of Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war have been found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, a United Nations spokesperson said today.

Three men who led a rebel movement during the most brutal phase of Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war have been found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity by a United Nations-backed court in the capital, Freetown.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) found the former leaders of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) guilty of charges relating to forced marriage, attacks against peacekeepers and use of child soldiers, according to a news release issued by the Court.

Former RUF Interim Leader Issa Hassan Sesay and RUF commander Morris Kallon were each found guilty on 16 of the 18 counts in the indictment, which included the child recruitment charges.

Former RUF Chief of Security Augustine Gbao was found guilty on 14 counts.

All three were found guilty of specific war crimes relating to attacks on peacekeepers, the first time ever such charges have been successfully pressed, and on the forced marriage charges.

They will face sentencing in the coming weeks.

The Special Court, established in January 2002 by an agreement between the Sierra Leonean Government and the UN, is mandated to try “those who bear greatest responsibility” for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the country after 30 November 1996, when fighting was marked by murder, mutilation, rape and sexual slavery.

The Court’s trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor for crimes committed in Sierra Leone is currently under way in The Hague.

 

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