UN court convicts Sierra Leone rebels of war crimes

The United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone convicted three rebel leaders on Wednesday of crimes against humanity and war crimes during the country’s 1991 to 2002 civil war.

Issa Hassan Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Augustine Gbao, the most senior surviving commanders of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), were all found guilty of most, but not all, of the 18 individual counts against them.

Wednesday’s verdict was the third collective judgement handed down by the Special Court, the first court of its kind, which was set up in 2002 to try those accused of the most serious crimes during a war that killed 50 000 people.

Members of two militia groups were convicted of similar crimes in 2007.

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who is accused of fomenting Sierra Leone’s conflict during his own country’s brutal 1989 to 2003 civil war in return for diamonds from Sierra Leone’s east, is also on trial.

His trial is being held in The Hague due to fears that it may endanger regional stability if held in West Africa. — Reuters

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