Liberia war crimes: Sierra Leone rebel commander acquitted by court in Finland

A court in Finland has acquitted a rebel commander of rape, ritual murder and the recruitment of child soldiers during Liberia’s civil war.

The court said there was not enough proof to convict Gibril Massaquoi. 

The 52-year-old is from Sierra Leone and was a senior member of a notorious rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), that also fought in neighbouring Liberia from 1999 to 2003.

He had moved to Finland in 2008 and was arrested two years ago.

Mr Massaquoi was a school teacher when Sierra Leone’s civil war began in 1991. He joined the RUF, quickly rising through the ranks to become spokesman of the group which was notorious for atrocities such as hacking off the limbs of civilians, as well as murder and rape.

But he then gave evidence to the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone set up to investigate war crimes committed in that conflict.

He was relocated to Finland as part of a witness protection programme, which provided immunity for crimes committed in Sierra Leone, but not Liberia.

Prosecutors alleged that in Liberia, Mr Massaquoi had ordered buildings with people locked inside to be torched, and described the widespread rape and murder of civilians, often by enslaved child soldiers.

The ex-rebel said he was not in Liberia at the time.

Continue reading: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-61277623

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