Sierra Leone man’s war crimes trial expands, more hearings in West Africa

A man from Sierra Leone, who has lived in Finland since 2008, is charged with murder, aggravated rape and aggravated war crimes during the Liberian Civil War in 1999-2003. Gibril Massaquoi, 51, has denied all charges.

As a result of the new revelations about the alleged atrocities, court officials are traveling to West Africa for a second time to hear witnesses. The hearings are scheduled to begin next week.

According to the criminal charge, Massaquoi ordered the murder, torture and mutilation of civilians and participated in their cannibalization.

Massaquoi was one of the leaders of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of the Sierra Leone rebel group, which took part in the civil war in both Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Massaquoi later testified against other fighters in the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone. As a result, he was not charged with war crimes in Sierra Leone and he got to Finland, where he worked as a cleaner and postman.

In March 2020, he was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in the Prisma car park in Tampere after investigating suspected links to war crimes in Liberia.

The new consultations will focus on the whereabouts of Massaquo in the summer of 2003.

Finnish prosecutors had believed his suspected crimes had ended by March 2003, when Massaquoi, who had agreed to testify against his former brothers-in-arms, moved to the Sierra Leone Special Court in Freetown.

"Now, in the process, doubts have arisen as to whether this conclusion was ultimately correct. Several eyewitnesses have reported that the suspect was still in the Waterside area (the capital of Liberia, Monrovia) in the summer of 2003, just before the end of the war. On this basis, we have extended the period of possible crimes," Public Prosecutor Tom Laitinen told the news agency STT.

He added that the trial, which began in February, will be completed before the end of this year.

Source: The Nordic Page





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