Sierra Leone: UN-backed court sentences former rebel leaders

19 July 2007 –

The United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) handed down its first sentences today, imposing lengthy prison terms on three former rebel leaders convicted of multiple counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the country’s civil war in the 1990s.

Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu were each found guilty on 20 June on 11 charges, including committing acts of terrorism, murder, rape and enslavement and conscripting children under the age of 15 into armed groups.

The three men, former leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), a group of Sierra Leonean soldiers who allied themselves with the notorious rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) during the civil war, were each acquitted on three other charges, including sexual slavery and forced marriage.

The Court imposed sentences of 50 years for Mr. Brima, 45 years for Mr. Kamara and 50 years for Mr. Kanu. They will be given credit for time served since their arrests in 2003.

The Court ordered that the three men begin serving their sentences immediately. The SCSL – the second international war crimes tribunal established in Africa – was 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.

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