The United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) today sentenced two former leaders of a pro-Government militia to jail over war crimes they committed during the country’s prolonged civil war in the 1990s.
Moinina Fofana, who was convicted on 2 August on charges of murder, cruel treatment, pillage and collective punishments, was given a six-year prison term by the SCSL, which sits in the capital, Freetown.
Allieu Kondewa, who was convicted on the same charges and also on a count of recruiting child combatants, received an eight-year sentence.
At the trials, prosecutors said Mr. Fofana served as National Director of War for the Civil Defence Forces (CDF) while Mr. Kondewa acted as the militia’s “High Priest.” The case against a third accused CDF leader, Sam Hinga Norman, ended after he died in February.
During Sierra Leone’s civil war the CDF, comprised of various tribally-based traditional hunters, supported the Government against rebel groups, including the Revolutionary United Front and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).
Prosecutors had asked for longer terms of imprisonment for Mr. Fofana and Mr. Kondewa but Justice Benjamin Itoe, the presiding judge, said today that several mitigating factors meant shorter terms were warranted.
These included the efforts of the CDF to restore the democratically elected government of Sierra Leone, which the court said had contributing to re-establishing the rule of law in the West African nation.
The SCSL is 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. It is the second international war crimes tribunal established in Africa.