Guilty verdicts in RUF case 25 Feb 2009
The Special Court of Sierra Leone (SCSL) has found three commanders of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Judgement in RUF caseOn 25 February 2009, the Special Court of Sierra Leone (SCSL) found three senior commanders of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Issa Hassan Sesay, Morris Kallon and Augustine Gbao guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The three were charged with 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, rape, sexual enslavement, cruel treatment, abduction and forced labour, using child soldiers and attacks on UN soldiers during Sierra Leone's 1991-2001 civil war. Sesay and Kallon were found guilty of 16 of the 18 counts against them, while Gbao was found guilty on 14 counts. The decision is the first time that the crime of forced marriage has been handed down by an international criminal tribunal.

The sentencing judgement will be rendered in the coming weeks.

The RUF trial began on 5 July 2004, with closing arguments on 4 and 5 August 2008. A total of 75 prosecution witnesses gave evidence at the trial.

Ten years of civil war in Sierra Leone

From 1997 to 1999, three organised armed factions were involved in the armed conflict in Sierra Leone: the pro-government Civil Defense Forces (CDF), fighting the combined forces of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).

The Revolutionary United Front was formed in 1988/1989 and entered Sierra Leone in 1991 to launch a 10-year terror campaign within its territory. The violent strikes were directed against the civilian population, humanitarian assistance operations and UN peacekeepers and resulted in mass murders and pillaging. The RUF was supported by the President of neighboring Liberia, Charles Taylor, who is currently facing charges of crimes against humanity before the SCSL.

In 2003, five leaders of the RUF were indicted separately on 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The five indicted leaders were Foday Saybana Sankoh, Sam Bockarie, Issa Hassan Sesay, Morris Kallon and Augustine Gbao. The indictments against Foday Saybana Sankoh and Sam Bockarie were withdrawn following their deaths in 2003.

Final judgement in Sierra Leone

UN Peacekeeper in FreetownThe Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) was established in 2002 by the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations. It was created to try those who are alleged to have committed serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law within the territory of Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996.

In June 2007, three AFRC leaders were found guilty by the Trial Chamber of the SCSL and sentenced to up to 50 years’ imprisonment (a judgment confirmed in appeal). In May 2008, the SCSL’s Appeals Chamber sentenced two CDF leaders to 15 and 20 years’ imprisonment.

The judgement in the RUF case ends the last of the trials taking place in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The remaining trial, that of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, is currently taking place in The Hague. The trial had been moved to the Netherlands due to security concerns.

Issa Hassan Sesay
Morris Kallon
Augustine Gbao
The RUF Accused 
 

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