Two former militia leaders convicted by UNbacked tribunal in Sierra Leone

2 August 2007The United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) today convicted two former leaders of a pro-government militia of war crimes committed during the country’s prolonged civil war in the 1990s. The United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) today convicted two former leaders of a pro-government militia of war crimes committed during the country’s prolonged civil war in the 1990s.Moinina Fofana and Allieu Kondewa of the Civil Defence Forces (CDF) militia were each found guilty by the SCSL’s trial chamber of four counts of murder, cruel treatment, pillage and collective punishments. Mr. Kondewa was also convicted of recruiting child combatants.The two men were each acquitted of two counts of crimes against humanity and one count of war crimes, while Mr. Fofana was also found not guilty of recruiting child combatants. Sentencing is expected at a later date.Today’s convictions were handed down by Justice Benjamin Mutanga Itoe (presiding) and Justice Pierre Boutet during a SCSL hearing in the capital, Freetown. But Justice Bankole Thompson issued a separate and dissenting opinion in which he found Mr. Fofana and Mr. Kondewa not guilty on all eight counts.Prosecutors said Mr. Fofana served as National Director of War for the CDF while Mr. Kondewa acted as High Priest for the militia. The case against a third accused CDF leader, Sam Hinga Norman, was halted 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 (RUF) and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).The indictment against the three CDF leaders detailed a series of crimes during the war, including the looting and burning of towns and villages and the killing of residents they deemed to be collaborators with the rebels.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. read more