Former Sierra Leone rebel leader – Augustine Gbao is released early from prison

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 September 2020:

Sierra Leone’s U.N backed tribunal said yesterday, Wednesday it will grant conditional early release to a former rebel leader in prison for crimes against humanity committed during the country’s brutal civil war. (Photo above: A child victim of the rebel war in Sierra Leone whose hands were amputated by rebels). 

Augustine Gbao, 72, a former leader of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), had served 17 years of a 25-year sentence for acts including terrorism, extermination, murder, rape and sexual slavery.

The Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone, based in The Hague, is the successor to a court established by the United Nations in 2002 to try those who bear “the greatest responsibility” for the atrocities during the West African country’s 1991-2001 civil war.

The conflict, financed largely by so-called blood diamonds, left 120,000 people dead and tens of thousands mutilated.

“Former RUF commander Augustine Gbao has been granted conditional early release, with a three-month delay, during which time he must undergo specific training geared to his understanding of and acceptance of responsibility for the harm he inflicted by his crimes,” the court said in a statement released Wednesday.  (Photo: Victims of the rebel war in Sierra Leone).

The court found that Gbao, who was detained in 2003 and is serving his sentence in Rwanda, had “largely behaved properly in prison” and showed remorse, it said.

Gbao will be able to serve the remainder of his sentence in his community of Blama, a town in Sierra Leone’s Eastern Province, subject to close supervision and strict conditions.

The conditions include a radio and television apology to the victims of his crimes and to the people of Sierra Leone.

Between 1991 and 2001, the RUF carried out a series of atrocities in order to try to gain control over Sierra Leone’s lucrative mining districts.

During the 2009 sentencing for Gbao and two other RUF leaders, the court said the rebels terrorized the civilian population with mass killings, rape and amputations.

The rebels also forcibly recruited child soldiers.

The court had rejected on Tuesday a bid by former Liberian president and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor, who is serving a 50-year sentence for crimes committed in Sierra Leone to be moved from a British jail, where he claimed he risks dying from coronavirus.

It is not yet clear what the people of Sierra Leone think about this latest development.

Most Sierra Leoneans are living victims of the horrible ten-year civil war, upon whom untold suffering, death and mayhem were inflicted by Gbao and his fellow rebels.

Sierra Leone is today at a political crossroads, struggling with political tension, gross abuse of human rights by government security forces against opposition supporters.

Has Gboa been sufficiently reformed and rehabilitated in prison to be able to integrate in an increasingly violent and lawless society where tribal politics and alliances are once again stoking up unrest in the country?

Source Credit: Agence France-Presse

6 Comments

  1. We the people of Sierra Leone, we are not going to accept him. You can forgive your enemies but you can never forget their names.

  2. This man was not humiliated, harassed or even forced to do hard labor, let alone to sleep on dry blanket. They fed him 4 times a day. I am glad that he’s out today as a free man to come into the free world and see some of his victims that are fatherless and homeless. They lost parts of their bodies that he did not create. Mr. Gbao, this is the good job you have done to your country and it’s people.

    As for me, I will never recover my pain, losing my twin sister through these vicious killers for no reason. I personally forgive everybody and the rest left with God. Welcome back to the society. God blees this country.

  3. A coward he is without any doubts,but its time to move on and allow him to seek forgiveness from his victims and from his eternal creator,the one whom he has disappointed the most,”ALMIGHTY GOD.”For surely when the Omnipotent hands of heaven fashioned him in the womb and gave him the breath of life there was rejoicing and great hope that another human soul will traverse the earth in search of the bounties and glories of God,preserve and sustain it for the children of the glorious light – But strangely that was not meant to be;Instead he used the gift of free will granted to him,as a vehicle to be used to pursue,elevate,and promote the agendas of the darkness and the fallen angel Lucifer.

    Indeed,a truly heartbreaking story of many innocent lives lost,at the hands of someone who sometime ago had also been born in innocence and perfect purity – There are vibrations signalling to us that celestial heavens still moans and sheds countless amount of tears for her lost children in Sierra Leone;But Heaven has always been considerate and Merciful;”The Quality of Mercy is not strained;it droppeth as a gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.

    It is twice blessed – It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.( William Shakespeare)Our hearts should not be allowed to be transformed into stone,because of the wicked and evil deeds of others…we must strive to remain flexible,soft and loving as fragrant as roses..

    • Mr Stargazer, its hard to move on when you see the same polices that bought our country into civil conflict, has to a greater extent being recycled by the Bio government, and is being promoted and pursed by his ministers. A real kick in the teeth for families of loved ones and those who died at the hands of drugged up young men, brainwashed to commit atrocities – sometimes against their own family members.

      The war exposed the animal instincts in human behavior. Like most wars in Africa, our civil war was not fought because of political, religious, tribal or regional differences. Indeed this is the first war in Africa that was fought solely between the HAVES AND HAVE NOTS. And was caused by unchecked corruption by government officials. Indeed when you witnessed vultures and dogs eating your fellow Sierra Leoneans in the streets of Freetown, its hardly a sight you can forget in a hurry. It stays with you forever.

      If this government or any government recognise the deaths and destruction the war bought unpon our country and set a date for a national memorial day and reconciliation, just like any other country does, that went through the same trauma, I think families will move on. That way, they would be assured their loved ones didn’t die in vain, but most importantly they will be assured, NEVER AGAIN SHOULD OUR CORRUPT POLITICIANS PLUNGE OUR COUNTRY TO SUCH HUMAN MISERY.

  4. Agustine Gboa might have served seventeen years as part of his twenty five years prison sentence, in his role as one of the RUF leaders. He might have found God and repented in prison for his psychopathic actions, against inocent civilians. But his regrets or the lack of it will never bring back those who lost their lives. I think the Residual special court for Sierra Leone, in reaching this decision, is a timely reminder to those deniers of history, that monsters like these will soon find their way living amongst the very people that the RUF set to wipe out under his command. But for families like ours that lost loved ones and people that were maimed in that senseless civil war, his apology and crocodile tears will never win our sympathy.

    I wish he’d rot in prison. Just like a recent report in which the chief sponsor and director of the RUF wars, displayed his cowadice when it comes to his own welfare and fear of death, former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, asking this same court for the privilege to serve out the rest of his fifty years sentence in a third country, because wait for it, he fears he will be infected by covid19 in his UK prison. What about the rigths of the nearly three hundred thousand inocent people that lost their lives in the wars you started in Liberia and Sierra Leone on Christmas day 1989? What a coward. May the souls of those that lost their lives rest in peace.

    • There is no mercy for such wicked people. You can forgive your enemy but you cannot forget their names.

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