Sierra Leone’s war crimes trial – contempt case final hearing

7 September, 2012

The war crimes trial of Liberia’s warlord – Charles Taylor, who was early this year sentenced at The Hague for crimes against humanity – committed in Sierra Leone, has also netted four other convicted senior former rebel soldiers, who have been accused of tampering with witnesses during the war crimes trial.

The trial Judge – Justice Doherty has retired to consider her judgement, which is expected in the coming weeks.

Convicted AFRC leaders – Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu (aka “Five-Five”), and former AFRC member – Alhassan Papa Bangura (aka “Bomblast”) are accused of offering bribe to a witness to recant testimony he gave before the Special Court, and of otherwise attempting to induce a witness to recant his testimony.

Kamara is also accused of knowingly revealing the name of a protected witness.

A fourth co-accused – Samuel Kargbo (aka “Sammy Ragga”) pleaded guilty at his initial appearance in July, 2011, and was convicted. Kargbo subsequently testified for the Prosecution. He remains free on bail pending his sentencing hearing.

According to APO, both the prosecution and defence teams delivered their closing statements yesterday, following the formal closure by the defence.

The hearing is taking place before a single judge – Justice Teresa Doherty, who as a member of Trial Chamber II, also sat on the AFRC trial in Freetown and the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor in The Hague.

The Independent Prosecutor called five witnesses during the prosecution case. Bangura and Kanu testified on their own behalf, but called no other witnesses.

Kamara also testified on his own behalf and called one additional witness.

Two of the trial sessions were held in Rwanda, where Kamara and Kanu are serving sentences of 45 and 50 years respectively, after they had been convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against Sierra Leonean civilians.

The courtrooms in Sierra Leone and Kigali were linked by a video stream.

Meanwhile, in the contempt case of The Independent Prosecutor v. Eric Koi Senessie, the Defence waived its right to appeal, but asked the Appeals Chamber to review the judgement in light of new facts which had been discovered.

The Appeals Chamber dismissed the application this week, on the grounds that the facts were not new and were known to Senessie during his trial.

Senessie was convicted on 21st June, 2012, on eight counts of offering bribes to prosecution witnesses, who had testified in the Taylor trial, and of otherwise attempting to interfere with prosecution witnesses, to induce them to recant their testimony.

He is currently serving a two-year sentence in the Special Court’s detention facility.

The leader of the murderous AFRC junta – Johnny Paul Koroma, continues to evade justice. He is believed to have been given refuge in the West African state of Burkina Faso, a satellite country that trained and exported terror across the sub-region in the 1990s.


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