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Swiss court sentenced Liberian rebels to 20 years in prison for war crimes

Alieu Kosiah was convicted of 21 counts, including rape, deployment of child soldiers and cannibalism.

A Swiss court sentenced Liberian rebel commander Alieu Kosiah to 20 years in prison for war crimes during the civil war in the 1990s. The ruling was welcomed by activists and human rights organizations.

On Friday, documents from the Swiss Federal Court in the southern city of Bellinzona showed that the 46-year-old man was convicted of 21 of 25 charges, including ordering or participating in the killing of 17 civilians and two unarmed persons. soldier.

He was also convicted of rape, deploying child soldiers, ordering robbery, inhuman and degrading treatment of civilians, and cannibalism.

Liberia’s successive civil wars from 1989 to 1997 and 1999 to 2003 were characterized by the massive use of child soldiers, resulting in the deaths of approximately 250,000 people and the displacement of more than 1 million people.

Kosiah was arrested in Switzerland in 2014 and he has lived there since 1999 because of his involvement in war crimes committed in Lofa County in northwest Liberia between 1993 and 1995. Swiss law in 2011 allowed the prosecution of serious crimes committed anywhere based on the principle of universal jurisdiction.

The court stated in a statement that the 20-year sentence is the maximum sentence allowed by Swiss law.

“No mitigation of punishment was considered in the sentencing. The deportation of Switzerland was also ordered for a period of 15 years,” it said.

It added that Corsia was also ordered to pay compensation to seven plaintiffs.

It is unclear when the deportation will be carried out. Court documents show that Corsia’s sentence includes 2,413 days, or approximately six and a half years, that he has served in pretrial detention.

‘Deterring others’

Activists in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, celebrated the verdict.

“This will act as a deterrent to others around the world. I think justice has come to an end,” said Dan Sayeh, a civil society activist.

Another activist in Liberia, Jefferson Knight, said that he hopes this sentence will increase the government’s increasing pressure to establish a war crimes department, as the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended many years ago. Like that.

Kosiah denied all allegations and told the court that he was a minor when he was first recruited to participate in the conflict. He was exonerated on Friday for attempted murder of civilians, involvement in the murder of civilians, ordering robbery and recruitment of child soldiers.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), a human rights organization based in New York, description Friday’s ruling was a “milestone step for Liberians.”

Balkees Jarrah, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s International Department of Justice, said in a statement: “More than 20 years after the violations occurred, the victims played a crucial role in ensuring the first conviction for war crimes during the civil war in Liberia. Important role.”

“The verdict is a breakthrough for the Liberian victims and the Swiss judicial system to break the wall of impunity.”

Charles Taylor, a former strongman of Liberia, was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2012, but the charges were for atrocities committed in neighbouring Sierra Leone, not in his own country.

The sentencing to Cosia marks the first time a Liberian has been convicted of war crimes committed during the conflict-whether in a West African country or anywhere else.

This case is also the first time that Switzerland has tried a war crime in a civil court.

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