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NEWS : Local News  

In Sierra Leone, Rebel Leaders Get 52, 40 & 25 Years Imprisonment Sentences
By Augustine Samba and Aruna Turay
Apr 9, 2009, 17:18
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Trial Chamber 1 of the Special Court for Sierra Leone has on Wednesday 8th April 2009 handed down sentencing judgment in the trial of three leaders of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon and Augustine Gbao received lengthy prison sentences, ranging from 52, 40 and 25 years respectively, for atrocities committed during Sierra Leones decade-long civil war.


The sentences follow the verdict on February 25, 2009, convicting all three defendants for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of International Humanitarian Laws (IHL).  


Handing down the sentences,
Presiding Judge Pierre Boutet of Canada disclosed that the Trial Chamber had given consideration to the nature and physicals impact of the crimes, including their scale and brutality, and the vulnerability, number, and suffering of victims. The judge specifically noted that civilians had been shot, killed, beaten to death, burned alive, hacked to death, raped, mutilated and enslaved.


Judge Pierre Boutet
also cited instances where men were disemboweled with their intestines used as makeshift checkpoints, a boy had all four limbs hacked off before being thrown into a pit and left to die, and civilians were made to choose between their lives or those of their family members.


The sentencing judgment was pronounced for the specific crimes of terrorism, collective punishments, exterminations, murder, rape, sexual slavery, mutilations and physical violence, use of child soldiers, enslavement, and pillage. The decision also includes the first sentence in history for the crimes of forced marriage and attacks against peacekeepers.


Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Stephen Rapp has welcomed the sentencing judgment. According to him, These sentences recognize the gravity of the terrible atrocities for which these men have been held responsible. Most importantly they honor the victims, the thousands of men, women and children of Sierra Leone, who suffered because of acts and decisions of these individuals, Stephen Rapp pointed out.


Prosecutor Rapp however, commended the judges for their historic contributions to international humanitarian law, which he said would be cited by courts across the world in the years ahead.


The Defence Counsel has however, expressed determination to appeal the judgment, alleging that it was nothing other than a bundle of contradiction, inconsistence and above all, politically influenced. The counsel called on the Government of Sierra Leone not to allow its citizens undergo their gaol term in another country, citing that if the international community is expressing commitment for prisoners welfare, they should upgrade the prison here.


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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