Alieu Kosiah, became the first Liberian to be convicted for war crimes committed during the country’s civil war, in a court hearing in Switzerland earlier this month.
The rebel commander was found guilty of murder, rape and cannibalism by the Swiss court in Bellinzona, and sentenced to 20 years in jail – the maximum permitted under Swiss law. Kosiah was arrested in 2014 and faced 25 charges, with the principle of “universal jurisdiction” used to convict him for all but four of the charges against him.
Human Rights Watch labelled the sentencing a “landmark” and activists in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia revelled in the verdict. “This will serve as a deterrent for others around the world. I think justice has taken its course,” said Dan Sayeh, a civil society campaigner.
Kosiah was a rebel leader than fought against the control of Liberia’s president at the time, Charles Taylor. The bloody conflict led to the killing of 250,000 people, with Kosiah personally ordering and engaging in the killing of civilians.
Taylor is currently serving a 50-year prison sentence in the U.K. for his crimes in Sierra Leone.
Another Liberian activist, Jefferson Knight urged the sentence to initiate the process of creating a war crimes unit. Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which operated until 2009, also recommended the establishment of a special tribunal.
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