Alieu Kosiah, a former commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) faction, on Thursday, appeared before a court in Switzerland over war crimes charges.
ULIMO, a rebel group that participated in the First Liberian Civil War, fought against the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), led by Charles Taylor.
The war is noted for its brutality.
Kosiah is accused of sexual violence, murder, cannibalism, recruitment of child soldiers and forcing civilians to work in cruel conditions, which he denies.
After the war, Kosiah fled to Switzerland, where he was arrested in 2014 after evidence emerged of his alleged involvement in the deliberate killing of civilians, sexual violence and acts of cannibalism.
Kosiah denies the charges.
The case marks the first time war crimes charges are being heard by a civil court in Switzerland.
His lawyer claimed that he was not in the Liberia’s Lofa county at the time when the alleged crimes were committed there.
Mr Kosiah’a trial had been scheduled to begin earlier this year but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
His alleged victims will not be able to testify due to Covid-19 restrictions and are expected to do so next year.
The civil war, which lasted from 1989 until 2003, led to the deaths of nearly 250,000 people, often at the hands of child soldiers.
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