A 52 year old former rebel from Sierra Leone, Gibril Massaquoi, has been acquitted by a court in Finland for want of evidence.
This is coming after nearly a year of court hearings. Reacting to the court’s verdict, the Prosecutor, Tom Laitinen said:
“I understand that in a case like this there are difficult questions that a judge, a court, has to take into consideration regarding whether to convict or not. Now we have to read the judgement carefully and try to see if there’s anything that we just simply can’t agree on with the courts.
“Finland and any other country for that matter might owe something to all the people that have lost their lives during the civil war in, for example, Liberia, and we have a humane responsibility to try and bring the perpetrators to justice”, he said.
The Finnish court moved to Liberia in early 2021 to close the gap of the absence of a court. So far, the court has tried crimes committed as far back as during the civil wars of 1989-1996 and 1999-2003.
Massaquoi was a commander of the Revolutionary United Front, a notorious rebel group in Sierra Leone which also fought neighbouring Liberia from 1999 to 2003.
Despite testimonies accusing him of rape, ritual murder, and the recruitment of child soldiers during Liberia’s civil war, the former commander pleaded not guilty to all allegations of the war crimes levelled against him.
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