- Three men – Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu – have become the first suspects to be convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone’s civil war.
The war crimes tribunal found them guilty of 12 of the 14 charges preferred against them. They were however not guilty of alleged sexual slavery and other inhuman acts.
The convicted men who were Commanders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), which forged an alliance with the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, overthrew the government of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah on 25 May, 1997.
The former soldiers, who split from the army and join the RUF, are expected to be sentenced on 16 July.
In its indictment, the prosecution said the men captured women and girls, raped, and in many cases physically mutilated their bodies. The war had left hundreds of Sierra Leoneans without legs and hands.
"Many civilians saw these crimes committed. Others returned to their homes or places of refuge to find the results of these crimes - dead bodies, mutilated victims and looted and burnt property," prosecution held.
The judgment is the first verdict of the United Nations Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone.
The rebels were accused of killing, raping and mutilating thousands of innocent civilians during the decade-long conflict. But they had throughout maintained their innocence throughout the trial.
The United Nations established the war crimes court to probe those accused of committing atrocities and crimes against humanity five years after the civil war ended.
Some of the key suspects, including Foday Sankoh, Sam Bocarie and Hinga Norman, died before they were prosecuted for their alleged crimes.
Johnny Paul Krommah, who led the AFRC, was no where to be found, though most people believed he might have died.
Another key suspect of the Sierra Leonean crisis is Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia who is currently waiting to be tried before the Special Court in The Hague.
Mr Taylor refused to appear before the court this month but his case resumes next week.
The court had initially issued indictments against 13 suspected leaders of the main warring factions during the Sierra Leone’s conflict.
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