- The UN-backed court has imposed long sentences on three of Sierra Leone's war criminals – Alex Tamba Brima, Santigie Borbor Kanu and Brima Kamara - after they were found guilty of 12 of the 14 war crimes during the country’s civil war.
Tamba and Kanu were sentenced to serve 50 years in jail while Kamara got 45 years. 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 three accused persons have committed violations of human rights in which civilians were mutilated, and other civilians were killed and burnt in their houses," Judge Julia Sebutinde told a Freetown court.
They were however not guilty of alleged sexual slavery and other inhuman acts.
The men have become the first to be tried by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
The court has accused 12 people of fuelling the 10-year civil war. They include the former Liberian President, Charles Taylor, whose case was transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for security reasons.
The convicts have been given the right to appeal, but they are expected to serve their terms in Europe instead of Sierra Leone upon losing the appeal. The court cited concerns for security as the main reason for the transfer.
The prosecution indicted the former rebel leaders of capturing women and girls, mutilating and raping them. As a result of the rebels' mutilation, a sizeable number of Sierra Leoneans have been without legs and arms.
"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 had earlier said.
The rebel leaders 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 UN established the 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.
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afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
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