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UN winds down Sierra Leone court

Sierra LeoneA UN-backed court in Sierra Leone is set to hand down its last verdict on war crimes suspects from the country’s civil war, which ended in 2002. The conflict was characterised by the widespread murder, mutilation and abuse of civilians.

Three rebel leaders will hear the result of appeals against conviction. The only outstanding case is that of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, whose trial continues in a special courtroom in The Hague. Once the Freetown court has handed down the verdicts on Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leaders Issa Sesay, Maurice Kallon and Augustine Gbao, it will close its doors.

The court will leave many Sierra Leoneans with a mixed experience of international justice. All sides in the civil war committed atrocities, but most Sierra Leoneans have an idea of who were the heroes and who were the villains.

Established by the government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations, the court set out to punish crimes regardless of who committed them. Many balked at seeing in the dock the leader of the Civilian Defence Force militia, which fought hard against the RUF rebels.

Sam Hinga Norman was hero for the people of Freetown, but his forces committed atrocities. Mr Hinga Norman died during his trial – a case of justice denied for his supporters. The notorious leader of the RUF rebels, Foday Sankoh, also died while on trial.

Sierra Leoneans have appreciated seeing those responsible for commanding the horrors of the civil war face justice, but many have remarked that some of the millions of dollars spent on the Special Court might have been better used on improving the lives of the victims.

Source: GBC NEWS

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