Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Another mixed verdict from Sierra Leone

Garnering far less fanfare than the 1st judgment of the Special Court for Sierra Leone was its 2d judgment, delivered last Thursday at the hybrid tribunal's courthouse in Freetown. The prior judgment, as IntLawGrrl Beth VanSchaack demonstrated, did not accept some of the allegations pressed by the prosecution. Spanning 438 pages, this judgment too was a mixed verdict.
With the 2 international judges, Presiding Justice Benjamin Mutanga Itoe of Cameroon and Justice Pierre G. Boutet of Canada, in the majority, Trial Chamber I voted 2-to-1 to convict 2 former leaders of the Civil Defence Forces militia that fought on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone during that country's civil war. Moinina Fofana and Allieu Kondewa both were found guilty of murder, cruel treatment, and collective punishments. Kondewa further was found guilty of recruiting for combat children under age 15, but Fofana was acquitted of that charge. In addition, both men were found not guilty on 2 counts of crimes against humanity and 1 of war crimes. Each of the 3 Justices filed a separate opinion; dissenting Justice Rosolu John Bankole Thompson, appointed by the government of Sierra Leone, would have acquitted both defendants of all charges.
Trial had begun in June 2004 against 3 men, but the 3d defendant died in February. He was Sam Hinga Norman, Sierra Leone's Interior Minister at the time of his indictment.
Depicting the government's use of child soldiers is Ishmael Beah's bestselling memoir A Long Way Gone, discussed here.
(photo of child soldier in Sierra Leone courtesy of IRIN, the Integrated Regional Information Networks of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)

No comments: