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Return of a war criminal to Sierra Leone after ten years in Rwanda

A former Sierra Leonean militia leader found guilty of war crimes and imprisoned in Rwanda has been sent back to his country to complete his sentence, the residual special tribunal for Sierra Leone, backed by the UN announced.

This militiaman, Allieu Kondewa, had led the Civil Defense Forces (CDF), a pro-government paramilitary movement that committed numerous abuses against civilians alongside traditional fighters as they fought the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) during the civil war that devastated this country in West Africa from 1991 to 2002.

He was convicted in 2007 of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, collective punishment and the recruitment of child soldiers.

The former militia leader spent nearly 10 years in prison in Rwanda, under a special agreement, as Sierra Leone does not have the necessary infrastructure for his detention.

He returned to Sierra Leone on Sunday to complete the last five years of his sentence, the court said in a statement.

“Kondewa (…) will be allowed to serve the rest of his sentence in his community in Bo (a big city in the South), under strict conditions and under surveillance,” the statement  says.

The ex-militiaman has been ordered to admit his guilt, make a public apology and show remorse, the statement added.

Kondewa will have to report twice a month to the police in Sierra Leone, will not be able to engage in politics or “attend secret meetings to prepare for civil unrest,” the court said.

The civil war, largely financed by “blood diamonds”, had left 120,000 dead and tens of thousands maimed.

CDF militiamen are accused of killing civilians suspected of collaborating with the rebels by killing them with bullets, knives or burning them alive.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) was set up by the UN to try those who bear “the greatest responsibility” in the atrocities committed during the civil war.

People “convicted of crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone’s civil war should do their utmost to deter others,” human rights activist Ibrahim Tommy told AFP.

Another former CDF leader, Moinina Fofana, was released in May after serving 15 years in prison, the full sentence.

Six war criminals sentenced to between 25 and 52 years in prison are still detained.

With AFP

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