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Africa
S Leone war crimes trio convicted
Three rebel leaders found guilty of up to 16 charges during civil war.
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2009 23:14 GMT

More than 50,000 people have died in the
11-year civil war in Sierra Leone [AP]

A Sierra Leonean court has convicted three former rebel leaders of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the country's 1991-2002 civil war.

The UN-backed court on Wednesday convicted Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon and Augustine Gbao from the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a former rebel group, of ordering and undertaking killings, rapes and mutilations during the war.

The court in Freetown, the capital, handed down the first ever conviction for forced marriage and attacks on peacekeepers globally.

They were also convicted of recruiting child soldiers.

The trio are the most senior surviving members of the RUF and had pleaded not guilty to the 18 counts against them.

Stephen Rapp, the chief prosecutor, told Al Jazeera that the verdicts "respect the suffering of the multitude of victims who were murdered and enslaved or mutilated and raped or rendered homeless.

"It does so by holding individual leaders were responsible for some of most serious crimes known to humankind," Rapp said.

Earlier Rapp said in a statement: "[The court] recognizes the very deep and long lasting suffering inflicted upon women through conscription as 'bush wives' during the Sierra Leone conflict," he said.

"It sends a message that may deter such attacks against the men and women who are protecting individuals, restoring security, and keeping the peace across the globe," he said.

Sesay, 38, and Kallon, 45, were found guilty of 16 charges and Gbao, 60, was convicted of 14 counts against him.

They are expected to be sentenced in March.

More than 50,000 people died in the war in Sierra Leone

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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