ULIMO Commander Kunti K. Will Face Trial in France for Crimes Against Humanity
Today, the investigating chamber of the Paris Court of Appeals confirmed the referral to trial in France of Kunti K., former Liberian commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), for crimes allegedly committed during the First Liberian Civil War (1989-1996).
In November 2020, the investigating judge in his closing order had requested the indictment of Kunti K. for crimes of torture and barbaric acts. The Prosecutor appealed the failure to indict for crimes against humanity. The investigating chamber found in favor of the Prosecutor, by expanding the indictment to cover crimes against humanity in addition to crimes of torture and acts of barbarism that had been ordered by the investigating judge.
Kunti K.’s trial will be the first in France, since the establishment of the French war crimes division in 2012, not connected to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
The preliminary investigation against Kunti K. and his arrest were prompted by a complaint filed in 2018 by Civitas Maxima and several Liberian plaintiffs it represents. Both Civitas Maxima and the plaintiffs were granted the status of civil parties in the case and are represented by lawyers Simon Foreman and Sabrina Delattre in Paris.
In 2019, French authorities, alongside Liberian authorities, travelled to Lofa County, in Northern Liberia, for a fact-finding mission related to Kunti K.’s case. This was the first time since the end of the Second Civil War in 2003 that Liberian authorities, together with foreign authorities, undertook crime-scene reconstructions related to war-time crimes.
The announcement of the Kunti K. trial closely evokes the trial of Alieu Kosiah, which was concluded in March 2021 in Switzerland, and it is expected that a verdict will be reached soon. Both Kunti K. and Kosiah were ULIMO commanders active in the same region and are both implicated in alleged heinous crimes against the population of Lofa County in Liberia.