Awaiting appeal judgement, current appeal proceedings, and appeal hearings announcement: Alieu Kosiah, Gibril Massaquoi, and Kunti Kamara cases.
Bellinzona, Switzerland – The appeal proceedings of the case of Alieu Kosiah, a former United Liberation Movement of Liberia (ULIMO) commander, took place before the Swiss Federal Criminal Court (FCC) from January 11 to February 3, 2023. Mr. Kosiah, who had previously been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment by the FCC on June 18, 2021 for committing war crimes during the First Liberian Civil War (1989-1996), had appealed the decision.
On September 2, 2022, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) amended the initial war crimes indictment against Mr Kosiah to include crimes against humanity. The proceedings, which ended only recently, saw all seven plaintiffs coming from Liberia to testify at trial. The judgment is expected to be released on June 1, 2023.
The case of Alieu Kosiah is a first in Switzerland: besides being the first Liberian national to be tried in relation to war crimes allegedly committed in the country during one of the two civil wars (1989-2003), it is also the first time that war crimes and crimes against humanity are tried before the FCC.
The Director of Civitas Maxima, Alain Werner, represents several plaintiffs in this case, alongside Swiss lawyer Romain Wavre.
Turku, Finland and Monrovia, Liberia – On January 10, 2023, the appeal proceedings of the Gibril Massaquoi case started at the Turku Court of Appeal, Finland. From February 2021 to January 2022, Mr Massaquoi, former commander and spokesman of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), was tried before the District Court of Tampere, Finland, for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the Second Liberian Civil War (1997-2003). Gibril Massaquoi was dismissed of all charges by the District Court as it found that there was reasonable doubt as to whether the defendant committed the offences he was charged with. The Prosecution appealed the Court’s decision.
After 7 days of hearings in Turku, the Court relocated to Monrovia, Liberia, to hear witnesses. The first session began on Monday, February 6, 2023. The Court is expected to stay in Monrovia until the end of March 2023, and the proceedings are to last until at least June 2023. The appeal decision is not expected to be released before the end of the year.
The preliminary investigation was prompted by information, submitted by Civitas Maxima to the Finnish authorities, regarding Massaquoi’s alleged involvement in atrocities committed during Liberia’s Second Civil War.
The trial monitoring of the proceedings can be followed online (initial trial and appeal phase).
Paris, France – From October 10 to November 2, 2022, Kunti Kamara, former ULIMO commander, was tried before the “Cour d’Assises” or criminal court of Paris. Mr Kamara stood accused of crimes against humanity and torture allegedly committed during the First Liberian Civil War. Many witnesses and civil parties came from Liberia to testify at trial. The “Cour d’Assises” found Mr Kamara guilty of the charges he was accused of, and he was sentenced to life in prison. Mr Kamara denies all charges and has appealed the decision.
It was announced last week that the appeal proceedings will take place in Paris from February 26 to March 22, 2024. For France, this was the first trial for international crimes committed abroad outside of those linked to the Rwandan genocide; and is only the fifth trial of this type to take place in the country. Kunti Kamara is also the first Liberian national to have been tried in relation to crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the Liberian civil war.
The preliminary investigation was prompted by a complaint filed by Civitas Maxima. Soon after, Civitas Maxima was granted the status of civil party (plaintiff) in the proceedings.
The trial monitoring of the proceedings can be followed here.