Gibril Massaquoi was in the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) inner circle during the Sierra Leonean Civil War – a Lieutenant-Colonel and spokesman of the rebel group – as well as an assistant to the group’s founder, Foday Sankoh.

In 2005, Massaquoi testified in open session before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in the case against members of Sierra Leone’s former Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) – a rebel group that allied itself with the RUF rebels in the late 1990s.

On March 10, 2020, Massaquoi was arrested in Tampere, Finland, by the Finnish police who suspect he committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia between 1999 and 2003. The crimes he allegedly committed include
homicide, sexual violence, and the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

Massaquoi remains in custody.

In March 1991, during the First Liberian Civil War, the fighting spilled over into neighboring Sierra Leone when the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), with support from the NPFL, invaded Sierra Leone in an attempt to overthrow the government. The civil war in Sierra Leone ended in 2002.

During the Liberian and Sierra Leonean civil wars, hundreds of thousands of civilians were
killed. These conflicts were characterized by mass atrocities against the civilian population, including rampant sexual violence, mass killings, amputations and mutilations, slavery, torture, cannibalism, and the widespread use of child soldiers.

Despite some fallouts between the two groups, the NPFL and RUF stayed closely connected throughout the Sierra Leonean Civil War – exchanging arms and ammunition for diamonds – especially once Charles Taylor was elected President of Liberia in 1997. There was also a continuous exchange of fighters and leaders between the two rebel groups.

Charles Taylor was convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in 2012 for aiding, abetting, and planning the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone by the RUF.

Faction RUF
NationalitySierra Leonian
Period of Activity 1999-2003
IndictmentWar Crimes
and Crimes
against Humanity
StatusIn prison

Why was Massaquoi in Finland?

In 2008, after he testified at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, he and his family were granted asylum in Finland.

Why is he being accused of crimes committed in Liberia but not Sierra Leone?

Because he was allegedly involved in both the Sierra Leonean and Liberian civil wars, but since he offered to collaborate with the prosecutor of the SCSL, he became a top informant and was not charged with any crimes in Sierra Leone.