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.
On January 13, 2021, Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation’s pre-trial investigation on Gibril Massaquoi, former RUF commander, is concluded and the case officially handed over to the prosecutor.
Massaquoi was released from custody on February 16, 2022. On April 29, 2022, the District Court dismissed all charges, and found that there was reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the offences he was charged with.
Civitas Maxima and the GJRP submitted information regarding Massaquoi’s alleged involvement in mass atrocities in Liberia to the authorities in Finland, where he resides.
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.
|Period of Activity||1999-2003|
|Indictment||War Crimes |
Why is 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.
Our Q&A to fight misinformation
Before and during the trial, there has been a lot of misinformation about the Massaquoi case. You can access our Q&A document here.
You can follow Massaquoi’s trial here.
- April 29, 2022 – Reasonable Doubt: Gibril Massaquoi Acquitted
- April, 19, 2021 – Momentum for Justice in Liberia
- February, 1, 2021 – Liberian history in the making: groundbreaking decision regarding Gibril Massaquoi’s trial
- January, 25, 2021 – Trial of former RUF commander set to begin before Finnish court
- March, 11, 2020 – Former RUF commander arrested in Finland over war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Liberia
- Liberian Observer (2021) – Typhoid Delays Start of Massaquoi War Crimes Trial Hearings in Sierra Leone
- Justice Info (2021) – Aaron Weah: “Liberians Have Been Reminded That Justice Is Still Possible”
- FrontPage Africa (2021) – Liberia: Massaquoi Accused of Killing Almost an Entire Town
- FrontPage Africa (2021) – War Crimes Trial Hears “Angel Gabriel” Ordered Children Burned Alive
- Liberian Observer (2021) – Witness at Massaquoi Trial Links Charles Taylor to Blood Diamonds
- Liberian Observer (2021) – Witness Shows Scar as Massaquoi Trial Hears of Killing and Rape at Waterside
- FrontPage Afrrica (2021) – War Crimes Trial Coming to Liberian Soil
- BBC News (2021) – Liberia war crimes: Rebel commander on trial in Finland
- Poliisi (2021) – Criminal investigation into aggravated offences committed during the Liberian civil war concluded
- Justice Info (2020) – The Massaquoi Affair: Special Report on the Judas of Sierra Leone (Part I)
- Justice Info (2020)- The Massaquoi Affair: Special Report on the Judas of Sierra Leone (Part II)
- Poliisi (2020) – A citizen of Sierra Leone arrested by NBI on suspicion of serious crimes in Liberia in 1999–2003