Michel Desaedeleer


RoleBusinessman involved in the blood diamond trade with the RUF
NationalityUS and Belgian
Period of Activity Sierra Leonian Civil War
IndictmentWar Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity
StatusDeceased in custody whilst awaiting trial

Michel Deseadeleer, US and Belgian citizen, was arrested in September 2015 in Malaga, Spain, following the issuance of a European arrest warrant against him. He was then transferred to Belgium where he was charged for war crimes and crimes against humanity, being accused of having participated with Charles Taylor and the rebels of the RUF in Sierra Leone in the trade of so-called “blood diamonds”.

The arrest came after several citizens of Sierra Leone, victims of enslavement during the civil war, filed in Brussels in January 2011 a criminal complaint against Mr Desaedeleer who then resided in the United States. They were represented by the Belgian lawyer Luc Walleyn.

This was the very first time that someone was arrested and indicted for participation in the blood diamonds trade, qualified as a war crime – pillage – and crime against humanity – forced labor.

Desaedeleer passed away in Belgian custody on September 28, 2016, a few months before his trial was scheduled to commence.

Civitas Maxima and the Center for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL) in Freetown have worked in partnership and documented for several years the accounts of people used by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in condition of slavery in the diamonds pits of Kono in the Eastern part of Sierra Leone as part of the trade of so-called “blood diamonds”.