Trial Monitoring: Alieu Kosiah

Alieu Kosiah, a former commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) faction, was tried before the Swiss Federal Criminal Court (FCC) in Bellinzona for war crimes allegedly committed during the First Liberian Civil War. The trial had been postponed several times because of the spread of COVID-19, and finally the Court proceeded with the preliminary questions and the hearing of the defendant from December 3 to December 11, 2020. The rest of the trial – the hearing of the plaintiffs and the witnesses, and the final pleadings – took place from February 15 to March 5, 2021.

On June 18, 2021, Alieu Kosiah was found guilty of: ordering the killing of 13 civilians and 2 unarmed soldiers; murdering 4 civilians; raping a civilian; ordering the cruel treatment of 7 civilians; infringing upon the dignity of a deceased civilian; repeatedly ordering the cruel, humiliating, and degrading treatment of several civilians; repeatedly inflicting cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment on several civilians; repeated orders to loot, and using a child soldier in armed hostilities. The FCC sentenced Mr. Kosiah to 20 years in prison. The defense lawyer filed an appeal against the judgement.

On September 2, 2022, following the plaintiffs’ appeal on this legal aspect, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) filed an amended indictment against Alieu Kosiah to include charges of crimes against humanity.

Appeal proceedings were held in Bellinzona from January 11, 2023 to February 3, 2023.

On June 1, 2023, the Appeals Chamber of the Swiss Federal Criminal Court (FCC) found Alieu Kosiah guilty of multiple counts of war crimes and multiple counts of crimes against humanity. He was also handed down a prison sentence of 20 years. 

Alieu Kosiah is the first person to be convicted of crimes against humanity in Switzerland. This ruling will set a precedent by establishing that crimes against humanity committed before 2011 can be prosecuted in Switzerland, as it was the first time the Appeal Chamber had to rule on this question.


The proceedings were held in French; therefore, French is the original language of this monitoring. As making legal information accessible is a part of Civitas Maxima’s mission, English translations made with Deepl are be available. Hence, issues with the English translation may apply.

The names of certain witnesses and plaintiffs are withheld for privacy and security reasons.

The monitoring is not an official court transcript.

Alieu Kosiah at his trial at the TPF in Switzerland
Leslie Lumeh / New Narratives

First Instance Proceedings

Alieu Kosiah, court sketch during Alieu Kosiah's appeal proceedings at the Tribunal Pénal Fédéral (TPF) in Bellinzona, Switzerland, 2023. Court sketch by JP Kalonji
© Civitas Maxima / JP Kalonji. Alieu Kosiah

Appeal Proceedings