Gibril Massaquoi is currently on trial for committing and inciting the murders of civilians and enemy fighters, aggravated rapes, aggravated war crimes, and aggravated violations of human rights in a State of Emergency.

Massaquoi’s trial started in Tampere, Finland, on February 1st 2021. The Finnish court travelled to Liberia in mid February – first conducting site visits in Lofa County before returning to Monrovia and commencing hearings there on February 23rd 2021. The hearings in Monrovia concluded on April 7th 2021. The hearings will re-commence in early May in Sierra Leone. The court will ultimately return to Tampere, Finland, to conclude the trial. 

When possible, pseudonyms reflect those used in the prosecution’s pre-trial material. In addition, Civitas Maxima has assigned pseudonyms to named victims and/or witnesses in order to further protect their identity.

Civitas Maxima, in collaboration with Liberian and Sierra Leonean partners, the Center for Human Rights, Gender, and Migration of Washington University (United States), and The Hague University (Netherlands), will provide a daily summary of the proceedings.

Art produced by Kalonji Art, and Leslie Lumeh in collaboration with New Narratives.

French translation provided by BDIP and Civitas Maxima.

The French translation will be published with a delay compared to the English version. Thank you for your understanding.

In the event of a conflict of meaning, differences in the spelling of names and locations, the English version shall prevail.

Disclaimer

Civitas Maxima believes that local populations – those who bear the consequences of the gravest war crimes and human rights violations committed in their countries – have the right to accessible and unbiased information about the trials of alleged war criminals.

This is why we conduct trial monitoring, so that what is being said in court is available to all, especially the affected populations who cannot travel to the country where the trial is held, or who otherwise do not have access to the hearings.

Civitas Maxima does not provide official court transcripts.

How trial monitoring for the Massaquoi case works

Local partners are physically present at the venues where the hearings are taking place (Finland, Liberia, and Sierra Leone) in order to take notes of what is being said in court, as accurately as possible. 

These draft notes are then summarised by students from the Hague University (Netherlands) and the Washington University Center for Human Rights, Gender, and Migration (United States). These summaries of each hearing day, as well as weekly recaps, are published on our website.  

Limitations

The official language of the proceedings is Finnish. While our Finnish-speaking partners can follow the entirety of the proceedings that are held in Tampere, our local partners in Liberia and Sierra Leone are only able to capture what is said in English or translated by the official Court interpreters. As a result, during the hearings in Liberia and Sierra Leone, any discussions between the parties which are conducted in Finnish and not translated is not captured in our trial monitoring.

Anonymization

While the Finnish authorities utilized a naming system (Civilian XX, Soldier XX, Employee XX, etc.) to protect the identities of persons and witnesses involved in the case, they did not anonymize the names of all persons mentioned during the trial or named in the pre-trial material.

Civitas Maxima’s primary concern is the safety and security of all persons, and ensuring that we do not contribute to the possible identification of anyone involved. We have therefore followed the naming convention utilized by the Finnish authorities, and supplemented this with our own naming system in order to anonymize all named persons, with the exception of well-known individuals, such as senior officials, who have testified or been named in other public trials and/or the Reports of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In addition, we have anonymized a small number of place names (clearly marked in the summary with [Place x]) when this was considered necessary to protect identities or specific investigative practices.

Accuracy regarding locations

Wherever possible, we have cross referenced the town and village names mentioned by the witnesses with official maps of Liberia and Sierra Leone, in order to capture as accurately as possible the correct locations. However, there have been difficulties capturing some place names, particularly in respect of very small remote towns, and spellings vary. In cases of doubt, the names recorded by our local partners is followed.

Verbatim notes taken by our trial monitors are available to journalists on request. Please contact comms@civitas-maxima.org to request access.



25/08/21 [Finland] Day 42: New Evidence Is Presented

The 42nd day of public hearings resumed on Wednesday, 25th August in Tampere, Finland. The hearing focused on new evidence presented by the Prosecution and Defense. The Prosecution Presents New Evidence Attachment 13 The Prosecution presented the transcript of a phone call between GJRP 1 and FNM-241, recorded in Monrovia. The Prosecution explained that the […]

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18/06/21 [Finland] Day 41: A New Witness is Heard

18/06/21 [Finland] Day 41: A New Witness is Heard The 41st day of public hearings resumed on 18 June in Tampere, Finland. A new witness was heard. Witness FNM-226 is Heard The Judge indicated that the Witness was accompanied by her assistant, FNM-233, who will assist the Witness in determining whether she has the right to refuse to answer […]

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17/06/21 [Finland] Day 40: Two New Witnesses Are Heard

17/06/21 [Finland] Day 40: Two New Witnesses Are Heard The 40th day of public hearings resumed on 17 June 2021 at Tampere District Court, Finland. Witness FNM-178 is Heard  Judge Paiho opened the hearing by noting that this Witness had the right to decline to testify pursuant to section 17, Chapter 17 of the Finnish Code of […]

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16/06/21 [Finland] Day 39: A New Witness is Heard

16/06/21 [Finland] Day 39: A New Witness is Heard The 39th day public hearings resumed on 16 June 2021 in Tampere, Finland. The day’s focus was the hearing of a new witness. Witness FNM-228 is Heard The Defense questions the Witness The Defense opened by indicating to the witness that they would go over the […]

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07/06/21 [Finland] Day 37: The Reports of Two Experts

07/06/21 [Finland] Day 37: The Reports of Two Experts The 37th day of public hearings resumed on 7 June in Tampere, Finland. The hearing focused on the reports of two experts. Expert Report Presented by the Prosecution The hearings opened with the presentation of Dr. Korkman’s expert statement. The Prosecution started by explaining that Dr. […]

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02/06/21 [Finland] Day 36: A Short Hearing

02/06/21 [Finland] Day 36: A Short Hearing The 36th day of public hearings resumed on 2 June 2021 in Tampere, Finland.  The Defense opened by saying that there had been a misunderstanding regarding the witnesses, as they hadn’t received any contact information for the witnesses FNM-192 and FNM-178. The Defense explained that they couldn’t reach them and have […]

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31/05/21 [Finland] Day 35: New Documentary Evidence

31/05/21 [Finland] Day 35: New Documentary Evidence The 35th day of public hearings resumed on 31 May in Tampere, Finland after two weeks in Sierra Leone. New documentary evidence was at the center of day 35’s hearings.  The Prosecution introduces new documentary evidence The Prosecution introduced their new documentary evidence to the Court, as composed […]

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Week in Review: Week 9

Week in Review: Week 9 Introduction to Week 9’s hearings and witnesses The ninth week of the Gibril Massaquoi trial ended on 7 April 2021, after three days of hearings in Monrovia, Liberia. Hearings focused on the testimony of eight witnesses. As with prior witnesses, their identities were concealed. The witnesses were heard in the […]

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Week in Review: Week 8

Week in Review: Week 8 Introduction to Week 8’s hearings and witnesses The eighth week of the Gibril Massaquoi trial ended on 2 April 2021, after three days of hearings in Monrovia, Liberia. Hearings focused on the testimony of nine witnesses. As with prior witnesses, their identities were concealed. The witnesses were heard in the […]

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Week in Review – Week 7

Week in Review – Week 7 Introduction to Week 7’s hearings and witnesses The seventh week of the Gibril Massaquoi trial ended on 26 March 2021, after three days of hearings in Monrovia, Liberia. Hearings focused on the testimony of eight witnesses. As with prior witnesses, their identities were concealed. The witnesses were heard in […]

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Week in Review – Week 6

The sixth week of the Gibril Massaquoi trial ended on 19 March 2021 after three days of hearings in Monrovia, Liberia. Hearings focused on the testimony of ten witnesses, the first of whom returned to finalise his testimony about his experiences in Waterside during the Second Civil War, after first appearing during the previous week’s hearings.

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Week in Review – Week 5

The fifth week of the Gibril Massaquoi trial ended on 10 March 2021, after three days of hearings in Monrovia, Liberia. Hearings focused on the testimony of seven witnesses, six of whom recounted their experiences during and after an attack at the Waterside market in Monrovia.

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Week in Review – Week 4

The fourth week of the Gibril Massaquoi trial ended on 5 March 2021, after three days of hearings in Monrovia, Liberia. Hearings focused on the testimony of eight witnesses, who recounted their experiences during an attack at the Waterside market in Monrovia, Liberia. As with prior witnesses, the identities of all witnesses were concealed.

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Week in Review – Week 3

The third week of the Gibril Massaquoi trial ended on 25 February 2021, after three days of hearings. The trial moved from Tampere, Finland, to Monrovia, Liberia, to hear witnesses and allow the Finnish authorities to visit sites where Mr. Massaquoi allegedly committed violations of Finnish and international criminal law. The accused remained in Finland, and a videolink was provided to enable him to follow proceedings in real time. 

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Week in Review – Week 2

The second week of the Gibril Massaquoi trial ended on 12 February 2021, after three days of public hearings in Tampere, Finland. The first day of this week’s hearings comprised the continued presentation of documentary evidence by the Defense. On the second and third days, Mr. Massaquoi offered his own testimony to the Court and was questioned by both the Defense and the Prosecution.

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11/02/21 [Finland] Day 5: Mr. Massaquoi is Heard

The fifth day of public hearings opened with the Judge announcing that Mr. Massaquoi, the Accused, would be heard today. He explained that the Defense, led by Mr. Gummerus, may ask questions first, and following that, the Prosecution, led by Mr. Laitinen, may also ask questions. The Judge stated that the Accused is under no obligation to answer the questions or to answer truthfully. 

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04/02/21 [Finland] Day 2: Introducing the Case

The second day of public hearings at the Pirkanmaa District Court began with the Assistant Prosecutor delivering an overview of the Prosecution’s case. The Assistant Prosecutor began by showing various locations to make sure the Court had an overview of the crime sites.  The following places were emphasized by the Assistant Prosecutor…

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03/02/21 [Finland] Day 1: the Charges Are Read

The first day of public hearings in the trial of Mr. Gibril Massaquoi began at the Pirkanmaa District Court in Tampere, Finland on 3 February 2021, with District Judge Paiho (Chair) noting that, in the preparatory hearing, it was decided that a judicial examination of the case shall be arranged in Liberia, and that the details of this examination would be determined at a later date.

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