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.



20/09/21 [Liberia] Day 46: Three New Witnesses are Heard

The 46th day of public hearings resumed on 20th of September in Monrovia, Liberia. Witness Y6 is Heard The Prosecution questions the Witness The Prosecution begins by asking the Witness to share his experience of the civil war. The Witness explained that his experience of the conflicts spanned from 1998 to 2003. In September 1998, […]

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17/09/21 [Liberia] Day 45: Three New Witnesses are Heard

The 45th day of public hearings resumed on 17 September 2021 in Monrovia, Liberia. Witness Y1 is heard The Prosecution Questions the Witness The Witness began by explaining how he came to live in Liberia. The Witness was born in Sierra Leone where he attended school. He was very young when he was captured by […]

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15/09/21 [Liberia] Day 44: Two New Witnesses are Heard

15/09/21 [Liberia] Day 44: Two New Witnesses are Heard The 44th day of public hearings resumed on Wednesday, 15th September in Monrovia, Liberia. Witness X6 is Heard The Prosecution questions Witness X6 The Prosecution asked the Witness to share his experience of the Second Liberian Civil War, which he answered by sharing that between 2002 and 2003 […]

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13/09/21 [Liberia] Day 43: New Prosecution Witnesses 

13/09/21 [Liberia] Day 43: New Prosecution Witnesses  The 43rd day of public hearings resumed on Monday, 13th September in Monrovia, Liberia. Two prosecution witnesses were heard.   Witness X2 is Heard The Prosecution questions Witness X2 The Prosecution opened by asking the Witness about his experience of the war. The Witness said that in 2002/2003, in June and […]

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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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11/06/21 [Finland] Day 38: Hearing of the Expert Witness Mr. Käihkö

11/06/21 [Finland] Day 38: The Hearing of the Expert Witness Mr. Käihkö The 38th day public hearings resumed on 11 June 2021 in Tampere, Finland. The day’s focus was the hearing of the expert witness Mr. Käihkö, whose report was discussed in previous hearings.  The Defense questions Mr. Käihkö The Defense opened by asking 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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18/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 34: The Hearing of Witnesses 71, 72, and 73

18/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 34: The Hearing of Witnesses 71, 72, and 73 The 34th day of public hearings resumed on 18 May 2021 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Witness 71 is Heard (Finnish Witness ID: Defense Witness 1) The Defense questions the Witness The Witness began his testimony by explaining that he knew Gibril Massaquoi […]

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17/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 33: The Hearing of Witnesses 68, 69 and 70

17/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 33: The Hearing of Witnesses 68, 69 and 70 The 33rd day of public hearings resumed on 17 May 2021 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Witness 68 is Heard (Finnish Witness ID: Defense Witness 23) Defense Counsel Questions the Witness The Witness began by stating she knew Mr. Massaquoi in 1991 when […]

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16/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 32: The Hearing of Witnesses 66 and 67

16/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 32: The Hearing of Witnesses 66 and 67 Witness 66 is Heard (Finnish Witness ID: Defense Witness 20) The Defense Questions the Witness The Defense began by asking the Witness how and where she met Gibril Massaquoi. The Witness explained that she met Massaquoi in Buedu. The Defense then questioned the […]

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15/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 31: The Hearing of Witnesses 64 and 65

15/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 31: The Hearing of Witnesses 64 and 65 The 31st day of public hearings resumed on 15 May 2021 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Defense Witness 6 is heard (Witness 64) Defence Counsel Questions Witness 6 The Witness began by describing that he knew Gibril Massaquoi. The Witness was captured along with […]

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14/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 30: The Hearing of Witnesses 62 and 63

14/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 30: The Hearing of Witnesses 62 and 63 The 30th day of public hearings resumed on 14 May 2021 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Witness 62 is heard (Finnish Witness ID: Defense Witness 10) The Defense questions Witness 10  The Witness had met Gibril Massaquoi whilst training in a Southern Province, and […]

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12/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 29: The Hearing of Witnesses 59, 60, and 61

12/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 29: The Hearing of Witnesses 59, 60, and 61 The 29th day of public hearings resumed on 12 May 2021 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Defense Witness 04 is Heard (W59) Defense questions Defense Witness 04 Defense Witness 04 began his testimony by describing how he knew Gibril Massaquoi, stating that he […]

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11/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 28: The Hearing of Witnesses 56, 57, and 58

11/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 28: The Hearing of Witnesses 56, 57, and 58 The twenty-eighth day of public hearings resumed on 11 May 2021 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Witness 56 is heard(Finnish ID: Defense Witness 18) The Defense questions Witness 56Witness 18 began her statement by stating she is a member of Gibril Massaquoi’s family. […]

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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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07/04/21 [Liberia] Day 27: The Hearing of Witnesses 53, 54, and 55

07/04/21 [Liberia] Day 27: The Hearing of Witnesses 53, 54, and 55 Witness 53 is heard (Finnish Witness ID: Soldier 12) The Prosecution questions Witness 53 The Witness began his testimony by saying he is Liberian, but he used to live in Sierra Leone and that he was a RUF soldier there, under the command […]

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06/04/21 [Liberia] Day 26: The Hearing of Witnesses 50, 51, and 52

06/04/21 [Liberia] Day 26: The Hearing of Witnesses 50, 51, and 52 The 26th day of public hearings resumed on 6 April 2021 in Monrovia, Liberia. Witness 50 is heard  (Finnish Witness ID: Civilian 76) The Prosecution questions Witness 50 Witness 50 testified about events at Waterside. The Witness sold clothes in Waterside from 1998 […]

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05/04/21 [Liberia] Day 25: The Hearing of Witnesses 48 and 49

05/04/21 [Liberia] Day 25: The Hearing of Witnesses 48 and 49 Witness 48 is heard  (Finnish Witness ID: Soldier 39) The Defense questions Witness 48 The Witness began by explaining that during the Second Liberian Civil War he was assigned to Vahun, near the border with Sierra Leone, from December 1999 until 2002 where he […]

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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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02/04/21 [Liberia] Day 24: The Hearing of Witnesses 45, 46, and 47

02/04/21 [Liberia] Day 24: The Hearing of Witnesses 45, 46, and 47 The 24th day of public hearings resumed on April 4, 2021 in Monrovia, Liberia. Witness 45 is heard (Finnish Witness ID: Soldier 17) The Prosecution questions Witness 45 The Prosecution began by asking the Witness a question about the Second Liberian Civil War. […]

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31/03/21 [Liberia] Day 23: The Hearing of Witnesses 42, 43, and 44

31/03/21 [Liberia] Day 23: The Hearing of Witnesses 42, 43, and 44 The twenty-third day of public hearings resumed on March 31, 2021 in Monrovia, Liberia. Witness 42 is heard (Finnish Witness ID: Soldier 07) The Prosecution questions Witness 42 The Witness began his testimony by explaining that Benjamin Yeaten was the Director of the Special […]

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29/03/21 [Liberia] Day 22: The Hearing of Witnesses 39, 40, and 41

29/03/21 [Liberia] Day 22: The Hearing of Witnesses 39, 40, and 41 The twenty-second day of public hearings resumed on 29 March 2021 in Monrovia, Liberia. Witness 39 is heard (Finnish Witness ID: Soldier 13) The Prosecution questions Witness 39 The Witness began by stating that he was a soldier in the Navy Division in […]

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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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23/02/21 [Liberia] Day 7: The hearing of Witness 1

The trial resumed after the Finnish judges, prosecutors, investigators, and defense counsel travelled to Lofa County and locations in Monrovia to visit the sites of Gibril Massaquoi’s allegedly crimes. To know more about this, you can read about it here, and see footage here.

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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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Week in Review – Week 1

The first week of the Gibril Massaquoi trial ended on 5 February 2021, after three days of public hearings in Tampere, Finland. For more context about the case, please see this overview.

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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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