By Emma Farge
BELLINZONA, Switzerland (Reuters) – A former insurgent commander accused of being concerned within the killing of 18 civilians and different crimes that included rape and consuming items of a college instructor’s coronary heart throughout Liberia’s civil conflict appeared in a Swiss court docket room on Thursday.
The trial is only one of a handful of circumstances delivered to worldwide courts in reference to the West African nation’s 1989-2003 civil conflict, which turned a byword for savagery and killed lots of of 1000’s of individuals.
The defendant, 45-year-old Alieu Kosiah, denies the fees. His lawyer stated Kosiah was not current within the space in query when the alleged crimes have been dedicated.
Kosiah’s crimes are listed by the Swiss court docket as “recruitment and use of a kid soldier, pressured transportation, looting, merciless remedy of civilians, tried homicide, homicide (instantly or by order), desecration of a corpse and rape”.
Kosiah was one of many so-called ‘huge males’ within the insurgent faction ULIMO whose battalion fought in opposition to the troops of warlord Charles Taylor within the distant Lofa County within the 1990s.
The indictment says that he killed or participated within the killing of 18 civilians, pressured a displaced girl to be his “spouse”, raping her repeatedly, and that he recruited a 12-year-old boy as his private bodyguard.
In a single incident described within the indictment, Kosiah joined fighters in consuming slices of an assassinated man’s coronary heart off a steel plate. Acts of cannibalism weren’t unusual within the battle.
Kosiah, who has given testimony to Swiss prosecutors, has not but pleaded in court docket and is because of be heard subsequent week.
“Based on Mr. Alieu Kosiah, one of many huge issues with this case is he had not but arrived in Lofa (county) on the time of the crimes he supposedly dedicated there,” his lawyer Dimitri Gianoli informed Reuters earlier than the trial.
“(He) has all the time been very clear on his whereabouts in Liberia and the court docket filings embrace testimonies collected in Switzerland that affirm it.”
The case is a primary for Switzerland beneath a 2011 legislation permitting prosecution for conflict crimes dedicated anyplace.
Legal professionals for Liberian victims are against a court docket choice to postpone their hearings till subsequent yr on account of COVID-19, successfully stopping them from listening to Kosiah in particular person.
The court docket can be mulling video hyperlink testimonies.
“After the unspeakable issues they went via throughout the conflict they need to be current,” stated Alain Werner, a lawyer representing 4 plaintiffs, in a pre-trial interview.
Liberia has by no means prosecuted its conflict criminals regardless of a advice to take action by its Reality and Reconciliation Fee greater than 10 years in the past.
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