Michel Desaedeleer who engaged in trade with Charles Taylor dies in custody in Belgium

By CIVITAS MAXIMA (Press Release)

Charles Taylor former Liberian leader now in prison (NOTE: We regret that the photo used yesterday alongside Mr. Taylor on this page depicting the photo of Michel Desaedeleer is not the correct one, our sincere apology)
Charles Taylor former Liberian leader now in prison (NOTE: We regret that the photo used yesterday alongside Mr. Taylor on this page depicting the photo of Michel Desaedeleer is not the correct one, our sincere apology)

Michel Desaedeleer, businessman of dual citizenship (Belgian and American) died yesterday in prison in Belgium. He was arrested in August 2015 based on allegations that he had committed the war crimes of inhuman and degrading treatment and pillage as well as the crime against humanity of enslavement through his participation in the “blood diamond” trade in Sierra Leone. Desaedeleer allegedly engaged in trade with former Liberian President Charles Taylor and the rebel group RUF (Revolutionary United Front) in Sierra Leone.

His trial was scheduled to take place in the near future in Brussels and it would have been the first trial in history to deal with international crimes allegedly committed in furtherance of natural resource trade.

Few pieces of diamond in the hands of a reported seller
Few pieces of diamond in the hands of a reported seller

Luc Walleyn, lawyer in Brussels, Civitas Maxima in Geneva and the Center for Accountability and the Rule of Law (CARL) in Freetown have worked for years with Sierra Leonean victims towards bringing Michel Desaedeleer to Justice. The news of his death, only shortly before his trial was scheduled to start, represents the end of the criminal case brought against him.

Sadly, the victims of slavery in the diamond mines in Sierra Leone’s Kono district, who were enslaved for months partially for the purpose of enriching Western businessmen, will never fully achieve justice. Nevertheless, the arrest of Michel Desaedeleer, his imprisonment and the fact that his trial was scheduled to commence in a few months represent a victory for the victims who courageously filed a complaint against him and have never ceased in their fight for justice.

The professionalism of the Belgian authorities, who have shown great diligence throughout the investigation of this case, should be noted, as should the collaboration of the Sierra Leonean government, which allowed the Belgian authorities to conduct investigations on its territory.

Civitas Maxima and CARL will continue their tireless, fierce and independent fight for justice in the name of forgotten victims of international crimes.

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About Cholo Brooks 11433 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.