Finnish court upholds acquittal of Sierra Leonean warlord charged with war crimes

Mr Massaquoi is the first of six alleged perpetrators to face trial in Liberia’s civil wars to be acquitted.

By New Narratives |

Finland’s Court of Appeal has affirmed a lower court’s acquittal of Gibril Massaquoi, an ex-commander of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF), who was prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia’s second civil war between 1999-2003, ending a marathon judicial process that began in 2021.

The court said it agreed with the judgment of the District Court of Pirkanma more than a year ago, that prosecutors did not prove that is was Mr Massaquoi who committed the crimes in the indictment, including murders, rape, torture, and recruitment of child soldiers “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“The Court of Appeal, like the District Court, found that it was not proven that Mr. Massaquoi was guilty of any of the offences he was charged with,” said the Court of Appeal in a release on Wednesday. “The Court of Appeal, on the grounds specified in the judgment, considered the identifications of Mr. Massaquoi as the perpetrator of the offences to be unreliable.”

Mr Massaquoi now stands to receive possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for the nearly two years he spent in jail. The four-year judicial process cost the Finnish taxpayer between $US2-3 million.

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