Prosecutor Appeal War Crimes Acquittal
A Tampere resident was acquitted of charges related to crimes allegedly committed during the Sierra Leonean and Liberian civil wars between 1999 and 2003
Prosecutors will appeal the decision by the Pirkanmaa District Court to acquit Gibril Massaquoi of charges including murder, aggravated rape and aggravated war crimes, public prosecutor Tom Laitinen has confirmed to news agency STT.
“The main grounds of the appeal are related to the assessment of the evidence, that in our opinion the district court has incorrectly assessed the evidence presented in the case,” Laitinen wrote in an email to STT.
Last month, the court dismissed all charges against Massaquoi — which related to offences allegedly committed during the Sierra Leonean and Liberian civil wars between 1999 and 2003 — ruling that the prosecution in the case had not proved beyond reasonable doubt that he was guilty.
However, the court also noted that there was reason to suspect the defendant had committed the crimes he was charged with. The prosecutor had demanded that Massaquoi receive a sentence of life imprisonment.
During the trial, which lasted nearly a year, the court made trips to West Africa to hear testimony from dozens of witnesses and visit the sites of the alleged crimes.
The prosecutors’ evidence in the case was based almost entirely on the testimony of the witnesses, but in its ruling the court noted that many witnesses changed their accounts “in very important respects” during the course of the trial.