Liberia: Former Liberian Rebel Commander to face trial in Switzerland

Photo: NAC
Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court.
press release

Following the arrest of Alieu Kosiah on the 10th of November 2014 as well as five years of investigation regarding his implication in the First Liberian Civil War (1989-1996), the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has announced that Kosiah's case will go to trial. Kosiah allegedly committed war crimes as a commander of the ULIMO faction (United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy), between 1993 and 1995.

Civitas Maxima has been working since 2012 with its Liberia-based sister organization, the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) to document crimes committed during the civil wars. The case against Kosiah was originally initiated by Liberian survivors of the war, supported by Civitas Maxima and the GJRP, who filed criminal complaints against Kosiah.

This is a landmark case, as it is the first time that a ULIMO member is indicted for war crimes, and it will be the first time that an alleged war criminal is tried by the Swiss Federal Criminal Court.

Victims and witnesses heard throughout the investigation implicate Kosiah in acts of sexual violence, recruitment of child soldiers, lootings, ordering and participating in the forced movement of looted goods and ammunitions, forcing civilians to work in cruel conditions, ordering and committing murders, and carrying out acts of cannibalism. He may also face charges under command responsibility.

Alain Werner, Director of Civitas Maxima, and Romain Wavre, Legal Counsel at Civitas Maxima, both lawyers representing several victims, stated that this case is another step towards the greater goal of justice for Liberia.  "We are proud that the bravery of the victims who testified against Alieu Kosiah is finally being recognized through this trial. It is important for the victims to know that if they talk, they will be heard."

Hassan Bility, Director of the GJRP, declared that: "This is a great day for justice in Liberia, a great day for all of the victims. We use this occasion to call on the Liberian government to take steps in creating a War Crimes Court in Liberia for the thousands of victims of the civil wars."

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