Liberia: Alieu Kosiah Case - Verdict Date Announced

(file photo).

Switzerland — Alieu Kosiah, former ULIMO commander, stood trial in Bellinzona, Switzerland, for four weeks in December 2020 and in February 2021 for the crimes he allegedly committed in Lofa County, Liberia, between 1993 and 1996. He is charged with 25 counts of war crimes, including murders, forced transports, looting, rape, and recruitment of a child soldier. The Swiss Federal Criminal Court announced today that the judgment will be rendered on June 18, 2021 at 1.30pm. Alieu Kosiah pleaded not guilty, and the Federal Prosecutor requested a 20 year prison sentence.

This is a landmark case, as the Defendant was the first Liberian national to be tried for war crimes connected to the Liberian civil wars (1989-1997, 1999-2003); it was also the first time that the Swiss Federal Criminal Court held a war crime trial.

Of the seven plaintiffs that testified, four of them were represented in Court by the lawyers of Civitas Maxima, which had filed a complaint against Kosiah in 2014. "Kosiah's trial is the first step towards ending impunity in Liberia" stated Fayah Williams, Deputy Director of the Global Justice and Research Project. "People who allegedly have committed crimes and crimes against humanity during the civil wars have always thought they were above the law. Some of the plaintiffs in the Alieu Kosiah case chose to come twice from Liberia, first during Ebola and later during the COVID-19 pandemic, to share their testimony in Switzerland. Their example will encourage other victims to come forward."

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