Liberian rebel leader Alieu Kosiah to face Swiss trial

Liberian protesting in Monrovia last November for the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court to provide justice to the around 250,000 victims of the civil war. Keystone / Ahmed Jallanzo

After nearly five years of investigation, the Swiss Attorney General has indicted Liberian former rebel leader Alieu Kosiah for war crimes during his country’s conflict and referred his case for trial.

This content was published on March 26, 2019 - 14:55

“The defendant is accused of having ordered the murder respectively murdering or participating in the murder of civilians and soldiers hors de combat, desecrated a corpse of a civilian, raped a civilian, ordered the cruel treatment of civilians, recruited and employed a child soldier, ordered several pillages and ordered and/or participated in forced transports of goods and ammunition by civilians,” said a statement released by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on TuesdayExternal link.

The crimes were allegedly committed between 1993 and 1995.

Kosiah has been in pre-trial detention in Switzerland since 2014. His is the first case to be brought to the Federal Criminal Court by the OAG under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

In 2014, several Liberian nationals filed criminal complaints with the OAG against Kosiah, the former commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), who was living in Switzerland at the time. The OAG opened criminal proceedings against him for war crimes the same year.

The OAG says evidence-gathering was complicated by lack of cooperation from Liberia and the long-period of time that had elapsed since the events. In the end it was able to obtain testimonies from 25 witnesses and legal assistance from several countries and international organisations.

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