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Ex-Liberian Rebel Imprisoned for Rape, Cannibalism Appeals the Judgment

Court of Law Conscience and Justice

A Liberian man who was found guilty of 22 charges of war crimes, including rape, murder, and cannibalism, is attempting to have the conviction overturned at an appeals hearing that began on Wednesday in Switzerland.

The former rebel commander named Alieu Kosiah who fought the army of former President Charles Taylor in the 1990s is also the subject of fresh accusations of crimes against humanity in Switzerland.

In 2021, Mr. Kosiah was found guilty of war crimes in Switzerland and received a 20-year jail sentence. Since then, the indictment has been broadened to include crimes against humanity.

These accusations have never before been made in a Swiss court proceeding.

In Switzerland, where he had been residing as a permanent resident, Mr. Kosiah was detained in 2014. A 2011 Swiss law upholds the idea of universal jurisdiction and permits prosecution for major crimes committed anywhere.

The victims’ representative, Alain Werner, a Swiss attorney and director at Civitas Maxima, said, “I am confident, but it’s a tough case. Since I am present, I clearly trust their claims, but sometimes it is just their word against his since these events took place thirty years ago.

Between 1989 and 2003, hundreds of Liberians perished in back-to-back wars that involved drugged combatants and roving child soldiers who had been enlisted by warlords.

Inquiries for comment were not answered by Mr. Kosiah’s attorney. The defense of Mr. Kosiah had previously asserted that he was a minor when he was originally enlisted in the conflict and was not there when the alleged crimes were committed.

Contrary to Sierra Leone, which had a similar civil war and later held war crimes tribunals, no convictions have occurred in Liberia.

All of the victims who are testifying in the Kosiah trial have requested anonymity out of concern for retaliation. There are still some warlords that are powerful in the nation.

Seven victims are scheduled to appear in Bellinzona’s Federal Criminal Court in Switzerland, including a lady who was raped and a guy who claims to have seen the defendant consume pieces of a man’s heart.

Kosiah’s 20-year sentence might be doubled to life in prison, according to his attorneys, if the court finds that crimes against humanity were committed.

Observers hope that the resolution of the case may jump-start other lengthy Swiss investigations that have not yet reached a courtroom. This includes a case involving torture against a former Gambian minister and a case involving war crimes against a former leader of the Algerian junta.

Outside of Liberia, including in Switzerland, support for bringing wartime atrocities to justice is growing.

A former Liberian rebel commander was given a life term in jail by a French court in November, while a Liberia war crimes case is currently being heard by a Finnish appeals court.

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