RealNews

S Leone war crimes trials begin

The first trials of suspects accused of committing atrocities during Sierra Leone’s civil war have started. Pro-government militia leaders Moinina Fofana, Allieu Kondewa and Sam Hinga Norman are facing the UN-backed war crimes tribunal. Among the charges are the forcible conscription of child soldiers – the first time the crime has been prosecuted under international law. About 50,000 people were killed, and many more maimed and raped in the war. The hearings were later adjourned until next Tuesday after Sam Hinga Norman sacked his defence counsel, saying he wanted to defend himself, the BBC’s Alastair Leithead reports from Freetown. Court officials estimate up to 500,000 people are direct victims of the violence meted out in the 1991-2002 conflict. One particularly abhorrent feature of the conflict was the frequent hacking off of limbs, ears and lips of civilians, including children. Full Story

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