Monrovia, Liberia– A Finnish court handling the war crimes case against a former warlord in Liberia is heading back to the small West African nation of 4.937 million (2019) people following the revelation of new witnesses and evidence that could see a twist and have an impact on the momentum for War and Economic Crimes Court being demanded by Liberians in the country.
According to the report from Finland, the Pirkanmaa District Court on Monday in a statement said it would hand down a judgment early next year in the case of the man accused of committing serious war crimes during Liberia’s second civil war. It was believed that the court was initially scheduled to rule on the case this autumn.
The reason for this change in the court direction is because the defense and prosecution against Mr. Gibril Massaquoi, the former warlord have named more than 20 additional witnesses in Liberia and both parties have also presented further documentary evidence. The court plans to hear from these witnesses in Liberia later this fall.
Mr. Gibril Massaquoi, the defendant who is also resident in Tampere faces several serious charges including dozens of murders, eight rapes as well as aggravated war crimes, and aggravated human rights violations dating back to the early 2000s.
The criminal indictment of Massaquoi states that he ordered the murder, torture, and mutilation of civilians and participated in their cannibalization.
According to documentary evidence, Massaquoi held a high-ranking position in Sierra Leone’s rebel group Revolutionary United Front (RUF), which took part in both the Sierra Leonean and Liberian civil wars.
The story of former Warlord Gibril Massaquoi has once again made headline News in Monrovia and in the international media. In recent times Public opinion in Liberia has increased in support which has seen members of the Liberian Senate, House of Representatives, and legal scholars and activists in the country calling for the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes court in the country. Citizens’ calls for War and Economic Crimes court have also seen opposition political leaders joining in the demand for the establishment.
Gibril Massaquoi Life in Tampere
According to publications and court documents, Gibril fled Sierra Leone when the civil war ended there and it was later reported that Massaquoi also served as a witness against fellow fighters in a UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone. For this reason, he avoided war crimes charges in Sierra Leone and made his way to Finland, where he worked as a cleaner and postman. Last year, after years of investigating Massaquoi’s possible links to war crimes in Liberia, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested him.
This past winter and spring Pirkanmaa District Court spent weeks in Sierra Leone and Liberia hearing more than 70 witnesses identified by the prosecution and defense. The court also heard from foreign and domestic experts and witnesses in Finland.