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Sierra Leone war crimes court sentences former guerrilla leaders

[JURIST] The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday sentenced former Revolutionary Union Front (RUF) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] commanders Issa Hassan Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Augustine Gbao to jail terms of 52, 40, and 25 years, respectively. The three men were each found guilty [JURIST report] in February of war crimes and crimes against humanity for their roles in the country's civil war. Together, the men were convicted of a total of 46 charges, and sentenced to terms [Reuters report] totaling 1,360 years in prison, but were allowed to serve the terms concurrently. Sesay, Kallon and Augustine are the first three former RUF leaders to be tried [trial backgrounder] by the SCSL, and it is not yet clear if their sentences will be appealed.

The Sierra Leone civil war [UNAMSIL backgrounder] ended in 2002 after 11 years, during which the RUF allegedly killed and mutilated civilians, forcibly recruited child soldiers, and forced many from their homes as villages were burned and destroyed. In 2002, the UN and Sierra Leone jointly established [text, PDF] the SCSL to try the leaders believed to be responsible. In October 2007, the SCSL sentenced two former leaders [JURIST report] of the Civil Defense Forces to serve six to eight years for "murder, cruel treatment, pillage, and collective punishment." In July 2007, three former leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council were sentenced to 45 years imprisonment [JURIST report] on counts of rape, murder, mutilation, pillage, and abducting children to force them to work as soldiers and diamond laborers.

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