[JURIST] Eight men judged guilty of war crimes by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website] were transferred to Rwanda Saturday to serve out prison sentences. Because Sierra Leone has no adequate prison facilities, an agreement with Rwanda was reached to allow them to complete their sentences at Mpanga prison [Reuters report]. Three of the men, leaders of the Revolutionary United Front [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], had had their appeals rejected [JURIST report] earlier this week, and will now serve between 15 and 52 year sentences. Other transferees include members of the RUF-ally Armed Force Revolutionary Council and government-backed Civil Defence Forces. With these final sentences, the SCSL in Freetown has reached the end of its mandate and will close down [BBC report].
The 11-year long war in Sierra Leone and Liberia ran until 2002 and caused the deaths of 250,000 people. In July, Charles Taylor, former Liberian president, denied war crimes allegations [JURIST report] while testifying for the first time at his trial. Taylor faces 11 counts [indictment, PDF] of crimes against humanity, violations of the Geneva Conventions [materials], and other violations of international humanitarian law stemming from a "campaign to terrorize the civilian population" of Sierra Leone. Taylor also denied receiving jars full of diamonds by Liberian rebel forces. His defense claims that he could not have commanded rebel forces in Sierra Leone while acting as the president of Liberia. Taylor's trial began in Sierra Leone, but had been moved to The Hague [JURIST report] for security reasons.