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Sierra Leone war crimes court indicts five for witness tampering

The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday indicted [UN News Centre report] five men for contempt over allegations of witness tampering. Two indictees include former leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu, who were both convicted by the SCSL in June 2007, and sentenced to at least 45 years in prison [JURIST reports]. Their accomplices, Hassan Papa Bangura and Samuel Kargbo, live in Sierra Leone and allegedly helped them attempt to bribe witnesses to recant their testimony. Kamara is also charged with releasing a protected witness' name. A fifth suspect, Eric Senessie, is charged with attempting to force witnesses who testified against Charles Taylor [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to recant their testimony. A date for the hearing has not been announced.

With the recent conclusion of proceedings [JURIST report] against Charles Taylor, the SCSL has largely fulfilled its mission and will take steps to shut down upon a verdict [BBC report]. In November 2009, the SCSL handed over its detention facility [JURIST report] to the Sierra Leone Prison Service in a monumental step towards the court's resolution. The month before, eight men judged guilty of war crimes by the court were transferred [JURIST report] to Rwanda to serve out their terms. The SCSL was created in a joint endeavor by the government of Sierra Leone and the UN to provide a forum to try those responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law, committed in Sierra Leone.

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