[JURIST] The Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone [official website] has granted provision release to Moinina Fofana, a former militia leader convicted of war crimes. Fofana was convicted [JURIST report] in 2007 of murder, cruel treatment, pillage and collective punishment for his role in Sierra Leone’s civil war and sentenced to a 15-year term. His release is noteworthy, as he is the first war crimes convict to be released and allowed to complete his sentence in his home community. While Fofana will be allowed to leave prison, his sentence remains in place, and his time at home will be marked by “strict conditions and stringent monitoring.” The release was conditioned on refraining from committing crimes and interfering with witnesses, and the issuing of a public apology.
Sierra Leone’s civil war [BBC backgrounder] in the 1990s was brutal and bloody, and resulted in the conviction in many leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council. Leaders were convicted of both war crimes charges, and subsequently for contempt stemming from witness tampering [JURIST reports]. In 2012 after a long legal battle, former Liberian president Charles Taylor [BBC profile, JURIST news archive] was convicted and sentenced [JURIST report] to 50 years in prison for the many atrocities he committed during the decade-long civil war. A 2013 appeal by Taylor was rejected [JURIST report] by the UN backed special court, which found that his guilt had been proven beyond doubt.