By Kylie M Tsudama
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone – Eight men found guilty by the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) of war crimes and crimes against humanity have been transferred from Sierra Leone to a prison in Rwanda to serve their sentences.
The prisoners were sent from the SCSL detention facilities in Freetown, Sierra Leone to Rwanda because there are currently no prisons in Sierra Leone that meet international standards.
“Amid tight security, the eight men were flown by helicopter from the Special Court compound to Lungi International Airport, where they boarded a U.N.-chartered plane for Kigali, Rwanda,” said the Court in a statement.
According to spokesman Peter Andersen, they “left shortly after 0400 GMT.”
Of the men transferred, three were from the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) who were convicted in February on charges of terrorism, murder, rape, sexual slavery, and use of child soldiers among others. For the first time in history, these men were convicted of forced marriage and attacks against peacekeepers.
Last week, SCSL upheld former RUF Interim Leader Issa Hassan Sesay’s sentence of 52 years, RUF Commander Morris Kallon’s sentence of 40 years, and former RUF Chief of Security Augustine Gbao’s sentence of 25 years. Three former leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), Alex Tamba Brima, Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara, and Santigie Borbor Kanu and two former leaders of the Civil Defense Forces (CDF), Moinina Fofana and Allieu Kondewa complete the list of prisoners.
The eight prisoners have been transferred to Mpanga Prison in Rwanda where they will be held in the part of the prison originally built to house prisoners convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Their incarceration at this facility was facilitated by an agreement made between SCSL and the Rwandan government.
Time served while held by the SCSL will be given to the prisoners as credit toward their sentences.
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s trial, the last remaining defendant for the SCSL, is being held in The Hague, where it was moved for security reasons. He is accused of controlling the RUF.
For more information, please see:
AFP – Sierra Leone Ex-rebels Leave to be Jailed in Rwanda: Court – 31 October 2009
Cocorioko – Special Court Prisoners Sent to Rwanda to Serve Their Sentences – 31 October 2009
Reuters – Sierra Leone Court Sends Convicts to Rwandan Prison – 31 October 2009
UN News Centre – Sierra Leone: Eight Men Found Guilty of War Crimes Transferred to Rwanda – 31 October 2009