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Former Liberia warlord given 20 years' jail for war crimes

·1 min read

A Swiss court has handed a 20-year sentence to convicted warlord Alieu Kosiah, the first Liberian to be convicted of war crimes committed during the two civil wars between 1989 and 2003, where some 250,000 people died.

Kosiah, 46, was arrested in Switzerland in 2014, and found guilty of a number of atrocities by Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona.

The former warlord denied the 25 charges, which include ordering or participating in the killing of civilians and soldiers, rape and use of a child soldier.

The commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) armed group was found guilty of 21 out of the 25 charges.

His 20-year sentence will subtract the more than six-and-a-half years spent in detention. The court also ordered him to be expelled from Swiss territory for 15 years after serving his sentence.

Although warlord and former Liberian president Charles Taylor was convicted in 2012 of war crimes during the civil wars, they were crimes carried out in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Switzerland’s judiciary operates under the principle of universal justice, which allows for international crimes trials to be tried in Switzerland, no matter where they were committed. The Koziah case was the first time the civilian court system heard an international war crime case.

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