A Liberian rebel has been sentenced in Switzerland to 20 years in jail for rape, murders and an act of cannibalism. Alieu Kosiah has been found guilty of war crimes during Liberia’s first civil war in the 1990s. The Swiss Federal Criminal Court in the city of Bellinzona, Switzerland, delivered its judgment in the trial of Alieu Kosiah on June 18.
Kosiah is the first person to be tried for war crimes in a non-military criminal court in Switzerland, reported BBC. He is also the first Liberian to be tried and convicted for war crimes committed during the first Liberian civil war, from 1989 to 1996. As per reports, Kosiah was a rebel leader and a part of the ULIMO movement which from 1991 fought against Taylor’s control of the country.
The authorities reportedly arrested Kosiah on November 10, 2014, in Switzerland, where he had been living since 1999. The arrest followed criminal complaints against him by seven Liberian victims who became formal parties to the proceeding. After a nearly five-year investigation, the Swiss attorney general’s office filed an indictment against Kosiah in March 2019. Swiss prosecutors accused him of various crimes, including ordering the murder and cruel treatment of civilians, rape.
Kosiah has been sentenced to 20-year prison including the six years he has already served in detention. Human Rights Watch (HRW), a New York-based rights group, described court's ruling as a "landmark step for Liberians". Balkees Jarrah, associate international justice director at HRW, said that more than 20 years later of committing crimes, the guilty was convicted.
"More than 20 years after the violations were committed, victims played a vital role in securing the first conviction for war crimes during Liberia’s civil war," said Balkees Jarrah said in a statement.