Authorities re-arrest freed Sierra Leone war crimes convict

AP News
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Posted: Mar 11, 2016 11:41 AM

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Authorities have re-arrested a former leader of a militia accused of torturing and mutilating civilians during Sierra Leone's civil war after he violated terms of his early release, a security official said Friday.

Moinina Fofana was convicted by a United Nations-backed special court in 2007 of war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, cruel treatment, pillage and collective punishment. He received a 15-year sentence and was held in Rwanda's Mpanga Prison.

Fofana was granted provisional release in February 2015 after serving two-thirds of his sentence. He was transferred to serve the rest of his term under strict conditions and monitoring in his community in Bo, Sierra Leone's second-largest city. Fofana was the first person to be released from prison after being convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

The president of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone, Kenyan Justice Philip Nyamu Waki, revoked the release Wednesday, said senior protection officer Thomas Konie Akinbobola. Police arrested Fofana Thursday, and he was brought to Sierra Leone's capital Freetown Friday, Akinbobola said.

Akinbobola wouldn't specify which condition was breached, but he said Fofana is "not free to participate in any political activity until May 2018, when the remaining sentence of the total 15 years should expire."

Sierra Leone's brutal civil war lasted from 1991-2002. Fofana's government-allied militia, the Civil Defense Forces, used a network of tribe-based hunters to fight various rebel groups.

Fofana was one of three leading members of the Civil Defense Forces arrested in 2003 and charged with war crimes by the U.N.-backed court. Another leader, Deputy Defense Minister Samuel Hingha Norman, died during trial. The third, Alieu Kondewa, is still serving time in Rwanda.

The charges against Civil Defense Forces members were controversial, as many argued the militia was key to restoring order in the war-ravaged country.