Alieu Kosiah’s War Crimes Trial Postponed

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Alieu Kosiah, former ULIMO commander.

Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, and the increasing measures being imposed by the Swiss authorities in response to the pandemic, the Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland has announced that the trial of Alieu Kosiah, former ULIMO commander, is postponed.

In a press statement, Civitas Maxima said Kosiah trial was scheduled to take place in Bellinzona, Switzerland, from April 14 to April 30, 2020. The Federal Criminal Court is aiming at rescheduling the trial between June and July 2020.

Alieu Kosiah is implicated in the commission or command of acts of sexual violence, murders, cannibalism, recruitment of child soldiers, looting, forcing civilians to work in cruel conditions, and the forced movement of looted goods, weapons and ammunition.

Civitas Maxima and the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) understand that the decision taken by Federal Criminal Court was appropriate to safeguard the health of all the trial participants, including the victims who reside abroad.

Kosiah, a former commander of the ULIMO, is charged with war crimes committed during the first Liberian civil war (1989-1996). He was arrested in Switzerland in November 2014 and has been in pre-trial detention ever since, as Swiss authorities conducted investigations.

“This is a historical case for both Liberia and Switzerland,” says Civitas Maxima director Alain Werner, one of the two lawyers representing four of the seven plaintiffs who will testify in the trial.

“This and other cases abroad will encourage victims to come forward, and hopefully encourage the Government of Liberia to establish a domestic war crimes court ,” says Hassan Bility, Director of the GJRP.

Liberia has not so far held anyone to account for serious international crimes committed during its civil wars, although there are some cases also in other European Countries under the principle of “universal jurisdiction”. Former Liberian president Charles Taylor was convicted by the Special Court for Sierra for crimes committed in that neighboring country, and is currently serving a 50-year sentence in a British jail.

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