Justice Minister Visits Court Trying Gibril Massaquoi

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Justice Minister, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean

Even though there is no indication that the Liberian Government has consented to establish a court to try war crime perpetrators some of who are in prestigious positions and enjoying state resources and justifying their crimes, Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean, on Monday April 5, 2021, visited the venue where the Finnish court trying Gibril Massaquoi, (alias Angel Gabriel) in Liberia.

The court that is based in Tampere, Finland, is hearing from about 80 witnesses in Liberia to establish the role of the 51 years old former Sierra Leonean rebel general in the Liberian civil war from 1999 to 2003.  The hearings began on February 23 and are expected to conclude in Liberia this week, after which the court will transfer to Sierra Leone to hear from other witnesses.

Though the purpose of the Minister’s visit was undisclosed, he received a warm welcome by representatives of the court and the head of Delegation of the European Union, Ambassador Laurent Delahousse.

A human rights advocate who wants to remain anonymous told this paper that the fact that this court can sit in Liberia to hear from witnesses for a month, and that the Justice Minister and Attorney General of the Republic can visit the venue, are indicators that the government is demonstrating compliance with the international partners who want to see accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Liberia during the war.

According to a release from the court, its Administrative Representative, Thomas Elfgren, expressed his gratitude and emphasized the importance of the support from the Liberian Judicial authorities to allow the Finnish Court to receive evidence from witnesses.

“Liberia has once again showed its commitment to fight impunity of core international crimes,” the release quoted the Administrative Representative.  However, the release did not provide any quotation from the Justice Minister regarding his visit to the venue of the court, neither did it come with a photo of the Minister and the court officials as this court is in a close location that even journalists covering the trial are very few and warned not to expose the venue to the public.

It added, “The work by the Finnish Court in Liberia will end this week.”

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