Sierra Leone Rebel Official Arrested in Finland over War Crimes in Liberia


A former rebel of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone Gibril Massaquoi, has been arrested in Tampere, Finland over an allegation that he committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia between 1999 and 2003.

Massaquoi’s crimes, according to Civitas Maxima and its Liberian sister organization, the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) include homicide, sexual violence, and the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

The former Sierra Leonean warlord who during the civil war in his country was a Lieutenant-Colonel and spokesman of the RUF rebel group was arrested by Finnish police after Civitas Maxima and the GJRP informed them about the warlord’s alleged involvement in mass atrocities in Liberia.

In 2005, Massaquoi testified in open session before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in the case against members of Sierra Leone’s former Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC)– a rebel group that allied itself with the RUF rebels in the late 1990s.

“As part of their regular investigation and documentation efforts, Civitas Maxima and its Liberian sister organization—GJRP found evidence that Massaquoi had allegedly committed, overseen, and ordered international crimes in Liberia during the Second Civil War.  Thereafter, Civitas Maxima and the GJRP submitted information regarding his alleged involvement in mass atrocities in Liberia to the authorities in Finland, where he resides,” Civitas Maxima said in a press release said.

Meanwhile, Civitas Maxima has applauded the Liberian government for its support towards the process “as they collaborated with the Finnish authorities during the investigation and the Finnish authorities on their diligence and commitment to this investigation.”

In brief remarks, Fayah Williams, Deputy Director of the GJRP said: “The latest news regarding the arrest of Gibril Massaquoi in Finland is a huge step towards addressing the issue of accountability for past crimes committed during the two bloody civil wars in Liberia. It brings hope to all those who were victimized as a result of the civil wars. This arrest also indicates that justice does not discriminate based on nationality.”

The arrest of Massaquoi comes at a time when several Liberians both at home and abroad have been pushing for the establishing of war crimes court in Liberia.

And it is the 7th arrest of an alleged war criminal by authorities in 6 different countries on two continents that was prompted by information collected by Civitas Maxima and the GJRP – whose work has also contributed to two convictions of Liberian war criminals in the U.S.  Nobody however been tried for war-related crimes on Liberian soil.

The historic trial of Alieu Kosiah, a former commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) rebel group, is scheduled to commence on April 14 and conclude on April 30 2020 in Bellinzona, Switzerland.

According to Civitas Maxima, two of their lawyers will directly represent 4 plaintiffs in the case, which will be the first trial for war crimes in front of the Swiss Federal Criminal Court.

Liberia saw two consecutive civil wars (1989-1996 and 1999-2003), the first of which was initiated when Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) invaded the country in December 1989.

In March 1991, the fighting spilled over into neighboring Sierra Leone when the RUF, with support from the NPFL, invaded Sierra Leone in an attempt to overthrow the government. The civil war in Sierra Leone ended in 2002.

During the Liberian and Sierra Leonean civil wars, hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed. These conflicts were characterized by mass atrocities against the civilian population, including rampant sexual violence, mass killings, amputations and mutilations, slavery, torture, cannibalism, and the widespread use of child soldiers.

Despite some fallout between the two groups, the NPFL and RUF stayed closely connected throughout the Sierra Leonean Civil War – exchanging arms and ammunition for diamonds – especially once Charles Taylor was elected President of Liberia in 1997.

There was also a continuous exchange of fighters and leaders between the two rebel groups. Charles Taylor was convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in 2012 for aiding, abetting, and planning the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone by the RUF.


  1. This story is really unbelievable to comprehend considering the present situation about punishing Liberians themselves for war crime against humanity. Why are they bothering Mr. Massaquoi for war crimes in Liberia when the real criminals are free individuals in Liberia herself, doing what they do best and working for this present Weah administration. Are those criminals in Liberia untouchable or are they better than Mr. Massaquoi or perhaps,just want to use Mr. Massaquoi as a scapegoat for something else and not crime he alleged committed in Liberia civil crisis. Why arrest foreign nationals for war crimes committed in Liberia when Liberians themselves are just comfortably sitting and doing nothing to prosecute their very own Liberians that committed crimes against humanity during her civil crisis? Instead,they are being rewarded for what they did while their victims remained living in constant fear for everytime they see’s, living as a free person in Liberia and feeding at the expense of tax payers dollars in the very Liberia they committed those crimes against humanity. Let them stop arresting the wrong individuals and come to Liberia, that is breeding them for future crisis again.

  2. As its said in the holy bible, ” there’s time for every thing” and the time for the so-called Lt Col. is now, let him face the harsh reality of his inactions matted against the innocent lives he wilfully took away during his quest for power in RUF war while staying in Liberia with the consent of criminal Charles Taylor.

    While I may agree with you on the fact the Liberians are not seeking redress for crimes committed against them during the 14 years of carnage, the arrest of this killer will signal the intentions of good will ambassadors who feels for the victims of the war to bring their killers to book.

    You still have the likes Prince Y Johnson , Sekou Damete Konneh, George Saygbe Boley , Kai Farley, Siafa Norman, Christopher Vambo ( CKA- Gen Mosquito), another Mosquito spray from the criminal LURD forces, Dopoe Mehkazon, Jesse Gbeyianou, George Masuo, and many perpetrators of crimes against humanity roaming the streets of Monrovia freely, what more can you say if they catch one out of these criminals.

  3. I don’t get it!
    Why do some people go out on a binge to commit atrocities? Do some people believe in the existence of God? Do some people believe that there’s life after death? How does a person like Massaquoi feel at night when he goes to bed?

    Obviously Massaquoi and others like him are cowards in the real sense of the word. Looka, (not a word) caught in Finland, after he had committed crimes against his own people. Why didn’t he go back to Sierra Leone after the war? Obviously because he’s a big coward, that’s the first reason. Secondly, in his heart of hearts, Massaquoi knew darn well that he’s got blood on his hands! Massaquoi’s day of reckoning awaits him. But I am not sure whether Massaquoi will be punished to the fullest extent.

  4. If Massaquoi were an innocent man who was wrongly arrested by Finnish authorities, I would be the first to cry foul. This is a man who, like his partners in crime who continue to live freely in Liberia, participated in mindless violence that claimed countless lives in Sierra Leone and Liberia. He is as guilty as sin!

    His arrest is not tied to whatever is going on with other perpetrators roaming free elsewhere. His arrest is very personal. This arrest is pursuant to Finnish laws as it pertains to crimes of this kind in which Massaquoi is alleged to have committed.His day of running free has met Finnish law. The suggestion that because other criminals who did what he did (and even worse) are walking free, so he should go free too, is really a strawman argument. Certainly, if this were the case in law enforcement, jails and prisons would be empty! And what disastrous consequences that would be for such society!

    Finnish justice system sees things differently.The argument: ‘arrest all and if not, arrest none’ is probably not the kind of consideration that would be entertained by Finnish authorities. Finland, unlike other lands where admitted war criminals can serve in elected office with total impunity, is land steeped in observing the rule of law. That’s why arrest of this man is a good thing for his countless victims.

  5. Zlando, your post is outrageous. Where is your understanding of the rule of law? Or are you one of those criminals in Liberia that summarily executed people people before you even tried them? The case against Gibril Massaquoi is a fiasco and a deliberate distraction. The Finnish authorities got the wrong man in their net. When they eventually know, having wasted their tax payers money, they will release him. Gibril is a Sierra Leone national who has nothing to do with Liberian war between 1999 and 2003. You could save your time and minimise your gross error if you can diligently research the Sierra Leone crisis between 1999 and 2003.


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