Switzerland to Prosecute Ex-ULIMO Commander for War Crimes in Liberia

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Alieu Kosiah, former ULIMO commander.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of Switzerland, headed by Michael Lauber, has finally approved the trial of a former front line commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), a rebel group that participated in the Liberian civil war (1989-2003).

ULIMO commander Alieu Kosiah prosecution is coming after five years of investigation.

This landmark case involving Alieu Kosiah, according to Civitas Maxima, an independent legal representation of victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity, is the first of its kind for a member of ULIMO to be indicted for alleged war crimes, and to be tried by the Swiss Federal Criminal Court.

In a press release posted on its website on March 27, 2019, the OAG said after nearly five years of criminal investigation, OAG is presenting for the first time an international criminal law related indictment to the Federal Criminal Court (FCC).

According to the release, the suspect is being accused of violating the laws of war as a member of a military faction in the context of the internal armed conflict that took place in Liberia between 1989 and 1996.

Switzerland Attorney General Michael Lauber.

“After nearly five years of investigation, particularly complex due to the lack of cooperation by Liberia, and despite the facts of the case being distant in time, the OAG could, however, carry out the hearing of more than 25 witnesses and benefit from international legal assistance from seven states or international organizations.

“Now, the OAG is able to submit the indictment to the FCC. The defendant is accused of having ordered the murder respectively murdering or participating in the murder of civilians and soldiers hors de combat, desecrated a corpse of a civilian, raped a civilian, ordered the cruel treatment of civilians, recruited and employed a child soldier, ordered several pillages and ordered and/or participated in forced transports of goods and ammunition by civilians. The defendant has allegedly committed these crimes between March, 1993 and the end of 1995 as a member of a military faction.

“This indictment, which was filed before the FCC on March 22, 2019, must be placed in the context of the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes. The presumption of innocence of the accused is guaranteed until the final judgment has been pronounced. A soon as the indictment is filed, the FCC alone will be competent to provide any further information,” the OAG release added.

Meanwhile, Civitas Maxima Director Alain Werner and Legal Counsel Romain Wavre, both lawyers representing several victims, stated that this case is another step towards the greater goal of justice for Liberia.

“We are proud that the bravery of the victims who testified against Alieu Kosiah is finally being recognized through this trial. It is important for the victims to know that if they talk, they will be heard,” both lawyers said in a statement.

Hassan Bility, Director of the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), stated that: “This is a great day for justice in Liberia, a great day for all of the victims. We use this occasion to call on the Liberian government to take steps in creating a war crimes court in Liberia for the thousands of victims of the civil wars.”

War crimes charges against Alieu Kosiah, who had been living in Bern, western Switzerland since 1997, grew from complaints filed by Alain Werner on behalf of seven Liberian victims who accused him of sexual violence, recruitment of child soldiers, looting, ordering and participating in the forced movement of looted goods and ammunition, forcing civilians to work in cruel conditions, ordering and committing murders, and carrying out acts of cannibalism.

According to the website Trial International, Kosiah was arrested in Bern on 10 November 2014 for his alleged participation in the war crimes committed in Western Liberia between 1993 and 1995.

Kosiah was arrested on the basis of Switzerland’s universal jurisdiction law, which gives its national courts jurisdiction over international crimes perpetrated by individuals on Swiss territory, irrespective of where the crimes were committed and regardless of the nationality of the victims or of the perpetrators.

The prosecution of Kosiah is the second by a European State against a former warlord of Liberia, the first being that of Martina Johnson, former head of Charles Taylor’s heavy artillery unit.

Civitas Maxima, the organization that filed the case, has been working since 2012 with its Liberia-based sister organization, the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) to document crimes committed during the civil wars.

The case against Kosiah was originally initiated by Liberian survivors of the war, supported by Civitas Maxima and the GJRP, who filed criminal complaints against Kosiah.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Senator Prince Johnson, my Nimba County senator should be tried on the same charges The defendant is accused of having ordered the murder respectively murdering or participating in the murder of civilians and soldiers hors de combat, desecrated a corpse of a civilian, raped a civilian, ordered the cruel treatment of civilians, recruited and employed a child soldier, ordered several pillages and ordered and/or participated in forced transports of goods and ammunition by civilians. The defendant has allegedly committed these crimes between March, 1993 and the end of 1995 as a member of a military faction.”
    Let justice be done
    Counselor James Boayue Nimba Attorney cell # 0888305743

    • The likes of Prince Y. Johnson, George Bollie, Yekeh Kolubah, Saah Gbolie, Alphonso Diah, General Power, Roland Duo, Adolphus Dolo, et. al should be prosecuted as well. The law which presumed innocent before proven guilty shall remain in full force and effect.

  2. Another “cherry picking” verdict for a warlord from Sub Saharan Africa. When they decide to prosecute wrong doers and eventually leave a batch and segment of some of them out, then we will question the motive.
    African problems require African solutions. Can a German Far Right Nazi sympathizer or a Basque Separatists be trial in a Ghanaian, Liberian or Senegalese Court?

    We need to BRAND ourselves, and find solutions to our problems. Rebranding, is what we need. Since a segment of us have the mentality that nothing good comes out of us, we are yet to find our own footing.
    I m not against any wrong doers facing justice. However, those bringing them to ‘Justice’ are (themselves) stained with prejudice. We have people in Liberia that committed worst crime than other, however; those bringing them to ‘Justice’, are CHERRY PICKING who to prosecute simply because some are in COZY AFFAIRS with the prosecutor(s).

    The difference between some of us in Sub Saharan Africa and those continued starring our affaires, not the lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will to stand to their request. We are afraid of consequences that comes with our decision. Something they themselves, have experienced.

    We will never be PEOPLE in our own home if we cannot stair our own affairs. We will be what we have been in the past, PROPERTY!
    A property does not have SOVEREIGNTY, and choice, it is used at mercy of its owner(s)

    Just my Opinion.

    • Bah, if we would use African solutions to solve African problems, then there would always a a lot of unsolved problems because we are not up to the task yet. A lot of warmongers are still in our midst today and enjoying the powers of the state. If we were able to solve our own problems, then the likes of Prince Johnson, Alhaji Kromah, George Boley, Yekeh Kolubah, Butt Naked, Ellen Johnson and most of those passing around as government officials .

  3. A young perspicacious Liberian studies in a far away country. He makes a blunt statement and I quote, “African problems require African solutions”.

    In the same document, the sharp-witted young guy asks, “Can a German far-right Nazi sympathizer or a Basque Separatist be tried in a Ghanaian, Liberian or Senegalese court”?

    What are some hardcore problems of Africa?
    Here is a partial list which he may agree or disagree with:
    1. Extreme poverty,
    2. Darkness in the cities,
    3. Dusty roads,
    4. Killer diseases….(ex. Ebola) and
    5. Cor….rup….tion!!!!!!!! 😌

    Let’s agree for purposes of this argument that the young guy has a right to express himself.

    First in first out (fifo)
    Yes, if an extremist far-right German or a Spanish separatist slips through the cracks (after committing a henious crime in his country) and insidiously enters any country in Africa, he can be tried, jailed (if found guilty) or extradited. Any problems?

    The gentleman must be asked the following questions
    Is there an African solution for eradicating extreme poverty in the world’s fourth poorest country?

    Is there an African solution that could cure the killer disease ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo? Then where are those African solutions? Who manufactures the medication that successfully treats the killer disease? Ghanaians? Senegalese scientists?

    Do the scientists of Nigeria have an African solution for dusty roads in Africa? Okay, what’s about the following cities?
    Lagos….
    Nairobi….
    Accra…. and Monrovia at night time? Any prolonged electricity?

    What are African solutions?

    The spanking of a nuded female witch by an angry mob is a terrible African solution. That’s for sure. But in the civilized world, a suspect must be tried in a court of law. By the way, does a female have to be made naked in order to carry out an African solution?

    Come on young guy.

  4. Hahahahahaha… I wrote this purposely to awaken some of our great minds in our midst on this platform. To all my Liberian Big brothers, and Uncles, I know we are all in a difficult time. Around the world, the only people had been prosecuted in the ICC and other international criminal court are people from African countries and the fragmented former Communist Yugoslavia leaders and deputies.

    When Slobodan Milosevic (the first European) stood for Yugoslavia Nationalism, and tried to bring back ideas of by-gone leader of former Yugoslavia leader Josip Broz Tito, Milosevic will be accused of war crime and taken to the Hague, along with some of his principle deputies and successors like Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, Slobodan Praljak (who drank poison during his interrogation). I m not a communist nor a communist sympathizer.

    It is still a question in my mind if they were taken to the Hague for trying to perpetuate the idea of communism or for human right violation. If it is the latter, for my 36 years on planet earth, I have heard of so many who have committed atrocious sins against humanity from high places and are signing book deals.

    We ( our policy makers), are not in the business of establishing an African Solutions to our problems. We are busy serving others. If you spent your entire life serving others, you have no time to question any status quo, given the fact you might be afraid of the consequences that follow.

    Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia and others Third World Nations are only about 55 to 60 years-old, with the exception of Liberia. The youngest European or Western Nation on average, is 230 years old. They took 250 plus years to master something that some of our ‘great thinkers’ are telling us to master in just 60 years.
    There is no system without flaw, an individual should not be vilified for pointing out the flaws.
    To Mr. Luke and His Excellency F. Hney, thank you guys for countering me on this issue. I learn every day.
    From New South Wales….I love you all.
    School is over!

  5. I wrote to you through the University of Sidney. It’s been three weeks since the letter was mailed. Hope you got it.

    Congratulations!

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