The U.N.-backed special court on war crimes in Sierra Leone has sentenced three senior members of the country's former Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) to jail terms ranging from 18 months to two years for contempt.
The court last month had found the trio guilty of contempt for tampering with a former prosecution witness. Two of them are already serving long prison terms for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the civil wars in that West African country since 1996.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) on Thursday sentenced Santigie Borbor Kanu and Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara to two years in prison. The duo were earlier found guilty on two counts of interfering with the administration of justice by offering a bribe to a witness, and attempting to induce a witness to recant (or to state that he testified falsely) testimony he gave before the SCSL.
Kamara was also convicted last month of knowingly violating a court order protecting the identity of a witness who had testified against him in the AFRC trial. Incidentally, Kamara and Kanu are currently serving sentences of 45 and 50 years, respectively, after being convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Separately, Hassan Papa Bangura was sentenced to two 18-month prison terms, after being convicted earlier on similar charges. Nevertheless, both the sentences are to run concurrently.
A fourth accused, Samuel Kargbo received two 18-month suspended sentences, meaning that he will serve no jail term as long as he remains of good behavior for the next two years. Kargbo had pleaded guilty at his initial appearance in July 2011 and subsequently testified for the prosecution. He currently remains free on bail on his own recognizance pending sentencing.
During the four-month trial, the court held proceedings at the SCSL's premises in Sierra Leone's capital Freetown and at a courtroom in the Rwandan capital Kigali. The two courts were connected by video link. While Bangura and Kargbo attended the court proceedings held in Freetown, Kamara and Kanu attended the hearings in Kigali.
Based in Freetown, the SCSL was jointly set up by the government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations in 2002 to try those most responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone since November 1996.
by RTT Staff Writer
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