The RUF Accused

The RUF forces used brutal tactics to seize and maintain control over Sierra Leone’s diamond mines, including extensive use of child soldiers and sexual enslavement. From 1997 to 1999, three organised armed factions were involved in the armed conflict in Sierra Leone: the pro-government Civil Defense Forces (CDF), fighting the combined forces of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).

The Revolutionary United Front was formed in 1988/1989 and entered Sierra Leone in 1991 to launch a 10-year terror campaign within its territory. The violent strikes were directed against the civilian population, humanitarian assistance operations and UN peacekeepers and resulted in mass murders and pillaging.

In 2003, five leaders of the RUF were indicted separately on 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The five indicted leaders were Foday Saybana Sankoh, Sam Bockarie, Issa Hassan Sesay, Morris Kallon and Augustine Gbao. The indictments against Foday Saybana Sankoh and Sam Bockarie were withdrawn following their deaths in 2003.

The RUF trial began on 5 July 2004. On 4 and 5 August 2008 the Trial Chamber of the  SCSL heard closing arguments in the case. On 25 February 2009, the SCSL in Freetown delivered its judgement against the three accused. Morris Kallon and Issa Hassan Sesay were convicted on 16 of the 18 counts against them; Augustine Gbao was convicted on 14 counts. On 8 April 2009, Sesay was sentenced to 52 years’ imprisonment (the highest sentence handed down by the Court), Kallon to 39 years, and Gbao to 25 years.

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