Bellinzona, Switzerland — The trial of the Liberian warlord Alieu Kosiah opened right this moment in Bellinzona. It began with a shock report financed by Kosiah’s family and friends. Redacted by a Liberian lawyer, it consisted of 8 pages of reality discovering missions and statements by Liberian folks concerned within the battle. There have been additionally pictures and two movies, displaying the border between Liberia and Guinea the place the Ulimo folks had been forcing civilians to hold items and cross the Makona river in Solomba. Hoping that it will overturn the conviction of his shopper, Kosiah’s lawyer Dimitri Giannoli launched it as new proof.
Nonetheless, some components confirmed the speculation of the accusation, particularly relating to the pressured labor that was imposed on civilians and the looting of mills described as a typical follow. It then additionally make clear how a sure a was murdered in an airfield in Foya by Ulimo troopers. As these components had been comforting the model of the plaintiffs and the prosecution, they each welcomed it warmly.
It was seemingly one other unusual transfer from the protection that does not appear to have modified its argumentation. Through the first day, Alieu Kosiah stored on saying that he wasn’t current within the locations that the plaintiffs and that he had by no means met them. He gave the impression to be more often than not dictating the inquiries to his lawyer that repeated them afterwards.
Between the court docket choice discovering Alieu Kosiah responsible of battle crimes, and sentenced to twenty years in jail in June 2021, a brand new cost has been added and new testimonies that got here with it. It is the thought of crime towards humanity probably dedicated by Alieu Kosiah whereas he was a Ulimo commander towards civilians through the civil battle. Till just lately, the prosecution did not wish to add this depend as this notion was solely added in 2011 within the Swiss procedural code. If discovered responsible, Alieu Kosiah might see his sentence elevated and he can be a primary for the Swiss judicial system.
After some procedural request, the primary audition began. It was the shopper of lawyer Zeina Wakim that took the ground. On request of the judges that needed to know what toll the battle had on her, she started explaining that she had “her brother and father had been killed when she was actually younger” by the Ulimo and that her household presence was nonetheless lacking right this moment. When he was given the chance to talk, Alieu Kosiah tried to ask her if she had met folks from the ngo World Justice and Analysis Challenge (GJRP). His lawyer did the identical.
After some questions, they moved to the core of her accusation. To ensure that her to not need to face Alieu Kosiah, he was moved into one other room and the general public was requested to go away. As quickly because the decide requested concerning the traumatic occasion she allegedly skilled, she burst into tears. After some emotional moments, the plaintiffs attorneys requested their shopper to go away the room as properly. She managed to compose herself to be able to reply to the query of the judges. “I used to be crossing the street as a result of I needed to seek out one thing to eat. A toddler soldier carrying a rifle on his shoulder known as me and informed me to observe him”. On request of the decide she confirmed that she had “no different option to go along with him or they’d have killed me”. She was then taken to a porch the place quite a lot of troopers had been staying and Alieu Kosiah was additionally current. The decide then requested: “Did Alieu Kosiah ask on your title?”
“No. He simply informed me I needed to be his spouse.” They then moved to a different home and he or she claims that he raped her 4 occasions. Requested to acknowledge him, she was then proven the video of Alieu Kosiah in one other room. “I acknowledge his huge eyes, the tone of his pores and skin and his face”. She was then requested by Alieu Kosiah’s lawyer about well-known Ulimo commanders like Pepper and Salt. As she stated that she did not know their names, he requested how she might have identified who Alieu Kosiah was on the time. She replied: “As a child it is simpler to recollect the individuals who harm you than the others”.
After her very intense testimony, it was as much as Alieu Kosiah to talk. He began by recognizing the depth of the testimony of the alleged sufferer earlier than including: “Mr President it should be very arduous to guage this trial because it regards historic and geographical info which might be very removed from you”. Earlier than including: “If I’ve by no means met this girl, it’s totally arduous for me to defend myself”.
The decide quoted the declaration of G.S. one other plaintiff who will likely be heard within the coming days.
“A soldier might completely ask for any girl to be his spouse and he or she would settle for as a result of she would concern the implications: loss of life. Even AK, who’s sitting behind me, someday took a lady from my neighborhood, she had honest pores and skin, she was very younger, she was afraid so she adopted him. Her boyfriend could not do something about it as a result of They’d be killed”.
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Relatively than addressing the accusation, Alieu Kosiah bursted out angrily. “Who introduced this witness? Alain Werner. And the others ? Nonetheless him !”. He then went on to say that the entire trial was a conspiracy headed by Alain Werner who was “main a prison group”. An outline of the Swiss lawyer that angered the decide. “I’ve to remind you that you could be answerable for defamation, Mr Kosiah”. Shortly earlier than closing the day, the lawyer Zeina Wakim requested her shopper how she felt about seeing Alieu Kosiah right this moment. With out hesitation she replied, “I really feel dangerous due to all of the harm he precipitated me”.
This story is a collaboration with New Narratives as a part of the Investigating Liberia challenge. Funding was offered by the US Embassy in Liberia. The funder had no say within the story’s content material.