Former rebel commander arrested in Finland over war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Liberia

On Tuesday, 10th March, Gibril Massaquoi, a Sierra Leonean national, was arrested in Tampere, Finland, by the Finnish police who suspect that he committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia between 1999 and 2003. He has been charged with crimes including homicide, sexual violence, and the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

Gibril Massaquoi is believed to have been a member of the inner circle of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) during the Sierra Leonean Civil War, which began when the Liberian civil war spilled over into neighbouring Sierra Leone in 1991. Massaquoi is said to have acted as Lieutenant-Colonel and spokesman of the RUF rebel group, as well as an assistant to the group’s founder, Foday Sankoh. During the Liberian and Sierra Leonean civil wars hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed as well as subjected to a wide range of abuses, including sexual violence, amputations and mutilations, slavery, torture and cannibalism. The use of child soldiers was also widespread.

SRT grantee Civitas Maxima and its Liberian sister organization, the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), documented evidence of Massaquoi’s alleged involvement in mass atrocities during the Second Liberian civil war and submitted this to the authorities in Finland, where he resides. This is the 7th arrest of an alleged war criminal to be prompted by information collected by Civitas Maxima and the GJRP. These arrests have happened in six countries.

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