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A trial has been started in Finland against a Sierra Leone man accused of guilty of serious war crimes, including several murders, and crimes against humanity during the second bloody civil war in Liberia between 1999 and 2003.
According to Finnish prosecutors, Gibril Massaquoi, who has lived in Finland for more than 10 years, held a leadership position in the United Revolutionary Front, a rebel army in Sierra Leone that took part in the Liberian civil war in South Africa.
The war crimes trial against Sierra Leonean national Gibril Massaquoi has now begun in Finland. Massaquoi entered the court dressed in grey suit. The indictments cover murders, burning of civilians in houses in Lofa county, and executions of civilians in Monrovia Waterside area. pic.twitter.com/wi2j040Oyi
— Anu Nousiainen (@anunou) February 3, 2021
Massaquoi, who wore a mask known to have used the pseudonym “Angelo Gabriel”, was present at the Pirkanmaa District Court in the southern Finnish city of Tampere, where the main trial in the case began on Wednesday. The Finnish media reported that the 51-year-old defendant did not speak in court.
Prosecutors are calling for Massaquoi, who has denied all charges, a life sentence, usually around 14 in Finland. These allegations include his direct or indirect involvement in rape, murder, cannibalism and the use of child soldiers during the conflict in Liberia.
Massaquoi was arrested in March last year by the Finnish Investigation Bureau in Tampere, a large industrial and university city, where he had a job and a family with children, according to Finnish media.
Massaquoi is reportedly the first non-Liberian national to be blamed for the brutal first and second civil war in Liberia, in which at least 500,000 people are believed to have died. He landed in Finland with a plan to relocate Witnesses.
At the end of the month, in a rare gesture, the Finnish court will temporarily move to Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone to hear testimony from dozens of witnesses about suspected atrocities committed by Massaquoi or others under his control.
The verdict on the case is expected next fall.