Sierra Leonean acquitted of Liberian war crimes charges

A district court in Finland on Friday dismissed all war crimes charges against a former Sierra Leonean rebel commander.

Pirkanmaa District Court District Court found that there was reasonable doubt that Gibril Massaquoi, a former commander and spokesman of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) committed the offences he was charged with.  

Massaquoi was charged with murder, aggravated rape, aggravated war crimes and violation of human rights in exceptional circumstances in Liberia between 1999-2003, during the country’s second civil war.

Massaquoi, a Sierra Leonean national, had been in detention since March 10, 2020. He was released from custody in February.  

The trial, which started in February 2021, lasted almost a year.

The Finnish court traveled twice to Liberia and once to Sierra Leone in order to facilitate the hearing of the over 100 witnesses.

The collaboration between Liberia and the Finnish authorities allowed for the first war crimes trial’s hearings to be set on Liberian soil. This was a major step towards the country’s dealing with its past.