Switzerland: Liberian war crimes suspect trial put off

Alieu Kosiah

The trial of Alieu Kosiah, a former commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), has again been postponed by the Swiss Federal Criminal Court.

The trial was initially scheduled to take place in April in Bellinzona, Switzerland.

However in March, it was postponed by the court due to the measures imposed by the Swiss authorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time, the court aimed at rescheduling the trial between June and July 2020.

As the measures taken globally to combat the pandemic are still affecting international travel and overall logistics required for these legal proceedings, the Court has decided to postpone the trial until the end of 2020, between November and December.

There have been no official dates announced as of yet.

Kosiah is implicated in the commission or command of war crimes, including acts of sexual violence, murders, cannibalism, recruitment of child soldiers, looting, forcing civilians to work in cruel conditions, and the forced movement of looted goods, weapons and ammunition.

Kosiah is the first person slated to be tried for war crimes in a non-military criminal court in Switzerland, and was the first ULIMO member to be indicted for crimes committed during the First Liberian Civil War.

Advocacy groups Civitas Maxima and the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) understand that the postponement decision was taken by the Federal Criminal Court to allow for such a historic trial to take place in the best and safest circumstances possible.

Civitas Maxima