The former leader of a militia accused of torturing and mutilating civilians during Sierra Leone’s civil war has been granted provisional release and will serve out the remainder of his term in his community, according to the United Nations-backed special court that convicted him.
The Civil Defense Force Director, Moinina Fofana was convicted in 2007 of war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder and pillage which are violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II (war crimes). The Trial Chamber originally sentenced him to six years in prison, but this was increased to fifteen years by the Appeals Chamber, which ruled that the Trial Chamber had erred in its finding that his fighting on the side of the government was a mitigating circumstance in his sentencing.
Moinian Foranah was brought back home on Thursday morning making him the first person convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Special Court for Sierra Leone to be released from prison, the court statement said. His term ends in May 2018, and he will serve the rest of his time under “strict conditions and stringent monitoring” in his community in Bo.
“Although Fofana will reside in Bo, he must still complete his sentence for his convictions for war crimes and crimes against humanity that he committed against the people of Sierra Leone,” said court registrar Binta Mansaray.
He could be arrested again if he fails to comply with court-ordered conditions. These conditions require Fofana to cooperate with a Monitoring Authority, to obey all orders of the Court, to refrain from committing any crime, and to pose no threat to former witnesses, amongst others. In addition to these, Justice Waki also ordered that Fofana acknowledge his guilt, publicly apologise, and show remorse. He is forbidden from
interfering with witnesses,and he must not engage in secret meetings to plan civil unrest or join politics.
Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war lasted from 1991-2002. Fofana’s government-allied militia, the Civil Defense Forces, used a network of tribal-based hunters to fight various rebel groups.
The charges against members of the Civil Defense Forces, including Fofana, Samuel Hinga Norman, and Alex Tamba Brima among others were controversial, as many argued the militia should be praised as patriots.
Sierra Leone is one of the three West African countries hit hardest by the Ebola epidemic, and Fofana had been given the option to stay in Rwanda until the country was declared Ebola-free. He opted instead to return to Bo, the court said.