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Cablegate: Special Court for Sierra Leone Hands Down Sentences in The

VZCZCXRO0145
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHFN #0439 2041720
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231720Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY FREETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1221
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 0073
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0244

UNCLAS FREETOWN 000439

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/W, DRL, G/TIP

E.O. 12958
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM PHUM PINR KAWC SL
SUBJECT: SPECIAL COURT FOR SIERRA LEONE HANDS DOWN SENTENCES IN THE
ARMED FORCES REVOLUTIONARY COUNCIL TRIAL

REF: FREETOWN 387

1. (U) On June 20, the three judges of Trial Chambers II at the
Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) found Alex Tamba Brima, Brima
Bazzy Kamara, and Santigie Kanu, three former Armed Forces
Revolutionary Council (AFRC) leaders, guilty of 11 of 14 counts of
crimes against humanity (reftel). On July 19, the judges of Trial
Chambers II sentenced the three defendants to "global" or single,
aggregate sentences of 50 years, 45 years, and 50 years imprisonment
respectively. The three convicted were senior commanders of the
AFRC, which was responsible for the 1997 coup. The sentences were
the first given by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SLSC)
following the end of Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war in 2002.

2. (U) In June, the SCSL found the three defendants guilty of 11 of
14 charges against them including: murder and extermination, the
drugging and recruitment of child soldiers, sexual violence and
rape, the malicious mutilation and amputation of the civilian
population, slavery, pillage, and other heinous and grotesque crimes
(Reftel). The Court's sentencing was the first in the history of
international tribunals to hand down a sentence for the crime of the
recruitment and use in hostilities of child soldiers. "Brima,
Kamara, and Kanu executed some of the most heinous, brutal and
atrocious crimes ever recorded in human history", said Presiding
Judge Julia Sebutinde, noting that innocent men, women and children
were hacked to death, burned alive, women gang-raped to death, sons
forced to rape mothers, brothers forced to rape sisters, women's
pregnant stomachs slit open to settle bets on the sex of the fetus,
arms chopped off, and heads placed on sticks.

3. (U) The Court's deliberations were based on the following
factors: (1) Gravity of offenses and personal circumstances of the
convicted, (2) Aggravating circumstances, and (3) Mitigating
factors. The Court refused to consider the personal circumstances of
the accused or any of the mitigating factors proposed by the
defense. During the sentencing hearing, each of the defendants gave
unconvincing statements in a futile attempt to shorten their
sentences. "I pray for those who suffered during the war," stated by
Kamara. Yet none claimed any personal responsibility or involvement
in the suffering of the victims. The Court rejected their
testimonials as not statements of genuine remorse.

4. (U) During the sentencing hearings, the prosecution requested
global sentences of 60 years for Brima, 60 years for Kamara, and 50
years for Kanu, which should "have the practical effect of amounting
to an approximation of life imprisonment." During the sentencing
session, the Court concurred with all aggravating factors proposed
by the prosecution and rejected all mitigating factors suggested by
the defense teams. While the defense requested that the Court
consider good service records, the circumstances of guerrilla
warfare, and personal circumstances, the Court stood firmly on the
ground that these former commanders of the Sierra Leone Army swore
an oath to protect the civilian population, not to terrorize them.
Justice Sebutinde deliberated, "The Trial Chamber cannot recall any
other conflict in human warfare where the civilian population was
subjected to such horrific acts."

5. (U) The accused were each given a global sentence to be served in
a consecutive manner, and each was awarded credit for time spent in
custody pending the trial. As the judges read their final statement
sentencing Brima to 50 years, Kamara to 45 years, and Kanu to 50
years, the families of the defendants erupted in tears.

6. (U) COMMENT: Brima, Kamara, and Kanu will have a chance to appeal
the sentences, but will most likely lose their appeals. Sierra Leone
has concluded agreements with Sweden and Austria to imprison the
three junta leaders. Public reaction to the sentencing has been
mostly positive. However, most of the country is preoccupied with
the upcoming national elections on August 11. END COMMENT.

HULL

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