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Cablegate: Special Court for Sierra Leone Sentences Fofanah

VZCZCXYZ0002
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHFN #0611 2831832
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 101832Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY FREETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1441
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY 0076
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0255

UNCLAS FREETOWN 000611

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR AF/W, DRL, S/WCI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV KDEM PINR KAWC SL
SUBJECT: SPECIAL COURT FOR SIERRA LEONE SENTENCES FOFANAH
AND KONDEWA

1. (U) Summary: On October 9, the Special Court for Sierra
Leone sentenced Moinina Fofanah and Allielu Kondewa, former
leaders of the Civil Defense Force, to 6 and 8 years in
prison, respectively. Time already served in detention was
counted toward the sentences, meaning that Fofanah will
complete his sentence on May 29, 2009 and Kondewa on May 29,
2011. Justice Bankole Thompson, the Sierra Leone judge
serving on the Special Court, dissented from the conviction
and sentence. The relatively lenient sentence was in line
with what the defense counsel had asked for, and initial
comments reflect an acceptance that the sentences are
appropriate given the complexity of the conflict and the
context of the CDFs actions. End Summary.

2. (U) The Presiding Judge of the Special Court for Sierra
Leone, Justice Benjamin Itoe, pronounced sentences for
Moinina Fofanah and Allielu Kondewa on October 9, 2007. The
two leaders of the CDF had been charged in 2003 for war
crimes, crimes against humanity, violations of Article 3
common to the Geneva Convention and of Additional Protocol
II, and other serious violations of international
humanitarian law. They were convicted on August 2, 2007 and
the hearing for sentencing had been scheduled and delayed
several times, finally taking place on October 9. The two
were convicted on multiple counts, with the prison time for
each count to run concurrently and time served since arrest
to be counted toward the sentence. Fofanah was convicted on 4
counts of an 8-count indictment and was sentenced to 6 years
imprisonment for murder, 6 years for cruel treatment, 3 years
for pillage and 4 years for collective punishments. Kondewa
was convicted on 5 counts of an 8-count indictment, receiving
a sentence of 8 years for murder, 8 years for cruel
treatment, 5 years for pillage, 6 years for collective
punishment and 7 years for conscripting or enlisting children
under the age of 15 into armed forces.

3. (U) In delivering the sentence, Justice Itoe noted that
the chamber had considered mitigating circumstances including
the fact that both men had expressed regret for their
actions, that both acted out of feelings of civic duty to
support a democratic government rather than selfish motives,
that neither had previous convictions, and that both had been
propelled into a difficult and violent situation and had no
training or background as military leaders to guide them. The
relatively lenient sentences reflected these factors.

4. (U) Sam Hinga Norman, the head of the CDF, had been
indicted in 2003 on the same eight charges but he died during
the course of the trial. Proceedings against Hinga were
terminated by the court following his death. Local observers
noted that Hinga's family would probably feel some
vindication in the relatively light sentences received by
Fofanah and Kondewa.

5. (SBU) On October 10, at a press conference, the
prosecution indicated that it is considering appealing the
sentences. Meeting with the Ambassador and Embassy officers
the prosecutor for the Special Court Stephen Rapp confirmed
that an appeal will in fact be filed and said that the appeal
will probably focus on the question of motivation, cited as a
mitigating factor by the Presiding Judge. An appeal could
take several months.

PERRY

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