Paris, France: A court in Paris composed of three judges and six jurors, rendered a guilty verdict against Mr. Kunti Kamara, of Liberian and Dutch nationality, for complicity in crimes against humanity, and complicity and commission of simple and aggravated acts of torture and barbarism.
The court sentenced Mr. Kamara to life imprisonment. Mr. Kamara has 10 days to appeal the decision. This trial will mark Liberian judicial history as the first ever conviction for crimes against humanity connected to the conflicts that ravaged this West African country from 1989 to 2003.
It will also mark French judicial history as the first trial for international crimes committed abroad other than those linked to the Rwandan genocide and is only the fifth trial of this type to take place in France.
In light of the exceptional nature of this trial, the President of the Paris ‘Cour d’assises’ authorized its full recording for the purpose of constituting historical archives.
27 witnesses and experts and 10 civil parties took the stand over more than three weeks of debates and hearings, after a preliminary investigation that lasted several years during which more than 40 people were heard. In addition, Mr. Kamara was heard 10 times and the French judicial authorities went to Liberia to conduct no less than eight reconstructions of the crime scenes.
Civitas Maxima, which is a civil party in this case, filed the criminal complaint in July 2018 that started the proceedings in France.
At the end of this judicial process, Mr. Kamara was found guilty, as an accomplice for crimes against humanity, and as a perpetrator and accomplice of acts of torture and barbarism committed in Lofa County between 1993 and 1994, and as a Commander of the rebel group ULIMO (United Liberian Movement of Liberia for Democracy) as followed: rape and sexual slavery committed by his subordinates on particularly vulnerable people; subjecting a man to severe suffering and participating in the public eating of his heart; executing a sick woman who had just lost her baby because she was accused of witchcraft; subjecting two men to forced labor under inhumane conditions; and torturing a civilian.
The conviction of Mr. Kamara for complicity in acts of rape and sexual slavery, as crimes against humanity, is particularly significant in the context of Liberia, according to Emmanuelle Marchand, Deputy Director of Civitas Maxima: “This is the first judgment that condemns and recognizes the systematic nature of sexual violence committed during the first Liberian civil war. This recognition is important for the victims of these crimes who are still ostracized and suffer the consequences of these acts today”.