Sierra Leone Bishop Welcomes War-Crimes Tribunal

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, MARCH 15, 2004 ( Bishop Giorgio Biguzzi of Makeni welcomed the opening last week of the Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone, entrusted with judging the crimes committed during the civil war.

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The tribunal, comprising international and local judges, was created by the government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations in 2002. Its aim is to try those responsible for grave violations of human rights, beginning in 1996, although the decade-long war lasted until 2001.

The conflict pitted the rebel United Revolutionary Front (RUF) against government forces led by President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, who was re-elected in May 2002.

«The leaders of the armed groups who committed violations against innocent people in this country will have to account for their actions before the judges,» Bishop Biguzzi told the Missionary Service News Agency.

«From the point of view of the Christian community, this is not seeking revenge,» he said. «It is confronting those who are in power at the time and used it not for the good of the people but to promote their own interests with violence.»

To date, the judges have accused 13 people, among them five RUF rebels, and dissidents of the Council of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, allied to the rebels.

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