After three weeks of an unprecedented trial, the 47-year-old accused was found guilty of a series of “acts of torture and barbarism” against civilians in 1993-1994, including the torture inflicted on a teacher whom he would have eaten the heart, the killing of a woman described as a “witch” and forced marches imposed on the population.
Kunti Kamara appeared in Paris under the “universal jurisdiction” exercised, under certain conditions, by France to try the most serious crimes committed outside France. son floor. This mechanism had only been used for acts committed in Rwanda, during the genocide of the Tutsis in 1994.
Facilitation of crimes against humanity
According to the verdict delivered after nine hours of deliberation, this former commander of the United Liberation Movement for Democracy (Ulimo) also facilitated crimes against humanity by his indifference to the repeated rapes committed on two teenage girls by soldiers placed under his authority in 1994.
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The court thus followed the requisitions of the public prosecutor who had demanded life imprisonment against him, castigating crimes that “damaged all of humanity”.
At the statement of the decision, the accused, bald head and full mustache, remained impassive. Throughout his trial, the first ever devoted in France to the Liberian civil war, Kunti Kamara claimed his innocence, considering himself the victim of a “conspiracy”. His lawyer Me Marilyne Secci had demanded his acquittal by attacking the “gaps” in a file built on old testimonies. She declined to comment after the verdict.
The impunity that still reigns in Liberia also crossed the debates: the crimes of the civil war, which had resumed from 1999 to 2003 and left 250,000 dead, have never been judged by the country where former rebel leaders occupy high positions in the state apparatus today.
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The conclusions of the truth and reconciliation commission, which had recommended in 2009 the indictment of eight warlords and the banning of ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf from exercising political functions, remained a dead letter.
Kunti Kamara, who had obtained political asylum in the Netherlands after lying about his past, was arrested in the Paris region in September 2018. His name had arisen in the mid-2010s as part of a procedure initiated in Switzerland against another Ulimo executive, Alieu Kosiah, who was sentenced in Geneva in 2021 to twenty years in prison in the first ever Liberian war crimes trial. His appeal hearing should be held beginning 2023.