Geneva – The Swiss Federal Criminal Court listed the criminal case against Alieu Kosiah, a former commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), for trial in Bellinzona, commencing on April 14 and concluding on April 30, 2020. Kosiah was arrested in Switzerland on November 10, 2014 in relation to crimes committed during the First Liberian Civil War (1989-1996).
Alieu Kosiah is the first person to be tried for war crimes in a non-military criminal court in Switzerland, and was the first ULIMO member to be indicted for crimes committed during the First Liberian Civil War. “This is a historical case for both Liberia and Switzerland” stated Alain Werner, Director of Civitas Maxima, who is one of the two lawyers representing four of the seven plaintiffs who will testify in the trial.
Civitas Maxima and its Liberian sister organisation, the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), have been investigating this case since 2013. Kosiah has been in pre-trial detention since 2014 while the Swiss authorities investigated.
The victims interviewed during the investigation led by the Swiss authorities implicate Kosiah in the commission or command of acts of sexual violence, murders, cannibalism, recruitment of child soldiers, looting, forcing civilians to work in cruel conditions, and the forced movement of looted goods, weapons and ammunition. Romain Wavre, Legal Counsel at Civitas Maxima who will also represent plaintiffs at trial, stated that “25 years after the crimes were committed, the victims will finally have the opportunity to testify at trial about the horrors they experienced during the conflict.”
According to Hassan Bility, Director of the GJRP, “the bravery of the victims who testified against Alieu Kosiah is finally being recognized through this trial. We are thankful that the Swiss authorities have taken this case forward. This and other cases abroad will encourage victims to come forward, and hopefully encourage the Government of Liberia to establish a domestic war crimes court.”