Human Rights Watch says the trial of a former Liberian rebel leader arrested in Switzerland for alleged war crimes during Liberia’s first civil war is an important step forward for victims.
Today, a criminal court in the city of Bellinzona, Switzerland, will convene the trial of Alieu Kosiah, a former commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy armed group, known as ULIMO.
Kosiah is the first person to be tried for war crimes in a non-military criminal court in Switzerland and is the first Liberian to be put on trial for alleged crimes committed during the first Liberian civil war, from 1989 to 1996.
Liberia has not prosecuted anyone for the grave crimes committed during its two armed conflicts. Judicial authorities in the United States, Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom have pursued criminal cases related to Liberia in recent years, often spurred by civil society efforts.
Elise Keppler, based in New York, works for Human Rights Watch. She gave this reaction on the pending trial of Kosia.