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COCORIOKO » 2003 » April

Archive for April, 2003

SamForay hails international community and UN for ignoring Special Court plea for more money

Monday, April 7th, 2003


Wednesday April 7, 2003

We are pleased to know that the international community is slowly but surely coming to our long observed point of view that the so-called Special Court for Sierra Leone is a fallacy based on the presumed necessity for Western Powers, particularly the United States to feed their egos  by selectively prosecuting alleged war crimes committed by citizens of other nations, especially the poorer ones.  The international tribunal for Rwanda and the hybrid court in Sierra Leone are very typical of the selective morality of the Western countries who engorge themselves with righteous indignation over conflicts  in Third World countries usually sponsored and underwritten by arms merchants and mercenaries from the West and their allies.

During the Fifth Meeting of the Fifty-eighth General Assembly, several speakers in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) including Committee Chairman, Vladimir Kuznetsov, chided UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, for requesting emergency funding for the Sierra Leone tribunal in “subvention” to the failed voluntary contributions to which many Western nations so adamant about setting up the tribunal have so far failed to put their money where their mouths are.

Perhaps for good reasons.  The Court is over-staffed, complained the Republic of Korea representative, Park Yoon-June.  Japan’s representative, Toshiro Ozawa, echoed the sentiment.  With only nine confirmed indictees not including those whom the Court allowed to escape justice through exile or death, the Court has more lawyers, clerks and administrators than warrants the case at hand.  With many staff members making more than they would in salaries and “hardship benefits” than they would earn in their countries of origin.

A case in point, shortly after the UN members launched these complaints about the expensive court, David Crane hired, Alieu Iscandari, a general legal practitioner from California as Trial Attorney for US $50,000 per year plus $115 per day for hardship benefits.  In addition, Mr. Iscandari’s position,  pays US $4,000 (($11,515 with dependents) for “Recruitment Allowance”.    This in a country where teachers and essential medical personnel rarely receive their miserly salaries of $30 per month.  In addition to these extravagant self-rewards at the expense of the international community, the Court lacks obvious financial accountability even to the UN Budget Committee, as the Fifth Committee’s Chairman observed.

As we stated earlier,  only thirteen people have been indicted to date by the Court.  Two – the two most notorious leaders of the RUF – are supposedly dead, Foday Sankoh and Sam Bockarie.  Two ring leaders of the worst kind of terrorism ever visited on the peoples of Liberia and Sierra Leone, Charles Taylor and Johnny Paul Koroma, are at large and beyond the reaches of the Court.  And by negotiation and design, the political leaders of the conflict, Mummar Kahadfy, Blaise Campore and Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, have become unindictable.  Instead, it is the man who fought on behalf of the government of Sierra Leone to restore democracy, Chief Samuel Hinga Norman, who is the key victim of this miserable excuse for international justice.

Since the arrest and detention of Chief Hinga Norman on March 10, 2003, the so-called Special Court and in particular, Prosecutor David Crane have lied and spread rumors to discredit Mr. Norman.  There was the obvious misinformation about Mr. Norman being held in a third, reportedly European country.  Crane’s Deputy Ayatollah of Information, Peter Andersen, repeated these lies to me on several occasions before I came to realize that Andersen was in the pocket book of the Court.  Then most recently was the abject lies about an alleged telephone interception indicating that Mr. Norman was plotting insurrection in the country.

But perhaps most germane to this case is the case against Mr. Norman and his co-indictees, Alieu Kondewa and Moinina Fofana.  According to Paragraph XIX of the indictment, Mr. Crane alleges, “The plan, purpose or design of SAMUEL HINGA NORMAN, MOININA FOFANA, ALLIEU KONDEWA and subordinate members of the CDF was to use any means necessary to defeat the RUF/AFRC forces and to gain and exercise control over the territory of Sierra Leone. This included gaining complete control over the population of Sierra Leone and the complete elimination of the RUF/AFRC, its supporters, sympathizers, and anyone who did not actively resist the RUF/AFRC occupation of Sierra Leone. Each Accused acted individually and in concert with subordinates, to carry out the said plan, purpose or design”

Any body with an ounce of common sense and with only casual knowledge of the war knows that this is a lie from the pit of hell.  There never was a “plan” for Kamajors or Mr. Norman and his colleagues to control the country.  Although Mr. Norman had ample opportunity to usurp authority during the absence of the constitutional government, he never gave thought to that option.  Instead, he and the Kamajors simply retreated into the background when President Kabbah returned to Freetown on 10th March 1998.  Obviously, Mr. Crane is not too dense to know this but has chosen to spread lies and misinformation in the international community about Chief Hinga Norman and the Kamajors, the true heroes of Sierra Leone.

This is the message the Hinga Norman-CDF Defence Fund is presenting to members of the Fifth Committee of the United Nations.  That in short, the shortcomings of the Sierra Leone court far outweighs any positive redeeming values for the country.  That the resources of the international community will better be diverted to other far more useful endeavors than an incompetent, financially irresponsible, administratively mismanaged and politically divisive institution that no longer enjoys, if it ever did, the goodwill of the people of Sierra Leone.

Mother -of- all -trials

Sunday, April 6th, 2003


By  Rev. Alfred SamForay  :

This week, the Appeals Chamber of the so-called Special Court for Sierra
Leone will handle two hot potatoes on its plate: The fate of Appeals Chamber
President Renate Winter and the issue of Child Soldiers under Count 8 of the
charges against Chief Hinga Norman, Mr. Moinina Fofana and Dr. Alieu Kondewa. To
wit: Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed
forces or groups or using them to participate, actively in hostilities in
violation of international humanitarian law.


In short, the prosecution claims that the
CDF leaders put children in harms way or failed to ensure their security in
violation what the prosecution calls “Serious Violation of International
Humanitarian Law”. The crux of the Defense argument is that the Optional Protocol
to the Convention on the Right of the Child which deals with the involvement of
children in combat came into being in February 2002, nearly one year after
the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities between the CDF and RUF which
essentially means that there were no child combatants in Sierra Leone after it
became illegal and that the court cannot apply the law retroactively. The Americans
who are bankrolling the Sierra Leone tribunal had delayed signing the
protocol probably because the United States was being criticized as the only country
which admits to executing children.


The CDF further argues that the children
in question volunteered to protect their towns, families and themselves under
the universal doctrine of self defense. Many of these children took refuge with
the CDF after their homes and villages were destroyed by the RUF and their
families either massacred or made to flee for their lives. In any case, my
understanding of the protocol on children in combat is that it applies only to
private armies. The CDF was a government regulated militia created by an Act of
Parliament under the command and control of the Commander-in-Chief and
Minister of Defence, President Tejan Kabbah.

Sierra Leone jurist and Appeals Chamber judge, Gelaga King, seems to lean
towards the arguments put forth by J. B. Jenkins-Johnston and the CDF defense
team. Readers may recall a few months back that Justice King grilled the
prosecution on the inherent rights of a child to self-defence. “What if a child, be
they five years old or fifteen years old, decides to join a group (such as the
Kamajors) which is fighting against another group (such as the RUF) which is
aiming to harm that child, his family or his village? Does that child not have
an inherent right to defend his village, his family or himself under
international law?” King asked the prosecution. “And what if I give my child a gun to
defend me or my home which is being invaded by another in other to save my life,
my home or my family? Do I not have an inherent right to defend myself?”
Justice King’s argument continued. David Crane and his team appeared to have been
unprepared for this line of thinking from the judge. On the eve of the trial,
David Crane has apparently become paranoid about the integrity of his case
and the security of his so-called witnesses. So many draconian rules have been
implemented in the past few days limiting the freedom of speech and movements
of Norman’s Defense Team, the Press and Norman supporters one would think that
Mr. Crane was still running covert operations at the US military. “What Crane
really wants is a secret tribunal,” one Norman supporter said. “But that is
not likely to happen in Sierra Leone.”

Although we are unable to comment on the specifics of the case and especially
Defense strategies as we prepare to go to trial, we are certain that this
trial will be the Mother of all Trials in Sierra Leone and international
jurisprudence. Mr. Norman remains defiant and at irreconcilable odds with his own
government and party leaders. He has told friends and supporters that the trial
will open the lid on a myriad of issues on the role of President Kabbah and
certain government officials in the conduct of the war, the AFRC coup d’tat, the
RUF plundering of Freetown in 1999 and the Foday Sankoh fiasco that culminated
in the deaths of eighteen civilians at Sankoh’s residence on May 8th, 2000. We
are of the opinion that some individuals, who now enjoy in comfort the blood,
sweat and tears of the CDF while claiming to be independent of their actions
will wish that the whole bloody issue had been left alone. Some who gave
birth to the so-called Special Court and still defend its erratic activities thus
far may wish, once the trial starts, that the genie had not been let out of
the bottle. Any body who equipped the CDF for war or directed its activities be
they domestic or foreign government or military officials should reasonably
assume that the trial of the CDF is a trial for all of those who participated in
the Sierra Leone conflict for or against the legitimate government. For us,
it is a no holds barred and no sacred cows (as per Tejan Kabbah). We are
certain that once the whole truth comes out in the matter of Prosecutor versus Sam
Hinga Norman, et al, there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth in high

Hinga Norman versus Judge Renate Winter
On Tuesday, the Appeals Chamber
will consider the fate of its presiding judge and President of the Court,
Austrian Jurist, Renate Winter. Defense Counsels for Chief Hinga Norman and Mr.
Moinina Fofana argue that Justice Winter should be disqualified from presiding
over the hearing on the issue of child soldiers because Winter collaborated with
UNICEF and an Italian-based group called No Peace Without Justice which
previously published a book on the subject. Norman and Fofana argue that as
President of the Appeals Chamber and Ayatollah Supremo of the entire court, Justice
Winter’s collaboration on the UNICEF-NPWJ report makes her police, judge,
jury and executioner over the child soldier issue. Winter replaced Geoffrey
Robertson as President of the court when similar conflict of interest charges
were brought against Robertson by Gen. Hassan Isa Sesay of the RUF. Crane’s
lukewarm argument that Justice Winter gave expert advice and support to the
UNICEF-NPWJ report but did support its conclusions sounds much like former
President Bill Clinton’s revelation that he smoked weed at Oxford but did not inhale
the smoke. Chief Norman himself appears to be in good health and in high
spirits despite a recent death in his immediate family. He is anxious for the trial
to start as are his colleagues, Moinina Fofana and Alieu Kondewa, according to
those who have seen or spoken to him recently.

Government versus Hinga Norman
The harassment of Chief Norman, his family and supporters by the Sierra Leone
Police and certain members of the SLPP continue in the areas of his
accommodation and private bank account. Substitute Minister of Internal Affairs, George
Banda Thomas, appears to have taken upon himself a personal crusade to evict
Mr. Norman’s family out of their present living quarters at both Mr. Norman’s
official residence as well as his rented villa at Cape Sierra Hotel. For
reasons known only to Banda Thomas, dependents of Mr. Norman have been locked out
of the government-owned villa without notice.

Government has also refused to pay salaries owed to Mr. Norman since last
January claiming that Mr. Norman’s account was inaccessible even though the
freeze on the account had long been lifted by the court. Meanwhile, the Sierra
Leone Police continue to arbitrarily arrest supporters of Chief Norman wearing
T-shirts bearing logos and statements supporting Mr. Norman and his colleagues.
Government or some officers of the police seem to forget that the right of the
people to assemble peacefully and redress their legitimate discontent is
inherent in our national laws and customs as well as the universal rights of all
free citizens of the world. Our advice to government is that it should stick to
its self-imposed rubbish of neutrality and let us deal with the so-called
Special Court for the time being. We will deal with the party and government at
the appropriate time and place.