A former rebel leader during the conflict in Sierra Leone, Gibril Massaquoi has been arrested in Finland, according to a Swiss organisation Civitas Maxima, that works to ensure justice for victims of war crimes.
Mr. Massaquoi is being held over alleged crimes he committed in neighbouring Liberia, during the conflict between 1999 and 2003.
Mr Massaquoi, who was the spokesman for Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF), is thought to have lived in Finland for at least 10 years, Civitas Maxima says.
The crimes he allegedly committed include homicide, sexual violence, and the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
“The latest news regarding the arrest of Mr Gibril Massaquoi in Finland is a huge step towards addressing the issue of accountability for past crimes committed during the two bloody civil wars in Liberia,” said Fayah Williams, from Liberia’s Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), which is linked to Civitas Maxima.
“It brings hope to all those who were victimised as a result of the civil wars. This arrest also indicates that justice does not discriminate based on nationality.”
Liberia endured two bouts of brutal fighting in 1989-1996 and 1999-2003.
The RUF began its rebellion in Sierra Leone in 1991 – the war only ended in 2002 after foreign troops had disarmed tens of thousands of rebels and militia fighters.
Tens of thousands were killed in both conflicts.