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Friday July 19, 2024

New row arises over fledgling Liberian war crimes court

By AFP
July 01, 2024
Liberias President Joseph Boakai gives a speech after he was sworn in as president during the inauguration ceremony in Monrovia, Liberia January 22, 2024. — Reuters
 Liberia's President Joseph Boakai gives a speech after he was sworn in as president during the inauguration ceremony in Monrovia, Liberia January 22, 2024. — Reuters

MONROVIA: Liberia´s president may be moving to get a long-awaited war crimes court up and running but he already faces criticism over his choice for a key post at the tribunal.

The row is a fresh reminder that justice for victims of the country´s civil wars remains still a long way off.

President Joseph Boakai signed a decree on May 2 creating an office responsible for setting up the court to judge war crimes, after years of international and domestic pressure. But in late June, he appointed lawyer Jonathan Massaquoi to head up the process.

It was Massaquoi who represented former president Charles Taylor´s ex-wife against war crimes accusations.

And when Agnes Reeves Taylor sued defenders of the victims of war crimes for defamation, he was also her lawyer in that case.

Massaquoi also defended former rebel commander Gibril Massaquoi, a Sierra Leonean with no relation jailed by a Swiss court for 20 years in 2023 for a string of murders, rapes and acts of torture that he or rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) carried out in Liberia between 1999 and 2003.

The West African nation´s two civil wars left an estimated 250,000 people dead between 1989 and 2003 and resulted in massacres, mutilation, rape and cannibalism.