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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Sierra Leoneans stone Strasser
Valentine Strasser
Valentine Strasser finds himself the target of public anger
The Sierra Leone Government is urging people to stop jeering and throwing stones at former military leader Valentine Strasser.

A government statement said Captain Strasser had been embarrassed by people throwing stones at him and booing him when he ventured out on the streets of the capital, Freetown.

"It is a great concern to the nation," the statement said.

Captain Strasser became Africa's youngest head of state when he seized power in 1992 aged 25, but was overthrown in a bloodless coup four years later.

Peace deal

He was flown to London in handcuffs and went on to study law at Warwick University as part of a United Nations-brokered peace deal.

However, he didn't complete his course and was refused re-entry to the UK last year.

Sierra Leoneans had hoped Strasser's coup might end a war that broke out in 1991, but his regime failed to either defeat or reach a deal with the rebels.

His reaction to an attempted coup by former army officers in December 1992 led to international condemnation.

Nine suspected coup plotters and 17 other prisoners were executed.

Amnesty International has demanded that he stand trial for alleged murder and torture.

After Strasser's downfall, multiparty elections saw Ahmad Tejan Kabbah become president.

He was ousted a year later by a coalition of army officers and rebels of the Revolutionary United Front, only to return in the following year after military intervention by Nigeria.

Rebels have now begun disarming under UN supervision following a ceasefire last November.

BBC correspondent in Freetown, Lansana Fofanah
"Strasser staged a one man match through streets of Freetown"
See also:

09 May 00 | Africa
Sierra Leone timeline
22 Nov 00 | Africa
Ex-Sierra Leone dictator arrested
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