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Monday, 2 December, 2002, 15:07 GMT
Sierra Leone war crimes judges sworn in
Child amputee
Sierra Leoneans want those responsible to face justice

The judges appointed to sit in Sierra Leone's Special Court for war crimes committed during the 10-year civil war have been sworn in.

Many thousands of people were killed and more had their limbs amputated during the war.

Special Court judges
The judges are both Sierra Leoneans and expatriates

The court has a three-year mandate and was established by the United Nations and Sierra Leone earlier this year.

Dressed in red and black traditional robes, the eight judges took their oaths at a brief ceremony in the capital, Freetown.

The judges - two Sierra Leoneans and six expatriates - swore to serve the court "honestly, faithfully, impartially and conscientiously".

No indictments

The ceremony was a significant step in the development of the Special Court, which aims to punish those who bear the greatest responsibility for atrocities committed the civil war.

But their work in overseeing the trials is unlikely to start before March next year.

Former rebel leader Foday Sankoh
Sankoh is prison facing separate murder charges

The court's prosecution team is currently investigating the alleged culprits and has not yet issued any indictments.

When the list is issued, the number indicted will be relatively small - less than 30 - but may contain names such as Foday Sankoh, former rebel leader, and Johnny Paul Karoma, former military junta leader.

There is also much speculation that some senior members of Sierra Leone's current government could face prosecution for their alleged involvement in the war.

Monday's ceremony is being seen as an important step towards eradicating the culture of impunity that has plagued Sierra Leone for so long.

See also:

25 Sep 02 | Africa
19 Jan 02 | Africa
14 Aug 02 | Africa
06 Jul 02 | Africa
20 May 02 | Africa
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