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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
UN blamed for Sankoh death
Foday Sankoh
Sankoh's enemies say they are not sad over his death
Foday Sankoh's widow, Fatou Mbaye Sankoh, has accused the UN-backed special war crimes court for Sierra Leone of being responsible for the death of her husband.

She says that the decision to deny Mr Sankoh the chance to seek medical treatment abroad led to his death.

"I feel very bad, very bad because he was very, very sick and nothing was done for him".

"That was the only thing they could do - kill him," Mrs Sankoh told the BBC Focus on Africa programme.

Foday Sankoh died in a Freetown hospital on Wednesday while in the custody of a special UN war crimes court for Sierra Leone.

He led the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels who killed and maimed thousands of civilians in the West African country's 10-year civil war.

Not sad

Not everyone in Sierra Leone is sad over Foday Sankoh's death - many remain haunted by the images of the thousands of mutilated Sierra Leoneans who fell victim to the RUF rebels.

Mr Sankoh's death will not impact on our ability to prosecute the other indictees
Dr Allan White
UN war crimes court

"God has taken his course," said El Hadji Lamin Jusu Jarka, an official at a Freetown camp helping to provide housing and training to Sankoh's victims.

"And God will judge him".

Foday Sankoh was charged with crimes against humanity including murder, sexual slavery and extermination.

"We are glad that he has died, but the only thing that we are worried about is whether the UN war crimes court will continue with its hearings without Foday Sankoh," said one resident of Makeni which became the headquarters of the RUF rebels in the final years of the civil war

Case ended

The investigator for the UN special court for Sierra Leone, which was planning to try him in connection with the brutal 10-year civil war, Dr Alan White, says the case against Mr Sankoh ended the moment the former rebel leader died.

But he says that the hearings against the other accused will continue.

"Mr Sankoh's death will not impact on our ability to prosecute the other indictees because the evidence that we have is totally independent of anything Sankoh would have provided." said Dr White.
RUF victim
Many thousands were maimed by Sankoh's RUF rebels

But with Mr Sankoh's death some now feel that crucial evidence may go down with the hated figure who plunged Sierra Leone into 10 years of bitter conflict.

"I would have preferred him to go on trial, so that many things might come out, things which at the end of the day are not within our knowledge," said the Sierra Leonean Justice Minister Eke Holloway.


But perhaps for many people Foday Sankoh' s death consolidates their optimism that peace in Sierra Leone would be fully restored, now that what was regarded as the symbol of rebellion was no more.

"I do not feel sad.....I feel this provides an opportunity to move forward," said Omrie Golley, a former official of the RUF political wing.

If Papa were alive today he would help us very much......we rely on him very much
Foday Sankoh supporter
Foday Sankoh had an extraordinary ability to rally thousands of impoverished youths behind his rebellion.

And even in death that hold on a people's destiny is still evident.

"If Papa were alive today he would help us very much......we rely on him very much," said one supporter of the man described as Sierra Leone's cruel rebel.

The BBC's Jim Fish
"Death intervened before justice could be done"

Sankoh's wife Fatou speaking on BBC Focus on Africa
"Nothing was done for him, he was killed"

Foday Sankoh: The cruel rebel
30 Jul 03  |  Africa
UN court rejects Sankoh plea
23 Jul 03  |  Africa
Bringing justice to Sierra Leone
17 Jan 02  |  Africa


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