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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 August 2007, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
S Leone militia leaders convicted
Kamajor militia fighters
The Kamajor militia supported the government in the civil war
Sierra Leone's UN-backed war crimes court has found two ex-leaders of a pro-government militia guilty of crimes committed during the 10-year civil war.

Moinina Fofana and Allieu Kondewa were convicted for murder, cruel treatment, pillage and collective punishments.

The case has been controversial as some saw the Civil Defence Force (CDF) as defending civilians against the rebels during the conflict that ended in 2002.

Some 50,000 people were killed and many more maimed and raped during the war.

Child soldiers

Fofana and Kondewa had pleaded not guilty to eight counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian law.

CDF CONVICTIONS
Murder and violence (war crime): Both guilty
Violence to life and mental suffering (war crime): Both guilty
Pillage (war crime): Both guilty
Collective punishment (war crime): Both guilty
Murder (crime against humanity): Both acquitted
Inhumane acts (crime against humanity): Both acquitted
Acts of terrorism (war crime): Both acquitted
Recruiting child soldiers: Kondewa guilty; Fofana acquitted

Sentence will be passed at an unspecified date in the future.

The judgement detailed some of the crimes carried out by the pro-government militia.

These included an order to destroy an entire village and consider all people found there as rebels who must be killed.

Kondewa was also found guilty of the use of child soldiers. Fofana was acquitted on this count.

They were both acquitted on all counts of crimes against humanity and of acts of terrorism, considered a war crime.

The BBC's West Africa correspondent Will Ross says the judges' verdicts were by no means unanimous.

One judge found both men not guilty on all eight counts.

The trial of the CDF leaders has been controversial from the start, our correspondent says.

In many Sierra Leoneans' eyes the CDF - also known as the Kamajor militia - fought for a noble cause, to defend the population against brutal rebel groups such as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).

When the head of Kamajors, Sam Hinga Norman, was indicted four years ago there was public outcry. He has since died in custody.

Criticism

The special court's prosecutor, Stephen Rapp, has described the trial as "very challenging" and admitted the indictments had been controversial.

Kadiatu Fofanah, who lost her legs during the civil war in Sierra Leone (file)
Thousands were raped and mutilated during the war

He said while the accused had been motivated by a desire to restore an elected government, the crimes which the trial uncovered could not be justified.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone originally indicted a total of 13 people in connection with the war, including the former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who is accused of backing the rebels.

Last month it handed down its first sentences against three senior members of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, which toppled the government in 1997.

Alex Tamba Brima and Santigie Borbor Kanu were jailed for 50 years each, and Brima Kamara for 45 years.

Mr Taylor's trial is being conducted in The Hague because of fears that trying him in West Africa could jeopardise the new-found peace of Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Critics say the UN-backed court has been too slow in delivering justice to the people of Sierra Leone.

Three of those indicted, including RUF leader Foday Sankoh and Mr Hinga Norman, died before their verdicts were delivered.


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