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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 October 2007, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Jail for S Leone self-defence duo
Kamajor militia fighters
The Kamajor militia supported the government in the civil war
Sierra Leone's UN-backed war crimes court has jailed two ex-leaders of a pro-government militia during the war.

Moinina Fofana and Allieu Kondewa were given six and eight-year jail sentences to run from 2003 for offences including murder and cruel treatment.

The case has been controversial as some saw the Civil Defence Force (CDF) as defending civilians against rebels in the 10-year war that ended in 2002.

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

Child soldiers

The CDF recruited traditional Kamajor hunter militias to fight rebel forces and was seen as defending civilians from the rebel fighters.

Before their conviction in August, 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

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.

Correspondents say many Sierra Leoneans see the CDF - also known as the Kamajor militia - as a force that 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.

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.

In July, 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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