Page last updated at 17:17 GMT, Friday, 16 May 2008 18:17 UK

Kabbah ends honeymoon for trial

Sierra Leone's former President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah
Mr Kabbah was married five days ago

Sierra Leone's former President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah has cut short his honeymoon to testify at the trial of former rebel leader Issa Sesay.

He said the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leader made a huge contribution to ending the 10-year civil war.

"When it came to the disarmament process itself, Issa was very very co-operative," he told the UN-backed war crimes court for Sierra Leone.

Prosecutors say the rebels committed numerous atrocities in the war.

Some 50,000 people were killed and many more maimed and raped during the war which officially ended in 2002, when Mr Kabbah and Mr Sesay took part in the ceremonial burning of arms.

No shows

Mr Kabbah, 76, who stood down as president eight months ago, appeared as a witness for the defence.

The BBC's Umaru Fofana in the capital, Freetown, says the defence wants to show that Mr Sesay is a man of peace who helped with implementation of the Lome peace agreement which ended the war.

Mr Kabbah, who got married to Isata Jabbie - about 40 years his junior - five days ago, had been expected in court for several weeks, but he had not shown up, our reporter says.

The defence had asked for more private sessions or for the former president to answer questions by statement, both rejected by the judges.

But when he did come to give evidence, Mr Kabbah was relaxed and smiled in court, our correspondent says.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone, set up in 2002, originally indicted a total of 13 people, but RUF rebel leader Foday Sankoh and his deputy commander Sam Bockarie died before they could be tried.

The trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who the prosecution alleges backed the rebels, 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.


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific