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Thursday, 27 July, 2000, 22:56 GMT 23:56 UK
Analysis: Sankoh under pressure
Foday Sankoh after being captured by civilians
Foday Sankoh has been detained for about 10 weeks
By foreign affairs reporter Rick Fountain

The United States has tabled a draft resolution at the UN Security Council aimed at setting-up an international tribunal to try people accused of war crimes in Sierra Leone.

The chief target of the US action is attempts to encourage the United Nations to set up an international tribunal to judge alleged war crimes in Sierra Leone, is the rebel leader Foday Sankoh.

He was captured in the capital, Freetown, about 10 weeks ago and has been held, along with other detained rebel leaders, at a secret location ever since.

A man with part of his arm amputated
The RUF is notorious for chopping off limbs
The Sierra Leone Government has already issued its own multi-page indictment against Mr Sankoh, alleging several counts of treason, but presumably it would give way to a tribunal set up by the United Nations Security Council.

The organisation of which Mr Sankoh was leader, the Revolutionary United Front, has become notorious for its crimes of terror and brutality against civilians.

Many of its fighters are said to be little older than children, forcibly recruited, traumatised and fuelled by drugs. Little is known about its older personnel.

Foday Sankoh easily took on the mantle of a spokesman, for example in May when he denied that the RUF had taken hostages.

"It's all fabrication," he said.

If and when the former army corporal is brought to an international tribunal, he will have to explain not only the years of killings and maimings but also the decision to renege on the peace agreement and amnesty, so laboriously negotiated, which was signed a year ago.

On the ground, of course, the rebels of the RUF remain in their positions and at liberty, but they do now appear to be under slowly increasing military pressure.

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See also:

17 Jul 00 | Africa
Rescuer died in Leone operation
12 May 00 | Africa
Foday Sankoh: Rebel leader
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