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Saturday, 27 May, 2000, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Ex-Sierra Leone dictator in UK
Valentine Strasser
Strasser was the world's youngest national leader at 26
Amnesty International has demanded that Sierra Leone's former military dictator stand trial for alleged murder and torture, after it emerged he lives in the UK.

The human rights organisation said Captain Valentine Strasser - who has lived in London since dropping out of Warwick University in 1998 - must be brought to justice.

Its reports on his four-year rule until 1996 detail widespread abuses including torture and murder.

The Home Office has refused to comment on its decision allow Mr Strasser to stay.

His government was involved in committing serious human rights abuses


Amnesty quoted the International Torture Convention, which compels countries to prosecute anyone resident who is suspected of human rights abuses.

"He was the leader of a military coup and his government was involved in committing serious human rights abuses against anyone suspected of supporting rebel forces," said an Amnesty spokesman.

"We have signed an international convention against torture and we have brought the provisions into our law.

"If that's to mean anything, we have to bring alleged perpetrators to justice, otherwise the cycle of torture and killing with impunity will go on."

And Patrick Robertson, the former spokesman for General Pinochet said: "Clearly this demonstrates the double standards the government has in their application of the law - Pinochet was arrested seven weeks after he arrived yet Strasser has been allowed to remain here for years."

Amnesty International
Amnesty: Strasser must be brought to justice

The former dictator swept to power in a coup in April 1992 and at 26 became the world's youngest national leader.

His reaction to an attempted coup by former army officers in December 1992 led to international condemnation.

Nine suspected coup plotters and 17 other prisoners were executed.

He was ousted by a further coup in 1996.

After he was deposed he studied law at Warwick University, but dropped out in 1998 after his scholarship for the United Nations development project expired.

Since then he has been living in Brondesbury, north London.

Six weeks ago he was arrested in Kilburn and accused of damaging his former girlfriend's car.

The Home Office said criminal matters - such as accusations of criminal damage and investigations into alleged war crimes - would take precedent over immigration affairs.

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09 May 00 | Africa
Sierra Leone timeline
27 May 00 | UK Politics
UK troops 'out by June'
27 May 00 | Africa
Rebels 'free 180 hostages'
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