Trial of the military junta opens in Freetown

29 March 2005 by KELVIN LEWIS

The third and last scheduled trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone finally got underway on 7 March. The three men in the dock are former members of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC): Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu. They faced the three foreign judges after spending nearly two years in detention. On stage for perhaps the last time was court prosecutor David Crane, two weeks after announcing he will be stepping down in July after three years at the head of the prosecution.

Compared to his opening statements in the first two trials against three members of the Civil Defence Force (CDF) and three from the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), David Crane resisted the temptation for too much lyricism. Speaking with his habitual slow American drawl and stoic face, Crane nevertheless warned that the prosecution "will show pain, agony, suffering, sorrow and grief far beyond human description, understanding and reason."
He recalled some of the atrocities allegedly committed by the accused, and told the court that he would be calling a witness to testify "how they were ordered to extend their hands and one by one their hands were severed with an axe by a member of the AFRC/RUF forces."

Responsibility betrayed

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