The Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone, Freetown and The Hague

The Prosecutor vs. Alex Tamba Brima, Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu

Alex Tamba Brima, AKA "Gullit" after a Dutch football star, was born on 23 November 1971 in Yaryah Village, Kono District. He joined the (then) Sierra Leone Army (SLA) in April 1985 and rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant.

Brima was part of the group of soldiers that staged the 25 May 1997 coup. He was made a Public Liaison Officer (PLO) and served on the AFRC Supreme Council.

Alex Tamba Brima was found guilty on Count 1 (acts of terrorism), Count 2 (collective punishments), Count 3 (extermination), Count 4 (murder, a crime against humanity), Count 5 (murder, a war crime), Count 6 (rape), Count 9 (outrages upon personal dignity), Count 10 (physical violence, a war crime), Count 12 (conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities), Count 13 (enslavement), and Count 14 (pillage).

He was acquitted on Count 11 (other inhumane acts – a crime against humanity), Count 7 (sexual slavery and any other form of sexual violence), and Count 8 (other inhumane act – forced marriage).

He was sentenced to 50 years in prison, and is serving his sentence at Mpanga Prison in Rwanda.

He died on 9 June 2016 at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali after a serious illness.

Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara was born on 7 May 1968 at Wilberforce Village (Freetown). He joined the (then) Sierra Leone Army on 20 May 1991 and rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant.

Kamara was part of the group of soldiers that staged the 25 May 1997 coup. He was made a Public Liaison Officer (PLO) and served on the AFRC Supreme Council.

Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara was found guilty on Count 1 (acts of terrorism), Count 2 (collective punishments), Count 3 (extermination), Count 4 (murder, a crime against humanity), Count 5 (murder, a war crime), Count 6 (rape), Count 9 (outrages upon personal dignity), Count 10 (physical violence, a war crime), Count 12 (conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities), Count 13 (enslavement), and Count 14 (pillage).

He was acquitted on Count 11 (other inhumane acts – a crime against humanity), Count 7 (sexual slavery and any other form of sexual violence), and Count 8 (other inhumane act – forced marriage).

He was sentenced to 45 years in prison, and is serving his sentence at Mpanga Prison in Rwanda.

Santigie Borbor Kanu, AKA "Five-Five" for the last two digits of his military service number, was born in March 1965 in Maforki Chiefdom, Port Loko District, Northern Province. He joined the (then) Sierra Leone Army (SLA) on 27 November 1990 and rose to the rank of Sergeant.

Kanu was part of the group of soldiers that staged the 25 May 1997 coup. He was made a member of the AFRC Supreme Council.

Santigie Borbor Kanu was found guilty on Count 1 (acts of terrorism), Count 2 (collective punishments), Count 3 (extermination), Count 4 (murder, a crime against humanity), Count 5 (murder, a war crime), Count 6 (rape), Count 9 (outrages upon personal dignity), Count 10 (physical violence, a war crime), Count 12 (conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities), Count 13 (enslavement), and Count 14 (pillage).

He was acquitted on Count 11 (other inhumane acts – a crime against humanity), Count 7 (sexual slavery and any other form of sexual violence), and Count 8 (other inhumane act – forced marriage).

He was sentenced to 50 years in prison, and is serving his sentence at Mpanga Prison in Rwanda.

Alex Tamba Brima died on 9 June 2016 after completing 13 years of his 50-year sentence.

 

Background

On 7 March 2003, the Court approved indictments against three senior leaders of Sierra Leone's former Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC): Johnny Paul Koroma, Alex Tamba Brima and Ibrahim (Brima) Bazzy Kamara. On 23 September 2003, the Court approved an indictment against Santigie Borbor Kanu.

Brima and Kamara were arrested on a Special Court warrant on 10 March 2003, and Kanu was tranferred immediately to the Special Court from Pademba Road Prison, where he was awaiting trial on treason charges. Koroma had fled Sierra Leone several weeks earlier, and was never taken into custody.

On 28 January 2004 the Trial Chamber ordered a joint trial of Brima, Kamara and Kanu, and approved a consolidated indictment.

On 17 January 2005 a second trial chamber, Trial Chamber II, was sworn in to hear the AFRC case.

On 6 May 2004 the Prosecutor amended the indictment to add a new Count 8, other inhumane act (forced marriage), a crime against humanity. The subsequent counts were renumbered, resulting in an amended consolidated indictment with 18 counts. On 15 February 2005 the Prosecutor again amended the consolidated indictment to withdraw Counts 15-18 relating to attacks on United Nations peacekeepers.

The AFRC trial opened in Freetown on 7 March 2005.

The Prosecution Case

The Prosecution gave its opening statement on 7 March 2005 and called its first witness the same day. The Prosecution rested its case on 21 November 2005 after calling 59 witnesses.

Motions for Judgement of Acquittal

All three accused filed Motions for Judgement of Acquittal under Rule 98, arguing that the Prosecution had failed to bring evidence "capable of supporting a conviction on one or more counts of the indictment." On 31 March 2006 the Trial Chamber dismissed the motions and ordered the Defence to present a case.

The Defence Case

The Defence opened on 5 June 2006, with First Accused Alex Tamba Brima testifying on his own behalf (Kamara and Kanu did not testify). On 27 October 2006 the Defence rested after calling a total of 87 witnesses.

Trial Judgement

On 20 June 2006 all three defendants were found guilty on 11 of the 14 counts in the indictment.

Sentencing Judgement

Alex Tamba Brima and Santigie Borbor Kanu were each sentenced to single terms of imprisonment of 50 years. Brima Bazzy Kamara received a 45 year sentence.

Appeal Judgement

All three accused appealed their convictions and sentences: Brima on 12 grounds, Kamara on 13 and Kanu on 19. On 22 February 2008 the Appeals Chamber dismissed all three appeals, upholding their convictions and sentences.

Jurisprudence

On Count 8 (other inhumane acts - forced marriage), the Trial Chamber, by a majority, found that the Prosecution's evidence had failed to prove the elements of a non-sexual crime of "forced marriage," and that "the evidence adduced by the Prosecution is completely subsumed by the crime of sexual slavery." Since the Trial Chamber also dimissed Count 7 (sexual slavery) for "bad duplicity," the Judges therefore applied evidence adduced on sexual offences to Count 9 (outrages upon personal dignity) and on non-sexual crimes to Count 11 (other inhumane acts).

The Appeals Chamber overturned the Trial Chamber's finding on forced marriage, finding that the Trial Chamber "erred in law by intepreting the "other inhumane acts" too restrictively, and that "no tribunal could reasonably have found that forced marriage was subsumed in the crime against humanity of sexual slavery." The Appeals Chamber declined to enter new convictions, however, since the evidence adduced for forced marriage was applied to Count 9 (outrages upon personal dignity).

Contempt

On 25 September 2012 Kamara and Kanu were convicted of contempt for interference with a witness who testified against them. Kanu was found guilty on two counts of interfering with the administration of justice by offering a bribe to a witness, and for otherwise attempting to induce a witness to recant testimony he gave before the Special Court. Kamara was convicted for attempting to induce a witness to recant his testimony, and of knowlingly violating a court order protecting the identity of a witness which had testified against him.

On 11 October 2012 Kamara and Kanu were each sentenced to two concurrent terms of one year and fifty weeks. Their appeals were dismissed on 21 March 2013.