News / Africa

Trusted Ally of Charles Taylor Located in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's rebel leader Foday Sankoh (2nd R) is flanked by senior aides at the formal opening in Lome, Togo of talks. Others (from left) are Sankoh's military adviser General Ibrahim Bah, Solomon "Pa" Rogers and Omrie Golley, (File photo).
Sierra Leone's rebel leader Foday Sankoh (2nd R) is flanked by senior aides at the formal opening in Lome, Togo of talks. Others (from left) are Sankoh's military adviser General Ibrahim Bah, Solomon "Pa" Rogers and Omrie Golley, (File photo).
TEXT SIZE - +
— A man suspected of heavy involvement in the transfer of arms and “blood diamonds” during Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war has been found living in the capital city, Freetown.  Rights groups are calling for a criminal investigation of Ibrahim Bah, who was a top associate of former Liberian president Charles Taylor during the conflict. 

Senegalese national, Ibrahim Bah, has been under a U.N. travel ban since 2004 for his alleged role in helping former Liberian president Charles Taylor support Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front rebel group.  That support helped destabilize the country, while granting Taylor access to Sierra Leone's diamonds.

Last year, the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone found Taylor guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, sentencing him to 50 years in prison.  In their ruling against the former Liberian president, judges said Bah was a “trusted emissary” between Taylor and the rebels, who killed and maimed thousands of people during the war.

Bah’s whereabouts were unknown until last month, when a U.N. expert panel placed him in Freetown, saying he had been living there since 2008.

The executive director of the Center for Accountability and Rule of Law in Sierra Leone, Ibrahim Tommy, said it is important that all main perpetrators be tried for their actions during the civil war, even if they were not as famous as Taylor.

"Ibrahim Bah was one of the key supporters, one of the key aides to former Liberian president Charles Taylor and the RUF, who helped him pillage Sierra Leone’s diamonds and even allegedly committed forced labor and enslavement against the people of Sierra Leone," Tommy said. "We think that bringing him to justice will help combat the impunity gap that currently exists in the country, particularly for mid-level commanders who participated in the conflict, but also for foreign nationals whose only interest in the conflict in this country was to loot our resources."

The report detailing Bah’s whereabouts was published on May 31.  According to a U.N. statement, Sierra Leonean authorities arrested Bah less than a week later.

A Sierra Leone police official said Wednesday that someone going by the name Ibrahim Bah had been arrested, but then released on bail after he denied being the same person accused of associating with Taylor during the war.  The official, Morie Lengor, said police are working with Interpol to confirm Bah’s identity.

Tommy said it would be important to have Bah tried in Sierra Leone.  Because of security concerns, Taylor was tried in The Hague, far removed from the region he destabilized for years.

"The most important significance, I would think, is that it would certainly demonstrate the government’s commitment to promoting accountability and to even strengthening our national accountability mechanisms," said Tommy.

Human Rights Watch has also joined the call for Bah to be investigated and possibly prosecuted.

In a statement Wednesday, the New York-based watchdog noted the case would be the “first purely domestic prosecution” concerning international crimes committed during Sierra Leone’s 11-year conflict, which ended in 2002.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid