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Sierra Leone War Crimes Suspect Dies in Custody

A Sierra Leone war crimes suspect has died while awaiting a verdict in his trial.

Officials from the Special Court for Sierra Leone said Sam Hinga Norman collapsed and died Thursday at a military hospital in Dakar, Senegal. He was 67 years old.

In a release, the court said the exact cause of death is under investigation, but that initial indications suggest Norman died of heart failure. He had been taken to Dakar last month for medical procedures unavailable in Sierra Leone.

The court's prosecutor, Stephen Rapp, said Norman's death deprives the people of Sierra Leone their right to see justice done in the case.

Norman was charged with eight counts of war crimes stemming from acts carried out by the militia he commanded during Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war.

A verdict in the case had been expected soon. Rapp said Norman's death means the court will not issue a judgment in the case.

More than 200,000 people were killed and thousands more were mutilated during the brutal Sierra Leone conflict during the 1990s.