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Foday Sankoh Suffers Stroke - 2002-10-15

As construction work starts on the six million dollar facility for the special court or war crimes tribunal for Sierra Leone, one of those thought to bear the greatest responsibilityfor the crimes committed during the ten year war - rebel leader Foday Sankoh - has fallen ill. Initially reports of his ailment were shrouded in secrecy. Following rumours that the rebel leader was dead, the authorities are now admitting that he is sick.

Sierra Leone’s Attorney General Eke Halloway has confirmed reports that the detained R-U-F rebel leader suffered a stroke. Last week, Mr. Sankoh failed to show up in court to respond to murder charges leveled against him by the government. The Director of Prisons Foday Conteh says the detained rebel leader Foday Sankoh is being well looked after.

According to the Prisons records dating far back to the early 1970s when Foday Sankoh was first jailed for treason, the ailing rebel leader is reported to be about 77 years old now. Government officials say that it is therefore reasonable to expect that his health should be failing now.

However the Interim Leader of the now disbanded rebel Revolutionary United Front movement, Issa Sesay, says if their leader dies in prison they will blame his death on the UN and the government of Sierra Leone.

English to Africa reporter Kelvin Lewis has more from Freetown. Click above links to hear his report.