Re-arrested Sierra Leone war criminal denied bail

The President Justice Philip N. Waki of the UN backed Special War Crimes Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) on Wednesday 9th March ordered the arrest and detention of former Civil Defence Force Coordinator Moinina Fofana for allegedly violating conditions of his early release from detention.

The Special Court President has designated Supreme Court Judge, Justice Vivian Solomon to conduct the trial within 7 days

He was denied bail Wednesday after allegedly breaching the terms of his early release, laying the path for a potential trial that could return the former militiaman to jail.

Moinina Fofana was the leader of a notorious paramilitary unit that shot, hacked and burned to death civilians suspected of collaborating with rebels during the 1991-2002 conflict in the west African state.

He was convicted of war crimes by a UN-backed court in 2008 and granted conditional release in 2015 after serving two-thirds of his sentence at Mpanga Prison in Kigali, Rwanda.

But he was taken back into custody on March 10 in the capital of Freetown for what the court said Wednesday were three breaches of his agreement to "conduct himself honourably and peacefully in the community" and avoid local politics.

Fofana, dressed in a dark safari suit, was defiant.

"I deny that I have breached the terms of the Conditional Early Release Agreement," he told the court, after sitting motionless for most of the proceedings.

The former leader of the pro-government Civil Defence Forces (CDF) had attended a youth league conference of the ruling All People's Congress, said judge Vivian Solomon.

He had "failed to obtain advance permission" to alter the route of an approved journey.

Fofana had also pre-signed a form to make it appear he had checked in with the authorities as was required by his release agreement, the judge said.

The hearing will resume on Friday.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone and its successor, which convicted Fofana and ordered his re-arrest, was established by the UN in 2002 to try those who bore "the greatest responsibility" for the atrocities during the civil war.

The conflict, financed largely by so-called blood diamonds, left 120,000 people dead and tens of thousands mutilated.

Fofana was sent to Rwanda under a special arrangement as Sierra Leone did not have facilities for his detention deemed fit by the United Nations.