Alex Tamba Brima was born on 23 November 1971 in the village of Yaryah in the district of Kono in Sierra Leone. In April 1985, he joined the Sierra Leone Army, where he was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Alex Tamba Brima was alleged to have been a member of a group of 17 soldiers which took power by force on 25 May 1997 in Freetown and overthrew the democratically elected government of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. These soldiers identified themselves as being members of the AFRC (Armed Forces Revolutionary Council), their leader being Johnny Paul Koroma (see “related cases”).
Shortly after this Coup d’état, the rebel movement RUF (Revolutionary United Front) which had been waging war against the government since 1991, was invited by Johnny Paul Koroma to abandon its rebel movement and share power. This proposition was accepted by Foday Sankoh, the leader of the rebels who, at the time, was under house arrest in Nigeria.
Alex Tamba Brima allegedly participated in the government thus set up and was nominated by Johnny Paul Koroma to the post of Public Liaison Officer as well as to being a member of the AFRC Supreme Council, both of which posts he held until the arrival of the West African Intervention Force (ECOMOG) which, in 1998, reinstated the democratically elected government of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. The AFRC/RUF forces at this point retreated to the centre of the country.
At the time the ATRC/RUF coalition was in power, its armed forces were accused of attacking the civilian population, and of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in June 1997 in the district of Bo and, between May 1997 and February 1998, in the district of Kenema. The aim of these attacks was to wreak terror on the civilian population and to punish it for the purported passive support given to the regime of President Kabbah.
Between the month of February 1998 and 30 April 1998, Alex Tamba Brima was Commander of the AFRC/RUF forces in the district of Kono in the east of Sierra Leone. In addition he was suspected of having been one of the Commanders of the AFRC/RUF forces which conducted armed operations throughout the north, the east and the centre of the country. These operations, amongst other outcomes, led to attacks against the civilian population in the departments of Kailahun, Kono, Koinagugu and Bombali between mid-February 1998 and 31 December 1998. Once again, the aim of these attacks was to wreak terror on the civilian population and to punish it for the purported passive support given to the regime of President Kabbah.
On 6 January 1999, Freetown was once again overrun and occupied for three weeks by the AFRC/RUF forces. Alex Tamba Brima was alleged to have been the Commander in Chief who led the attack against Freetown and who directed ground operations. These operations were marked by the great number of atrocities committed against the civilian population of Freetown as well as against the civilian population living in the region surrounding the capital. The aim of these attacks was to punish the population of Freetown and its surroundings for their supposed passive support given to the regime of President Kabbah. The same troops were also alleged to have committed atrocities in the district of Port-Loko from February to April 1999. During all of this time, Alex Tamba Brima was always considered to have held a leadership position within the AFRC/RUF alliance.
All of these attacks against the civilian populations between May 1997 and April 1999 were notable for their summary executions, mutilations, looting and burning of villages, violations of sexual integrity, forced marriages, abductions and forced labour- particularly in the diamond mines- and by the enlistment and use of child soldiers.
Finally, the AFRC/RUF troops were accused of attacking the United Nations peacekeeping forces between the months of April and September 2000.
Alex Tamba Brima was arrested and transferred to the SCSL (Special Court for Sierra Leone) on 10 March 2003.