Alieu Kosiah

08.05.2016 ( Last modified: 07.06.2016 )
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facts

Alieu Kosiah was a commander of a Mandingo-based faction of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) between 1993 and 1995 in Liberia. ULIMO, which entered Western Liberia in 1991, fought against the National Patriotic Front lead by Charles Taylor during the first Liberian civil war. The group managed to gain control over several areas of the region, including Lofa county.

While Kosiah served as commander, mass atrocities were committed by ULIMO fighters. Reportedly, Kosiah directed and participated in the commission of systematic killings, rapes and forced labour of civilians in the Lofa county.

At the end of the Liberian civil war in 1997, Kosiah moved to Switzerland, where he obtained permanent resident status.

In 2014, a group of seven people living in Liberia alerted the Swiss Prosecutor of Kosiah’s alleged crimes, and filed a complaint against him. In August 2014, the Swiss Prosecution decided to open an investigation against Kosiah.

legal procedure

In 2014, a group of seven people living in Liberia alerted the Swiss Prosecution of Kosiah alleged crimes, and filed a complaint against him. In August 2014, the Swiss Prosecution decided to open an investigation against Kosiah.

Kosiah was arrested in Bern on 10 November 2014 for his alleged participation in the war crimes committed in Western Liberia between 1993 and 1995. In particular, he is accused of having systematically targeted civilians in killings. On 13 November 2014, a Swiss judge ordered that the accused be remanded in custody. In 2015, Kosiah’s custody was extended until 9 May 2015.

Kosiah was arrested on the basis of Switzerland’s universal jurisdiction law. Indeed, Switzerland’s national courts have jurisdiction over the international crimes perpetrated by individuals on Swiss territory, irrespective of where the crimes were committed and regardless of the nationality of the victims or of the perpetrators.

The arrest of Kosiah is highly controversial among the Mandingo communities of Liberia. As Mandingoes perceive themselves as victims of the civil war, many of them consider the past actions of ULIMO as constitutive of self-defence, and thus support Kosiah.

spotlight

Kosiah is the very first former ULIMO member to be arrested and charged with international crimes committed during the Liberian civil war. Moreover, it is the second arrest performed by a European State against a former warlord of Liberia, the first being that of Martina Johnson, former head of Taylor’s heavy artillery unit.

Fact Sheet
Name: Alieu Kosiah
Nationality: Liberia
Context: Liberia
Charges: Other, Crimes against humanity, Infringment of physical integrity, Torture
Status: Indicted
Judgement Place: Switzerland
Particulars: Arrested on 10 November 2014 by Swiss authorities on the basis of Switzerland’s universal jurisdiction; awaiting trial.