Alieu Kosiah

08.05.2016 ( Last modified: 20.07.2019 )
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Facts

Alieu Kosiah was a commander of a faction of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) between 1993 and 1995. The ULIMO, which operated in Western Liberia since 1991, fought against the National Patriotic Front led by Charles Taylor during the First Liberian Civil War. The group managed to gain control over certain areas in the region, including Lofa county.

While Kosiah served as commander of the ULIMO, mass atrocities were committed by the ULIMO fighters. Kosiah allegedly 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.

Legal Procedure

In 2014, seven persons living in Liberia alerted the Swiss Attorney General of Kosiah’s alleged crimes and filed a complaint against him. In August 2014, the Swiss Attorney General 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 attacks against civilians. On 13 November 2014, a Swiss judge ordered that the accused be placed in custody where he remains. Switzerland has jurisdiction over the alleged crimes on the basis of universal jurisdiction, which is a fundamental principle of international law, enshrined in the relevant 2011 Swiss law.

During the investigation victims and witnesses accused Alieu Kosiah of committing acts of sexual violence, recruiting child soldiers, looting, ordering and participating in forced transport of looted goods and ammunition, forced labour of civilians in cruel conditions, ordering and committing murder, and for acts of cannibalism.

On 22 March 2019, after a particularly complex investigation which lasted almost five years, the Swiss Attorney General indicted Alieu Kosiah. The date of the trial against Kosiah is not yet known.

Highlight

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 from Liberia, the first being that of Martina Johnson, former head of Taylor’s heavy artillery unit.