A Sierra Leonean war crimes convict Moinina Fofana, who was serving his sentence in Rwanda’s Mpanga Prison was granted conditional early release last week by the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).
The Commissioner General of Rwanda Correctional Services, Paul Rwarakabije, confirmed the development yesterday, saying Rwanda facilitated Fofana’s departure to Sierra Leone where he will serve the remaining part of his sentence.
Fofana had been convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity as well as pillage, which violate Article 3 of the Geneva Convention and sentenced to 15 years.
Fofana is the first SCSL prisoner convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity to be released from prison. He has spent nearly 12 years in detention since his arrest in May 2003.
Prior to his release, Rwanda Correctional Services and the Court registrar offered Fofana a six-month training to help him understand the nature and seriousness of the crimes for which he was convicted and to acknowledge his role in the armed conflict in Sierra Leone.
A press statement issued by the court yesterday indicated that Fofana arrived in his home village in Bo on Friday, where he will serve the final three years of his 15-year sentence.
“This is the first time an international criminal tribunal has granted supervised Conditional Early Release to a war crimes convict,” reads part of the statement.
He has since been placed under the supervision of a Monitoring Authority established by the court and the Government of Sierra Leone.
Upon his arrival in Bo, Fofana apologised to his country and the people and asked for forgiveness from those he wronged.
“I apologise to the victims of the war. I am sorry for what happened and I beg Sierra Leoneans to accept me back as a son of the land,” he said, according to reports.
Fofana was released on condition that he does not interfere with witnesses, engage in secret meetings or join politics.
The Trial Chamber had originally sentenced him to six years in prison, which were later increased to 15 by the Appeals Chamber, after the latter ruled that the former had erred in its finding that his fighting on the side of the government was a mitigating circumstance in his sentencing.
Currently, seven Sierra Leonean war crimes convicts are serving their respective sentences at Mpanga Prison in the Southern Province. They were transferred to Rwanda in 2009
The seven are; Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon, Alex Tamba Brima, Santigie Borbor Kanu, Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara, Augustine Gboa and Musa Kondowa.