Man arrested in Finland over Liberian war crimes

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A man suspected of murder, rape and deploying child soldiers during Liberia’s civil war two decades ago has been arrested in Finland, police said on Wednesday.

The Sierra Leonean citizen, born in 1969, is alleged to have carried out “aggravated war crimes and crimes against humanity” while he held a senior position in the Revolutionary United Front, a Sierra Leonean rebel army that fought in Liberia’s brutal civil war between 1999 and 2003.

The man, who has lived in Finland for the past 10 years, is suspected of crimes including “homicide and sexual violence, as well as recruitment and deployment of child soldiers,” detective superintendent Thomas Elfgren from Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

He is suspected of both committing the offences and inciting others to commit them, police said.

An estimated quarter of a million people were killed in Liberia’s conflict, which in total lasted for over a decade and was marked by the widespread use of mutilation and rape, often carried out by child soldiers overseen by bloodthirsty warlords.

Finnish police opened their investigation, which invovled interviewing several dozen people in Liberia and Sierra Leone, in 2018.

Judges in Pirkanmaa district court will decide on Thursday whether to remand the man in custody.

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