Legal proceedings Prosecutor defended CPP’s pre-trial investigation and witnesses who altered his accounts in the Liberia war crimes trial: “It would take some screenwriter to stage Massaquo”

The final arguments of Massaquoi’s defense to the court will be heard on Monday. The trial began almost a year ago and it is not yet known when a verdict can be expected.

Liki The prosecutor’s final statements were heard on Friday in Tampere during the one-year Liberia war crimes trial.

According to prosecutors, the Sierra Leonean man, who has lived in Finland for more than ten years, was guilty of, among other things, murders, rapes and a felony of war in the Liberian civil war in 1999–2003. Gibril Massaquoi, 52, has denied all charges.

Massaquo is accused of committing crimes in the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group in Sierra Leone, where he also used the name Angel Gabriel, according to prosecutors.

In their closing statement, prosecutors calculated that more than 60 witnesses have named Massaquo or Angel Gabriel as the perpetrator. Massaquo’s defense has criticized witness statements gathered 20 years after the alleged events, and in particular how some of the witnesses have altered their accounts during the pre-trial investigation and trial.

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Read more: Pirkanmaa District Court in Liberia: Witnesses have difficulty confirming years of war crimes

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Read more: Two years ago, a group of Finnish police officers investigated completely exceptional crimes – journalist Anu Nousiainen followed them, and it took her on a journey to the heart of cruelty.

Read more: A Sierra Leonean man accused of war crimes spoke at length about his stages and military training – claims to have left Liberia before the crimes took place

Public Prosecutor Tom Laitinen dismissed claims that there was some kind of anti-Massaquoin plot behind it, in which witnesses were sought and persuaded, for example, with money to speak against it.

“Massaquoi has not provided credible evidence or an explanation of how all these witnesses could have joined together to accuse him of such detailed and at the same time individual false grounds. We would need a fairly good screenwriter who would be able to stage Massaquo in this way and still get 62 people involved, ”Laitinen said.

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Defense has wondered how numerous witnesses in the Finnish investigation named Massaquo when he did not appear in post – war investigations in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The defense has criticized a preliminary investigation by the Central Criminal Police (CPC) for being assisted in locating witnesses by a local activist whose defense has at least led witnesses to identify Massaquo.

Public prosecutor Laitinen denied the attempts at influence, saying the krp asked the man for help because it was the only way to establish a confidential connection with the people who experienced the war.

“He is needed because he is local and speaks the language, is familiar and safe to people. War is still a very sensitive topic in Liberia, and many people still get into trouble if they talk about war and especially if they blame someone for it, ”Laitinen said.

The prosecutor has admitted that there are many problems with hearing witnesses after such a long time. According to Laitinen, the changed narratives can be explained, for example, by the fact that the preliminary investigation may have aroused memories at the beginning, which were later clarified. Memory images may also have been distorted by information from other sources, he said.

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“Many witnesses – including Massaquoi himself – have said that one cannot remember everything that happened 20 years ago – But the fact that 20 years have happened does not mean that one cannot remember anything about what is happening or that what he is saying.” , could not be right.

The trial began in February last year. It will be the turn of Massaquoi’s final defense statements on Monday, after which the district court will consider its verdict.

The STT will exceptionally state the name of Massaquoi already at the district stage due to the exceptional seriousness of the criminal suspicions and the status of the man.

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