In a landmark decision, Finland’s Court of Appeal has upheld the lower court’s ruling to acquit Gibril Massaquoi, a former commander of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF), concluding a lengthy legal saga that commenced in 2021.
Massaquoi had been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity during Liberia’s second civil war from 1999 to 2003.
The Court of Appeal, echoing the District Court of Pirkanmaa’s verdict over a year ago, declared that the prosecution failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Massaquoi was responsible for the crimes listed in the indictment, which included murders, rape, torture, and the recruitment of child soldiers.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Court of Appeal emphasized, “It was not proven that Mr. Massaquoi was guilty of any of the offences he was charged with,” citing unreliable identifications of Massaquoi as the perpetrator of the crimes.
With his acquittal confirmed, Massaquoi is now eligible to claim compensation for the nearly two years spent in custody, potentially amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, the extensive four-year legal process incurred a substantial cost to the Finnish taxpayer, estimated between $US2-3 million.