Wednesday April 7, 2003
We are pleased to know that the international community is slowly but surely coming to our long observed point of view that the so-called Special Court for Sierra Leone is a fallacy based on the presumed necessity for Western Powers, particularly the United States to feed their egos by selectively prosecuting alleged war crimes committed by citizens of other nations, especially the poorer ones. The international tribunal for Rwanda and the hybrid court in Sierra Leone are very typical of the selective morality of the Western countries who engorge themselves with righteous indignation over conflicts in Third World countries usually sponsored and underwritten by arms merchants and mercenaries from the West and their allies.
During the Fifth Meeting of the Fifty-eighth General Assembly, several speakers in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) including Committee Chairman, Vladimir Kuznetsov, chided UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, for requesting emergency funding for the Sierra Leone tribunal in “subvention” to the failed voluntary contributions to which many Western nations so adamant about setting up the tribunal have so far failed to put their money where their mouths are.
Perhaps for good reasons. The Court is over-staffed, complained the Republic of Korea representative, Park Yoon-June. Japan’s representative, Toshiro Ozawa, echoed the sentiment. With only nine confirmed indictees not including those whom the Court allowed to escape justice through exile or death, the Court has more lawyers, clerks and administrators than warrants the case at hand. With many staff members making more than they would in salaries and “hardship benefits” than they would earn in their countries of origin.
A case in point, shortly after the UN members launched these complaints about the expensive court, David Crane hired, Alieu Iscandari, a general legal practitioner from California as Trial Attorney for US $50,000 per year plus $115 per day for hardship benefits. In addition, Mr. Iscandari’s position, pays US $4,000 (($11,515 with dependents) for “Recruitment Allowance”. This in a country where teachers and essential medical personnel rarely receive their miserly salaries of $30 per month. In addition to these extravagant self-rewards at the expense of the international community, the Court lacks obvious financial accountability even to the UN Budget Committee, as the Fifth Committee’s Chairman observed.
INCOMPETENCE & MISMANAGEMENT
As we stated earlier, only thirteen people have been indicted to date by the Court. Two – the two most notorious leaders of the RUF – are supposedly dead, Foday Sankoh and Sam Bockarie. Two ring leaders of the worst kind of terrorism ever visited on the peoples of Liberia and Sierra Leone, Charles Taylor and Johnny Paul Koroma, are at large and beyond the reaches of the Court. And by negotiation and design, the political leaders of the conflict, Mummar Kahadfy, Blaise Campore and Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, have become unindictable. Instead, it is the man who fought on behalf of the government of Sierra Leone to restore democracy, Chief Samuel Hinga Norman, who is the key victim of this miserable excuse for international justice.
BEARING FALSE WITNESS AGAINST NORMAN
Since the arrest and detention of Chief Hinga Norman on March 10, 2003, the so-called Special Court and in particular, Prosecutor David Crane have lied and spread rumors to discredit Mr. Norman. There was the obvious misinformation about Mr. Norman being held in a third, reportedly European country. Crane’s Deputy Ayatollah of Information, Peter Andersen, repeated these lies to me on several occasions before I came to realize that Andersen was in the pocket book of the Court. Then most recently was the abject lies about an alleged telephone interception indicating that Mr. Norman was plotting insurrection in the country.
But perhaps most germane to this case is the case against Mr. Norman and his co-indictees, Alieu Kondewa and Moinina Fofana. According to Paragraph XIX of the indictment, Mr. Crane alleges, “The plan, purpose or design of SAMUEL HINGA NORMAN, MOININA FOFANA, ALLIEU KONDEWA and subordinate members of the CDF was to use any means necessary to defeat the RUF/AFRC forces and to gain and exercise control over the territory of Sierra Leone. This included gaining complete control over the population of Sierra Leone and the complete elimination of the RUF/AFRC, its supporters, sympathizers, and anyone who did not actively resist the RUF/AFRC occupation of Sierra Leone. Each Accused acted individually and in concert with subordinates, to carry out the said plan, purpose or design”
Any body with an ounce of common sense and with only casual knowledge of the war knows that this is a lie from the pit of hell. There never was a “plan” for Kamajors or Mr. Norman and his colleagues to control the country. Although Mr. Norman had ample opportunity to usurp authority during the absence of the constitutional government, he never gave thought to that option. Instead, he and the Kamajors simply retreated into the background when President Kabbah returned to Freetown on 10th March 1998. Obviously, Mr. Crane is not too dense to know this but has chosen to spread lies and misinformation in the international community about Chief Hinga Norman and the Kamajors, the true heroes of Sierra Leone.
COMES NOW PLAINTIF
This is the message the Hinga Norman-CDF Defence Fund is presenting to members of the Fifth Committee of the United Nations. That in short, the shortcomings of the Sierra Leone court far outweighs any positive redeeming values for the country. That the resources of the international community will better be diverted to other far more useful endeavors than an incompetent, financially irresponsible, administratively mismanaged and politically divisive institution that no longer enjoys, if it ever did, the goodwill of the people of Sierra Leone.