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Special Court: New Prosecutor Appointed.

7 December 2006 at 23:25 | 451 views

By our correspondent.

According to a special court press release issued today,the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, has appointed Mr
Stephen Rapp as the new Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Mr Rapp succeeds Desmond de Silva, QC, who announced in April this year he would not be seeking to renew his contract after it expired in June 2006. Deputy Prosecutor Dr Christopher Staker has been Acting Prosecutor since Mr de Silva’s departure.

Mr Rapp, an American, has been Chief of Prosecutions at the United Nations-International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) since May 2005. In this position, Mr Rapp has been responsible for supervising the prosecution of military, government and political leaders responsible for the Rwandan genocide in trials at the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania.

Before his appointment to his present position at the ICTR, Mr Rapp acted as Senior Trial Attorney of what has been called the “Media Trial,” against the principals of RTLM radio and the editor of the Kangura newspaper. In December 2003, the Trial Chamber pronounced each of the defendants guilty of Genocide, Direct and Public Incitement to Commit Genocide, and other crimes.

Prior to his service at the ICTR, Mr Rapp was United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa from November 1993 until May 2001. Prior to service as US Attorney he was in private practice of law in Waterloo, Iowa. He also served as a Staff Director and Counsel at the US Senate Judiciary Committee and as an elected member of the Iowa Legislature.

In a related development, the former acting prosecutor Christopher Staker recently submitted his closing arguments in the matter between the prosecutor and the three accused of the Civil Defence Forces, stating that the latter are guilty of all charges brought against them at the Trial Chamber.

The three, currently in the court’s detention facilities,are CDF leader Samuel Hinga Norman, Moinina Fofana and Alieu Kondewa. They are standing trial as part of those allegedly bearing the greatest responsibility for crimes commited against humanity during the ten-year rebel war.

"It has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the accused are guilty of the charges brought against them. As authorities in CDF, the three had the option of winning the war at all cost including punishing anyone who did not oppose the rebels. They attacked and unlawfully killed innocent civilians, inflicting violence and collective punishment and used children as soldiers," Staker said.

He asserted that the question is whether there is any reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused given the evidence before the court. He also made reference to possible arguments that could be subsequently submitted by defence counsel regarding subordinates who commited crimes out of personal grudge and contrary to orders of the command structure of the CDF to which the accused belonged.

Staker also dismissed arguments on the systematic and widespread attacks on civilians contained in the final trial briefing of the accused as fanciful and unreasonable, given the fact that similar attacks had occurred at different locations and time of civilian settlement.

Photo: UN scribe Kofi Annan(centre) at the special court premises in Freetown during a visit this year.

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