The Prosecutor of the Special Court Stephen Rapp has said that they are monitoring reports over the whereabouts of the leader of the defunct Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) Johnny Paul Koroma.
Speaking to journalists in Freetown, Prosecutor Rapp said “if Mr Koroma is alive we will seek his arrest under the arrest warrant that we have and we will seek to bring him to justice and try him at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.”
The Prosecutor said “a great deal of information has been received concerning the whereabouts of the former junta leader, most of which have been misleading.
“Some of them claimed said that JP Koroma is dead, killed by Charles Taylor’s forces in Liberia while other reports state that he is alive and living in one country or another. We will continue to follow all reports to ascertain their accuracy.”
The Prosecutor explained that they have three alternatives before his duties ends “firstly we will arrest him and try him at the Special Court. Secondly we have to confirm that he is dead through the use of forensic evidence just as we did with the case of Sam Mosquito Bockarie.”
“Thirdly,” he said “we will establish a mechanism that he can be tried here in Sierra Leone under some arrangement with the Government in cooperation with the UN so that the case will not lapse when the Special Court ends its operations here.”
Mr Rapp said, the work of the court would be completed by the end of 2009 and if the AFRC leader is arrested in the very near future his trial will be handled in Trial Chamber1.
But if the court closes before they arrest Mr Koroma, the Prosecutor explained, “then we will have to find a way to transfer his case to another court with a national system” adding “But that could be done here with a UN Resolution in the same way that our court has avoided the effects of the Lome Amnesty by having an International Statute implemented. So there are ways to do that but its something we will need to negotiate.”
In an assured mood, the Prosecutor said, “it is an unfinished business for us if we did not arrest and try Johnny Paul. It is my intention to finish that work because we were created to prosecute those with the greatest responsibilities for the crimes committed here during the war.” “In my view, as JP Koroma was the Chairman of the AFRC group, he is one of those individuals responsible for crimes committed here during the war. We have to go after those with the greatest responsibilities. We’ve indicted eleven individuals, nine of whom are alive today. All nine are in one form or another in the process of long punishment for their crimes. It will be great legacy to this country finding and judging those who bear the highest level of responsibility during the horrific civil war” the Special Court Prosecutor stressed.