World Hearings set to begin in landmark Liberia war crimes trial
Conviction in landmark case over Syrian government torture
BERLIN (AP) — A former member of Syrian President Bashar Assad's secret police was convicted Wednesday by a German court of facilitating the torture of prisoners in a landmark ruling that human rights activists hope will set a precedent for other cases in the decade-long conflict. Eyad Al-Gharib was convicted of accessory to crimes against humanity and sentenced by the Koblenz state court to 4 1/2 years in prison. It was the first time that aEyad Al-Gharib was convicted of accessory to crimes against humanity and sentenced by the Koblenz state court to 4 1/2 years in prison.
A Finnish court was to begin hearing witness testimony in Liberia's capital Monrovia on Tuesday, an AFP journalist said, as part of a first-of-a-kind war-crimes trial in the country.
The court is in the West African state for a case against Gibril Massaquoi, a former senior member of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a Sierra Leone rebel group that also fought in Liberia.
Massaquoi, a Sierra Leonean national, has lived in Finland since 2008, but was arrested there in March last year after a rights NGO investigated his war record.
A case against the 51-year-old then began on February 3 in the northern European country, where he is accused of responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed between 1999 and 2003.
Germany: 1st verdict expected in Syria torture trial
BERLIN (AP) — Human rights campaigners and torture survivors are closely watching a verdict expected from a German court Wednesday in the trial of a former member of the Syrian secret police, hoping the decision will set a precedent for other cases. Eyad Al-Gharib is accused of being part of a unit that arrested people following anti-government protests in the Syrian city of Douma and took them to a detention center known as Al Khatib, or Branch 251, where they were tortured. Al-Gharib went on trial last year with Anwar Raslan, a more senior Syrian ex-official who is accused of overseeing the abuse of detainees at the same jail near Damascus.
But in a historic move, the Finnish judges are also hearing evidence on Liberian soil -- the first time war-crime proceedings have taken place in the country.
Around a quarter of a million people were killed between 1989 to 2003 in a conflict marked by brutal violence and rape, often carried out by child soldiers.
Finnish court documents consulted by AFP detail a litany of accusations of abuse committed or ordered by Massaquoi, including murder, rape, torture, enslavement and using child soldiers.
Very few people have faced trial for war crimes committed in Liberia, and none inside the country itself.
Thomas Elfgren, a senior Finnish investigator associated with the case, characterised the proceedings as "historical."
Thousands of Ebola vaccines to be sent to Guinea to combat recent epidemic, WHO says
“Our collective, quick action is crucial to avert an uncontrolled spread of Ebola amid the Covid-19 pandemic," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.WHO regional director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said Thursday that 11,000 Ebola vaccines are being prepared in Geneva and are expected to arrive in Guinea over the weekend. An additional 8,600 doses will be shipped from the United States, she said. The vaccination campaign could start as early as Monday.
He clarified that they are not comparable to an international tribunal however.
"At the end of the day, it's a Finnish court which will make a decision in Finland," Elfgren said.
Finnish law allows the prosecution of serious crimes committed abroad by a citizen or resident.
There are regular appeals to establish a war-crimes tribunal in Liberia itself, but some ex-warlords remain powerful figures in impoverished nation of 5 million people.
President George Weah has so far resisted the calls.
An official close to the Finnish case told AFP that the court will interview three witnesses at an undisclosed location in Monrovia on Tuesday.
Hearings are due to continue for several weeks, at a rate of about 10 witnesses a week, according to the official, who added that the testimony would likely be harrowing.
Fog delays delivery of Ebola vaccines for Guinea .
The delivery to Guinea of vaccines against the Ebola virus has been delayed because of fog disrupting flights to the capital Conakry, a health official said Sunday. The Guinean capital has been cloaked in fog for the past three days because of a strong Harmattan wind carrying dust from the Sahara Desert, and a Guinean official told AFP that all flights in and out of Conakry were cancelled "until further notice".The World Health Organization (WHO) had announced that more than 11,000 doses of the Merck vaccine against the deadly disease were to arrive in Conakry on Sunday.