Allieu Kondewa will be granted Conditional Early Release, but only after he serves an additional ten months in custody, RSCSL President Renate Winter ruled on Monday. During these ten months, the convicted former Civil Defence Forces (CDF) Initiator and High Priest will receive additional specific training, especially on human rights and correct behavior as a citizen of Sierra Leone, Justice Winter said in her decision.
Justice Winter, in consultation with the Judges who imposed and revised Kondewa’s sentence, gave weight to concerns by witnesses and others who supported his release, but who expressed fears that because many of his supporters still saw him as a war hero instead of a convict there was a likelihood that he would become involved in politics because of the wide support he still enjoys.
The Practice Direction on the Early Release of Persons Convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone requires that the prisoner prove he respects the fairness of the process by which he was convicted, that he refrained from incitement against the peace and security of the people of Sierra Leone while incarcerated, and that he made a positive contribution to peace and reconciliation in Sierra Leone and in the region, amongst others.
In addition to the strict conditions set out in the Practice Direction, Justice Winter imposed additional Special Conditions which Kondewa must abide by. After his ten months of training he will have to make a public apology for his wrongful conduct and acknowledge his guilt and express remorse; he, or any person acting for him, must not approach any of the witnesses who testified against him or to try to interfere with or to intimidate them in any way; he must conduct himself honorably and peacefully in the community and he must not engage in secret meetings intended to plan civil unrest, or join local or national politics; and he shall strictly observe reporting schedules set by the Monitoring Authority (comprised of the Sierra Leone Police) and the Registrar, and he shall report to designated centre(s) at least twice a month.
Upon certification by the Registrar of the successful completion of his training, Kondewa will be resettled in his community in late March 2018 where he will serve the balance of his sentence, subject to strict conditions and monitoring. Violations of any of the conditions could result in sanctions, including his being returned to prison.
Kondewa was convicted by the Special Court in 2008 on five counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including for murder, pillage, cruel treatment and inhumane acts. He was sentenced to a prison term of 20 years, with credit given for his time in detention. His full term of imprisonment will be complete in May 2023. Since October 2009 he has served his sentence at Nyanza (formerly Mpanga) Prison in Rwanda.
Kondewa is the second Special Court prisoner to receive Conditional Early Release. Moinina Fofana was granted Conditional Early Release in August 2014, with a six month delay. He has been serving out his sentence in Bo since March 2015.