Johnny Paul Koroma : biography
Major Johnny Paul Koroma (born May 9, 1960) was the Head of State of Sierra Leone from May 1997 to February 1998.
Lomé Peace Agreement
The leadership of the RUF led peace negotiations with the Government of Sierra Leone led to the signing of the Lomé Peace Accord on 7 July 1999. Koroma was cut out of both negotiations and the AFRC did not benefit from the substantive provisions of the agreement. Nevertheless, Koroma participated in the disarmament process, encouraging those SLA soldiers that had joined the AFRC to demobilize. By 2000, Koroma no longer held significant influence over the RUF leadership, as evidenced by the involvement of ex-AFRC members (from a splinter group called the West Side Boys) in defending towns in Port Loko District against a renewed RUF offensive in May 2000. In August 2000, Koroma officially disbanded the AFRC and sought to consolidate his political position through the formation of a political party.
Special Court for Sierra Leone
In early 2002, the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations signed a bilateral treaty establishing the Special Court for Sierra Leone, mandated to try those who "bear the greatest responsibility" for crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. According to the indictment, the RUF and AFRC, under the orders of Koroma, led armed attacks in Sierra Leone wherein the primary targets included civilians, humanitarian aid workers, and UN peacekeeping forces. These attacks served the purpose of terrorizing the population as a form of punishment for not supporting rebel activities. These attacks included such crimes as looting, murder, physical violence (notably mutilations), employing child soldiers, sexual violence and rape, as well as kidnapping women and girls to be raped or turned into sex slaves. Men and boys were also abducted and forced to work or fight for the rebel groups.
On 7 March 2003, the Prosecutor of the Special Court issued his first indictments. For his role in the RUF/AFRC, Koroma was among them. Koroma fled Freetown in December, reportedly to Liberia. On 1 June 2003 he was officially declared dead under mysterious circumstances, claimed to be murdered. The Prosecutor has yet to withdraw the indictment against Koroma. An October 2006 newspaper headline in Freetown stated "Johnny Paul has 1,000 armed soldiers".
According to a report in September 2008, Koroma's remains were found buried in Foya, a village in Liberia's Lofa County; this was unconfirmed, however.Tanu Jalloh, , Concord Times, Freetown (allAfrica.com), September 11, 2008. Stephen Rapp, the Special Court for Sierra Leone's current Prosecutor, noted in a recent interview that DNA tests on the remains found in Lofa County did not match Johnny Paul Koroma's DNA. As of 2010, many still believe Koroma was executed somewhere in Lofa at the hands of former Liberia President Charles Taylor.http://allafrica.com/stories/201010260617.html Three witnesses- Taylor’s former Vice President Moses Blah, former member of Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group Joseph Zig Zag Marzah, and a protected witness-http://www.charlestaylortrial.org/2010/10/21/judges-order-prosecutors-to-disclose-exculpatory-material-and-payments-suggesting-that-afrc-leader-johnny-paul-koroma-was-not-killed-by-charles-taylor/ each testified that while they did not witness Koroma's execution, Taylor did tell them about it. In October 2010, Taylor's defense team filed a motion to have these testimonies removed as evidence, alleging that the prosecution bribed these three witnesses, but this motion was rejected the following month.http://www.charlestaylortrial.org/2011/01/03/charles-taylor-monthly-trial-report-october-november-2010/
Coups and civil war
Koroma received military training in Nigeria and Britain. He commanded government forces who were fighting against the Revolutionary United Front of Foday Sankoh. Koroma break grounds during the war and his success was his relationship with soldiers under his command because of this he was eye catching. In August 1996 he was arrested due to an alleged involvement in a coup plot against the southern civilian officials who were in control of the country. It was also alleged that the President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah was to have been killed. Koroma was freed from prison during a successful military coup on May 25, 1997, when 17 junior soldiers serving the Sierra Leone Army (SLA) break the central prison and made him a do or die offer that brought him to power. He advocated making a peaceful settlement with Sankoh and allowing him to join the government, though this never happened.
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