ONE FORMER AFRC SPOKESMAN EXPRESSES REGRET - ALLIEU KAMARA ON THE BBC
A former spokesman of the AFRC/RUF junta has told the BBC's Network Africa programme of his regret at being a part of an outfit that had been accused of war crimes and wide-ranging human rights abuses and atrocities. The three former AFRC commanders, Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu were found guilty of 11 of the 14 charges that had been levelled against them when the court handed down its verdict on June 20, 2007.
The BBC's Lansana Fofanah asked Allieu Kamara in Freetown what he made of the legal process.
Allieu: This country has suffered for far too long. I believe these young guys have suffered for far too long. They have been behind bars for quite a while and justice today must be delivered with temper, with mercy.
Q: But certainly many Sierra Leoneans believe that these were the architects of the destruction of the state and the horrific atrocities that were committed and therefore they must pay a dear price.
Allieu: I'm not trying to justify the atrocities that were committed nor am I here to exonerate anyone. What is important here is that these young guys have suffered and we're now in the threshold of development; we're now in the threshold of reconciliation at the same time consolidating the peace. As one-time spokesman for the AFRC, I'm saying it here categorically peace and reconciliation is paramount.
Q: So you're saying that they should not be locked behind bars?
Allieu: What I'm saying here is that the justices should temper justice with mercy. That is paramount. They're human, they have made mistakes and to err is human to forgive is divine and I believe that forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude and each and every Sierra Leonean must be responsible enough to forgive what has happened because the way forward is peace and reconciliation.
Q: Now the leader of the military junta, the AFRC of which you were the spokesperson Johnny Paul Koroma is alleged to have died or disappeared into thin air - is it because the real key players of that military junta are not around that you're asking that these other commanders be released?
Allieu: That is not what I'm saying. The whereabouts of Johnny Paul Koroma is a sixty million dollar question - so many rumours have come out that he's been killed or he's dead. What is important here is the consolidation of peace and the consolidation of our developmental process.
Q: You were the spokesman of the military junta, the AFRC. Looking back on those years, do you regret?
Allieu: My brother, I honourably regret each and every minute I spent with the AFRC.
Q: Why is that?
Allieu: ...and I've made that apology...
Q: Why is that?
Allieu: Because I do believe we derailed the development and peace of this country. I genuinely believe in peace. I genuinely believe in change. I became part of the revolution to espouse peace, to espouse development and to espouse the peace for each and every one of us because the RUF, they were not giving us a break. Everything was let loose and I thought it was an opportunity to bring both of them together to work towards making Sierra Leone a better place, but unfortunately everything went haywire. So many hoodlums became part of the system and atrocities were definitely committed and I owe it at this particular moment to once more say I'm sorry though I've done it so many times in so many diverse ways.