According to Le Parisien, he was arrested in September 2018, because he was reportedly responsible for acts of torture and cannibalism in Liberia in the 1990s.
Suspected of crimes against humanity, the former African war colonel nicknamed Kunti was released on Friday, September 6, from the prison of Fresnes (Val-de-Marne) following a procedural error in the file, revealed Le Parisien.
Indeed, “the lawyer of Colonel K. has submitted an application for release of his client, because the investigating judge had not responded to his application for a license to communicate with his client, a Parisian a source close to the case said. Such an error automatically results in the release of the indicted.
On Thursday, September 5, the investigating chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal released the 44-year-old African. He is believed to have been involved in abuses during Liberia’s civil war between 1992 and 1997. This former commander of ULIMO, an electrician, had fled to the Netherlands after the conflict. He obtained the nationality before moving to France to bring a Liberian wife to the country, Le Parisien reported.
The Liberian was arrested on Tuesday, September 4, 2018, by the gendarmes of the l’Office de lutte contre les crimes contre l’humanité. On the basis of a report submitted to justice by the Swiss association Civitas Maxima – an association claiming to be spokesperson for victims of war crimes against humanity, he had been indicted for “crimes against humanity, acts of torture and cannibalism, use of child soldiers and slavery”. He has deied the charges, but was placed under judicial control with a ban on leaving France.
The Switzerland-based human rights group works in collaboration with the Liberia-based Global Justice and Research Project (GPRS).
“What is very important for this case is how it includes in a broader situation former war commanders or people that allegedly committed war crimes all over the world and how they are facing criminal charges. This is one more,” said Romain Wavre, legal associate with Civitas Maxima.
An AFP report quoted French law enforcement authorities as saying Kunti had been charged with these crimes committed particularly against civilian victims. Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) documented that ULIMO committed at least 11 500 atrocities.
“In Liberia, people are hopeful that the high-ranking commanders, the people who committed the most horrific crimes, will be held accountable. Kunti K.’s arrest and the previous arrests shows that justice for crimes committed during the civil wars can be achieved.”
Canadian journalist Shane Smith had traveled to Liberia in 2010 to interview warlords in a country where a large percentage of the population have eaten human flesh.
One general, infamous for fighting completely naked apart from shoes and a gun, Joshua Milton Blahyl, spoke openly about his atrocious war crimes. He noted casually that before battle, he would sacrifice an innocent child to drink the child’s blood in preparation for battle.
Blahyl slaughtered countless people during the war, and yet his war crime charges were dropped. Smith described the country as a “post-apocalyptic Armageddon with child soldiers on heroin, cross-dressing cannibals, and systematic rape—total hell on earth”.