'Blood diamond' suspect dies in Belgian custody

Michel Desaedeleer, a Belgian-US national, had been linked to exploitative diamond trade in war-torn Sierra Leone

'Blood diamond' suspect dies in Belgian custody

World Bulletin / News Desk

Michel Desaedeleer, a Belgian-U.S. businessman accused of links to the so-called 'blood diamond' trade in Sierra Leone died Wednesday in prison in Belgium, the authorities confirmed Thursday.

He was arrested in August 2015 on allegations he had committed crimes including inhuman and degrading treatment as well as crimes against humanity through his participation in the trade in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

According to a joint press release issued Thursday by several Sierra Leonean rights groups, Desaedeleer allegedly engaged in the trade with former Liberian President and now convicted war criminal Charles Taylor plus Sierra Leonean rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front.

Desaedeleer's trial was scheduled to take place in the coming months in Brussels.

Director of the Center for Accountability and Rule of Law, Ibrahim Tommy, told Anadolu Agency the accused’s death was a blow to the suffering masses in Sierra Leone whose diamonds were illegally used to destroy their land:

“Sadly, the victims of slavery in the diamond mines in Sierra Leone’s Kono district, who were enslaved for months, partially for the purpose of enriching Western businessmen, will never fully achieve justice.

“Nevertheless, the arrest of Michel Desaedeleer, his imprisonment and the fact that his trial was scheduled to commence in a few months represents a victory for the victims who courageously filed a complaint against him and have never ceased in their fight for justice.”

Sierra Leone suffered from an 11-year civil conflict from 1991 to 2002 in which an estimated 50,000 people were killed.

A major reason for the war, among others, was for control of “blood diamonds”.

 

Last Mod: 30 Eylül 2016, 08:45
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