RAPAPORT… Michel Desaedeleer, an American and Belgian citizen, was arrested in Spain last week, pursuant to an European arrest warrant, according to NGO Civitas Maxima. He is suspected of having participated, with former Liberian President Charles Taylor and the Sierra Leonean rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), in enslavement as a crime against humanity and pillage of “blood diamonds” as a war crime in the district of Kono in the Eastern part of Sierra Leone between 1999 and 2001.
Several citizens of Sierra Leone, victims of enslavement during the civil war, filed a criminal complaint in Brussels in January 2011 against Desaedeleer who lives in the U.S., according to the group. The Geneva-based organization has been working for several years on this case to document crimes and assist the victims..
During the civil war in Sierra Leone (1991-2002), the RUF used civilians as slaves in the district of Kono to mine in the diamond pits. The proceeds of the forced labor were brought to Charles Taylor in Monrovia, Liberia, and then sold on the international market.
This is the first time that a businessman has been arrested for his alleged involvement in the international crimes of both pillage of blood diamonds and enslavement of civilians, according to the NGO.