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In Taylor Trial, Tampering Conviction for Ex-Rebel

June 22, 2012

by VOA News

A Sierra Leone man has been convicted of trying to bribe and influence witnesses in the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone found Eric Koi Senessie guilty on eight of nine contempt of court charges in a verdict handed down late Thursday. Justice Theresa Doherty ruled that Senessie tried to induce prosecution witnesses to recant their testimony.

In court documents filed last year, prosecutors argued that Senessie intimidated at least three witnesses by repeatedly contacting them at their homes and offering them monetary rewards.

Senessie is a former member of the Revolutionary United Front, the rebel group during Sierra Leone's civil war that was armed and supported by Taylor in exchange for raw diamonds.

Senessie faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and a fine equaling $4,600.

Last month, the court convicted Taylor of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and sentenced him to 50 years in prison. Taylor is planning to appeal that sentence.

Senessie had pleaded not guilty to all charges, and testified on his own behalf during a trial that opened in Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown on June 11.

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