Sierra Leone rebel leader Sankoh dies

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The Independent Online

Foday Sankoh, who was indicted for war crimes as leader of the rebel campaign in Sierra Leone, has died in hospital while in United Nations custody.

Sankoh, 65, who had been ill since his capture in 2000, died in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, on Tuesday night. David Crane, chief prosecutor of the UN war crimes court, said that Sankoh's death from natural causes granted him "a peaceful end that he denied to so many others".

The Revolutionary United Front leader was said to have had a mild stroke in October 2002 and to be in a "catatonic, stuporous state". The war crimes court said in June that it wanted a UN travel ban on Sankoh waived so he could be treated outside the country.

Sankoh trained at guerrilla camps in Libya where his companions included Charles Taylor, the Liberian leader, also indicted for his role in the Sierra Leone uprising.

The RUFfought for 10 years from 1991 to control the government and diamond fields. It killed, raped and maimed thousands of civilians. Military intervention led by Britain ended the rebellion.