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UK envoy backs S Leone war hero


A former British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone has appeared as a witness in a controversial case before a United Nations-backed war crimes court.

Peter Penfold argues that a pro-government militia leader during the conflict, Sam Hinga Norman, is a hero, not a war criminal.

The court was set up to prosecute those with most responsibility for war crimes during a brutal 10-year civil war.

The conflict spread across West Africa and created millions of refugees.

During the conflict, which ended in 2001 after a muscular intervention by the British army, backing United Nations forces, Revolutionary United Front rebels were widely condemned by the UN and others for their brutal tactics.

But ironically many of the top commanders of the rebels have either escaped capture or died, and the highest profile individual on trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone is the leader of the pro-government militia which fought the rebels - Mr Norman.

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