Court Prosecutor David Crane told residents of the western district of Port Loko on Tuesday that his team of investigators was "working hard to put together our cases" and had made significant progress. "I am pleased to announce that my team of investigators could complete their investigations by June of this year," Crane said.
Since August, Crane and his staff have held community meetings in various parts of the country to seek views on how they should prosecute those who bear the greatest responsibility for violations of international humanitarian law during Sierra Leone's 10-year civil war. They have visited 11 of the country's 12 districts.
The court, expected to cost just under US $60 million, was created through an agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone and has a three-year mandate. It is expected to work side by side with Sierra Leone's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Its eight judges were sworn in in December. Three were appointed by the government of Sierra Leone and five by the UN Secretary-General. In January, the Court moved its registry and administrative branches into its new site in the centre of the capital, Freetown.
Meanwhile the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Sierra Leone, Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji, on Wednesday officially opened a five-lecture-room building built at a polytechnic college with funds provided by the UN Mission to Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).
According to a UNAMSIL press statement, Adeniji said the mission's involvement in constructing the building at the Eastern Polytechnic in Kenema District, eastern Sierra Leone, resulted from the urgent need to repair the damage done by the war.
The additional space means more students can now be admitted into the polytechnic and over the next five years, about 1,000 additional students can graduate from it. Five lecturers from Nigeria have been seconded to teach at the polytechnic.
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