Thursday, February 22, 2007

Special Court Press Release

It is with deep regret that the Special Court for Sierra Leone announces the death of former Sierra Leone Internal Affairs Minister Sam Hinga Norman, who was on trial before the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Mr. Norman died today at a military hospital in Dakar, Senegal.

Mr. Norman and another Special Court detainee were taken to Dakar on 17 January for medical procedures which were considered routine, but which were unavailable in Sierra Leone. Those procedures were performed on Thursday, 8 February, without complication.

At 10:55 this morning Mr. Norman collapsed and, despite attempts to revive him, was pronounced dead at about 11:15.

Initial indications are that Mr. Norman suffered heart failure during post-operative care. Registrar Lovemore Munlo, SC has ordered an independent investigation by international medical experts to determine the exact cause of death.

Mr. Munlo informed family members early this afternoon and expressed his deep personal regret at their loss.

Mr. Norman had been charged with 8 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming from acts allegedly carried out by the Civil Defence Militia he headed during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil conflict. He had maintained his innocence throughout the trial, which began in June 2004.


ONLY LAST WEEK, Chief Hinga Norman himself confirmed that the news that had been having the political scene buzzing for months was true---He and other indictees had joined the People's Movement for Democratic Change ( PMDC ), a move that members of the ruling Sierra Leone People's Party ( SLPP ) conceded , put a dent on the hopes of the party to win the forthcoming Presidential and Legislative Elections. Norman was a born SLPP die-hard before this and helped to bring back the SLPP government after it was overthrown by errant and rebel soldiers of the Sierra Leone military forces on May 27, 1997. Norman marshalled the CDF , a fearsome militia made up of hunters and members of the public, to fight dauntlessly and bravely alongside the multi-national interventionist force , ECOMOG , to defeat the army and rebel government and restore the SLPP.

Sierra Leoneans were trying to come to terms with the latest surprise from Chief Norman when his death was announced today by the Special Court.

Though dead, Hinga Norman may continue to cast his shadows over the country's politics and future, especially if his loyalists decide to still make his phenomenon count in the country's political metamorphorsis.

Hinga Norman's sudden death in Dakar today brings to an end a controversial military and political career of a man that was devoted to the SLPP to the point that he played a hand in some of the most tumultous events in the country's history. It was Norman , for instance, who led soldiers to State House in 1967 to stop the swearing-in ceremony of the then Prime Minister Siaka Stevens , after the then Governor-General, Sir Henry Lightfoot-Boston , declared Stevens and his All People's Congress ( APC) winners of the 1967 watershed elections .

Norman was arrested for Treason after the APC came to power but he won his case after many years in jail.

When the rebels and renegade soldiers threatened to overrun Sierra Leone in the 1990s, Chief Norman headed the CDF or Kamajor militia, which played a leading role in thwarting the efforts of the rebels from seizing power in Sierra Leone.

Today's event is one of the most shocking and unbelievable news to have haunted Sierra Leone ever.

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