Masterminds of African War Found Guilty

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A U.N. backed court has found three of the top masterminds of the conflict in West Africa guilty of war crimes.

The conflict in Sierra Leone was fueled by the diamond trades depicted in the movie "Blood Diamond."

The convicted war criminals shook their heads as their verdicts were read.

Revolutionary united front leader Issa Sesay and his battlefield commanders said they were innocent. But the court disagreed.

Most were found guilty on 16 of 18 counts and the men were sentenced by an international court modeled after the Nuremberg Tribunal.

"The terrible crimes were committed against the innocent people of Sierra Leone. It respects the suffering of the multitude of victims, who were mutilated or enslaved or murdered or raped and were rendered homeless or destitute, " Stephen Rapp, Lead Prosecutor said.

About 1.5 million people were killed and millions left mutilated by Sierra Leone's 11 year civil war.

The conflict ended in 2002, but the people still bear the emotional and physical scars.

Perhaps now, after the conviction of these men, the victims will be able to begin the healing process.

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