Former Judge of the United Nations backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, Cameroonian Justice Charles A. Taku has stated in The Hague that Chief Hinga Norman did not die as a criminal but rather as a hero that Sierra Leoneans should honour because of his role in bringing peace to the country.
Taku, now defense counsel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, told journalists that the trial of the former Internal Affairs Minister was not prudent at the time, especially when he fought for the liberation of the country.
According to him, the decision to indict Chief Norman was taken by the then government of late President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah.
“Chief Norman fought against those who rebelled against the state and his indictment was uncalled for. More importantly, he did not die as a criminal. I hope the government of that country would honour him ,” he urged and added that there was a concern now among many international legal practitioners for the review of some of the cases that dealt with international justice system.
Chief Norman was indicted by the Special Court on eight counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity but maintained innocence throughout the proceedings.
Despite being prosecuted as the commander of the Kamajors during the civil war, report have it that he was still a popular figure among many and commanded a great deal of support, particularly in the southern and eastern regions of the country.
He was viewed by many as a war hero who protected civilians from attacks by RUF and AFRC rebels.
On 22 February 2007, the first accused in the CDF case, Samuel Hinga Norman passed away at a military hospital in Dakar, Senegal. Norman was flown to Senegal on 17 January for medical treatment, and underwent a successful surgical procedure on 8 February, 2007. It was reported that Norman suddenly collapsed in the morning hours of 22 February and the Registrar of the Special Court for Sierra Leone had ordered an independent investigation by medical experts to ascertain the cause of death.
The death of Norman, while in custody at the Special Court was seen by many Sierra Leoneans as a ‘game’ because the latter repeatedly complained about his health to court officials and had maintained that his health concerns were not seriously addressed.
Norman served as Deputy Minister of Defense and Minister for Internal Affairs in late President Alhaji Tejan Kabbah’s government, and remained engaged in politics while detained at the Special Court.