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American who took pictures of Sierra Leone war crimes court re-arrested
Former U.S. soldier accused of scoping out court
The Associated Press (apwire)     Print Article 
Published 2006-05-18 02:33 (KST)   
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone

An American and two Sierra Leoneans who were cleared of conspiracy charges for taking pictures of Sierra Leone's war crimes court were re-arrested on new charges after just one day of freedom. Prosecutors had said the men gave the impression they were hatching an escape plan for a suspect held in the court complex.

Michael Chemidlin and Sierra Leoneans Felix Rogers and Collins Kamara were re-arrested Tuesday. They were charged with "conspiracy to engage in a purpose prejudicial to the interest of Sierra Leone," according to a statement read aloud in open court. The statement accused them of "inspecting the entire complex of the Special Court" when taking photos in late April.

Prosecutor Oladipo Robin Mason referred to "the issue of state security," but did not elaborate.

The men had been released Monday after a judge ruled that it was not against the law to take pictures of the Special Court -- the tribunal that holds former Liberian President Charles Taylor and is trying those accused of war crimes during Sierra Leone's war.

Prosecutors had said the men gave the impression they were taking the photographs in hatching a plan to help Taylor escape. Taylor, who escaped from a Massachusetts jail in 1985, is charged with funding rebels who burned down villages and hacked off people's limbs during the country's war.

Sierra Leone's treason laws prohibits photographing certain government installations but Chemidlin's lawyer argued that the U.N.-backed war crimes court -- considered international territory -- was not covered by the law.

Chemidlin, a former U.S. soldier, has said he is innocent.

The three men were refused bail and a hearing was set for Thursday. One Sierra Leonean who was arrested with the others at the beginning of May was not re-arrested.

The men were charged by a different court than the first court that dropped the charges against them.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter The Associated Press

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