The Hot Beat


The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him:

Eastern Iowa’s war crimes prosecutor back to visit Tuesday

Stephen Rapp, chief prosecutor of the United Nations-backed war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone, is going to speak at 12:40 p.m. tomorrow in Room 115 of the Boyd Building at the UI College of Law.

It’s free and open to the public. If you live in Iowa City and can make it, it would be worth your time.

Rapp was the U.S. Attorney for the northern federal judicial district of Iowa from 1993 to 2001, and went on to become one of the foremost war crimes prosecutors in the world. He prosecuted war crimes in Rwanda before he took over the case in Sierra Leone, a tiny West African nation that was ravaged by brutal civil war in the 1990s.

He and his wife Dolly Maier Rapp — a UNI professor — still have a home in Waterloo, but Stephen Rapp spends several months each year in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. The key defendant in the prosecution is Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, who is accused of orchestrating some of the worst atrocities (rape, murder, mutilation, forcing children to fight) in the conflict.

I was in Freetown when another defendant in the case, Foday Sankoh, was still imprisoned. That was in 2001. Sankoh died in 2003. I remember the soldiers standing on those weirdly empty streets around the prison where they kept him. They were holding machine guns, and nobody went even close.

(Yeah, I know, wikipedia’s not reliable. But it gives a rough idea of things.)

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