IT was one of the bloodiest civil wars of all time.
For 11 years evil traffickers used enslaved citizens – many of them children – to mine so-called ‘blood diamonds’ in Sierra Leone.
And now, 13 years since the war ended, one of the key traffickers has finally been arrested in Malaga.
Belgian-American Michel Desaedeleer was picked up at Malaga airport, after being issued with a European arrest warrant earlier this year.
He is accused of trafficking and human rights offences during a war in which more than 50,000 people died.
Belgian police were tipped off that the accused planned to return to USA, via Malaga, where he is believed to have property.
And in a complex sting they sent down detectives to track him and arrest him.
He has now been ordered to prison by a Spanish court, while his extradition to Belgium is processed.
Sierra Leone’s diamond trade was dramatised in the 2006 movie Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
The film is based on a book by US journalist Greg Campbell, which actually mentions Desaedeleer.
Victims association Civitas Maxima claims the case will raise awareness of ‘the pivotal role’ played by financial bigwigs in the trade of resources that fuel armed conflicts in Africa.
The diamonds mined in Sierra Leone were mostly trafficked to neighbouring Liberia.
There, former president Charles Taylor used the proceeds to finance weapons for the rebellion which had led to the war.
Taylor is now serving a 50-year sentence for war crimes.