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American-Belgian businessman arrested over "blood diamonds"

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast - A legal aid organization says Spanish authorities have arrested a businessman with dual American-Belgian citizenship who is accused of enslavement and pillaging "blood diamonds" during Sierra Leone's civil war.

Civitas Maxima, a Geneva-based organization that provides legal representation for victims of war crimes, said in a statement late Saturday that Michael Desaedeleer was arrested last week. It said a complaint filed by several Sierra Leone citizens in 2011 in Belgium details his crimes in Sierra Leone's eastern Kono district between 1999 and 2001.

Tens of thousands of people died during the West African nation's civil war from 1991 to 2002, during which fighters forced civilians to mine so-called "blood diamonds."

Civitas Maxima said it was the first time a businessman had been arrested for exploiting the diamonds.

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