Court is back in session.
Prosecutor Christopher Santora continues to question witness Dennis Koker, who continues his account as follows:
Wit: The AK-58 is the gun I was carrying. It’s a kind of Kalishnikov, named after a Russian man. It’s a rifle, smaller than an AK-47.
Defense objects, saying this isn’t relevant. Judge Sebutinde says prosecution has the latitude to ask these questions and that there is no merit to the objection.
Wit: Morris Kallon, who was present in Koidu. He was a battlefield commander. In Koidu, the RUF and soldiers “turned civilians into their own people”. That means that they were enslaving them. It was slavery. In Koidu, no commanders tried to stop the abuses against civilians. They themselves wanted the civilians to work for free. It was slavery. Children about 12-14 years old were made to fight with guns for the RUF. According to the rules of war, there is no rule like that.
We got to Beudu. From the time I left Freetown until we got to Beudu, it took about a month. General Mosquito and the RUF government were in Beudu. Mosquito, Sam Bockarie, was in charge. AFRC members were also there: Johnny Paul Koroma, Edward P. Kanneh (a resident minister for the eastern provinces in the AFRC government and a former SLA soldier), Major Dumbua, Colonel Junior Sheriff, and Pa Bainikol. Other RUF commanders there besides Mosquito were: Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Pa Rogers. I was assigned by General Mosquito to serve as military police (MP), a guard commander, and then I was an MP adjutant. All of the captured ECOMOG Nigerians were under my command. I reported to Alex Alie alias “Gae”, who was an MP officer. I issued passes to anyone wanting to move anywhere. Mosquito had to approve passes. I issued passes to civilians and soldiers. Each day I reported to Alex Alie in the MP office, where I also slept. The MP office in Beudu is on the right if you’re going to Kangama. There were seven MPs in that office. I only dealt with civilians when they were moving. I gave them passes so that gunmen would not stop them. Captured civilians from Masiaka, Makeni and Koidu were taken to Beudu. At the guardpost, an MP escorted them to the MP office to present them. All of the civilians would have their names on one pass issued by the commander who captured them. We screened them to know how many they were and make sure none had escaped. We called them one-by-one and put them in a line. We did not ask them questions. I took the pass and gave it to my boss, the MP commander to endorse. The stronger ones were taken to training base at Bununbu, Kailahun – seven miles away. Tom Sandie, my master, would escort them there, then return. Kai Samba, alias “Kaisuku”, was overall MP commander and Sandie answered to him. If a civilian tried to move around Beudu without a pass, they would be shot or put into a cell and say you were an enemy who was there to spy. Civilians in Beudu lived in bad conditions in Beudu. They worked without pay–on the farms of the commanders and put to work carrying loads for the commanders. If civilians refused to work, their property was burned and they were chased into the bush or detained in cells. Civilians were married without paying bride prices. Civilian children were abducted from their parents and given guns–they were called SBUs. Children were malnourished. They were unhappy.
I was punished once myself when a civilian escaped on a trip to Bonunbu to raise manpower. They asked us to bring civilians to work on an airfield in Beudu without pay. We were also sent by my boss, Major Tom Sandie, to Dodo and Galema to raise manpower. When we entered Galema and captured two civilians traveling with their bags, stripped them naked and tied them with rope so they could not escape. They were naked so that if they escaped, they could be recognized as escaped prisoners. We left Galema and captured more civilians working on their farms. We tied them with rope to. All of the property was given to one MP. We brought them to Beudu to make the airfield. There were seven of us MPs with four assigned guns on this mission and we captured a total of more than 50 civilians. When we brought the civilians back to the MP office we took down their names and put them in cells. I usually didn’t go on mission. I just stayed at the office. The airfield was being constructed on the Gokodu road, about two miles from Beudu, almost on the Liberian border, going towards Foya.
Captured civilians were sent by front-line commanders to us in Beudu. We sent them for military training at Bonunbu, then sent them back to the commanders as reinforcements. Some of the civilians sent for training were 12-14 years old. I saw them. They were very small and not fit for any military work. I asked some of them in secret how old they were. If Mosquito, Issa or Morris Kallon found out I was investigating that, they would kill me. Mike Lamin shot someone for that–he said he had connived by speaking with a Kamajor soldier. I had been in the military and received training about ages for military service.
In Beudu, many women were captured as wives. I slept and worked at the MP office. A commander would come with a crying woman and say “confirm this woman”, meaning to beat them up and detain her. He meant she had disresespected him. I asked the women “is he your husband”? She would say no, and explain that she had been captured on the front lines to be their wives, but she had “overlooked” them. One day Victor Kallon, a major with the RUF, brought a girl and said she had overlooked him. She was stripped to her underpants and given 50 lashes with a long cable. I detained her in the office. She told me she had been captured in the office. She said she had refused to have sex with Victor Kallon. Kallon had beaten her and brought her to the MP office. My job was to detain them, on orders from my commander. I knew it was not proper. I never beat anybody. I wanted to escape and join government forces.
Bockarie was in charge at Beudu and the whole RUF. At that time, Mr. Sankoh was in jail. I stayed in Beudu as MP adjutant for 21 months. I went there in March 1998 and left on December 16, 1999. Abuse of civilians continued the whole time in Beudu, until there was a cease-fire. During my whole time there, about 500 children, 800 adults in my age group – men and women – passed through the MP office where I was. Up to 1,300 civilians.
Mosquito escaped Beudu on December 15, 1999. I remember Mosquito gave me a car to spray before he left – it belonged to Action Faim, an NGO. I was sitting when they brought a white vehicle from Kolahun in Lofa County, Liberia. They didn’t want to take a white vehicle with the name on it. They wanted me, as an artist, to camoflauge the vehicle so nobody would know it belonged to an NGO. I sprayed it. At that time there was a dispute between Mosquito and Issa. Mosquito resigned and went to Foya with his entire family. Issa became commander of the RUF. I escaped to Kailahun.
In Beudu, Sam Bockarie was residing in the fifth house on the Dawa road, together with Issa. From Beudu, the Dawa road leads to Foya Tinkia, right across the border from Dawa in Liberia. Mosquito often received visitors at his house. I remember four times. The first that I remember was during the rainy season, in July 1998. It was very rainy. More than seven people came from Liberia in a big truck, an NGO Land-Cruiser and a red jeep, and said they had brought material. They went to the guard post MPs with whom we were working. The MP there brought them to the MP office and then to Mosquito’s house. Mosquito let us know they had come to see him. These people were speaking the Liberian dialect and wearing camoflauge and black caps. Some had polo T-shirts that said NPFL Navy Rangers. I saw it myself. It was sky blue, navy blue and black mixed camoflauged. “Material” was a code name for ammunition. I was sent to the ammunition dump where the material was brought, which was on the Gokodu Road. It was a yellow concrete house with a cellar. As a military man, I was sent to list the material as it was unloaded. I was standing at the side when they opened the truck and took out the ammunition. I listed everything before it was stored. The truck had six wheels in the back. We called it a six-wheel daf (ph). The container of the truck was about 20 feet long and the width was about 7 feet. This delivery of material in July 1998 included: rocket-propelled grenade tubes and bombs, a jet-tracer gun that is put on your shoulder and can shoot down an Alpha jet by following the jet’s exhaust. (An Alpha jet is a fighter jet. We called them Alpha jets, and at this time ECOMOG was using Alpha jets.) They had anti-tank mines with a plate, and anti-personnel mines, .50 caliber AA ammunition to shoot at jets, 60mm and 82mm mortars, TNT that could be fixed on an AK to shoot down jets. Some of these materials were in boxes, others in cans, others in plastic containers, or in sealed wooden boxes.
I saw two deliveries. I only heard about two others. Mosquito would send one MP to help off-load. Mosquito sent me twice, but not on the other times. The second time he sent me, Mosquito himself came with a lot of Liberians in vehicles and trucks. There were a lot of people. My mother came from Kailahun. My grandmother is connected to the Gbande people. Liberians are related to Sierra Leoneans. When Liberians talk, we know they are Liberians. It was in the same month that Mosquito went and came back with the Liberians, including General Fayah. They said he was a commander at Foya Kama in Lofa County. I spoke with him. There were many more vehicles this time: Land-Cruisers, cars, trucks, some were Lebanese too. I was at Mosquito’s house when the trucks came. I had come from patrol to make sure the MPs there weren’t sleeping. The vehicles parked at Mosquito’s house. They asked me to call Tom Sandie. I did. Sandie sent me to go help off-load the things and list them. That night we spent about four hours off-loading things. I was listing them. I gave the list to Tom Sandie and he took it to Mosquito. That time Mosquito did not only bring guns, but also rice. There were two big trucks, two mini-vans, a Range Rover and another jeep with Lebanese in it. The rice was in the mini-vans – Action Faim vehicles. There was also rice on top of the guns in one of the trucks. In one truck there was no rice, just materials. One Land-Cruiser had rice and people. Two trucks had materials – one was full and other wasn’t full – they’d put rice on top of it. This second time I personally saw materials arrive, I saw: AK ammunition, G-3 guns (German model three), much G-3 ammunition, many RPG tubes and bombs, many mortar bombs, heavy machine guns (HMGs) and ammunition for them, many mines. (G-3 is old type of weapon made by the Germans during the Second World War. It’s not a heavy weapon. The magazine holds 20 rounds. It uses Uzi rounds. It’s an automatic weapon.) There were more Liberians this time. General Fayah brought his bodyguards and they lodged near our house. They brought Oma Lizzi, Foday Sankoh’s wife. Some of the Liberians were in military uniforms, some were in civilian dress. They wore boots and had guns. The uniforms were sky blue mixed with black, navy blue and green. They had black berets and boots.
Two other times Liberians came. Documents came for Tom Sandie and I saw them. At that time the Nigerian prisoners of war, ECOMOG soldiers, were in my custody and I had to lock them up at night. Whenever anyone arrived in Beudu, they would go to the MPs for clearance. I saw the documents there that said “Scorpion Regiment, Second Batallion, Lofa County”. I saw it with my own eyes.
I left Beudu on December 16, 1999. I went to central Kailahun and stayed there in 2000. I was there when 200 Indians came. I left the RUF when they said there was a cease-fire. I started work with the United Nations in February 2000. The Indians stayed in Kailahun and brought peace. On July 7, 1999, when there were peace talks, Sankoh sent a message that there should be peace. We were all happy.
Court is now adjourning for the lunch break. Proceedings will resume at 2:30. Our coverage will continue at 3:00 (2:00 in Liberia and Sierra Leone).