Court is back in session.
Through a series of questions from prosecutor Nick Koumjian, prosecution witness Abu Keita continues to give his evidence:
Pros: I would like to refer to agreed facts concerning dates this witness has testified about and read these into the record. This is what the parties submitted to the court in April of last year.
Defense: We have no objection.
Judge Doherty: Please proceed.
Prosecution (Reading from a list of facts previously agreed with the defense.): In July 1993, representatives of ULIMO and the NPFL signed the Cotonou Accord that created the Liberian Interim Government. August 1995: Abuja Accord was agreed. Transitional period in Abuja Accord was subsequently extended in August 1996, until the installation of an elected government in 1997. On about January 6, 1999, RUF and AFRC forces attacked Freetown. On July 7, 1999 the government of Sierra Leone signed a peace agreement with the RUF in Lome, Togo.
Pros: We were talking about diamond mining in RUF territories. You told us this morning about RUF rules about possession of diamonds. Did you ever witness anyone punished for breaking those rules?
Wit: Yes, twice. The first time, it was the bodyguard assigned to me. In 2000, he was caught stealing a diamond. He got the diamond from Opera in Kono. Sesay and Kallon arrested him, called “Devil”. He was beaten until he said he stole the diamond and sold it for 5,000 dollars. At first they thought I was involved but later they investigated. When they caught the boy with the money from selling the diamond. They investigated and learned I wasn’t involved in the transaction. Eddie Bockarie was there. I never saw the diamond. He was beaten seriously and hung from a mango tree in Issa Sesay’s compound until he confessed. He was beaten with rubber from car tires. Two men beat him. He was asked to bring the money. Issa asked me to come. I told Issa I wasn’t involved. When they got the 5,000 dollars, they let him go.
Another time, a Kono boy in Koikuma who was working for Morris Kallon was arrested by Kallon for stealing a diamond. The boy refused to answer Kallon. He was hanged on the mango tree and he was beaten to death. The boy was a civilian, in his thirties. He was beaten with the same rubber I described before. Three men beat him.
I saw Issa Sesay with diamonds. I saw him with diamonds in his residence, while he was on his way to Liberia. He had them in a paper. He was together with Kennedy and Peleto. They were checking the diamonds. He placed the diamonds in medicine plastic bags. This was in 2000.
The RUF also had a cocoa business. We had civilians that would harvest the cocoa from the tree, split them open, dry it and take it to Kolahun. There was a Lebanese man there who would buy cocoa and coffee. Kolahun is in Liberia. They had a truck to take the cocoa to Kolahun.
Pros: During the entire time you were with the RUF, were there checkpoints between Buedu and Foya?
Wit: Yes, the RUF controlled the Sierra Leonean side. There were still three checkpoints on the Liberian sides. Civilians had to have passes to travel, from the G2 and G5. They were the people who liaised between the civilians and the RUF fighters. Once a civilian had a pass, they could travel. Without a pass, you couldn’t get past the checkpoint. The pass was recognized by the RUF checkpoint and the Liberian checkpoints. In Liberia, Liberians manned the checkpoints. They were from the AFL, the LIberian national police and customs.
Pros: I want to ask about RUF operations outside Sierra Leone.
Wit: The first operation I was involved in was “Mosquito Spray” in August 1999, when they attacked Liberia from Voinjama and Kolahun. “Mosquito Spray” was a LURD commander. He said he was in Liberia to spray the AFL and National Police and remove Charles Taylor from power. Sam Bockarie was “Mosquito”. Christopher Varmoh of the NPFL was known as the “Liberian Mosquito”. I don’t know the real name of “Mosquito Spray”.
In August 1999, Sam Bockarie contacted us in the morning to prepare to move to Foya because Mosquito Spray had already attacked. Bockarie had instructions from Benjamin Yeaten. Yeaten reported to Taylor. Bockarie called Issa Sesay and Morris Kallon for us to move to Liberia. Bockarie said he was busy in Foya. We met Col Stanley of the AFL in Foya. We fought against the LURD rebels. We took Voinjama and Kolahun. Then Yeaten, Bockarie and the Defense Minister, Daniel Chea, arrived by helicopter and were taken to Monrovia. The overall commander of the operation was Sam Bockarie, based in Foya. The AFL under Col Stanley, the police and ATU were all involved in the operation. The ATU are the special mansion guards who guarded Taylor at the Executive Mansion. The overall commander of all of these units was Benjamin Yeaten. He was our field supervisor.
The next operation with the RUF outside Sierra Leone was after we released the UN peacekeepers. We moved from Makeni to Kamakuie . The commander the there, called Komba Gbundema. We used the Kabbah (ph) Ferry, and attacked Madina Wola in Guinea on a Sunday. We had more casualties there. We were fighting against the Guinean army. RUF forces were commanded by Short Bai Bureh. Other commanders involved were Kennedy, who was seriously injured, Komba Gbundema, and Olu, whom we lost. Issa Sesay said Taylor informed him that we should gain ground in Guinea so that during disarmament in Sierra Leone, we could keep arms safely in Guinea. We killed a Guinean commander, captured his car and the commander of the mission. We suffered many casualties. That’s why we retreated, because the Guineans were using military helicopters and jets to bombard the border. We returned to Sierra Leone.
The next operation with the RUF was with Dennis Mingo, moving from Kono into Guinea – between Kissidougou and Gueckedou. There were two refugee camps there: Toma and Yende. There were Liberians and Sierra Leoneans in the camps. Dennis Mingo led the troops from Kono into Guinea. We were fighting against the Guinean government. We were in Guinea for a month. We retreated to Sierra Leone.
The next operation with the RUF was to Kono. From there Issa provided transport and we moved to Foya, Liberia, where we met with Yeaten. He told us to get ready for the operation – that we had to take Gueckedou, using the Solomon crossing point from Liberia into Guinea. It was a joint operation of the RUF, AFL, ATU and Liberian Police. We crossed the Makono River between Liberia and Guinea. The operation commander was Benjamin Yeaten. Superman was the field commander. I was a commander. Matthew Barbue, Mark Gwon. The operation was planned and signed by Yeaten and Issa Sesay. I gave a copy of the order to the prosection. (Prosecution shows a document to the witness and the court.) This is the operation order. I can recognize it. This operation was in 2001. (The document is dated January 2001. It states that commanders are Mark Gwon, that Matthew Barbue is to command “Dragon Forces”. Operation code is “No Taking Side”. Scorpion Unit commanded by Major Gen Keita, with a Guinean deputy commander. ) Dragon Forces were RUF forces. I was commander of the Scorpions. “Distribution Unit 50” means Yeaten and his bodyguard. During the operation, Issa Sesay and Benjamin Yeaten left us and went by helicopter from Foya to Monrovia. When they came back, they told us they saw Charles Taylor.
During these operations, the RUF was supplied directly with ammunition by Benjamin Yeaten.
Pros: Have you ever heard the term SBU?
Wit: Yes. SBU is the Small Boy Unit. The Small Boy Unit were those boys below 15 – children in the revolutionary force. They were between ages 10-15. The SBU were with the RUF. They were boys and girls. We called the girls wives. In ULIMO there were also children under 15. In ULIMO they were not in separate units. They were with us, the commanders. I myself had an SBU. The children were called SBU but they were not in units. I don’t know how the NPFL was organized. With the RUF, I had two SBUs, Hassan and Mohamed – twins from Makeni. I always liked for them to be around me. I took care of them. Whereever I went, they went with me. At present they are in Makeni. They are Temnes from Makeni. Bockarie had Sasko and Moses. Sasko was 11 years old and Moses was 12. Benjamin Yeaten had a bodyguard called Livingston, who was about 11 years old. SBUs received training. They were trained in Bunumbu. The SBUs took part in combat with the RUF. There were involved in all the operations in Sierra Leone. Only the operation in Guinea didn’t use SBUs. SBUs were involved in the operation against Mosquito Spray in Liberia.
Pros: I want to ask about amputations.
Wit: I never saw amputations take place when I was with the RUF, but I saw amputees. I saw people with missing hands, fingers, and legs.
Pros: You mentioned Rambo. Was there more than one “Rambo”?
Wit: RUF Rambo was killed when fighting took place between Issa Sesay and Dennis Mingo. He’s buried in Makeni. I know another Rambo who was an SLA and worked for Johnny Paul Koroma. SLA Rambo was in Liberia. He was a CSO to Johnny Paul. He stopped at Alhaji Kromah’s house in Congo Town. At the SAB, he was picked up one day by Mazahar and was killed. I don’t know what he’d done, but Mazahar told me that he’d run away from the RUF. Bockarie complained to Yeaten. YEaten instructed Mazahar to get rid of Rambo. That was 1999.
Colonel Foday was SLA. Col. Foday left Kailahun for Monrovia, through Vahun. They said he didn’t have a pass. They arrested him in Monrovia. He was transferred to Buedu by Mazahar and Sampson. That was before the Kono attack. He was taken to jail. Sam Bockarie and Eddie Kanneh and SB Rogers came. They ordered that he should be brought and dragged. He was dragged to Bockarie’s house. He was an in-law to Issa Sesay. He was Issa’s wife’s uncle. When they brought him, Issa and Bockarie each shot him – Issa in his chest and Bockarie shot him in the head. They said it was because he was giving information to ECOMOG.
Dennis Mingo (“Superman”) was in Gueckedou. When we came to take to take Foya from the LURD rebels. We retreated. Mingo was taken to Monrovia for treatment because he had an RPG fragment in his hand. We couldn’t take Foya. Mingo came back to the front-line. At that time we were based in Vahun. We were fighting in Kolahun, Masan Bolahun, Kamatahun (and other villages). Yeaten, Dopoe Menkarzon, Roland Duo, Christopher Varmoh were all fighting. Yeaten told Superman that Charles Taylor wanted to see him in Monrovia. Superman said he had no option – he would go. Yeaten said he should only take one bodyguard along. Then a medical doctor on a jeep, Dr. Margona, drove him from Vahun. When we were in Vahun, I saw “Peanut Butter” (Roland Duo), Benjamin Yeaten. On Monday they moved from Vahun. On Tuesday, Duo told me Yeaten had killed Superman, and that this wasn’t good. He said this movement is no longer revolutionary. He said before anyone was killed, there should be an investigation. I knew Superman well. Duo said that according to Yeaten, Superman used to go to the American Embassy in Monrovia. So Duo took me from Vahun. He said we should go to Monrovia for him to know the cause of the death of Superman before I could go back to the front line. We drove to Monrovia. We took weapons that myself and the boys were using to Roland Duo’s house–AKs, RPGs and 60s. From there he said we should go to Benjamin Yeaten so they would not think I had run away from Vahun. When we got to Yeaten’s house, they said he had followed Charles Taylor on a tour in Grand Bassa County. That is how I escaped to Ivory Coast.
I went to Ivory Coast because I was afraid that if Superman could be killed, the same could happen to me. From Ivory Coast I moved to my uncle’s in Ghana. The last time I saw Bockarie was in Ghana. Mike Lama came and said he had come to look for me. He said Sheku Suwape Koroma, the Guinean, had sent him to see me. I asked where? He said Burkina Faso. So he said we should go to Burkina Faso.
(Prosecution asks that the witness and court be shown a photograph) This is Sheku Sawape Koroma. I first saw this photograph at the time Bockarie and Sheku were in trouble. Sheku gave me the picture.
I accepted to go to Burkina Faso. I went with Mike Lama and met Sheku Suwape Koroma, General Adams and Sam Bockarie. The name Bockarie was using there was Mohamed Bockarie. General Adams used to be the diamond agent of the RUF. General Adams was a short, fat man. Sheku asked me to join them to go to fight in Cote d’Ivoire. I said “Eh, right now I am tired of fighting.” He said I have to keep my courage, that he would take me to the ground. Mohamed Bockarie who was Sam Bockarie drove me to Bouacke in Cote d’Ivoire. Bockarie said he was fighting alongside break-away soldiers from the Ivoirian army, who were in Bouacke.
Pros: This mornign you mentioned an FM radion station. Did they get that station?
Wit: Yes. They called it Radio Freedom. The station manager Dodo Kotuma, a former BBC employee. It was at Hilton Fyle in Kailahun District. The machine for the station came from Liberia.
Pros: You mentioned monitoring of ECOMOG radio. Was that information used during any operations?
Wit: Yes, during the Freetown attack. When jets took off from RIA, Sita (Jungle’s wife) would call “448” and the radio communicator would also ring the bell. Every commander that had a Yesue radio was also informed.
Pros: I want to go back to the operation with the RUF in Liberia. Was there looting in that operation?
Wit: Yes. We, the RUF, looted Medicines Sans Frontieres and Lutheran World Services who were taking care of Sierra Leonean refugees.
Pros: Going back to Bockarie, do you know what happened to him?
Wit: I was in Sierra Leone in 2003 and saw his younger brother Ahmadou and the elder sister of his wife, Kadia. They said Sam Bockarie and his four children were killed by Benjamin Yeaten. Amadou and Kadia said Yeaten called Bockarie, who did not want to come to Monrovia. They said Yeaten had taken Bockarie’s mother, his wife Mahawa, and his four children from Monrovia to Nimba County. They were to meet at a junction. Yeaten shot Bockarie’s wife. Bockarie started screaming. They said that’s when Yeaten shot and killed Bockarie himself, his mother and his children. That’s when Amadou and Kadia escaped to Freetown. Ahmadou said Yeaten killed Bockarie because of this Special Court. Yeaten wanted to destroy the evidence.
The prosecution has no further questions.