February 5, 2008
Prosecutor Mohamed Bangura continued his examination of the former RUF radio communications officer Perry Kamara.
Through a series of questions Perry Kamara testified to the following:
• Kamara described in detail the procedures used by the RUF for transmitting radio messages.
• Each base/station had a logbook. When one was full, a new one would be created. Some stations had up to 5 logbooks, and all logbooks, codes and radio’s were the responsibility of the radio operator.
• All operators had access to all the messages transmitted at any station, the majority of them being military messages such as instructions for attacks and ambushes, supplies of arms and ammunition, and instructions concerning peace talks or the release of hostages.
• Codenames of radio stations and of radio operators were changed every one or two months. Examples of codenames of radio stations: Shining Star 2, Bravo Zulu 4, Alpha 2. Examples of codenames of radio operators: System (the Witness himself), Ebony Prince, Shining Star, Solution.
• There was radio contact between Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh almost daily. Sometimes Sankoh would speak with Taylor in person, sometimes the radio operator would receive a message, decode it and bring it. There would always be a radio standby on the frequency 70110.
• Kamara was active as a radio operator from the time he received training in 1991 until he was disarmed.
• Kamara was shown a document and identified it as a logbook from a station other than his own, but similar to the one he used to use.
• The Witness was shown a page of the logbook and confirmed that it was a radio message received by the station where this logbook was kept. The message was from Mr. Martin to “Black Moses,” a codename for Samuel Bockarie. Mr. Martin was a member of the RUF, a coordinator responsible for transporting arms and ammunition coming from Mr. Taylor.
• Kamara was also shown another message from Bockarie at a time when he had a conflict with the RUF and decided to go to Liberia to meet Charles Taylor. The message is not coded because no military issues were raised. All radio stations received this message and kept a copy for reference purposes.
Use of Satellite Phones
• In later years starting in 1996, Sankoh, Bockarie and Taylor began to use satellite phones and later cellular phones. The satellite phones were stored in the radio room. Nobody, including the radio operator, was allowed to use them. On two occasions Issa Sesay had access to the satellite phone: when Bockarie left for Liberia to meet Charles Taylor and in May 2000 when Sankoh was arrested. Sesay used the phone to be in contact with Taylor and had his messages transmitted to RUF units.
RUF Military Operations and Activities
• Kamara mentioned names of stations where he has operated: Zogoda, Burkina Base (Kailahun District), Libya Base (Pujehun District), Peyama (close to Tongo), Bradford (western jungle). The RUF kept these bases until 1996/1997.
• In 1997 the Witness was in Kangari Hills. Main activities of the RUF there included setting ambushes, attacks on civilians on food missions, abduction of boys and girls from villages, setting up road blocks, burning vehicles, burning houses. Boys were forced to do hard labour or forcefully sent to military training camps. Girls were forcefully “married” to RUF members. This happened in 1997 not only in Kangari Hills but in all RUF “liberated” zones.
• Immediately after the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) overthrew President Kabbah in May 1997, Bockarie had radio messages sent to all the bases that the RUF should join the AFRC. Both the AFRC command structure as well as the RUF command structure remained the same. All RUF commanders (Sam Bockarie, Issa Sesay, Mike Lamin, Dennis Mingo) joined together in Freetown as RUF representatives in this new structure that lasted nine months until February 1998 when ECOMOG attacked by air and by land. As a result, the leaders of the RUF and the AFRC moved from Freetown to the provinces.
• At the end of 1997/1998, Kamara was in Makeni. ECOMOG had taken over Freetown. RUF leaders came to Makeni to reorganise the RUF and to attack again. In this period radio communications were a priority, since it helped reorganise people and set up new bases.
• During a meeting at Flamengo “Operation Pay Yourself” was agreed upon. Each soldier now had the responsibility to look after himself and had permission to get from civilians food, women, cars, or anything they wanted. They were divided into three groups, the first headed by Superman (aka Dennis Mingo), the second by Johnny Paul Koroma, and the third group included all of the radio operators, including Kamara. Superman’s group went first in order to clear the way for the others. They stole food, abducted civilians, raped women (when women refused they were killed), killed their husbands, burned down houses and destroyed property.
• After having arrived in Koidu, Sam Bockarie received a message from Charles Taylor, who told them to stand by in Kono, the biggest diamond area in Sierra Leone. Bockarie passed the message on by radio to all the bases. The Witness recalls having received this message, and testified that the order was to make this area “fearsome.” This was done in the same way as described in Operation Pay Yourself.
• Morris Kallon was appointed as deputy of Superman. Bockarie ordered that all the combatants had rights over all civilians at all times. The atrocities continued, including amputations.
• Civilians were used in forced labour to build an airfield at Buedu and in the mining industry.
• In Koidu, Kamara received a message from Bockarie with a request for money. He ordered a commercial bank in Koidu town to be taken and destroyed. Result of the robbery: US dollars (in a bag the size of a rice bag of 50 kg), sterling pounds, Australian money and a jar the size of a water glass full of diamonds [note that this testimony appears to corroborate Sherif’s testimony concerning Bockarie’s possession of a jar of diamonds while traveling to Monrovia]. Kamara sent a radio message from Superman to Bockarie about the result. Bockarie sent a radio message back that he would go to Liberia to use this money and these diamonds to get arms, ammunition and food from Charles Taylor and this actually happened.
• The Witness testified about the character and behaviour of Morris Kallon. Kallon had a sheep. One day a boy from a SBU by accident killed the sheep. Kallon killed the boy for this.
• ECOMOG was attacking Koidu by air and by land and soon Koidu was in their hands. Bases were formed around Koidu in order to prevent ECOMOG from leaving Koidu.
• At this time Kamara was now working as a radio operator in Superman Ground, a base under the command of Superman/Dennis Mingo. Villages were attacked, children abducted, civilians either killed or taken, the men were forced to do hard labour at airfields or in mining, and women were forced into “marriage”.
• All bases kept written records of the captured civilians: their names and the commander they were “assigned” to. Kamara identified one of these records and the names on the list: 1. Dennis Mingo, 2. Isaac Mongo, 3. Morris Kallon, 4. Rambo (real name: Premo) and others. The list included their number and rank. The list also included Kamara’s name.
• Another list was shown to the Witness containing names of civilians. On the left side were written the names of women, on the right side the names of RUF officers they had been assigned to.
• Kamara testified that each base has a unit called Joint Security, consisting of IDU (Independent Defense Unit), MP (Military Police) and IO (Intelligence Officer).
• The mining of diamonds around Koidu was organised the following way: Superman conducted it with Morris Kallon according to instructions from Bockarie. Captured civilians would do the actual mining during the day. Gunmen would be present to prevent them from escaping and from stealing diamonds. During the night they would be in locked houses with a guard outside, and being caught escaping meant death.
Major RUF Military Operations
• During the time the Witness was at Superman Ground three major military operations were carried out, not counting the (many) food finding missions.
• First operation: Bumpe Mission. The goal was to make the Kono District “fearful” for ECOMOG. This was done in the usual way: killing civilians, destroying property, burning houses, amputations, destroying bridges, setting up roadblocks. Morris Kallon gave the oversight over the mission to Major Rocky. Instructions were: anyone you meet: kill or amputate, burn down villages, send the surviving ones to ECOMOG. Amputations were done as a warning to civilians to “take their hands of the war”, which became a slogan in Krio language: “pul yu an pan di war”.
• Second operation: Gold Town mission. Gold Town is between Kono and Makeni. This operation was carried out one month after the first operation. The focus of the mission was to prevent ECOMOG from controlling the Kono District. The Witness remembers one ambush being very “successful”: on a road many vehicles, including military vehicles and a bus were taken. All the civilians in the bus were killed and ECOMOG soldiers were killed. Other civilians, including one journalist, were killed. All the vehicles were burned and nobody survived. During this time, Kamara moved from Superman Grounds to Buedu in April/May 1998.
• Third operation: Fitti-Fatta mission. Focus of the mission: create panic in ECOMOG forces to prevent their advance. Objective: to attack and capture Koidu town. Koidu town was ambushed at 7 p.m., and the fighting took until the next morning. Many ECOMOG soldiers were dead or wounded. Fitti Fatta means abundance, and there was an abundance of everything: the manpower that came from all the camp area, the ammunition, the drinks.
• A commander named Gullit (Alex Tamba Brima) was not happy with the transfer in command to Sam Bockarie. He and other senior officers such as five-five (Santigie Borbor Kanu), Bazzy, Papa and Lion, junior officers also, established a new base in Rosos in Bombali District in the north of Sierra Leone. Their radio was not working well at all. A radio message came from Sam Bockarie to prepare radio operators to help the radio operators in Rosos. The Witness was included in this group.
Kamara’s direct testimony will continue tomorrow.