Prosecution Crime-Base Witnesses Describe Gang Rapes, Killings and Amputations by RUF Forces in Freetown and Elsewhere in January 1999

The Hague,

February 14, 2008

Testimony of Prosecution Witness TF1-026

Today’s session began with the Prosecution, and thereafter the Defense, submitting various documents as exhibits. After about 45 minutes, prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra presented the Prosecution’s first Witness of the day, “TF1-026”, a 24 year-old woman belonging to the Limba Tribe from Freetown, Sierra Leone. Her identity was protected through the use of a screen and voice distortion.

Abduction and rape

The Witness’s testimony focused on the events on 6 January 1999 and the following nine months. On that date, 9 RUF rebels came to her house, where she was with her parents and sisters. The rebels shot her sister because she was crying. Afterwards, the rebels captured her and made her witness the rebels amputating arms and hands of several civilians and burning houses.
The commander of the rebels, identified as “Rocky”, was also there. The Witness and seven other girls and many other civilians (about 50) were taken from the village to Calaba Town. Once there, the Witness was subsequently gang raped by four of the rebels. When asked if she could see what the rebels were doing to the other girls, the Witness answered that she could see that they were doing the same to the other girls as they were doing to her. Describing this memory made her emotional, which prompted Presiding Judge Doherty to give the Witness a break.

During this break, Defense Counsel Morris Anyah questioned why this distressing evidence is relevant for the case. Prosecution replied that this is a vital and real part of the case that the Prosecution has to prove. In response, the Court reminded the Defense that it has not agreed to these facts.

During the second morning session, the Witness continued her description of the gang rape. A total of seven RUF rebels took part in the raping of seven girls that were with her. After two days in Kabalataa, all the civilians from the village were taken to Waterloo, accompanied by the commander, Rocky. The Witness described atrocities that took place on the way to Waterloo, such as an incident where a civilian man’s hand was cut off because he tried to flee.

Training camp

The Witness was taken to Makeni, where she met the commander (Brigadier Issa Sesay) and an important man in the RUF, called “Superman”. She stayed in Makeni for three weeks, in Brigadier Sesay’s house. She and some other girls had to do chores and accompany the Brigadier’s wife to the market. Subsequently, she and twenty other girls were taken to Buedu and handed over to “Mosquito”, the boss of the RUF, as the Witness described him. She was then handed over to Krio Mammy, a female RUF rebel, who was instructed to train the Witness together with the other 20 girls. They were taught to crawl, roll over and fire guns, so they could defend themselves in case of an attack. When asked if she ever attempted to escape, the Witness stated that Mosquito shot two girls who had been caught while trying to flee in front of all the girls to set an example for the others of what would happen if they attempted to run away. Shortly after this event, the RUF rebels carved the letters “RUF” on the girls’ chests using knives.

After six months of training in Buedu, the girls were taken back to Makeni and forced to “marry” RUF rebels. She was 14 years old at the time. Then the Witness found out that she was pregnant.

Escape home

When the war was coming to an end, the Witness managed to escape from Makeni. She returned to her village and found her parents and sisters still alive.  In a closed session, the Witness stated the name of her village, the names of the four RUF rebels who raped her in Calaba Town, and the name of the rebel who was made her “husband” in Makeni. This concluded the Prosecution’s examination of the Witness.

On the direct order of Charles Taylor, the Defense had no questions for the Witness. They stated they were not in a position to interrogate this Witness. 

Export Report of Beth Vann

The Prosecution moved to have the expert report of Beth Vann admitted as evidence. The Defense requested more time for their response, and the matter will be dealt with tomorrow.

Testimony of Prosecution Witness TF1-101 Mohamed Sesay

Rebels attack Freetown

In the afternoon session, Mohamed Sesay who had previously appeared before Trial Chamber I as a protected witness gave evidence in open session and rescinded his protective measures. Like the first Witness, he was also an inhabitant of Freetown. He stated that on 6 January 1999 he heard gunshots at night and in the morning there were a large number of RUF rebels in the streets with guns, machetes, and axes. After six days, a number of civilians managed to escape and made their way to Saroula. They passed checkpoints on the way, controlled by rebels. The civilians were told to sit down, while two men from their group were killed by the rebels, one was shot and one stabbed to death. There were also members of the SLA, the Sierra Leone Army, also known as the People’s Army, who joined the rebels. One of the soldiers was a woman who spoke Liberian. The Witness recognized a member of the rebels, Issa Conteh, who shot an old woman. The Witness described how frightened all the civilians were.

The Witness managed to get back to his house, but the rebels soon found him. He sent his family away. The rebels set fire to his house. However, he escaped and ran to a friend, Papa Bobodin. The next day he went to Mr. Abass’s house, where he met other civilians who were also trying to get away from the rebels. However the rebels found them and took 24 men, including the Witness. 

Killings and amputations

The Witness proceeded to give a detailed account of the treatment he and others received at the hands of the rebels. First, the men were made to queue. All rebels were armed. The commander ordered the rebels to cut off the men’s hands. The men pleaded with the rebels. However, the commander told the first man in line to put his arm down to get amputated. The man refused, so the commander killed the man by shooting him in the face. The next person in line also refused to put his hands down. He was also shot. The next five people were killed with axes through the head. When it was the Witness’s turn he pleaded to be shot, but instead his hands were amputated with a machete. The youngest of the soldiers was ordered to untie the Witness after the amputations. This soldier was at most 13 years old.

Subsequently, “Rambo” arrived, who the Witness thought to be the rebels’ leader. Rambo came to meet the men whose hands had been amputated. He was saluted by the rebels who were there. Rambo asked the rebels why they had killed people and cut off arms and said that they would be punished. Rambo said that he was going to set the men free. The men had to follow Rambo to the base. Rambo told the men to stand by a church and asked “Captain Blood” where the doctors were. Rambo put 100,000 (currency unclear) in the witness’s pocket and had him taken away. After having been taken away, the witness collapsed. The next day he was taken in an armored car to Connaught hospital, where there were many amputees, but no medicine.

At this point Court was adjourned until tomorrow 9.30 a.m.


  1. First of all, congratulations on the site. It is important that someone reports this trial systematically in a accessible way. Given the amount of people in the public gallery today (not many, usually 5-12) and given that the trial is far from Sierra Leone, this is necessary. Secondly, I was also there for most of the testimony of TF-101 today and would like to point out a couple of imprecisions in the report above. It would therefore be appreciated if the next accounts posted on the blog could be more factually precise.
    1)”The civilians were told to sit down, while two men from their group were killed by the rebels, one was shot and one stabbed to death.” He explicitly stated that it were passersby that were shot. He even said that one of them was an old man (he also said something short about the second one, but I can’t recall exactly what).
    2)”One of the soldiers was a woman who spoke Liberian.” It is unclear who she was, and the judges and the prosecution explicitly agreed that she (and the others there) could not be called ‘soldiers’. She was not in uniform but did wear boots. Moreover, what is important here is that she seemed to be giving commands. Btw, Liberian is not a language.
    3)”The next day he went to Mr Abbas’s house”. The name is spelled as Abass if I recall correctly the spelling of the name of the prosecution.
    4)”the rebels found them and took 24 men, including the witness.” Just to add, they were taken because they were young people there.
    5)” All rebels were armed.” Of the seven rebels that were there, not all were armed if I recall correctly, the commander, called ‘commando’ had a pistol, and other five, had rifles. Which makes for a total of six.
    6)”When it was the witness’s turn he pleaded to be shot, but instead his hands were amputated with a machete.” What was interesting here is that his hand was amputated and he was not shot, because the rebel told him ‘you are not to decide what we do’, so they sort of did the opposite of what he asked for to show their power.
    7)”The youngest of the soldiers was ordered to untie the witness after the amputations.” In my understanding they were tied before he got amputated, so the young boy untied him so that they could bring him to the log so that he could be amputated.
    8)”He was maybe 13 years old.: Witness stated that he was at most 13 years old.
    9)”The next day he was taken in an armored car to Connaght hospital” It was ECOMOG that took him and the hospital is called Connaught.

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