Two Prosecution Witnesses Recount Rebel Violence Towards Civilians; Expert Report of Beth Vann Submitted to the Court

The Hague

February 15, 2008

The examination of prosecution witness TF1-101, Mohamed Sesay, continues

Prosecutor Mohamed Bangura continued his direct examination of Witness Mohamed Sesay.
Sesay explained that he knew Rambo from before. Rambo stopped the men who amputated and killed civilians. He was aware that Rambo was a rebel leader. Sesay stated that at one point he had helped push Rambo’s car when it had broken down.

Sesay testified that, about one year after the incident, he saw the person who amputated his hands at a football training in western Freetown. At that time Sesay confronted this person, but the person did not reply and went away. Sesay concluded by stating that his hands were amputated on 19 January 1999.

The Defense had no questions.

Expert Report of Beth Vann, MSW

Defense Counsel Terry Munyard objected to extracts of Beth Vann’s report being submitted in addition to the full report and summary. Munyard explained that, in May 2007, the Defense accepted the report and curriculum vitae of Vann. On 4 February 2008, the Prosecution changed course and sought to submit extracts from these documents. Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra replied that these extracts had been included in the list of potential exhibits. The expert report includes references in footnotes, which the Prosecution also sought to admit. The Court upheld the objection. Alagendra opted to tender the report as submitted, to which Defense Counsel did not object. The report without extracts was entered as exhibit.

Alagendra summarized for the Court the expert report on war-related sexual violence between 1996 and 2002. The report was based on field research and first-hand experiences from women. The majority of the sexual violence discussed in the report occurred between 1997 and 1999. The violence detailed in the report was committed by RUF rebels throughout the country and committed against women of all ages, including children. The report also included statements from refugees in Guinea, who gave first hand accounts of stories of amputations, torture, and killings by RUF rebels. Female heads of household were also interviewed in preparation of the report. These women recounted stories of sexual slavery committed by the RUF and AFRC forces. Vann’s findings have been confirmed by a Human Rights Watch Report.

The Examination of Witness TF1-192 Musa Koroma Commences

Alagendra began the direct examination of prosecution witness TF1-192, Musa Koroma. This witness previously testified in Trial Chamber I of this Court under protective measures of pseudonym and screen, but now wishes to rescind these protective measures. Koroma is a Sierra Leone national from the Koranko Tribe. Alagendra inquired about the events that occurred during the rainy season of 1998, while Koroma was living in Bomboafuidu, in the Kono District, Mimiyama Chiefdom. Koroma explained that during the rainy season, the civilians from Bomboafuidu fled into the bush. The civilians had received a message that rebel forces were approaching. This message was delivered by a person named Gbessey Sesay, whose right hands were amputated by the rebels, and whom the civilians had never seen before.

The civilians stayed in the bush for two months. After that period, ECOMOG asked them to clear the road from Small Makeni to Sandia, which had been blocked. Twenty men, including the Witness, cleared the road and spent the night in Bomboafuidu at Sheku Mansaray’s house. During that night, two men dressed in combat outfits and armed with guns came to the house and claimed to be their saviors. The two men brought Koroma to Alhaji Tejan Cole’s father’s house and told the Witness to sit on the floor, where other civilians were sitting.

An old woman of the Limba tribe was brought in by the rebels. The rebels moved all civilians to the chief’s veranda. Over 50 rebels were in the village at that time, the Witness estimated. The rebels cut the Limba woman’s throat while holding her down. The civilians were then taken to the veranda of Koroma’s father home, where rebel members ordered them to take off their clothes and have sexual intercourse. Koroma was forced to watch. His sister was part of this group of civilians. The rebels then locked up the women inside the farm house; some women were beaten before being hurdled into the farm house. A rebel was ordered to burn the farm house where the women were locked in, but he broke the latch instead and told the women to run away.

During the second session, Alagendra continued the examination of Koroma regarding the events in the 1998 rainy season. Koroma explained that, after the women escaped from the farm house, the rebels made Koroma, who was first in the line they had formed, stretch out his hand for amputation. The rebels cut into Koroma’s right arm, which badly mutilated it. The next person in line was also mutilated by the rebels. The men were released, so they went to the bush to look for their families. Back in Bomboafuidu, Koroma found many others whose hands and arms had been amputated. His sister’s left hand was mutilated, the right hand was completely cut off.

After the rebels left Bomboafuidu, the civilians stayed until nighttime in the village. As night fell, they returned to the bush to sleep. The next day, the civilians went back to Bomboafuidu. After this, they continued on to Njaiama Sewafe. From there, they went to Makeni to be treated for their injuries. Koroma concluded his testimony by stating that he cannot use his right hand anymore.

The Defense had no questions for this witness.