After Tales of Killings, Forced Labor, Arrests of UN Peacekeepers and a Plot to Overthrow the Guinean President, Cross-examination Begins…

The Hague

March 5, 2008

Prosecution witness, RUF insider, Mustapha Marvin Mansaray, 36, continued his testimony from yesterday.  As he sat, wearing a white T-shirt under a grey button-down dress shirt, he looked calm throughout much of his testimony.  He did not seem to suffer from the same watery eyes and nose as he did during yesterday’s sessions.  Charles Taylor also sat calmly throughout the testimony, at times taking notes.

Mansaray continued his description of the foodstuffs that the RUF had claimed for its benefit, forcing civilians to hand over supplies of coffee, cocoa and kola nuts from their plantations in order to sell them to get money to buy arms and ammunition for the RUF. Civilians who resisted would be beaten and their property taken from them.

Around the same time, Mansaray described a meeting with a man called Jungle at Sam Bockaries’ house in 1997, but Mansaray and Jungle had actually known each other previously.   Jungle was one of the men who Foday Sankoh would send to Liberia to get arms and ammunition, and to Guinea to get foodstuffs for the RUF.

In 1998 when Mansaray moved to Quiva, he described lootings and killings of civilians, as the RUF and AFRC established a battalion headquarters there and took over civilian houses.  The morning after the RUF and AFRC fighters arrived in the town, corpses littered the street.  Around the same time, Mansaray described the decaying odor of 20 corpses of civilians who had been killed in Kailahun, allegedly by Sam Bockarie because Bockarie suspected them of being Kamajors. No action was taken against Bockarie for these killings.  When Mansaray moved to Segbwema, he also spoke of an RUF fighter who shot 25 civilians. Mansaray reported these murders, but his superiors did nothing about it. He described similar patterns in other places he worked throughout the war.

Mansaray described in-fighting within the RUF and AFRC in 1999 in Makeni, which led to a split. Sam Bockarie, Issa Sesay and Morris Kallon headed one group, and Dennis Mingo and Gibril Massaquoi headed the other.  The two groups fought against each other, resulting in killings.  At a muster parade in a nearby town of Magbaruka Town around the same time, he found out that Morris Kallon and Siem Kolleh (an RUF vanguard) had a vehicle loaded with ammunition and arms which the Kallon/Bockarie/Sesay split planned to use against the Dennis Mingo group. These arms and ammunition had come from Liberia. Kolleh told Mansaray that Sam Bockarie had got these ammunition and arms from Charles Taylor.

Mansaray then moved to describing his time in Pendembu from June 1999, where he worked as the RUF’s First Brigade Internal Defense Unit (IDU) Chief Clerk. He was responsible for issuing travel passes to fighters who wanted to visit their families, and for screening approximately 500 civilians who had been captured by the fighters. After the screening, the civilians could be signed out by their families, but for those who did not have families to sign them out, a different fate awaited. For the women, RUF fighters would often come to sign for them and take them to the fighter’s home to have sexual intercourse or to make the women do domestic work.

During the same period, Mansaray described the arrest of UN peacekeepers by an RUF member called Dennis Lansana on the orders of Issa Sesay, then the RUF’s overall commander.  These peacekeepers were kept under house arrest as the RUF leadership prepared six charges against them, including one that the peacekeepers had joined hands with the Sierra Leonean government to destroy the RUF.  The peacekeepers were then taken to Liberia, by either car or helicopter, at the request of Charles Taylor, according to Mansaray. What happened to the peacekeepers after they arrived in Liberia was not canvassed in today’s testimony.

Mansaray then went on to describe his role in Komba Gbundema from July 2000. Part of his duties were to record the RUF’s arms and ammunition stock, and the number of fighters. He said a stock of arms and ammunitions existed at Makeni, which had come from Issa Sesay in order to run the RUF’s operations. Issa Sesay had addressed a muster parade of RUF fighters in 2000, and told them that Charles Taylor had given him the mission to launch an attack against President Lansana Conteh in Guinea and overthrow him.  Issa Sesay had told the muster parade that Taylor had supplied the arms for the mission in Guinea, and the fighters should accomplish the mission set for them.

Mansaray went on to describe his work as mining commander in the Ngaiya area from January 2001, where he controlled more than 200 diamond mines. He described a system in which civilians were forced to work in the diamond mines.  Though techincally the RUF had a system where they would divide the gravel into two piles – one meant for the RUF, and the other meant for the civilians — the RUF would always confiscate any big diamonds found by civilians. If civilians refused to hand over the diamonds, they were beaten or killed.

Mansaray also described an RUF training base in the area where he was the mining commander.  He said that Issa Sesay had gone there one night and killed a group of recruits.  When Sesay was confronted about this by the RUF’s General Security Officer, Pa Kosia, Sesay threatened him. Nothing was done to address the killings.

The Prosecution and the Defense during cross examination focussed on Mansaray’s role in the RUF’s Internal Defense Unit, and whether this Unit received and acted upon complaints by civilians of mistreatment by the RUF.  In short, Mansaray claimed that the IDU would act upon complaints by civilians in 1994 and 1995.  When Sam Bockarie took over as the RUF’s field commander, however, reports were rarely acted upon (he said 90 per cent of the time, the IDU’s reports were not acted upon).  Between 1996 and disarmament in June 2001, Mansaray agreed that the rules and regulations of the RUF were effectively shattered as the RUF’s commanders, from 1996, “took the law into their own hands” and complaints were no longer, or rarely, acted upon.

Cross-examination of the witness will continue tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.