RUF Commander Testifies in Open Session

The courtroom opened to an empty gallery for the second session, a little after noon.

Prosecution sought to rescind the previous protective measures for Witness TF1-337.  The court will proceed in open session without previous protective measures. Defense did not object.

The witness walked in with a blue shirt and baggy blue jacket, and testified in Krio. Charles Taylor was in the courtroom, wearing his aviator sunglasses.

The witness, who testified in open court, was Mustapha Marvin Mansaray, 36 year old, belonging to the Mende tribe.

The Prosecution started by taking the witness back to 1991 Pujahun town in 1991.

Wit: In April 1991 the RUF and NPFL entered  Pujahun town carrying guns. They captured us.

Pros: Who do you mean by captured us?

Wit: the civilians were all captured.

Pros: What happened after you and other civilians were captured?

Wit: After some time, I went to my village, Funima. On 20 April 1991 RUF and NPFL fighters captured me in my village and I was taken to a training base in a town called GisiWolo for the RUF.

I met other civilians there who said they were recruits and we were to be trained in guerrilla training and commando training. There were about 500 other recruits. The other civilians at the camp were aged between 14 to 45 years of age.

(The witness sniffed and dabbed his face with a yellow handkerchief.)

Judge Doherty: Are you feeling alright witness?

Wit: I am okay.

Pros: You went through two types of training – did all civilians under go that training? Can you describe it?

Wit: Guerrilla training is the physical training that we received. Taught how to shoot a gun against the fighters.  Using light weapons like the AK and hand grenade, and heavy weapons.  When you undergo training, you will enter the Halaka – when you enter, you wil go around it running, if they ask you to drop down you will fall down, you will be commanded to crawl on your stomach.  During all this the training instructors will be standing around flogging you with sticks. After that the training instructors told us to fall on the ground when someone shoots at us. We were tested that if we go to the front line, we have to be confident enough to be with the other soldiers.  Sometimes they would use live bullets in the halaka. They told us as long as you stayed still even if the gun is shot continuously, nothing will happen to you, but if you stand up, you will die.

Some mornings they would take us to the bush and set up an ambush. We would be divided into fighters and enemies so if there is such a situation we can face it.

Pros: What did you do when they trained you attacked enemies?

Wit: To attack the enemy, we are taught that sometimes we will attack them surprisingly when they are not expecting us, sometimes through ambush, and tactics that we applied if there are soldiers in the town. We go close to the town. We may have to capture a civilian to ask them how the soldiers are positioned in the town.  If we can’t capture a civilian, 2-3 fighters will go into the town and see where they are positioned.

(The witness is speaking too fast for the interpreter – he was told to slow down). The witness sniffled throughout the testimony.

Wit: When we went in the town, we would bring all the civilians together in the center of the town or the court barry, and for houses where soldiers have been resident, we will go in and search for ammunition or guns.  Those civilians we bring together, we will search in case there are any soldiers among them.  If there are no soldiers, whatever we will capture in the town, whatever items we are looting — clothes, food, whatever property we needed — we forced the civilians to carry the property.

Pros: Court you explain what you mean by court barry?

Wit: Sometimes when we captured towns during fighting, there will be a big house where local courts are held. We called it a court barry.  Sometimes we will gather civilians together to search among them. So when you ask me about the court berry, that is the reason why that big house is called a court barry.

Pros: After you captured a town, you would force the civilians to carry the items. Is there anything else about an attack on a town?

Wit: When we captured those towns, before we start searching among the civilians, if there are roads leading to the town, the commander leading the mission could appoint fighters to stand by the roads, so that if there are soldiers who escaped, they could not come back to attack us by surprise.  So those are some of the tactics we apply when we capture a town.

Pros: Was there any other purpose that fighters were put besides seeing fleeing soldiers?

Wit: Those are the reasons, we defend against the soldiers there to fight against us.  Sometimes when we dislodge them from the town, sometimes they will go back and regroup and fight us again.

Pros: Anything else?

Wit: Well except when we give the civilians the looted items, they walk with us, and we bring them to the area where we were, and there are some women that the commanders would take them to be their wives.

Pros: What if civilians tried to escape after you captured a town?

Wit:  At the time, in 1991, when RUF-SL and NPFL fighters, whatever town where we captured civilians, if there was anyone who was afraid and wanted to run, we killed them as they were suspected fighters.

Pros: Who were your instructors at the Gisiwolo?

Wit: Bockarie, who was an NPFL fighter but in short we called him A.B.  Also Yagbawolo who introduced himself to us. He said he was a Liberian but he is a member of the RUF. He was a vanguard for the RUF movement.

Pros: Was there a training commander at Gisiwolo?

Wit: The training commander at the base was called Chico Mayar.

Pros: At Gisiwolo, do you remember if RUF commanders visited the base?

Wit: RUF commanders – yes, they used to visit the training base.

pros: Do you remember their names?

Wit: Yes. The Commander in Chief for RUF operations visited the training base. The first time I saw him in person he said his name was CIC Foday Sankoh.  CIC means Commander in Chief.

It was the very first time I saw him. The day he visited the base, those of us at the training base, they called a dinner. We came back from the forrest, and Foday Sankoh spoke to us.

Pros: What did Foday Sankoy say to you?

Wit: He introduced himself and then told us that he is the leader for the RUF-SL movement, but all of us fighting the war were fighting it for ourselves, he was just there as the leader.  He said he did not have money to buy arms to fight the war in Sierra Leone. But he has a friend who is prepared to assist him to fight the war in Sierra Leone. He said that the name of his friend is Charles Ghankay Taylor and he is in Liberia.  He is prepared to give him fighters and also prepared to give him arms and ammunition to fight the war in Sierra Leone.  So he said that to us.  We were all happy, We clapped for him.

Judge: Witness, are you having a problem?

Wit: When I look continuously, I get tears in my eyes.

(Witness sniffled and dapped his eyes with a yellow handkerchief).

Pros: Were you told who Charles Taylor was?

Wit: Foday Sankoh said he was his friend and the leader of the fighters that came to Sierra Leone that we called the NPFL fighters.

Pros: Who did Foday Sankoh come with to the training base?

Wit: He came along with people who were body guards to him. I remember called Rokisio. And I saw one woman called Sombo, she too was a bodyguard.

Pros: How long did  you train at Kisiwolo?

Wit: I trained there between 3-4 months. Then I completed the training and was sent to the front line.

Pros: From which month to which month?

Wit: April 1991 to May-June 1991.

pros: After your training did you join any group?

Wit: After the training, the senior fighters for us came and took us to the front line.

Pros: Did you join any group after your training?

Wit: Yes. It was the fighting group that I joined. The RUF group.

Pros: How long did you remain a member?

Wit: From April 20, 1991 when I joined the RUF at the training base, until July 2001 when I was disarmed. I was with the RUF throughout.

Pros: During this time, did you receive any appointments with the RUF?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: I want to take you through the appointments with the RUF – the appointment, year and location.

After you were trained, what was your first assignment?

Wit: I was at the Kenema highway as a fighter from June 1991.   Kenema highway – the area where I was – was towards the Gorahum Tonkai highway near Pujehun district and Kenema district.

Pros: How long did you remain on Kenema highway as a fighter?

Wit: About two months. June-August 1991.

Pros: did you receive any assignment in August 1991?

Wit: Yes

Pros: What was your assignment?

Wit: I was assigned to Bumpeh Perri in August 1991.

Pros: what was your assignment in Bumpeh Perri?

Wit: I was there as a fighter for the RUF for three months in 1991. From mid August to  early November.

Pros: Did you receive any appointment after this?

Wit: Yes. I went to Gofor Makpele in the Pujehun district. I was a fighter at that time.

Pros: How long did you remain in Gofor Makpele?

Wit: I spent about 1-2 weeks in Gofor Makpele.

Pros: Where did you go after that?

Wit: We went to Kenema Soro. I passed the night there – in the morning, I travelled across the Mano River and entered into Liberia in a  town called York Island.

Pros: How long did you stay there?

Wit: Three months. First week in December to 1st or 2nd week in March 1992.

Pros: Did you go anywhere in March 1992?

Wit: I returned to Sierra Leone.

Pros: Any more assignments with the RUf?

Wit: Yes. I was assigned to Gornohun Cambat Camp.  It was located in Pujehun district.

Pros: What was your assignment?

Wit: I was there as a fighter.

Pros: Who gave you this assignment?

Wit: The commander at Gornohun – Commander was called Gbendi.

Pros: How long was your assignment?

Wit: March-April 1992.

Pros: any assignment after this?

Wit: I was assigned at Sulima. Located in the Pujahun district. It is very close to the sea.

Pros: What was your assignment in Sulima?

Wit: I was at Sulima as a clerk for the RUF fighters who were there.

Pros: How long did you remain in Sulima?

Wit: I spent 1-2 months in Sulima. May-June 1992.

Pros: Any assignment after this?

Wit: I was assigned at Koina. Located in Kpaka chiefdom in Pujahun district.

Pros: what was your assignment in Koina?

Wit: I was there as a fighter. I was a sub-group fighting commander. I reported to a commander called Gibril Massaquoi.

Pros: did you receive any other assignment after this?

Wit: I was assigned in the Pujahun district to the battalion which was there, and then to the jungle.

I was assigned 28 February 1994. I was the Internal Defense Unit (IDU) deputy battalion commander.  I was in this position up til July 1995.

Pros: Any assignment after this?

Wit: Foday Sankoh assigned me to Peyama in Kenema district. I was there until November 1996.

pros: Any other assignment in November 1996?

Wit: I was assigned to Boidu as IDU Area Commander. December 1996 – March/April 1997.

pros: Any assignment then?

Wit: I was assigned to Kailahun Town as IDU commander for 1-2 months.  April -May 1997.

Pros: any assignment after that?

Wit: I was assigned to Zumi Makpele as  IDU commander. I was there from June 1997 until February 1998.

Pros: Where did you go in February 1998?

Witness: I went to Daru barracks in February 1998. Our overall acting commander at that time, Sam Bockarie, sent a message that we should leave Zumi Makpele. He said Freetown — which was the headquarters at that time for RUF and AFRC — had been captured by ECOMOG and so we should go to Daru Barracks and meet there.  We remained there for two weeks.  Then I came to a town called Kuvia in the Kailahun district. I went from March 1998 to December 1998 when I left Kuvia.

(Dabbed his eyes again with his handkerchief).

Pros: What was your next assignment?

Wit: I was assigned to Segbema in December 1998.  It is in Kailahun district. I was IDU commander. I was there for about three months – December 1998-March/April 1999.

Pros: Any assignment in March/April 1999?

Wit: I was in Makeni in April 1999. I was assigned as IDU personnel with the overall IDU commander. His name is Augustine Gbao.  I spent about two weeks with hum in Makeni.

Pros: any assignment after this?

Wit: Between May and June I was assigned at Pendembu, in Kailahun district, as IDU Chief Clerk – First brigade IDU Chief Clerk.  I was in Pendembu from May 1999 to July 2000.

pros: Any assignment in July 2000?

Wit: I was assigned as secretary to Komba Budena (sp?) – the operational commander for RUF-SL.  Between 4-5 months time, July 200 to November 2000.

Pros: Another appointment?

Wit: They assigned me to Kono as transportation Secretary between November 2000 to December 2000.

Pros: Any appointment after that?

Wit: I was appointed as mining commander in Nyaiga, in Kono district from  14 January 2001 to June 2001.

Pros: Any appointment after that?

Wit:  I went through NCRRD which means national Commission for Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration.

Judge Doherty: Adjourn for lunch and resume at 2:30pm.