RUF insider questioned about executions at mines, forced mining, the invasion of Freetown and prior statements to investigators

Cross examination of Mansaray continued from noon.

Terry Munyard continued – following is an overview of the exchange in the courtroom, but not a full transcript.

Def: You said this morning that you were in Shegwema on the day of the attack on Freetown. You said that you found out about it through the BBC or radio communications. What are you telling the court about your own radio comms?

Wit: fighters were trained to be radio operators, and they communicated among themselves. They would discuss matters between themselves and then explain it to us.

Def: Did you hear about the invasion of Freetown as it was happening or later?

Wit: When the RUF and AFRC started fighting, so the comms was going on from those at the rear. They communicated.

Def: Why didn’t you tell the investigators this when they asked you qns about the invasion in Nov 2003 March 2004 and Jan 2006?

Wit: Maybe I was not asked a question about that so I did not explain that to them.

Def: In March 2004, you were asked about the January 6 invasion of Freetown — you didn’t have much knowledge on that one.

Wit: That is true – I was not with them but I had knowledge through comms. I was not there when they were planning it but I got info that Freetown was invaded. I told them that I heard about the attack but I was not there I hope that was enough.

Def: Here is what they say in Jan 2006 in a proofing. Unfortunately we are not told who the investigators were in Jan 2006 but this is what they recorded you as saying. He wanted to put it in the right time-frame.

This is what is recorded: In Feb 12998 received from Rogers an order to retreat to Daru and I stayed there for 2-3 months, Around May 1998 we moved to Kuiva and stayed about 5 months. We successfully attacked Shegwema and took ammunition from ECOMOG. I did not fight. After the attack I stayed a few months in Shegwema.

Before I go on to next sentence, I am going to take through that sequence to work out the time period.

In February 1998 receive an order to go to Daru for 2-3 months. Do you agree?

Wit: I would not agree with that. It is not everything I would agree to. It is the month you say that goes with the year.

Def: The very next words from you – around May 1998 we moved from Kuiva. So it’s correct you remained in Daru until about May?

Wit: I don’t think it is correct.

Def: This is what we are told by prosecuting investigators. Are you saying they have go this wrong?

Wit: It is possible, but the dates you have mentioned I don’t think that was the way it happened.

Def: We’ll move on. Around May 1998 we moved to Kuiva for about 5 months. That takes you about October.

Wit: The month that you called I would agree to. But to say the month you called that Gbao was the commander I would disagree with that.

Def: This was something you were supposed to have said. This is not something I am putting to you.

Wit: I am getting you clearly. But I want you to read it to me again.

Def: We will start from May. (He read the proofing again). Pausing at ECOMOG – is it correct that you took Shegwema under Gaddafi and seized arms from ECOMOG?

Wit: You are always referring to Manawa as being a commander to Augustine Gbao, but from the start of my statements I have never mentioned that.

Def: So the investigators got the record wrong?

Wit: I don’t know if they give you the report – but what I have been telling them, they always write it and then read it to me. Manawa was a fighter, and Gbao was an administrator.

Justice Doherty: Witness seems to think that it was put to him that Manawa was Gbao’s senior. What was said to the witness? He does not seem to be responding to what you are asking.

Def: Will put it to him again. (Did so). Did you report to Manawa?

Wit: Yes.

Def: And whose boss was Augustine Gbao?

Wit: I don’t know about a boss.

Def: Next sentence — Did you successfully attack Shegwema and seize arms from ECOMOG between May and October 1998?

Wit: We attacked Shegwema under the leadership of Gaddafi. And we captured some arms and ammunitions from ECOMOG.

Def: So they have that right?

Wit: The attack and the name of the commander I would agree to. But the month mentioned I would disagree.

Def: When do you say it happened?

Wit: December 1998.

Def: Then it reads….I did not carry a gun as I was the IDU officer. Did you tell the investigators that?

Wit: Yes. When we went there I was not carrying an arm to fight.

Def: And did this happen 5 days after the final attack against Koidu?

Wit: I can’t say the exact period the attack took place in Kono or Shegwema. But I know Kono was attacked before we went to Shegwema.

Def: According to this you went to Shegwema after the attack on Koidu — correct?

Wit: Yes

Def: Then you said that you stayed for 2 months.
Wit: It is not correct.

Def: Are you saying that the Prosecutors have mistaken what you told them — or are you saying that you told them something that you now think is wrong?

Wit: The way you are asking your question is wrong. I mentioned more than 2 months in my statement. I don’t know if it is you or the statement taker but I mention more than 2 months.

Def: There will be people here who will jump up and tell me that I’m wrong.

Gadaffi was reporting to Musa who was reporting to Gbao — did you tell them that?

Wit: Gaddafi was a ??? and Musa was an administrator. That was not what I told them. Gaddafi did not give reports to Musa.

Def: You continued as saying ” I stayed in Matatoka for a week before going to Pendembu to visit my family.” When was that?

Wit: That was around May/June 1999.

Def the next sentence reads, it was during the time in Pendembu that I learned about the Jan invasion of Freetown?

Wit: That wasn’t what I told them. I told them that I was at Shegwema but I did not tell them I was in Pendembu.

Def: Why would they have that so wrong?

Wit: Perhaps it was a mistake in the dates.

Def: you have never told the prosecutors in any of the dozen or more interviews that you heard about the invasion of Freetown on the radio or through BBC.

Wit: I believe I did so. I told them that I got the info through a communication.

Def: Before we move off the account recorded from you, can you tell us when it is that you moved to Kuiva? In the statement it says around May and stayed until around October?

Wit: I was there in October, but I believe it was March-April in 1998.

Def: Do you agree that you left Kuiva in October?

Wit: I don’t believe so.

Def: In this account, although you say they got it wrong about May, you agree that you were there in Ocobter. Do you remember from me reading this out, that we successfully attacked Shegwema and we stayed 2 months there. If you were in Kuiva for 5 months including October, then you would have been in Shegwema the last two months of 1998?

Wit: That was not the way it happened.

Def: How do you say it happened?

Wit: I believe it was in December 1998 that we launched an attack on Shegwema.

Def: When do you say you went to Matatoka?

Wit: Around May – June 1999.

Def: So if you are in Kuiva until December and then attack Segwema in December, then stayed two months in Shegwema.

Wit: That is correct. It could be more than two months. I was in Shegwema during the dates you’ve just mentioned.

Def: I was called by Gbao to go to Matatoka and stayed one week. That would mean in February.

Wit: Gbao was not in Matatuka when he called us, he was in Makeni.

Def: Did that happen?

So why did you say a little while ago that the investigators correctly recorded you as saying that in January 1996?

Wit: The time period is not the way it happened.

Def: You agreed they got this bit of interview correct when I asked about it in the last half hour.

Wit: It is the way you are asking your question. In the first question you didn’t say a week. That is why I am disagreeing now.

Def: I did read that out and included the words. If I had read anything incorrectly someone will object. Understand?

Wit: Understand.

Def: So far I have got nothing wrong. I have been putting it correctly. Understand?

Wit: The way I am getting the question, there are differences.

Def: Let’s just concentrate on what is written here. Did you stay in Matatoka for one week?

Wit: No. I stayed just a day.

Def: And then where did you go from Matatoka?

Wit: I went to Makeni, later I went to Mabroka, and then went back to Kailahun.

Def: Would it be right to say that after you went to Matatoka you went to Pendembu to visit your family?

Wit: No.

Def: So prosecution investigators got it wrong – you did not stay in Shegwema for 2 months.

With: Maybe a mistake, but I spent more than two months in Shegwema.

Def: They also got wrong who Gaddafi was reporting to.

Wit: The way you asked your question when you said Gaddafi reported to Musa. I did not give them that statement.

Def: So they got it wrong.

Wit: That was not what I said in the statement — Gaddafi did not report to Musa.

Def: and they got wrong completely you going from Shegwema then Matatoka and then Pendemba – they got that wrong?

Wit: That was not what I said.

Def: you can look at any of this – but the fact that noone has objected means I have been quoting correctly.

Now I want to go back in time, first a little then a long way back.

Between May 1997 and May 1998 the RUF and AFRC were in government in Sierra Leone. Agree? (wit agreed)

When ECOMOG threw out the junta, and when RUF, AFRC and SLA left freetown, they took a lot of arms and ammunition with them?

Wit: Yes, we retreated with arms and ammunition.

Def: Were arms and ammunition stored in other parts of the country during the period of the junta?

Wit: No we did not store arms in any other area. The area I was I didn’t know if the arms were stored in any other area.

Def: so you are not in a position to say whether arms stored in any other area.

Wit: I wouldn’t be able to say as I didn’t know about other areas. Areas whereIi was I was not sure.

Def: Want to ask about early experiences in the RUF. In particular about things that you saw or heard abut happening in the RUF. You told us that at one stage quite early on that RUF was driven out of Sierra Leone and into Bommy Hills in Liberia. Do you remember?

Wit: Yes I can recall.

Def: You said that sometime in Bommy Hills in Liberia, there was a meeting addressed by Sankoh and Taylor. I want to suggest that you are wrong. Whatever Sankoh did, Taylor was not there addressing you in 1991. Do you accept that you got that wrong?

Wit: I would disagree with you.

Def: November of 1991 the NPFL were fighting in Liberia. Were ULIMO also fighting?

Wit: Yes.

DEf: ECOMOG were in Liberia then?

Wit: Don’t know.

Def: Who was in control of Monrovia in 1991?

WitL Don’t know. I don’t want to lie. I did not get that sort of information.

Def: Have you ever been told that Charles Taylor was able to get into Monrovia in 1990, 1991, 1992 , 1993 or 1994? Have you ever heard that the NPFL could get into Monrovia in early 1990s.

Wit: No.

Def: How did you get from your camp to the border in 1991?

Wit: First we crossed Mano River through York Island.

Def: How did you physically get to the camp in the Bommy Hills?

Wit: My visit to the Bommy Hills was just a day.

Def: went on a day trip to Bommy Hills. From where?

Wit: From Tinne. The distance was a little far and my first time to make a trip. I used a vehicle.

Def: Does that mean you went on roads?

Wit: The road was good the way i felt while in vehicle was good.

Def Do you know where Taylor was based in November 1991?

Wit: What I heard about where he was based, I heard about Banga.

Def: Do you know how you get from Bommy Hills to Banga?

Wit: No.

Def: From Banga to Bommy Hills you have to go through Monrovia – did you know?

Wit: No. I haven’t used that road.

Def: The only road takes you through Monrovia, which was then controlled by the govt of Liberia and reinforced by ECOMOG. You said you were unaware of hat.

Wit: I did not know the condition of the roads.

Def: How far is Tinne from the Sierra Leone border, the Mano river?

Wit: around 7-9 miles.

Def: So that is on the other side of Monrovia?

Wit: I cannot tell you about the geographical location as I don’t understand.

Def: There is no way that Taylor could have travelled in a vehicle from Banga to Bommy Hills to address you and your comrades. You have got that completely wrong.

Wit: Well I am telling you during that muster parade I was not the only person there, There were many other RUF people.

Def: What are some of the names of the people who were there?

Wit: I was there with some other RUF — Rambo was there. And some other junior RUF fighters. We were together with Junior fighter called Mabutu. the Liberian fighter who I knew was Bizante Nya. And Tom Sande was also present at that parade. Then there was another NPFL fighter called Sandu. Later I saw General One Man One.

Def: Are any of these people still alive?

Wit: The one I met with after the disarmament was xx — i think he is still alive. Kafala is dead now. I don’t know about One Man One, or Bizintu or Sandu.

Def: You have told us about your time in the RUF as a fighter and then a member of the IDU and you told us that women were taken forcefully to become wives, or for sexual intercourse with the soldiers. Did any women voluntarily become wives of the fighters?

Wit: Yes. Some were willing to live with the fighters. Some were not willing.

Def: Was it your experience that occasionally some women would align themselves with the soldiers, would volunteer when soldiers were in the area to live with then as their wives?

Wit: I cannot tell you that that women were coming voluntarily to be with the soldiers. After their capture, some were willing to stay, some weren’t.

Def: the only women who were willing to stay were women who had already been captured.

Wit: Yes, some. Some were willing and others were not.

Def: Why did you go from being an IDU commander to an IDU clerk?

Wit: It was a change of command. If I got a change in command I had to obey.

Def: Was it a demotion?

Wit: No’

Def: so a clerk is the same rank as a commander?

Wit: In fact, about the clerical job, that has more importance than a battalion commander.

Def So it was a promotion.

Wit: Yes.

Def: when working in the mining area, did you see anyone executed for trying to escape from the mines.

Wit: That happened at many places.

Def: Did you ever see anyone executed form trying to escape.

Wit: yes.

Def: Where?

Wit: It used to happen as Kasambu Mining Area number 11.

Def: Did you ever see it happen?

Wit: Yes.

Def: How many times did you personally saw people executed for trying to escape?

Wit: This happened many times. I cannot tell you the exact dates.

Def: Roughly how many times did you see people executed for trying to escape?

Wit: It could be more than 5 times. ‘

Def: A lot more?

Wit. Could be.

Def: Rough estimate?

Wit: It could be up to 10 times.

Def: so why did you tell investigation prosecutors that you never saw people executed for escaping the mines in May 2006?

Wit: I told them about killing of civilians.

Def: Yes you said you heard, but not see.

Wit: It happened. People were killed for trying to escape.

Def: You know I’m asking you whether you saw it. So don’t keep telling us that it happened.You can see the document if you wish to, but I will read to you what it says, word for word.

Read from the record.

Witness asked to clarify on forced mining and punishment for those who tried to escape. In early stages Sankoh did not have complete control until Liberian fighters left. Mansaray heard about killings and mutilations but did not see them.

Not only did they record what you told them in May 2006, but you were asked later about what you had said in that interview.

Pros: Witness saying that the witness testimony from yesterday already on record.

Def: In May 2006 you were interviewed by investigators from the prosecution. You were asked to clarify certain matters that you had told the prosecution about in earlier interviews. You had been interviewed by then three times before you were asked to clarify points in May 2006. Do you remember being asked to go over previous answers?Wit: yes.

Def: We dont’ expect you to remember the precise date – though in your case you might. You were asked to clarify matters. You had talked about forced mining and punishment of of those who escaped or refused to participate. When you are asked about it again in May 2006 it is recorded that you told the prosecutors that you did see people being forced to mine, but never saw anyone being executed when trying to escape. You heard about killings and mutilations at some sites in 1998. You were being asked about forced mining generally?

Wit: They asked me about that.

Def: They were not saying tell us what you know about it generally and not just about one month in 1998? You were being asked about the whole of your experience. ‘

Wit: They asked me about the mining and what was going on.

Def: You knew about the mining from your time in the IDU and as a mining commander.

Wit: I knew about mining activities during the RUF time.

Def: They were asking you about the whole of your experience during the RUF time, weren’t they?

Wit: Yes, I can remember the mining activities during the RUF time.

Judge: I think you were misunderstood.

Def: Let’s take it in stages. In 2003 and 2004, and in Jan 2006 you had been interviewed by prosecution investigators

Wit: Yes (yawned).

Def: Turn to those parts of those interviews where dealt with forced mining so we can understand what you were asked about in May 2006.

In the first interview you were asked about people being made to work on farms. In the second interview, you were asked again about people working on farms and also asked about mining.

Pros: He was also asked about mining in the first interview.

Def: Asked in the second interview about mining. You were asked about people who were brought in and asked to mine. I’ll read the questions and answers on mining. Afraid they are quite lengthy in the second interviews.

Let’s talk about the year 2000. You said Pelatu (sp?) was in charge in Koidu. The mining was carried out by Pelatu to Sesay. Diamonds were handed from Pelatu to Sesay. Then did you know anything about people forced to mine. You said yes, the majority were forced to mine for RUF. Asked so how were mining going ahead? You answered yes, like number 11 it was well fortified by armed men. (Def said he would concentrate on killings and omit irrelevant info). You were questioned about if anyone refused to take part, what would happen? Answer – they would be killed. I heard about this information. Pelatu used to harass and torture people who used to refuse to mine. Answer if you are caught stealing diamonds there is no mercy you will die. Pelatu used to kill, torture and punish people they failed to mine, and then some planned to escape with diamonds, Then reports came in. Also customers to buy diamonds, they used to be harrassed to get the money.

You were not saying there that you personally saw people executed?

Wit: I get your question clearly. I thought you were asking where they were killing people. They were killing people.

Def: You heard about them killing people, before and while you were a mining commander. But you never actually saw any executions yourself – am I right to put it in that way?

Wit: You are right.

Def: You’ve just saved us a good half hour of court time. And when you were asked to clarify what you were saying about forced mining and executions, you made it plain you had never seen one.

Wit: what year are you talking about?

Def: In May 2006 you were asked to clarify comments on forced mining and punishments in previous interviews. In previous interviews you talked about what you had heard and what you had seen.

Wit: The time I became a mining commander people lost their lives. I was there. When I was not a mining commander I only got the info that people had died.

Def: Did you ever see anyone executed when trying to escape when you were a mining commander?

Wit: I saw them kill people when they attempted to escape.

Def: So why did you tell investigators in May 2006 that you saw people forced to mine but never saw anyone killed when tried to escape.

Wit: It could be a mistake, but at the time when I was a mining commander, I saw people losing their lives. People were killed.

Def: you made a mistake when you told investigators that you had never seen anyone killed?

Wit: Yes, when I was working as a mining commander. I made a mistake.

Def: It is completely untrue that you forgot. When they asked you specifically to clarify what they had previous told them that you forgot to tell them that you saw people being executed for refusing to mine.

Wit: Yes I forgot to mention that. But I used to tell them that people lost their lives either because they tried to escape or refused to work.

Def: Do you understand that you were not being asked to tell a story, but to explain what you meant in previous statements about people being killed when they were forced to mine?

Wit: This morning I explained that even the area where I was working that they were killing people and I met dead people and even in my presence people lost their lives.

Def: How do you remember that in 2008 but completely forget to tell them in 2006 and tell the investigators that you never saw anyone executed. You didn’t forget – you were asked a question.

Wit: I told them that people lost their lives while they were attempting to escape. But it was not put to me as clearly as you have done now. But they asked if people were killed when tried to escape.

Adjourned for lunch. Returning at 3:#0pm.