RUF insider tells of forced marriages, forced labor, arrest of peacekeepers and Taylor’s alleged order to attack Guinea

The trial resumed at noon. Following is a rough guide to the discussions in court.

Pros: Before we went on break you mentioned the name Siem Kolleh- can you spell it?

Wit: Siem Kolleh.

Pros: Who is Seim Kolleh?

Wit: He was an RUF vanguard.

Pros: You testified earlier that Seim Kolleh told Morris Kallon that Sam Bockarie had sent those materials – the arms, ammunitions, and anti-aircraft gun — and had brought them from Liberia. Did Seim Kolleh say where he got them from?

Wit: Yes. At the muster parade, I was there with the RUF and AFRC members. Seim Kolleh told us that Sam Bockarie got those materials from Charles Taylor.

Pros: When you left Makeni, where did you go?

Wit: I went to Mabroka (sp?). There I attended the muster parade. Then I took a travel pass from Gbao and went to Kailahun town for some time. Then later I was posted to Pendembu.

Pros: When in Kailahun town, did you hear what happened in Makeni?

Wit: It was all about the in-fighting. It made me afraid to go back to Kailahun town. The two groups that were fighting between themselves were killing each other.

Pros: Can you recall names of any persons who died during the in-fight?

Wit: I can recall one Rambo that died during the infighting. I recalled another fighter called Bruno.

Pros: Which group did Rambo belong to?

Wit: he was part of Bockarie, Kallon and Sesay’s group.

Pros: Around may June of 1999, you were assigned to Pendembu in Kailahun district, as First Brigade IDU Chief Clerk. Who were you reporting to?

Wit: I reported to IDU First Brigade Comander, John Ngavoa. He was reporting to overall IDU commander, Augustine Gbao.

Pros: What were your duties as First Brigade IDU Chief Clerk?

Wit: My functions were as First Brigade IDU Chief Clerk, I was responsible for issuing travel pass for civilians to travel to Liberia or Guinea. Also the civilians that fighters had captured, we used to screen them at the joint security unit.

Pros Can you explain what you mean by screening of civilians at the joint security unit?

Wit: When civilians captured by the fighters and brought, we write down their names, date of birth, where they hail from, the town or village where they were born. We ask them some questions to know if they were civilians or fighters as well in the places they came from. After those processes, as Joint Security, those captured civilians, their families would come and append their signatures for them and then they would take them to stay together. The families would sign for the civilians, as we had no place to keep them or provide food for them. If the family signs for you then they would take that person. We would keep the record of them.

Pros: Where were the civilians captured from?

Wit: Around Daru area, and the Shegwema area. Some came in as returnees from Liberia.

Pros: Who captured these civilians?

Wit: RUF and AFRC fighters.

Pros: How many captured civilians were there with the RUF in Pendembu?

Wit: Amount to 500 that stayed with us in Pendembu.

Pros: What about civilians who did not have family members to sign for them?

Wit: Those that were without families, some of them fighters came and signed for them and took them to their houses.

Pros: For what purpose?

Wit: Some were taken to the houses so that they could undertake domestic work.

Pros: Did they go voluntarily?

Wit: No.

Judge: Is this hypothetical or a particular circumstance?

Judge Lussick: This line of evidence was sparked by your question, but it was never established that there were civilians without families.

Pros: When in Pendembu and screening civilians, were there civilians who did not have family members?

Wit: Sometimes it did happen.

Pros: What happened to those civilians?

Wit: Some of them, fighters would come and sign for them.

Pros: What were they taken for?

Wit: To work for them and to stay with them as human beings.

Pros: Did the civilians who went with the fighters go voluntarily?

Wit: For that, I don’t have the answer as I don’t know what was in their mind. I wouldn’t know whether they were willing or not.

Pros: How did you know they were being taken to do domestic work?

Wit: We prepared the documents as a joint security board, so whoever signs for the number of people. I came to know as I worked in that office.

Pros: Were there women among these civilians?

Wit: Yes. The only thing I knew about that is that there were some women captured by fighters, they were never brought to our office. For those who they brought to us, we conducted our screening. But I don’t know what happened to those never brought to our office.

Pros: Do you know what happened to those who came to the office?

Defense: What timeframe?

Pros: Still at stage where screened in the office. What happened afterwards follow from that. What were you asking these women questions about?

Wit: Asked about the way they were treated at the time they were captured. Some explained that they lost their properties, some complained they were forced to come. Those two complaints were many. Some said they were not willing to come. Some complained that they lost their property.

Pros: How did they lose their property?

Wit: Some explained that they were taken by the fighters forcefully. Some would say that he or she had left their property behind and not sure whether they would get their property back when they returned.

Pros: What happened to these women after you asked them questions and they told you what happened?

You’ve told this court that women were brought before the joint security office and they complained about the circumstances of their capture. This was part fo the screening process. What happened after the screening process?

Wit: For those with relatives, their relatives would come and sign for them.

Pros: Did some not have relatives to sign for them?

Wit: There were women among those groups who had no relatives to sign for them. Fighters would come and sign for them and take them to their houses. There were some fighters who did not report about women they captured from the front line,

Pros: Do you know what happened to women who were taken to fighters’ houses?

Wit: What I knew is that they had taken them to the houses. When they encountered problems, that was their domestic affairs.

Pros: What did you do with complaints of women during the time they were captured?

Wit: Those complaints were forwarded to our senior commanders.

Pros: What did senior commanders do about the complaints?

Wit: Well, there were some complaints if we were able to identify the person we would do what we want to do with the person. But if we could not trace the person, there is no way we could hold the person responsible.

Pros: How many women who came to your office were sent to fighters’ homes?

Wit: Many, fighters used to take women to  their houses and stay with them,’

Pros: Do you know what they were doing in the houses?

Wit: Some took them to their houses to have sexual intercourse. Some were to perform domestic duties, especially those not mature enough to have sexual intercourse

Pros: How do you know this?

Wit: All of that were part of the experiences I gathered when I was working as a security personnel. I know a fighter who doesn’t have a wife during that time, he wouldn’t just take a woman to his house to be with him. When they take the women from us, they would say that they married them. Those who were not mature to have sexual intercourse were taken to the houses to perform domestic choses.

Pros: During your time in Pedembe, did you hear anything about UNAMSIL peacekeepers?

Wit: In May 2000, there was a morning that I was in the radio comms room with the radio operator and the brigade commander himself was present. His name was Dennis Lansana. The radio operator told us that RUF and AFRC fighters have started shooting at the peacekeepers in Makeni and Maborka. He also informed us that the Second Battalion Commander, Mohamed ???, he too had arrested 21 peacekeepers at Kuiva, so later Dennis Lansana went to Kailahun. He said Issa had given him an order to arrest UN peacekeepers in Kailahun.

Judge: Are we on a whole new subject? I still haven’t worked out what happened to civilians whose family members signed for them.

Pros: I still haven’t worked out what happened with the civilians whose family members signed for them?

Judge Doherty: What happened when they went?

Wit: If we find out if anything happened to them during their capture, if they can identify a fighter that did the bad thing to them, joint security will investigate about the fighter in the joint security office. But if the civilian could not recall the fighter who did that bad thing to him or her, we took whatever reports we prepared about the complaint. The commander for that particular mission would have his name included in the report.

Pros: After family members signed for civilians, where did they go?

Wit: They would take them to their residence. They were free to stay with them in the RUF/AFRC territories if they had undergone the screening.

Pros: Added spelling of two earlier names: Lukulay and Manawa.

You were telling the court about the UN peacekeepers, and that Dennis Lasana had gone to Kailahun and that Issa had given him an order. Who was Issa?

Wit: Issa Sesay as he was the overall commander for the RUF when the peacekeeper business happened in Sierra Leone.

Pros: What happened after Dennis Lansana told you that?

Wit: He went to Kailahun and arrested some peacekeeping officers.

Pros: Nationality of peacekeepers captured by Dennis Lansana?

Wit: I knew the nationality of some of them. Those that we arrested at Kuiva by the Second Battalion commander were Indians. Many of them were Indians in Kailahun town.

Pros:What hapened to peacekeepers after they were captured?

Wit: Those that were captured in Kuiva were brought to Pendembu. Those who were arrested by Lansana in Kailahun town, were taken to Germa (??) They were there for three days and later they were taken to Kailahun town.

Pros: What about those brought to Pendembu?

Wit: They were there under house arrest. Placed in a house and prevented from moving outside that house to go anywhere.

Pros: Who had placed them under house arrest?

Wit: Issa Sesay gave the order that the people should not move to anywhere.

Pros: Do you know why the peacekeepers were arrested? How did you come to know?

Wit: I knew this directly from former commander, Augustine Gbao.

Pros: Did he tell you what happened in the lead up to this arrest?

Wit: Gbao told me, when other security commanders were also present, Manawa asked Augustine Gbao a question. Why did Issa Sesay give him an order to arrest the peacekeepers? Gbao took out two pieces of paper, and something was written on these sheets of papers. He showed them to us. One of them he gave to Ben Kenneh. Augustine Gbao told us that we the junior officer should not be bothered about the arrest of the UN peacekeepers. If in the future they were brought before justice, then the senior officers would be responsible. He had prepared charges against the peacekeepers, and the government of Sierra Leone had also prepared its own charges.

Pros: Did he tell you the name of the UN commander against who he had prepared charges?

Wit: His name was on the paper.

Pros: Did you say the Government of Sierra Leone had prepared its own charges?

Wit: Yes. I don’t understand this question. (It was rephased)

Augustine Gbao told us that senior commanders for RUF-SL were responsible for the arrest of the peacekeepers in Sierra Leone. For that reason, he had prepared charged against the commander of peacekeepers in Sierra Leone. He had also prepared charges against the Government of Sierra Leone. The commander’s name was on the charge list that he produced.

Pros: Did you see the name?

Wit: Yes, the name of the commander of UN peacekeepers was Major General Jetley.

Pros: Did he tell you the charges for both of them?

Wit: There were differences. The charges against the UN peacekeeper commander – there were six charges that Gbao prepared, which were read out to us. The first one that I can recall was that the UN peacekeeper commander had joined hands with the government of Sierra Leone to destroy the RUF organization. That he had abandoned his duties that he had come to do. There were five other charges that I cannot recall now.

Pros: For how long did the peacekeepers remain in Pendembu?

Wit: They spent some time.

Pros: how did they come to leave Pendembu?

Wit: You mean the 21 UN peacekeepers?

Pros: Those who were detained in Pendembu. ‘

Wit: Well some of them were taken by helicopters and some others were taken by Issa Sesay.

Pros: Where were they taken to?

Wit: The helicopter came from Liberia and they were airlifted. Others  with Issa Seasya went in a vehicle to Liberia.

Pros: What about the ones in the helicopter – where were they taken to?

Wit: They were taken to Liberia.

Pros: How do you know this?

Wit: The helicopter came from the Liberian end and I saw soldiers who came from the helicopter who met us in Pedembu. The soldiers and even the UN peacekeepers were together with the commander, Dennis Lansana.

Pros: Who were the soldiers which came out of the helicopter?

Wit: Liberian soldiers. When they meet us at the court berri, the commander Dennis Lansana, they said it was ex-president Charles Taylor who told them to get the peacekeepers to take them to Liberia.

Pros: You said in July 2000, you were assigned to Komba Budena (sp?) What were your duties as Secretary to Komba Budena?

Wit: At that time my duties were to take records of arms, ammunitions, number of fighters. The reports that were sent from various areas, he would give them to me for safe keeping.

Pros: what do you mean by report of various areas?

Wit: Missions they were going out on, and areas where those of us who go on a patrol who would give the report, and he would give them to me for safe keeping.

Pros: One duty to take record of arms and ammunitions – were there arms and ammunition in Makeni at that time?

Wit: Yes. They came from Issa Sesay to run our operations.

Pros: For what operations?

Wit: for the time that I was with him the arms and ammunition that he brought to him, Issa Sesay gave the order to attack Guinea.

Pros: How do you know?

Wit: It was not a hidden thing. Even my former commander knew about it – Augustine Gbao. Morris Kallon was there, as were many RUF and AFRC fighters were there.

Pros: Where was this?

Wit: Kamakui Number Three . We all slept in the same house. The next morning we had a muster parade, and Issa Sesay and Morris Kallon addressed the fighters to go and attack the Guineans to oust Conteh. Issa Sesay was the first person, later Morris Kallon. I also saw a Guinean who addressed us a bit.

Pros: What did Issa Sesay say when he was addressing the muster parade?

With: Issa Sesay told us that ex president Charles Taylor had given him the mission to launch an attack against Lansana Conteh in Guinea.

RPos: Did he say anything else?

Wit: We should ensure that the mission Charles Taylor had given to him, we should accomplish. He had given arms and ammunition and we should launch and accomplish the mission.

Pros: Who had given whom ammunition and arms?

Wit: According to Sesay, it was Charles Taylor who had given him the arms and ammunition to overthrown Lansana Conteh.

Pros: Who was this Guinea who addressed the muster parade?

With: The first person was Amadu Toure and second one Ibrahim Sidiebay.

Pros: Spelled out Kamakawie

Pros: What happened after the meeting?

Wit: Issa Sesay had passed the command, we put some of the materials into the vehicle and brought them to Cambia (??) district town.

Pros: Did anything happen after that?

Wit: After we left Cambia town. We held a meeting there too. The brigade commander of the area was present at the meeting. His name was Abubaka Jalloh. He belonged to the RUF.

Pros: Did anything happen after the meeting?

Wit: The first mission they entered the Guinean territory and launched an attack against the Guineans. (he named three senior commanders)

Pros: You told the court yesterday that on 14 January 2001 you were assigned as mining commander in Ngaiya – who gave you this appointment?

Wit: The overall mining commander for the RUF. His name was Amara Pelatu (sp?).

Pros: Who was Amara Peletu was reporting to at the time?

Wit: He reported directly to Issa Sesay.

Pros: As mining commander in Ngaiya, how many areas did you have control over?

Wit: Six town and villages that I controlled.

PRos: Can you name them?

Wit: Ngaiya, Yangema, Tongoma, Bandafay, Small Ngaiya, another town that I can’t remember the name.

Pros: Wwere there mining pits in these six areas? What kind?

Wit: There were mining pits where people were working.

Pros: What was being mined in those pits?

Wit: Diamonds

Pros: How many pits in these areas did you have control over?

Wit: More than 200 mining pits in those six areas.

Pros: Who was working in those pits?

Wit: Civilians were working at the pits, also RUF and AFRC fighters were working there.

Pros: As mining commander what were your duties?

Wit: I should select people who should wash gravel for the RUF. At that time the RUF and AFRC referred to ourselves as a government. The commanders said that the civilians should be working for the government. The commander told me to bring the civilians to wash the gravel.

Pros: Did you bring civilians together to do the work? How?

Wit: Yes. I had personnel in the mining office. I instructed them to gather civilians to do the work. Those were other RUF and AFRC fighters who were with me as a commander. I used to send them to bring the civilians together to do the mining.

Pros: How were civilians brought to be doing mining for the RUF and AFRC movement?

Wit: The personnel would bring the people forcefully. If for example we were to wash gravel in Ngaiya, the personnel will put them under gunpoint If anyone resisted, the would be beaten. The order that the commander gave to me that if the civilian resisted, he should be killed.

Pros: Were civilians beaten and killed while being brought to the mining pits?

Wit: Yes. In the area that I had control over, I noticed that civilians were killed during the mining. There was an incident between my personnel and the civilians, and civilians died there.

Pros: Do you remember how many?

Wit: In my own area of control I can recall three civilians who died.

Pros: was there mining going on in Kono other than the six areas you mentioned under your control?

Wit: Yes there were many other placed where mining was going on. Timbodu, Kaisimbo, Bumpeh and other places like Tongo field, and some other places.’

Judge Lussick: Witness referred to killing for three civilians. we don’t know more about it.

Pros: Can you describe what happened when civilians died?

Wit: the time when those people died, I visited the place. They said they refused to do the mining. The pit where they were, according to the explanation I got, was that mud fell on them.

Pros: You testified that in areas where civilians refused to come to work they were beaten and killed. Did it happen during the time you were there? How many killed for this reason?

Wit: The area where I was I only knew about the three civilians who died.

Pros:  What about the civilians who were killed because they refused to come to mine?

Wit: I would not know the exact number of people killed as I was not there. I don’t know how it happened.

Pros: How did you know that the civilians were killed?

Wit: The miners escaped from the mining field and left the town, When I left the area, and when I returned, I got the information. I found out that civilians were killed.

Pros: Did the information include reasons why the civilians were killed?

Wit: The personnel said that the people refused to go and wash gravel on that day. They put up a fight and people started shooting and civilians were killed.

Pros: Who were the people who killed the civilians?

Wit: The mining personnel who were under my control.

Pros: Can you describe how mining was being done in Kono at this time.?

Wit: It was a two part system. If civilians had dug out gravel, I would instruct them, to pack the gravel. One would be for the AFRC movement and one would be for the civilians. It came to a point when we would take the shovels and the sieves from the civilians and do our own work.

The court adjourned for lunch until 2:30pm.