9:30 (10:00 with the delay in video and audio): Court is in session.
Judge Doherty: I remind the parties that tomorrow and the day following are public holidays in The Netherlands. When we rise this afternoon, we will not be sitting again until Monday, 5 May.
Defense Counsel Morris Anyah continues his cross-examination of prosecution witness Alimamy Bobson Sesay:
Def: Yesterday we were considering notes from a prosecution interview with you from May 8, 2007. [references document] It says: “Witness states that the Liberians he knows were sent from Liberia from 1998-1999 are STF…he is not aware of any other Liberians.” These notes have you telling the prosecution that the Liberians you referred to as STF are the only Liberians you were aware of sent to join your fighting force in 1998-1999. There was no mention of these additional Liberians in the Red Lion Battalion. Do you agree?
Wit: I disagree.
Def: This can be read to mean that there were also additional Liberian fighters?
Wit: The Liberians were all named STF. It was 05 who introduced them at a muster parade at Col. Eddie Town. He said they were formal NPFL. They were all STF.
Def: 05 referred to all of these fighters as STF?
Wit: We were referring to them all as STF when we came.
Def: You and your fellow fighters referred to all Liberian fighters as STF?
Wit: That is what happened. It was when 05 introduced them to Gullit at the muster parade.
Def: You’re saying before the muster parade, you referred to all Liberian fighters as STF?
Wit: Yes, because when they came we did not know any other name for them.
Def: Last week you told the court that some of them were former NPFL?
Def: And in this interview, you did not mention any of these distinctions?
Wit: Yes, according to this statement. I explained it just like I did a few minutes ago.
Def: They were not accurate in writing what you told them?
Wit: They were writing. This is my interpretation. I said it.
Def: Are you saying that this document accurately reflects what you told them?
Wit: The interpretation I give, I still stand by it. When we received them, we referred to them all as STF. At the muster parade, 05 explained who they were. That’s when he said they were former NPFL fighters.
Def: We looked at two previous entries from the same interview: “Witness states there were no NPFL forces with the group at that time…there were members who broke away from the NPFL and became STF.” You told them this in that meeting, and you agreed that this differed from what you told the court?
Wit: As you come to this page, you will see the difference and interpretation. I did some clarification in this area.
Def: Yesterday you conceded that the STF fighters derived from ULIMO?
Wit: Yes, part of them came from ULIMO. This statement is not clear. If you look at a later statement, you’ll see that’s what I said.
Def: The notes in several instances differ from the account you gave in court. Here it says Superman instead of Gullit – you said that was incorrect, you recall?
Wit: Yes. I’ve never said it was Superman.
Def: Superman was Liberian?
Def: You told us that in court?
Def: Yesterday you heard me read evidence given to the court by Perry Kamara. You heard that evidence indicate that the Red Lion Battalion derived from Superman’s bodyguard unit, as well as that of _____?
Wit: Yes, I heard that yesterday.
Def: If there were Liberian fighters among your group separate from the STF – are you aware whether they were Superman’s bodyguards?
Wit: All I know is that the commander who brought the troops introduced them to Gullit at the muster parade. It was not King Perry who did the introduction. If you are now stating that King Perry said that Red Lion Battalion came from Superman, I don’t dispute that. But I don’t know about that. 05 introduced them as former NPFL.
Def: Would you say that these radio operators, by virtue of monitoring RUF operations, had a better sense of what was happening all around Sierra Leone than you?
Wit: There are different operators. Sometimes they’re on duty, sometimes not. They don’t know everything.
Def: I’m asking compared to you, would you agree they had access to more information about what was happening all around Sierra Leone from 1997-2000.
Wit: Yes, they had access to information. But I also had access to information because I worked for a man in brigade administration.
Def: But you told us that from March 1998 to July 1999, you had no idea of the whereabouts of Johnny Paul Koroma?
Def: Would you agree that Foday Lansana and King Perry had access to more information than you did?
Wit: They had limited areas in which they did that, and I disagree. There was not only one radio man who sits there. Of course they had vast information, but they had commanders who supervised them. I’m not disputing the fact…
Def: You’re not disputing that they had access to information?
Wit: I’m not disputing it, but I also had access to information.
Def: You’ve said you were frequently at the front lines. And you were not always accompanied by a radio man?
Def: You said that at one point a radio man to Gullit fled and you were out of touch with the rest of the RUF and SLAs?
Def: It was only when Alfred Brown came that you had a more permanent radio man in the run-up to Freetown?
Wit: No. We got a radio at Camp Rosos and resumed communication.
Def: Do you think it’s a coincidence that both Lansana and Kamara are saying that these Liberians in the Red Lion Battalion were Superman’s bodyguards? Where do you think they got that information?
Wit: 05 was the one who led the troop to Col. Eddie Town, and he gave the information during the muster.
Def: CO Nyah is a Liberian?
Wit: Yes, I came to know that in the prison.
Def: Is Perry Kamara a Liberian?
Wit; I don’t know.
Def: Is Alfred Brown Liberian?
Wit: I don’t know.
Def: CO Nyah, a Liberian, talking about Superman, another Liberian – that the Red Lion Battalion was made of Superman’s bodyguards, and you disagree?
Wit: I don’t disagree.
Def: What is KBC’s full name?
Wit: I don’t remember, but that was his popular name. They came to reinforce us.
Def: In Kabala?
Def: But from Newton you went to Kabala?
Wit: He went to Guinea, then to Liberia. Taylor organized them, then sent them through Mosquito to reinforce us.
Def: Did you say they were reorganized by Charles Taylor – these SLAs who went through Guinea?
Wit: Yes. And Taylor confirmed it to us in the meeting in Monrovia.
Def: You said in your evidence that you saw KBC with eight men?
Def: The eight included KBC himself?
Def: This was last week. You said there were 2 SBUs, 2 RUF, and 4 SLAs, including KBC?
Def: You said those were the ones he brought to Newton, but said there were others elsewhere. Let’s focus on these 8. They were sent as reinforcements to you?
Wit: KBC said they came as far as Kono and captured it. Then he said they came to reinforce us. He was unable to convince other men to come with him. Some stopped in Makeni, and some men stopped with Akim there.
Def: Four SLAs came to join you?
Def: These four, would you say, participated in the invasion of Freetown?
Wit: No, at that time we had withdrawn to Newton. We all went to form the West Side. He said he was delayed in meeting us.
Def: The 20 Liberians you referred to as former NPFL who came, you said they participated in the Jan 6 invasion of Freetown?
Def: So 20 of those fighters took part in the invasion of Freetown, and upon your retreat to Newton you were reinforced by four SLA fighters sent by Taylor. Are you suggesting that Taylor’s contribution to the invasion of Freetown was 20-30 fighters?
Wit: I’m not suggesting anything. Some of the men who came with KBC were deployed elsewhere. There were delays in the advancement because there were areas where ECOMOG forces deployed. There were target areas in Kono, Magburaka, Makeni. They left some firepower there to fight ECOMOG. According to KBC, he said that was what caused the delay. He said he’d wanted to meet us in Freetown.
Def: Even when reinforcements came, factoring in the delay, you’re talking about only four SLA men?
Wit: KBC said a strong manpower had come from Liberia. At that time, only four SLAs joined us, apart from Red Goat and others who had come.
[Defense requests that documents used in court yesterday be marked for identification: a map of Liberian demobilization sites in 1996-1997 from the World Food Program, part of the statement by President Ahmad Tejan-Kabbah to Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and an article from the New York Times from May 13, 1998: “U.S. Reportedly Backed British Mercenary Group in Africa”. Judge Doherty orders this done.]
Def: Can you give us the names of some of the 20 former NPFL members, as you call them, who formed the Red Lion Battalion?
Wit: Their names were strange and I cannot recall them.
Def: Are you saying because they had Liberian names, you cannot recall them?
Wit: Yes. Only the brigade administrator, FAT Sesay, took the names.
Def: Going to the four SLAs who came to reinforce you at Newton, can you name the three other than KBC?
Def: Can you remember the names of any of the STF fighters you fought with?
Wit: Yes, about two of their names.
Def: Which two?
Wit: One was Washington, and the other was Dukulay.
Def: Any others?
Wit: No, I can’t recall them. But they had other names. I can’t recall them.
Def: [shows a document to the court and the witness] This is a document disclosed to us by the prosecution.
Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra: I recall there is an agreement between the parties that the prosecution would be given notice of documents at the beginning of the cross-examination. With this witness, we have only received documents as and when they’re used.
Def: The concern is noted and we will make every effort to provide documents at the beginning of the day. Sometimes things arise at the last minute.
Pros: In one instance last week, counsel referred to such a document, which he said had been printed from the internet “a few days before”.
Judge Doherty: These are issues of professional courtesy and not for the court to decide.
Def: [references document] This document is about interviews conducted with you in 2007. It’s from General David Livingston Bropleh, head of the STF. You see that?
Def: Do you see the names listed on that document?
Def: All Special Task Force members at this date. The stamp says March 13, 1999, yes?
Def: You gave us two STF names: Washington and Dukulay?
Def: And you said about 30 STF members formed the Red Lion Battalion, and you could only remember two names?
Def: I see a Major Washington ___ listed here. Is that the same Washington?
Wit: The name that I knew him by was Washington. I cannot deny that that was his full name. Only the brigade administration, FAT, had the details.
Def: Are you saying that’s not the same Washington?
Wit: I’m not denying that.
Def: I want to be sure we’re talking about two different persons?
Wit: I’m not disputing the fact. I believe he’s the one.
Def: You see the name Maj. Hassan Dukulay?
Def: That’s the Dukulay you were telling us about?
Judge Sebutinde: The names are spelled differently.
Def: You spelled it Dukulay, did you mean _____ (sounds same, different spelling).
Wit: I don’t know how to spell it.
Def: It was Hassan Dukulay?
Wit: I don’t know if that was his first name, but I believe it’s the same person.
Def: Take a close look at the list again. [pause while witness reads] You see one of the last names there: Foyo Foyu (ph)? Have you discussed that person before with the prosecution?
Wit: The only Foyo I was talking about was an SLA. We called him “Cambodia”. He was the head of the Cambodia Battalion.
Def: You were shown this document before by the prosecution. You remember?
Def: I’ll read what you told them last fall when you were shown this document, in November and December 2007. [references document] It says: “Witness shown a copy of a document containing a list of names of combatants.” That’s this list. “Witness knew the following names: Hassan Dukulay, Washington ____, and [two others]”. Today you can only recall Washington and Dukulay?
Def: “They came to Freetown after the Freetown invasion, together with Idriss Kamara (Rambo Red Goat).” You said you were excited to receive these reinforcements and that they were well armed?
Def: These four STF members came with Rambo Red Goat?
Def: And in court you can’t recall either Fambulay (ph) and [other one].
Wit: I recalled them when I saw the list.
Def: Maj. Ritchie __?
Wit: Yes, he too came with Red Goat.
Def: This Warley and the Waylee in the document from Gen. Bropleh, is that the same person you know as Washington?
Def: It says you first met Washington at Col. Eddie Town. Is it possible that the others were not at Col. Eddie Town?
Wit: Washington is the only one who came with 05 to Col. Eddie Town. He was one of the STFs in 05’s group. The others came with Rambo Red Goat.
Def: Are you saying that Rambo Red Goat showed up with STFs at Allen Town?
Wit: It was not RUF Rambo.
Def: Rambo Red Goat reinforced you at Allen Town?
Def: He also came with a group of STF?
Wit: Yes. He said they were RUF men. Fambulay was with him.
Def: Up until this time you told us that the reinforcements that SLA Rambo came with were RUF and SLA. You did not say STF.
Wit: I did not.
Def: How do explain that in statements you said the reinforcements included STF and you did not say this in court?
Wit: RUF Rambo said he would send reinforcements including RUF and SLA. When they came, we knew that Fambulay was an STF man. In the jungle we were told we were all RUF, all fighting one cause. They were subjected to RUF orders. All of them said they were RUF. We only insisted we were SLAs, so that man said RUF and SLAs were coming.
Def: Are you making this up as we go along?
Wit: I don’t have any reason to make up anything. As I sit here, you ask me questions, and as I remember, I say what I remember. I’m here to tell the truth. RUF Rambo called to say that RUF and SLA reinforcements were coming. When they came with Rambo Red Goat, we realized there were STF with them.
Def: Let’s see what Charles Taylor has to say. [references a document] This is a news archive document, 31 Dec. 1998, with three pages. The first page has reports about fighting between ECOMOG and rebels. The second page has items about West African countries trying to find a solution to the fighting in Sierra Leone: The Gambia says it will take charge of mediating the peace. You know ECOMOG is part of ECOWAS?
Def: Are you aware that the Committee of Six is ECOWAS?
Def: Taylor at a press conference: “Liberian President Charles Taylor has offered to pressure Foday Sankoh to help restore peace in Sierra Leone. Sankoh is currently in jail in Freetown… ‘Sankoh is part of the problem in Sierra Leone, and should be part of the solution’, Taylor added. Taylor called on Rev. Jesse Jackson to find a peaceful solution… ‘We do not support the rebel activities against Kabbah in any shape or form…the way forward is a dialogue…’ Taylor denied any Liberian government involvement in the Sierra Leone conflict, but acknowledged that there were Liberians fighting alongside the rebels. ‘It is clear and factual that there are Liberians in Sierra Leone fighting. Liberians have been mercenaries…they are there on their own.'” You see that?
Def: Yesterday, you confirmed that the STF were Liberians?
Def: They had been part of the Sierra Leone Army?
Def: Since 1992 under Strasser?
Def: Dennis Mingo was a Liberian?
Wit: Yes, but he was never in the Sierra Leone army.
Def: He was a top RUF commander, Dennis “Superman” Mingo?
Wit: Yes, but he was not in the Sierra Leone army.
Def: We talked about radio Foday K. Lansana, a Liberian?
Def: Isaac Mongor is a Liberian?
Wit: Yes, and RUF Rambo too. But they weren’t part of the Sierra Leone Army or the STF. I have something to say about the document you brought about Taylor.
Judge Doherty: Prosecution will have an opportunity to raise that with you.
Def: Liberians were fighting in Sierra Leone in ample numbers, yes?
Wit: There were the STF. That’s true.
Def: It was no hidden secret that Liberians were participating in this conflict?
Wit: Yes, but there was a timeframe for everything. There was a time they had logistical support from the NPRC army. It was different after the intervention.
Def: President Kabbah told the TRC that even after the intervention, the STF were still a part of the Sierra Leone Army. Do you want me to read it again? “Bropleh and his STF followers fled together when the ECOMOG-led force removed the junta. Together they played an active role in the attacks against ECOMOG…after intervention they supported the Jan 6, 1999 attack on Freetown…after the Lomé amnesty, the STF resurfaced under Gen. Bropleh.” The STF was still part of the military infrastructure of Sierra Leone. Do you agree?
[Defense requests that news archive document be marked for identification, and Judge Doherty orders this done.]
Def: Let’s go back a bit in time and let us trace some of the history between the SLAs and the change to the AFRC and also the RUF. 1991: Joseph Saidu Momoh is in power, and at that time, you told us, you had not yet joined the military?
Wit: Yes. I joined in September 1991.
Def: You told us what prompted you to join the army, that Taylor went on the BBC and said that “Sierra Leone will taste the bitterness of war”?
Wit: Yes. All of Freetown was panic-stricken.
Def: The announcement was in the early part of the year, you said?
Wit: Yes, in March or so.
Def: The war came in about March 1991?
Def: And you said after hearing this statement, you were inspired to join the SL Army?
Wit: Yes, because the president went over the air and asked patriotic Sierra Leoneans to join the army to fight the NPFL.
Def: President Momoh?
Def: Other witnesses before this court have said something about this BBC report. Are you aware they have given a different timeframe for when they heard it?
Wit: I would not dispute their timeframe. It was before the war. I think it was March 23, 1991 or so when the invasion happened. Maybe it was 1990 or 1991.
Def: Momoh’s party was the APC?
Def: You joined the army in September 1991?
Def: When Momoh was in power, members of the army were very poorly paid?
Wit: I got my salary. That is true. Everyone was there by levels.
Def: There was a reason that Capt. Valentine Strasser overthrew the Momoh government?
Wit: Maybe he used reasons to justify his taking over power.
Def: Strasser said the military was poorly treated under Momoh?
Wit: Yes, this was the statement he gave to the public.
Def: April 29, 1992, Strasser came to power. He increased military salaries?
Def: He increased your “risk allowance”, gave you medications and uniforms?
Def: And for the next four years, until Julius Mada Bio took over, the military was doing well under Strasser?
Wit: Yes, but some were still grumbling about Strasser.
Def: They were not soldiers grumbling?
Wit: People were grumbling even from within the military. At the front there was grumbling that they’d been abandoned.
Def: Even if there was grumbling, things became worse for the military in 1996 when President Kabbah took over?
Wit: Bio took over from Strasser. The people said he should conduct elections. Kabbah won those elections.
Def: I put to you that compared to the administration of Strasser, the military fared poorly under Kabbah. True or false?
Wit: You’re digressing from the point.
Judge Sebutinde: Answer the question asked of you.
Wit: Oh my God. He brought me to a point and now he’s going to another point.
Judge Sebutinde: Simply answer the question.
Def: When Kabbah took over, the monthly rice quota for the SLA was reduced?
Def: People in the military were retired without pensions?
Wit: Not to my knowledge. I know there were benefits for those who were retired. They said it was not enough.
Def: The rice was given to the military to supplement salaries?
Wit: Yes, but the rice was replaced by money. They decided to add money to the salary.
Def: During Kabbah’s administration, is it fair to say that many SLA soldiers were humiliated in battle by the Kamajors and had no respect?
Wit: That is true.
Def: There was a sense that a coup was coming prior to May 25, 1997?
Def: Prior to May 25, 1997, there were no joint actions between the AFRC and RUF?
Wit: We were fighting.
Def: At the time of the coup, it was the AFRC that overthrew the government of Sierra Leone?
Def: There was not RUF involvement?
Def: Then Foday Sankoh said on the radio that the RUF should join the AFRC?
Def: This is the first time the groups carry out joint operations?
Def: You described the junta period for us. The prosecution showed you a document that had Sankoh’s name beneath Johnny Paul Koroma’s name?
Def: When ECOMOG intervened in February 1998, the two groups still had distinct leadership structures? During the retreat in February 1998, Johnny Paul was still head of the AFRC, and Sankoh was still head of the RUF?
Def: You retreated to Kono?
Def: Later that year, in 1998, something interesting happened in October regarding some SLA soldiers and a court martial. 24 SLA soldiers were court martialed and sentenced to death?
Def: The executions were carried out on October 19, 1998?
Def: [references document] On the second page of this document, there’s a list of members of the AFRC. I suppose this would be the senior members. You see this – you went through this with the prosecution?
Def: You see Victor L. King, Squadron Leader. That’s an air force title?
Def: Did something happen to Victor King in relation to flying to Liberia on a helicopter?
Wit: I was in the jungle. We didn’t know anything about him.
Def: This Victor King ended up becoming Secretary of State of the AFRC?
Wit: Yes. When we were in the bush we only heard that ECOMOG arrested him in Liberia. Later we heard he was one of the 24 officers executed.
Def: [references document from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission] You see the name, “Major Victor L. King”? This lists the AFRC High Command/Supreme Council. King was Secretary of State?
Def: King was executed on October 19, 1998?
Def: [references another TRC document] This is from the director of prisons, a letter to the TRC commissioners dated July 12, 2003. His name is Mr. F.S. Conteh. He lists some ten names: “the undermentioned 10 officers were sentenced to life in prison by the court martial court…on 12 October 1998, 24 people were condemned to death by firing squad”. Victor King is on the list here. All 24 of these people were SLA members?
Def: No RUF members amongst them?
Def: This was Kabbah’s government?
Def: Are you aware that human rights groups around the world condemned the process through which this happened as flawed and unfair?
Wit: I’m not aware. I was in the jungle.
Def: You remember where you were when you heard they were killed?
Def: You were playing volleyball in Col. Eddie Town and you said Saj Musa called a meeting?
Def: Let me read back what you said Saj Musa said about these executions: “When Saj Musa came, he said there was no time waste…that we should head straight to Freetown…two days later we heard the announcement that 24 officers had been executed…Musa told the whole troop that as we are SLA members and they have executed soldiers, we should not sit by while this is happening. He told us we should go to Freetown and reinstate the army.” This was a call to arms to go and invade Freetown because of the executions?
Prosecutor Alagendra: Objection. The statement reads that Musa talked of going to Freetown before the executions.
Def: I’m entitled to put propositions to the witness, and he is free to disagree. In any case, the statement speaks of a second exhortation to attack Freetown.
Judge Doherty: I overrule the objection.
Def: Was this part of the reason to invade Freetown?
Wit: When the government went on the air talking about the executions, Mosquito also went on the air and rejected them. He said we should attack Freetown. You can check the web because you’re good at checking the web. Mosquito also went on the air that day of the executions.
Def: I’ll ignore your comment about me being good at searching the web…
Judge Doherty: I’ve warned you both to not make facetious comments. Mr. Witness, just answer the question without making asides.
Def: This was part of the reason for the invasion of Freetown by the SLAs. True or false?
Wit: Yes. But there were detainees at Pademba Road who were RUF and AFRC. Even Foday Sankoh was there.
11:30 (12:00 with the delay in video and audio): Court is adjourning for the mid-morning break. Proceedings resume at 12:00 (12:30 with the delay).