9:30 (10:00 with the delay in video and audio): Court is in session.
Prosecutor Mohamed Bangura continues his direct examination of the protected witness. Through a series of short questions, the witness continues his account as follows:
Pros: Yesterday you were describing a training base at a secondary school?
Wit: Yes, Ahmadiyya Secondary School in Kailahun. I was there for about three months. I had to run every morning. Every morning we were asked to gather and that was referred to as a muster parade, and there we were given necessary information on how to move about. Many of the recruits were students who were brought to the training base. We had all been civilians. We were not free to leave and only moved by command of the training instructors. People who tried to move without instructions were killed. I saw it happen when we moved the base. A colleague called Jusu was caught trying to escape. Rambo told us in the muster parade that he would be made an example. He was shot and his head was cut off. We moved to the National Secondary School, in between Nyahun and the township of Kailahun. There was another training base at the Methodist Secondary School. There were up to 5,000 people being trained at the National Secondary School – the number was overwhelming and the group had to be split, with half going to the Methodist Secondary School. There was the SBU, ranging from 1-20 years for boys. There were SGUs, girls from 1-20. We had Women Army Commando Soldiers (WACS) for women above 20 years. I fell into the SBU, the Small Boy Unit.
Defense: I’m not sure which base he’s talking about.
Pros: You said you were moved from the Ahmadiyya base. Which did you go to?
Wit: National Secondary.
Pros: And these groups existed where?
Wit: Initially at Ahmadiyya, and it was the same at National Secondary. My trainers were Vincent ___, Ibrahim Dugba, IbIsaac Mongor, and Rambo. There were many others, but those were the prominent ones. They told me they were Liberians. Dugba said he was once a Satu (ph?) in the Liberian army of Doe and later captured by the NPFL. The training was 2-3 months. We were taught how to maneuver, about the ideology of the RUF and background information on the RUF. Maneuvering was how to move on the front line – getting down and crawling. They told us how to treat civilians on the front line. They told us that the RUF needs manpower, and captured civilians must be sent to the rear for training.
Pros; Were you able to learn about the RUF leadership?
Wit: They told us the RUF divided into two. Special Forces were NPFL, Taylor’s rebels. The Vanguards were mainly trained to fight the RUF war in Sierra Leone. The Special Forces were to open the route. Foday Sankoh, the leader, was coming. They had the leader, Ghankay Taylor, providing support. They told me the Special Forces were NPFL fighters and the Vanguards were trained in Liberia under Sankoh to come liberate Sierra Leone. Mohamed Zino (sp?) and Rashid Sandy later told me that they had been trained in Libya. Zino was a Sierra Leonean.
Pros: After your training, did you go anywhere?
Wit: It was one morning we were commanded to gather. We were taken to the frontline, a town called Baima, in Mandu Chiefdom. Our position came under attack and I got wounded. I was taken in a hammock to Pendembu.
Pros: How long were you at Baima before you got shot?
Wit: A very short period of time.
Pros: Where at Pendembu were you taken?
Wit: To the hospital, and I was there for about three months but my situation was not improving. Sankoh came and said all serious cases should be taken to Liberia, Foya. My tendon was cut. [Witness indicates his right ankle.] I was taken to Foya.
Judge Sebutinde: Mr. Bangura, you said the witness was shot, but he only said he was wounded.
Wit: I was shot with a bullet. I was in Foya for about six months. There was much improvement. I was sent back to Sierra Leone to report to Capt. Kennedy in Koidu. He transferred me to Beudu. I was there for about 9 months, charging batteries in the radio station because I was unable to walk. This was in about 1992-1993. After nine months I was given a pass to go to my village to seek native treatment. I spent some time there. While there I was arrested by a certain group who said they were arresting AWOL soldiers – Absent without Leave. The times I’m giving here are just estimates. I cannot give precise dates. I was taken to Gema. I was still charging batteries there under Sgt. Eddie Murphy. I was there for about two-and-a-half months. From there we started maneuvering to go to Peyema (ph). We were told we were heading for another target. Eddie Murphy belonged to the Signal Unit, the communications department.
Def: The witness said he was arrested by “a certain group”. And it’s not clear if the “Signal Unit” refers to the RUF.
Judge Doherty: That’s a valid observation. Please clarify.
Pros: When you were at your village and you were captured by a group of soldiers for being AWOL. Which group did they belong to?
Wit: The RUF. And when I was taken to Gema they didn’t accept my documents and said I was to be reassigned. I was still under the RUF command. Eddie Murphy was a Sierra Leonean who had also been captured and trained – and was now a “junior commando”. We were “recruits” at training, and afterwards were “junior commandos”.
Pros: From Gema you maneuvered to go somewhere else. What did you do?
Wit: There was no free road, so we moved to bypass certain targets. We were commanded to go to Tongo. There was a ground referred to the Combat Camp, and that was Peyama. Mosquito gave the command in Gema. This was sometime in 1993. Mosquito was Sam Bockarie. We got to Peyama, and from there we were authorized to move through Boajiu, heading for Kangary (ph) Hills. At this time, Mosquito was just a strong fighter. At that time there was no proper structure. We got to Kangary Hills in early 1994. The commander of our group was Mohamed Terawally, alias Zino. Kangary Hills, Tonkolili District is between Matotoko and Makali. We were instructed by Sankoh to set ambushes on the highway and intercept vehicles. At first I was assigned to a unit called G4 since I was unable to travel far distance. The G4 unit was responsible for taking care of ammunition. I worked with the unit briefly. I was appointed by a friend. Since I can read and write, I was recommended to undertake signal training. Captain Nya made an announcement that he needed manpower to be trained to increase the number of operators in the jungle. Based on that, a friend recommended me to be one of those people to be trained as a signal radio operator. Captain Nya was Nya Nissar. He said he was Liberian, Mano by tribe. Nya was the overall signal commander of the RUF at the time. I began training as a radio operator. I was commanded by the unit commander of G4, Saddam. Saddam is the only name I knew him by – it was an alias. When we were in the jungle, we had just nicknames. The training took place within Kangary Hills. At some point we came under attack by jet bombers, so we moved, but still within that jungle. Other trainees were Moses Sama Samba, Sebatu alias “Competent”, Sah – alias “Oxygen”, Banquo (or Banko) and Vasati. Before that time there were other operators, Eddie Murphy, “Waco-Waco”, “Versatile” [others]. The jet bomber that attacked our position, I can’t tell much about it. The position we were in came under attack. I didn’t see any writing to identify the bomber. The training at Kangary Hills was about three months. They Capt. Nya informed the leader that he had started training operators, and Sankoh ordered us all transferred to his location at Zagoda, Kenema District – somewhere around Jui Koya. We went to Zagoda. We were still to continue the training. Besides, we were commanded to move around in search of food. The leader himself, Sankoh, was conducting the training himself, and one retired Leftenant from the SL Army. The training lasted about six more months. I completed my training in late 1995 or early 1996. I was then assigned at Zagoda itself, the headquarters station for the RUF. My colleagues were also assigned. Versatile was assigned to Peyama. [Describes where several of his colleagues were assigned.] In total, about nine of us were trained at Zagoda. At Zagoda I worked with the station sergeant, Zedman, working directly under Sankoh. I stayed at Zagoda until the last day our position was overrun by the Kamajors. We were beaten there in November or December 1996. We were forced to pull out from Zagoda. The commander we had there was Zino. He commanded everyone to move to Burkina. Sankoh had left us under the command of Zino when he left for peace talks in Yamoussoukro – I think in 1996. We communicated with ICRC – who were to provide his flight to Côte d’Ivoire.
Pros: You were pushed out of Zagoda and you went to?
Wit: To Giema, Burkina. Whilst moving, the group was destabilized by the Kamajors.
Pros: Did anything happened to Zino?
Wit: He went at large. Nobody knew his whereabouts from that time.
Pros: What did you do in Giema?
Wit: I was briefly arrested and asked to give an account of the communications equipment. Zedman had brought a satellite phone and fax machine from Yamoussoukro. When we maneuvered, we were unable to bring all the devices. The old, expiring codes were referred to as “Old Testament” and new codes were referred to as a “New Testament”. Sah James (Zedman) was supposed to take a new code along with him to Yamoussoukro, but he was not au fait (familiar with it) and was still using the old code from Abidjan, which created insecurity. So Sankoh thought it would be safer to use a satellite phone and fax machine. After my arrest, I made them to understand that my health was not good. I was given treatment by the combat medic and then I was posted back to Beudu. I received a message that Guinean forces had opened fire on miners. When I took it to Bockarie, he said I still needed to give account of the missing devices from Zagoda. From 1996 I remained in Beudu until sometime in 1997 when the AFRC took over power in Freetown. I worked with Sam Bockarie in Beudu. Issa Sesay was there as well. I worked as radio operator under the command of one station commander called “Fidel Castro”, for Bockarie.
Pros: You mentioned mining going on in Koindu?
Wit: Yes, diamond mining. Guineans opened fire on the miners. That was the message I took to Bockarie. A “mining unit” of civilians and armed men with the RUF were conducting the mining.
Pros: You worked with Sam Bockarie until when?
Wit: 1997. I was then sent to go to Kono. There was another group of RUF fighters in the “western jungle”, under Superman. Bockarie ordered him to Freetown. Another group in Kangary Hills commanded by Morris Kallon was ordered to Makeni. Bockarie and Sesay moved to Daru, to move to Kenema, then Freetown. Issa Sesay and Bockarie moved to Kenema. Sesay moved to Freetown to join Superman while Bockarie stayed in Kenema.
Pros: During this period after the coup, where were you?
Wit: After the coup, after less than a month I was commanded to Kono to collect acid. I moved to Daru and proceeded to Kenema.
Def: On several occasions this morning, the witness has initiated evidence without a question from the prosecution.
Judge Doherty: There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s up to the prosecution to lead the witness.
Pros: You were explaining your movements from Beudu. Why did you leave Beudu?
Wit: I was commanded to go to Kono to get acid to energize the car batteries we were using in the radio sets. I traveled to Daru and through Kenema. I spent about ten days in Kenema, where I met Sam Bockarie. I got to Kono in the rainy season of 1997. I was to collect the acid from the station commander in Gayah (ph), Kono. I was to collect the acid from C.O. Nya. There was another Sergeant called Kim Perry. He sent me to Koidu. He said there were men staying with them for mining, and they took me to the site. Kim Perry was also signal personnel. At the mining site in Koidu, in the morning we used to go to the station to transmit messages, then went back to the site. I remained in Kono until 1998, after the ECOMOG intervention. During this period in Kono I was overseeing mining. There was one pit meant for the RUF and another for the sergeant I was working with. The sergeant’s pit was private, and the other was for the RUF. Sometime in February I went back to Beudu. After the ECOMOG intervention, there was an overall commander in Kono called Gullit, the PLO 2. He commanded everyone to go to Kono. Before that he gathered everyone and commanded “Operation Pay Yourself”. Gullit insisted that the operation be carried out. While communicating with Beudu that we were about to pull out, I received a call from the other side, from Base 1, inquiring why we were pulling out. Gullit said he had something very important to discuss with Sam Bockarie. “Operation Pay Yourself” was a command to loot Kono.
Pros: You mentioned communications just before you left “from the other side”. What do you mean?
Wit: Base 1, which is a radio set assigned to Benjamin Yeaten, SSS Director, stationed in Congo Town, just next to Whiteflower, the residence of Taylor.
Pros: How do you know?
Wit: Later I went to Liberia myself and stayed until sometime in 2001.
Pros: Did you move eventually to Beudu?
Wit: Yes. I first moved to Kailahun. Gullit left us there and moved to Beudu. The following day we saw him in a vehicle with Bockarie and they said they were moving to Daru. Bockarie came from Beudu. Just after the intervention, he retreated there. He was there by the time I got back there. Back in Beudu, as we arrived, Bockarie called a muster parade and told us that he was promoted to General. He said “I’m now a General”. He said he’d been promoted by the chief, Charles Taylor. He had new fatigues and a military vehicle. The station commander ordered my arrest. The MPs arrested me and I was locked up.
Pros: Did he say how he had come to be promoted?
Wit: He explained to us that he had been promoted by the Chief, Charles Taylor. He said I’m just from “the other side”, Liberia, and had been promoted there. He said the chief gave him a military jeep. The RUF didn’t have a uniform. That type of fatigue I saw with Bockarie, that was the kind I saw later with the Anti-Terrorist Unit in Liberia.
Pros: At Beudu, what duties did you perform?
Wit: I did not spend much time there. After I was released, I was appointed to Sengema, a crossing point between the Moi (ph) River and Sandiaru in Kailahun District. Sengema, Pengua Chiefdom, was a base for provision of escort facilities. When commanders were moving from Kono to Kailahun, Sengema provided an escort, and vice-versa. I spent a short time in Sengema, about 2-3 months. I was again called upon to report to Beudu. In Beudu I was still a radio operator. I had some senior radio operators like “Ebony” – Sam Lamboi, Mohamed Kabbah, Tolo, and Zedman. I was assigned to Sam Bockarie. I was operating Sam Bockarie’s radio. The call sign was changed at times. At the time I was transferred back, his call sign was “Bravo Zulu 4”, which represents BZ4. I remained there until sometime in 1999, in the rainy season – June or July, and I was commanded to cross into Liberia. Issa Sesay commanded me to go. Issa Sesay was in Beudu. He was a Colonel or a Brigadier at the time, not yet a General. In Liberia, I was to meet one Zigzag Marzah. Marzah was to provide accommodation for us until a man called Unit Fifty came to collect us to take us to Foya.
Pros: Who was Unit Fifty?
Wit: A man came and said he was Benjamin D. Yeaten, and he was the SSS Director for Liberia. Unit Fifty was his code name when we were communicating.
Pros: Before you moved to Liberia…
Judge Doherty: What’s SSS?
Wit: Special Security Service.
Pros: What was it?
Wit: Special Security Service to the president of Liberia, Charles Taylor.
Pros: While you were you in Beudu, was there communication with Liberia?
Wit: There had been communication even during our training in Zagoda. I was told never to communicate with stations with Liberia. Only some people had authority to communicate with stations in Liberia. I was told I was not to receive a call from Liberia. There were a number of calls from the Liberia stations. I always had to rush to get the station sergeant to talk to them. When I got to Beudu, I was given the authority to communicate with Liberia. I was given a radio set before crossing. When I arrived and Fifty received me..
Pros: Before you left to go to Liberia, which stations in Liberia did you communicate with?
Wit: “020”, which was the executive mansion ground in Liberia, and Base 1, which was at Yeaten’s residence. There was another station in Foya, Foxtrot Yankee or “FY”.
Pros: When you got to Liberia, Unit Fifty met you?
Wit: Yes, Benjamin Yeaten. My role in Liberia was to receive messages from Sierra Leone – from Issa Sesay and Mosquito, and give them to Yeaten, and transmit responses from Yeaten to Sesay and Bockarie. I remained in Liberia until 2001. They hunted me. I was accused of communicating with the Kamajors. I retreated to save my head.
Pros: You returned from Liberia when?
Wit: Late in 2001.
Pros: Did you do anything else in the RUF?
Wit: I went briefly to Tongo, and I was beaten. I had to retreat hastily to join the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Program. That was late 2001.
Pros: Can you describe the nature of your training at Zagoda?
Wit: I was trained in procedures, pro signs, and operation of the device – the radio itself. Pro signs are, for example, “over” – meaning that I ended my transmission and need a response. “Out” meant I have ended my transmission and need no response.
Pros: Did you keep notes from your training?
Wit: Yes, I had my notebook until the end of disarmament. At some point, my former sergeant requested those materials and they were handed to him.
Pros: [displays document to the court, distributes copies to the defense and judges] Do you recognize the book?
Wit: Yes, it’s my notebook, which has the notes from my training.
Pros: Is that your handwriting?
Wit: No, the initial book was worn out – we had to transfer it into this book. Another recruit transferred the notes. That’s his handwriting.
[Defense asks to see the original copy and the prosecution obliges.]
Pros: After your training, you told the court that your first assignment was at Zagoda. You say at this time there was communication “with the other side”?
Pros: Were you at this stage, from Zagoda, able to communicate with the other side?
Wit: It was only the senior operators who had the authority to communicate with Liberia. There was no station in Sierra Leone I was mandated not to communicate with. When I was posted to Beudu, I had every right to communicate with stations in Liberia, and I did that.
Pros: Who restricted your authority to communicate with Liberia?
Wit: [lists authorized operators]
Pros: Do you recall any communications at Zagoda with the other side?
Wit: Yes, they used to just come on the net and identify themselves as “35B” and the station commanders would come to talk to them. At that time, a call came and the station sergeant said it came from Gbarnga, the headquarters of Charles Taylor. “Ebony” told Sankoh to take advantage of the peace accord at Yamoussoukro to gain more “dancing materials”, which meant ammunition.
Pros: 35B was calling. Who took it?
Wit: I took it and went to get Zedman. They made that request that Ebony wanted to talk to “Toyota”, who was Sankoh. Sankoh came and spoke to “Ebony”. I was in the station and overheard the conversation. Zedman was there operating the set.
Pros: What kind of conversations did you have within Sierra Leone?
Wit: Local commanders prepared “sitreps”, or situation reports, for Sankoh and sent them through the radio.
Pros: How frequent was this flow of communication?
Wit: It’s hard to estimate. There were many calls with new pieces of information coming in.
Pros: Before you moved from Zagoda, you mentioned that Sankoh went to peace talks in Yamoussoukro, and that Zedman went with him, then came back with communication materials?
Wit: Yes, a satellite phone and fax machine. This equipment was used, but later captured by the Kamajors. I did not operate those devices myself. A radio operator, Fatamata (sp?) in Peyama – a Temne by tribe – was called to use it. Sankoh was also Temne. They communicated on the phone in Temne.
Pros: You went to Beudu from Zagoda. You worked with Bockarie?
Wit: Yes. I received messages and gave them to the Station Sergeant, Ebony, who took them to Bockarie. Other stations included Zedman and Elevation.
Pros: You said that the radio call sign for Bockarie was BZ4?
Wit: Yes, it later changed to Planet One. There was a man in Liberia called “Mosquito Spray” – he captured Voinjama. An operation was launched into Liberia, operation Vulture. Two vehicles were captured that had radios in them. At that time the station names were changed, “Marvel” and “Planet One”. Those were the call signs for two different radio stations.
Pros: You mentioned that Bockarie was instructed by his chief to enter into Liberia and address the Mosquito Spray situation. Who was his chief?
Wit: It was Charles Taylor. That’s what he told us.
Pros: When was Operation Vulture?
Wit: It was shortly after that I left for Liberia. The operation was successful. Commander Olso led the operation. It was just after the operation that I left for Liberia in June-July 1999.
Pros: These vehicles – do you know whose they were?
Wit: They were alleged to be NGO vehicles.
Pros: How were these two vehicles now used after the radios were put into them. How were they used by Bockarie?
Wit: “Planet One” was a mobile station. “Marvel” could stay on the ground while “Planet One” was away. The stations were operated differently, but received messages for the same commander.
Court is adjourning for the mid-morning break. Proceedings will resume at 12:00 (12:30 with the delay in video and audio).