9:30 (10:00 with the delay in video and audio): Court is in session.
Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra continues her direct examination of witness Alimamy Bobson Sesay:
[Alagendra begins by reviewing the witness’s previous mentions of “Rambo” to have the witness clarify which of three “Rambos” (RUF Rambo; SLA Rambo or Rambo Red Goat – Idrissa Kamara; or SLA Rambo – Moses Kabia) are meant in each case where it wasn’t clear.]
Pros: Do you recall if RUF Rambo brought arms and ammunition for the others in Freetown?
Def: Objection. Counsel is making a distinction between ammunition RUF Rambo brought ammunition for his group and ammunition for others. The question assumes facts that are not in evidence – that the arms and ammunition were in two parts.
Pros: I don’t see how it assumes a fact, but I will rephrase the question to first lay a foundation.
Pros: Rambo Red Goat and his group – when they came to Freetown, did they bring anything for your group that was already in Freetown?
Wit: Yes. They brought ammunition. They had civilians that carried them.
Pros: Do you know where it came from?
Wit: It was the reinforcement that came from Makeni.
Pros: Besides the fact that it came from Makeni, do you know where the ammunition came from originally?
Wit: The troop came from Kailahun/Kono and came to our area.
Pros: I’m asking about the ammunition, where that came from.
Wit: It was the reinforcement that brought the ammunition. They said it was a supply they received from Mosquito.
Pros: Who told you this?
Wit: Rambo Red Goat explained that.
Pros: Yesterday you testified about Five-Five demonstrating in Upgun how to amputate civilians. How do you know about it?
Wit: It happened in the presence of all of us at the junction.
Pros: [refers to transcript] You were talking about what happened at the Kissy Mental Home. You said, “wherever we met people singing that song…or see them setting fires…there was no electricity…they set fires to secure the area.” Please explain.
Wit: People used to burn tires at the vehicles. This made us to stay awake at night. It was to support those of us who came. So that made us to see clearly. It assisted us to see areas.
Pros: What do you mean?
Wit: These were the areas we captured. Civilians under our control burned those tires to support us.
Pros: Why did they do this?
Wit: They were under our control. The entire area – PWD to State House – was under our control when the troop entered Freetown.
Pros: [refers to transcript] You testified yesterday that KBC came and joined your group in Newton with a group of eight fighters. You told us KBC was an SLA. The fighters he came with – who were they?
Wit: He had small boys who were SBUs. He had two RUF and another SLA.
Pros: You told the court that this group – he told you that they were reorganized and sent by Charles Taylor. These two small boys, two RUF and one SLA in his group…
Judge Doherty: Did he say two small boys?
Pros: How many SBUs did KBC come with?
Pros; There were two RUF?
Wit: Yes, the total number was eight.
Pros: So two SBUs, two RUF, an SLA and himself, who was also an SLA?
Wit: No, there were four SLAs, two SBUs and two RUF.
Pros: Eight includes him?
Pros: They were sent by Taylor?
Wit: He said the SLA group that went to Guinea left Guinea and went to Liberia. They were reorganized, armed and sent to Mosquito. They were sent to Kono, then to us.
Pros: Did he explain about the SBUs?
Wit: Yes, he said they were SBUs he got from Kono.
Pros: Do you recall how old they were?
Wit: About ten years. But they too had AKs.
Pros: [refers to transcript] I was asking yesterday about who brought the ammunition for Bazzy to Gberibana. You said it was mixed RUF and SLA who came with it, and you said you’d missed the commander’s name. Do you recall the name?
Wit: I still can’t recall the name, but they were RUFs and SLAs who came with the ammunition.
[Prosecution asks that witness be given a map of Freetown and environs, and asks the witness to mark various locations he has mentioned in his testimony so far: National Stadium, Pademba Prison, Tengbeh Town, Kingtom, Kissy Police Station, and Kissy Mental Home. Prosecution requests that the map be marked for identification, and Judge Doherty orders this done.]
[Prosecution asks that witness be given another map, the western area of a road map of Sierra Leone, and asks the witness to mark other locations he has mentioned in his testimony: Wellington, Allen Town, Calaba Town, Grafton, Hastings, Benguema, Waterloo, Tumbo, Newton, MacDonald, Mile 38 (also called Magbuntuso) and Okra Hill. Prosecution requests that the map be marked for identification, and Judge Doherty orders this done.]
[brief interruption in video and audio]
Pros: At this time, do you know what had happened to the Red Lion Battalion?
Wit: Part of it went with Gullit, together with Bajehjeh. We only had a few of them that stayed with us.
Pros: Where did the group with Gullit go?
Wit: When we were in Newtown, Gullit, Five-Five and other commanders left to Lunsar to meet Superman in Makeni.
Pros: Where did the group with Med Bajehjeh go?
Wit: They left with Gullit to go to the rear, at Makeni.
Pros: You said some Red Lion members moved with your group to the West Side?
Wit: Yes. We had some RUF men who were in the Red Lion Battalion, some STF, and some former NPFL fighters. Part of them stayed with Bazzy.
Pros: What was the number of Red Lion Battalion that went with your group?
Wit: About ten STF and about ten former NPFL went with us. Gullit went with the others, including Med Bajehjeh, who was the commander. About ten STF, ten former NPFL, and Stage (ph) – also a commander, who was the RUF – they too stayed with the squad Bazzy was leading.
Pros: Were there civilians living in Mile 38 at this time?
Wit: Bazzy ordered that Foyo move with the “family members” to find a location in Okra Hill, while we, the fighting forces, blocked ECOMOG.
Pros: Did anything happen to civilians in Mile 38?
Wit: Bazzy ordered that the civilians under our control be moved to Okra Hills.
Pros: You said your group was burning houses in Mile 38. Who did they belong to?
Pros: Where were the civilians?
Wit: We had occupied that area. We had captured those civilians. Some ran away into the bush, but Bazzy ordered the others moved with Foyo (ph).
Pros: After Mile 38 where did you go?
Wit: We went to Magbeni, in the Okra Hills. We withdrew to meet Foyo and the entire “family members”.
Pros: Did anything happen in Magbeni?
Wit: Yes. Bazzy reorganized the troop and established another brigade. He appointed commanders and created his own brigade administration.
Pros: Who were the commanders he appointed?
Wit: He appointed Hassan Papa Bangura as the second in command and director of operations, Junior Lion as operations commander, Tito as the camp commandant, Major Gbonkelenkeh as the brigade major. He established about five battalions: Eagle Battalion, Lion Battalion, Cambodia Battalion..I can recall the other names later. He also promoted us to major. He appointed me to be the ADC to the second in command, Hassan Papa Bangura. Bazzy too had a CSO, Edward Williams.
Pros: What is ADC?
Wit: Aide de camp. He was always with the commander.
Pros: Were there battalion commanders?
Wit: Yes. The Cambodia Battlaion was headed by Foyo. The other battalion whose name I can’t recall was headed by KBC. Leftenant Col Kido (ph) headed another battalion. Keforkeh acted as commander of the Lion Battalion.
Pros: Which group was Foyo from?
Wit: He came together with 05 to reinforce us at Col. Eddie Town.
Pros: And Kido?
Pros: Did anything happen after the appointments were made?
Wit: Bazzy ordered Keforkeh to cross the river. You had to cross in a boat to Gberiebana. He said they should execute any civilians in Gberiebana so that no one would know where we based. Keforkeh moved there with more than 50 men.
Pros: How do you know about this order?
Wit: This reorganization was done in our presence. The order was also made in our presence.
Pros: What was the composition of Keforkeh’s group that went to Gberibana?
Wit: SLAs, RUFs, STFs, Staga (ph), former NPFL fighters. All of them were in that Lion Battalion.
Pros: What happened when the Lion Battalion crossed to Gberibana?
Wit: Keforkeh sent that he captured the group and had made the ground fearful. When we also crossed, we saw the bodies of about 15 civilians who had been killed. The force killed them and displayed their corpses on the road.
Pros: How did you get to Gberiebana?
Wit: The troop started moving together with the family members. I moved with Hassan Papa Bangura and Bazzy. I saw the display of these corpses at Gberiebana.
Pros: Did Bazzy react when he saw this display?
Wit: He just said, “job well done”. He commended Keforkeh for his action.
Pros: Did you stay in Gberiebana?
Pros: Did the West Side have a headquarters?
Wit: Yes, Gberiebana was the headquarters. The battalions were in different villages around Gberiebana. The headquarters was there up until the time I left with Hassan Papa Bangura in June 2000.
Pros: When did the group move to Gberiebana?
Wit: It was June/July 1999 up until June 2000 when we were arrested in Freetown.
Pros: Do you recall when you arrived at Mile 38?
Wit: April/May we were in that area. May/June we occupied Gberiebana.
Pros: How long were you in Mile 38?
Wit: We did not spend too much time there.
Pros: What was the size of the troops that were in Gberiebana?
Wit: We were more than 500 apart from the civilians.
Pros: How many civilians did you have at the West Side?
Wit: We had many civilians. All the battalions had civilians. Only a few of the civilians were taken with Gullit. We had more than 400 civilians in total.
Pros: Did anything happen in Gberiebana during this time?
Wit: During this time, Bazzy called a meeting with commanders. When we came, we received ammunition which was brought by the mixed troop of SLA and RUF for us. Bazzy said now that ECOMOG had pushed to Masiaka, he said we should attack their strategic areas. He appointed some commanders to plan an operation to Port Loko.
Pros: This ammunition that was received – where was it from?
Wit: Mosquito said he would send ammunition. The commanders in the mixed troop that brought it said it came from Mosquito.
Pros: Which areas were to be attacked?
Wit: Port Loko was one target area because we heard that Malians had based with Guineans there. He also talked about Gberie Junction, Mile 38 and [another].
Pros: When you say Port Loko, what are you referring to?
Wit: Port Loko Town.
Pros: Did these operations take place?
Pros: Which was the first area the group went into?
Wit: Port Loko. I was part of the operation.
Pros: Do you recall what happened there?
Wit: Yes. Bazzy said before we went, we should fearful Port Loko and any village in that area. He said we should kill civilians and burn the towns. We burned two villages on the way. In Port Loko we captured a fat woman, and that woman was hacked to death by Keforkeh. In Port Loko Town, the Malians were based in a school. We attacked their headquarters.
Pros: When Bazzy said you should “fearful Port Loko”, what does that mean?
Wit: We should burn any village as we went along. We should burn down Port Loko and kill people so that they know we are in that area.
Pros: What did you burn in the villages?
Wit: The houses in those two villages. The civilians ran away when they saw us.
Pros: Were those houses empty?
Wit: The civilians ran away. That caused us to quicken the operation. So we burned the village and moved out as soon as possible.
Pros: Who was the woman killed by Keforkeh?
Wit: A civilian. She was so fat. He hacked her repeatedly.
Pros: Why was she killed?
Wit: This was the order we had from Bazzy. We only learned later that this woman was a popular woman in Port Loko.
Pros: You moved to Port Loko Town?
Wit: Yes. We attacked the Malian and Guinean troops. We dislodged them, burned two armored cars, and captured two Malian commanders.
Pros: What happened to them?
Wit: We kept them safe and withdrew. We burned down their headquarters – Schlenka School, and withdrew to West Side.
Pros: Where were the two Malians?
Wit: Immediately we came to the base. We met Hassan Papa Bangura at Bazzy’s house where the radio set was. We handed the Malians to Bazzy. He said he was going to call Mosquito right away to inform him that we had something in hand that would enable them to know we really attacked. Bazzy called Mosquito to inform him we had dislodged the Malians and captured two commanders. Mosquito said he wanted to talk to them, but they only spoke French. Mosquito said he had Eddie Kanneh with him, who spoke French. Bazzy brought a Malian to the set, who spoke with Kanneh in French. Mosquito told Bazzy to secure the people and that he would go over international media to say that they’ve been captured, and that he is demanding that the Malians leave immediately or the commanders would be executed. Indeed, we heard that over the international media.
Pros: When you say “that would enable them to really know we attacked”, what do you mean?
Wit: Mosquito would have proof that we had attacked and we had two in our custody.
Pros; Who did he want to know about the attack?
Wit: He said he was going to inform the government of Sierra Leone and the international people.
Pros: How do you know about this communication between Bazzy and Mosquito?
Wit: As soon as we came, Bazzy called Mosquito.
Pros: Did Bazzy respond to what Mosquito said?
Wit: Yes. He responded and brought the two commanders, who weren’t able to speak English. So the senior Malian spoke with Eddie Kanneh in French.
Pros: At the end of the conversation, did Bazzy respond to what Mosquito said?
Wit: He said he was attacking and would continue to attack ECOMOG in that area.
Def: When were the Malian soldiers taken hostage?
Pros: Do you recall the date when the Malians were captured?
Wit: It was June 1999. It was not too long that the cease-fire was declared.
Pros: You said you heard something over the international media about this communication. What did you hear?
Wit: Mosquito went on the BBC and said that the troops under his command, led by Bazzy, had attacked and destabilized ECOMOG in Port Loko, and that two commanders were arrested. He demanded that if the Malians did not withdraw from Sierra Leone, he would execute those commanders.
Pros: How long after the communication did you hear this?
Wit: We came in the morning. It’s about 3:05 and 5:05 that Network Africa is on. The interview was repeated.
Pros: After this announcement, what happened?
Wit: We heard that the people in Mali demonstrated that their soldiers in Sierra Leone should leave.
Pros: Did anything happen after that?
Wit: The Malians left Sierra Leone.
Pros: You told the court an operation was also planned to take Makolo. Did it take place?
Wit: Yes. This operation was headed by KBC. I was with the operation, together with some other fighters who moved to Makolo.
Pros: What happened there?
Wit: When we got there, it was a dawn attack – around 5-6:00 in the morning. We destabilized the ECOMOG base there. We burned vehicles and houses. We executed some Nigerian soldiers. We captured about three civilian women. Captain Blood captured those women. He used an axe to slit the women’s heads. He said they had joined ECOMOG, so he executed them.
Pros: Who executed the Nigerian soldiers?
Wit: We did. They were sleeping when we came. When they came out, we executed them. We shot them to death.
Pros: How many women were killed?
Wit: There were about three. Captain Blood had an axe. He would lay then down and hack their heads like when you split wood.
Pros: Where were these women?
Wit: In the village of Makolo. Captain Blood said they were our sisters, but they were in love with ECOMOG.
Pros: You said Captain Blood was attached to Bazzy. What do you mean?
Wit: He was one of Bazzy’s security men.
Pros: Did anything else happen in Makolo?
Wit: We burned houses and vehicles. We got some ammunition and withdrew.
Pros: The houses that burned, were they empty?
Wit: There were not many civilians there. Those that were there were executed. We did not see civilians in the houses.
Pros: Where did you go?
Wit: We withdrew to Magbeni, where ECOMOG ambushed us. But we destabilized them and returned to Gberiebana. We reported to Bazzy and gave him details of the operation. We explained everything we’d done – the burnings, killings, everything.
Pros: Did Bazzy respond after receiving this report?
Wit: He just welcomed us and said, wow, you’ve really done me proud.
Pros: How do you know about the reporting to Bazzy and this response?
Wit: We went directly to Bazzy. Bomb Blast and Junior Lion were also present. We surrendered everything to the commander. He even had boys he planted among the troop to ensure you did exactly what he said to do. He told them to watch the commanders. So if you refused to hand over something you got in the operation, they would report you.
Pros: Did these boys have any formal assignment?
Wit: They were to ensure that the commanders fulfilled the orders.
Pros: Apart from when they went with the troops to report back to Bazzy, did they have other assignments?
Wit: They were his eyes, his representatives.
Judge Doherty: Did they have any other job?
Wit: They too were part of the fighting team.
Pros: After you returned to Gberiebana, do you recall if you heard anything?
Wit: Yes, the SLPP government went over the area and said the junta troops went to attack Makolo, but had been repelled by helicopter gunships, and that many AFRC/RUF forces had been killed.
Pros: The civilians that were in Gberiebana – do you know what happened to them?
Wit: They continued working for us. We used them in ambushes at the various guard posts. We used them for food-finding patrols to carry loads. We used them to pound rice. The young girls – some commanders had two – were also used as wives.
Pros: Did you know any of the girls that were used by the commanders as wives?
Wit: Yes, I was able to know many of them. Bazzy would just sit there and say, hey CSO, that one there should sleep with me tonight. When the CSO went there, they would not say no and would just come along. We had so many beautiful girls. His CSO would go and meet them and tell them the commander wanted to see them.
Pros: Did you know any of the girls that Bazzy used this way in Gberiebana?
Wit: Yes. One of my cousins was captured in Freetown. At one time she came to me and said that the CSO came to say that Bazzy wanted to see him. I said it was above my head, and she should go and meet him. So she went to meet Bazzy.
Pros: Did anything happen to her when she went to Bazzy?
Wit: Later, when I went to Bazzy’s place, I met her crying. She said she has been beaten. She said Bazzy said the two of them should have sex. Because she refused, they beat her. Later she went into Bazzy’s room. I heard her screaming from the room. I left her there and went to explain to Bomb Blast. Bomb Blast went to Bazzy and later came with her.
Pros: Did she tell you who beat her?
Wit: Bazzy ordered that Maf (ph) to beat her, but later she agreed and went to the room. I heard the screaming. Later, Bomb Blast went there and they both came. I told her to take heart – that I had no power here, they were our commanders.
Pros: Who is Maf?
Wit: He was Edward Williams, the CSO to Bazzy.
Pros: How old was this cousin of yours?
Wit: Around 16-17. She was very small, actually.
Pros: You said Bazzy ordered an operation in Gberie Junction. Did it take place?
Pros: What happened?
Wit: They appointed Amara Kallay to attack Gberie Junction. I did not go on that operation. Later, Kallay came with a lot of looted items to the camp. His men came to meet Bazzy and said Kallay did not attack in Gberie Junction, but just went on looting. Bazzy said men should beat up Kallay. They took him to the Military Police and he was given over 50 lashes.
Pros: What were the orders they said he had not fulfilled?
Wit: He said they should attack any military men and kill civilians. But they did not go all the way and just looted.
Pros; Was there another operation to Gberie Junction?
Wit: Yes. This time I joined in. We attacked ECOMOG forces at Gberie Junction. We disorganized them, burned Gberie Junction, got ammunition and withdrew.
Pros: How long was it before the second operation?
Wit: Just two days. We organized again and moved. We went with Amara Kallay. We succeeded. We attacked ECOMOG headquarters and they withdrew with their armored car.
Pros: What did you burn in Gberie Junction?
Wit: We burned the houses.
Pros: Were there civilians there?
Wti: No, we did not meet civilians.
Pros: Did you hear anything after this operation?
Wit: We heard over the air that the junta forces had attacked Gberie Junction. When we came, Bazzy reported to Mosquito. He always reported our attacks to Bockarie.
Pros: Were there other operations while your group was based in Gberiebana?
Wit: Yes. Mile 38, Magbuntuso.
Wit: About two days after the Gberie Junction operation, Bazzy said we should attack the military target in Mile 38. All of these operations happened in June 1999.
Pros: What happened in Mile 38?
Wit: I was part of the team that went. We also met ECOMOG there. We attacked their positions and pushed them out of Mile 38. We burned some of their tents, got some ammunition from them, and withdrew to the base.
Pros: Were there other operations after Mile 38?
Wit: There was an operation in Mansumana before the cease-fire was declared. It was the day the government declared the cease-fire.
Pros: What happened in Mansumana?
Wit: I did not go on the operation. It was Keforkeh and his men who went. I was at headquarters and we were firing mortars in the Masiaka area. It was the Lion Battalion under Keforkeh that went. Bazzy said the troop should capture Mansumana and create a checkpoint there.
Pros: Do you recall anything happening in Magbeni in July 1999?
Wit: Yes. At the time that the government declared a cease-fire, we realized that they have not mentioned the SLA in the accord. Bazzy called Bomb Blast and said we should plan another operation. He linked with Freetown and said he wanted to relay some child combatants to UNAMSIL.
Pros: What do you mean he linked up with Freetown?
Wit: During the cease fire there was communication between the two sides. So we called the protocol officer to President Kabbah, Abdulai Mustafa, and said that UNAMSIL should come to get the child combatants. It was Bazzy who spoke to Abdulai Mustafa.
Court is adjourning for the mid-morning break. Proceedings will resume at 12:00 (12:30 with the delay in video and audio).