2:00 Alimamy Bobson Sesay describes 1997-1998 junta structure and crimes

11:30 (12:00 with the delay in video and audio): Court is back in session following the break for the swearing-in ceremony for the Special Court’s International Criminal Court’s Registrar.

Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra continues to examine witness Alimamy Bobson Sesay:

Pros: I would like to begin by spelling some names for the court that the witness has just given: Abu Sankoh also called Zagalo. Machiavelli. AK Sesay. Foday Kallay. Samuel Kargbo, sometimes called Jungler. Franklin Conteh, also known as Woyoh. Moses Kabia. Corporal Sullay, also known as Sulaiman. Corporal Hector Lahai. Momoh Bangura, also called Momoh Doti (ph). Witness, could you spell it?

Wit: It’s a Krio word, but it’s actually “dirty”: “Dorty”.

Pros: Other spellings: Santigie Borbor Kanu. SFY Koroma. That’s where I’ll stop with the spellings.

Judge Doherty: Witness, you want to say something?

Wit: I’m going through some stress with the presence here of the support officer, here presently. I suffered here in that room. I had to use a can there to ease myself.

Judge Doherty: Are you in need of insistence now?

Wit: Yes, I want to bring it to your attention. I’m still having problems with the support officer.

Judge Doherty: Who?

Wit: The person who brings me to the courtroom.

Judge Doherty: We will have this looked into. Do you need something now?

Wit: I don’t want anyone distracting me while I’m here to testify and tell the truth.Even today, we had some argument between the two of us.

Judge Doherty: We’re unclear. This is some personal problem between you and the officer, or what is it?

Wit: It started yesterday. I was discussing with the person, and the person made me to think about while I was in prison.

Judge Doherty: You felt uncomfortable with the person, the room you were in, or both?

Wit: Yesterday in that room, I had to use the empty can of a soft drink I had to urinate. I was there until 1:45. When the food came it was cold. Today I was there for about five minutes. I told him I wanted to go to the gents, and he said I should hurry up. I told him I wasn’t a prisoner and I wanted to bring it to the attention of the court. The person is stressing me.

Judge Doherty: Now I understand.

[Judges confer.]

Judge Doherty: We take your concerns very seriously. We will bring your complaints to the attention of the registrar and the head of WVS. Your comfort is important and we will make that view of the judges known.

Pros: Mr. Witness, are you in a frame of mind to continue with your testimony this morning?

Wit: No.

Judge Doherty: What’s the problem at the moment?

Wit: I’m still not comfortable because I went into some deep argument with the woman. I came here to testify and we argued. I’m stressed, tormented and worried right now.

[Judges confer.]

Judge Doherty: We’re trying to work out what would best help you overcome this problem…

Court officer: On behalf of the Registry, we would like to express our deep regret that this has occurred.

Judge Doherty: Do you require a short break. We will of course ensure that someone else escorts you to and from the courtroom while there is a deeper investigation into what you’ve said. Do you want to keep answering questions now?

Wit: I want another officer.

Judge Doherty: Very well, we will continue with your testimony and we’ll make sure there’s another officer to assist you.

Pros: Before the break, you referred to three people as PLO 1, 2 and 3. What is PLO?

Wit: Principal Liaison Officer.

Pros: You said Moses Kabia, also known as Rambo, was “his CSO”. What is CSO?

Wit: He was the Chief Security Officer to Johnny Paul Koroma.

Pros: You were giving us the names of Council members. That’s the AFRC Council?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: [reads back names given by witness] Were there any other members of the AFRC Council?

Wit: Yes. I think you left out Hassan Papa Bangura.

Pros: I did. Any others?

Wit: Yes. Honorable Cobra, Mohamed. We called him Cobra. Honorable Sam Bockarie.

Pros: Did Bockarie go by any other name?

Wit: They called him Mosquito. He was leading the RUF at that time, commander of the RUF.

Pros: Other members of the Supreme Council you recall?

Wit: Honorable Womandia, an RUF member. Honorable Issa Sesay, an RUF member. Honorable Morris Kallon, an RUF member.

Pros: Did Kallon go by any other name?

Wit: We called him Bilai Wai Karim.

Pros: Any others?

Wit: Yes. Honorable…I think, these are the ones I can recall for now.

Pros: You have named the following members who were on the Council and were also RUF members: Womandia, Bockarie, Sesay and Kallon.

Def: I don’t recall he said the rest were RUF members…now I see it. That’s fine.

Wit: There was also Honorable Mike Lamin, RUF member. Honorable Eldred Collins, an RUF member. These are the names I can recall so far.

Pros: Were there any other RUF members that were part of the Supreme Council?

Wit: Yes, but I cannot recall their names now.

Pros: Apart from the positions you told us JPK announced, were there any other positions?

Wit: Yes. He appointed the Director of Defense, Brig. Mani. He also appointed the Council of Secretaries, Secretaries of State in the various provinces.

Pros: Any other designations?

Wit: Yes. He appointed the Air Wing Commander, Victor King.

Pros: What was the responsibility of the Army Chief of Staff, S.O. Williams?

Wit: He directed the day-do-day operations of the army.

Pros: Did he supervise any body?

Wit: Yes, the various brigades in the various districts.

Pros: Were there brigade commanders appointed?

Wit: Yes, Koroma appointed commanders for the various districts.

Pros: How many were appointed?

Wit: Four. For the East: Col. Fallah Sewa, for the North: Col. Momodu Koroma, for the South: Col. …I’ll think about it later, but he was a colonel.

Pros: Who was part of the composition of these brigades?

Wit: The army and also RUF members. It was a mixed brigade: RUF and SLA members.

Pros: What was the relationship between the RUF and SLA?

Wit: It was very good.

Pros: After the appointments were announced, were these appointments put in writing?

Wit: Yes, whatever the AFRC did, they had proclamations and decrees in writing.

Pros: Did you see any of them?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: How did you come to see them?

Wit: Hon. Hassan Papa Bangura, after Council meetings when they gave him these documents, I would read them to him because he’s not educated.

Pros: [references document, which is shown to the witness] Are you familiar with this document?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Have you seen it before?

Wti: Yes.

Pros: When did you first see it?

Wit: After any meeting which the council members would hold, the member to whom I was attached would show the documents to me during the AFRC period. I saw this document.

Def: I rise because I’m making an objection. The foundation is that he used to read gazettes to Hassan Papa Bangura. There has been no foundation as to the nature of the particular gazette before him.

Pros: The witness testified that he had seen proclamations, decrees and gazettes. I asked his knowledge of this particular document and he said he’d seen it before.

Judge Sebutinde: You didn’t ask him what it is.

Pros: That was going to be my next question after establishing that he’d seen it before.

Def: Maybe I haven’t made it clear. Counsel asked about appointments made by Johnny Paul Koroma. The foundation has to be laid before the document is put in front of him. He’s just seen all his contents. He would have to testify before about what the document looked like and what was in it. Then she could show him the document.

Judge Doherty: There has been enough foundation for this question and I’ll allow it.

Pros; Can you read the title of the document?

Wit: “Proclamation: Administration of Sierra Leone. AFRC proclamation, 1997. Public Notice supplement to Sierra Leone Gazette, 28 May 1997. Published 28 May 1997.”

Pros: On the next page, could you read paragraph 1?

Wit: “There is hereby established a council to be known as the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council. It shall consist of a chairman, a deputy chairman, and other members not exceeding 27 in number.”

Pros: And paragraph 2?

Wit: “There shall be a Secretary Gen. appointed by the council, who shall perform such duties as the council shall determine.”

Pros: Who was the chairman?

Wit: Major Johnny Paul Koroma.

Pros: A deputy chairman?

Wit: Corporal Foday Sankoh, but in his absence, Leftenant Colonel Saj Musa was deputy chairman.

Pros: The Secretary General?

Wit: Col. A.K. Sesay.

Pros: [references another document and a page]

Judge Sebutinde: What is this document? He hasn’t spoken to it before.

Pros: He’s given evidence about appointments and positions and this document will relate to that.

Judge Doherty: There’s more than one document in this tab.

Pros: [gives page number]

Judge Doherty: Justice Sebutinde has raised a point.

Def: I rise to echo your comments. If this document falls in the genre of documents relating to appointments, the witness should first be asked whether he was aware of additional documents relating to documents. The witness is being shown the document first, and there are multiple documents in this tab.

Judge Doherty: You require more foundation before asking about this document.

Pros: The witness spoke of appointments being put in writing in proclamations, decrees and gazettes.

Judge Doherty: Are you going behind my ruling, Ms. Alagendra?

Pros; You’ve testified that Johnny Paul Koroma made appointments to the council. Were these put into writing?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: What kind of writing?

Wit: Proclamations, decrees, and in the Sierra Leone gazette.

Pros: How do you know that?

Wit: After every Council meeting, I read the documents to my Honorable.

Pros: Do you recall any of the appointments in the documents?

Wit: Yes, members to the Council. As time went by there appointments to the Council of Secretaries that I saw in the gazette. …I just remembered the name of the commander for the South region: Boissy Palmer.

Pros: Can I request that the witness see the document at this stage?

Judge Doherty: Please do so.

Pros: [references document] Before going to this document: you have told the court that members were appointed to the Supreme Council. Do you know if they were appointed at the same time?

Wit: Johnny Paul only named the first 17, but later they had to appoint some other members.

Pros: What was the number of members?

Judge Sebutinde: Are you leading the witness because the answer is in the document right in front of him?

Pros: I don’t think he’s looked at it yet. Witness, how many Council members were there?

Wit: 17, and later more.

Pros: What was the number increased to?

Wit: I cannot specify the number now, but he increased the number.

Pros: Can the witness now be shown the document?

Judge Doherty: Show it to the witness.

Pros: [references document] Could you read the title?

Wit: “AFRC Decree No. 4, 1997. Administration of Sierra Leone. Proclamation, Amendment, Decree, 1997”

Judge Sebutinde: We can all read for ourselves. But we don’t know if he knows what this document is.

Pros: Have you seen this document before?

Wti: Yes.

Pros: When did you first see it?

Wit: Just after the meeting when the Chairman established the Council. I read it to the Honorable to whom I was attached because this man was illiterate.

Judge Lussick: This document was immediately available after the meeting when the appointments were made?

Pros: What is this document about?

Wit: It was about the membership appointed by the chairman, that was added to the Council. It was a decree by the AFRC government to increase the membership of the Council.

Pros: When exactly did you first see the document?

Judge Lussick: He’s already said that it was just after the meeting. I took that to mean that straight after the meeting.

Pros: I was going to establish when the meeting took place.

Judge Lussick: OK, go ahead.

Pros: When was this meeting?

Wit: It was 1997 in Johnny Paul Koroma’s lodge off Spur Road.

Pros: When in 1997?

Wit; It happened just after the coup. Some weeks after the coup when the chairman was making the appointments.

Pros: How long after the meeting did you see the document?

Wit: Documents were coming out gradually after the meetings and were given to the Honorables.

[Prosecution requests that the document be marked for identification.]

Judge Doherty: Did we ascertain what the document is about?

Pros: The witness said it related to the increase in the membership of the Council.

[Judge Doherty orders the document marked for identification.]

Pros: You’ve testified about the appointment of Principal Liaison Officers. Do you know if those appointments were reduced into writing?

Wit: Yes. The proclamation and decrees were in the Sierra Leone Gazette.

Pros: Did you know the functions of the PLOs?

Wit: Yes. They were responsible to supervise, coordinate and monitor the various ministries, which the chairman appointed them to monitor.

Pros: Did the decrees on the appointments of the PLOs include their functions?

Wit: Yes, it was clearly stated in the decrees.

Pros: Have you ever seen any decrees relating to the appointment and functions of the PLOs?

Wit: Yes. I was able to see the document through the Honorable to whom I was attached.

Pros: When did you see it?

Wit: It was in 1997, just after the appointments the chairman made. I can’t give a specific date.

Pros: [refers witness to a document] Have you seen this document before?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: What is it about?

Wit: It was the time the Principal Liaison Officers were appointed.

Pros: When did you first see it?

Wit: In 1997, just after the appointments were made.

Pros: How did you see it?

Wit: The Honorable to whom I was attached got the documents from the Council meetings and I explained the contents to him.

Pros: Can you read the title?

Wit: “AFRC Decree No. 3. Establishment of Office of Principal Liaison Officer. Decree 1997.”

[Prosecution requests that the document be marked for identification, and Judge Doherty orders that this be done.]

Pros: You’ve said that one of the appointments announced was that of the Council of Secretaries, and that a Chief Secretary of State was appointed: Saj Musa?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Were there any persons reporting to Saj Musa in that capacity?

Wit: Yes. The Council of Secretaries reported to Saj Musa.

Pros: What was its composition?

Wit: There was the Chief Secretary of State, Saj Musa. Others were appointed to various ministries.

Pros: How many were appointed?

Wit: I can’t recall now. But there was one for the north, east and south.

Pros: Do you recall the name of the Secretary of State of the North?

Wit: Yes, Maj. Koroma. We used to call him “Bush Fall”.

Pros: Who was the Secretary of State for the East?

Wit: Captain Eddie Kanneh.

Pros: Do you know the name of the Secretary of State for the South?

Wit: Yes. I’ll think about it later.

Pros: These appointments, were they put in writing?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: How do you know?

Wit: Decrees came out after the appointments… Maj AF Kamara, called “Ambush Commander” was the Secretary of State for the South.

Pros: How do you know the appointments were put in writing?

Wit: As I said earlier, whenever an appointment was made at a Council meeting, the Honorable to whom I was attached would bring the document and we would read it together.

Pros: When was this?

Wit: It was in 1997, gradually after the coup.

Pros: When exactly did you see the document on appointment of the Secretaries?

Wit: I can’t tell the date now. But it was after the coup.

Pros: You’ve said that after the meeting you and the Honorable you were attached to “shared the experience”. How did you see the document?

Wit: I would read the documents to him and explain.

Pros: Including the document on appointments to the Council of Secretaries?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: [references document and page number] Have you seen this document before?

Wti: Yes. It’s talking about the appointment of the Council of Secretaries.

Pros: When did you first see it?

Wit: In 1997, but I can’t recall the month or date.

Pros: How did you come to see this particular document.

Wit: After every council meeting, I would see the documents through the Honorable to whom I was attached. I would read it and explain it. I read and explained this document to him.

Pros: Can you read the title?

Wit: “AFRC Decree No. 2. Establishment of the Council of Secretaries. Decree, 1997”

[Prosecution requests that the document be marked for identification. Judge Doherty orders it done.]

Pros: You’ve testified about the appointments and named members of the Supreme Council. Were the names of these members subsequently reduced to writing?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: What kind of writing?

Wit: Also a decree from the chairman that was published.

Pros: How do you know that?

Wit: My Honorable, Hassan Papa Bangura – “Bomb Blast” – brought me the document and I read it to him.

Pros: The document that you saw naming members of the Council – when did you first see it?

Wit: It was 1997, after the appointment of these members. It was published in the Sierra Leone Gazette.

Pros: When in 1997?

Wit: I cannot recall the exact months, but it was just after the coup, when the chairman was appointing various people.

Pros: [references document] Have you seen this document before?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: When was the first time you saw it?

Wit: It was in 1997, after the chairman appointed these Honorables.

Pros: Under what circumstances did you see this particular document?

Wit: After every Council meeting, documents were distributed to the members. Hassan Papa Bangura brought me the document and I read it to him.

Pros: Do you know what this document is about?

Wit: Yes, it’s about the appointment of Council members appointed by the Chairman.

Pros: [references part of document] Can you read the title?

Wit: “Armed Forces Revolutionary Council Secretariat. Proclamation #3 of 1997.. The following persons constitute the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, effective 25 May 1997”

Pros: Who is the name at #6, Staff Sergeant Alex T. Brima?

Wit: Gullit.

Pros: And Brima B. Kamara?

Wit: Bazzy Kamara, whom we called Machiavelli.

Pros: Col. Sam Bockarie?

Wit: Mosquito.

Pros: Col. Issa H. Sesay. Who is that?

Wit: He was a member of the RUF and also a Council member.

Pros: And #18: “Franklin Conteh”. Did he go by any other name?

Wit: Yes, Woyo.

Pros: #20: “Sergeant K. Bangura”?

Wit: Hassan Papa Bangura.

Pros: #21: Sgt. S.B. Kanu”?

Wit: We called him “Five-Five”, Santigie Borbor Kanu.

Pros: Moses Kabia?

Wit: Yes, “Rambo”, the CSO to Johnny Paul Koroma.

[Prosecution asks that the document be marked for identification and Judge Doherty orders it done.]

Pros: Earlier you told us you could not remember a few members of the RUF who were on the Council. At this stage, can you recall their names?

Wit: I can recall it later.

Pros: During the junta period, do you know what kind of activities were going on?

Judge Doherty: That’s a very wide question.

Pros: During this junta period, were the AFRC or RUF engaged in any particular activities?

Wit: In Freetown, they were running the day-to-day administration of the government.

Pros; And outside Freetown?

Wit: Yes, because most of them were in the provinces. We engaged in mining activities, and also battles in Freetown. There was mining in Tongo and Koidu Town. Koidu Town is in the Eastern Province, Kono District. Tongo is in Kenema district.

Pros: Were there senior commanders based in Kono during the junta period?

Wit: Gullit was based around Kono. We had visits from the various commanders of the two factions – the RUF and SLA/AFRC – from Freetown.

Pros: What was Gullit doing in Kono?

Wit: He was sent there to monitor the activities. The chairman sent him there to control the mining activities.

Pros: Who was engaged in the actual mining in Kono?

Wit: Yes. When we went there on Operation Red Beret, the RUF and AFRC were engaged in mining.

Pros: Who was doing the mining manually?

Wit: It was the civilians whom we had who were doing the mining.

Pros: Under what circumstances were they mining in Kono?

Wit: It was through gunpoint – it happened in my presence. We used force.

Pros: Under whose gunpoint were they doing the mining?

Wit: The RUF and the SLA.

Pros: You spoke about mining in Tongo. How do you know about htat?

Wit: We went on a visit with SO Williams and Honorable Papa to Kenema. We were told the mining activities were not under control. The person heading the AFRC office in Kono, Junior Sherif, brought that complaint. He told the Chief of Army Staff, S.O. Williams, in our presence that the activities were uncontrolled and the two forces were just mining.

Pros: What happened when you went to Tongo.

Wit: He said that we should not go to Tongo, but that he would make sure the brigade commander brought the situation under control.

Pros: Who was doing the mining in Tongo?

Wit: The AFRC and RUF were busy mining, but not in control.

Pros: Who was doing the manual mining in Tongo?

Wit: Since I was not based in Tongo and it was Col. Sherif who brought the report. He said civilians were mining for the RUF and AFRC.

Pros; Do you know the circumstances?

Wit: They had a two-pile system for civilians and the RUF to share the gravel, but there were areas where the civilians got nothing.

Pros: In which areas were diamonds being mined in Kono?

Wit: Mining was going on all over the district. Around the Masingbi Road, and Tombodu, they had a place called Soldier Pit around Small Sefadu.

Judge Sebutinde: When was this – throughout the junta period?

Pros: You said mining was going on in the junta period. When in this period?

Wit: During the junta reign, until the intervention, mining was going on. Mining continued after the intervention (February 1998) in Kono in my presence.

Pros: Where was Bockarie based during the junta period?

Wit: I was very close to his place at Hill Station, in one of the villas. It’s in the western part of Freetown.

Pros: How long was he based there?

Wit: Until he was involved in a road accident with one Maj. Marrah. When the RUF were going around saying they would assassinate Mosquito, so he left and moved to headquearters. He was based with Eddie Kanneh.

Pros; Who wanted to assassinate Mosquito?

Wit: The other RUF members were going around saying that Major Marrah wanted to assassinate Mosquito. They thought the accident meant that they wanted to assassinate Mosquito. I’m referring to the RUF. Most of the RUF members were grumbling. They said Marrah had been sent to assassinate Mosquito.

Pros: You said Bockarie was based at the headquarters in Kenema together with Eddie Kanneh. Where was it located?

Wit: Close to the military base in Kenema Town.

Pros: How long did Bockarie remain based there?

Wit: Until the intervention, when ECOMOG pushed us out of Freetown.

Pros: Do you know where he went?

Wit: While we were retreating from Freetown, and while I was in Kabala, I learned that Bockarie had gone to Buedu in Kailahun district. There was radio communication between Superman and Mosquito.

Pros: During the junta period, do you recall any specific incident that took place around August 1997?

Wit: Yes. The students from all over the country and said that the AFRC should hand over power to the elected government. They declared a strike action. They came out in full force to demonstrate.

Pros: Where was this?

Wit: The demonstration was all over. The schools in the west and east mobilized.

Pros: Can you state again what this demonstration was about?

Wit: The student union said the AFRC overthrew the elected government, so they said the AFRC should hand back power to the elected government.

Judge Sebutinde: The way the transcript reads that the strike took place for three days and then the AFRC handed back power to the elected government. Is that what happened?

Pros: Can you explain what you mean by what you said?

Wit: The students declared a three day strike, demanding that the AFRC hand power to the elected government.

Pros: Did anything happen as a result of this demonstration?

Wit: Yes, the government was well prepared for any eventualities. The students defied warnings and came out. I moved with others towards the east, but there were rumors that the students were well armed. We met some stiff resistance and shot at them.

Pros: Were the students armed?

Wit: They were throwing stones, but I didn’t see anyone shoot. But there were rumors that they were armed.

Pros: Who shot at them?

Wit: Me, and the other men.

Pros: What happened as a result.

Wit: Two students died in our area, and we arrested some. We arrested most and took them to Pademba Road Prison. I was with Honorable Papa and we were about 12 in number who were usually with him. Some other commanders also came because it was not easy during that demonstration.

Pros: Which groups did the 12 men belong to?

Wit: The group with which I was with consisted of SLAs, all dressed in civilian dress.

Pros: Which groups were involved in countering these demonstrations?

Wit: The RUF and AFRC.

Pros: Apart from the students who died, did anything else happen to the students.

Wit: When we had returned, there was a rumor that in the north they raped some girls and killed them. So they too were dispersed.

Pros: Where did you hear this?

Wit: Some men were laughing about it back at Cockerill Barracks – both SLA and RUF men.

Pros: When they said that “some of these girls – we’d trouble them”. What did that mean?

Wit: Some of the men said they raped some, and did some bad things, because they were saying they did not want the AFRC government.

Pros: Who were the men who told you that they raped?

Wit: The RUF and SLA. Everybody was saying what they’d done.

Pros; Did you learn how many students were raped?

Wit: I did not know the number, but there was a lot of public concern about what the government had done. There was a lot of grumbling in the town.

Pros: Did you see the students who were killed?

Wit: I saw the two in our area, in the east.

Pros: Did you learn how old they were?

Wit: No, but they were young people.

Pros: Who detained students at Pademba Road Prison?

Wit: Our troop arrested some students and we saw some in the west who were taking others to prison.

Pros: Do you know how long the students were in prison?

Wit: Some were there until the ECOMOG intervention in February 1998.

1:30 (2:00 with the delay in video and audio). Court is now adjourning for the lunch break. Proceedings will resume at 2:30 (3:00 with the delay in video and audio).