[12:15 (12:45 with the video and audio delay): The video and audio is working again.]
Wit: …I gave orders and any time we attacked a place, I would order them to do it.
Def: Regardless of whether ordinary citizens were inside the houses?
Wit: I would not just go and check if civilians are there and then give orders they should burn down houses.
Def: You just gave orders to burn houses?
Def: You didn’t care if anyone was inside, men, women, children?
Wit: I did not care. Anyone there was considered to be an enemy.
Def: If some peasant villager living with their family in an area where government or Kamajors came into the area, you would burn down that house, simply because those troops were in the area?
Def: Even though the villagers had no control over whether government or Kamajor troops were in the area?
Def: Back to Kissi Town, where you killed people.
Wit: Those people I killed, I was sure they were Kamajors. Some even had the country cloth uniform of the Kamajors.
Def: Did you ask them or investigate before you killed them?
Wit: The investigation was over because as long as we saw them in that uniform, then I did what I did.
Def: You said some of them wore Kamajor uniforms. What about the rest? Why did you kill those?
Wit: Yes, maybe some of them died through cross-fire, or were trying to escape.
Def: No, you said, the people I killed there – even some of them had on the Kamajor uniforms..
Def: Why did you kill the ones you captured without Kamajor uniforms.
Wit: I considered all of them as enemies.
Def: You don’t even know if those people had themselves been captured by Kamajors.
Wit: I wouldn’t know. All I knew was that the Kamajors were there.
Def: So they were killed in cold blood as captives without an investigation?
Wit: We did not investigate anybody on the front line.
Def: They were captives and you killed them in cold blood when they were not fighting you?
Wit: Yes, we fought at the place and when we captured the place, that is why we killed them.
Def: How many did you kill in Kissi Town?
Wit: I can’t give a specific number, but they were many. I want you to know that when you are fighting in the war, you don’t have time to count people just to keep records.
Def: If they were captured, why did you kill them?
Wit: We considered them enemies to us.
Def: Why kill them once they were captured.
Wit: They were enemies.
Def: [references document] Will you confirm when you see this page?
Wit: I see.
Def: This interview took place on September 5, 2006. [references paragraph] You see: “Mongor says with respect to burning of villages that in war, sometimes houses were accidentally hit by bombs. Both sides would burn some places to deny the enemy” You said that?
Def: “He heard of situations where the RUF intentionally burned people’s houses” You said that?
Wit: I heard it.
Def: “Or situations where he came upon houses burned by troops. He says he never ordered it and it was never done in his presence.” Is that what you told the investigator?
Wit: I told them that what you have just read before you come down a little. There is something there saying it did not happen in my presence. It will not apply here. I was in Kissi Town and I was involved.
Def: Is this what you told the investigator, or is it another example of the investigator getting it wrong?
Wit: I got it wrong. I want you to repeat the question.
Def: Who got it wrong?
Wit: What do you mean?
Def: The passage I have read: did you tell the investigator that, or has he inaccurately recorded what you told him?
Wit: I said it.
Def: And it’s a lie, isn’t it, that you never ordered it and it wasn’t done in your presence.
Wit: I didn’t lie. As we talk, I remember and I’m telling the court I personally took part in it.
Def: In September 2006 when the investigator asked you after going through Taylor’s indictment, that you forgot you personally burned down buildings and ordered your men to burn buildings?
Wit: The way you are going into details here, that is the thing that made me recall that I did it. The RUF did burning of houses in different areas. I recall now I participated in it myself.
Def: This is 18 months since that interview. 18 months ago, you were 18 months nearer in time to the events you were talking about. So your memory of the events would have been better?
Wit: I would not be able to narrate all the stories that happened in the war from start to finish. I’m also a human being.
Def: How is it that when an investigator if you ordered the burning of houses, or even saw houses being deliberately burned, that you forgot that you’d done it and seen it. Explain that to the judges.
Wit: If I have said I recalled it today, it is because you have gone deep into asking your questions. That is why I said yes, there was a time I took part in the burning of houses.
Def: What question were you asked by the investigator that led to your answer recorded here: “…but says he never ordered it and it was never done in his presence.”
Wit: I don’t remember the question now. I can’t recall.
Def: What is deep about the question I asked you, did you ever burn houses yourself?
Wit: When you said “yourself” you were talking about me personally.
Def: What is deep about that question.
Prosecution: Asked and answered.
Def: He didn’t answer it.
Judge Doherty: I’ll allow the question.
Def: For the third time, What is deep about the question?
Pros: Is there a need for counsel to yell at the witness?
Def: I have a cold and it’s hard for me to gauge how loud I’m speaking. I’m happy to talk more softly.
Def: What is deep about the question about the question, did you personally burn down houses.
Wit: When you said “yourself”.
Def: What is deep about the word “yourself”?
Wit: Myself and other people, those are two different things, or the movements.
Def: [references document] “But he says he never ordered it and it was never done in his presence” You must have been asked if you yourself ordered it or if you yourself ever saw it? Do you agree?
Wit: I agree.
Def: So you were asked the same question then that I asked you this morning?
Wit: Maybe it’s right.
Def: Why did you lie in your answer when the investigator asked the question.
Pros: Objects. It’s a characterization of what could be a misstatement.
Def: The first reason you gave to the court for the answers you gave to the investigator was that you hadn’t remembered when the investigator was asking you?
Def: You said you remembered now because the question I asked was a deep question?
Def: Were you lying to the investigator when the investigator asked you the same question in September 2006?
Wit: Maybe I was not composed, or it escaped my memory. If it occurs in my mind now that I also took part, then I don’t think I’ve committed a crime in that case.
Def: In which case?
Wit: In the case that I am now telling the court that I personally took part in burning of houses and did other disturbances. I think if I should sit here and say them, it should not inconvenience you that I also took part in those things.
Def: Mr. Mongor, is it difficult for you to come up with a reason you gave the investigator the opposite answer then?
Wit: Maybe it escaped my memory. Maybe I had some fear. It now occurs in my mind for me to tell the court that I was personally part of the people who burned houses.
Def: On how many occasions during the war did you personally burn houses?
Wit: It was not in all cases. But sometimes I was present.
Def: How many times, roughly, did you personally burn houses during the whole civil war?
Pros: The witness said he participated in two civil wars.
Def: I’m talking about Sierra Leone, you understand?
Wit: If I tell you now that it was…
Judge Doherty: You understand we’re talking about 1991-2002?
Wit: Yes. From 1991 to the end of the war, I cannot tell the court here now that these were the number of times that I personally burnt houses. Because at times it took place in so many areas. Just imagine the areas that the rebels covered. I cannot recall now the number of times that I took part in the burning of houses.
[brief interruption of video and audio]
Def: 1993, please?
Wit: I can’t recall.
Wit: I don’t remember.
Wit: I have told you that burnings took place and I was also part of that group that was fighting since 1991. But for me to be able to recall the particular time or year that I set houses on fire. I can’t recall. From 1991 to the end of the war, I was not in position to record that I burned so and so many houses in 1992, or 1996. I have no records of these things.
Def: OK, if we’re not going to do it in years, how about broad terms. Roughly how many times did you set fire to houses yourself?
Wit: I don’t want to tell you this or that. I can’t recall when or how many times I set houses on fire. I can’t recall. It was something that happened, but it was a long time ago.
Def: You spent the 10th and 11th of March of this year, you gave detailed evidence about all sorts of events in the years 1991-2000. You claimed in the course of that evidence that you had a clear recollection of those events you were telling us about, didn’t you?
Wit: Not everything. I am not saying that from the time the war started to the end, I would be able to tell you all the things that happened.
Def: Give us a rough idea. Are we talking about hundreds of houses that you personally burnt down?
Judge Doherty: You’re talking cumulative?
Def: Yes. Just give the judges a rough idea. Were you personally involved in the burning of hundreds of houses?
Wit: I told you, the war took a long time, and I did not take time to count the number of houses that I burned down. To say I counted them is not the case. I said I took part in the things, but to say the number, I would not be able to say that. I want the court to know that I was also part of the people that burned down houses.
Def: My last attempt. Was it a lot of houses?
Wit: I continue to tell you that I cannot tell you anything with regard to whether it was plenty number of houses or not. I can’t recall.
Def: Roughly how many times did you see houses being deliberately burned down in your presence, but not by you?
Wit: That is another question that poses difficulty for me to tell you the number of times I was present. It was something that happened. I have not said it did not happen. I cannot give you an exact figure.
Def: I have never asked for an exact figure. You know that?
Wit: What do I know?
Def: That I asked for a rough estimate?
Wit: I’m unable to give you a rough figure.
Def: Did it happen a lot?
Wit: That burning of houses took place many times?
Def: In your presence?
Wit: I cannot tell you I was present when it happened many times.
Def: Why can’t you tell us that?
Wit: Because I was not it all the places at all times.
Def: I’ve never asked about the burning of houses where you were not present. Did that happen a lot in your presence?
Wit: I will tell you now that as a commander, I would be present in certain areas. But it was not in every area where I sent men that I would be present where they were burning the houses.
Def: [references document] There were situations where you heard that RUF had intentionally burned houses. But you told them you never ordered it and it was never done in your presence. “In most cases the villagers would flee, so there was no need to terrorize them by burning their houses.” Did you say that?
Def: So you were telling him that in most cases you didn’t need to burn down people’s houses because the villagers had fled?
Wit: Go over that again.
Def: Were you saying to the investigator in September 2006 that there was no need to burn down houses in most cases because the villagers, the people, the human beings, would run away when they saw armed rebels coming?
[brief interruption in video and audio]
Def: What you said was that there were houses of civilians but when we fought there, we made sure to make it very inconvenient, so that people could not come back? You remember telling me that?
Def: So even if they had run away, you would burn their houses so that they could not come back.
Wit: That is not how it happened. I want to explain. I want to tell you that while the fighting was going on, there were areas where civilians were present, and we made sure soldiers were not in those areas. Normally we would go and get food from the civilians. That was different from places where we would go and attack, where enemies were present. Those were two different issues. So the areas where we went and did not burn down any house were areas that…
[brief interruption of video and audio]
Def: [references document] Confirm that you can see the third line on the page there, starting “when the RUF were retreating from Koidu..”.
[brief interruption of video and audio]
Def: It doesn’t matter what they were asking about when the issue of burning of houses came to mind, did you not think about occasions on which you burned houses as well?
Wit: I was unable to tell the investigator that one.
Def: Where was Morris Kallon to your knowledge in September 2006, when you were being asked these questions by the prosecution?
[brief interruption of video and audio]
Def: Are you aware that he is on trial before the Special Court in Freetown?
Wit: I knew he was in detention.
Def: Are you aware now that he is on trial in Freetown before the Special Court?
Wit: I only know that he is in the detention center at the Special Court.
[interruption in video and audio again]
Wit: At times I listened.
Def: And do you hear the news on the radio?
Wit: I have not heard that news yet. I know he’s in the Special Court detention for him to be tried.
Def: Do you know anyone else there in detention to be tried?
Def: Can you give the names please?
Wit: I saw Issa Sesay, Augustine Gbao.
Def: Is there anything about Kallon, Sesay and Gbao – anything you’ve heard about them and the Special Court?
Wit: Like what?
Def: Are you seriously telling this court that you do not know that Kallon, Sesay and Gbao are being tried in Freetown and have been since 2004. You don’t know that?
Wit: I told you I heard that they are in the detention to be tried. But at the time that their trial started, I have never been there to witness it. So I don’t know when it started. I have some other things that keep me busy. I should not focus my attention there.
Def: You’ve been too busy learning the word of the Lord and selling drinking water?
Wit: Yes, I’ve been busy with my personal thing.
Def: You’ve just told this court you did not know anything about Morris Kallon apart from the fact that he was in detention. Is that true?
Wit: I said I know he’s in detention to be tried. I don’t know if they tried him already or when the trial will start.
Def: Because you’ve been too busy studying the Bible or other things?
Wit: Apart from studying and selling water – it is not that I should pay attention to that when I have other things to do.
Def: Did you think you might be a witness in that case?
Wit: Which case?
Def: The one we’ve just been discussing.
Pros: He’s mentioned three individuals. It’s not clear the witness knows what he’s talking about.
Def: You have no doubt what trial I’m asking about, do you Mr. Mongor?
Wit: You are talking about trials. And you asked if I would serve as a witness. There are three people there. For whom should I be a witness?
Def: For the prosecution? Did you think you might be a witness in that case for any party: Kallon, Sesay, Gbao, or the prosecutor?
Wit: I want you to tell me clearly, will I prosecute Kallon, Sesay or Gbao?
Def: Did you think you might be a witness for any of those men or the prosecution in that trial, which is held together.
Wit: They arrested them together.
Judge Doherty: Did you understand the question that the interpreter read to you?
Wit: Yes. He’s talking about prosecution. Let him be specific. Which of the three?
Doherty: Counsel told you they are held together.
Judge Sebutinde: The interpreter made a mistake. He was not asked about prosecuting the individuals – but about serving as a witness for the prosecution?
Def: Mr. Mongor, did you think that you may be a witness in the joint trial of your three RUF colleagues – either for any of them or for the prosecution?
Wit: At the time I came out of prison, I never had that in mind at all – to serve as a witness for any of those people.
Def: Or for the prosecution?
Wit: I did not think about that for both sides, whether the prosecution or the defense. I never had that in mind.
Def: Have you ever had that in mind?
Wit: The time they arrested them, I was in jail, so I never had it in mind to serve as a witness for the defense or prosecution. Even when I was set free, I did not have it in mind.
Def: Ever, up to and including the present day? Up to now?
Wit: What do you mean?
Def: Up to the present day?
Wit: I have not come here for them. They did not bring me here for Kallon or Sesay?
Judge Doherty: It’s not about what you’re doing here. Did you have it in your mind or your heart that you might appear in that trial?
Wit: It was not in my heart. I was not thinking about that.
Def: Neither in your heart nor your head?
Wit: Not in my heart. I don’t even think about it.
Court is now adjourning for lunch. The proceedings will resume at 2:30 (3:00 with the video and audio delay).