2:00 Witness describes AFRC/RUF strategy to take Freetown in January 1999

12:00 (12:30 with the delay in video and audio): Proceedings resume following the mid-morning break.

Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra continues her direct examination of witness Alimamy Bobson Sesay:

Pros: [asks that the witness be shown a map of Bombali district, Sierra Leone, and provided with pens to mark locations on the map] Are you able to read maps?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: The map in front of you – it says it’s a map of Bombali district. I’m going to ask you to look at it and mark some of the locations you have named in your testimony these past few days. You referred to a place called Karina. Do you see it?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Please circle it and put the number “1” next to it. You see Bendembu?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Can you circle Bendembu and put a “2” next to it. You referred to Rosos – do you see it on the map?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Circle it and put a number “3” next to it. You referred to Mata Boi (ph) in your testimony. Can you circle it?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: And put a number “4” next to it. You stated that Major Eddie Town, which later became Col. Eddie Town was located between Tonko Limba Chiefdom and Sanda Mablonto (ph) Chiefdom?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Can you circle Tonko Limba Chiefdom and put a “5” next to it? Can you circle Sanda Mablonto Chiefdom and put a “6” next to that? Would you be able to tell the court where exactly Col. Eddie Town was located on this map?

Wit: I don’t have the right name for it. It is not too far from Medina [and other locations].

Pros: By looking at the map, could you point to where Col. Eddie Town is?

Wit: I can locate it on the map, but I can’t recall the name of the village.

Pros: Please mark the map with an “x” where you say Col. Eddie Town was located, then put a number “7” next to that. Do you see Medina on the map?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Could you circle Medina? And put a number “8” next to Medina. Do you see Kantiah (ph)?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Can you circle it and put a number “9” next to it? Do you see Kukuna on the map?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Can you circle Kukuna…and put a number “10” next to it? Do you see Makeni?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Could you circle Makeni? And put a number “11” next to that, please. Thank you. [Prosecutor asks that the map be marked for identification, and Judge Doherty orders this done.]

Pros: You told the court that you left Mamusa and advanced to Gberie Junction. You also mentioned Gberie bridge. Can you be more precise about where the troops moved?

Wit: Toward Gberie Junction, between Port Loko and Bombali districts.

Pros: Did you go to any other place from Gberie Junction?

Wit: The troop moved to Gberie Bridge. We encountered some Kamajors, then moved ahead to the Mansumana axis at Masiaka.

Pros: Did you hear anything there?

Wit: Yes, we got news from the international media. The government of Sierra Leone claimed they flushed the junta troops from Freetown and that Masiaka was their defensive – and that no troop would cross Masiaka.

Pros: Did anything happen then?

Wit: Yes. Saj Musa called on the brigade administration and said we were to organize a troop to attack Masiaka immediately, to destroy the defensive made by the government at Masiaka. Manpower was gathered together from the different battalions and advanced on Masiaka. Leftenant Col. Papa – aka Papa 17 – was appointed by Saj Musa to lead the attack on Masiaka.

Pros: He’s a different person from Hassan Papa Bangura?

Wit: Yes. He came with Saj Musa.

Pros: Papa 17 or 70?

Wit: Papa 17.

Pros What happened then?

Wit: I also joined the troop together with the demoted officers. We went and attacked Masiaka. On our first attempt we were unable to capture the ground. On our second attempt we entered Masiaka. We encountered stiff resistance from the Guineans based there, but we were able to dislodge them. We got some ammunition from them. I captured an SPG – a Support Propelled Grenade. We lost Papa 17. After that, houses were burned and some Guineans were killed. They retreated from Masiaka. We retreated from Masiaka and reported to Saj at the base.

Pros: Who were the Guineans?

Wit: They were part of ECOMOG.

Pros: Who burned houses in Masiaka?

Wit: Myself and the other commanders – the troop that entered Masiaka.

Pros: You said you returned to base – where?

Wit: We went back to the base between Mansumana and Masiaka, where we made our temporary base.

Pros: Did anything happen to your rank when you returned?

Wit: Yes, Saj Musa recommended me and Amidu Kamara, aka Keforkeh, for promotion to Captain for bravery in the capture of the SPG.

Pros: What happened then?

Wit: Saj Musa said a troop should go to the highway to ambush ECOMOG. Terminator led the force and they ambushed two ECOMOG vehicles. We succeeded and returned to base.

Pros: Who was involved in the ambush?

Wit: Col. Terminator was the commander. It was a mixed group. I was with them. Later the two vehicles were burnt. We returned to the temporary base.

Pros; Did anything happen when you returned?

Wit: Yes. Saj Musa appointed Terminator and selected some other people to go and disorganize the base at Mile 38. He had some information that ECOMOG were there. They succeeded in pushing the ECOMOG forces there. They succeeded, but Terminator was shot, so they retreated and came back to Saj.

Pros: Is Mile 38 known by any other name?

Judge Sebutinde: He already said it was Magbuntoso.

Pros: When did this attack on Mile 38 take place?

Wit: It was the early end of December 1998.

Judge Sebutinde: What’s that?

Wit: It was towards Christmas – the 20 somethingth.

Pros: Did the troops move after Mile 38?

Wit: Yes, Saj Musa said the entire brigade should advance to RDF. We went and based at Mamaha.

Pros: Where is Mile 38?

Wit: Between Koya Rural district.

Pros Where is RDF?

Wit: In that same area.

Pros: Where is Mamaha?

Wit: Also in Koya Rural district.

Pros: Where is Koya Rural district?

Wit: Within the Western Area – not too far from Masiaka.

Judge Lussick: When he says Mile 38 is “between Koya Rural district”, does he mean “within” Koya Rural district?

Wit: It’s within Koya Rural district.

Pros: What happened at Mamaha?

Wit: We listened to Mosquito over international media. He said the troop is moving toward Freetown – that it had captured RDF and was moving toward Freetown. He said that from the rear, they were advancing towards Kono and were advancing toward Daru.

Pros: Do you recall if he said anything about who were the troops that captured RDF?

Wit: He said his men, the AFRC-RUF joint force, had captured a militarily strategic base, RDF, and were moving towards Freetown.

Pros: Did he say which other forces were moving to Kono and Daru?

Wit: He said the AFRC-RUF forces were moving from all angles.

Pros: When was this?

Wit: It was just after we based at Mamaha.

Pros: What happened after this?

Wit: Saj Musa called Alfred Brown, one of the radio men, and he was angry with him that he was giving information to Mosquito. He said he would not subject himself to the control of Mosquito – because Mosquito was an SBU. But the other commanders spoke to him so he let go of Alfred Brown.

Pros: You testified about an RUF commander named Alfred Brown, and here you talk about a radio commander. Were there two Alfred Browns?

Wit: No. Alfred Brown came with Saj Musa to Col. Eddie Town.

Pros: Which group did he belong to?

Wit: RUF.

Pros: What do you mean that Musa was not happy with that, because Mosquito was an SBU?

Wit: Because of the infighting that happened with Saj in Koinadugu, Saj said there should be no information given to Mosquito.

Pros: What do you mean, Mosquito was an SBU?

Wit: Saj said Mosquito was not a trained man. Saj had military training. He said Mosquito should not control him.

Pros: Who called Mosquito an SBU?

Wit: Saj Musa.

Pros: Who gave this explanation you just provided?

Wit: Saj said that.

Pros: After Mamaha, did the troops move anywhere else?

Wit: Yes. ECOMOG bombarded the area, so we moved ahead to Newtown. It’s after Waterloo, in the Koya Rural district.

Pros: How long did the troops stay there?

Wit: We were there until night. Towards nightfall, Saj said we should capture Waterloo and move on to Benguema.

Pros: Did the troops advance?

Wit: Yes, but before we moved, we declared Operation Born Naked. We removed our uniform shirts and tied our shirts around our waists, so that we could identify ourselves. Anyone not dressed that way would be an enemy.

Pros: Was Waterloo captured?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: When was this?

Wit: Around December 23, 1998.

Pros: Did anything happen when the troops arrived in Waterloo?

Wit: We gave messages to the civilians that they should join us, and that we had come to reinstate the army, and that the people should support us. We gave them messages to tell the people in Freetown that we were coming.

Pros: Did anything else happen in Waterloo?

Wit: While the others were looting, Saj summoned ____ so that we could go and capture Benguema. When we attempted, the ECOMOG responded with heavy support firing. Foday Baimara (ph) said to wait while he informed Saj…

Pros: You mentioned looting in Waterloo. Who was looting?

Wit: The combined team that came. That was an area where we found food and other things. We were looting from civilians.

Pros: In Waterloo, where was the Red Lion Battalion?

Wit: It was a brigade advance. All of us were in Waterloo.

Pros: Was Saj Musa aware of the looting?

Wit: He was there and the looting was going on?

Pros: Does that mean he knew?

Wit: Yes, he saw with his own eyes.

Pros: You said you and the other men waited until you saw the brigade coming?

Wit: Yes, we advanced. Saj Musa joined – he had an AA. We used a 60mm mortar. Finally we disorganized ECOMOG there and we took Benguema. We took ammunition…

Pros: What is an AA?

Wit: It’s an anti-aircraft weapon.

Pros: Please continue…

Wit: I, Bazzy, 05, Col. Eddie went towards where they’d mounted a 120mm mortar. We were trying to fix the plate.

Pros: Who had mounted it?

Wit: ECOMOG was using it to bombard our base at Mamamah…

Pros: Continue.

Wit: While we were trying to fix the plate, we heard a heavy explosion in Benguema. We saw _____ Berrie, who was a security person to Saj Musa. He was carrying someone and said, “oh Eagle (Saj Musa) has a problem”. The helmet Saj was wearing was pierced. Amara Kalleh told me that, “Ice T., let’s move from this area. If the other men find out that Saj has died, there will be a problem.” I joined him and we moved toward McDonald.

Pros: Did you know what happened to Saj Musa?

Wit: From what I saw, when they gave him the milk, I knew he had died.

Pros: Do you know what happened to him?

Wit: Gullit said the bomb killed Saj in Benguema. After we’d left – Amara Kalleh, me, others. Gullit, Bazzy and others were with Saj’s corpse.

Pros: What did you see when you said you saw Saj’s helmet was pierced?

Wit: I saw a bullet hole that went through. You could see where it went through. So I believed that Saj was shot. Later the rumor was that it was Gullit who killed Saj.

Pros: You say you saw Gullit, 5-5, Hassan Papa Bangura, [others] with Saj’s corpse. Continue.

Wit: I went with Amara to Macdonald. Junior Lion and others were there. Later a patrol team located us and brought us to where Gullit was based. To my surprise, I saw Gullit dressed in Saj Musa’s uniform and helmet.

Pros: What happened after you saw this?

Wit: Gullit did not say anything. We all recognized him as the commander.

Pros: What happened to Saj Musa’s corpse?

Wit: Gullit said they had buried him.

Pros: Do you recall the date that Saj Musa was buried?

Wit: It was on the 24th of December in the morning hours.

Pros: Did anything else happen after this?

Wit: Gullit said we should go deep into the jungle. We came deep into the hills around Benguema.

Pros: What happened then?

Wit: After this, Gullit restructured the brigade and made some other appointments. When he saw me and Kefokeh, he said we should be acting as Leftenants until we prove ourselves – that we should not be acting as Captains.

Pros: Did Gullit’s position change?

Wit: Gullit became the Chief in Command, and he made other appointments. He made Bazzy the deputy Chief in Command and a member of the brigade administration. He made Santigie Borbor Kanu to continue in his role. He made Woyo the director of operations – DOO. He promoted the Leftenant Colonels to Colonels.

Pros: Did Alabama have any assignment at this stage?

Wit: Yes, he was still with him as his CSO.

Pros: Did anything happen to 05’s position?

Wit: No, he remained operational commander. [lists other appointments]

Pros: Was there a Deputy Operations Commander?

Wit: Yes, Junior Sherif was the Deputy Operations Commander.

Pros: Were there any changes in the number of battalions?

Wit: They remained the same: Battalions 1-5, the RDF and the Red Lion Battalion. There were slight changes in the commanders. The RDF had a commander who was an SLA – we called him NPFL – because Col. Terminator had had a problem. Col. Bulldoze became the Second Battalion Commander and G-4 commander in charge of all arms and ammunition. We had civilians who would carry ammunition as we went along.

Pros: At this point, the captured civilians you called “family members” – where were they?

Wit: They were all in the jungle – we did not leave them behind.

Pros: Where were the SBUs?

Wit: Also there in the Macdonald hills.

Pros: Did the Red Lion Battalion have SBUs?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Did your position change?

Wit: I remained as a combat commander at the battlefront because Gullit said we should prove ourselves.

Pros: Can you be clearer about what your position was?

Wit: Frontline is the same as combat commander.

Pros: Did you have any other assignment?

Wit; I was still with Basky at the Fifth Battalion.

Pros: Did you have any assignment in the Fifth Battalion?

Wit: I was the Intelligence Officer. I was to ensure that I got intelligence about where we were living, about enemy threats.

Pros: How many fighters were in your group?

Wit: Which groups?

Pros: The entire troop you were with?

Wit: It was large – we were nearly 1,000.

Pros: After these deployments were made, did anything happen?

Wit: Gullit said he had had a dream, and he wanted that dream to come true. He said a woman had dreamt that Saj Musa was crying. That we should continue the mission to capture Freetown. He told the men to prepare to attack Freetown.

Pros: Who had the dream?

Wit: A woman met Gullit and said she had had a dream that Saj Musa was crying and we should continue the mission. Gullit said we should attack York on the Peninsula. Junior Sherif headed this group, and we went and attacked York. But we lost our artillery commander, so we withdrew to our base.

Pros: Where is York?

Wit: Around the Freetown Peninsula.

Pros: Did anything happen after that operation?

Wit: We lost our artillery commander, Lageh, so we retreated to the jungle. When we came back, Gullit mounted the set and called Mosquito to inform him that the troop was ready to advance on Freetown, but that we needed reinforcements.

Pros: How do you know about this communication?

Wit: It happened in my presence. Most of the senior commanders were there.

Pros: What “set” are you talking about?

Wit: The radio communications set.

Pros: Did Mosquito respond?

Wit: Yes. Mosquito said the reinforcement was on its way, but there were targeted areas they needed to clear up. He said Issa Sesay would come reinforce us so that we could bulldoze Freetown.

Pros: Did he say which areas needed to be cleared up?

Wit: He said they were weakening ECOMOG in Kono and Daru, so they wouldn’t reinforce Freetown. When they were done with that, they would join us.

Pros: Who was weakening ECOMOG?

Wit: The RUF and SLAs were simultaneously attacking while we moved so that ECOMOG units couldn’t reinforce each other. It was a strategy we used. This is what Mosquito told Gullit.

Pros: When you said “he said when they had done that, they would join us to go and bulldoze Freetown”, please explain.

Wit: He said troops would come from Kono and Daru to join us to advance on Freetown.

Pros: Did Mosquito say which troops were heading towards Kono?

Wit: He said Issa, Morris Kallon, Akim Turay, Rambo RUF were moving. He said others were moving to Daru. They should weaken the ECOMOG strategic bases, and they would be unable to reinforce Freetown. The troops under Gullit and the reinforcements would then be able to bulldoze Freetown.

Pros: Who is Akim?

Wit; Akim Turay, an SLA, who retreated to Gandahun with Johnny Paul Koroma.

Pros: What happened after this?

Wit: We made a sacrifice. Gullit spread water on every fighter. Then we moved towards Hastings.

Pros: What was the purpose of Gullit sprinking water?

Wit: He had many beliefs. He said it was so we could take Freetown.

Pros: What happened?

Wit: We moved toward Hastings, on the Freetown-Waterloo Highway.

Pros: What happened after this?

Wit: We waited in Hastings Hill. We were hungry, so Gullit said we should get food in Waterloo. Then he mounted a set and called…

Pros: Where did you get food from in Waterloo?

Wit: It was a food-finding in Waterloo. We looted enough food and returned to the hills. We forcefully took food from civilians in Waterloo.

Pros: Who did Gullit call?

Wit: He called Issa Sesay and told him we were waiting for reinforcements. Issa was using the call sign “Solar System”. Everyone had a call sign. Mosquito was “Log”. [lists others]

Pros: How do you know about this communication?

Wit: It happened in my presence. Gullit mounted the set in the jungle and called Issa. Issa told him he had captured Kono and was moving towards Makeni. He said he was coming so we could all enter Freetown.

Pros: Did Gullit respond?

Wit: He said he would still wait for reinforcement. That day over international radio, we heard that the RUF-AFRC had captured Kono.

Pros: Did you know where Superman was?

Wit: Gullit also called Superman. He said they were also moving toward Makeni. It was a two-pronged attack. Issa, Morris Kallon and others were coming from Kono, while Superman was coming to Makeni along the highway.

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