2:00 Witness recounts coordinated RUF-Liberian attacks on Guinea and fighting against anti-Taylor rebels in Liberia

12:00 (12:30 with the delay in video and audio): Court is back in session following the mid-morning break.

Prosecutor Mohamed Bangura continues the direct examination of protected witness TF1-516:

Pros: Before we continue with where we left off, I want to clarify one thing. The map we discussed this morning indicated communications with radios in Monrovia from the period you were operating Planet One?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Before Planet One you said the call sign in Beudu was Bravo Zulu Four. During the period you were using that, which stations in Liberia did you communicate with?

Wit: Base 1, 020 and Foxtrot Yankee in Foya.

Pros: You were telling us about visiting the Executive Mansion. Was it only once you went there.

Wit: It was in 2000 when Yeaten took sick. When traveling to Monrovia, he ordered me to work with Col. Eagle. Eagle had been ordered by Sesay to work to take Voinjama. Yeaten told him on the trip to Monrovia he had done great work and would be taken to see the president. The other day Fifty ordered us to come to the mansion. At the muster parade where the president was speaking – he didn’t speak to us, but Yeaten said “those are the men who captured Voinjama”. At that point he took us upstairs to the fourth floor.

Judge Doherty: Did you visit only once?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: What do you know about Col. Eagle?

Wit: Sesay sent him to Liberia to help fight LURD in Voinjama. He was Sierra Leonean, with the RUF. His real name was something Karmoh. The other name I can’t remember.

Pros: You mentioned Chuckie?

Wit: An RUF officer, a Sierra Leonean. That’s the only name I knew him by.

Pros: Was it only once you went to the Executive Mansion?

Wit: [pauses] I cannot recall.

Pros: You said when you went to Monrovia you distributed the code charts to 020 and Base 1. When did you hand the chart to 020.

Wit: Sky One, the operator for 020, met me at Base 1, where I gave him the code chart.

Pros: Where is Base 1?

Wit: In Congo Town.

Pros: Apart from the room which you identified at the Executive Mansion as a radio room, did you go to any other office in that building?

Wit: Fifty had an office there. We went to the other office. I really can’t recall it.

Pros: What did you understand the Executive Mansion to represent? What was it used for?

Wit: Fifty told us that there the president works.

Pros: Did he tell you anything more about which part of the building?

Wit: I think he said the sixth floor.

Pros: The president was…

Wit: Charles Taylor.

Pros: On this occasion you went, you said Fifty introduced Eagle to Charles Taylor?

Wit: Yes, in front of the mansion we met Sierra Leoneans who had been taken to Liberia by Bockarie. They were in a muster parade. Fifty saluted and said “those are the men who helped us take Voinjama.”

Pros: Was that the first time you saw Taylor in Liberia?

Wit: I saw him before in Gbarnga. We were in Kolahun when Fifty was called to a meeting. That was 2000. So we flew to Gbarnga on his farm. I saw him but did not speak to him.

Pros: Do you recall any other occasion when you met him?

Wit: Those are the two times I recall.

Pros: You said Bockarie came to Liberia. Do you know where he stayed in Liberia?

Wit: When he crossed, some RUF fighters followed to Foya. They were mercilessly beaten by Liberian soldiers. Later they were released. Bockarie left for Monrovia. That was in December 1999.

Pros: You say when Bockarie crossed, who did he cross with?

Wit: The number was large – a good number of RUF fighters. He took them to Monrovia. They were sent to a training base called Batala. They were trained as ATUs.

Pros: But you said men were beaten.

Wit: Those who followed Bockarie from Sierra Leone. They wanted to take property from him. Those were RUF soldiers sent by Issa Sesay to attack Bockarie’s position. They followed him to Foya and were disarmed by Liberian soldiers.

Pros: Apart from them…

Wit: He came with a good number of RUF fighters. After their training, they were assigned as bodyguards to the president. We used to talk to them on the frontlines.

Pros: How do you know Bockarie was pursued by men sent by Issa Sesay?

Wit: I heard it on the radio in Foya. It was the field radio transceiver. I had a direct link with the radio in Foya.

Pros: You mentioned some RUF men were trained. Do you recall any names?

Wit: There was one Karmokai. There was a man called “Bad Blood” – I knew him by that name. There was another one called Jabati, a storekeeper for Bockarie at one point in Beudu. There was a Baba Terawally.

Pros: These RUF men at the Executive Mansion when Fifty took you there, are they the ones that were trained in Batala, brought by Bockarie?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Where did Bockarie stay?

Wit: In Monrovia, there is a section called Red Light. From there to Bockarie’s house toward White Flower isn’t too far. He built four houses and had a kind of barri in the center – an open structure for meetings. An electric cable ran through White Flower to Bockarie’s compound. A Doctor Magona (sp?) took me there.

Pros: How far from White Flower?

Wit: Not even half a mile away.

Pros: There was some connection from White Flower?

Wit: It was a power supply for electricity. That’s what I saw, but nobody explained to me.

Pros: At that time was there a general supply of electricity to houses in that area?

Wit: I didn’t see in all the houses.

Pros: Who was Doctor Magona?

Wit: He had been with Bockarie in Beudu, and crossed with Bockarie. I saw him with Yeaten on the frontline in Voinjama and Foya. At Foya he was injured in his ankle. Again I saw him in Vahun and Monrovia.

Pros: You’ve mentioned a few times a request for manpower from Monrovia to the RUF?

Wit: Not directly from Monrovia. From the frontline in Liberia.

Pros: You said the RUF was fighting in Liberia?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: In how many operations in Liberia was the RUF involved?

Wit: There was an attack in Liberia when RUF soldiers were sent to attack Foya…

Pros: Before you left Sierra Leone, which operations did the RUF get involved in in Liberia?

Wit: In 1993, ULIMO captured Voinjama, Kolahun and Foya, so there was a cutoff between RUF and NPFL. RUF soldiers were taken into Lofa led by Morris Kallon to recapture those three towns but that was unscussful. He came to the leader and was given more men to move to Gbarnga. They were successful. Kallon remained in Gbarnga until 1997. He only returned when he heard of the May 1997 in Sierra Leone. That was one instance when the RUF fought in Liberia.

Pros: You just mentioned a “leader”…

Wit: Corporal Sankoh. He asked for manpower to move to Gbarnga to get materials. It was explained to us at a muster parade that he’d arrived in Gbarnga. After disarmament in Liberia, the road became free again. There was free movement between the RUF and NPFL…

Pros: You said when he went in originally, he was not successful. Do you remember when he came back to see Sankoh?

Wit: Early 1993.

Pros: After that incident…

Judge Sebutinde: The witness said this was before he was assigned to the signal unit, so how did he know all of this?

Pros: How did you learn of all this?

Wit: In Beudu.

Pros: And how?

Wit: I learned about it in Beudu.

Pros: What were you doing there?

Wit: In 1993, Sankoh was based in Sandiaru, but he moved from Sandiaru and back.

Pros: What were you doing in Beudu?

Wit: I was charging batteries.

Pros: How did you learn about this?

Wit: When fighting was going on in Liberia, they were looking for soldiers who were not assigned to take to Kallon in Liberia.

Pros: When was the next time the RUF got involved in an operation in Liberia?

Wit: In 1999, before I crossed into Liberia. I can’t state the exact month.

Pros: What led the RUF going to Liberia at this time?

Wit: There was an attack on Voinjama. A man who said he was “Mosquito Spray” said Voinjama was under his control. Bockarie organized men and called on Col. Oso to lead the troop. He led the troop to capture Voinjama. I was not on the base when the message came for Bockarie to send men. I learned this message by reading the message book. The message came from Fifty.

Pros: You said Oso led troops to Voinjama. How man men?

Wit: Over 100, with some artillery pieces.

Pros: How long was the operation?

Wit: It was about a month. They did not just capture Voinjama and return. They stayed to maintain security, and the insurgents were still coming from Guinea to attack.

Pros: How long until the operation ended?

Wit: I can’t state a specific time.

Pros: Do you recall when they came back?

Wit: I can’t really recall. They retreated, some without consent of the commander. Some of them looted the area before they came back to Sierra Leone. I saw vehicles believed to belong to a certain NGO.

Pros: At this time what was the call sign in Beudu?

Wit: Bravo Zulu Four. The signs changed with time.

Pros: What was the name of this operation in Voinjama?

Wit: Operation Vulture.

Pros: You said yesterday that vehicles with radios in them were captured and that Bockarie later used them as radio stations?

Wit: Yes. I was not there when the vehicles arrived. But when I returned they were there.

Pros: Was there an operation in Liberia between the 1993 operation and this one?

Wit: The first was that carried out by Morris Kallon. The second was Operation Vulture.

Pros: Did the RUF fight alone in Voinjama?

Wit: There were Liberian soldiers – the AFL. They made mention of their brothers. A radio operator, Tiger, was sent on this mission. He gave us detailed information about what was happening on the frontline. The RUF fighters were referring to the Liberians as their brothers. The AFL were not confronting the insurgents, was the report sent by the operator.

Pros: After this, when was the next RUF operation in Liberia?

Wit: Another operation a short while after that. Because the insurgents took Voinjama, and armed men were sent to Yeaten to retake Voinjama. The RUF men captured civilians around Voinjama and took them as their wives.

Pros: When was this next operation?

Wit: The rainy season of 1999. I had crossed into Liberia.

Pros: How did you know about it?

Wit: When Voinjama was taken, I was taken to where the Free Pentecostal Bible Institute where Benjamin Yeaten was residing.

Pros: Why were you taken there?

Wit: The radio I was operating was installed there. When I crossed into Foya, I got in touch with Benjamin Yeaten – we flew from Gbarnga to Tenembu to Voinjama. When the attack was unsuccessful he made requisition for armed men to Gen. Issa.

Pros: Who passed the message?

Wit: The message was sent to his radio. At this time Bockarie was in Liberia.

Pros: Who communicated the message?

Wit: I transmitted the message.

Pros: The message requested Gen. Issa to provide men for the operation in Voinjama?

Wti: Yes.

Pros: Who was sent?

Wit: One Col. Sherrif, the commander. He had over 150 troops. Voinjama was captured by the RUF fighers led by Col Sherrif. The RUF was fighting together with the AFL – the Armed Forces of Liberia.

Pros: Who was commanding the combined forces?

Wit: Col. Sherrif was the mission commander.

Pros: How did you know all of this?

Wit: They reported to the commander and I was with the commander, Benjamin Yeaten.

Pros: How long was the operation?

Wit: Not too long, and when they captured Voinjama, they started capturing civilians and looting. Yeaten grew annoyed and said that “here you are not rebels. You’re fighting for the government. You’re not rebels here.” They pulled out from Voinjama.

Pros: Did anything happen after they withdrew?

Wit: Voinjama fell again to the insurgents.

Pros: After this incident, was there any other situation in which the RUF fought in Liberia?

Wit: Yes, after the insurgents took Voinjama again, another operation was organized. Liberian forces took it again, but in 2000 it fell again to the insurgents. So Yeaten sent a message to Sesay to send Superman. I transmitted the message to Sesay. Yeaten requested Superman. Superman was then dispatched. He came to Foya and reported to Fifty.

Pros: Were you there when Superman reported to Fifty?

Wit: Yes. We went to receive Superman at a certain point at the border and crossed into Liberia when the message came that he was coming from Makeni.

Pros: Who is “we”?

Wit: There were other RUF fighters in Liberia. Everybody was happy that Superman was coming. We all traveled together.

Pros: Was Superman alone?

Wit: He came with a good number of RUF fighters and some artillery pieces – 50 caliber.

Pros: You said Superman reported to Yeaten at a particular place?

Wit: Yes, at Pa Taylor’s house in Foya. Pa Taylor was once a chief in Foya and it was a big house.

Judge Sebutinde: So Fifty was residing at Pa Taylor’s house?

Wit: That’s exactly what I was saying. Fifty was staying at Pa Taylor’s house and Superman was provided accommodation there. We did not spend much time there and proceeded to Kolahun.

Pros: What happened after Superman reported to Fifty?

Wit: Superman’s bodyguard and everyone were all commanded to move to Kolahun. From there, within 72 hours, we set out for the target, Voinjama. Voinjama was captured.

Pros: Were the RUF forces fighting alone?

Wit: Superman was the overall boss for the RUF fighting in Voinjama at the time. The RUF fought alongside the AFL. At this time there was the AFL- Armed Forces of Liberia, SOD – Special Operational Division, ATU- Anti Terrorism Unit, SSS – Special Security Service, Jungle Fire Unit. Fifty was the director of the SSS.

Pros: What was Jungle Fire?

Wit: It was under SSS. Yeaten told me during the NPFL days there was a group called Jungle Fire. When their party was put into power, they formed those armed groups, the SSS, comprised mostly of those former fighters of Jungle Fire.

Pros: What happened after Voinjama was captured?

Wit: During the fighting, Yeaten ordered me to work with Superman. I sent all the reports to Gen. Isssa. There were reports about the situation on the frontline. Wounded men were taken to Monrovia by helicopter. After a short time, Superman returned to Sierra Leone, to Makeni. The insurgents again took Voinjama.

Pros: When was this operation in Voinjama?

Wit: The rainy season of 2000.

Pros: What part of the rainy season?

Wit: In the middle.

Pros: The injured were taken where?

Wit: To Monrovia. Superman returned to Sierra Leone with some of his bodyguards. He was then in an accident and came back to Liberia.

Pros: During this operation, you said Superman came from Sierra Leone. Were they armed?

Wit: They crossed into Liberia with arms.

Pros: You said he was involved in an accident back in Sierra Leone?

Wit: I was contacted that he fell from a bike. He had serious bruises on his face and all over his body. Whilst fighting in Lofa,…

Pros: Voinjama was taken by Superman’s forces, Superman returned to Sierra Leone, and some of the forces stayed with Yeaten?

Wit: Yes, and Voinjama was retaken by the insurgents. I was then with Fifty in Kolahun. The forces were still attacking Voinjama. Fifty called Sesay for reinforcements of officers. There was one man called Harris, who came and took part in so many attacks on Voinjama, but was unsuccessful. Then Col. Eagle came and they captured Voinjama again.

Pros: When was this latter request made by Yeaten?

Wit: When we were in Kolahun and Voinjama fell to the insurgents. Those men left with Fifty by Superman, they were still attacking. Then the request was made for manpower to Gen Issa. That was in 2000.

Pros: How long after Superman left?

Wit: In the same year, 2000.

Pros: Who passed the message to Issa Sesay about reinforcements?

Wit: Fifty told me to send the message. Then Harris came. There were many unsuccessful attacks. He was withdrawn. Then Col. Eagle came with some armed men and joined forces with the RUF men already there and some AFL. And Voinjama was captured.

Pros: Did you yourself move?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: After this, was there any further involvement of the RUF in operations in Liberia?

Wit: When Voinjama was captured by Col Sherrif and others, it was that same year we moved to Monrovia, and we stayed there until X-mas. We spent X-mas in Monrovia until New Year 2001. Then in early 2001 I went with Fifty to Foya and the mission for Guinea.

Pros: What is X-mas?

Wit: The celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Pros: What happened in 2001?

Wit: I was flown to Foya with Yeaten. Voinjama was under Liberian control. He said an attack would be launched from there on Guinea?

Pros: How many times did Voinjama change hands?

Wit: [recounts various incidents]

Pros: So how many times would that be?

Wit: I think four times.

Pros: You said in early 2001 you flew from Monrovia with Yeaten and came to Foya. What was the mission?

Wit: To attack Guinea. He said the LURD forces were attacking from Guinea and would be pursued. He told this to the muster parade in Foya.

Pros: Was the RUF involved?

Wit: Yes, Gen. Issa came with a good number of armed men with artillery pieces.

Pros: How was this initiated?

Wit: They were communicating through the satellite phone.

Pros: Who?

Wit: Fifty and Isssa.

Pros: How did you know this?

Wit: Yeaten left me with the phone. When a call came, I had to get him. Sunlight would call from Monrovia sometimes.

Pros: What was the PC Ground?

Wit: It was in Foya, the preparation ground for the attack on Gueckedou.

Pros: How did the RUF get involved in the operation exactly?

Wit: Issa Sesay was there himself in Foya.

Pros: Why did he come to Foya?

Wit: I was just a messenger, in fact a slave for that matter. And a slave does whatever his master tells him.

Pros: What did you do?

Wit: Transmit the message to Sesay. I had no choice.

Pros: What message?

Wit: To put on the 2-1, for him to turn on his satellite men.

Pros: What happened after Issa came?

Wit: The forces were mobilized and we launched an attack in Guinea, on Gueckedou. Other forces were the AFL and SOD. The general for that mission was Matthew Barbue. Other commanders were Abu Keita, Sam Kulleh, John B. Vincent [others] who came with Issa from Sierra Leone. The radio operator with them was ______. I did not cross into Guinea with them. The target was captured, but when they ran out of ammunition they were beaten back to Liberia. Some officers who came with Sesay started escaping back to Sierra Leone. At this time another attack was launched on Guinea from Sierra Leone. They were to meet in Guinea.

Pros: Where was this other attack?

Wit: RUF forces crossed into Guinea from Sierra Leone. They left their base in Kono. They collected manpower from Kono and Makeni. That group, I think, was headed by Superman. After they retreated, Superman was called upon to come to Liberia and join the other group in Foya. He came and joined his forces with Barbue’s. They went to a town in Guinea called Nongorwa.

Pros: Who summoned Superman to Foya?

Wit: It was decided between Fifty and Issa Sesay. Yeaten ordered Superman to come to Foya. A mission was organized to attack Nongorwa. There was an attack there, but it was unsuccessful. Some men drowned in the river. Afterwards there was a comprehensive radio report on the operation.

Pros: The officers you mentioned to Nongorwa, which RUF commanders were involved?

Wit: It was led by Superman. Those commanders I earlier named.

Pros: Abu Keita?

Wit: Yes.

Def: That’s a leading question.

Wit: Which commanders went on this mission?

Def: Barbue also went but did not lead the mission. Superman led the mission.

Wit: You said Issa Sesay came for the mission?

Def: He was with Fifty and the border, but did not cross over.

Wit: What happened then?

Def: After it failed, the troops retreated to a village called Saadu in Liberia, near Foya. We learned that Foya was under attack by LURD forces. The RUF and Liberian forces based in Foya resisted and repelled the attack. Saadu was a very small settlement and was not spacious enough to accommodate everyone, so some forces had to retreat to Foya airfield.

Pros: After that?

Wit: Superman suggested to Fifty that they should all go defend Foya.

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