12:00 (12:30 with the delay in video and audio): The court session resumes following the mid-morning break.
Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra continues the direct examination of witness Alimamy Bobson Sesay:
Pros: You were telling the court about a communication between Bazzy and the protocol officer to President Kabbah about child combatants. Who were the child combatants with?
Wit: They were at the base in Gberiebana and in some of the surrounding villages.
Pros: How many were there?
Wit: We had about 200 child combatants.
Pros: What was their gender?
Wit: They were mixed, but there were more boys than the girls.
Pros: How old were they?
Wit: 8-12 years.
Pros: What do you mean by child combatants?
Wit: We trained these boys and they went with us on operations.
Pros: How did they come to be part of your group?
Wit: When we captured areas, like Kono and Freetown, we captured them.
Pros: Going back just a bit, you spoke about communication between Bazzy and Mosquito at Gberiebana. Were there other communications?
Wit: Yes. Bazzy always reported to Mosquito after each operation.
Pros: Apart from communications with Mosquito, did Bazzy communicate with anyone else by radio?
Wit: Yes, he communicated with Morris Kallon and Issa.
Pros: How do you know this?
Wit: He would call Bomb Blast whenever he called them.
Pros: Who was Issa?
Wit: RUF commander Issa Sesay.
Pros: How did you know about the communications?
Wit: It happened in my presence. It was not hidden.
Pros: Do you recall communications between Bazzy and Issa Sesay?
Pros: Do you remember any particular conversation they had over the radio?
Wit: During the time we captured the Malians, Bazzy and Hassan Papa Bangura spoke to Issa. They explained about our present activities – the successful operation in Port Loko and the capture of the Malians. This is what he told Morris Kallon. When we captured the UNAMSIL personnel there was also communication.
Pros: You’ve spoken about communications between Bazzy and Morris Kallon. What did Bazzy discuss with Issa Sesay?
Wit: He said he was doing very well. Issa said he was in Kono, and that he was very happy with Bazzy because he was attacking positions. Issa Sesay also spoke to Bomb Blast and told him he was very pleased with their cooperation with them in the west.
Pros: Who was “them”?
Wit: With Issa, Mosquito, and Morris Kallon.
Pros: Back to the communication between Bazzy and the protocol officer for Tejan-Kabbah, what happened?
Wit: Abdulai Mustafa said they would send vehicles, a bishop, ECOMOG officers and UNAMSIL officers to Magbeni to pick up the child combatants. Later the commander in Magbeni called to say that they had arrived. Our officer called on the radio set to say that UNAMSIL and ECOMOG officers, Bishop Biguzi and some others had come with vehicles to pick up the child combatants.
Pros: What happened then?
Wit: Bazzy appointed Hassan Papa Bangura to lead a team to meet with the ECOMOG officials who came with the bishop. He said we should have a plan where the children were first allowed to cross into Magbeni. So Bomb Blast would be in the meeting talking with officials. Bomb Blast would give a sign, and we should capture the officials. That happened. Bomb Blast sat with the officials. When he removed his hat from his head, we attacked without firing, and captured the ECOMOG and UNAMSIL officials, and the bishop.
Pros: Who made this plan?
Wit: It was from Bazzy.
Pros: How do you know about it?
Wit: He had a meeting. He called all the commanders and said we were completely excluded from the Lomé Accord, so we should plan an operation so they would be made to recognize us.
Pros: Who captured the officials and the bishop?
Wit: Myself and the squad headed by Hassan Papa Bangura. We placed them under gunpoint. The ECOMOG officials were disarmed. We arrested the UNAMSIL officials – Zambian officers. Later Hassan Papa Bangura said Bishop Binguzi should be released together with one woman. One journalist, Christo Johnson, was also arrested. We ensured that the children crossed to Gberiebana, then we too crossed to Gberiebana with the officials.
Pros: What happened to the child combatants?
Wit: They were not released at all. They crossed back to headquarters at Gberiebana.
Pros: Did anything happen to Bishop Biguzi before he was released?
Wit: One commander, Terminator, took the ring of the bishop. Later the bishop refused to go because he said they’d taken his ring. Terminator was called and the ring was returned. The bishop left with a woman. But all the officials were brought to Gberiebana.
Pros: What happened there?
Wit: They passed the night there. The next day, Christo Johnson met Bazzy. He said he wanted to know why we had arrested them. He said he would go tell the world why they were arrested. Bazzy told him that SLA was not included in the Lomé Peace Accord and he understood that Johnny Paul Koroma was under arrest. He was asking for the release of Johnny Paul Koroma and reinstatement of the army. Johnson said he should be released, and he would explain our demands over the air. That day, he was heard on BBC and VOA – he said these were the reasons. All of the stations were carrying announcements about the arrests of the UNAMSIL officials. Later, Mosquito called the camp in our presence and said Bazzy should release those people. He said he didn’t believe the ECOMOG officials were left out. Bazzy said he needed to speak with Johnny Paul Koroma before releasing the officials.
Pros: Did Bazzy specify who had arrested Johnny Paul?
Wti: Bazzy said he was made to understand that Johnny Paul was under arrest in Kailahun.
Pros: Who was Bazzy asking should release Johnny Paul Koroma?
Wit: He said when Mosquito was talking to him, to let him know to speak to Johnny Paul if he wasn’t under arrest.
Pros: Who was Bazzy saying all of this to?
Wit: Mosquito called Bazzy after hearing Johnson on the radio and said to release the officials. Bazzy said he would not release them because we were not included in the Lomé Accord.
Pros: Before the communication, you were telling the court about what Bazzy told Christo Johnson. Could you clarify whether all that you said was being spoken by Bazzy before the communication with Mosquito – all those matters, who was it being spoken to?
Wit: Tito took Christo Johnson to Bazzy. When Bomb Blast moved to Bazzy, Johnson asked for the reasons for their arrest. He said because he was a journalist, he would take the reasons to the international media and the government. He said we were not included in the Lomé Peace Accord, and neither was Johnny Paul Koroma. So the journalist should tell the rest of the world that Koroma should be released and we should be reinstated in the national army. So Bazzy ordered his release and we got the information on the air.
Pros: How do you know this?
Wit: Myself and Bomb Blast and some other senior commanders were there.
Pros: How do you know about the communication between Bazzy and Mosquito?
Wit: We were all at Bazzy’s place waiting for the response from Christo Johnson. When Johnson went on the air, Mosquito immediately called and ordered the release of the officials. Mosquito said Johnny Paul was safe, but did not what him to go on the air.
Pros: Who didn’t want who to continue to go on the air?
Wit: Mosquito didn’t want Johnny Paul to go on the air. He said he, Sam Bockarie, was a field commander and would go over the air.
Pros: What happened after this communication?
Wit: While we were sitting there, Johnny Paul called and said he was annoyed with Bazzy. He said Bazzy should release the ECOMOG and UNAMSIL officials. Bazzy said he could not release them until he saw Johnny Paul in person. Johnny Paul turned off the set. Later, Johnny Paul called again. He said President Taylor would send a helicopter for him in Kailahun, and that he should send some men to Freetown to be picked up and meet in Liberia to discuss these issues.
Pros: What was the date that the ECOMOG and UNAMSIL officials were captured.
Wit: July 1999, going to August.
Pros: How long after their capture was the communication between Bazzy and Mosquito?
Wit: All that happened within that week.
Judge Sebutinde: Can you go over again what happened when Johnny Paul called again?
Pros: You spoke about a communication between Johnny Paul and Bazzy, and then you said Johnny Paul called back. How long after the first communication did the second communication take place?
Wit: It was the same day.
Pros: How is it you know about the two communications between Johnny Paul and Bazzy?
Wit: I was present with Bazzy, Bomb Blast and other senior commanders.
Pros: What was spoken in the second communication between Bazzy and Johnny Paul?
Wit: Johnny Paul said President Taylor was preparing a helicopter to take him from Kailahun to Liberia. Bazzy should prepare a delegation to be picked up in Freetown and taken to Liberia to discuss this issue.
Pros: What else did he say?
Wit: He said Taylor has released a helicopter to take him to Liberia. Bazzy was to choose some men to go from Freetown to Liberia. He said ECOMOG and the government would take the delegation from Okra Hill to Freetown, and from there they would be flown to Liberia.
Pros: Did Bazzy choose men for this purpose?
Wit: Yes, he chose an 11-man delegation.
Pros: Who were they?
Wit: Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara, Hassan Papa Bangura, Junior Lion – George Johnson, Major ______, myself, Bazzy’s personal assistant called Junior Jones, Tiger, Captain Blood, Humper, Usim (ph), Issa Mansaray.
Pros: Who was Humper?
Wit: A personal security to Bazzy.
Pros: Where did you go in Freetown?
Wit: We met Leatherboot, the CSO to Sankoh, together with some UNAMSIL officers. They escorted us to Freetown and we lodged in the Solar (?) Hotel.
Pros: Who is Leatherboot?
Wit: Idrissa Kamara, whom we’d left in Kono. He came as CSO to Sankoh at Lomé.
Pros: How long did you stay at the hotel?
Wit: We were there for two days. The ECOMOG officers included Pamba (ph), the ECOMOG commander.
Pros: What happened after the two days?
Wit: We were picked up together with Abdulai Mustafa and taken to Aberdeen airfield. A helicopter flew us to Lungi airport, and from there an airplane took us to Liberia.
[Prosecution asks that the witness be given a map of Port Loko district, and asks the witness to mark various locations mentioned in his testimony: Koya, Makolo, Port Loko Town, Magbuntuso (Mile 38), and Gberiebana. Prosecution requests that the map be marked for identification, and Judge Doherty orders this done.]
Pros: I want to clarify an issue before proceeding. You told the court that before the troops left Mansofinia, there was a meeting called wherein Gullit passed orders. You said no soldier or civilian with the group should escape, and that all his orders had to be complied with strictly…
Def: Where are the references in the transcripts?
[Prosecution says it will look for the references and come back to the issue later.]
Pros: Who boarded the plane to Liberia?
Wit: Abdulai Mustafa, Bazzy, Bomb Blast, myself, Captain Blood, George Johnson – Junior Lion, [others].
Pros: What kind of plane was it?
Wit: It was a special flight that we met at Lungi.
Pros: Where in Liberia did the plane take you?
Wit: We landed at Roberts International Airfield in Liberia.
Pros: What part of Liberia?
Wit: It is far from the city. They drove us to the city.
Pros: How far?
Wit: Maybe 20 miles.
Pros: Where you met at Roberts Airfield?
Pros: Who met you?
Wit: They came in two jeeps. I can’t recall their names. They were men in coats. They said they were special bodyguards of President Taylor.
Pros: Do you remember any of their names?
Wit: No. I didn’t know them.
Pros: Where did you go?
Wit: They took us to the Boulevard Hotel in the city. When we arrived there, we met somebody – big, tall – who identified himself as Momoh Gibba, the ADC to the president. He took us to the reception in the hotel. They had made all the necessary arrangements. He called the manager of the hotel and said these were Taylor’s guests. We were free to have anything we wanted, but no alcohol.
Pros: Did he say anything else?
Wit: He said he would contact us later. That we should take baths and rest. We should feel free in the hotel. He said vehicles would come and we would meet with Johnny Paul, then go to meet Taylor.
Pros: Where is the Boulevard Hotel?
Wit: In Monrovia.
Pros: Did he say where the vehicles would come from?
Wit: He said a vehicle would pick us up to take us to see Johnny Paul Koroma. Then they would tell us when we would meet with Taylor. He just told us that and to stay in the hotel. He said whatever else we want, we can get.
Pros: Did a vehicle come and take you to Johnny Paul Koroma?
Wit: Yes, the next day two cars came with registration plates that said “Guest 1” and “Guest 2”. They picked up the 11-man delegation.
Pros: Do you know where the vehicles came from?
Wit: The driver said they were take us to see Johnny Paul Koroma where he was staying.
Pros: Did the driver say who sent him?
Wit: He said the ADC, Momoh Gibbah, said he should pick us up and take us to Johnny Paul.
Pros: Where were you taken?
Wit: They call the area of Monrovia “Seaside”. We met with Johnny Paul Koroma where he was lodged.
Pros: What happened?
Wit: Guards were there. They said they were the ATU. We met Jumoh Jalloh (ph), Major Kattah (ph) who was an SLA officer. We sat down and had a meeting with Johnny Paul Koroma. Johnny said these were special guards from the president taking care of him. The area was well protected by bodyguards.
Pros: Special guards from which president?
Wit: Charles Taylor.
Pros: What happened in the meeting?
Wit: We had a discussion. When we were sitting together, Johnny Paul said he was very happy to meet with us. He said nothing had happened to him, and now that we’ve come, what do we want to happen? Bazzy said we’d been left out of the Lomé Accord, and even you did not get an appointment – that was the reason we were concerned and captured the UNAMSIL people – because we wanted to be reinstated into the army.
Pros; How do you know about this discussion?
Wit: The delegation went together to speak with Johnny Paul. Johnny Paul said we should not speak loudly because he said there were some RUF boys moving up and down. He said he did not have control.
Pros; What did he mean?
Wit: He said there were some RUF guys patrolling in the parlor. So he told us that since this was the problem, he would make necessary arrangements. He said we should select some men to see Taylor because Taylor was concerned. He said all 11 men could not go. He told us that it was true he hadn’t any appointment in the government, but he’d seen a vacancy – the CCP Chairman for the Consolidation of Peace – he would prefer to take that appointment. He said when we meet with Taylor, he would explain so that that could be sent to Freetown and we could have that appointment. The meeting ended, we ate, and we returned to the Boulevard Hotel.
Pros: These were the RUF men who were with who?
Wit: Johnny Paul. He said they came with him, apart from the special guards Taylor sent.
Pros: Did he explain why Taylor was concerned?
Wit: Yes, he said Taylor was being pressured over the arrests. Taylor did not want the division.
Pros: What division?
Wit: We’d gone over the air that we were left out of the Lomé Peace Accord. Taylor didn’t want that to result in a division between the two groups.
Pros: Taylor didn’t want a division between which two groups?
Wit: He said the Pa does not want any division between the RUF and the SLA. Taylor wanted us to resolve the issue once and for all.
Pros: Who was the Pa?
Wit: He was referring to President Taylor.
Pros: After this meeting, did your group leave?
Wit: Yes, we went back to Boulevard Hotel. We had a meeting. Bazzy chose himself, Junior Lion, Major _______, myself and Bomb Blast to go meet Taylor. Five of us went and the other six stayed.
Pros: Did the group selected go and meet Taylor?
Wit: Later those two vehicles came again. This time Johnny Paul was in Guest 1. We boarded Guest 2 and we went to Taylor’s mansion.
Pros: Do you recall where the mansion was?
Wit: It’s in Monrovia. It’s the office of the president.
Pros: Did you meet anyone when you arrived?
Wit: Momoh Gibbah received us and took us to a conference room where we waited.
Pros: What happened then?
Wit: President Taylor came with Momoh Gibbah and his defense minister, Daniel Chea. They sat down and Johnny Paul introduced us.
Pros: Do you recall the date of the meeting?
Wit: It was going towards August. July/August 1999. Early August.
Pros: What happened after the introductions?
Wit: President Taylor said, “Gentlemen, welcome to Liberia. This issue, I’m happy that you’ve come, and we should solve this issue once and for all. I’ve been giving assistance to the movement. I mobilized the SLAs who went to help you there. I’m warning you that if you continue this division, you’ll be in prison. You should be fighting for the presidency. You should come together and resolve this issue once and for all. This division would cause the politicians to use you and you’ll end up in jail.”
Pros: Did President Taylor state what assistance he gave the movement?
Wit: He said he’d been coordinating all of the supplies, the arms and ammunition – even the food- sent to us. So he didn’t want the division and he organized us to come.
Pros: Did he say what times he gave this assistance.
Wit: He said he assisted up to the time of the cease-fire.
Pros: When he said he did not want there to be a division between the two groups, did he specify which two groups?
Wit: He said it was the RUF and the SLAs.
Pros: Which movement was he referring to?
Wit; He said he had been giving assistance to the AFRC/RUF so that we could remove the government of Ahmad Tejan-Kabbah. He said that should be our focus rather than having disputes among one another.
Pros: What else did he say?
Wit; He said Pa Sankoh was on his way and we should all go to Freetown together.
Pros: Johnny Paul then explained what the problem was that led us to capture the UNAMSIL people. The meeting ended, and Taylor gave Johnny Paul 15,000 US dollars so that we could spend it in Liberia while we waited for Sankoh. Bazzy later distributed the money to the 11-man delegation that came.
Court is now adjourning for lunch. Proceedings will resume at 2:30 (3:00 with the delay in video and audio).