2:30 (3:00 with the delay in video and audio): Court is back in session following the lunch break.
Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra continues questioning witness Alimamy Bobson Sesay:
Pros: We were speaking about the student demonstrations in Freetown. You gave an answer that said the students “declared three-day strike action until the AFRC handed over power to the government.” As a result of the strike action, did the AFRC hand over power?
Wit: No, the AFRC remained in power until the ECOMOG intervention. The AFRC stopped the demonstrations when some students were arrested and taken to the prison. Some students died, and some escaped.
Pros: During your testimony about announcements and appointments, you mentioned an “AFRC Council” and a “Supreme Council”. What is the difference, if any.
Wit: It is almost the same. At first when the coup took place, there was the Supreme Council. Later it became the Council. Initially there were 17 coup members, with the Supreme Council.
Judge Sebutinde: The answer is still not clear.
Pros: Which council are you talking about?
Wit: When the coup took place, the initial council was the Supreme Council, but when it was expanded, the AFRC Council was established.
Pros: Did the Supreme Council still exist?
Wit: I didn’t hear about the Supreme Council anymore.
Pros: Did you know who the 17 coup members were?
Pros: How do you know who they were?
Wit: Those members were members of a football team in the first battalion, who were comrades to me.
Pros: At the time of the ECOMOG intervention in February 1998, where were you?
Wit: I was at my house because there was a problem. The Honorable I was attached to, Hassan Papa Bangura – he was arrested and dismissed from the Supreme Council after the looting of the Iranian Embassy. I was at Wellington, at my house, when the incident occurred. I met Bangura at the Murray Town Barracks. I left with him and we went to Johnny Paul’s residence on Spur Road.
Pros: What happened there?
Wit: At the time, all the other Honorables came around. Johnny Paul told them to attack the ECOMOG forces. I left with Honorable Papa and went to Shell Old Road. By then the ECOMOG forces were at Kissy. The battle continued. The ECOMOG fighters were pushing myself and Papa Bangura towards Ferry Junction. ECOMOG forces also came from Regent to attack Hill Station. We went there to reinforce the troops and push the ECOMOG forces back. The fighting continued until later ECOMOG were able to overrun the city. We retreated to Johnny Paul’s lodge at Spur Road. Johnny Paul had left there.
Pros: What did you do then?
Wit: I left with Hassan Papa Bangura and we retreated to Tumbo. The RUF and SLA troops were there. Everyone was waiting for canoes to cross to Fobgo.
Pros: [Asks where all of these locations are, and the witness answers.]
Pros: Did you take the canoes to Fogbo?
Wit: Yes, I joined Hassan Papa Bangura and other soldiers attached to him in a canoe to Fogbo. When we arrived in Fogbo, I went with Bangura to Newton, in the Koya Rural district, along the Freetown-Masiaka highway. When we arrived in Newtown, we went to RDF and from there to Masiaka.
Pros: What is RDF?
Wit: A military base: Rapid Deployment Force.
Pros: Did you meet anyone in Newton?
Wit: Yes, I met Issa Sesay of the RUF who came there to receive the RUF members.
Pros: Where is Masiaka?
Wit: Between Bomali and Koya Rural district.
Pros: How long did you stay there?
Wit: About three day.s
Pros: Did you meet anyone there?
Wit: Yes. Major Johnny Paul Koroma, Saj Musa, SFY Koroma, Col. Foday, Mike Lamin, Issa Sesay, and some other senior commanders, including S.O. Williams.
Pros: Any other RUF commanders?
Wit: Yes. Some other RUF commanders, SLAs and other ranks.
Pros; Do you recall names?
Wit: Those were the most important commanders I saw. The troops that left Freetown went there. The most important commanders were Sesay, Koroma, and Superman – he too was there.
Pros: Is Superman known by another name?
Wit: Dennis Mingo.
Pros: Which group?
Wti: The RUF.
Pros: Did you know him during the junta period?
Pros: Did he have a position?
Wit: Yes, he was a member of the AFRC Council.
Pros: Did you know where Gullit was?
Wit: Yes, when I arrived at Masiaka, Jungler who was Samuel Kargbo and Ibrahim Bioh Sesay came from Kono and told Johnny Paul in my presence that Gullit had withdrawn from Kono and moved to the Kailahun axis.
Judge Doherty: What do you mean by axis?
Wit: The terrain they cover.
Pros: Who covers?
Wit: The area where Gullit was, because it’s a military town.
Pros: What is a military town?
Wit: The terrain is the area where you are familiar with – your area of assignment.
Pros: In Masiaka at this time, who was in command?
Wit: Johnny Paul Koroma was still in charge of the command.
Pros; Of which groups?
Wit: The RUF and the SLA.
Pros: What happened there?
Wit: Johnny Paul went over the international media and declared Operation Pay Yourself. It happened in my presence, and during the broadcast everyone had a radio. Robin White asked where he was, and Johnny Paul said he was still on the peninsula – and that there was no money to pay the soldiers. He said the fighters should go and loot and take whatever they wanted. According to Operation Pay Yourself, he said soldiers could loot whatever they could see from civilians.
Pros: What happened after the announcement?
Wit: At the moment when myself and others started moving, it was a continuous looting spree from the civilians. Even myself sitting here – between my God and myself, I participated in the looting, and some RUF members too. Everyone was looting.
Pros: What else happened?
Wit: Soldiers took vehicles from civilians, they captured civilians to carry loads for them to Makeni.
Pros: What did Johnny Paul Koroma do after announcing the operation?
Wit: He left Masiaka for Makeni. He said he was going to his village: Magbonkineh, in Bombali district, after Binkolo.
Pros: Do you know where he went?
Wit: I only knew finally when Hassa Papa Bangura and Ibrahim Bioh left and started searching for where the chairman went.
Pros: Did anything else happen in Masiaka?
Wit: Boissy and ___ came and said most AFRC and RUF members in Bo were trapped, and they wanted a team to rescue them. It was in Bo town itself.
Pros: What happened after AF Kamara said that?
Wit: I joined AF Kamara, Issa Sesay and Boissy Palmer, and we rescued those people in Bo. We brought them to Masiaka – Mile 91 to Masiaka.
Pros: Did you go anywhere from Masiaka?
Wit: Yes, I joined Hassan Papa Bangura and Bazzy, and went to Lunsar.
Pros: And from there?
Wit: We finally arrived in Makeni.
Pros: Did anything happen on the way?
Wit: In Lunsar, I met with Bangura and Bazzy a lot of looting taking place by the RUF and SLA. I saw a joint operation by the RUF and SLA.
Pros: And from Lunsar to Makeni?
Wit: I saw a lot of civilians carrying loads for commanders, for the RUF and SLAs withdrawing for Makeni.
Pros: Why were the civilians carrying loads for the RUF and SLA?
Wit: Since Johnny Paul declared Operation Pay Yourself, the civilians carried the looted goods.
Pros: Did the civilians have a choice?
Wit: No no no no no. They were under gunpoint. They were not even in a position to talk.
Pros: What did you do in Makeni?
Wit: It was in Makeni that Operation Pay Yourself actually manifested itself. I went with Bangura and Bazzy to break into a bank. We got some money from a safe. People were looting food and so many items from shops and civilians.
Pros: Were there senior commanders there?
Wit: Yes, Issa Sesay, Bazzy, and others. We saw Superman there, but then he left for Kabala.
Pros; After the two days in Makeni, did you go anywhere?
Wit: Yes, I went with Bangura and Bazzy toward Kabala, but we had a breakdown. We finally arrived in Kabala.
Pros: Did you meet anyone in Kabala?
Wit: Superman and Saj Musa.
Pros: What happened there?
Wit: After my arrival with Hassan Papa Bangura, Saj Musa called a big meeting to discuss the plans ahead. I went with Bangura to the site of the meeting where Saj Musa was talking.
Pros: Did you attend the meeting?
Pros: What did Saj Musa say?
Wit: When the meeting took place, all commanders had come. Saj said, “Gentlemen, ECOMOG has pushed us out of Freetown and Gullit has withdrawn from Kono. So we should go recapture Kono and make it a strong area because there are diamonds there.”
Pros: Anything else?
Wit: After that, he said that the troops must be prepared. The commanders were asked to prepare their men.
Pros: How did the meeting end?
Wit: The meeting ended with Bangura and Superman being asked to mobilize the RUF and SLA in preparation for an advance on Kono.
Pros: Did anything else happen in Kabala?
Wit; Myself, Bangura, and the other soldiers with him, and those with Superman – they all mounted the radio sets and got in touch with Mosquito. Mosquito said he should ensure they go to Binkolo and bring the chairman safely….
[brief interruption in audio and video from the courtroom]
Wit: …and move towards Binkolo where Johnny Paul was based.
Pros: Did you go there?
Wit: Yes, then we went to JPK’s village. We met him and his wife Makuta. Moses Kabia, Akim Turay [and others] were there, and his entire family.
Pros: Who is Akim Turay?
Wit; A captain in the Sierra Leone Army.
Pros: What happened when you met JPK and all these people there?
Wit: Johnny Paul reinforced what Saj Musa said – that we should establish a strong junta base in Kono because there were diamonds there.
Pros: Did you leave the village?
Wit: Yes, we moved to Makeni. Myself, Johnny Paul, his family, Superman and all others in that groupl
Pros: Did you meet anyone in Makeni?
Wit: Yes, Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon, Five-Five, and other senior commanders. Also Col. Avivo Kamara.
Pros: At this time, who was the overall commander in Makeni for the SLA and RUF?
Wit: On arrival, Johnny Paul was the commander.
Pros: And before his arrival?
Wit: Issa Sesay.
Pros: When you arrived in Makeni, did anything happen there?
Wit: Yes, Koroma stopped for a short time there and briefed the troops. He told us that we should recapture Kono and establish a strong base there.
Pros: You’ve said that Saj Musa and JPK said Kono was “diamondiferous”. What does that mean?
Wit: It’s where the diamonds are.
Pros: What happened after JPK said this?
Wit: After that, the troop was reorganized and we arranged a fighting force that was to move with the fighting force to Kono. Bangura and I were in charge of the SLA and Sesay was in charge of the RUF. JPK was in overall charge.
Pros: Did anything happen on the way?
Wit: We did some defensive firing. We arrived at Matotoka and there were no enemies. We moved towards Makali. We moved towards Masingbi. We left there towards Sewafe.
Pros: When was this?
Wit; In 1998, after the ECOMOG intervention.
Pros: Where is Sewafe?
Wit: In Kono district.
Pros; Can you give us a month in 1998?
Wit: As far as I can recall, it was early March.
Pros: What happened in Sewafe?
Wit: We captured the ground but did not meet enemy forces. We waited for the rest of the long convoy. We waited for JPK. It took only a few minutes, then he came and the rest of the convoy came.
Pros: How far is Sewafe village from Koidu Town.
Wit: About 22 miles.
Pros; What happened when JPK and the rest of the convoy arrived?
[brief interruption in audio/video]
Wit: …and the entire convoy to Bumpeh Town.
Pros: What happened there?
Wit: When I arrived there with Superman and Bangura, there were no military targets, so we left for Koidu Town. Close to town, at Five-Five Spot, we encountered a heavy Kamajor attack.
Pros: Who are Kamajors?
Wit: A militia force that the SLPP put together to fight against the AFRC and RUF.
Pros; What happened after they attacked you?
Wit: We hastily withdrew back to Bumpeh.
Pros; Who was there amongst the commanders?
Wit: When I arrived there, Issa Sesay, Johnny Paul, Saj Musa were there. They saw us come and JPK withdrew. Issa Sesay took his pistol and shot one of the soldiers and said they should go back to Koidu. We moved back and captured Koidu.
Pros: Where did Johnny Paul go?
Wit: Toward Masingbi. They said they would come after Koidu was captured.
Pros: After JPK left Bumpeh, who was the overall commander there?
Wit: Issa Sesay. It was him who said that we should advance, and Superman served as our own head – those of us going to capture Koidu.
Pros; Who was “RUF Rambo?
Wit: He was a Liberian, but I don’t know his name. He was one of the senior commanders in the RUF.
Pros: Who was in command in Koidu Town after it was captured?
Wit: It was Superman who led us even though Hassan Papa Bangura was present.
Pros: What did Superman do after Koidu was captured?
Wit: He said he was going back to check in Masingbi and Bumpeh to see if he could get JPK to follow us. Superman left Koidu and went whilst we took defensive positions. Myself and the other men with whom we captured Koidu Town, we erected strategic guard posts to repel any further enemy attacks.
Pros; What happened when Superman left?
Wit: He returned and said he’d gone to Masingbi, but could not get JPK. And he said it would be good for us to form a team to go back to Makeni to get him and bring him over. We reorganized. We got a team to move back towards Makeni.
Pros; Did you meet anyone in Makeni?
Wit: Issa Sesay was there and other commanders.
Pros: Where did you go then?
Wit: To Kabala, and we met Saj Musa. It was myself, Hassan Papa Bangura and Superman – and colleagues. We had two vehicles. We informed him about the recapture of Koidu Town. But his response was that we go back to JPK’s village to take JPK back. We went there and met Johnny Paul.
Pros: What happened then?
Wit: We did not delay. We collected him and others. We went to Makeni and got Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon, and others, and moved to Kono.
Pros: When you returned to Koidu, who were you with?
Wit: Bangura, Dennis Mingo, JPK, Issa Sesay, Mike Lamin, Morris Kallon, and some other senior commanders. Then we went to Koidu Town. When we arrived in Koidu Town, we took Johnny Paul to a village close to Gandon (ph), near Wohma and Tankoro. When we arrived in that village, Johnny Paul called an immediate meeting of all the commanders. I attended the meeting. Johnny Paul said that now we have seen that the people of Koidu Town don’t like the junta, and will bring the Kamajors to launch attacks on the junta – Kono should be a no-go area for civilians. He said we should get some able-bodied civilians to assist us. We should burn down houses in Kono. He said he was leaving to meet Charles Taylor to get logistics for us. He will send them to Kono since Kono is a diamondiferous area. We should defend it to let the international community recognize us.
Pros: Did JPK explain what it meant to make Kono a “no-go area for civilians”?
Wit: We should burn all the houses.
Pros: When you were in this village, when was this?
Wit: As far as I can recall, it was around mid-March, 1998.
Pros: When JPK said that “you should not encourage civilians”, what did that mean?
Wit: Kono should be a no-go area for civilians. The able-bodied should work for us. The rest should be executed.
Pros: What did he mean what “logistics” he was referring to?
Wit: He said he was going to get arms, ammunition, food and other things. He will try and get them so we will continue to hold the ground.
Pros: Did he say anything else about the civilians?
Wit: We should allow the able-bodied ones in and the others we should eliminate.
Pros: Did anyone else say anything?
Wit: Issa Sesay said that what the chairman had said was good. He said this was the only way they used to ensure that civilians could not be used against us. He said it would discourage the civilians not to relocate there at all.
Pros; Apart from burning houses, did he say anything else about civilians?
Wit: He said we should execute civilians not fit for operations, just as the chairman said.
Pros: What happened after the meeting?
Wit: After this meeting, we moved and started executing the orders.
Pros: What do you mean?
Wit: Myself, Bangura and other members of the squad, and members of the RUF, we executed a group of civilians at Yardo Road – and displayed their bodies at the junctions.
Pros: How many civilians were killed?
Wit: I can’t say the number.
Pros: Was their a reason their bodies were displayed?
Wit: The chairman said we should create fear so that the others should not come to Koidu Town?
Pros: Who are “the others”?
Wit: Other civilians who would want to come to Kono.
Pros; Where did you go from Yardo Road?
Wit: Towards Hill Station and Masingbe Road.
Pros: Where is Yardo Road?
Wit: Near Opera cinema in Koidu Town.
Pros: Where is Masingbe Road?
Wit: Also in Koidu.
Pros: You said the other RUF went to Hill Station?
Wit: Hill Station, in Koidu. It was a mixed troop. They went towards the Guinea Highway.
Pros: What happened at Masingbi Road?
Wit: We occupied houses there. I moved to Gandahon axis. I had a fight with an RUF man. He snatched the vehicle I was using. They took it away. I informed Bangura. We regrouped and moved towards Gandahon. Myself, Hassan Papa Bangura and other colleagues, we met JPK, Issa Sesay, Mike Lamin and others. They told us the route they wanted to use had a blockage because the Kamajors had occupied Koidu Geyia. JPK asked us to join the RUF to clear the Koidu Geyia Highway. We went there, but lost our support firer, P-Man. We couldn’t make it and retreated back to Gandahon. Issa came to JPK and asked that we could use the bush path to walk to Kailahun.
Pros: What happened after Issa suggested that they should walk to Kailahun?
Wit: They started going to the bush path. I was there and we all left. It was JPK, his wife, Akim Tureh, Moses Kabia, Mike Lamin, Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon and his children, Jungler – Samuel Kargbo, together with some SLA and RUF.
Pros: The group that remained in Gandahun, what did you do?
Wit; Me, Bangura and Superman – we went to Koidu Town. We drove to Masingbi Road, which Superman went Danbundeh Street, where he was based. At Masingbi Road, we met Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara and his men – Junior Lion and others. Junior Lion was called George Johnson, the chief security to Bazzy Kamara.
Pros: Do you know where Santigie Borbor Kanu was?
Wit: He was in Makeni – we left him there.
Pros: Did anything happen at Masingbi Road?
Wit: Bazzy restructured the troops and did some appointments. Bazzy was the commander for those of us there that comprised the SLA and RUF. Hassan Papa Bangura was the second-in-command and operational commander. Foday Kallay became the deputy operations commander. Some other appointments were made, like military supervisors.
Pros: What was the responsibility of the military supervisors?
Wit: They would move to the various battalions and supervise.
Pros: Do you remember the names of the supervisors?
Wit: Franklin ____ , called ____. Idrissa Kamara.
Pros: Did Idrissa Kamara have another name?
Pros: Do you know it?
Pros: What was it?
Wit: That man has a responsible position now in the government. For security reasons, I don’t want to.
Pros: [To judges] Can I have him write down the name?
Judge Doherty: We’re not clear what the security issue is here. We’ve been given the name of the person. The witness said that there’s a security issue because the man is in the current government, but it’s not clear what the security issue is.
Pros: What are the security reasons you don’t want to give the name?
Wit: This person – we all fought together. He has been sent to train and is now serving as close protection to the president.
Judge Sebutinde: Is Idrissa Kamara a pseudonym?
Wit: The nickname is more common that this name.
Pros: Can I ask the witness to write the name?
Def: I oppose that he write the name. We’re in open session. There is no basis to conceal the name.
[Judges confer for about 3 minutes.]
Judge Doherty: We are not prepared to accede to this request. We have no grounds that show that there is an issue of security. The name is to be given in open court.
Pros: Did you hear the order from the presiding judge?
Wit: I did not get it clearly.
Pros: You mentioned the name Idrissa Kamara. What was his other name?
Pros: What were the names of the other military supervisors?
Wit: Ibrahim Bioh Sesay, Abdul Sesay, Momoh Bangura – aka Momoh Dorty, Adams. They were all colonels.
Pros: What was their function?
Wit: Mostly they went to supervise the various battalions that were in the Kono district.
Pros: How many were there in the Kono district?
Wit: We had Leftenent Tito in Yengema, Leftenant Amara Kalleh in Bumpeh.
Pros Which group did Tito belong to?
Wit: An SLA. He had an SLA deputy battalion commander. He had SLAs and RUF under him.
Pros: Amara Kalleh – which group did he belong to?
Wit: He was an SLA, and his deputy was RUF, but I can’t remember his name. Their men were both SLA and RUF.
Pros: Do you know any others?
Wit: Around Sewafe Bridge there was Leftenant Mosquito, an SLA.
Pros; Is this the same person as Sam Bockarie called Mosquito?
Pros: Did Leftenant Mosquito have a deputy?
Wit: Yes, and RUF deputy, but I can’t remember his name.
Wit: A commander in Tombodu named Leftenant Mohamed Savage – an SLA. His other name was Changa Bulanga.
Pros; Why was he called Changa Bulanga?
Wit: He was very good with a machete – at amputating people.
Pros: What does Changa Bulanga mean?
Wit: Someone good with a machete, good at amputating people.
Pros: When did he get that name?
Wit: At Tombodu in Kono.
Pros; Did he have a deputy?
Wit: He was Alhaji, an SLA. Savage’s men were SLA and RUF.
Wit: Leftenant Junior in ____ Village. He was an SLA. His deputy was from the RUF, but I don’t know his name. The men under his command were from the RUF and SLA.
Wit: The areas I’m talking about – those were in our areas. There were others where Superman was serving.
Pros: How do you know about these appointments made by Bazzy?
Wit: I was with the operations commander and he made the appointments in my presence.
Pros: Who appointed the battalion commanders where Superman was?
Wit: From Superman.
Pros: How do you know that?
Wit: After Bazzy made the appointments, I went with Bangura to see Superman to show them to him, and he showed his appointments to Bazzy and Bangura. I was present when he disclosed it.
Pros: What were his appointments?
Wit: He was the chief in command for Kono District. RUF Rambo was deputy operations commander for the RUF around that axis – the entire Gandahun highway. Superman was the boss.
Pros: Was there an operations commander?
Wit: Superman was chief in command and also director of operations.
Pros: What other appointments did Superman make?
Wit: Isaac Mongor was battlefield and artillery commander.
Pros: Who is Mongor?
Wit: An RUF.
Pros: During the junta period, did you know Mongor?
Wit: Yes, he was also on the AFRC council.
Pros; In this period, whom did Mongor report to?
Pros: Other appointments?
Wit: Emmanuel Williams – “Rocky” was on the Guinea Highway. He was an RUF and had an RUF deputy.
Wit: Komba Bendema (ph) was between Yomandu and Kayima. He was a member of the RUF. His deputy was Hector ______, also a colonel. He was an Honorable, an SLA.
Pros: Emmanuel Williams, which groups did the men under him belong to?
Wit: RUF and SLA.
Pros: And Komba Bendema (ph)?
Wit: RUF and SLA were under his command.
Wit: These are the commanders I can recall for now.
Pros: RUF Rambo, you said he was deputy operations commander. Did he have any other assignment?
Wit: He was battalion commander in Gandahun. He had a deputy, Leftenant Bakarr, who was a member of the SLA. The men under RUF Rambo’s command were SLA and RUF.
Pros: Apart from these appointments, do you recall any others made by Superman?
Wit: I can only recall these appointments.
Pros: To whom did Bazzy Kamara report to?
Wit: He reported directly to Superman.
Pros: What was the size of a battalion?
Wit: It’s four companies. A company in the American system is about 27, so it’s 120 that makes a battalion. In the American system it’s about 120.
Pros: How many were in a battalion in Kono?
Wit: In Kono, in some areas it was 70-80. Some areas had more than that.
Court is adjourning for the day. Proceedings will resume tomorrow morning at 9:30.