5:00 Former RUF radio operator completes his testimony; new prosecution witness takes the stand

2:30 (3:00 with the delay in video and audio): Court is back in session following the lunch break.

With the defense cross-examination concluded, Prosecutor Mohamed Bangura will now re-examine witness TF1-516:

Pros: Before I proceed, I wish to inform the court that the prosecution has put together a book of maps, some of which have already been used in this trial. It is for the convenience of all parties.

Pros: I’m going to ask you some questions, which relate to matters asked of you by counsel on the other side. In cross-examination, you were shown a statement you made to the prosecution [references document]. In line 3, it states: “captured by RUF in early 1991” Then it says “Joined RUF in rainy season of 1991.” When it says captured by RUF in early 1991, was it the dry or rainy season?

Wit: In the dry season, I think March.

Pros: What is meant by rainy season of 1991?

Wit: I was taken to the front line. I told them that if they said I was captured in the rainy season, they got it wrong.

Pros: You testified before that some codes were different when Sesay took over as commander of the RUF?

Wit: We used to change codes whenever there was any security threat in any particular area.

Pros: Was there a code system when Bockarie was commander of the RUF?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Was that system different when Sesay was commander?

Wit: It was the same system, but two and three-letter words were now put in code.

Pros: Under whose leadership was it two-letter words and it changed to three later words?

Wit; When the RUF joined the AFRC, we were told they could find our messages, so it was in 1998 that it changed.

Pros: Who was the leader at the time the new code was introduced?

Wit: It was Gen. Issa. First when we retreated it was Bockarie, then later Gen. Issa.

Pros: Counsel showed you a document you described as your operational book?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: What do you mean when you call it your operational book?

Wit: I had my notes in that book that gave me the information of how best the operation of the radio should be done. I used the book to write and transcribe messages relating to RUF operations.

Pros: Did you use it for any other purposes?

Wit: Sometimes I received instructions. When disarmament came, we were asked to supply our personal information to Gen. Sesay and he was going to provide for our education.

Pros: Apart from that operational book, you mentioned a code book, log book and message book?

Wit: Yes.

Pros; What was a message book?

Wit: There was a message book for outgoing and incoming – that was the situation at headquarters where there were so many messages; unlike the sub-stations. The book was kept with the radio. In a sub-station there was only one message book. Sometimes you divide it into two for incoming and outgoing.

Pros: What was a log book?

Wit: You would write the time and date of the message and a summary of the message.

Pros: Was the log book different from the message book?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: What about the code book?

Wit: It was also different. But sometimes we ran out of paper and wrote messages in the code or log book.

Pros: You testified that BZ4, the call sign for a radio at Buedu, was the call sign of Bockarie’s radio?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: You also said BZ4 referred to the location?

Wit: Yes, we could refer to Buedu as BZ4.

Pros: What do you mean that it was also the name of the radio base?

Wit: If I moved from one location to another, I would say I was traveling to “BZ4”, not necessarily to the station itself, but to the base where that call sign was used. That person would know I was going to Buedu.

Pros: You said the call sign BZ4 changed to Planet One and Marvel..

Def: That’s not my recollection of the testimony. The evidence was that there were two radio sets.

Pros: This evidence was established in chief and was not challenged.

Judge Doherty: There was a lot of evidence about one being mobile and one not being mobile.

Pros: It’s a matter of change that occurred at a particular point in time. It was established in chief, and to my recollection was not challenged.

Judge Doherty: I’ll allow the question.

Pros: At some point you had two vehicles: Planet One and Marvel?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: After that time, was the name BZ4 still used for that location?

Wit: The radio call sign was not in existence, but we could still refer to the place as BZ4.

Pros: When the radio was call sign BZ4, which commanders communicated from that radio?

Wit: Bockarie, and from some point, Gen. Issa also used that radio.

Pros: Which commanders communicated from Marvel and Planet One?

Wit: Bockarie and Sesay.

Pros: At what time did you have Planet One and Marvel as call signs in Buedu?

Wit: At the time of the operation in Voinjama when the vehicles were captured in 1999.

Pros: Was it early 1999?

Wit: Not too early – some months after ECOMOG intervention.

Pros: Who was the leader when that call sign came into existence?

Wit: Bockarie.

Pros: In what circumstance would Gen. Issa communicate from Planet One or Marvel.

Wit: Sometimes Sesay would send instructions on orders from Bockarie. Sometimes Bockarie was traveling in Liberia and Sesay was in charge. He gave commands to commanders on the front lines.

Pros: You testified about the location of the radio room at Sam Bockarie’s house in Buedu. Yesterday, you testified that the room was used to store radios not in use?

Wit: Yes, at the time I was there. Before they were using the other house by Bockarie’s structure. At some point they used the verandah as a radio room. When the jet bombers flew, it was not safe, so they used the trees as the base for the radios.

Pros: What do you mean, the verandah would be used for the radio room?

Wit: They would use the verandah at night and take cover in the day.

Pros: Was the verandah enclosed?

Wit: No.

Pros: Sometimes the radio was operated under the trees. Was this a regular occurrence or only when the jets came?

Wit: Only when the jets came.

Pros: Where would the radios be operated when there were no jets?

Wit: In an empty house next to Bockarie’s.

Pros: You said the radio was brought to the radio at night. Was it only at night?

Wit: When the jet came, people hid. At night they brought the radio to the verandah. When security was favorable, they used the radio there.

Pros; Did you use the radio at any time during the day on the verandah?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Counsel questioned your evidence about the radio Marvel. You’d said Marvel was a fixed radio and sometimes used as a mobile radio. Is there any occasion when you recall Marvel being used as a mobile radio?

Wit: Yes. The time we crossed into Liberia with Marvel was not the time of the January 6 intervention. We drove to Foya to get ammunition. Those bales were opened and we saw ammunitions.

Pros: When was this trip?

Wit: I really cannot recall.

Pros: You were asked about names…do not call out the names by which you go…by which you go, and about code names. What is a code name?

Wit: A sort of nickname given to somebody rather than their real names. All RUF operators had them. They were used on the radio and even in person.

Pros; What is a call sign?

Wit: A name given to a radio in a particular location.

Pros: Was it common for operators to be referred to by their call signs rather than their code names?

Wit: No.

Pros: When were you assigned to Liberia?

Wit: It was the rainy season of 1999, and we agreed to estimate it at June.

Pros: When did you finally leave Liberia?

Wit: Late 2001.

Pros: This morning you gave a month?

Wit: I think November.

Pros: While you were assigned in Liberia, can you recall the number of times you crossed back into Sierra Leone?

Wit: It was so many times. We had to retreat from Foya to Buedu. But still in Buedu, I used to go to Liberia and return.

Pros: Can you put a number on it?

Wit: I can’t really estimate. This occurred quite so long. One can’t be precise.

Pros: Where were you first based when you were assigned to Liberia?

Wit; Not in one particular area. I was moving from place to place.

Pros: At some point you moved to Monrovia?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: When?

Wit: When I first crossed, I used to go to Monrovia and back.

Pros: Did you go to stay in Monrovia for some time?

Wit: Yes, in 2000.

Pros: About what time?

Wit: Approaching Christmas time.

Pros: How long were you there on this occasion?

Wit: Until 2001, sometime I think in February. I came back when the Guinea operation was about to commence.

Pros: Do you remember when that operation commenced?

Wit: It was early 2001.

Pros: Apart from this period, did you go again to stay in Monrovia for any other period?

Wit: I used to go there, spend time and return.

Pros: You’ve told us of the period you spent there from December 2000 to about Feb 2001. On the other occasions you went, what was the time period you spent there?

Wit: Sometimes one month, sometimes 72 hours, sometimes 2 weeks, 3 weeks.

Pros: You said on your way in 1997, you were asked to go and collect battery acid in Kono. On your way you passed through Kenema and Makeni?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Counsel said the person to whom you were sent, King Perry, was not in Makeni at the time.

Def: My recollection is that he was going to collect the acid from CO Nya, and Perry interrupted him.

Pros: That is what I’m trying to clarify. Your evidence on cross-examination was that you met King Perry in Makeni and you both traveled to Kono?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: How far is it from Makeni to Kono?

Wit: 60 miles. It takes sometimes four hours.

Pros: Was it normal to go between Makeni and Kono on the same day?

Wit: Sometimes there was fighting that caused delays.

Pros: Your evidence was that King Perry commuted between Makeni and Kono. Was it normal at the time to go and come back on the same day?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Counsel showed you prior statements regarding communications with the AFRC. Counsel put to you that you said in a statement, you did not transmit or receive messages on behalf of any AFRC people. You recall that part of the statement?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: What did you mean when you said this?

Wit: At the time of the AFRC in Kono, they did not give me messages to transmit. In Kono I had no dealings with those authorities, the soldiers. On many occasions, they raided our pit, where Perry sent me to watch.

Pros: Yesterday counsel showed you a document, part of a TRC report. He pointed your attention to a list of names. You identified your name. Do you know how this document was compiled, this list of names?

Wit: I was surprised when I saw my name here. I recall that when I returned to school, I remember TRC personnel came. They said we should watch a video show. There was a handout to explain what difficulties we had during the war. We were to fill them out, about our problems in the war.

Pros: If you go to page five, the first paragraph there: “In total, 1,012 victims of these violations were named in these statements.” Does that sentence say you were interviewed by the TRC?

Wit: No.

Pros: What does it say about the 1,012 persons?

Wit: That there are two lists of victims based on information they collected. Victims of sexual violence and forced conscription.

Pros: Does it say these victims were interviewed?

Judge Lussick: Are we wasting our time here? We can all read. You can ask him whether he was interviewed.

Pros: I’ve already asked that. Thanks, your honor. You said you first saw Bockarie in Monrovia in December 2000, and that this was when Yeaten was sick in a hospital in Harbel. Where did you see Bockarie, at Harbel, or Monrovia?

Wit: At Fifty’s house in Monrovia.

Pros: Counsel asked about distances between locations in Monrovia. You gave certain estimations of time to walk. Did you actually walk between White Flower and Bockarie’s house?

Wit: Yes, I walked from Fifty’s house behind Whiteflower.

Pros: Did you walk between Nigeria House and Whiteflower?

Wit: Yes. [describes route]

Pros: You mentioned earlier this morning that at the Executive Mansion you met some members of the ATU who were Sierra Leoneans, and mentioned a few names.

Wit: [spells names]

Pros: These people who were RUF had been trained by the ATU and were part of the ATU?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: How do you know this?

Wit: I used to talk to them.

Pros: This morning, counsel asked about payments made on your behalf by the court. [asks that witness be shown the bundle of defense documents used this morning] [references documents] These documents show payments. They are stated as payments made to you or on your behalf. Did you yourself create any of these records or make any entries on them?

Wit: No.

Pros: I have no further questions.

Judge Doherty: I have one question. I want to understand the system of receiving coded messages by radio. Did each commander have his own book?

Wit: Yes.

Prosecution moves to tender documents into evidence that were marked for identification.

[Some documents are entered without defense objections.]

Def: Defense objects to admission of the code book into evidence. A few weeks ago, during the evidence of a prior witness, excerpts from this same book [cites page]. That page was marked for identification and we objected when the prosecution tried to move it into evidence, and the chamber sustained our objection. You have already sustained an objection on this.

Judge Doherty: But this is being introduced through another witness.

Def: This was just an observation.

Judge Sebutinde: On what grounds did we sustain the objection?

Def: I can’t recall. The second objection regards reliability. Where the reliability of a document is so wanting, it should not be a question of weight. The witness said that handwriting on two pages was the same, and he recognized the handwriting as that of his roommate, Daf. I propose to the chamber that just looking at the document, there is a significant question as to its reliability.

Pros: The standard for admissibility is one of relevance. The prosecution has gone even beyond that, and gone into the realm of reliability. This witness testified he was a radio operator, and has testified to the manner of how the RUF radio network worked. This document, albeit one not created by the witness, is one that the witness recognized as being consistent with the system of coding used while he was an operator with the RUF. We have shown its relevance. Over and above that, the prosecution has shown the knowledge of the content of this book. The witness identified names on that page. If the defense says it was not admitted through another witness, this witness did know those names. We have met the standard for admissibility, which is relevance, and we have shown its reliability as well. We rely on Rule 29c.

Judge Doherty: The document is relevant and admissible. [orders that it be entered into evidence as an exhibit]

[Defense does not object to other prosecution documents being entered into evidence.]

Defense objects to the admissibility of what the witness said was his operational book. When we counted the pages in this book, it came out that the book ought to contain 96 pages, but it only contained 44 pages. The reliability is in great doubt. There is different handwriting in the book. There were questions about the two messages that the witness said he relayed to Yeaten. In totality, even if it is relevant, its reliability is significantly in question and would not assist your Honors in the determinative process.

Judge Doherty: We will not invite a prosecution reply because the unanimous view of the bench is that this document is relevant and admissible. [orders document entered into evidence]

Defense requests that its three defense documents be entered into evidence. Prosecution has no objections and all are entered into evidence.

Judge Doherty thanks witness TF1-516 for his testimony and excuses him.

Wit: Just one or two words: please could I have your names to keep that on record?

Judge Doherty: We’ll arrange to have that done.

Wit: OK, thank you.

Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra calls the next witness. The court has ordered his protective measures removed. He will testify in Krio, through an interpreter.

The new witness is brought to the witness stand. He is a tall man with a shaven head, wearing a shiny short-sleeve olive green shirt and black pants. He has sworn to tell the truth, using neither the Bible nor the Koran. Instead , he issues a solemn declaration to tell the truth instead.

Through a series of questions from prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra, the witness relates the following:

Wit: My name is Alimamy Bobson Sesay. I also go by the name Bobby. Pastor Bobby. Some people call me Pastor Bobson or Pastor Yapo Sesay. During the days when I was fighting, they used to call be Ice T. I was born on September 20, 1974. I am a Sierra Leonean. I am a Limba [a tribe]. I speak Krio and English. I speak English very well. I can read English very well. I am currently an Evangelist. I go out to proclaim the Gospel, to win souls for Christ. Before I was an Evangelist, I was a member of the Sierra Leone Army for 14 years, from 1991 to 2006. In 1991, just after I had sat my O-levels, I heard an announcement when ECOMOG had their base in Sierra Leone. The former NPFL leader, Charles Taylor, went on the air and said Sierra Leone “will taste the bitterness of war”. President Momoh went on the air and said he wanted citizens to join the army to defend Sierra Leone. So I joined the army. It was in March 1991. After that, an attack took place from the Bomoru axis. The government said the NPFL had crossed over and attacked the Sierra Leone territory.

Pros: Did you have an army identification number?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Do you recall your number?

Wit: Yes. SLA 1816 7351 Private Sesay A.B.

Pros: Did you undergo military training?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Can you briefly say what kind of training?

Wit: I went through drills, FIBUA – “Fighting in a built-up area”. They trained me in weaponry, tactics, and the rules of engagement in battle.

Pros: Did you undergo theoretical training?

Wit: Yes, like FIBUA and weaponry and rules of engagement. There were things to write.

Pros: Where were you from [date in 2000] to 21 August 2004?

Wit: I was in detention at the central prison in Pademba Road in Freetown. Johnny Paul Koroma said we tried to assassinate him.

Pros: Who is “we”?

Wit: Me, “Bomb Blast” and some other soldiers.

Pros: Who is Bomb Blast?

Wit: He was a member of the Sierra Leone army. Later he became a member of the AFRC Council. His name was Hassan Papa Bangura.

Pros: At this time in prison, how many others were imprisoned with you?

Wit: We were 14 in number, but there were also other detainees in the prison who were members of the RUF.

Pros: How did you come to be released from prison on 21 August 2004?

Wit: We were not charged, so the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists pressed for our release. So did the Red Cross and IMATT. We were in safe custody – they didn’t charge us.

Pros: What do you mean by IMATT?

Wit: A British training group that went to Freetown after the war to train military men.

Pros: What do you mean, they were pressing for your release?

Wti: They were working with LAWCLA, a group of lawyers. They were pressing the government to release us or charge us.

Pros: What happened as a result?

Wit: To our surprise, on August 21, 2004, they brought a document to the prison and released us, taking us to the CID headquarters.

Pros: How many of you?

Wit: 14 of us.

Pros: Where were you deployed in 1997?

Wit: I was a military police personnel at military headquarters, Cockerill Barracks in Freetown. It’s on Wilkinson Road in Freetown.

Pros: What were your duties as a military police personnel?

Wit: I was responsible to execute my duties in terms of discipline within the ranks of the army. If they were involved in any activity to do with indiscipline, we were to arrest them.

Pros: How long were you in that position?

Wit: Until the AFRC revolution against President Ahmad Tejan-Kabbah.

Pros: What is the AFRC?

Wit: The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council.

Pros: What happened when the AFRC came into power?

Wit: They overthrew the Kabbah government.

Pros: What did your assignment change to at the time of the revolution?

Wit: I was assigned to State House when the AFRC took over as an orderly Corporal.

Pros; What do you mean “State House”?

Wit: The office of the president.

Pros: What were your duties as an Orderly Corporal at State House?

Wit: I was in charge of the various guard posts.

Court is now adjourning for the day. Proceedings will resume tomorrow morning at 9:30.