2:30 (3:00 with the delay in video and audio): Court is back in session following the lunch break.
Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra continues her direct examination of witness Alimamy Bobson Sesay:
Pros: I would first like to clarify a matter with the witness. This comes from the transcript of 18 April [cites page and line numbers]. I’m going to take you back to the meeting that took place in Mansofinia, which you were asked about. You were being asked about what Gullit said at the meeting. You said: Gullit said now the brigade is about to move. He was giving a warning out to any civilian or fighter who would attempt to escape – that the person would be executed. Do you know if this order from Gullit became known by a particular code?
Wit: I cannot recall that code now?
Pros: But was there a code?
Def: Asked and answered.
Pros: Going back to this meeting with President Taylor in Monrovia, you said that when Taylor entered the room, Johnny Paul Koroma introduced your group. How were the introductions done?
Wit: Just as we were sitting, Johnny Paul introduced Bazzy as the commander and Bomb Blast as the second in command.
Pros: Apart from introducing Bazzy as the commander, did he say anything else about Bazzy?
Wit: He said this is the commander who is leading the delegation from Freetown, and their base is Okra Hill. And he said this is Brigadier Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara.
Pros: How was Hassan Papa Bangura introduced?
Wit: He was introduced as Brigadier Hassan Papa Bangura, the second in command at Okra Hill.
Pros: Were you introduced?
Wit: Yes. He said this is Major AB Sesay, the ADC to Hassan Papa Bangura. He introduced Junior Lion too.
Pros: How did he introduce him?
Wit: He said he is the operations commander at Okra Hill.
Pros: What did Taylor say after these introductions?
Wit: After the introduction, Taylor spoke just as I said. He said, “Gentlemen, you’re welcome.” He was happy to meet with us. He was not happy about what was happening. We shouldn’t allow the politicians to use us and we should focus on taking power.
Pros: You said Taylor told the group he provided assistance in the form of food, arms and ammunition?
Wit: Yes. He said that. He said even the SLAs who came from Guinea, he had reorganized and armed them to join our fight.
Pros: Did he say where these SLAs were to join you?
Wit: Yes, he said he sent them to Mosquito to join the troops coming for Freetown.
Pros: Did he say which fight he was talking about?
Wit: He said to make sure that the SLPP government of Kabbah should be overthrown. He also said there was some pressure. Mosquito Spray was there, and he had ordered General Mosquito to come to Voinjama to help repel that attack. We were there at the time Mosquito Spray attacked from Guinea.
Judge Sebutinde: The witness has said “they sent”. Who sent?
Pros: Did Taylor say who sent the SLAs to Kailahun?
Wit: He said he had given them safe passage, reorganized them, and ordered that they be sent to Mosquito for the fight in Freetown.
Pros: What did he mean by safe passage?
Wit: He found out they had arrested a lot of SLA commanders in Guinea, but he welcomed them in Liberia and reorganized them.
Pros: When Taylor said he sent the forces to help the fight in Freetown, did Taylor say anything else about the fight in Freetown?
Wit: He said he reorganized those men and sent them to Mosquito to go and help the advance to Freetown.
Pros: Did he say which advance?
Wit: He was referring to the January 6 invasion.
Pros: How do you know he was referring to the January 6 invasion?
Wit: He himself said it.
Pros: Did he know about the January 6 invasion of Freetown?
Judge Doherty: You need more foundation before a question like that.
Pros: How do you know Taylor was referring to the January 6 invasion of Freetown?
Wit: Since it was an organized advance to Freetown, and when Mosquito communicated with Gullit for the advance, and he said reinforcements were coming. We knew that was what he was explaining to us.
Pros: Why do you say when he spoke of the invasion of Freetown, he was in fact talking about the January 6 invasion?
Wit: Mosquito said reinforcements were coming. He said he sent reinforcements to Kailahun to Mosquito towards the capture of Freetown.
Pros: Did he say anything else about the invasion and capture of Freetown?
Wit: No. He only said that was why he reorganized the SLAs to send to Mosquito – to capture Freetown.
Pros: You say Taylor said to your group that he’d sent these people to assist you in the fight for Freetown. Do you know how Taylor knew that it was your group that went to Freetown?
Judge Doherty: I didn’t get that he said it was their group.
Pros: He said it was their group.
Judge Sebutinde: Please refer us to the line.
Pros: [references line in the transcript] He said that it was why he sent them so that they will go and advance to capture Freetown.
Judge Doherty: It’s unclear whether that refers to the past or a proposed future.
Judge Sebutinde: It sounds like you’re cross-examining your witness. I don’t get where he said it was this group on the West Side.
Pros: When Taylor gave the 15,000 dollars, did you see where the money came from?
Wit: He took it from a portfolio, a bag, and gave it to Johnny Paul Koroma, and said this was for the men to buy clothing and dress themselves up. They will wait for Foday Sankoh to come.
Pros: Did anyone else speak during this meeting?
Wit: No. Johnny Paul did introductions and spoke on our behalf. We only listened to the discussion between him and Johnny Paul.
Pros: You said Taylor also said there was some pressure at the time of your visit because Mosquito Spray’s squad was there. Did you know what he meant?
Wit: Yes, because it was announced in the international media about the attack of Mosquito Spray on Liberian territory.
Pros: Who was Mosquito Spray?
Wit: It was on international media. They said a squad came from Guinea to overthrow Taylor. Taylor told us that he was making arrangements with Mosquito to push back that troop from Guinea – to push them back from Voinjama.
Pros: How did the meeting end?
Wit: After this discussion, he said he had other issues to attend to. He left, then we left in the vehicles and returned to the hotel.
Pros: How long were you in Liberia?
Wit: About a week. We were waiting for Foday Sankoh’s arrival. Johnny Paul told us he had heard on the set that there was infighting at the West Side and that Tito had been killed. He said we should go solve the problem. We left Major _______ behind in the hotel. We went back to Roberts Field. I used to have pictures, but they took them when I was arrested. We took the special flight back to Lungi.
Pros: What was in those pictures?
Wit: We took snapshots together with Johnny Paul in the conference room. Taylor was not there. We have another with Momoh Gibbah. [lists others]
Pros: Do you recall the date you returned to Freetown?
Wit: It was around August 1999.
Pros: This person Momoh Gibbah – Taylor’s ADC – did you see him again after this trip?
Wit: We didn’t see each other again apart from when we left. He and the Sierra Leonean Ambassador to Liberia and Johnny Paul took us to the airport.
Pros: Have you seen him ever since?
Pros: When you started your testimony in this court last week, you told the court you were an Evangelist.
Pros: Is there any reason why you decided to become an Evangelist?
Wit: Yes. When I looked back into the scripture, I read [cites a passage from scripture about Paul] So when I read that and I see Paul as someone who had persecuted Christians and even killed them – Paul had an encounter with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Paul used to kill, but Jesus had forgiveness and told Paul to go proclaim the Gospel. If God did it for Paul, I believed that God can do it for me too. When I entered Pademba Road, that was my turning point. I started studying the scriptures and began preaching. I took a course when I came out. I said I would be a living example. People would say, “This man is a killer. He came and killed in Freetown. But he has changed.” If God did it for me, he would do it for them. Even if people say, this man came and destroyed Freetown, I will still go and preach the Gospel.
Pros: I have no further questions.
Defense Counsel Morris Anyah will now cross-examine prosecution witness Alimamy Bobson Sesay:
Def: You told us about the Apostle Paul, and his encounter on the way to Damascus. That was a moment of atonement for Paul? Was he blinded on the way to Damascus and the Lord restored his sight?
Def: And after that he decided to work for Christ?
Def: Can you name the Paulian Epistles in the New Testament?
Judge Doherty: I don’t see the relevance.
Judges Lussick and Sebutinde disagree.
Def: There are several books in the New Testament, and Paul wrote several of those books?
Def: Did he write the Book of Romans?
Def: How many books of the New Testament did Paul write?
Wit: I can name the books: The Book of Romans, of Acts, Galatians, Philippians, Ephenians[two others]
Def: Who wrote the Epistle Philemon (ph)?
Wit: Paul wrote that […}
Def: Who wrote Corinthians?
[Defense asks witness to spell the names of the different books.]
Def: You stand by your answer that Paul wrote the Book of Acts?
Def: Which of those books make up the Canonical Gospels?
Wit: I know about the Synoptic Gospel.
Def: Are there four or three?
Wit: Four: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Def: You add the Book of John in the Synoptic Gospels?
Def: What are the Canonical Gospels? There is a passage in scripture that says if you deny me before man, you deny… Where is that written?
Wit: I’m still studying. I don’t know everything. No preacher knows all the scriptures in the Bible.
Def: When you started testifying, you were offered two books to swear on, but you didn’t choose one. Are you a Seventh Day Adventist?
Wit: No I’m a Pentecostal Christian.
Def: You believe in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
Def: Why didn’t you swear in on the Bible?
Wit: If you look at the Book of James, Chapter V, Verse 12, it says you should not swear on anything on earth or heaven.
Def: The scripture quotes Christ saying if you deny him before man, he will deny you before you his father. Do you agree?
Wit: Yes. There is somewhere in the scripture, but I don’t know if this was the Book of John.
Def: You have chosen the Book of James, and that’s the reason you did not swear on the Bible last week?
Def: Do you believe the Bible as a whole, or do you pick the parts you want to believe?
Wit: I’m still studying it.
Def: You’re a Pastor? The Flaming Limba Church is your church?
Def: What is the name of your church?
Wit: Holy Ghost Fires International.
Def: Have you ever attended a Flaming Limba Church?
Wit: There is no Flaming Limba Church. I went to a Flaming Evangelical Church before.
Def: Now you go to the Holy Ghost Fires Ministries?
Def: Are you a Pastor?
Wit: I’m an Evangelist.
Def: Do you preach at that church?
Wit: Mostly I lead the opening prayers.
Def: How many passports did you travel with to Holland?
Def: Did you tell anyone in Freetown before you left that you had plans when you came to Europe?
Wit: I did not tell anyone I planned to stay.
Def: You have family in Europe and a brother back home?
Pros: What is the relevance of the location of his family members?
Def: I would prefer not to state the relevance in the presence of the witness.
Def: You said you had family in Europe, a few countries next to Holland?
Def: You have a sister there?
Def: You have a daughter back home?
Def: Your only daughter?
Wit: No, I have two.
Def: Are they in the same country?
Pros: How is the location of his family members relevant to his credibility?
Def: I have to lay a foundation.
Judge Doherty: I’ll allow the question.
Def: You have just one daughter at home?
Wit: The other one too is at home – in Guinea – that’s West Africa.
Def: Just one in Sierra Leone?
Def: When did you arrive in Holland?
Wit: Last month. The first week of March or so. I was escorted from Freetown.
Def: Did you come with other people who are witnesses in this case?
Wit: I was not concentrating on that. They told me they were staff. Nobody told me these were witnesses.
Def: Are you saying you could not say if anyone amongst your number were not staff?
Wit: I could not tell anything. They only told me I was going with staff.
Def: How many people did you meet at Lungi airport who said they were staff?
Wit: I did not meet anyone. The people in the vehicle in Freetown were the same ones who brought me.
Def: A Special Court vehicle?
Def: How many people were in that vehicle?
Wit: Please calm down and ask me slowly.
Def: How many employees were in the vehicle?
Wit: Five of us were in the vehicle I joined.
Def: Five including yourself?
Def: You understood them all to be employees of the Special Court?
Wti: They told me these people were comoing to work in Holland.
Def: Did those same four people board the plane with you?
Wit: No, it was three. All of us came.
Def: Were they male or female?
Wit: They were male.
Def: When you arrived in Holland, did they give you a place to stay?
Def: Are you the only person who sleeps there at night?
Wit: In my room, yes.
Def: Are there any other Sierra Leoneans with sleeping quarters in the same house?
Wit: Yes, there are other people I saw there at the safe house.
Def: Did you see any RUF members at the safe house?
Def: How many?
Wit: One that I know was in the RUF.
Def: Did you see any former AFRC members or SLA members in the safe house?
Def: Before you left Freetown, did you have conversations with anyone about taking care of your daughter?
Wit: Yes, she’s with my younger brother now.
Def: Did you tell anyone about plans to seek asylum in Holland?
Wit: I did not discuss anything with anybody except my younger brother. Only he knows that I’m here.
Def: This brother of yours stays on Wellington?
Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra: I see no need to give the location of the witness’s family.
Judge Sebutinde: He’s testifying in open court. He’s known. What is the objection?
Prosecutor Alagendra: He’s in open session, but there’s no need to give the locations of his family.
Defense Counsel Morris Anyah: This is about credibility.
Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian: We try to encourage all witnesses to testify openly, for many reasons. What we don’t tell them is that if they testify, the locations of their family members will be made public. This deters other witnesses from wanting to testifying openly. We view it as harassment of witnesses. We all want the witnesses to testify openly for the public.
Def: I take exception to the accusation. We are members of the Bar. I have good reason to ask these questions.
Presiding Judge Teresa Doherty: We allow the question.
Def: Your brother resides on Wellington Road in Freetown?
Def: You have an uncle in Freetown?
Wit: Not just one.
Def: Who’s the one at Dixon Corner at Magazine Cut?
Wit: He’s on my mother’s side.
Def: Did you tell either your brother or your uncle that you have two passports?
Wit: This is a big big lie. If you go to immigration, you will see.
Def: Did you tell your brother or your uncle that you were going to France after testifying?
Wit: It’s false. No. I never discussed anything like that with anybody.
Def: You mean absolutely nobody?
Wit: I discussed with neither my uncle nor my brother about seeking asylum in France.
Def: Did you tell anyone about your plans to join your sister in France?
Wit: (laughs) No.
Def: Did you tell anybody that you feel that by seeking asylum in France you would make your life better?
Wit: (laughs) No.
Def: Did you tell anybody that you know Charles Taylor had no dealings with the AFRC/SLA, but that you need to survive?
Def: Did you tell anyone in Freetown that you knew little about the RUF, but you need to survive?
Wit: No. I’m not from a poor family.
Def: Who has been paying your rent for the past four years?
Wit: I’m in a safe house that is taken care of by the Special Court.
Def: From 2004 to 2008, who has been paying the rent where you stay?
Wit: After the AFRC trial, I went back to my house, and also, when the RUF trial started I was called upon. I raised concern about security matters, and they said I should stay in the safe house. I have spent about two years there. It was not four years.
Def: For the past two years, you’ve been staying in a house where the rent is paid by the Special Court of Sierra Leone?
Def: You testified in the RUF trial until June 2006 and in the AFRC trial in May 2005?
Def: The safe house is on Spur Road?
Def: It’s an expensive area of Freetown?
Wit: This question is broad. In my case, I don’t even know how much is paid for that place.
Def: Are you aware that since March 2005 until now, the Special Court has spent over 35,000 US dollars on you?
Wit: I will not deny the fact that happened.
Def: There’s a bundle of documents in front of you. [references document]
Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian: The question the prosecution originally objected to was in regard to the location of family members. I don’t see how anything about those locations has been shown to be relevant. I’d ask that those locations be stricken from the public record to protect the safety of the family members and not to deter other witnesses. I don’t want the whole world to know where my family lives, and I doubt many people in this courtroom would. We should have the same respect for the brave witnesses who come forward to testify in this case.
Def: I’m challenging the credibility of the witness…
Judge Doherty: The motion is to redact the record.
Def: I thought I heard the word “stricken”, not “redact”…
Prosecutor Koumjian: I said “stricken from the public record”. I should have said “redact”.
Def: I have no objection, so long as it remains available to the chamber and on the record.
[Judges confer for several minutes.]
Wit: [raises hand] I want to use the gents.
Presiding Judge Teresa Doherty: Before you go, Mr. Witness, do you have anything to say about the application to remove information on the location of your family members from the public record?
Wit: I decided to testify in the open. I faced a lot of intimidation after testifying in the AFRC case. I reported it to WVS. The accused were contacting me indirectly to dissuade me from testifying. During that time, everyone knew I was testifying and coming to the court. Then the protection that was with me, I said it’s not working. I was testifying in closed session, but it wasn’t working. People knew. So I decided to testify in the open now so that justice should prevail. The protective measures in place were not working. They were not effective. I only did it for justice, but I cannot do that for my family. I don’t want to risk my family’s security.
Court officer: If the record is to be redacted, we only have five minutes left to do it.
[Witness is escorted from the courtroom. Judges continue to deliberate. Witness is escorted back into the courtroom.]
Judge Doherty: By majority decision with one dissension, the motion is rejected because no names have been given and no specific addresses have been given.
Def: [references document] The Special Court, as you perhaps know, has a Witnesses and Victims Section. That section provided this document to us. It keeps records of amounts spent for each witness. Relating to you, it says you were brought under the protection of the court on March 14, 2005?
Def: You see it says to date you have been paid over 14 million Leones?
Def: When you go to downtown Freetown, and you want to buy dollars, it’s about 1 dollar for 3,000 Leones?
Def: You see “Medical”, over 3 million Leones?
Def: Miscellaneous: over 2 million Leones. Childcare: 820,000 Leones. Transprotation 3, 120,000 Leones. Rent, maintenance and utility bills: over 68 million Leones. Grand total: over 93 million Leones.
Def: If you divide that by 3,000, it comes to about 31,000 dollars?
Wit: I’m not a mathematician. If you’re doing it that way, I don’t know.
Def: Do you agree that the Special Court has spent this amount of money on you?
Def: And this house is in a very comfortable neighborhood in Freetown?
Def: Where were you on March 29, 2006?
Wit: I was in Freetown.
Def: Do you know what happened that day?
Wit: I can’t recall what happened that day.
Def: Do you remember news and people running towards the Special Court?
Wit: No, I don’t recall.
Def: Did you hear of a helicopter landing with Charles Taylor that day?
Def: It was big news that day?
Def: Everyone was talking about it?
Def: The same Charles Taylor you met in Monrovia in 2000?
Def: You paid particular attention to his arrival?
Wit: I was in my house. I did not go there to see it.
Def: You were in a house paid for by the Special Court, which had just taken custody of Taylor?
Def: About three months before you testified in the RUF case?
Def: Approaching the July session of the RUF case, you’d been meeting with representatives of the court?
Wit: It was just the WVS I used to meet with.
Def: A few days before you went to testify in the RUF case, you heard about Taylor being transferred to Holland, right?
Wit: I did not concentrate on that kind of issue. I was concentrating on my course. I only heard it on the radio.
Def: It was also in the newspapwers?
Def: Why was the Special Court still paying your rent in March 2006?
Wit: I was still under protective measures. I was in readiness for whatsoever trial. The RUF trial and in preparation for the Charles Taylor trial.
Def: They informed you first RUF, then Taylor?
Def: Did you feel any pressure about what you would say in court about the RUF given they were paying the rent for where you were staying? Like you had to perform well?
Wit: No. I did not feel that way. I only thought of justice prevailing. That is why I decided to come and testify.
Def: Were you an Evangelist at the time?
Wit: Yes. Every day I was in the church.
Def: Did you swear on the Bible when you testified in the RUF trial?
Def: You swore on the Bible then, and now you no longer swear on the Bible?
Def: I suppose it’s because since then you came upon [line in Book in James]?
Wit: According to the Book of _____, it said my people perished for lack of knowledge. It’s from the Old Testament. One day I asked by Pastor if it was good for someone to swear on the Bible. He said it was no good to do that. He told me to look at the Book of James [cites verse]. I said “Lord, forgive me.” Since then I have no longer sworn on the Bible.
Def: Did you mean the Book of Hosea (ph)?
Def: Did you mean the Book of James, Chapter V, 12?
Def: When did you have this conversation with your pastor?
Wit: It was during Bible studies. He said you shouldn’t swear. It’s not good.
Def: Did you understand the question. I want to find out when you and your pastor had this conversation.
Wit: It was after I testified in the RUF trial.
Def: Did this conversation take place in 2007, 2006, or 2008?
Wit: It was after the RUF trial. I asked him the question in Bible studies.
Wit: It was after the RUF trial.
Def: You were telling us about your trip to The Hague. You said there was one former RUF member staying with you. Is that person still staying with you until now?
Wit: Yes. He’s still at the house there.
Def: Do you know that person to be a witness in this case?
Wit: I only knew he was a witness when I came for preppings.
Def: Do you know if he has already testified?
Def: Do you have breakfast with this person?
Wit: Mostly I don’t come early for breakfast.
Def: Do you have breakfast, lunch or dinner with this person?
Wit: It happens, but not always. Sometimes the person is at his own table, and I’m at my own table. The security is always there.
Def: Do you have discussions at the meal table?
Wit: We don’t normally have discussions. There is a notice displayed there all over that you have no right to discuss your testimony. It’s everywhere. And security is there.
Def: You’ve been here since early March. Has that person been here since then as well?
Def: And all the times you’ve sat next to each other, are you saying you haven’t had conversations with this person?
Wit: We have nothing to talk about. The securities are always around there. Even the white people. It is written all over that we have no right to discuss our testimony.
Judge Doherty: The question was whether you discuss anything at all.
Wit: If we are watching CNN, football, or discussing Obama or Zimbabwe, we discuss issues. We say this man has been in power a long time.
Def: You discuss Robert Mugabe?
Def: Barack Obama?
Wit: Yes, because I like him.
Def: Any discussions about Charles Taylor?
Wit: It has never happened.
Def: You said they often take this person and yourself in a vehicle?
Wit: No. There are times we go for prepping. He is in the back with one security, and I sit in the middle with one security. We do not sit together.
Def: You commuted to the prepping sessions and back together?
Wit: It is not that it happens always. I sometimes go in the morning, and the vehicles take me and the securities in the vehicle. When I get back, he is on his way going.
Def: At any time after these sessions, did you ever ask this person, how was your day today?
Wit: No. When I go home, I’m always in my room except the time for dinner or news. We are always restricted by the officials there. Sometimes I tell them I’m not a prisoner.
Def: Did you pray together with this person?
Wit: I have not seen that happening there. Everybody stays in their own room. I pray in the morning, mid-day, and before bed.
Def: Did you ever speak about the scripture to this person?
Wit: The people themselves will tell you that I go on singing my Godly songs quietly…
Judge Doherty: You’re not answering the question. Did you discuss scriptures with this person?
Def: The Great Commission in Christ’s request that all persons spread the Gospel?
Def: The Bible says take every opportunity to spread the Gospels?
Wit: Yes. I spread the Gospels to the workers there.
Def: You spread the Gospels to the workers not to the witness?
Wit: Yes, because there are limitations. I shouldn’t discuss with those workers. I have my big Bible and I discuss with those workers. If I go about singing my Godly songs and others hear me, then fine.
4:30 (5:00 with the delay in video and audio): Court is now adjourning for the day. Proceedings will resume tomorrow morning at 9:30.