5:00 Testimony of RUF radio operator turns to diamond mining

2:30 (3:00 with the video/audio delay): Court is back in session following the lunch break.Prosecutor Mohamed Bangura continues his direct examination of protected witness TF1-516:

Pros: Just going back to one point for clarification: during the period of 1993, you said Morris Kallon led fighters to go into Liberia to repel an attack there. You gave us the picture of what happened in Liberia. You said he did not come back until the coup in 1997. How did you know about these matters: his deployment in Liberia, and so on?

Wit: Before he left for Liberia, a group was sent around collecting RUF combatants within Kailahun and they were going to be taken to Liberia. We heard this from Sankoh, who was based in Sandiaru. I was in Beudu. At one point I was taken as AWOL from Beudu. Sankoh said this in a muster parade, that the NPRC, government forces, were closing in, and that the supply route was being cut off by ULIMO fighters. I was present at the muster parade in Sandiaru.

Pros: You say Kallon was unsuccessful at first and came back for more material. How did you know this?

Wit: We were informed. Movement across there was not hidden at the time.

Judge Doherty: How did you find out about that?

Wit: I didn’t set eyes on him until later. The information was that it was not really Morris Kallon who stayed there until 1997. He took fighters to Liberia and left them there before returning to Sierra Leone.

Pros: So Morris Kallon came back before 1997?

Wit: Yes, but he left fighters in Liberia.

Pros: Do you know when he came back to Sierra Leone?

Wit: [long pause] It was later on, not too long. It was when all the RUF fighters were driven from Sandiaru, Beudu, Kailahun. When the area was free, that’s the time he came in – not too long when the coup took over.

Pros: Did you see him?

Wit: No. The news went around on the radio. I think it was some time in 1996 or 1997.

Pros: Did you say before or after the coup?

Wit: Not too long before the coup.

Pros: The soldiers who came later, how did you know?

Wit: Some told me they had been mistreated. One of our brothers, from our village, was among that group taken across. It was Saio. He said when they arrived in Gbarnga, Kallon had abandoned them. Saio was one of those forced to go to Liberia.

Pros: Going back to where we were before the break: after the failure by RUF forces to get to Guinea through Kono, Superman was ordered to come to Foya. Foya was attacked by LURD, and you said that Superman advised that the combined forces should be based in Foya?

Wit: Yes, he gave the advice to Yeaten. I was in Yeaten’s house in Saadu. Superman suggested that it would be better for the forces to be sent to Foya to maintain that ground, and defend that ground. Saadu was of no significance. Fifty yielded to it. When we got to Foya, Fifty moved on to Vahun.

Pros: Was Superman in Saadu when he gave the advice?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: The forces moved to Foya. What happened there?

Wit: We were in Foya for 1-2 months, then Foya came under attack. LURD had already taken Kolahun and Kamatahun Junction, leading to Foya. During the confrontation to repel the attack, Superman was wounded. He said we should all retreat to Sierra Leone. We used two trucks to retreat to Beudu.

Pros: In Foya, it was a mixed group of RUF and Liberian forces?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Was Superman’s order only for the RUF?

Wit: It was a serious attack and everybody was ordered to retreat to Sierra Leone – all of the combatants in Foya, including myself. We retreated to Koindu, including the Liberians. We went to Koindu, then Beudu. Superman was then called upon by Fifty from Vahun. When Superman arrived in Beudu, he told me to call Fifty and tell him he’d been wounded. Fifty responded to me by telling Superman to meet him in Vahun to be sent to Monrovia to be treated. I had to read to Superman because he wasn’t that literate.

Pros: Did Superman go to Vahun?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Did anything happen then?

Wit: From Vahun he was taken to Monrovia for treatment. He called me from Vahun to tell his bodyguards to move with their 50-caliber guns to Vahun. His man “Yellow Man” went to Vahun with some of his bodyguards. Superman ordered me to stay put in Beudu. When we crossed into Sierra Leone, Fifty had ordered me to stay with Matthew Barbue.

Pros; Is this the same Matthew Barbue you mentioned earlier?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: After Superman went to Vahun, you were working for whom?

Wit: Barbue.

Pros: What was the situation at the time?

Wit: They were based in Beudu and fighting to retake Foya. A helicopter used to land in a village called Tuba, near Foya Tenga, Liberia and Daru Customs on the border, carrying materials. At Tuba there was a deployment. Liberian soldiers were assigned there and ammunition used to come there in the helicopter. Barbue used to be called upon by Gen Roland Duo. Duo was based in Beudu, but went to Tuba every day. In Tuba there was a huge number of Liberian soldiers there.

Pros: Who ordered Duo to Beudu?

Wit: He said he was sent by the president to make sure Foya was recaptured. Armed men were brought from Beudu and mustered in Tuba, and taken from there to fight. We had communication with a radio operator in Tuba. I can’t remember his name now – he was a Liberian.

Pros: When ammunition was brought to Tuba was taken anywhere?

Wit: At first it was held in Tuba. But Tuba came under attack and they used vehicles to move it to Beudu [describes route].

Pros: Who were the supplies for?

Wit: For both the RUF and AFL soldiers fighting to retake Foya.

Pros; You said the front was in Liberia. How was it organized?

Wit: Barbue commanded the RUF forces. He received instructions from Fifty to join up his forces with Amphibian Father, Roland Duo. Fifty was in Vahun at the time. From the time we retreated from Foya, we were there until late in the rainy season, 2001.

Pros; What happened then?

Wit: Fifty called me to join another operation after Superman was discharged from the hospital. There was a radio set in Beudu. I was not on set that day. Another operator, Agama, passed me the message. Agama’s name was Moijueh Mattia. I responded to Vahun that I was coming.

Pros: Did you go?

Wit; Yes.

Pros: What was your assignment?

Wit: I was still communicating. At one point, Gen. Issa met me in Vahun. He was using that route to go to Monrovia because Foya was under control of LURD.

Pros: Who were you communicating with?

Wit; Base 1, 020, and Gen Issa. Fifty ordered Superman to order a Popolahun, a town near Vahun. Superman refused the order. He said since he was wounded, Fifty promised to take him to see the president but he had never done so. In any case he said he didn’t have his big guns.

Pros: How did you know?

Wit: Fifty called a muster parade of senior commanders. I was on the set in front of the house when it happened – very close to the parade – and I heard. Superman refused to attack. Fifty was annoyed and said Superman did not take instructions.

Pros: How did you know this is what Fifty thought?

Wit: After Superman refused the instructions, Fifty was annoyed. Fifty and Gen. Dopoe Menkarzon sat on the veranda, and Fifty said that Superman violated orders, and had caused infighting in Sierra Leone by refusing orders from Bockarie. The following day, Fifty still insisted that the target was to be attacked, but Superman refused. On that conversation, Fifty told Superman that there was a growing news that Superman was a betrayer – crossing into Guinea, and was in the habit of refusing orders.

Pros: Where did Fifty say this?

Wit: Right in front of his house. He sat right on the veranda discussing with Gen. Dopoe. This is what he stated.

Pros: What happened after this?

Wit: A few days later, I was authorized to travel with Amphibian Father and “Next to God” (sometimes called Second God), another Liberian commander to travel to Beudu. We were in Vahun at the time. At that time the UN patrol team had started patrolling Kailahun District.

Pros: Which UN control team?

Wit: I think it was UNAMSIL. First Ghanaians, then Nigerians. They said they came from Daru. So whenever there was a convoy from Liberia, a Sierra Leonean had to be among the group to lead them. Sometimes we waited until the evening.

Pros; When the patrol was moving, what would happen if they met with members of the RUF?

Wit: At that time, it was not expected of the RUF to be moving with that kind of ammunition because disarmament was approaching. Some part of the RUF had started undergoing disarmament.

Pros: What about the Liberians on the Sierra Leone side. What if they came across the UN patrol?

Wit: They did everything to avoid that.

Pros: Where was the RUF disarming?

Wit: In northern Sierra Leone.

Pros: You said you came to Beudu with Amphibian Father….When you say “for security reasons” the Liberians would avoid the UN patrol team, what do you mean?

Wit: They were Liberian soldiers and weren’t supposed to be there.

Pros; How did the Liberian soldiers dress?

Wit: In mufti, ordinary civilian attire.

Pros Did you go with Amphibian Father?

Wit: Yes, twice to Beudu and back, to bring ammunition.

Pros: What happened then.

Wit: I left for my village for about two days. When I came back to Beudu, there was a boy called High Command on Fifty’s side, a bodyguard to Fifty, he told me that Superman was dead. Before he was Fifty’s bodyguard, it was Superman who took him across.

Pros; What nationality was High Command?

Wit: Sierra Leonean. Before my arrival, the information came from Agama that Superman had been killed on their way to Monrovia. Agama was in Beudu. When I came, I called Vahun, and High Command told me that Superman was dead. When Agama came and told me the detailed information about the death of Superman. Superman’s bodyguard, called Spider, escaped. Spider told me in Beudu that his boss was killed by some men including Zigzag Marzah and Fifty’s bodyguard. Fifty ordered it. While on the way, they said Superman should ride in the medical jeep with the doctor. They pretended to have a flat tire at Kunbegor (sp?), and Superman was killed.

Pros: Did he say how he was killed?

Wit: He said Superman was killed on the way to Monrovia. Fifty ordered Zigzag Marzah and some of his bodyguards to shoot him. Superman’s hand was removed and his belly was opened.

Pros: Do you know where Fifty was when this happened?

Wit: According to spider, he organized the plot against Superman. Yeaten was there and commanded the men to kill Superman. Spider said some of Superman’s bodyguards were arrested and taken to Monrovia. Spider said Superman’s belly was opened and his hand was cut off.

Pros: What happened after this?

Wit: I was in Beudu. Amphibian Father said I was to go to Vahun at Fifty’s order. I went to Vahun. The Sierra Leoneans there were almost dejected. They were only there because of Gen. Sesay’s orders. I used to speak with them. I met one colonel…Bomb Blast and Col. Sherrif. They were in the dungeon, in a hole. According to Fifty, they were part of the problem with Superman. Another person he was watching was Abu Keita.

Pros; Is this the same Col. Sherrif you mentioned earlier?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: And Abu Keita?

Wit: He was a member of the RUF. He was with us in Sierra Leone. I knew him years back. He was one of the officers sent by Issa Sesay to fight in Liberia. It was alleged that Keita was an ULIMO fighter. He came to Sierra Leone after ECOMOG disarmament in Liberia – around 1996-1997.

Pros: What did he do in the RUF?

Wit; He was a combatant, with Sam Bockarie, then Sesay. Then he was appointed to fight in Liberia.

Pros; Did you see him in Sierra Leone?

Wit: Yes, in Beudu. And in Kenema with Bockarie at a hotel during 1997. It was that time that Fifty invited Bockarie to join them to celebrate a glorious occasion – he spoke about the inauguration of their president.

Pros: Back to the situation in Vahun. You said you found two RUF fighters in a dungeon and Fifty said the next person he was looking at was Abu Keita. Did he say why?

Wit: He didn’t say. Abu Keita had already gone to Monrovia.

Pros: Do you know what happened to Superman’s bodyguards taken to Monrovia?

Wit: No, because I wasn’t around that much longer. They heard a Sierra Leonean voice talking with the Kamjors about taking Vahun, so I pulled out.

Pros: You said the Sierra Leoneans in Vahun were dejected?

Wit: They were unhappy over the death of Superman. Disarmament was happening in Sierra Leone, and Sesay sent weapons captured from UN peacekeepers into Vahun.

Pros: How did you know?

Wit: They were new weapons. RUF weapons were not like that. They were coming from Kono.

Pros; Who brought the weapons?

Wit: The commander was _____(?) They were evacuating the weapons to Liberia.

Pros: Did you see the weapons yourself?

Wit: Yes, a good number were taken from Sierra Leone to Liberia.

Pros; How did you know they were UN weapons?

Wit: It was known.

Pros; At some stage you left Liberia. When?

Wit: Late, approaching the dry season in 2001. I was accused of communicating with the other side. One of the bodyguards of Fifty told him he’d heard a Sierra Leonean voice talking to the Kamajors.

Pros: Do you know what happened to the other RUF fighters?

Wit: I can’t say.

Pros; Where did you go?

Wit: Pendembu.

Pros: Was there any communication at this time between the RUF and Fifty?

Wit: The communication stopped when disarmament reached Kailahun. Sometime in February in Pendembu, the police approached and asked us to hand over our communication devices, and we did. I was in Pendembu until the last day of disarmament. We were the last batch that went through DDR. In fact I didn’t have a weapon, and I explained that to the British UN officer.

Pros: Were there any other RUF radio operators in Liberia while you were there?

Wit: Memunatu (“Prude”)was at the RUF guest house in Monrovia before there. “Marcus Garvey”, Martin Sherrif, later also worked at the guest house.

Pros: What was this guest house?

Wit: It was in Congo Town. They said it was a house that used to belong to Alhaji Kromah, the former commander of ULIMO.

Pros: What was the house used for?

Wit: When RUF officers went to Liberia they stayed there. I met with some of them there.

Pros: Did Marcus Garvey and Memunatu work from the house?

Wit: Yes, and [another one]. At some point in time Memunatu Dean was attached to Musa Sesay, a strong man in the Liberian government.

Pros: Who were they communicating with?

Wit: Memunatu was communicating with Sam Bockarie. When Marcus Garvey and Tolo came, they were there during the regime of Issa Sesay.

Pros: I want to go back to two documents. [documents are shown to the witness] Can you look at that book again? [references page]

Pros: Could you read for us?

Wit: “I have dispatched 10 boxes of ammunition…”

Pros: What is the context of this message?

Wit: It was received from Base 1 to be relayed to General Sesay’s radio station in Beudu. I received the message. I was not working for Sesay at the time. I transcribed the message to know the content of the message.

Judge Doherty: Can we check if this document has actually been transmitted? If so, it will have to be redacted to ensure the security of the witness. [Note: this explains the earlier blackout, enabled by the delay in the video and audio feed.]

Judge Sebutinde: His name was shown.

Court officer: The AV director informs us that what we see here is not necessarily what is seen in the public gallery and broadcast to the world.

Judge Doherty: To be safe, let’s do the redaction.

Court officer: I’m further informed that it was not shown.

Judge Doherty: Please continue.

Pros: Do you recall the context in which the supply of those materials was made?

Wit: Yes. This message was transmitted by Base 1 to be relayed to Gen. Issa’s station. This is when we were in Beudu and forces were trying to retake Foya. There was a mission at hand organized by Fifty, jointly with Issa, that they were to move into Guinea. Not all the weapons were to be handed to the UN. This message was transcribed and put in this book. It stayed there until I handed it to Sah James, who was once a station sergeant, and I gave him the book.

Pros: Who sent the message to whom?

Wit: Fifty sent a message to Issa, and this was the response.

Pros: [refers to another document] Do you recall this book?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: [refers to a page] The lower part of that page starts with names that go on [to another page] Whose names are these?

Wit: Top RUF commanders and the code words for them.

Pros: I’m going to ask you to look through the list and tell me which names you recognize. Just call them out.

Wit: I recognize almost all of these names.

Pros: Which don’t you recognize?

Wit: On the third page of the names, line 5, I don’t know that person: Mohamed (?)

Pros: Anyone else?

Wit: Same page, line12: Saffa (?) And that’s all.

Pros: In your testimony earlier, you mentioned you moved to Kono during the period of junta rule and were engaged in mining activity?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Can you describe what kind of mining activity was going on in Kono at that time?

Wit: In 1997, sometime in the rainy season, I went to Kono. Mining was happening in Number 11, Small Sefadu, and [another], around Koidu itself.

Pros: Before this time, had there been mining undertaken by the RUF, generally?

Wit: There was mining in Weima, in Kenema District, around Peyama.

Pros: When?

Wit: When the RUF was based in Peyama: 1995-1996.

Pros: Who organized the mining?

Wit: Sam Bockarie.

Pros; How did you know this?

Wit: I used to get information from Peyama about mining. Once we are on the same frequency and two stations are communicating, you can monitor what is being said. I got information that way. When forces in Peyama were beaten back by Kamajors and we were also retreating from Zagoda, I met some miners.

Pros: While mining was happening, did you know what was happening in Weima?

Wit: Civilians were captured and forced to mine. Sam Bockarie was the overall commander in Peyama at the time. There was a unit called the Mining Unit. There were reports about diamonds being found. A number of times they made reference to miners and the mining unit.

Pros; What happened to the diamonds?

Wit: They were said to be government property. In Peyama, diamonds were reported to Sam Bockarie.

Pros: Do you know what he did with them?

Wit: I only knew when I was in Beudu. At that time in the jungle I had no idea. There was no link between the RUF and the outside in 1995-1996. ULIMO-K was on the Liberian border in Lofa County and we were not even dreaming of getting into Guinea. I was based in Zagoda.

Pros: Who did Bockarie report to at the time?

Wit: Corporal Sankoh, who was still in Zagoda.

Pros: Can you explain what you mean by forced mining?

Wit: Civilians were forced to dig. They were placed in a restricted in location and armed men provided security for them. That was a mining unit.

Pros: Apart from seeing miners, how did you know it was happening?

Wit: I heard about it on the radio.

Pros: During the AFRC period, you went to Kono. What kind of mining activity was happening there.

Wit: A Captain Moriba was in charge of mining there – assigned by Bockarie and Sesay. There were certain pits called government pits, where civilians were forced to mine. In other areas, like what I monitored myself, you have to have to support the workers. One share was for the workers. That’s unlike what was happening where Moriba was in control. The mines went into a single pot there.

Pros: Was any other group represented in Kono at this time?

Wit: The AFRC.

Pros: Was there a person to whom the RUF and AFRC were answerable?

Wit: Yes, Gullit – he was the senior-most officer for the AFRC and RUF.

Pros: You said there was a situation where piles of gravel were shared. Did that kind of mining have a particular name?

Wit: It’s a kind of private mining.

Pros; What about the mining for the government.

Wit: Civilians were collected to mine in the pit, willy nilly.

Pros: What happened if you refused?

Wit: [laughs] If you are under arms, you do not refuse. You have no alternative.

Pros: What puts you in that situation?

Wit: They would flog you mercilessly – the authorities in the mining unit. Moriba had armed men assigned to him.

Pros: Why were they armed?

Wit: To provide security for miners. To prevent them from escaping.

Pros: And if they tried to escape?

Wit: They were flogged.

Pros: Did they use the weapons to prevent them escaping?

Wit: When you see the arms, you don’t try.

Pros: Did you see any civilian thrashed for refusing to mine?

Wit: Yes.

Judge Sebutinde: Was this witness part of the mining activities – at the location. What is his source of information?

Pros: Where did you see someone thrashed?

Wit: In Bakundu (sp?). I was engaged in private mining. When I went to Kono, my mission was really to collect acid. I met Kim Perry who said they’d opened a pit there. It was my first time to see a diamond mining operation. We used to go there and spend time with his brothers. We used to go there to provide security for them not to be taken to the government pit.

Pros: Where was the government pit?

Wit: Government pits were just plots. There was even one there in Bakundu. Sometimes there were confrontations when the government pit tried to take miners from the private pits. [describes one such confrontation]

Pros: What was the situation in Small Sefadu?

Wit: I was in Bakundu really. I knew that civilians were taken to mine in government pits.

Pros: Did the mining unit have representatives in Small Sefadu?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: What happened to the diamonds found in the government pit.

Wit: It was to be reported to Capt. Moriba.

Pros: After they were reported to him, what happened?

Wit: He was to report them to Sam Bockarie.

Pros: How did you know that?

Wit: Bockarie was the head.

Pros: Did you operate any radio in Kono?

Wit: Yes, every day, almost.

Pros: Who did you contact?

Wit: Sam Bockarie, in Kenema and then Beudu.

Pros: While you were in Kono, did any officials come to Kono?

Wit: Yes, Sam Bockarie. He traveled through Tongo to Kono. Gen. Issa Sesay and a man called Five-Five, who was AFRC, and one Tamba ___(?)

Pros: Why did Bockarie come to Kono?

Wit: He was head of the RUF at the time. That’s when Moriba was appointed.

Pros: What was the focus of Sesay’s visit?

Wit: Together with Bockarie, he appointed Moriba to oversee diamond mining for the RUF.

Pros: Did Bockarie come alone?

Wit: He came with C.O. Lion, a Liberian, one Colonel Jungle, [others]

Pros: Who was Col. Jungle?

Wit: A Liberian.

Pros: Earlier you mentioned a “Jungle” who brought arms and ammunition. Same person?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Did the RUF have any other commander in Kono besides Moriba?

Wit: Yes, Morris Kallon also came there and spent some time.

Pros: You said you stayed in Kono until the intervention?

Wit: Yes. After the intervention, Gullit called a muster parade at Lebanon. He announced “Operation Pay Yourself”. Captain Moriba argued against it, that the people should not be treated like that. Gullit insisted, and Kono was looted.

Pros: Were you at the muster parade yourself?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: You said you were based in Kono for how long?

Wit: I went during the rainy season of 1997, July or August, and remained there until February 1998.

Pros: Did you have a place of your own there?

Wit: Yes. On Dabundeh Street in Kono.

Pros: After you retreated from Kono, did mining happen in the district again later?

Wit: After the intervention, everyone pulled out of Kono for Kailahun. Another troop came back and took Kono.

Pros: What happened to the house you were staying in Kono?

Wit: My friend Moses Sama Samba, who shared the house with me, returned. The house was burned down. He called me on the radio and said he couldn’t find any of our property. He said Kallon was promoting his bodyguards for burning Koidu.

Pros: How did Moses know about the order Kallon gave?

Wit: He was there and seeing the activities happening. Our house was not the only house burned.

Pros: When was mining next organized in Kono?

Wit: When ECOMOG was removed from Koidu, Kono, sometime in late 1998.

Pros: What was the state of mining at this time?

Wit: The mining unit in Kailahun was sent back to Kono. Capt. Kennedy was the overall mining commander of the RUF at this time.

Pros: Who ordered it?

Wit: Sam Bockarie ordered Kennedy to go and establish that unit.

Pros: Which areas of Kono District had mining at this time?

Wit: The mining unit was based in a section of Kono called Kokuima.

Pros: Where was mining going on in the district?

Wit: All over Kono. The unit was based in Kokuima, but mining was taking place in different locations under Capt. Kennedy. Kennedy, each time they had a diamond, it was reported to Bockarie in Beudu.

Pros: Who were the RUF members of the mining unit?

Wit: The radio operator assigned to the unit was named Augustine.

Pros: How was mining organized?

Wit: It was centralized. Only the mining unit was authorized to mine.

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