5:00 Witness continues account of rebel movements, atrocities and politics in 1999

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

Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra continues the direct examination of witness Alimamy Bobson Sesay:

Pros: Just before we broke for lunch, you were telling the court about the attack on Tombu. Going back to the meeting where this attack was planned, you said Gullit was present?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: What was Gullit’s reaction when Issa ordered the attempt to retake Freetown?

Wit: Gullit said that the troop was always there on standby for any further operation. He said he was prepared for any operation.

Pros: When you said you were “bombarding” Tombu, what did you mean?

Wit: We were firing a Support Propelled Grenade (SPG) – an artillery weapon – against ECOMOG, which was based in Tombu. It’s equivalent to a 120mm mortar.

Judge Lussick: Did the witness mean Self-Propelled Grenade?

Wit: Support Propelled Grenade.

Pros: Did anything happen as a result of this bombardment?

Wit: We launched the artillery indiscriminately in Tombu village. We did not miss our targets in Tombu.

Pros: What were your targets?

Wit: We didn’t know where the military targets were, so we were just bombarding Tombu.

Pros: What happened to Tombu village?

Wit: We saw smoke bellowing from the ground where the bomb landed.

Pros: Were there civilians in Tombu at this time?

Wit: According to the information we got, they told us civilians were there.

Pros: What was in Tombu Village?

Wit: It’s a fishing ground. There were houses there.

Pros: Do you know if anything happened to the civilians as a result of the bombardment?

Wit: We were doing it indiscriminately. If it hits someone, they will die.

Pros: Did anything happen to the houses in Tombu village?

Wit: When the SPG landed, you will see smoke bellowing from there.

Pros: What happened after this attack on Tombu?

Wit: After the bombardment, we tried to enter there, but met stiff resistance from ECOMOG. We lost some men and retreated back to MacDonald.

Pros: What happened then?

Wit: We waited until Superman, Bomb Blast and others came from the bypass. They said they launched an attack on Tombu from there, but were also unsuccessful. Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon and others went to Waterloo. Myself and Bomb Blast, Five-Five and others went back to Benguema. We were in Benguema preparing for another operation.

Pros: You’ve been testifying that you were pushed out of Freetown in the third week of January in 1999. You said ECOMOG also pushed you out of Tombu. Do you know why ECOMOG was able to push your group out of these areas?

Wit: We ran out of ammunition. That made them able to push us.

Pros: What was the size of the ECOMOG forces?

Wit: During the advance, they came with heavy support. It was a brigade attack.

Pros: What about a number?

Wit: They had different brigades in Freetown that were advancing.

Pros: Can you estimate the number?

Wit: I cannot say exactly, but it was a brigade advance.

Pros: You said everyone was at a standstill in Benguema. What does that mean?

Wit: We had no operation except food-finding patrols in villages in the area. Bazzy was still in Hastings. We were around Benguema, Hastings and up to Waterloo.

Pros: What kind of artillery did ECOMOG have?

Wit: They used tanks, armored cars when they were advancing. They would first use 120mm mortars. We knew they were coming when they started firing that mortar.

Pros: How many armored cars did the ECOMOG force have in Freetown?

Wit: They had many. The ones we saw when we were retreating – they had so many armored cars.

Pros: How long did you stay in Benguema?

Wit: We spent about a month there.

Pros: Where were the captured civilians?

Wit: We had some based in Benguema. Some were in Hastings with Bazzy. Some were in Waterloo. We distributed them.

Pros: What was the age group of the civilians in Benguema?

Wit: There were children among them, ages 8 and above, also young girls, strong, able-bodied men and women as well.

Judge Sebutinde: Do we have a timeframe for the Tombu attack and the stay in Benguema?

Wit: The attack in Tombu was in February 1999, around mid-February.

Pros: When you moved to Benguema, from when to when were you based there?

Wit: From February to March.

Pros: Going back to Benguema, you said there were young girls and strong, able-bodied women. What were they doing during the one month in Benguema?

Wit: Many of them, we used them to pound rice, to cook, and also we had them as our jungle wives. We used them as women.

Pros: What do you mean?

Wit: We captured them, some from Kono and en route when we were coming. Because we had weapons, whatever we wanted them to do, they would do. We had sexual intercourse with them.

Pros: What is it that you wanted them to do that they did?

Wit: If I have a young girl and want to have sexual intercourse with her, she will do it. If I tell her to pound rice, she will do it. If I tell her to carry loads, she will do it.

Pros: How many women were taken as jungle wives in Benguema?

Wit: There were many. Some commanders had two or three women. There were petty conflicts between them.

Pros: What were the conflicts about?

Wit: There was jealousy amongst the women?

Pros: What was the result?

Wit: If the matter goes to the above officer, like Five-Five, he would intervene. Tina Musa would also intervene in such matters.

Pros: What was Tina Musa’s position in Benguema?

Wit: She was in control of the women and young girls.

Pros: What age group were the young girls?

Wit: The ages 8 and above. She took care of them and showed concerns over them.

Pros: What do you mean?

Wit: Sometimes she wouldn’t let the commanders disadvantage the young girls. Commanders may want to beat, threaten, or suggest killing them. Tina Musa used to intervene in such matters.

Pros: Were the women free to leave?

Wit: No no no. They were under strict monitoring. Commanders were responsible for monitoring them.

Pros: What were the eight year old girls doing?

Wit: Some of the SBUs used them. They also used them to cook and pound rice.

Pros: When you said the SBUs used them, what do you mean?

Wit: They had sexual intercourse with them.

Pros: How do you know?

Wit: I used to see things like that.

Pros: What were the other civilians, the men and boys, doing in Benguema?

Wit: We used to engage the young men in the ambush areas. We used them as guards. On food-finding patrols they carried what we got. They also pounded rice.

Pros: What about the boys among the captured civilians?

Wit: We used to train them when we arrived in Benguema. We gave them basic training in weaponry and used them to go on patrols.

Pros: How old were they?

Wit: 8-12 years old.

Pros: Who was training these young boys?

Wit: Every commander who had a small boy should give them training in weaponry just in case there was an attack.

Pros: Who was doing the training?

Wit: The individual commanders. Gullit was there. The brigade administration was there.

Pros: Where is Waterloo and Hastings in relation to Benguema?

Wit; On the highway, you would go through Hastings to Waterloo, then divert to Benguema. If you are leaving Masiaka to come, you would first come to Waterloo, then divert to Benguema.

Pros: How far is Benguema from Hastings?

Wit: About five miles.

Pros: Who were the commanders that were in Benguema?

Wit: Tamba Alex Brima, the overall commander. Five-Five, Hassan Papa Bangura, Abdul Sesay, Bioh Sesay, Med Bejehjeh, SLA Rambo (Red Goat), Foday Bamara, Basky – Siadu Kambulai, Commander Gold Teeth – Terrawally, 05, Junior Sherif, I was there with some other commanders.

Pros: What groups were based in Benguema at the time?

Wit: The same group that came from Freetown. Only that Bazzy went to Hastings. He was there in the defensive.

Pros: Could you name the groups?

Wit: SLAs, RUF, STF, and former NPFL fighters.

Pros: After the month in Benguema, where did the troops move?

Wit: While we were in Benguema, Bazzy called to say that ECOMOG was preparing to advance to take Hastings. And also while we were there, the Nigerians and Malians were firing artillery from Tombu. Bazzy withdrew from Hastings and we also withdrew and met at Waterloo Junction.

Pros: What happened at Waterloo?

Wit: Gullit said he would move with the family members toward Newton, whilst Bazzy, Hassan Papa Bangura, 05, Junior Lion and other commanders created a defensive to not let the Nigerians and Malians advance rapidly.

Pros: What happened after that?

Wit: Gullit moved with the “family members” towards Newton and we were in the defensive, retreating as well. We started burning the houses on the highway in Waterloo. We met the RUFs there, burned down other houses and started retreating.

Pros: From Waterloo you went to Newton?

Wit: Gullit had gone ahead with the “family members”. We retreated and created a strong blocking force in Newton.

Pros: Did you meet anyone in Newton?

Wit: Gullit was there. Senegalese, an RUF commander, was there. Other commanders were there.

Pros: Were there any other groups that joined you in Newton?

Wit: We used to get people like RUF Rambo and other people coming from Masiaka. They brought food and other things and returned. We had that mutual understanding.

Pros: What do you mean?

Wit: The RUF/SLAs in Masiaka would bring rice, palm oil and other things.

Pros: Apart from the groups that were bringing rice and other things, was there any other group that joined you in Newtown?

Wti: The RUFs that met us there.

Pros: Where did the SLAs who came come from?

Wit: We had one called Commander KBC, he too came from Liberia through Kailahun. He brought some men.

Pros: Who were his men?

Wit: He had some RUFs and other boys.

Pros: How do you know he came from Liberia?

Wit: He said they were organized in Liberia. The SLAs who had run to Liberia, they were organized there and armed to reinforce the team in Kailahun. He was delayed and unable to come until meeting us in Newton.

Pros: When did KBC and his group run away to Liberia?

Wit: When we were in Kabala, we saw that group. They said they were going and crossed into Guinea. We later learned they went to Liberia. When he came, he told me. They were apologizing. The were organized in Liberia through Mosquito. They met us in Newton.

Pros: When did this group go to Liberia?

Wit: It was during the intervention in February 1998. Some of the SLAs had money and decided to go to Guinea. When the Guinean government started arresting senior commanders, they went to Liberia.

Pros: What do you mean, they were organized in Liberia?

Wit: KBC said they were organized by Charles Taylor in Liberia to give support. He armed them and sent them to Mosquito to reinforce the group in Freetown.

Pros: Did he say when?

Wit: He said they had already come in before the operation in Kono, whilst we were preparing the advance on Freetown.

Pros: How many were in KBC’s group?

Wit: Not many, about 8. He said the others – some stayed in Kono and some in Makeni.

Pros: Did he say anything about the size of his group at the time they were sent by Taylor?

Wit: He said there were many. But some stayed in Kono, some in Kailahun, but he came to Newton to meet us.

Pros: When KBC and his group came, were they armed?

Wit: They were well armed. They came with Captain Hindolo Tyre (sp?).

Pros: What happened after KBC and his group joined you in Newton?

Wit: He was with the brigade in Newton.

Pros: Did KBC have another name?

Wit: He has another name, but this is what we called him.

Pros: What happened after this group joined your group in Newton?

Wit: We heard the government over the air saying they wanted to negotiate peace with the forces in the bush. We were just conducting patrols.

Pros: How long was KBC with your group?

Wit: Until we established the West Side Base, and even until our arrest in 2000.

Pros: Do you remember the time when KBC joined your group?

Wit: It was March/April 1999.

Pros: What happened in Newton?

Wit: We had communication and came to know that Sankoh had been called by the government and asked to negotiate for peace. We should not fold our arms and drink palm wine, but be vigilant. Bishop Ganda and some UNAMSIL people came and asked us to release some small combatant children.

Pros: Where did this communication come from?

Wit: Foday Sankoh called and said he was talking with the government about peace. He was talking to Gullit, and the message was disseminated. He spoke with other commanders, from Makeni, up to Kailahun.

Pros: How did this communication come through?

Wit: Through the radio set.

Pros: When Foday Sankoh said you should be vigilant, did you know what he meant?

Wit: He said he was negotiating peace, but that did not mean we should relax. He said we might be attacked by the Nigerians and ECOMOG troops, so we should be vigilant.

Pros: How long were you in Newton?

Wit: Up to May 1999.

Pros: When you were in Newton, where were the captured civilians?

Wit: Under the monitoring of the brigade administration.

Pros: What were the civilians doing in Newton between April and May 1999?

Wit: The civilians were also helping us: pounding rice, going on patrols, we used them in patrols, the women who belonged to the various commanders were being used as wives.

[brief interruption in video/audio]

Wit: [lists commanders]

Pros: How long was Gullit based in Newton?

Wit: After we had spoken to Foday Sankoh, later Gullit communicated with Superman. Superman said he should join him to go to Makeni. If ECOMOG attacked, we would be able to form a bigger brigade in Makeni. Later, Gullit took Five-Five, Abdul Sesay, Foday Bamara, 05, Gun Boat, and he took along some fighters. He also took the support weapon, the SPG, and departed Newtown for Makeni. Bazzy remained the commander who stayed with us in Newton.

Pros: Why did Gullit move to Makeni?

Wit: Gullit said they should move Issa out of Makeni – to attack him along with Superman.

Pros: Did he say why?

Wit: Issa had promised to arrest Superman, so Superman wanted to attack with Gullit to push Issa Sesay out.

Pros: You said Bazzy took over in Newton?

Wit: He was the acting commander in Newton whilst Gullit moved.

Pros: Were there any communications in Newton after Gullit left?

Wit: The communication was that Gullit confirmed they had captured Makeni, and they were there in Makeni. We were attacked by ECOMOG in Newton, so we started withdrawing from Newton.

Pros: Who was Gullit talking to?

Wit: Bazzy. He told Bazzy to withdraw to Makeni.

Pros: How do you know about the communication?

Wit: It took place in my presence. Hassan Papa Bangura, Tito, Junior Lion and Bazzy.

Pros: Did the group leave Newton?

Wit: Yes, we retreated from Newton and went to Makolo, in Koya Rural district.

Pros: Did anything happen there?

Wit: When Bazzy switched on the set, he got a call from Mosquito. It was in my presence. He said, “you see what Gullit and Superman have done? They have attacked Issa and killed RUF Rambo.” The radio man was Elungema.

Pros: Did Mosquito say anything else?

Wit: He said he trusted Bazzy and that Bazzy should become commander in the western jungle. He said from today, Bazzy is the commander. He said Gullit is no longer the commander. Bazzy said, “yes sir”.

Pros: When did Elungema join your group?

Wit: He came with Saj and Alfred Brown to Col. Eddie Town.

Pros: What was his assignment in Freetown in January 1999?

Wit: He was with the radio set that Gullit was using. He was the radio man for Gullit.

Pros: When Mosquito said, whatever thing you wanted, call me and I will support you – what did that mean?

Wit: Bazzy informed him that ECOMOG was attacking and we were running out of ammunition. Mosquito said he would send ammunition so that they can’t get to Masiaka also.

Pros: Did Mosquito send ammunition for Bazzy?

Def: Could counsel provide foundation for this conversation and this question about the ammunition.

Pros: The witness said he was there when the conversation took place.

Def: She asked whether the witness “had come to know” what Bockarie meant. It’s not clear whether that means he knew at the time. It’s not clear when the conversation took place.

Pros: The witness said the conversation was in Makolo. I will get to timeframe.

Judge Doherty: Mr. Anyah has a point about the vagueness, so please do so.

Pros: Where did the communication between Bazzy and Mosquito take place?

Wit: In Makolo when we retreated from Newton.

Pros: When was that?

Wit: This was April/May 1999.

Pros: This communication between Bazzy and Mosquito: how do you know about it?

Wit: I was with Bazzy, together with Bomb Blast. We were together when Elungema came and said Mosquito was on the radio set, and we all went together.

Pros: You said Mosquito was talking about ammunition. How do you know that’s what Mosquito meant by “support”?

Wit: Bazzy told him we were out of ammunition. So Mosquito said he would send ammunition to prevent them from crossing over to Masiaka.

Pros: Did Mosquito send ammunition to Bazzy?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: How long after this communication?

Wit: After we withdrew from the highway and formed the West Side Base. That’s when we received the ammunition. When we formed the headquarters at Gberibana, some men came with this ammunition.

Pros: Where were you when the men came with the ammunition?

Wit: At the headquarters. Bazzy had made various appointments and we attacked ECOMOG at various locations.

Pros: Was Gberibana known by any other name?

Wit: It was known as West Side Base. It’s close to Mansumana and Masiaka.

Pros: When did the ammunition come?

Wit: Around April/May 1999.

Pros: Who brought the ammunition?

Wit: Some fighters who came – RUFs and SLAs. I forget the commander’s name.

Pros: How did you know that this was the ammunition sent from Mosquito to Bazzy?

Wit: At this time the commander I was with was made Director of Operations. Bazzy and Junior Lion was there. We were all sitting down there when they came.

Pros: Going back to the communication in Makolo – did anything happen after the communication?

Wit: Yes. After this communication, immediately Bazzy ordered that we should create obstacles on the highway. We dug it very deep and wide, so that no vehicle could cross over. He said we should go to Mamaha and dress it well – to kill civilians and make it fearful.

Pros: Who dug the highway?

Wit: We used the civilians.

Pros: What does it mean, Bazzy ordered you to go to Mamaha and dress it well.

Wit: We should capture civilians and fearful the area.

Pros: What do you mean?

Wit: We should execute them and display their bodies in the street.

Pros: After this order, did anything happen in Mamaha?

Wit: His boy, “Kankankan” and Captain Blood and others went for the operation in Mamaha. They went to execute the order Bazzy gave them.

Pros: Where did this group go?

Wit: They went to Mamaha. It is not far from Makolo. They went and made the junction fearful.

Pros: Were you on this operation?

Wit: No.

Pros: Do you know what happened there?

Wit: They hacked people and displayed their corpses on the street. There were about 15 people I saw.

Pros: How do you know this?

Wit: When we left Makolo and went to the rear, I saw it. Over the international media, they even talked about it – this display of corpses at Mamaha. It was on the BBC. It was the correspondent moving with ECOMOG.

Pros: Were you able to tell the ages of these 15 people killed?

Wit: There were children, women and men.

Pros: What happened after the civilians were killed in Mamaha?

Wit: The troop withdrew from that area and went to Magbutuso – Mile 38. After we passed Mamaha and saw that dressing, we came to Mile 38. Bazzy ordered Foya (ph) to take the “family members” to the jungle – a place called Okra Hill.

Pros: Where is Okra Hill?

Wit: It too is just between Mile 38 and Masiaka, part of the Koya Rural district.

Pros: [requests that the witness be given a map of Freetown] Yesterday and today, you named several locations in Freetown. I’m going to ask you to mark some of these for the court. What was the name of the road you took coming into Freetown?

Wit: We moved along the Old Road. [Names various villages and areas of Freetown.]

Pros: What was the name of the road used by the other group entering Freetown?

Wit: That is the Freetown-Waterloo highway. They started from the New Road. [Names many locations along the route.]

[Prosecutor Alagendra asks the witness to draw a line to sketch the route his group took. He is asked to mark a number of locations he mentioned yesterday and today. Prosecution asks that the map be marked for identification, and Judge Doherty orders that this be done.]

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