Defense continues cross-examination of Alimamy Bobson Sesay


12:00 (12:30 with the delay in video and audio): Court is in session. 
This is an unofficial transcription of the cross-examination

Def: Mr witness, before the break we were considering an article by the BBC dated August 6 1999, I recall I was on page two, and I asked you about the January 6 invasion. I want to read that paragraphagain [read paragraph: the RUF continued to control large areas of the country, AFRC attempted to control the capital in January] Mr witness, do you agree that the invasion of Freetown on January 6, 1999 was an exclusive AFRC affair?

 witness: I disagree


Def: Koroma was expected at the Lome talks and was nominated by RUFfor a government of unity, but he never arrived and he was living with Mosquito [still reading from document]. Believing their leader was kept away from talks the AFRC complains they were neglected from the peace process and they want to be paid as part of Sierra Leone army

wit: Yes

def: Is there a clear distinction between the AFRC and RUF?

wit: As you say, when I look back to the dates August 1999, a writer wrote this, this is what he understood, I disagree, he wasn’t on the ground.

def: Do you agree with writer that the AFRC was complaining about being neglected during the peace process?

wit: That is what you see in the writing

def: AFRC was to be admitted into Sierra Leone army?

wit: Yes, because that was one of our demands, that we would be recognized and reinstated in the national army.

def: So you agree with two aspects of the article?

wit: Name the other one, I agree with the part that we wanted to be reinstatement of the army

def: You felt neglected from the peace process, is that the second point of agreement?

wit: This is the only one I can agree with. Maybe remind me what I agreed with you on?

def: Let the record speak for itself.

Judge: What was the other proposition?

def: I’m entitled to have latitude in how I question the witness.

Judge Sebutinde: There are two paragraphs before witness, one on page three and the next is the issue of wanting to be readmitted. There are two separate propositions which the witness says he agrees with.

wit: Yes, I agree.

def: Next to the picture is a paragraph about Koroma taking power in Freetown, RUF offered shared power, do you agree?

wit: Agree.

def: Do you recall the BBC broadcast where you heard for first time the name the Peoples’ Army?

wit: That was directing RUF members to join AFRC in Freetown.

def: It was not Charles Taylor who asked them to join together?

wit: This was an order from the commander, when the AFRC overthrew…

def: We are speaking about May 25 1997, it was Foday Sankoh and not Charles Taylor that ordered them to join the RUF in Freetown, Not Charles Taylor?

wit: Yes.

def: “They fought together” [referring to the article]

wit: I see this.

def: These two groups fought together against the Nigerians, you agree that they fought together?

wit: Yes.

def: “The RUF and AFRC retained distinct identities,” do you agree? [reading from article]

wit: I want you to break it down for me, what do you mean by identities?

Judge: Witness doesn’t understand, please rephrase.

def: Is it fair to say that after Junta period there was still the RUF and AFRC, as they were not one in the same?

def: No, they continue to be the same, there were SLA in Kailahun and Daru [?] even after peace negotiations?

Judge Sebutinde: Are you saying that RUF and AFRC became the same organization or that they were two distinct organizations fighting together?

wit: They were two different organizations but they had same aim, and we did coordinated operations

def: Two groups had common enemy of Ahmad Abba(?)

wit: Yes.

def: Another BBC article, with the date October 1, 1999, “World Africa: Sierra Leone leader delays return” do you see?

wit: Yes

def: The peace accord was signed in July, do you see the picture of Foday Sankoh?

wit: Not clear.

def: [reading from the article] Sierra Leon rebel leader Foday Sankohdelayed his return home he had been expected back on Friday with Johnny Paul Koroma. The BBC says that the country had “ground to a standstill” in anticipation of the homecoming which marks a key stage in peace- do you see?

wit: yes

def: this return home about Foday Sankoh and Johny Paul was a significant event?

wit: not clear

def: The BBC is saying that Freetown ground to halt-do you agree?

wit: What is standstill, I don’t understand?

def: Would you agree it was important to peace in Sierra Leone the arrival of these two men together in Freetown in October 1999?

wit: yes, I agree.

def: [reading from article] -the ” two men held more than two hours off reconciliation talks, in Monrovia, mediated by president Charles Taylor on Thursday- do you see?

wit: Yes.

def: Charles Taylor spent 3 hours with two men facilitating reconciliation, do you agree?

wit: Yes, according to what is written.

def: Johnny Paul Koroma told you he would meet with Charles Taylor?

wit: Yes, before we went to Monrovia.

def: And it was anticipated that Foday Sankoh would arrive in Monrovia?

wit: I don’t understand.

def: Was there talk that Foday Sankoh would come to Monrovia.

wit: No, Taylor said that Foday Sankoh would come to discuss things out.

def: Next paragraph in the article- two rebel leaders appeared in Jovial moods after meeting with Charles Taylor- do you see?

wit: Yes, I can see it, but it happened for a reason.

def: A few months before, did your Westside boys take two RUF hostages- Mike Lamin and Superman hostage?

wit: Time frame?

def: August 1999, did AFRC members take Mingo aka superman and Mike Lamin in custody?

wit: Yes, after we came from Liberia.

def: Are you aware that it was Charles Taylor that facilitated release of these two men?

wit: No, because Johnny gave order to release them.

def: Johnny Paul was in Monrovia?

wit: I told you that it was after we came from Liberia, you are teaching me other things. I know it was when we came from the jungle.

def: You appear to say that Johnny Paul Koroma was in Sierra Leon when two men were arrested.

wit: That it right, we left Liberia and moved to the Westside when Koroma was in Freetown.

def: The date of arrest, did it take place when Johhny Paul was in Sierra Leone?

wit: Yes, we left Liberia, Johnny Paul had left and arrived in Freetown. while we were in west side together with other commanders. within that week we arrested Mike Lamin and Superman.

def: After Johnny Paul met with Foday Sankohfor reconciliation talks with Charles Taylor, when he got to Sierra Leon his AFRC fighters arrested two RUF commanders?

wit: Yes, we arrested them. Bazzy ordered the arrest.

judge: Defense is asking about the time frame.

def: As it before meeting with Charles Taylor or after meeting with him?

wit: After the meeting.

judge: Need clarifying.

def: Was Koroma in Sierra Leon on the date the AFRC members arrested two men?

wit: Yes.

def: And he had just come from Liberia?

wit: Yes:

def: From the meeting with Charles Taylor right?

wit: Yes, the two of them came to Freetown.

judge: There was a third person mentioned by the witness, “FAT” noted for correction.

def: Another article of the day to day accounts of Sierra Leone comes from Aug 31 1999- two RUF commanders superman and Lamin were abducted late Monday by AFRC while traveling between Freetown and Makeni. The kidnapping took place near Okra [ph] hill, where soldiers kidnapped UN workers and journalists, and part of RUF team that were working for reconciliation.

wit: I see

def: This is speaking about the abduction of two RUF commanders that took place during the peace process, August 1999. recollection?

wit: I know of arrest. I disagree with this date. We all went to Freetown

def: Do you know why the date is important? I think Charles Taylor brokered the release of these two men and he did it in conjunction with meetings to facilitate peace.

wit: I disagree

def: Back to the article, two Malian soldiers who were captured by RUF, the two are in good healthand released August 29 following negotiations with Mali.

wit: Yes

def: ECOWAS was involved in negotiations?

wit: I didn’t see any ECOWAS member, we executed Johnny Paul’s order.

def: Reference to lengthly negotiations by Sierra Leon and Mali?

wit: These Malians who we released, we did it if they would release our brothers in custody in Guinea, so this was between the Malian government and the Sierra Leon government, not an ECOWAS effort. It was in relation to what we demanded.

def: Do you disagree that negotiations took place in the ECOWASframework? Next paragraph August 30, 1999,– I met President Ayadima [interruption in video]

judge: do you know if is Ayadima was president of ECOWAS?

wit: I know he was president.

def: Another article,, September 30, 1999: RUF leader and former AFRC chairman met in monrovia and held more than 3 hours of reconciliation talks mediated by Charles Taylor

wit: Yes, I see.

def: Similar to BBC article?

wit: Yes.

def: Two rebel leaders told reporter they “ironed out differences,” Koroma said that he is satisfied now.

wit: Yes, I see.

def: Koroma issued a document saying we are being marginalized by Lome peace agreement and RUF leaders ignored their interests.

wit: I see.

def: This [article] is speaking of dispute between RAF and AFRC right?

wit: Yes, there was a time after the peace accord we were left out

def: They demanded they be reinstated in the Sierra Leone army and be part of Sierra Leone government

wit: Yes.

def: Prior to the talks, Charles Taylor told rebel leaders he was in contact with ECOWAS, UN and AOU to ensure all parties in the Sierra Leon conflict were included in the government and made sure they are part of the process. Charles Taylor said he contacted Togolize President, current president of ECOWAS. The Liberian information minister told us that Sankoh and Koroma would fly to Freetown and be escorted by the Liberian government, see?

wit: Yes.

def: Charles Taylor reporting he is in contact with ECOWAS and OAUto facilitate peace with Sankoh and Koroma

wit: This was not to my knowledge, when I went to Liberia I didn’t know these…when we captured Koroma…

judge: Please repeat.

wit: After we captured those officials, we demanded to see John Paul Koroma, I don’t know about this negotiation with the UN.

def: So you don’t know whether Charles Taylor spoke with these people?

wit: Yes, Johnny Paul just told us that he spoke to Charles Taylor to facilitate a helicopter to get us to Freetown.

def: Agree with the article?

wit: Well, this is writing of a journalist.

def: One more article, you mentioned Crystal Johnson yesterday-a journalist taken hostage by you and fellow fighters:

wit: Yes

wit: I’m taking a drug that makes me urinate frequently-bathroom break.

def: Please give the witness the document. Yesterday you told us of reporter Crystal Johnson, recall?

wit: Yes.

def: You took hostage at Makeni [ph]?

wit: Yes

def: When did this take place?

wit: After the Lome peace accord was signed around July or August.

def: See article says Friday Aug 6, 1999?

wit: yes

def: Sierra Leone hostage tells of ordeal, “Reuters reporter who was captured, talks of his ordeal.”

wit: yes, I see.

def: Johnson’s name is in bold letters, he is answering questions, look through article…[witness reads article]

def: Johnson said [in the article]: we arrived in the village where rebels released 22 children then we moved to another place to collect another batch of children which would bring the number to 200. We were invited to meet with the soldiers AFRC from the former militia regime, they asked us to stand for prayers.  Spokesman said they had problems, they were looking for food or medicines, they were being neglected and their patients was running out. They were looking to the international community. Then someone told us to put our hands us, we put up our hands, and we gave up everything we had.

wit: I see

def: Is this similar to what you recall what happened to Crystal Johnson?

wit: Part of it is similar

def: Continuing in the article, -they said we won’t harm, you, we just want the international community to know our grievances-.

wit: I see

def: Johnson stated we established that they were all AFRC members, former members of the Sierra Leone army, no RUF people were there.

wit: I see

def: Crystal Johnson is telling the BBC that everyone was AFRC, no RUF

wit: I disagree totally.

def: You maintain that RUF members were part of west side boys?

wit: Yes, I will explain what happened. This is something that Crystal Johnson wrote, we limited his movement, we explained things to him. He told us he would put it over the news. He was limited to headquarters, he only spoke to Bazzy, he couldn’t go to the villages. Commanders explained this to him bazzy, bomblast, all of us. He is only describing headquarters.

def: So the area around to which Johnson was allowed to stay had no RUF members?

wit: What I’m saying is that the man was limited, we arrested them and he was only at headquarters. He did not have free movement. He never knew who was there. He was taken from Tito to Bazzy only when we needed him.

def: Because he was kept at headquarter, that prevented him from knowing who else was at this camp?

wit: Yes he was limited. he only knows the things we told him.

def: He only said what you told him?

wit: Yes, we told him to go to the international community and said we want our leader released and wanted pressure from the international community. He did not say these things about us over the air.

def: These comments were made after his release.

wit: According to the paper, but he was limited in the camp between 2 areas

def: This why he didn’t know about RAF members?

wit: He didn’t know anything about the camp. He was held hostage. Once we discovered he was a journalist we took him to Bazzy and we released him to tell the world?

def: Next part of article: Johnson-commander said to us that our problem is that the RUF has arrested our general who was chairman of the AFRC regime…all they wanted was the government to release Johnny Paul immediately- This confirms that Koroma had been arrested?

wit: We were not at the scene. He was no longer communicating, Bazzy said we haven’t heard from him, so he must be under arrest.

def: The members of the group wanted president Kabba[?] and Charles Taylor to step in a solve these problems.

wit: No, all we decided on, if we hold hostages they will recognize us, and then we said we could show concerns to the international body.

def: As of October, Charles Taylor had gathered these warring factions together. [from article]

wit: According to the paper, he had direct influence and only he could do that.

def: Charles Taylor sent a helicopter to pick up Johnny Paul?

wit: yes.

def: [Article] Johnson: they are desperate, they want their man to be released, Koroma, they need peace. If Koroma is not released they will want to fight the RUF- Do you agree?

wit: I agree that we were desperate to see Jonny Paul, because they didn’t mention us in Lome peace accord.

def: desperate for peace?

wit: yes, we also wanted t peace, we had realized that if Johnny Paul is not included in peace accord we would be out, we were a force to be reconciled with.

def: when you went to meet Charles Taylor you were looking for solutions to facilitate peace?

wit: This question, we arrested people, but Koroma did not tell us we need peace, he told us you should move the delegation and meet me in Liberia

def: [reading from article] “if Johnny Paul is not released they want to fight the RUF”–this is the same RUF that was part of AFRC when Johnson was held hostage?

wit: go back

def: You said that there were RUF members when Johnson was hostage.

wit: Yes.

def: The same RUF org that you wanted to fight?

wit: Yes, they were with us.

def: The same RUFyou wanted to fight were present with Koroma when you visited him a month later?

wit: Yes, they were there. Our determination when we held that man was that they should release our leader, but because we were not mentioned in peace accord we arrested people, so they would release our leader.  Otherwise, we would cause problems with peace.

Court reporter: Did they want to fight the RUF?

def: I am finished with my examination: List of articles:

1) BBC article 18 April 1999 “World Africa Rebel Leader Freed for Talks”

2) BBC article August 6 1999 “World Africa Sierra Leone Who Are the Kidnappers?”

3) News archive from Sierra Leone Org, 31 August 1999

4) News archive article 30th September 1999 two photographs of Foday Sankoh and Koroma

5) BBC article October 1, 1999 “world Africa Sierra Leone leader delays return”

6) “Sierra Leon hostage tells of ordeal” August 6, 1999

def: while talking about Koroma, you agree with me that Johnny Paul and Foday Sankoh returned from Monrovia to Freetown on October 2 1999.

wit: I can’t recall the particular month or date, but I do recall that it was some weeks after we left Liberia and returned to Sierra Leone that they came.

def: they came together?

wit: yes

def: they came form Liberia?

wit: yes

def: [interuption] you told pros that you were not aware about any diamond transaction between Charles Taylor and Koroma for arms and ammunition?

wit: yes

def: Between the junta period and time you met Koroma in Monrovia, at no time did he go to Liberia?

judge: confusion in transcript

def: From when junta took power in May 25, 1997 until August 1999 when you met Koroma in Monrovia at no time did Koroma go to Monrovia?

wit: I disagree, because I’m only limited to the time of intervention. I don’t know about his movements in Kalan [ph]. I only know his movement in Freetown.

def: So there are periods of time you cant account for his whereabouts?

wit: Yes, when at the westside we didn’t know where he was.

def: You said you were limited to time when we left Freetown?

wit: What I mean is that when we left Freetown until when we escorted Koroma, after he went to kalan [ph] I don’t know about his movement.

def: Was Johnny Paul made part of new government post Lome?

wit: Well, he did not become member in the new government, he had an appointment he was CCP chairman

def: And that is what he wanted in Monrovia?

wit: When we went to Monrovia he said that is the only space he wanted to occupy to bring peace.

def: Witness told us yesterday that CCP is chairman for consolidation of peace.

Judge: But I thought he said he was the CCP chairman?

def: What is this CCP?

wit: Chairman for the consolidation of peace, we would call him CCP chairman.

def: Was the CCP an arm of the new government?

wit: The only thing I knew was that it was when the issue of the peace process came up they formed this group, I don’t know if there was anything to do with the government. This coordinated peace activities in the country.

def: And this is what Koroma wanted?

wit: As I said, they told us there was no other offices vacant at that moment. That office is where he saw a place he could occupy.

def: do you remember your responses where you said you signed something–We left the mansion and Koroma went to his own base (reading form transcript), after that Koroma brought another paper to us which stated that president Kaba agreed to reinstate the army and that office of CCP was given to him and we all signed- recall?

wit: Yes.

def: Charles Taylor facilitated the acquisition of this position for Johnny Paul, agree?

wit: I disagree.

def: I put to you that Charles Taylor facilitate the reinstatement into army of Koroma and others?

wit: I disagree. Johnny Paul was not reinstated, We were reinstated. Johnny Paul was retired. It was not Charles Taylor that facilitate that, it was our action, Charles Taylor mediated that we should go to Liberia.

def: Yes, I concede that you say Koroma retired, but I put to you that Charles Taylor facilitated your reintegration into the Sierra Leone army.

wit: Disagree

def: How is it that two of the men of your group had a role for Johnny Paul and your reinstatement were accomplished while you were in Monrovia.

wit: If we would not have arrested the UN [?], we demanded for Johny Koroma. He realized that it would be difficult if they didn’t get us involved, so he facilitated our movement to Liberia.

def: So, the reason your demands were met is because you had hostages?

wit: Yes, if we didn’t hold hostages they wouldn’t have known about us and Johnny Paul wouldn’t have gone to Liberia.

def: But the fact remains that Liberia, Monrovia and Charles Taylor was the situs or location where there was a meeting of the minds and agreement to reinstate you and others into the army, understand?

wit: No? I didn’t hear an interpretation.

Judge: You were speaking too quickly and we were close to lunch.

def: Do you agree that Monrovia and president Charles Taylor were the central location for the meeting of the minds for peace between the RUF and AFRC? post lome?

wit: Well, that only happened when we did the abductions.

def: Do you agree that it was in the city of Monrovia and at behest of Charles Taylor that all of your requests to be reinstated in army and give Johnny Paul CCP were accomplished?

wit: Because of the abduction, that is why they invited us.

def: Is your evidence that Charles Taylor played no role in securing this position for CCP and facilitate reinstatement to army?

wit: Not to my knowledge

judge: Now is our usual time for our lunch break. We will resume court on Monday at 9:30. Please adjourn court.