Witness, Former Mining commander, Continues Testimony

Witness TF1-367 continued his testimony. The Prosecution asked the Witness about his role as mining commander in Kono. Witness responded that he was in that role for 1998-2000, with an interruption for approximately 2.5 months. This interruption was because he was accused of losing diamonds. An investigation was conducted into this allegation.

Witness testified regarding his duties as mining commander. His job was to ensure that all of the sites were operating daily. If diamonds were discovered at a particular location, those diamonds were brought to him. He would sort the diamonds and then take them to Issa Sesay. During this time, Witness reported to two commanders, Sam Bockarie and Issa Sesay. The Witness testified that Sam Bockarie left Sierra Leone at a certain point in time to visit Charles Taylor. In that instance, Issa Sesay was his sole commander.

The Witness testified regarding the sites within his command. He was responsible for sites in the Kono district. Later, at an exact time unknown, he was responsible for a site in the Kenema District, the Tongo Fields. He did not recall specifically when he had this responsibility because he had never visited this minefield; instead he sent a man that reported to him. The subordinate was Mike Nimley with the STF. Mike Nimley reported to the Witness.

The Witness testified regarding the number of sites for which he was responsible. He stated that he was responsible for mines at Tombodu , Kaisambo, Benz Garage, Bondovulahun, Ngaya, Ndomahina, Banafay, and many others. During this time, the Witness was based in a mining camp in Kokuima, the mining headquarters. Benz Garage is a mine within Kokuima. The mines in his control were for diamonds only. He said that sometimes diamonds and gold were found together, but his workers were only looking for diamonds.

The Witness explained the process for recovering diamonds. Initially only manpower was used. Manpower consisted of civilians who did certain jobs (not soldiers, who held weapons). As there were no machines to do the mining, the men used tools such as ice picks and shovels. The men would dig into the gravel with the shovels and use a sieve to sift through the gravel. In the early stage, the tools used were obtained from what ECOMOG left behind after leaving a certain camp. The Witness testified that later Sam Bockarie obtained new tools from Liberia for his mining teams. Also, two types of machines were also used during his command: the Caterpillar, for digging, and the bailing machines, that remove water out of the pit before getting the gravel out. He stated that most of these machines came from Monrovia via Sam Bockarie and Issa Sesay. The machines required fuel which also came from Monrovia.

The Witness estimated the number of civilians working at camp. Within the government’s mining, there were 200-300 civilians; however, he did not know how many civilians were at other sites. The government mining were along the Koidu axis and within his command. He was not involved in other private sites supervised by Morris Kallon, Issa Sesay, and Superman (Dennis Mingo). The civilians were not paid for their jobs. He noted that the soldiers also were not paid. The civilians were usually captured in the bush and brought to the camps to work. He said that civilians from the surrounding Kono district had escaped, therefore civilians from other areas were brought in to work at the mines.

According to the Witness, the civilians miners were not rich and even if they had been, this fact would never have been revealed by civilians for they feared for their lives. The civilians wore working in farmers’ clothes appropriate for the pit, not office clothes. The Witness testified that there were always monitors to watch over the civilians to prevent theft. The rule was that an individual that lost or stole a diamond would be killed. If the civilian was fortunate, he would only be seriously beaten. He recalled that the civilian miners were 15-30 years old. Only men mined; women remained at home. The Witness said that older individuals did not have the strength to handle the shovels, but they did provide advice to the younger miners.

The Witness reported on the security of the mining sites. He had a security force made of RUF soldiers. Additionally, the Black Guards, Foday Sankoh’s own security force, provided security at the mining site. When Foday Sankoh was present at the site, the Black Guards reported to Sankoh. If not, then to the next highest commander present (e.g. Sam Bockarie). Their duties were to protect the civilians but also to prevent them from stealing the diamonds. The security forces consisted of individuals between the ages of 10-20 years old. He said that they came from area fighting forces.

The Witness explained the investigation that caused him 2.5 month suspension as mining commander. He could not recall the exact date when he was investigated for losing a diamond. The Witness testified that after his assignment to Kono (in 1998), within one month, Issa went to Buedu to obtain the ammunition for the capture of Koidu. The week that Issa Sesay reached Guinea highway was the same week that Koidu Town was captured in 1999.

He testified that the investigation was initiated by complaints from the men he replaced at the mining command. He stated that these individuals held a grudge against him for taking the position. One of these individuals went to Issa Sesay and reported that the Witness lost a diamond that he had given the Witness. Issa Sesay sent the military police. The People’s Court investigated the Witness and after the fact-finding was completed, the Witness was sent to Sam Bockarie where the verdict was issued.

The Witness testified stated that the People’s Court was a combined unit of officers from the Military Police (policeman in the RUF), IO (Intelligence Officers of the RUF), and IDU (Internal Defense Unit). During the investigation, one of the accusing witnesses admitted to lying about the Witness’ loss of a diamond. Because of this admission, Sam Bockarie released the Witness with the advice to watch those with whom he worked. The Witness stated that the People’s Court usually did not impose the death penalty because of the fear that such a penalty could be imposed on them at some point. However, the high commanders (e.g. Sam Bockarie) could have and sometimes did order an RUF member’s execution.

The Witness testified regarding the process for collecting diamonds. An Operations Commander or the Witness’ deputy would receive the diamond found by a civilian miner. These men would be at the site with the workers and would receive the diamond directly from them. The diamonds were then transferred to the mining headquarters at Kokuima and given to the Witness. On a daily basis, except on Sunday, the Witness would receive diamonds from the various mines. The diamonds would be sorted by a group invited by the Witness: industrial (colored) versus clean (colorless, faultless, white). The sorting was conducted by diamond professionals familiar with “percentage” and caratage; these professionals used a lip and a scale. He maintained records of the diamond collection in his personal “book”. The Black Guards maintained records as well, but the senior officers did not review his books or keep records as far as he was aware. He named several Black Guards.

The Witness was shown Tab A (D54). The Prosecution explained that he would like the Witness to explain various entries in the book to the Trial Chambers. The Witness testified that he had seen a document, a log book of a Black Guard officer, while he was the mining commander in Kono. The Witness described how the carats were described in these log books and produced a one-page handwritten diagram showing how the weighing machine displayed the carats. He testified that the name appearing in the book Sam Bockarie was not the name of the Commander Mosquito. This Sam Bockarie was a nickname adopted by a lower-level officer; the Commander Sam Bockarie would never have had the role described in the book (diamond delivery).

The Witness testified about how diamonds were delivered in the RUF network. When diamonds were taken to Issa Sesay by the Witness and several of his deputies would make the delivery. Eventually, the Witness would deliver the diamonds to Issa Sesay rather than Sam Bockarie, on Sam Bockarie’s orders. According to the Witness, Sam Bockarie took the diamonds he received from the mines to Charles Taylor. The Witness said he knew this because he was a colleague of Sam Bockarie, having spent a lot of time with him in Buedu. The Witness also stated that from the time Foday Sankoh was held in Nigeria he advised Sam Bockarie and Issa Sesay that the diamonds collected were to be given to Charles Taylor for safekeeping. He also heard this from Sam Bockarie. Finally, the Witness explained that the “radio man” had a similar message from Foday Sankoh, which the radio man wrote a piece of paper seen by the Witness. The Witness said that he was a trusted RUF officer. The RUF understood that only minerals would help them achieve their goals. The Witness received education from Sam Bockarie that the minerals were necessary to obtain arms and ammunition.

The Witness testified regarding his foreign travels. He said that he did not travel to any foreign countries after he became mining commander, including Liberia. In Liberia, he traveled to Lofa and Bong counties. The Witness also stated that he traveled to Monrovia once after the Junta time when the RUF had retreated. He traveled with Sam Bockarie and his bodyguards. The Witness stated that Sam Bockarie asked him to travel to Monrovia. They stayed in Monrovia for two or three days at a place at ELWA junction.

Court adjourned for its mid-morning break.