September 23, 2008
After the mid-morning break the 43rd prosecution witness is called to the stand. Prosecutor Mohamed Bangura will introduce the witness and Lead Defense Counsel Courtenay Griffiths will cross-examine him. The witness has testified before in this Court in the RUF trial. At the time protective measures (pseudonym and screen) were in place. The witness waived his right to these protective measures and will testify in open Court.
The name of the witness is Edesanya Sandy Hyde, 48 years old from the Mende tribe, born in Fairo, Soro-Gbena Chiefdom, Pujahun District, Sierra Leone. He graduated from the University of Sierra Leone in June 1987 and has a bachelor degree in science. He has been in the Sierra Leonean police force since 1992 and presently has the rank of assistant superintendent. He speaks Mende, Krio and English.
Testimony in the RUF trial
The witness has testified in the RUF trial on May 12, 13 and 16, 2005. He is shown three transcripts which he identified as transcripts of his own testimony. The transcripts are marked for identification. Prosecutor Bangura asked the confidential parts of two of the three transcripts to remain confidential to comply with the Court’s decision at the time. Lead Defense Counsel Griffiths disagreed as the only reason for the confidentiality was the protection of the identity of the witness, which is no longer an issue because the witness is now testifying in open Court.
After conferring the judges ruled regarding the application of the Prosecution that to comply with Rule 75g of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, testimony given in closed session must remain confidential.
In the RUF trial three documents were tendered as evidence. One is already an exhibit in this Court: P175, the diary used in the CID department of the Kenema police. The other two exhibits P27 and P29 are now marked for identification by the Prosecution.
Griffiths established that Hyde worked for two years in Longee (1992-1994), three years in Freetown (1994-1997) and was transferred to the CID in Kenema in 1997. When asked if and how the war affected him, Hyde explained that there were certain areas in his country where he could not go for fear of being conscripted by rebels. He did not agree with the agenda of the RUF to overthrow the then (at least to him) legitimate regime of Valentine Strasser. When Hyde was living in Freetown his mother lived in Fairo, which was close to an RUF camp, Camp Libya. In that area houses were demolished, including the house of his mother. In February 1997 Hyde was transferred to the CID in Kenema, a diamond rich area with a large Lebanese diamond merchant community. According to Hyde, in early 1997 after the government of Kabbah was overthrown, most of them had left the area. Hyde confirmed that in 1997 there was a Kamajor community in Kenema. The Kamajors were fighting side by side with the SLA (Sierra Leonean Army) to oust the RUF in the eastern region. With the ruling elite there were a lot who sympathised with the Kamajors as they kept the RUF rebels at bay.
The witness agreed that Sergeant Bow travelled together with him to The Hague and stays in the same accommodation. Bow testified before this Court last week. Hyde maintained that Bow has not discussed his testimony with him. Hyde has worked with Bow for three years during the AFRC/RUF regime. Hyde agreed that on May 28, 1997, three days after the intervention of the AFRC, he heard Foday Sankoh tell the RUF to join the AFRC.
When asked what the term “sobels” means, Hyde explained that some SLA soldiers were conniving with rebels and partook in looting, however that this was a rumour and he can not prove it. The “so” comes from “soldier” and the “bel” comes from “rebel”: soldier during the day and rebel at night.
Killing of 42 police officers
Hyde maintained that when he arrived in Kenema in 1997 the Kamajors were not involved in killing police officers, this did not happen until later, when the Kamajors thought that police officers were involved with the RUF. He maintained that most of the police officers after the intervention of the AFRC, did not want to join them, they wished to stay in the city to do law enforcement and protect the life and property of the civilians. However he did not deny that some collaborated with the RUF. It was after the RUF were removed from Kenema that the Kamajors killed 42 police officers. Hyde’s name was also on the list, number 10. The Kamajors committed a lot of atrocities against those they suspected of collaborating with the RUF. He remembered them killing people and burning their bodies. He did not see or remembered beheadings nor the rape of women.
The witness agreed that there was hostility between the RUF and the Kamajors. Later the SLA soldiers wanted everybody to be part of the regime. To a certain extend the RUF searched for reconciliation with the Kamajors. The Kamajors however were in favour of ousted President Kabbah, they did not want to compromise against him.
At this point Court is adjourned for lunch break.