September 25, 2008
On the run
The witness continued his testimony. In the morning he woke up in Bandafara, had some fruits for breakfast and subsequently started to walk in the direction of Tonbudu to go to Kangama and walked until 4 p.m. His family was also heading for Kangama. He was later reunited with his brother Samuel and some of his family members. Samuel informed him that B was again captured by another group of rebels. This happened when B, Samuel and others were in a hiding place. They captured B and Emmanuel Kobie, the son of Thomas Kobie, who used to work for his father. The next time he saw B again was a year and about 4 months later, the same time he saw A again.
The same group as was in the cave, except A, B and Emmanuel Kobie left the area again. They encountered Kamajors who allowed them to pass. They passed a town called Mamboma in the same month of April 1998. Mamboma is marked on the map by witness TF1-459 after which he continued his testimony. Mamboma is a popular town with a lot of business going on.
The next day the witness went to have a bath in a stream when he heard people shouting to run and flee, which he did with his nephew Thomas Bull, without finding out what exactly was happening, fleeing so fast even leaving the other members of the family behind. While on the run he had no form of identification with him, nor was he wearing a shirt. They came to another village where houses were being burnt, so they left from there. Later they encountered men with guns which they identified as AFCR/RUF: they were in half combat clothes or in plain clothes, their eyes were red due to the use of drugs and they behaved in a very rough manner. He was captured by a man, of whom he later got to know the name: Kallay Amara, who was in a group of 10 to 15 rebels. They took the witness and his brother back to Mamboma. Upon their arrival the witness saw that all houses but one were burnt, he saw dead bodies and a head on a stick. One rebel said to him he was also going to cut the witness’s head. The witness was not able to count the dead bodies. People were packed together by the rebels, he saw his father, his brother Andrew and Titus, another relative. In the group were mothers, a few old people and children. His father, who had blood running down his head, told the witness that Thomas Kobie had been killed and told him how. Thomas had been shot in the leg and later chopped to death by the rebels.
A rebel called Cobra, who spoke Liberian English and who was an RUF, was very aggressive and acting like he was in control, commanding others, threatening and hitting people. The rebels had stolen things like food, clothing and other items from the people in Mamboma. Then the rebels told the civilians to go with them; the civilians had to carry the stolen items, the rebels only carried their guns. Witness TF1-459 had to carry a bag stuffed with chicken, a radio cassette player and 5 gallons of palm oil on his head. Andrew had difficulty walking, his leg had been hurt. When the group started walking, Cobra came and said: “if you close your eyes on us, we will close our eyes on you”, meaning: if you are tired, we will execute you. Along the way Alpha Jets passed by. One lady carrying a baby was tired and gave up. She was taken away and later the witness heard one shot. The witness later heard from his father that the woman had been shot and killed; her baby had been given to another woman. His father told him that he was eye witness to this event. Later the body of the lady was found. It is the witness’s opinion that it was Cobra who killed her, as he was the person walking up and down shouting “if you close your eyes on us, we will close our eyes on you”.
Later an argument broke out over a broken spoon. The group had about 40 rebels, about half AFRC and half RUF. The rebels said: “Let’s put the civilians aside and kill all of them”. Then one rebel calmed them, saying: “We all fight for a common goal” and everything quieted down, it was just a threat. They walked all day and arrived in Njaimeh, Nimikoro Chiefdom. It was still April 1988.
The witness is shown the map again and he marks Njaimeh, Nimikoro Chiefdom on the map.
When the group reached Njaimeh, the rebels told the civilians to sit on the floor in the house of the grandfather of the witness. A rebel called Baiburreh (spelling?) later spoke to the civilians giving them a propaganda lecture on how the government is using the riches of the country for themselves and not for the people and that the AFRC wanted to change that. Some civilians were responding in agreement but the witness thought it rubbish, because he knew what the rebels were doing to civilians who can not defend themselves. They called the items they stole from this group of civilians “government property”. Later the witness was informed that Baiburreh was from Koidu and came here for this operation. Many stolen items were carried into their vehicles and Baiburreh and about 15 others left. The rebels who were left behind, picked out civilians among them. One girl known to the witness, a virgin, was chosen by a rebel to become his “wife”. This happened to many of the women in that group of civilians.
At 1.30 p.m. Court is adjourned for lunch break.