2:30PM: Prosecution counsel Brenda Hollis commenced the examination of new prosecution witness TF1-388.
The witness is testifying using voice and facial distortion and there will be closed/private sessions when necessary.
The witness stated that he wishes to testify in Krio as that will help him understand questions put to him better. He said that he can talk Mende, Kissi, Liberian English and that he can read English well.
May 1991, RUF rebels Attack Koindu
The witness explained that in May 1991, he was in Koindu, in the Kailahun District when RUF rebels entered the township. He said the rebels told them that they were freedom fighters. Many people in the town were arrested and the rebels asked for those who wanted to volunteer to join the RUF. The witness said that 25 of them volunteered and they were all taken from among the group. He said the rebel commander in charge then was General Vienna and he was a Liberian member of the NPFL. The witness said the 25 of them were taken to a school called Kissy Bendu in Koindu Town for training. He said they were there when government soldiers attacked the town and they retreated to Foya in Liberia. He said they moved further to Voinjama and continued their training there. He said the rebels again attacked Koindu and started advancing towards Kailahun town. The witness and other trainees were taken back to Voinjama and they continued their training. The witness and others were later moved to Kailahun and they were taken to Kailondo base where they continued their training for another four months. The witness said that at some point, he accompanied Sankoh to Gbanga in Liberia to get arms and ammunitions.
1996, Zogoda Comes Under Attack
The witness said that in 1996, he was at Camp Zogoda where Sankoh was also based. He said that when Sankoh left for Abidjan for the 1996 peace talks, he asked Kallon to be in charge of Zogoda until Commander Zino came and occupied the camp. He said after two weeks, Zino came and took over command of Zogoda in Sankoh’s absence. He said that Kanajors attacked Zogoda and Zino was killed. He said the remaining fighters went to Libya and Burkina Faso, code names for certain RUF strongholds in Pujehun. When Zino died, the witness said that Sam Bockarie became the commander in charge.
1997, Sankoh Arrested in Nigeria, Witness says Charles Taylor Promoted Sam Bockarie and Issa Sesay
The witness was asked about Sankoh’s whereabouts in 1997. He said that Sankoh was in Nigeria. The witness said that while Sankoh was away, Jungle came with a message from Taylor, promoting Sam Bockarie and Issa Sesay and also said that Taylor said that all instructions should be taken from him. The witness said he did not see Sankoh again untill 1999 in LIberia. The witness said that upon Sankoh’s release, he (the witness) was sent by Bockarie to Liberia to give first hand explanation to Sankoh about the infighting between Superman and Gibril Massaquoi on the one hand versus Bockarie and Issa Sesay on the other. He sad when they went to Liberia, they held a meeting in which Taylor was present. He said Taylor thanked Sam Bockarie for keeping the RUF together in sankoh’s absence as well as his brave move to stop Mosquito Spray from capturing Foya and Voinjama in Liberia. He said after the meeting, Taylor gave Bockarie $15,000 to be distributed among the bodyguards. The witness said that when Sankoh finally moved to Freetown, he was there with him until the May 8, 2000 incident took place at Sankoh’s residence on Spur road.
Abduction of United Nations Peacekeepers
On the abduction of UN peacekeepers, the witness said that he was at Sankoh’s residence at Spur road when he heard a radio message from one of the radio operators that Augustine Gbao, Morris Kallon and CO Kailondo had abducted UN peacekeepers.
May 8, 2000, Sankoh is Arrested
The witness said that on May 7, 2000, they received some of their colleagues from Malama where Sankoh had bought a house for RUF rebels in Freetown. He said that these colleagues came and said that they were being attacked by civilians at their house. He said that in the morning of May 8, 2008, they saw many civilians marching towards their house on Spur road. He said that the UN troops who were present at the house tried to stop the civilians from getting to the house but that the civilians insisted on advancing. He said the UN soldiers fired a warning shot in the air. In response, armed men from among the civilians also opened fire. He said that some civilians were killed in the incident. The witness said that they were able to escape with Foday Sankoh. He said they wanted to take Sankoh to Makeni but he refused, saying that he already had support in Freetown and didnt want to leave like that. He said they were in the bush when a rocket bomb was launched. Sankoh was arrested. He said that some of them escaped and were able to get to Makeni.
At that time, there was infighting between Superman and Issa and Superman feared that if he just went to Makeni, Issa was going to kill him and his supporters. He said to save their lives, Superman faked Issa that Sankoh had sent a message that Issa was to take command of the RUF. He said that Issa did and that he appointed Morris Kallon as his deputy. He said Issa made several other appointments to various RUF commanders.
Issa Sesay’s Meeting with Charles Taylor
The witness said that when Issa took command of the RUF, he moved to Lebanon in Kono. He said Issa later travelled to Liberia to meet with Charles Taylor. He said that Taylor asked that an individual who was present when Sankoh was arrested be present at the meeting. He said that in that meeting, Taylor asked to know why Sankoh was arrested and the person who was present in Freetown when Sankoh was arrested gave an explanation. He said that Taylor asked about a British Military Observer (MILOBS) who had been abducted by the RUF. He said the individual present at the meeting explained the release of the British MILOBS. He said that Taylor told them that they should not have released the Britsih MILOBS but should have used him as a bargaining chip for the release of Sankoh. The witness said Issa told Taylor that the UN soldiers were attacking their position and that they lacked materials to defend themselves. He said Taylor told Issa to appoint one person that would go with Joe Tua to Belehfasama in Liberia to get materials for the RUF. He said Joe Tua went with the individual and they obtained the materials, which were put in a truck and taken to Mansion Ground.
Justice Dougherty reminded counsel of the time and the court adjourned for the day.