September 25, 2008
The Prosecution made an application for the witness TF1-459 to rescind the protective measures with which this witness has testified in the RUF trial as the witness is prepared to testify in open trial. The Defense had no objection Prosecutor Christopher Santora will lead the witness and Defense Counsel Morris Anyah will later do the cross-examination.
The Court ruled that the protective measures are rescinded and the witness is called to the stand.
The witness is 29 years old, from Kono, has a university degree in engineering from the University of Freetown and presently works for a telecom company in Freetown. He speaks English, Krio and a little Kono.
Living in Freetown and Motema
During the AFRC regime the witness was living in Freetown, taking his education. At the time the government decided to close down the schools and the university. Then he went to the country, to Kono and lived in Motema with his parents and other family members. He arrived in November 1997 in Motema. The situation changed at the time of the intervention of the ECOMOG troops. He heard on Focus on Africa broadcasted by the BBC that it was about the restoration of the Kabbah government. After hearing this news the witness also heard about the Kamajors, the hunters, approaching Kono. The Donso’s and Kamajors took over the town in February 1998 and the AFRC/RUF rebels fled the town.
Moving to Fakoya and Fakoya Hills
Later, still in February 1998, the witness was in his father’s house in Motema when he heard a gunshot from Bompeh. He had heard on Focus on Africa, that the RUF/AFRC was being pushed out of Freetown and moving up to Kono. It was decided that the witness and his relatives would leave town, taking food items and some valuables with them. They were heading towards a village called Fakoya, Witness TF1-459’s father used to do mining there and they had relatives living there. Fakoya is about 2 hours walking from Motema, using a footpath. They stayed there for a few hours when they arrived there. After the witness’s uncle was killed there they left Fakoya and settled in a cave, an hour’s walk from Fakoya in Fakoya Hills. They left in a group of about 21 persons, the witness’s family, the pastor of the church in his father’s house, his elder brother Samuel with his wife and her relatives. They were afraid what might happen if the RUF/AFRC rebels would come.
A map is shown to the witness, who identified it as a map of some part of Kono and Bull marks Motema, Fakoya and Bompeh on the map.
Rape and abduction by AFRC/RUF rebels
During this time they listened to news on the BBC radio and local radio stations from Freetown, waiting and hoping for ECOMOG to reach Kono. They lived on yams, rats and other bush food. One day the witness, his elder brother Samuel and Thomas Kobie came back at around 4 p.m. from a food mission to look for bush yams, when suddenly the heard a gunshot. They ran back up the hill and stayed there for about 30 minutes after which they went back to the cave to check on their family. The AFRC/RUF rebels had already left, all their belongings were scattered, money and items having been stolen. It was then the witness was informed by the others who were at the cave that A had been abducted.
Prosecutor Santora interrupted the witness here to make an application to let the witness make a list of two persons whose names he would like to be protected, as was done yesterday when the witness’s father testified. The Defense does not object. The document is dated and signed by the witness and is marked as MFI-1.
Other family members who were there when the rebels came, identified the rebels as AFRC/RUF men. They raped A and B, released B and abducted A and the son of Thomas Kobie, Immanuel Kobie. Witness TF1-459 was informed about this when he came back to the camp. The next day it was decided to go with a little group of seven persons to Motema, to try and see if anything could be done to get them released. The group consisted of the witness, his father, his elder brother Samuel, the pastor and three other people. Halfway to Motema, taking the footpath, they ran into about five junta soldiers, heavily armed, three were held at gunpoint (the witness, his father and his brother Samuel), the other four escaped into the bush. The witness identified himself as a relative of A and was taken along by the rebels, one by the name of Teddy P. Teddy P heard a sound, a rebel called Gobeh stayed with him and held him at gunpoint, the others went after the noise and captured a lady of about 18 years old. One of the rebels told the witness’s father to leave which he did, the witness, his brother and the lady continued with the rebels. During the walk he made acquaintance with a rebel called Pikin, having about the same age as the witness at the time, 18 or 19, and tried to befriend him, so he could do something to help free A. Pikin promised the witness to get him into the camp so he could speak with A. After arriving in the camp the witness was told to wait and Pikin brought A to the witness. He hugged her, prayed with her and gave her the pocket bible he had with him. He spoke consolingly to her and asked another lady to look after her. After this encounter in April 1998 it took about a year and four months before he saw A again. After the encounter the rebels asked him to leave. It was dark and he did not know where to go. He walked in the forest in the night until he reached Bandafara. The previously marked map is shown to the witness again and he marked Bandafara on the map.
At 11.30 a.m. Court is adjourned for the mid-morning break.