September 19, 2008
This morning Defense Counsel Morris Anyah continued his cross-examination of Prosecution Witness 41, TF1-122, Alex Sheku Bao. He is the first witness in this trial of the Special Court for Sierra Leone to give his testimony in writing. This had already been announced by the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court during his press conference given in the briefing room of the ICC (International Criminal Court) in the Hague on January 4, 2008, where he stated that of the 144 intended prosecution witnesses, 74 would give their testimony in writing. (See the bottom of this post for an explanation of written testimony).
Yesterday during the third session after the lunch break, Prosecutor Counsel Alain Werner did not examine the witness, but he did introduce the witness to the Court. His name is Alex Sheku Bao, age 48, from the Mende tribe, has had education up to form 5 and speaks English, Krio and Mende. He has been with the Sierra Leonean police force for 27 years in Kenema and since 1997 he has the rank of sergeant. Alex Bao has also testified in the RUF trial and in the AFRC trial. Transcripts with his evidence from both cases were marked for identification. Bao testified in the AFRC trial on June 24, 2005 and in the RUF trial on July, 7 and 8, 2005. Two more documents were marked for identification: a copy of a diary by the witness and a map of Kenema District.
Yesterday afternoon, Defense Counsel Morris Anyah began his cross-examination and established that Bao was first contacted by the Office of the Prosecutor in 2007 in Kenema Town. Munyard pointed out that the total of payments received was 2,206,000 Leones, about 10 times Bao’s monthly salary, to which the witness agreed. Following this, Munyard went over inconsistencies in Bao’s statements in on one hand, his evidence in the AFRC trial and on the other hand, his evidence in the RUF trial and then questioned Bao on the deaths of BS Massaquoi, Bonnie Wailer and Mohamed Fityia.
This morning Morris Anyah continued his cross-examination.
Death of Mohamed Fityia
Anyah referred to the testimony given to this Court by 26th Prosecution Witness TF1-571 Karmoh Kanneh that Kanneh undertook an investigation into the death of Mohamed Fityia. Sam Bockarie thought that Fatiyia had committed an offence, namely looting a business man’s house – and Bockarie killed Fatiyia. Bao stated that certain AFRC soldiers wanted Fityia to hand them over his vehicle, so they could use it for looting. Because Fityia was afraid they would not return his vehicle, he went with them as a driver, but never partook in the looting. Anyah maintained that Fityia was killed because he was suspected of a crime, not because he was a random civilian. When questioned whether Bao was assigned to investigate Fityia’s death, Bao stated that he went and confirmed his death but was not able to investigate the matter, as “the place was tense”.
Death of Bonnie Wailer
When asked, Bao confirmed that he did investigate the death of Bonnie Wailer. Bonnie Wailer was at the Kenema police station in the CID (Criminal Investigations Department) having been arrested by civilians and accused of stealing. In his testimony in the AFRC trial the witness said that Wailer claimed to have been beaten up and tortured, which Bao now confirmed. At some point two alleged accomplices of this burglary were brought to the CID, one notorious criminal and one other person. These three were later taken from the police station and killed. Anyah pointed out that on January 30, 2003, when Bao met with representatives of the OTP for the first time, Bao stated he recognised one RUF man called junior, he did not say Sam Bockarie came to the CID. In 2005 however, Bao gave testimony that there were two vehicles, one occupied by the RUF and one by the AFRC and Sam Bockarie was present. Anyah put it before the witness that the story grew along the way as Bao wished to include both parties in the acts. Bao stood by his evidence that there were two vehicles and that Sam Bockarie was indeed present on this occasion.
Death of BS Massaquoi and others
During cross-examination Alex Bao testified to the following: early February 1998 BS Massaquoi and six others were detained on allegations of collaboration with the Kamajors. Bao supervised the investigation, found them not guilty and sent a report to his superiors in which he recommended their immediate release. This report, or rather a diary has been accepted by the Special Court in the AFRC trial as P24. The report about the death of Massaquoi was not made by the witness, but by a senior police officer and has not been presented to this Court.
It was established that in Kenema the CID of the police is located at 1, Hangha Road. The AFRC Secretariat is located at 14, Hangha Road while at 31, Hangha Road was the residence of Issa Sesay and also the immediate boss of the witness (who is soon to testify in this Court about events during the Junta period in Kenema Town) resided at this location.
A few days later Sam Bockarie returned from a trek only to find out that Massaquoi and another person, Brima Kpaka had been released on bail. Bockarie had Massaquoi rearrested, while Kpaka, who by that time was in the hospital, remained there. Early Friday morning on February 6, 1998, a commander with several others came and took Massaquoi out of detention. Massaquoi was beaten up, stabbed with a knife in the back, thrown in a vehicle and was driven away. The other five were also taken away from the CID. The following Sunday the Kamajors attacked Kenema Town from two flanks. They rescued Brima Kpaka from the hospital and came to the CID to free Massaquoi and the others, only to find them gone. Subsequently they took record books from the police station and burned them, however the witness was able to rescue the diary with his findings on the allegations of Kamajor collaboration. On Sunday February 8, 1998 the body of Massaquoi was found together with another body on government property by a stream called Lambaya Dorwalla, far from Hangha Road. He had gun wounds, stab wounds and there was a piece of rock on his head.
Defense Counsel Anyah brought out that prosecution witness Karmoh Kanneh on May 9, 2008 before this Court stated about the death of Massaquoi that he was arrested together with Dr. Momoh and later shot to death. Bao recalled Dr. Momoh being arrested, but said it was a separate incident. Momoh was released at the AFRC Secretariat but never handed over to the police.
Anyah also brought out that another prosecution witness, TF1-590, on June 17, 2008 testified before this Court that Massaquoi was brutally murdered by Mosquito and his men at Hangha Road. Bao called this a lie and insisted Massaquoi’s body was found at Lambaya Dorwalla.
Defense Counsel put to the witness that the reason for Massaquoi’s death was the allegation that he was a Kamajor supporter. If this is not so, why would the Kamajors take the trouble to attempt and rescue him and others attacking from two flanks? The Defense said this provided a reason to believe there is truth in the allegations. Bao called this a lie, and stated that everybody was important to the Kamajors, that they would try and free all persons that were held in captivity by the Junta forces.
Alex Bao’s arrest
It is established that at some point in time the witness himself was arrested by the Junta forces. A lady was being harrassed by some members of the junta forces and Bao intervened. He was arrested, detained for two hours and beaten up. During a separate incident he and his family were forced to leave their home and during their absence, their house was looted with a damage of 10,000,000 Leones worth of household property. In Tongo Fields, Kenema District, his father’s home was burnt by Junta forces.
The witness agreed that during the Junta rule from May 25, 1997 to February 12, 1998 the Kamajors and ECOMOG forces also committed crimes and atrocities. He never saw child soldiers with ECOMOG forces.
The Defense has no more questions for this witness whereupon Court is adjourned for the mid-morning break.
Why can a witness give testimony in writing?
Rule 92bis of the SCSL’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence states that a Chamber (meaning: the judges) may, instead of oral testimony, admit as evidence in whole or in part, information including written statements and transcripts (a complete version of these Rules can be found on this site under Home, Documents, Special Court Documents, Rules of Procedure and Evidence). This rule usually applies to documents that either the Prosecution or the Defense want to see admitted as evidence, but may also apply to testimony of witnesses. When this is the case, the Prosecution will not examine the witness, but the Defense has the right to cross-examine the witness and the judges have the right to ask the witness questions. To comply with this rule, the witness will have to be present in Court, as is stated in Rule 92ter of the Rules of Procedures and Evidence of the Special Court.