9:30am: Court resumed with the continuation of cross-examination of Witness TF1-338. However, a huge part of the morning was spent in closed/private session due to security concerns for the witness. About 30 minutes to the end of the morning session, the court moved out of close/private to open session.
Defense counsel asked the witness questions about RUF’s cooperation/non-cooperation during the disarmament process in Sierra Leone. Defense counsel asked whether RUF fighters had any concerns that if they disarmed unconditionally, they’ll be attacked by their enemies. The witness explained that there were commanders within the RUF who had such fears. The witness agreed that rebel forces were attacking the Liberian givernment and so some RUF fighters helped to repel the rebels. He said that some of the RUF fighters who fought against rebels in Liberia could not cross back into Sierra Leone to take part in the disarmament process. The witness agreed with defense counsel that he stayed in Foya, Liberia, fighting against LURD rebels from January to November 2001. Asked whether the Liberian government told RUF rebels to hand over their weapons to them instaed of disarming them to the UN, the witness responded that the instruction was to hand all weapons supplied by Taylor back to the NPFL rather than giving them to the Sierra Leone government or to the UN. He said that Taylor told them not to disarm to the government of Sierra Leone and the UN. The witness further stated that some of the arms and ammunition were sent back to Liberia so as to empower the NPFL to fight against LURD rebels.
Taylor adviced RUF not to disarm
Defense counsel referenced witness’s earlier statement in which he said that Taylor adviced them in a meeting that they should not disarm to the UN. The witness reitarated that Taylor indeed told them that they could agree in principle to the UN but in practice, they should not disarm because the UN would deceive them and later turn around and arrest them. The witness gave as an example the fact that they only thought of the TRC but were later confronted by the Special Court.
Defense counsel asked the witness about Issa Sesay’s delay in disarming in certain areas of Sierra Leone. The witness explained that the disarmament started in 2001but was delayed at some point because of certain incidents. Asked about what the incidents were, the witness explained that there was a delay in Makeni because of the RUF/NPFL attacks in Guinea through Pamalap, in Kailahun because of same attacks in Kekedou, and in Kono because of attacks against RUF by Kamajors. He said that once the Guinea operations were over, disarmament took place in all other towns.
Return of Weapons Seized from the UN
Defense counsel asked the witness whether he had said the RUF returned weapons seized from UN peacekeepers in 1998. The witness denied having made such statement. Defense counsel referenced the specific pages of statements in which the witness had said so. The witness explained that he was misquoted in those statements and that what he meant to say was the handing over of UN hostages. The witness clarified that he never spoke of weapons taken from the UN in 1998 because during that year, there were only ECOMOG soldiers in Sierra Leone but no UN peacekeepers.
The court adjourned for mid-morning break.