Prosecution Commences Examination of 40th Witness, TF1-189

2:30: Court resumed after lunch break and prosecution commenced the examination of its 40th witness TF1-189. The witness, a female crime base/victim witness, testified with voice and facial distortion. Prosecution counsel Ms. Brenda Hollis led the witness through her testimony. Introductory matters relating to the witness’s personal information were heard in private session in order to protect the her identity. When court moved into open session, prosecution counsel asked the witness several questions relating to her first contact with rebels in 1992, her capture by RUF rebels in 1998, and her experiences throughout her stay with the rebels.

Witness’s First Encounter with the RUF Rebels in 1992

The witness said that she was based in Yengema, Kono District in 1992 when the rebels attacked the town. The rebels, she said, called themselves Sankoh Rebels and Charles Taylor rebels.  The witness and her family moved from Kono and went to Makeni. The witness later relocated to Freetown.

AFRC Coup of 1997

The witness said she was in Freetown in 1997 when the AFRC soldiers overthrew the government of President Kabbah, They invited the RUF rebels to join them. The witness said she saw rebels raping girls, killing people, looting and burning houses. The witness said that her family went without food and that they had to manage the little food that they had saved before May 25, 2007. In July 2007, the witness went back to Yengema in Kono and was there for less than a year. The rebels, she said were based at the NDMC quarters and they were involved in diamond mining.  She said that civilians were used to mine diamonds. When asked how she knew that civilians were mining diamonds, the witness said she was told by a 25 year old boy, who himself was a civilian used for mining purposes. When ECOMOG forced the AFRC out of power in 1998, the witness left Yengema in February of the same year because there were attacks in Kono. She moved to another location in Kono, together with hundreds of civilians. In March 1998, the witness was at same location she had moved to, when she heard gun shots one morning. The community center in the town was set on fire. The rebels, she said gathered them in one location. They took a lady of 22 years from among the group and raped her. The rebels, she said came back the next day. She said the rebels burnt a house and they raped a girl of 13 years. She said they left and came back the following day. The rebels, she said, lit a candle under an old man’s scrutom. The old man, according to the witness, died. She said they raped another girl, after which, they took the girl along for their boss CO. Coco. The witness said that they came back the following day and 5 of them raped her.

At this time, the witness broke into tears and the court took a short adjournement to allow the witness to settle down.

When court resumed, the witness continued her testimony. She said that after raping her, the rebels took her away saying they were going to present her to their boss Superman in Koidu. When the got to Koidu, Superman said she did not want any wife and he told them to take her away. She said they took her to a house where other people were present. At that house, the witness said they killed a girl in her presence and said they were going to kill all of them. At night, when they were all asleep, the witness said she escaped. She said that on her way, she saw a vehicle and as he tried to escape, the people in the vehicle saw her and captured her again. She said the two people in the vehicle were rebels. She said she was taken back to Koidu, where she was handed over to her original captor. The witness said she was taken to a house where 13 other girls were held as captives. She said that while at that house, they were used as cooks, cleaners and wives. She said that in August, when ECOMOG jets started bombarding RUF targets, they were all asked to leave Kono. The witness said that they were taken to Kailahun on foot. On their way to Kailahun, she said they carried loads for the rebels. She made reference to a young boy of 12 years who was carrying a box of ammunition for the rebels. When the boy got tired and could no longer move, the witness said he was killed by the rebels. The witness said she stayed in Kailahun with some captives while others moved to Buedu.  In Kailahun, the witness said they were used as cooks, cleaners and wives by rebels. She said that on two occassions, she accompanied a female rebel to go do shopping. She said that when they got to one location, they met a rebel who was eating something in a bowl. She said the rebel told them that he was eating the heart of a Kamajor. The rebel, she said had a Liberian accent.

Court adjourned for the day.