9:30am: Prosecution counsel Mr. Christopher Santora continued and later completed the examination of Witness TF1-568 Mohamed Berete Kabba. Defense counsel Mr. Courtaney Griffiths commenced cross-examination of the witness.
During the examination of the witness, Mr. Santora made a brief recap of the issues the witness testified about on Friday. He asked the witness sevaral questions about his role as radio operator in the RUF, the January 1999 invasion of Freetown, radio communications between Sam Bockarie and Taylor and/or Benjamin Yeaten, diamond mining in Kono and transfer of diamonds to Taylor in Liberia.
Recap of Witness’s Previous Testimony
Prosecution counsel Mr. Santor asked the witness about his explanation of the role he played while deployed in Bailu, Kailahun Didtrict as radio operator. The witness explained that Bailu was a town close to the Sierra Leone-Liberian border. He said he was deployed there as radio operator and his role included sending information on misbehavious by RUF soldiers in civilian occupied zones as well as reporting on any threat that came from Liberia. Prosecution asked the witness about a radio operator called Memunatu Deen who was based in Monrovia. The witness explained that Memunatu was operating a radio stationed at Pa Musa’s house in Monrovia. Asked who Pa Musa was, the witness responded that he never met him but that RUF radio operators who went to Monrovia came back and told him about Pa Musa. Mr. Santora also asked the witness about who Jungle was. The witness responded that Jungle was more or less part of the RUF. He said that Jungle moved directly between Taylor’s Mansion Ground in Liberia and the RUF controlled territories in Buedu, Kenema and Kono.
January 1999 Invasion of Freetown
Prosecutoin counsel asked the witness about the January 1999 invasion of Freetown. The witness said that they first heard about the January invasion of Freetown through the BBC. He said King Perry, the RUF radio operator moving with Gullit in Freetown later called and informed them. He said King Perry told them he had not been able to communicate with them in Buedu through the radio because SAJ Musa suppressed any said communications. He said that once SAJ Musa died, King Perry was able to communicate with them. He said that when ECOMOG forces started suppressing the rebel forces in Freetown, King Perry called them in Buedu and said that Gullit wanted to talk with Bockarie. The two men spoke and Gullit informed Bockarie that they were being attacked by enemy forces. Bockarie then ordered Rambo to put forces together and provide reinforcements for the fighters in Freetown. The witness said that after a short time, Benjamin Yeaten called to speak with Sam Bockarie. Bockarie informed Yeaten that their fighters were in Freetown but they were being suppressed by the ECOMOG forces. Yeaten adviced Bockarie to send more men. Rambo advanced but he could not enter Freetown because the supply route into Freetown had been cut off. The witness said that Gullit called Bockarie and informed him that they were retreating as they could not withstand the ECOMOG attacks. Bockarie adviced Gullit to retreat with all freed prisoners from Pademba Road Prisons, especially former President J.S Momoh. Bockarie also told Gullit to cause destruction in the city while retreating.
Radio Communications Between Sam Bockarie and Charles Taylor/Benjamin Yeatan
The witness explained that during the January invasion of Freetown, Taylor and Yeaten communicated with Sam Bockarie. The witness said that when Bockarie spoke with Yeaten, he did so on the radio set but when he spoke with Taylor, he did so on the satelite phone. He said he was present when Bockarie spoke with Taylor on the setelite phone. Bockarie, he said, informed Taylor of the rebel advance into Freetown. He said that during the conversation, Bockarie was laughing and he kept answering yes sir.
RUF Diamond Mining
The witness testified that when Bockarie left the RUF for Liberia, Issa Sesay asked him (the witness) to move to Kono and work there as overall radio commander. He said he left for Kono, where he stayed until the disarmament was completed. He returned to Kailahun in 2003. The witness said that while he was in Kono, RUF undertook diamaond mining there. He said that during this time, the two pile minig system was in operation in Kono. The two pile system ensured that when miners dug out the gravel, one pile will be given to the RUF and the other pile remained with the miners. He said that there were, however, certain areas which were exclusively RUF mining areas. He said that when Amara Salia, aka Peleto became mining commander, he suppressed the two pile system. When miners finished worked on the RUF pile, Peleto will get the miners to wash the second pile for the RUF. He said that during this time, Peleto submitted many diamonds to Issa Sesay. He said that Issa took the diamonds to Liberia. The witness said that on one occassion, Issa returned from Liberia with Eddie Kanneh, Zigzag Marzah, other RUF/NPFL fighters, together with two white Lebanese looking men. The witness spoke about Issa Sesay handing over a percel of diamonds to Eddie Kanneh to be taken to Liberia. He said FOC was later sent to Liberia to collect the proceeds of the diamonds. Asked how he knew that Issa Sesay took diamonds to Taylor, the witness gave a specific example of a time when Issa went to Liberia. In his absence, an RUF mining commander in Tongo called and informed them in Kono that he had discovered a 36 carat diamond. He said they called Sun Light in Monrovia to inform Issa. Issa had left Monrovia at that time. He said they also called Motiger in Foya and informed him. During the conversation with Motiger, Yeaten heard them. He said Yeaten called Taylor and informed him about the diamond. He said that Taylor told Yeaten to instruct Issa to take the diamond to him in Monrovia. When Issa went to Kono, the witness said that Issa was angry that Taylor knew about the diamond. Issa eventually took the diamond to Taylor. Prosecution counsel asked the witness about RUF commander Morris Kallon. He responded that Kallon was a wicked man who would kill civilians and RUF fighters easily.
Prosecution completed its examination-in-chief and defense commenced cross-examinationn of the witness.
Defense counsel asked the witness about the number of radio operators there were in the RUF. The witness responded that he could estimate a number of over 50 radio operators. Defense counsel asked the witness whether he had been in touch with any of the radio operators after the war. The witness answered in the affirmative. The witness said that he is only now in touch with a former radio operator called Liberty, who lives in Kailahun. Asked whether he had spoken with any of the other radio operators who have testified before the court, the witness said no. The witness said he only had information that King Perry testified in the RUF trials in Freetown. The witness said he only came here because somebody influenced him that he will be safe. Asked about who the person was, the witness said he did not wish to call the name of the person. Defense suggested that the name be written down, which he did. Prosecution stated that it had no objection to the second name being called but had concerns about the relevance of the first name being mentioned. Defense responded that they saw no reason why the names should not be mentioned. Justice Dougherty informed counsel that it was time for the mid-morning break. Defense counsel stated that he wished that the matter be discussed in the absence of the witness upon resumption of the court.
Court adjourned for mid-morning break.