October 22, 2008
Defense Counsel Terry Munyard continued his cross-examination of the witness and established the following. The witness had an interview with a prosecutor and told her about her abduction by rebels in January 22, 1999. They came to her house, about 10 men and 5 boys, around 18 years old. All of them wore soldier uniforms and were SLA. She knew they were SLA because they told her they did not get enough money from the government and therefore joint up with the rebels. They called themselves Junta 1. At some point she was aware that ECOMOG attacked Kalaba Town. The witness then described the damage to Kalaba Town. ECOMOG was attacking retreating SLA soldiers and killed some of them. If a civilian ran towards them, they would be killed and indeed civilians were killed.
The witness has seen a commander called Rambo among the rebels. Rambo ordered that any soldier that took money from civilians should be flogged, so Munyard concluded that he tried to establish some order.
There are no questions for re-examination. Justice Sebutinde asked the witness if she knows to which fighting faction Rambo belonged, but the witness did not know.
The transcript with the evidence from the witness in the AFRC trial became prosecution exhibit P206.
Presiding Judge Sebutinde thanked the witness for giving her evidence and the witness is dismissed.
69th Prosecution witness TF1-231
This witness is a category one witness, protective measures do not apply and the witness will testify in open session. The witness is sworn in on the Bible and will testify in Krio. Prosecutor Julia Baly will lead the witness and Defense Counsel Morris Anyah will cross-examine the witness.
The name of the witness is Sarah Koroma, she does not know her age, she was born in Kabumba in Sierra Leone, and she speaks Limba and Krio. She is a widow with six children. She never went to school. She grew up in Kabumba, but at one stage left for Freetown. She married in Freetown and gave birth to her children there.
Events in January 1999
In January 1999 she was living in Loko Town in Wellington and heard the rebels were coming. She went with her husband, six children and two children from her elder sister into the bush, about two miles from Wellington. The witness heard from other civilians that the rebels were capturing, killing and amputating civilians. She and her family stayed in the bush for a week. Then the rebels announced that the civilians should go back to their houses. If they would not do that they would be killed when found in the bush.
Captured by rebels and subsequent events
The witness and her family went on their way home and were captured by rebels. The rebels were wearing combat clothing and had knives, guns and machetes. The rebels killed her husband in presence of the witness. The rebels hacked him with machetes and shot him. The civilians had to queue up. A woman was trying to escape. She had a six year old daughter strapped to her back. The rebels captured her, took the child from the woman’s back and the rebels hacked the child to death with a machete. Then the rebels started chopping off the hands of civilians, telling them to go to President Kabbah to tell him that they wanted peace. The rebels chopped off the witness’s left hand with a machete and cut her right hand. She felt dizzy and started vomiting.
The witness showed to the Court her left arm which had been amputated between the wrist and the elbow. The witness held out her right arm to show the mark on her right hand, there is a scar above the thumb.
When she was on her way to the hospital two other rebels told her to come, this was near the brewery. The rebels said they wanted to give her medical treatment. She went to these rebels, because she believed them. One of the rebels told her that they wanted to kill her because she was Tejan Kabbah’s mother. He used a knife to cut her, threw a bottle at her and kicked her. She still has scars on her leg from that. She was kicked in the gutter. Her hand was bleeding. One rebel put his hand in her underwear and took money that was in a piece of cloth attached to her underwear, 50,000 Leones. The other rebel told her to go back where she came from because it was safer there and gave her 5,000 Leones. The witness went back into the bush and lied there for two days, she was afraid to go to Freetown. After two days she went to Freetown to the Connaught hospital. They bandaged her amputated arm, there was no medicine. There were many other amputees and people who had been shot. There were not enough beds; people were lying on the floor with their injuries. Her children had escaped to Kanikay, she saw them again after everything was over.
Her life now
After all of this happened she was not able to work. Some people feel sorry for her and give her some money. It is difficult for her to support her children but sometimes her relatives help her. She still suffers from the consequences of her injuries. She has difficulty sleeping due to the pain she still has caused by the injuries she suffered during the war.
Defense Counsel Morris Anyah began by saying that he does not dispute that the witness suffered injuries from the rebels. Anyah began his cross-examination and established the following. The witness is Limba and testified in a previous trial. She is comfortable with testifying in Krio. In the RUF trial in 2004 she said she was 40 years old, it was a guess, according to the witness. She had a younger sister who was killed by the rebels. This sister was seven months pregnant when she was killed in 1999 but the witness does not know the age of her sister at the time. She has suffered the loss of her left arm, her husband and sister were killed. She hid in the bush with her family for a week without food. She was queued up and watched the killing of the six year old child. Up to this day suffers from her injuries.
At this moment in her testimony Court is adjourned at 1.30 p.m. for the lunch break.