October 29, 2008
Lead Defense Counsel Courtenay Griffiths continued his cross-examination of 76th Prosecution witness Gibril Sesay and established the following.
Video contradicting testimony in three trials
This is the third time that Sesay is giving evidence before this Court: the first time in the RUF trial, the second time in the AFRC trial and the third time in this trial. Yesterday it was established that there was a contradiction between the testimony in these trials and a record of the events involving the witness recorded on a video with a transcript of the audio dated July 9, 2007. The witness said he was confused at the time of the making of the video. The Court then looked at the video twice, first without the translation of the Krio in English and subsequently with the translation. Griffiths asked for a transcript of the audio and this will be made. The witness recognised himself in the video. He was recuperating in Connaught hospital. He reached ECOMOG the same day he was amputated. A few days later he was taken to Connaught Hospital. When the video was taken he was not yet treated by MSF, it was taken shortly after he arrived at Connaught Hospital. At that moment the memory of the events should have been extremely vivid in his mind, according to Griffiths. The witness answered that he was feeling a lot of pain, he was not in the right frame of mind, he had just woken up from sleep and did not give a correct account of the events. Griffiths asked the witness a series of questions that Sesay could not very well answer to: Why did Sesay say in the interview that he had not seen his children instead of that he had not seen his wife and children after he came back from accompanying his just amputated friend Mohamed Kamara? Why is it the witness failed to mention his wife while he remembered the detail of a rebel putting the witness’s underpants in his pocket? Did the witness go back to pick up loads from a veranda as he stated in the video? Having picked up the loads the witness met with 15 rebels: how could he be so precise as to the exact number of rebels, yet he forgot to mention his wife? Why did the witness give such a vivid description of falling into the water of the stream and drinking the water, if it were totally false? Why did the witness say towards the end of the interview on the video that he didn’t know where his wife and children were and that only his younger brother was there with him in the hospital, when his wife was already dead? The witness answered that he did not go back to the veranda to pick up loads as he was running for his life, that there were more than 15 rebels coming attacking Penduema, that he did not fall into any stream of water and that he mentioned his younger brother being there because the brother had not been with him during the war. The witness continued to say that he was not in the right frame of mind when he gave the interview. Griffiths told the witness that he did not want to belittle in any way what happened to the witness, but that the worst thing that had happened that day was the gang rape and killing of his wife and this was not mentioned on the video. The witness agreed that his wife suffered more than he had but he did not mention it during the interview because it would have killed him, the pain would have been too much. Griffiths subsequently put before the witness that the evidence he had been given was a pack of lies and suggested that what the witness said on the video shortly after the events was the truth, and that for some reason the witness decided to make up this fantastic story. Griffiths accused the witness of having lied on oath on three separate occasions to which the witness answered that he would not lie to international personnel and that he gave testimony three times. Griffiths maintained that when the witness was shown the video he realised he had been caught out and that is why he had difficulty answering these questions to which the witness responded that he had no difficulty answering the questions.
Payments by the OTP
The witness agreed that as an amputee he can no longer work in mining as he used to, or do any other kind of work, he is now a beggar. According to a document showing the disbursements paid to this witness Sesay received money from the OTP for lost wages on more than one occasion. The witness maintained that he did not get any salary from the Special Court and that the statement is not correct: it was not specified to him that this money was for that reason.
Being a soldier and reason for amputation
Griffiths put before the witness the possibility that Sesay was a soldier, in Staff Alhaji’s group, did something wrong and that is why his hand was chopped off. Griffiths suggested that this was his role and that Sesay made up the story of his wife being raped to disguise this. Griffiths further suggested that the only true fact Sesay told in Court was the fact that his hand was chopped off and that he embellished the rest of the story. The witness maintained he was not a soldier and that there are no records in Sierra Leone stating he was ever a soldier.
Re-examination in chief
Prosecution Counsel Christopher Santora conducted a short re-examination. Santora asked the witness why in the video that was taken after the incident he did not explain what happened to his wife, to which Sesay answered that indeed of the two of them his wife suffered the most. He did not speak about his wife because it would have had a too serious psychological impact on him. It was not until after he had had counselling that he had been able to talk about his wife.
Santora asked Sesay about the statement he gave in 2007 when he was shown this video. In this Court Sesay said that it was only when the man showed it to him that he remembered. The witness answered that the man showed him the video and asked if it was him in the video, which Sesay confirmed. The man further asked him if he would be able to explain to the Special Court what had happened to him and Sesay said he was willing to do so. The man showed the video to Sesay on a flat screen which he put on the table and opened. After he had seen the video Sesay explained to the man that that was not the correct story.
Presiding Judge Teresa Doherty thanked the witness for giving his evidence, wished him a safe journey home and dismissed the witness.
77th Prosecution witness TF1-198
Witness TF1-198 is a category A witness (victim of sexual violence), will testify pursuant Rule 92bis and is subject to protective measures. The Prosecution applied to rescind these measures, except the address and present whereabouts of the witness becoming known to the public and the press. The Defense had no objection and the application was granted. The witness will testify in open Court. The witness was sworn in on the Bible and will testify in Kono.
The name of the witness is Kumba Bindi, age 39, born in Tankoro. She speaks Kono and she did not go to school. A transcript is put before the witness and she adopted this as her testimony given in the AFRC trial on June 28, 2005. The transcript is marked for identification as MFI-1a (open session) and MFI-1b (closed session). Other documents that were defense exhibits in the AFRC trial were marked for identification. Additional statements of the witness dated March 20, 2007 and September 5, 2008 were marked for identification as MFI-7a and MFI-7b.
Lead Defense Counsel Courtenay Griffiths began his cross-examination of the witness and established the following. Bindi first saw the rebels in Duadu, about 15 miles from Tombodu. She was unaware if the rebels were AFRC or RUF, they spoke Krio but towards the end changed the language. The rebels said: Mah Meh, let’s go. She did not know what language that was.