2nd Session: 76th Prosecution Witness Gibril Sesay Describes Atrocities by AFRC/RUF and Kamajors

The Hague

October 28, 2008

Junta period

Prosecution Counsel Christopher Santora continued his examination in chief and established the following. The AFRC and RUF were raping women and looting property. They started doing this as soon as the junta was in power. The witness knows this because he sometimes heard gunshots in the night. In the morning he and others would go to the house or houses where the junta had wrecked havoc. The witness was also visited by rebels who were unknown to him and his bailing machines and furniture was taken from him. This happened in February 1998. The ones looting him had guns; some were in uniform others in jeans. A bailing machine at that time would cost 500,000 Leones. The witness can not give an estimate of the value of his furniture that had been stolen.

Time of the intervention

At the time of the intervention in Sierra Leone the witness was still living in Koidu. Between the AFRC take over and the intervention he saw several commanders: Lieutenant Tee, Alhaji Bayoh = Staff Alhaji, Captain Baibureh (spelling?), Lieutenant Jalloh, Combat Budema (spelling?).
During the intervention the witness and his family were at Koidu Town. They did not stay and fled. The witness saw Mosquito, Sam Bockarie in the Community Centre in Koidu Town. This was the time the junta had arrested nine thieves and went to kill them at the football field. Mosquito was wearing dark spectacles. The witness knew that Sam Bockarie was the field commander for Foday Sankoh. At the Community Centre the nine thieves were displayed and they were shot by the junta and the RUF. At that time the only ones with guns were junta soldiers and RUF. Sam Bockarie was standing there when the nine thieves were shot. After that there was a meeting in the community centre. The chiefs pleaded with Sam Bockarie that no one should be killed in the community centre or in the middle of the town. Many civilians, including the witness, were watching and listening.

Time of the Kamajors

When the juntas and the rebels had taken over Koidu Town, they were knocking at people’s doors at night. They would rape women and steel people’s property. Some chiefs and members of the Lebanese community and other rich people called a meeting. They decided to call on the Kamajors to chase the junta and rebels out of Koidu Town. The Kamajors came and entered Koidu Town and were there about two or three weeks, chasing the junta and RUF out of Koidu. Then the Kamajors put a big pot near the central mosque and said they would cook the ones who had been supportive to the junta and the rebels. All civilians were surprised that the Kamajors would do this kind of things
One Friday the witness heard gunshots, sporadic gunfire, from the direction of Koikuima. The witness, his wife, children and sister ran away from the house, seeing the Kamajors fleeing from town.

Return of the junta and RUF

Later in the afternoon, the witness and others came back to check and saw hat the junta and rebels had taken over Koidu Town again. They were setting houses on fire. Lieutenant Tee was in charge of setting the houses on fire. After three days the juntas and the RUF said they did not want to see any civilians around and that they would convert Koidu Town into a farm. So this prompted the witness and others to leave again. The witness and his family went to Wendadu, many civilians went there, it is about two miles from Koidu Town. The witness and his family reached there, many other civilians had come there. Captain Barbureh, an RUF fighter, and Lieutenant Jalloh used to patrol there frequently. One day they abducted about ten young girls. One day shortly after that his younger sister, 16 years old, went to fetch water. On her way back Captain Barbureh saw her and captured her. The witness went to him to plead with him to release his sister. Barbureh said: “Which do you choose, your sister or your life?” Then the witness left. The witness saw his sister again after the disarmament. After the abduction of his sister the witness went with his family to Kondewakoro in the eastern part of Kono, only the Meli river separates it from Guinea. More than 100 people went from Wendadu to Kondewakoro. In Kondewakoro Chief Samuel Sulluku gave the witness and his family a place where they could build a hut. For food they looked for bush yams. The witness and his family stayed almost two months in Kondewakoro, still in 1998.

From Kondewakoro back to Koidu

The witness had a small radio and he listened to the news regularly. One day on the BBC program Focus on Africa, there was an announcement that ECOMOG had taken over Koidu Town. They packed and within three days the witness, his family and other civilians left Kondewakoro for Koidu Town. They walked for four days, walking at night, because they were afraid to walk during the day. After four days they reached Wendadu village. There were rotting corpses and skeletons lying around. They went to the Chief’s house which had not been burnt and had a rest there. Others left to go to Koidu Town to register with ECOMOG, but the witness and his family stayed in Wendadu. After as short while the civilians came back, running. One man had been shot in his shoulder. The RUF and junta were still in Koidu Town. The radio message had been false. ECOMOG had not reached Koidu Town yet, only Koikuima. So everybody ran away in the direction of Koikuima. The witness was leading a group. On the way to Koikuima they reached a village called Penduema (spelling?) and rested there under a mango tree: the witness, his family and other civilians. It was the mango season and some mangos were ripe. One of his children went up the tree, shook it and some mango’s came off, so they could eat them. Then a man came, a man whom he knew well, Mohamed S. Kamara, and his arm was freshly amputated, he was profusely bleeding from his wound. His daughters were with him, crying. The witness went to him and held him, he was very weak. Kamara said the rebels did this to him in a village called Manekala and that the rebels had gone back to Tombodu.

At this point in his testimony Court is adjourned at 1.30 p.m. for the lunch break.