October 21, 2008
Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian continued and ended his examination in chief. Defense Counsel Terry Munyard began his cross-examination.
Reunited with his family
In the camp Caritas was caring for the child combatants, including the witness, in Lunsar and later in Lunge (spelling?). The witness and others were given food and were sent to school. He has been with them for many years. In 2005 he left school, form three, junior secondary school. Until the day his father died he had never gone to school. While the witness was in Lunge his mother, who had been a refugee in Guinea but had now come back to Sierra Leone, came to look for him and managed to find him. They were reunited and his mother took him home. Caritas continued paying for his schooling. He later became a petty trader until the Special Court asked him to testify here.
The witness is marked on the shoulder with “RUF”. The rebels told the children that this would make them brave. Others had similar tattoos on their back or on the left or right side of the face.
Defense Counsel Terry Munyard began his cross-examination. Munyard took the witness through his statements to the prosecution and pointed out various inconsistencies. The witness has seen prosecutors of the Special Court since 2003 and gave them a full account of his experiences in 2003. They took him through that account again in early 2004 and the witness had nothing to add or alter. In 2005 he added information to his previous statement. In Freetown he testified in another trial before this Court. The witness arrived in The Hague on October 15, 2008. Since then he has had two meetings with the prosecution lawyers.
Languages of the rebels
During the last two meetings with the lawyers from the prosecution during the past week in The Hague, the witness told the lawyers what language the rebels were speaking. The languages were Mende, Krio and Liberian. The witness was 10 years when he was captured. When disarmed he was 11 years old. He had been with the rebels over 10 months. How could the witness at the time know a language was Liberian if he did not speak that language and was but a child? The witness stated that one day before the first attack he and his older brother heard ECOMOG soldiers speak in a language that his older brother identified as Liberian and that later he heard rebels speak similar to that language. Munyard pointed out that ECOMOG never had any Liberians among them. The witness then stated that a colleague child soldier named Suree (spelling?) had told him that certain rebels were speaking Liberian. On October 17, 2008 the witness met with prosecution lawyer Koumjian. On no previous occasion he ever suggested that the rebels who captured him spoke Liberian. The witness stated he had said this all along, at his first meeting with the prosecutors, as well as at other meetings, that the rebels spoke Krio, Mende and Liberian.
The witness said he once saw General Issa in a vehicle during infighting between the SLA and the RUF. The witness knew Issa was RUF: because Issa came from Makeni and at the time only the RUF was in Makeni, because Issa spoke with Superman who was RUF, and because SLA soldiers were running away from Issa.
The witness knows that he was ten years old when was captured by the rebels the first time, because before the attack, when his father was still alive, his father used to tell him that he was ten. He does not know the date, nor did anybody tell him the date. Munyard suggested that it was May 1998 and asked if anyone suggested this date to him. The witness denied that.
The witness mentioned names from people in the first group that captured him: Gullit, Five-five, O5, Staff Alhaji, Adama Cuthand and Suree. Officer Demo was not there, he was in the group who captured the witness the second time. Gullit, Five-Five, O5, Staff Alhaji and Adama Cuthand were all SLA.
Munyard put the first statement from 2003 before the witness. It stated that Officer Demo was in the first group who captured him, which the witness denied.
The witness stated that he was captured from Bonoya and taken to Rosos where he had military training and was sent on a food finding mission. There were about 300 persons in Rosos, a mixed group of SLA and RUF, but the majority SLA.
Court is adjourned at 2.30 p.m. for lunch break.