2nd Session: Prosecution Witness Sieh Mansaray Describes Attacks by Rebels and Amputations

The Hague

October 14, 2008

Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian continued his examination in chief of the witness TF1-215, Sieh Mansaray.

Attacks by rebels and amputations

After this attack on Yeathen the witness heard about another village that had been attacked by the rebels: Kalmaro, Diang Chiefdom, Koinadugu District, between Kondembaia and Yeathen village. A man named Moseray Koroma was passing through his village, he was hacked with a machete by the rebels, his family passed carrying him in a hammock, taking him to Connaught hospital where he received treatment. Koroma died two years ago.

Another village was attacked: Badela, a marketing centre. Badela is about six miles from Kondembaia. One day when Mansaray was in the bush, he heard about the attack and went to look for his family. This happened around the end of April 1998. Then the witness and his family decided to leave Kondembaia. A man called Issa Bangura, a civilian of about 50 years old, came to his house, carried by some other civilians, his both hands had been amputated by rebels. The rebels burnt down all houses in Badela, the civilians fleeing from Badela told Mansaray this. The witness, his family and some other families fled into the bush, living in a hut they had built.

The next news the witness heard was what he heard at the Paramount Chief’s place in Kondembaia, on a day that he visited his home town. A man called Magba Sesay was telling the Paramount Chief how he was attacked the day before at his farm. Sesay was there with two others: Leniba Sesay and a stranger. Then a man Suree Camara came. The rebels shot Suree Camara and he died. The rebels gave the blood of Suree Camara to Magba Sesay to drink. He drank the blood at gunpoint. Magba Sesay had to carry a load for the rebels to Sandiah village. The rebels marked on Magba Sesay’s forehead “RUF” and then he was released. The marks were scraped on his head. These events were told by Magba Sesay to the Paramount Chief in the presence of the witness and others.

One night after his return to the bush and his family he heard about bombing in Lengekoro, Diang Chiefdom, Koinadugu District. This was end of April, beginning of May 1998. The next day a petty trader told the witness that the rebels came to Lengekoro and wanted to go back to Sandiah village: it was not safe to stay where the witness and his family were. Later, when the witness was in Connaught hospital, he heard from people from Lengekoro, who also had limbs amputated. Some died. The people from Lengekoro said it were the RUF rebels who had done this.

Attacks on Kondembaia and amputations

One night the rebels burnt down many houses in Kondembaia. The next day the witness went to check and saw the houses burnt. He found a man named Yanku Sesay, both his hands were amputated. Yanku Sesay survived and, even though being ill, lives up to this day in Kondembaia. Also some girls had been captured by the rebels, one of about 14, one of about 16 and one of about 18, who had just been married. The witness did not see these girls again until disarmament about six years later.

The people from Kondembaia asked ECOMOG to go with the ones who wanted to return to their village to protect them. ECOMOG sent 15 soldiers with them to Kondembaia. A few days later they sent five soldiers to Kabala to get ammunition. When in the house of another person, the witness heard shooting, and he ran towards the ECOMOG base. He did not see anyone there. Then he fled into the bush and met with rebels, who identified themselves as Foday Sankoh’s rebels. They accused the witness of conniving with ECOMOG. The rebels took all the ammunition and uniforms that ECOMOG left behind. The witness was forced to carry loads for the rebels. The ECOMOG forces had withdrawn. Five had already gone to get ammunition that morning, the ten that were left behind were outnumbered by the rebels and they fled. Two ECOMOG soldiers were killed as well as several civilians.
One rebel pointed a pistol at him and the witness thought he was going to die, but there was no bullet in the pistol. Then some rebels kicked him in his back and pushed him under a tree, where other civilians were together. Rebels were saying they would kill these civilians and would burn their houses. There were very young boys with the rebels, like 10, 13 and 15 years old. The commander ordered to have the houses burnt and this was done.

Mansaray subsequently described the amputations of the hands/arms of several civilians, including his own. Mansaray’s hand was cut off, but was hanging, still being attached to his arm to some extend. This happened in May 1998, about 20 or 21 May. Mansaray was able to return to his family in the bush. They all went to Kabala and Mansaray was taken to the hospital there. The next day he was taken by helicopter to the Connaught hospital in Freetown and was looked after. His hand had to be removed. At this moment the witness showed his right arm to the Court, his hand is amputated a little above the wrist.

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