October 27, 2008
74th prosecution witness TF1-227
Prosecution witness TF1-227 is a category one witness and will testify pursuant Rule 92bis. He will testify in open session without protective measures. The witness is sworn in on the Bible and will testify in English. Prosecution Counsel Julia Baly introduced the witness. His name is Paul Nabieu Conteh, born in 1967 and he is a teacher in Calaba Town. A transcript is shown to the witness which he adopted as his prior testimony given in the AFRC trial on April 8, 11 and 12, 2005. A record of interview is shown to the witness which he adopted as the record of the interview he had with the OTP on June 20, 2007.
Lead Defense Counsel Courtenay Griffiths cross-examined the witness and established the following.
The witness began studying to become a teacher in 1992 when the war had already started. Prior to that he had a pastoral job with a priest for three years; he considers himself a deeply religious man. He lived in Freetown from 1991 until January 1999. When the war started in 1991 he thought the aims and objectives of the RUF were not good and from the outset he opposed the RUF. He opposed the coup of the AFRC in May 1997 and on August 18, 1997 he joined a public demonstration against the AFRC junta government, because he was a supporter of president Kabbah. He favoured the option ‘elections before peace’ above ‘peace before elections’. He considered it fair to have elections when a part of the country was at war. He was in favour of ECOMOG ousting out the AFRC in February 1998. He was aware of ECOMOG committing crimes against the population of Sierra Leone. In May 1997 his house in Allen Town was looted. Between January 6 and January 23, 1999 he was still a teacher but schools were closing down because of the war. Looting was going on, houses were being burnt, civilians were molested and beaten, ECOMOG was shelling, though he can not say indiscriminately, and people had their limbs amputated.
The witness was captured by AFRC rebels on January 23, 1999. The rebel who captured him was called Corporal Bastard. He was taken to Cola Tree, the group of rebels there was a mixed force. He stayed in Cola Tree for five days. On the way to Cola Tree he saw dead bodies with injuries resulting from shot wounds and from machetes. This was on Cemetery Road. The witness has not witnessed these killings but said he concluded the rebels were responsible, because: the AFRC was in charge of that area; the rebels said to him, while pointing at the dead bodies: if you try to escape this will happen to you; the AFRC were the only ones who had the kind of weapons which could have caused these injuries. From Kola Tree the witness went to Wilber Force and then to Benguama. Here was a muster parade where Brigadier Five-Five gave a speech.
There was no re-examination in chief or questions from the judges. Presiding Judge Doherty thanked the witness for giving his testimony, wished him a safe journey home and dismissed the witness.
75th Prosecution witness TF1-216
Prosecution witness TF1-216 is a category one witness and will testify in open session without protective measures. The witness is sworn in on solemn declaration and will testify in Krio. Prosecution Counsel Julia Baly began her examination in chief. The name of the witness is Ibrahim Fofana. He was born in 1942 in the Tonkolili District. He is from the Tembe tribe and has had no formal education. He speaks Temne and Krio.
Events in February 1998
In February 1998 Fofana was living in Kono, in the village Paema Town. He was married at the time and had three children: a son aged 19, a daughter aged 18 and a son aged 15. At the time he had a business, a shop and a bar. The witness was also involved in diamond mining, boys used to mine for him. In February 1998 rebels came to Paema saying they were on a mission called “Operation Pay Yourself”, meaning that they would loot whatever they wanted. Many rebels came and they had guns. If civilians refused to hand over their belongings they were beaten up and their belongings were stolen anyway, so the witness gave his belongings to the rebels without discussion. The rebels did not stay long in Paema. After the rebels had left, almost all civilians in town, including the witness and his family, fled to Guinea. The witness did not leave that same evening, as he wanted to secure some of his belongings the rebels did not loot.
Operation No Living Thing
That same evening the rebels came back and started killing people: Operation No Living Thing. The rebels killed three people known to the witness: Ali Bangali, Sori and Pa Janneh. The witness helped others burying these three people. The witness saw Ali Bangali being shot and killed. While he and others were burying Bangali, they heard a gunshot and found Sori having been killed around the market area. The witness did not see the actual killing of the third person, Pa Janneh, he only found his corps.
To Guinea and back
After he helped burying these three persons, he collected his people: his wife, children and the men who worked for him and left for Guinea. The witness left a person in his house, his aunt Mammy Issatu who could not walk. They reached Guinea safely and stayed there for about six weeks. There was a news message on BBC radio stating that ECOMOG had overcome the fighters and that people were encouraged to go back home, as the ECOMOG forces could not stop the looting that was going on. Fofana had hidden some belongings in the bush and decided to return home to Paema. A large group went on their way back to Sierra Leone, including the witness and his family. But then they fell into an ambush.
At this moment in his testimony Court is adjourned at 4.30 p.m. until tomorrow 9.30 a.m.