October 15, 2008
This morning Presiding Judge Richard Lussack took appearances and a new prosecution witness was called to the stand: TF1-304, a category one witness who will testify under Rule 92bis in open session. The witness was sworn in on the Bible and will testify in Kono.
The name of the witness is Sahr Charles, born in 1959 in Tombodu, Kamara Chiefdom, Kono District, from the Kono tribe and speaks Kono and Krio. He has education up until form 7. The witness testified in the RUF trial on 12, 13, 14 and 17 January 2005. Transcripts of his testimony in this trial are shown to the witness and he adopted this as his prior testimony. The transcripts are marked for identification as MFI-1a. The pages of the transcript of 12 January 2005 that cover the closed session are marked for identification as MFI-1b. An exhibit from that trial, a document concerning OTP (Office of the Prosecutor) disbursements, is marked for identification as MFI-2.
Defense Counsel Terry Munyard cross-examined the witness and established the following. The transcripts of his testimony in the RUF trial were read to him about three weeks ago and his statements are correct. Since November 2002 the witness gave statements to the OTP. These statements have also been read back to him in Krio recently. Charles is currently farming as his occupation and has been farming since the end of the war. Charles’s account started with events in March 1998, when rebels came to Tombodu. These rebels were led by Staff Alhaji. Charles told the Prosecution in November 2002 that Staff Alhaji and Savage were in charge. They were both juntas according to the witness, SLA soldiers. Rambo was also a leader, but not equal to Staff Alhaji, was senior to Rambo.
The witness said that in 1999 he did mining for a long time. Other civilians were used to mine for the rebels as well, the rebels knew that the villagers would not run away. During that time the witness did not do any farming. Charles saw heavy equipment being used, but does not know where these came from.
Munyard maintained that the rebels had a disciplinary system: through the G5 civilians could file complaints about their treatment by the rebels. The G5 of Charles was Sylvester Kaieh who was helpful to the civilians. He was the link between civilians and the rebels and would pass on complaints, however most rebels did not listen to Sylvester Kaieh. According to Charles the rebels would only get a warning, would not be punished and continued as before, sometimes even worsening their behaviour towards civilians. Munyard brings out that according to evidence Charles gave in the RUF trial Sylvester solved problems amicably. The witness said that the rebels who came after would never listen to the G5.
The witness told the Prosecution he was at one time acting chief of Tombodu. In a village called Mendi Kalah a young man had been robbed and killed by three rebels. Charles had failed to report this and was for this reason beaten by the rebels. The rebels arrested the three perpetrators and later killed one of them. So there was a system of discipline among the rebels in which the witness actually had a role, maintained Munyard and concluded that killing a rebel is a lot more than giving only a warning as the witness has just told the Court. The witness answered that he did not relate this incident while giving his testimony in the RUF trial, because he had not been asked about the incident.
Munyard moved on to the subject of the “two pile system” in mining. Before the rebels came, there was a two pile system: one pile for the owner of the land and one pile for the worker, according to the witness. During the time of the rebels there was no two pile system in his area, but Charles did not know what happened in other areas. The civilians would wash the gravel and the rebels overseeing them would pick up the diamonds. The diamonds would be put in a white paper and given to General Issa.
At this point Court is adjourned for the mid-morning break.