Court Resumes after Mid-Morning Break: Witness Describes Mass Amputations

The Hague

October 1, 2008

The Prosecution made an application for a court worker of the WVS to sit with the witness, so he can be assisted when he is not feeling well or needs help. The Defense had no objections, on the contrary, welcomed the application and the judges granted the application.

Amputations by the rebels on January 28, 1999

Osman Jalloh continued his evidence. The rebels told Osheck to place his hand on the mortar, he refused and pleaded. The rebels used the cutlass and chopped him on the head about two times. Both hands of Osheck were chopped off. Osheck was rolling on the ground and hollering. Three days later Osheck died in Connaught Hospital.

The witness was next. The rebel chopped once and cut off his right hand, it was still hanging by the flesh. Also his left hand was cut off, but not entirely. The rebel gave Jalloh a message for Kabbah and ECOMOG: if they were to come there, also their hands would be chopped off. As the witness walked off, after a few yards he fell down and blood was oozing from his wounds. Later he left from there to go and deliver the message. He was met by other rebels, who wanted to kill him, but who let him ago after he explained the message he had to take to ECOMOG and Pa Kabbah. They met EOCMOG soldiers and the witness, Osheck and another woman Iwa Backa (spelling?) whose both hands had also been amputated, were taken to Connaught Hospital where they were treated. His right hand was hanging by the flesh, blood oozing from his wounds, the thumb blackening with tetanus, so his right hand had to be cut off entirely. His left hand could be saved but, as the veins were cut through and the bones had been broken, he can no longer use this hand. Jalloh testified that all persons in his group had both hands cut off, except the suckling children. One neighbour was chopped up and she died.

The witness then drew up his sleeve to show his right arm. The arm is amputated below the elbow, between the elbow and the wrist. Jalloh also showed his left arm to the Court. In Freetown this hand was operated but his hand was still bent. Recently, about six months ago, an operation team came from Italy and he was operated again and now his hand is straight. However, the hand is useless to him. He needs help with eating and using the toilet. Before the amputations Jalloh was a driver at a tobacco company, he worked there for 30 years. He would also do photography to provide for the needs of his family. Now he is a beggar as he can no longer work. It pains him he cannot pay for his children’s education and this worry has given him high blood pressure.

Three photographs are shown to the witness, taken in January 2008, and Jalloh identified the person as himself. Both his arms are shown on the photographs.

Charles Taylor

Before the war started in Sierra Leone the witness heard there was a war going on in Liberia and that Charles Taylor was involved in this war. Jalloh heard Charles Taylor say on the radio that Sierra Leone would taste the bitterness of war and when all of this happened in January 1999 he knew that this was the war that Charles Taylor was referring to.


Defense Counsel Morris Anyah began his cross-examination by explaining to the witness that the Defense does not dispute the horrible things that had happened to the witness and others in January 1999, which Jalloh said to understand. Anyah put before the witness the meetings Jalloh had with the investigators and lawyers from the Prosecution, the first one being on March 13, 2003. Jalloh remembered that many used to come, but did not remember the specific dates. Jalloh did remember signing documents with his fingerprint. Jalloh remembered coming to The Hague about three weeks ago. He remembered meeting with Catherine Howard who told him he was to appear in Court and should tell the truth there.

In a statement the witness told Howard that the first rebel had an accent and Otick thought he was Liberian. The witness agreed he told this to miss Howard. They had heard Charles Taylor talk about the war to come, so they concluded that this stranger was Liberian.

The witness said that he concluded that both rebels were Liberian because they had strange faces, but the witness agreed that when a Liberian man and a Sierra Leonean man stand together without speaking, he would not be able to tell their country of origin. With both rebels it was the manner of speech that made him conclude they were Liberian.

In the interview notes of March 13, 2003 Jalloh stated that he never heard any of the rebels speaking the Liberian language. The witness did not recall anymore.

When asked if the witness knew that both rebels were Liberian because a) he himself heard them speak Liberian English or b) Otick told him they were Liberian or c) people at Connaught Hospital said the rebels were Liberian, the witness answered that he himself could tell from their accent they were Liberian and that this was later confirmed at the hospital.

At 1.30 p.m. Court is adjourned for the lunch break.