Trial Report: September 2008

Proceedings began in September with the cross examination of Witness TF1-367, a former Mining Commander in Kono.  The next witness to testify during this period was Witness TF1-338, a former member of the RUF.  Other witnesses included former RUF insiders, RUF radio operators, crime base victims, and former police officials.  An American professor also took the stand this month.  He has experience as a journalist in West Africa and has written much about sub-Saharan Africa.  The proceedings continued with the testimony of several tribe members who had suffered at the hands of the rebels.  The final witness to take the stand this month was a crime base victim who had been abducted and raped by the rebels.  In cross examining the witnesses, the Defense again focused on whether some witness testimony had been colored by exposure to the testimony of prior witnesses.  The Defense continued in its attempt to impeach witnesses using prior inconsistent statements made during interviews with the Prosecution or during former trials.

The Court heard a total of 13 witnesses during this period for a total of 48 witnesses to date.

As with the previous reports, available online at, this report summarizes witness testimony heard during this period and identifies issues that have arisen at trial.  It also notes significant submissions by both parties and decisions by the Trial Chamber.

The following witnesses testified during this reporting period:

1. TF1-367

2. TF1-338

3. TF1-585

4. TF1-568/Mohamed Bereteh Kabba

5. TF1-189

6. TF1-122/Alex Sheku Bao

7. TF1-588/Stephen Smith

8. Edesanya Sandy Hyde

9. TF1-065/Samuel Bull

10. TF1-459

11. TF1-173/Tamba Mondeh

12. TF1-060/Abdul Otonjo Conteh

13. TF1-064

Prosecution Themes

Throughout the month of September, the Prosecution worked to establish Taylor’s close ties to the RUF, especially through his relationships with Sam Bockarie and Issa Sesay.  Many witnesses testified as to the transport of diamonds, mined in Kono and sent to Taylor in Liberia.  In return, Taylor reportedly supported the rebel forces in Sierra Leone by supplying them with arms and ammunition.  Several witnesses spoke of the airstrip that was constructed in Buedu with the specific intent of facilitating the transport of arms and ammunition.  Many other witnesses were questioned as to the frequency and content of the communications among Taylor, Bockarie, and Yeaten, especially during the invasion of Freetown.  Witnesses discussed the radio and satellite phone conversations that the men shared.  This line of questioning was engaged in an attempt to show Taylor’s direct connection to, and support of, the invasion of Freetown in January 1999.

The prosecution also attempted to show the extensive history of Taylor’s connection to the RUF, by making the case that his connection extended as far back as the early 1990’s.  One witness spoke of her first encounter with the RUF rebels in 1992, in which she reported that a group of rebels referred to themselves as “Charles Taylor Rebels.”  Another witness, a former journalist in West Africa, was questioned regarding an encounter he had with Taylor as far back as 1990.

In addition to establishing Taylor’s relationship with the RUF, the prosecution solicited descriptions as to the manner of dress of the armed groups encountered by the witnesses.  Usually witnesses described rebels dressed in both military and civilian clothing participating in various attacks.  This was relevant because the AFRC typically wore military clothing, while the RUF rebels often dressed in civilian clothing.  Therefore, being able to establish the presence of civilian-clothed rebels made it likely that Taylor was more closely involved in the attack.

Many Prosecution witnesses were used to illustrate the brutal and inhumane treatment of civilians in Sierra Leone at the hands of the rebels.  For example, witnesses spoke of rapes, amputations, cannibalistic practices, the scattering of corpses along the roads, the murdering of children, and the looting and burning of villages.  A number of witnesses were moved to tears while delivering their testimony, sometimes causing the Court to temporarily adjourn.  Such testimony was likely solicited by the Prosecution in an attempt to reach the bench on an emotional level.

Defense Themes

The Defense, meanwhile, concentrated its efforts on impeaching the Prosecution’s witnesses through highlighting inconsistencies with prior Court testimony and sworn statements.  The Defense would often suggest, both directly and indirectly, that a witness had shifted from or embellished upon his initial position as a result of exposure to the testimony of another witness.  The defense also questioned several witnesses regarding money they had received from the Office of the Prosecutor or the Witness and Victim Section, suggesting the money may have been given as reimbursement for lost wages.  Witnesses often explained the money as reimbursement for travel expenses.  One witness, however, who had received significantly more than her monthly wages for a period of ten months, acknowledged that the money was intended as joint compensation for lost wages, child care, and medical expenses, in addition to transportation.  At times the Defense tried to portray Taylor as a messenger, rather than a source of instructions.  For example, in its cross-examination of Witness TF1-568, Mahamed Beretch Kabba, the Defense tried to show that the instruction for the RUF to join the AFRC, allegedly given by Taylor, was really the instruction of Sankoh, which was simply passed through Taylor.

Legal Procedural Matters

A complete version of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Special Court for Sierra Leone can be found on the following website:

Rule 92bis Alternative Proof of Facts through Written Witness Testimony

Rule 92bis of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Special Court for Sierra Leone states the following:

(A)  […] [A] Chamber may, in lieu of oral testimony, admit as evidence in whole or in part, information including written statements and transcripts, that do not go to proof of the acts and conduct of the accused.

(B)   The information submitted may be received in evidence if, in the view of the Trial Chamber, it is relevant to the purpose for which it is submitted and if its reliability is susceptible of confirmation.

Two of those who testified this month were 92bis witnesses.  Under Rule 92bis, witness testimony from prior cases can be directly entered as evidence without the need for the witness to again state the testimony in Court.  Although Rule 92bis does not explicitly call for cross examination, the Court determined it should be a necessary component after the Defense objected to this practice, claiming the evidence went to proof of the acts and conduct of the accused.  On July 15, 2008 the Court determined: “Rule 92bis does not provide explicitly for cross-examination, but that it is within the inherent power of the Chamber under Rules 26bis and 54 to order cross-examination and that information ‘going to a critical element of the Prosecution’s case’ is proximate enough to the Accused so as to require cross-examination.”[1] As 92bis is used in this case, the Prosecution does not perform a direct examination of the witness, but the defense does cross-examine the witness, and the judge often asks questions of the witness.

Rescission of Witness Protection Measures

Protective measures, such as using a pseudonym, testifying behind a screen, and using voice distortion may be implemented to protect especially vulnerable witnesses, such as victims of sexual violence (Category A), child witnesses (Category B), and insider witnesses (Category C).  If a witness does not fall within either subcategory A, B, or C, then the witness is not entitled to such protective measures.   In a July 2 decision,[2] the Court determined that witnesses falling into these subcategories are entitled to protective measures, while others are not.  This determination, made in regards to Witness TF1-366, can be equally applied to all other witnesses who may have protective measures rescinded mutatis mutandis.  In the month of September, five witnesses who had previously testified using protective measures either waived those measures or had those measures rescinded.  Rescission of the protective measures prompted one witness, Witness TFI-062 to not testify.  Four of the thirteen testifying witnesses this month did, however, testify using protective measures.

Rule 16 Absence and Resignation: Issue of Continuance in Judge’s Absence

Rule 16 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Special Court For Sierra Leone states the following:

(A)  If a Judge is unable to continue sitting in a proceeding, trial or appeal which has partly been heard for a short duration and the remaining Judges are satisfied that it is in the interests of justice to do so, those remaining Judges may order that the proceeding, trial or appeal continue in the absence of that Judge for a period of not more than five working days.

On the morning of September 10, Justice Julia Sebuntinde was not present due to health concerns.  The remaining two judges relied upon Rule 16(A) to continue in her absence.  The Defense objected based on the fact that this trial had been ongoing for approximately nine months, which it considered to be more than a “short duration.”  The Court responded that Rule 16 has traditionally been interpreted to mean that the remaining judges can continue in a fellow judge’s absence if the continuation is only for a short duration, such as less than five working days.  Although the Rule is poorly drafted, the short duration requirement refers to the length of the absence, not the overall length of the trial.  In this case, the trial continued in Justice Sebuntinde’s absence.

Witness Testimony

Witness TF1-367

Cross Examination

The month of September began with the cross examination of Witness TF1-367 by the Defense.  The Defense asked several questions regarding the RUF’s purchase of arms and ammunition from ULIMO fighters.  The witness explained that he was given money by Bockarie to purchase arms from ULIMO fighters.  The Defense pointed out a discrepancy in the amount of funds available to purchase weapons, suggesting the witness had altered the amount after exposure to a document, but the witness denied this suggestion.

The witness reported that the RUF was not divided following Sankoh’s arrest.  Though he conceded there were different groups within the RUF, he insisted it was still one organization.

The witness reportedly traveled with Bockarie to Monrovia only once when Taylor had sent to see him.  The Defense questioned the witness’s prior statement that he had taken diamonds to Taylor in Monrovia on two or three occasions.  The witness explained that he had been to Liberia multiple times, but to Monrovia only once.  The witness heard from Bockarie’s younger brother and sister-in-law that Bockarie was taken from Monrovia to Ganta, where he was killed.

The Witness clarified an earlier statement that when two Lebanese men visited Issa Sesay in Kono it was the only time he saw Lebanese men engaged in the Kono diamond business because it was true that two other white men had come from Belgium.  The witness was unaware whether these investors were purchasing diamonds because he was not physically present in the room.

He explained that “Operation Free Foday Sankoh” was an operation to capture Kono, based on the assumption that Kono’s strategic position would pressure the government’s release of Sankoh.

The witness reported that in addition to the RUF, the ECOMOG and individuals also mined since it was difficult for the RUF to control such illicit mining.  The witness kept records of the diamonds mined while he was Mining Commander, but alleged that he destroyed them prior to being contacted by prosecutors in 2004.  The records possibly kept by his clerk were also apparently destroyed.

The witness reported that Issa Sesay travelled to Buedu to obtain arms and ammunition from Bockarie, used to attack Kono in 1998.  The witness named Bockarie as the overall commander of the RUF, based in Buedu.  The witness was removed as Mining Commander by Issa Sesay because he was too lenient with civilians who were needed for labor.  According to the witness, many miners were unwilling, but did so anyway to save their lives.

Re-examination of the Witness

The witness explained that Superman’s attack on Kono failed.  Issa Sesay then planned a second successful attack on Kono using arms and ammunition obtained from Bockarie.  The witness explained that the RUF had three means of obtaining arms and ammunition: capturing materials from the enemy, purchasing them from the ULIMO, and obtaining supplies from Taylor in Liberia.  The witness explained that Superman was a Liberian who was with the NPFL, who had been sent to Sierra Leone as reinforcement, and who had stayed with the RUF.  The witness described the RUF and AFRC as brothers and sisters, with Taylor and Sankoh as the fathers.

Witness TF1-338

Witness TF1-338 was called on September 1.  The witness testified in Krio, using face and voice distortion and closed sessions as necessary.  He reported that he was in Koindu, in the Kailahun District in May of 1991 when RUF rebels entered the town, arrested residents, and solicited volunteers.  The witness volunteered and was sent to several months of training. At one point he reported accompanying Sankoh to Liberia to get arms and ammunitions.  The witness discussed the attack by the Kamajors on Camp Zogoda in 1996, during which Zino died, which led to Bockarie becoming Commander in Charge.  After Bockarie’s promotion, the witness did not see Sankoh again until 1999 when he was sent by Bockarie to Liberia to explain to Sankoh the details of the infighting between Superman and Gibril Massaquoi against Bockarie and Issa Sesay.  The witness reported that in Liberia Taylor thanked Bockarie for keeping the RUF together and gave him $15,000 to be distributed among the bodyguards.

Sankoh’s May 8, 2000 Arrest

On the morning of May 8, 2000, many civilians marched towards Sankoh’s house on Spur road, where UN troops attempted to intercept and dissuade them by firing a warning shot in the air. In response, armed civilians opened fire and some were killed.  Sankoh initially escaped to the bush, but was later arrested.  Shortly thereafter, Issa Sesay took command of the RUF, moved to Lebanon in Kono, and began making appointments, including naming Morris Kallon a Deputy.

Issa Sesay’s Meeting with Taylor

Taylor reportedly asked why a British Military Observer (MILOBS), who had been abducted and later released by the RUF, had not been detained as a bargaining chip for the release of Sankoh.  Issa Sesay reported that UN soldiers were attacking and that they lacked materials to defend themselves, to which Taylor instructed that he send someone to Liberia for materials.

The Release of UN Peacekeepers Held Hostage by the RUF

The witness reported he was at Sankoh’s Spur Road residence at the time of the abduction of the UN peacekeepers.  He also reported that Issa Sesay travelled to Liberia in May 2000 to discuss with Taylor the release of UN peacekeepers held hostage by the RUF in Sierra Leone.  Taylor reportedly told Issa Sesay that he had been promised that if he secured the release of the peacekeepers, he would be made Chairman of ECOWAS, which would benefit the RUF.  The peacekeepers were then handed over to Taylor.

Change of Leadership in the RUF

Issa Sesay once again accompanied Taylor to Liberia in 2000, upon Taylor’s request, where they met with four West African Heads of State: Obasanjo of Nigeria, Eyadema of Togo, Yayah Jammeh of Gambia, and Alpha Oumarr Konare of Mali.  Taylor addressed the need for a change in leadership of the RUF, suggesting Bockarie, and then Issa Sesay. Taylor had a separate meeting with RUF members in which he warned of being swayed by the suggestions of the ECOWAS heads of state, claiming they were remotely controlled by western powers. Taylor reportedly told Issa Sesay to keep the revolution together, giving him $15,000.  Issa Sesay later received the support of Sankoh to lead the RUF and accept orders from Taylor.

Movement of Diamonds from Sierra Leone to Liberia

According to the witness, Issa Sesay took diamonds to Taylor in Liberia and returned with arms and ammunition for the RUF on several occasions.  In April or May of 2001 Taylor cautioned Issa Sesay against personally traveling regularly with diamonds because the UN was monitoring his relationship with the RUF.  During this visit, Benjamin Yeaten introduced Issa Sesay to two Belgians, one of whom introduced himself as Alpha Bravo.  The witness reported seeing Issa give diamonds to Alpha Bravo, who in turn gave him $300,000.  $150,000 was given to Taylor for safekeeping.  The remaining $150,000 was taken to Sierra Leone.  Issa Sesay reportedly also gave Taylor 5000 carats of diamond for safe keeping, which were never returned.  Eddie Kanneh brought another Belgian, named Minie, who received diamonds on several occasions.  40 carats were given by Issa Sesay on one occasion, for which Minie promised $150,000.

Interactions with Taylor

While visiting Taylor in Liberia, Issa Sesay suggested the disarmament of child soldiers, to which Taylor disagreed.  Upon Issa Sesay’s return to Sierra Leone, he decided to disregard Taylor’s advice and cooperate with the UN by disarming.  At the suggestion of Taylor, the RUF attacked Pamalap and Kissy Dugu in Guinea.  The Guinean forces repelled the RUF from Kissy Dugu immediately while the RUF occupied Pamalap for approximately three weeks.

Cross Examination

When asked by the Defense how the prosecution obtained his name and contact information, the witness could not say.  When asked whether he joined the RUF voluntarily, the witness reported that he volunteered, but only out of fear for his life.  Once a member, he received ideology training as a bodyguard to Sankoh.

The witness reported that he went with Bockarie and other RUF commanders to purchase arms from Farah Ideed and Musa Sidibay (Jungle), of the ULIMO, in 1996.  In 1997 Sankoh gave money to Bockarie for the purchase of arms from ULIMO in the presence of the witness.  According to the witness, while the RUF did not receive direct support from the Ukrainians during the AFRC/RUF rule in 1997, Ukrainian mercenaries supplied arms and ammunition.

The witness admitted to having fought against LURD rebels in 2001.  The RUF and NPFL fighters had attacked Guinea because LURD rebels had used Guinea as a base to attack Liberia.

Infighting within the RUF occurred mostly due to command structure.  Furthermore, Superman was suspected of stealing money in 1997, stealing diamonds in 1998, and contacting United States officials to betray Taylor.

Regarding the diamond trade, the witness reported that the RUF controlled diamond fields in Kono in 1992, then later in Kono and Tongo in 1998 and 1999. The two pile system used in the diamond field ensured that for all mining activities undertaken by individual miners, the gravel was divided between the RUF and the individual miner.  Also, individual miners were only allowed to hold diamonds less than five carats.  According to the witness, the RUF controlled mining fields in Koidu and Tongo between 1997 and 1998, but did not force mining by civilians.  Apart from the Lebanese businessmen in Kono, the witness saw only two white men, the Belgians, Alpha Bravo and Minie, whom he first met in 2001.

The witness acknowledged the fear that in the event of unconditional disarmament the RUF would be attacked.  The witness acknowledged that he fought in Liberia against LURD rebels from January until November of 2001.  The witness reported that all weapons supplied by Taylor were to be returned to the NPFL rather than given to the Sierra Leone government or the UN.  Some weapons were sent to Liberia to assist the NPFL in fighting the LURD rebels.  Taylor gave instructions not to disarm to the Sierra Leone government or the UN for fear that the UN would deceive and arrest them.  Issa Sesay delayed in disarming certain areas of Sierra Leone because of RUF/NPFL attacks in Guinea through Pamalap and Kekedou, and also due to Kamajor attacks against the RUF.

The witness denied having said the RUF returned weapons seized from UN peacekeepers in 1998.  The witness explained that he had been misquoted and had actually meant to reference the handing over of UN hostages.  The witness clarified that he never spoke of weapons taken from UN peacekeepers in 1998, the only weapons taken were seized in early 2000, and they were returned in 2002.  Furthermore, Taylor was not involved.

The defense next tried to highlight several inconsistencies between the written statements of the witness and his oral testimony, to which the witness replied that he had made several corrections to his written statements, which had been signed at the time of the corrections.

Reexamination of the Witness

Some arms and ammunition supplied by Ukrainians during the Junta rule in 1997 were sent to Freetown, and some were sent to Makeni, while others remained in Magburaka to repel ECOMOG attacks.  Superman did not allow any assistance for the RUF from Ukrainian mercenaries because Sankoh had told them the revolution was a self reliant struggle.  In regards to Superman’s movements in 1998, he attacked Makeni but failed, then moved to Binkolo.  He left to attack Freetown with Rambo, but was stopped at an ECOMOG roadblock near Waterloo.  The witness also reported that Superman had moved to Liberia, was recalled to lead the attack on Kissy Dugu in Guinea, and later returned to Liberia.

Witness TF1-585 (an RUF insider)

Examination of Witness TF1-585, an RUF insider, began on September 5 in closed session and later moved into open session, using voice and facial distortion.

Radio Operation Trainings and Communications in the RUF

The witness discussed the radio trainings undertaken by the RUF.  She also discussed the main control station’s relationship to the substations.  The witness reported that there were many radio communications among RUF commanders such as Sam Bockarie, Issa Sesay, and Johnny Paul Koroma.  Bockarie in Sierra Leone and Benjamin Yeaten in Liberia often communicated.  When they desired private discussions, they would use satellite phones instead of the radio.  At times, the witness was in close proximity to Bockarie during his communications with Yeaten.  She has also been present when Bockarie spoke with Issa Sesay and Eddie Kanneh regarding his discussions with Yeaten.

RUF/NPFL Exchange Visits

The witness explained that Jungle, Samson, Junior, and Senegalese had visited at times from Liberia.  The witness had left Kenema when attacked by Kamajors in 1998, and retreated to Buedu.  In Sankoh’s absence, Johnny Paul Koroma was named overall commander in Buedu.  Bockarie visited Buedu several times, bringing arms and ammunition for use by the RUF, and one time announced his promotion by Taylor to Brigadier.  Other times, Jungle brought arms and ammunition from Taylor’s residence in Liberia.  Furthermore, Bockarie directed the construction of an airstrip in Buedu to transport arms and ammunition more easily.

Diamonds and Mining Activities in Kono and Tongo

The witness reported that mining occurred in Kono in 1997, but became more effective in 1998.  She also saw Issa Sesay bring diamonds to Bockarie.  The witness reported that in 1997, the AFRC and RUF controlled mining activities in Tongo, where she had seen civilians mining for AFRC and RUF commanders.  She recalled an event in 1998 by which Johnny Paul Koroma was brought to Buedu, and Issa Sesay forcefully took diamonds away from him.

The Attacks on Kono and Freetown

According to the witness, there were three meetings in 1999.  One meeting concerned Issa Sesay’s misplacing diamonds that he was to have taken to Liberia.  According to the witness, a plan was developed to attack Kono and mine replacement diamonds, but it was ultimately unsuccessful.  A second attack on Kono was planned, led by Komba Gbundehma, during which instructions were given by Bockarie to cut off the limbs of civilians.  Once the amputations were announced on SLBS radio, Bockarie instructed Gbundehma to cease the operation as the desired effect had been accomplished.  Those present at the meeting included, Eddie Kanneh, Morris Kallon, Issa Sesay, Abu Keita, Senegalese, CO. Isaac, and others including 40-50 Liberian fighters.  After the meeting, Bockarie supplied arms and ammunition and gave orders to advance to Kabala and Freetown, following Kono.  The invasion of Freetown occurred on January 6, 1999 and was monitored remotely by Bockarie.  Bockarie reported the soldiers’ movements on the BBC, such that it was on all of the radio stations when the troops entered Freetown.  However, the troops could not hold Freetown against the ECOMOG forces. While in Freetown, forces broke into Pademba Road and freed the prisoners, who were then mostly taken to Buedu, upon Bockarie’s orders.

Operation Spare No Soul 

The witness explained that “Operation Spare No Soul” was an operation that had been launched in the wake of former Nigerian President Late Gen. Sani Abacha’s death.  According to the witness, Bockarie had wanted to capitalize on the low morale of the ECOMOG soldiers.  During the operation, civilians were killed on sight, while others had their arms or limbs amputated.

Bockarie Leaves the RUF for Liberia and the Ivory Coast 

According to the witness, Sankoh accused Bockarie of wanting to overthrow him from power, which led to Bockarie’s exit from the RUF.  Bockarie, feeling unappreciated by Sankoh, left the revolution and accepted the refuge offered by Taylor.  Many fighters and civilians left for Liberia with Bockarie to be trained to join the Anti Terrorist Unit (ATU).  According to the witness, while in Liberia, Taylor requested that Bockarie go to the Ivory Coast to fight against Ivorian forces.  The witness accompanied Bockarie on this trip.  However, upon returning to Liberia from the Ivory Coast the group was stopped at the border, apparently on Taylor’s orders, because the UN was investigating the relationship between Bockarie and Taylor as well as reports that Taylor had sent Bockarie to fight in Liberia.

The witness heard that Bockarie and his family and followers had been killed, apparently upon the orders of Taylor.  This news was later confirmed by Bockarie’s former bodyguard, who later turned up dead.  When asked about her own brother who was also one of Bockarie’s fighters, the witness broke into tears because he had also been killed.  She herself had spent some time in hiding.  The witness identified photographs of Bockarie, Zigzag Marzah, Issa Sesay, Jungle, and Benjamin Yeaten, which were entered as exhibits.  The court then moved to closed session.

Cross Examination

The Defense focused on radio communications that took place between Benjamin Yeaten in Liberia and Bockarie in Sierra Leone.  The witness was asked to clarify a reported statement made by Benjamin Yeaten’s radio operators, “our father wants to talk to your father,” explaining that Taylor only wanted to speak with him.

The witness reported that Memunatu Deen was an RUF radio operator based in Monrovia.  However, she did not know his call sign.  The witness acknowledged that Memunatu Deen had communicated with Bockarie while they were in Buedu.  The witness could not say for whom Memunatu worked.  The witness did not work for Yeaten, but sometimes used his radio.

Working three days a week, the witness sometimes had access to the log book.  However, it was not necessary to read the log book to be aware of messages as radio operators would often tell her about their messages.  The witness agreed that Bockarie treated female radio operators differently than male operators. Women were not allowed to control communications when high level operations took place.  Bockarie operated three radios: Mike November Five, Marvel, and Planet One.  The witness reported that Bockarie got a satellite phone in early 1998.  She then identified a photo of Bockarie’s house, where she claimed he had a fax machine.

The witness confirmed that 448 was the radio code used to monitor the movement of the ECOMOG jets used to bomb RUF targets.  The witness could not say whether she knew of ECOMOG jets flying from Lungi airport in Sierra Leone to attack RUF targets.  She confirmed that a radio operator named Vandy Gbamayaji monitored ECOMOG operations in Buedu.  The witness also knew of another radio operator, King Perry.  The witness stated she was not aware of a radio operator in Buedu responsible for monitoring the movement of the ECOMOG jets.  The witness knew that Gbamayaji monitored ECOMOG operations, but could not say whether it related to the 448 code. The Defense suggested she was only claiming ignorance so the court would believe all monitoring of jets on 448 was done from Liberia.

Regarding Johnny Paul Koroma’s travels to Buedu, the witness explained he was first taken to Kono, and then to Buedu.  The Defense then questioned the witness regarding inconsistencies in the details between her written statements and her oral testimony.

The Defense inquired as to the amount and purpose behind the money given to the witness by WVS.  The witness acknowledged the money was for medical purposes, lost wages, transportation, and child care.  It was established that the witness is employed and earns Le. 250,000 per month; however, for a period of ten months, considering the WVS money, the witness received Le. 20, 866, 440.

In regards to the three meetings held in 1998, the witness agreed that the first meeting was to facilitate a good relationship between the RUF and the AFRC.  In regards to the presence of Keita and Senegalese at the meeting(s) in Buedu, and their relationship to the RUF, the witness claimed that she could no longer remember due to the lapse in time.  The witness could not confirm the involvement of the STF in the invasion of Freetown.

The Defense asked the witness about the circumstances surrounding the departure of Bockarie from the RUF in Sierra Leone to Liberia.  When the first two truck loads of materials arrived from Liberia, Bockarie had not known he was leaving for Liberia.  When he was made aware of his departure, the remaining three trucks were returned to Liberia.  The Defense also suggested that Bockarie’s departure from Sierra Leone to Liberia was sanctioned by the ECOWAS and President Kabbah, but the witness could not confirm this suggestion.  The witness could not say whether the problem between Sankoh and Bockarie was caused by Bockarie’s unwillingness to disarm.  Neither could the witness say how long Bockarie remained in Liberia before leaving for the Ivory Coast.  The witness could confirm, however, that Bockarie travelled to Liberia in 1999, and left for the Ivory Coast in either late 2000 or early 2001.

The witness was confronted regarding the inconsistencies between her story and Bockarie’s recorded date of death.  The witness did not see Bockarie being taken away.  She was told about it by a bodyguard named High Command, and could not say exactly how it had happened.

Witness TF1-568/Mohamed Bereteh Kabba

On September 12, the Prosecution called its 39th witness, Witness TF1-568, Mohamed B. Kabba.  He was asked about the start of the rebel war in 1991, his recruitment, various places to which he was deployed, the periods prior to and after the AFRC coup, the killing of the 60 alleged Kamajors in Kailahun, Sam Bockarie’s relocation to Buedu, the transportation of arms from Liberia to Buedu, and radio communications between Bockarie, Yeaten, and Taylor.

The Start of the Rebel War in 1991 and Training 

The witness had been a teacher in the Kailahun District when the RUF rebels entered the country, calling themselves freedom fighters who had come to redeem the country from APC misrule.  The witness attended training and was then assigned to Manorwa and Mobai.  The witness was trained as a radio operator in 1992.  In 1996 he attended the Abidjan peace talks as a radio operator and RUF delegate.  In that capacity he updated Sankoh regularly regarding the peace negotiations.  He was in Kailahun during the AFRC/RUF Junta rule as Regional Commander in Charge of Communications and his duties included reporting on misbehavior among RUF soldiers in civilian occupied zones and reporting on threats that came from Liberia.

Killing of Alleged Kamajors in Kailahun 

The witness testified regarding the killing of 60 men who had been accused of being Kamajors.  They had been killed because Bockarie was concerned about spies infiltrating RUF territory.  Bockarie brought the first five Kamajors to the center of town and killed two of them, then ordered Issa Sesay to execute the remaining three.  The witness later heard that the remaining 55 men were also killed.  Recounting the incident brought the witness to tears.

Overall Signal Commander for RUF Radio Operations 

Bockarie appointed the witness to the position of Overall Signal Commander, above all other RUF radio operators in the country.  The witness then discussed the various radios that were operated in Liberia and Sierra Leone and the various operators assigned to each radio.

  • Base One: The radio at Taylor’s Mansion Ground, operated by Sunlight
  • Planet One: Sam Bockarie’s mobile radio, operated by Pascal, Tiger, and Sebatu
  • Marvel: Stationed inside a vehicle, operated by the witness and Zedman
  • Lemon/Mike November Five: The welfare radio, stationed at the barry, operated by Agama, Generation, and Cool Rebel

Each time a jet was dispatched to attack RUF positions, Sunlight would announce “448” or “Iron Bird” on the radio and the warning would be spread.  Another code was also used in radio and telephone communications among Bockarie, Taylor, and Yeaten.  To “tell their father to turn on the 2/1” indicated that they should have a conversation on their satellite phones.  The witness named Motiger, Osman Tolo, and Memunatu Deen as other RUF radio operators.

According to the witness, Taylor and Yeaten communicated with Bockarie during the invasion of Freetown.  Bockarie spoke with Yeaten on the radio, but spoke with Taylor on the satellite phone.  Bockarie had informed Taylor of the rebel advance into Freetown.

Bockarie’s Trips to Liberia 

According to the witness, Bockarie traveled frequently to Liberia, reporting that he was going to see Taylor.  Bockarie returned with arms and ammunition, food, clothing, etc.  These arms and ammunition were used for the attack on Kono and the advance to Freetown in 1998 and 1999.  Liberian fighters also visited Buedu and were introduced as Taylor’s men.

Time in Buedu

The witness testified regarding meetings held in Buedu to plan RUF operations.  Some of the topics of the meetings were the plan to attack Kono and advance to Freetown, Issa Sesay’s misplacement of diamonds, and the plan to construct an airstrip in Buedu.  The witness at one point was accused of hiding the radio message/log book, for which Bockarie sentenced him to one week in the pit.  He was tortured until Bockarie realized he was innocent.

January 1999 Invasion of Freetown

The witness first heard of the attack through the BBC, but then later from King Perry, the radio operator.  ECOMOG forces began to suppress the rebel forces in Freetown.  Upon learning of the attack, Bockarie ordered Rambo to send reinforcements to Freetown.  Yeaten advised Bockarie to send more men, but the men were still unable to advance into Freetown because the supply road had been cut off.  Bockarie advised them to cause destruction to the city while retreating.

RUF Diamond Mining

When Bockarie left the RUF for Liberia, the witness was asked to move to Kono to work as Overall Radio Commander.  During this time in Kono, the RUF was engaged in diamond mining, utilizing the two pile mining system, which ensured that one pile was given to the RUF, and the other remained with the miners. However, when Amara Salia, aka Peleto, became Mining Commander he suppressed the two pile system and submitted many diamonds to Issa Sesay, who then took the diamonds to Liberia.  Where, according to the witness, they were taken to Taylor.

Cross Examination

The witness was extensively cross examined by the Defense.  According to the witness there were over 50 radio operators in the RUF, though he claimed he had not spoken with any of the other testifying radio operators.  The witness was willing to testify in this Court because he was assured by another former RUF operator that he would be safe.  The witness had made several statements to Prosecution investigators in Freetown, a portion of which addressed reimbursement money, which was reportedly for travel.  However, the Defense suggested the money may have been reimbursement for lost wages.

The witness reported that code names were used for Sankoh and Taylor over the radios and that there were restricted radio frequencies.  He had used a log book to record all radio messages, but it had been lost when his home was raided by police.  When the Defense questioned the witness about possible reimbursement he may have received for delivering documents, the witness denied receiving reimbursement.  He reported that he did not kill during the war, but that he had burnt houses, for which he was now regretful.

The witness admitted that the ULIMO had traded arms and ammunition with the RUF in exchange for money.  The Defense asked the witness to clarify his position on whether Taylor had given instructions for the RUF to join the AFRC.  The witness clarified by explaining that whatever instructions came through Taylor were actually the orders of Sankoh begin passed through Taylor.  The witness chose not to join the AFRC coup and travel to Freetown.  Believing the process would be over shortly, he stayed in Kailahun.

The witness reported that there was radio traffic between the AFRC and the RUF during the AFRC Junta rule.  However, the shipment of arms was not discussed over the radio.  The witness confirmed that an airstrip was constructed in Buedu, but was never used.  The witness agreed that there was mistrust and tension between the RUF and AFRC after the AFRC was removed from power in 1998.

The Defense highlighted inconsistencies, specifically, whether the witness had ever been to Liberia, how frequently he had been there, and whether he had fought against the ULIMO or the LURD rebels.  The witness claimed he had gone to Liberia to fight on only one occasion. The witness denied having given radio sets in his possession to anyone besides the police who confiscated them during a raid of his house in Kono.  He also once gave one away to be sold but never received any of the proceeds.  The Defense referenced his written statement that he had given one to the Bangladeshi contingent of UN Peacekeepers during the disarmament.  The witness responded that he had been under the impression that counsel had been asking about radio sets in his possession after, and not during, the disarmament process.

The witness agreed that he believed the NPFL attacked Sierra Leone because the ULIMO fighters had training camps in Kenema, in eastern Sierra Leone, from which they launched attacks against NPFL rebels in Liberia. He had been approached about becoming involved, but had refused.

The witness affirmed that he never saw Taylor or Yeaten in Sierra Leone. He affirmed that, while he had heard Yeaton numerous times, he never heard Taylor on the RUF radio.  To his knowledge, Taylor and Bockarie always spoke on the satellite phone.  The witness corrected his prior written statement by saying that he actually sometimes did hear Bockarie speaking on the phone with Taylor.  The Defense then proceeded to quote propositions from his written statement, most of which the witness agreed with.  The Defense pointed out an inconsistency in the account of when Bockarie first got a satellite phone.  The witness reported that he may have gotten the months confused, but concluded by stating that Bockarie got the satellite phone just after the retreat from Freetown in 1998.  The witness agreed that communication in the RUF was very sensitive.  The witness clarified an earlier statement by explaining that there was not a secret frequency for communication with Taylor, but that there was one for communication with Sunlight, who was stationed at Taylor’s mansion.

When asked whether Bockarie or Yeaten was senior, the witness responded that Yeaten was a Special Forces trained fighter from Libya while Bockarie was a Vanguard trained in Liberia.  Despite this, Bockarie did not like taking orders from Yeaten.  The witness was reminded of his statement yesterday that Bockarie was subordinate to Yeaten.

The witness agreed that many Liberians who had previously fought with the NPFL willingly joined the RUF.  Some who were sent to help the RUF in Sierra Leone later refused to return to Liberia.  The witness also agreed that STF fighters from Liberia fought alongside the RUF.

The witness agreed that effective mining began in Kono at the end of 1998.  The witness admitted to having civilians mining for him in Kono and agreed that other RUF commanders, including radio operators, also had people mining for them.  While anyone who wanted to mine was free to do so, there was an RUF representative at all mining locations.  According to the written statement, Eddie Kanneh had once taken diamonds to the Ivory Coast to Issa Sesay, but no mention was made of Taylor.  Now, however, the witness was reporting that Eddie Kanneh had instructions to first show the diamonds to Taylor.  The witness explained that he had not mentioned Taylor’s involvement when making statements to prosecution investigators because they had not asked about Taylor.

The witness agreed that in 1996 the RUF genuinely wanted peace but all such prospects were destroyed by persistent attacks by Kamajors.  The witness agreed that 60 alleged Kamajors were killed in Kalihun in 1998, upon the orders of Bockarie, who was upset about the attacks upon the RUF made by the Kamajors.  The witness agreed that Bockarie sometimes made irrational decisions in anger.  When asked why he did not speak of this incident until 2008, the witness denied that it was out of personal shame of being associated with Bockarie.

The witness spoke of arms being acquired through the attacks on Guineans in Kambia, but he was unsure whether these arms were later used to attack Freetown.  He acknowledged that some of the arms were sent to Kalihun and stored in his home.

The defense questioned the witness regarding his statement that Taylor advised Bockarie to attack Kono to acquire arms and ammunition for the RUF because the “bits and pieces” that Taylor supplied were dwindling.  The witness explained that by “bits and pieces” he was referring to the two or three boxes Jungle brought the RUF from Liberia.  The Defense questioned how the witness could be certain of the weapons’ origin given the period of disarmament in Liberia, implying fighters were interested in selling weapons to make a profit.

The witness denied knowledge of a trip made by Bockarie to Burkina Faso, despite the fact that documents reporting such a trip made to negotiate arms and ammunition were reportedly shown to the witness by OTP investigators.  The Defense then suggested that in late 1998, Bockarie and others made a trip to Burkina Faso where they negotiated a huge chunk of arms and ammunition, and that in late 1998, SAJ Musa and others acquired a huge chunk of arms and ammunition from Kambia.

Bockarie was reportedly opposed to the attack on Freetown in 1999, mainly executed by SLA and STF fighters.  Because of Bockarie’s opposition, lines of communication with him were cut off until the fighters entered Freetown and it became necessary to contact him for reinforcements.  The witness reported that he saw and heard Bockarie and Taylor speak via satellite phone during the January 1999 invasion of Freetown, and denied the accusation that he was making this statement only upon the urging of prosecution investigators.

Witness TF1-189

On September 17, the 40th witness, Witness TF1-189 was called.  She was a crime base/victim who testified with voice and facial distortion.  The witness was questioned regarding her contact with rebels in 1992, her capture in 1998, her experiences under capture, her knowledge of certain events, her relocation to Kono, and her subsequent movement to Makeni.

First Encounter with RUF Rebels in 1992

The witness reported that she was living in Yengema, Kono District in 1992 when the rebels, calling themselves Sankoh and Charles Taylor Rebels, attacked the town.  She and her family then moved to Makeni, and later to Freetown.

AFRC Coup of 1997

While in Freetown in 1997 at the time the AFRC soldiers overthrew the government of President Kabbah and invited RUF rebels to join, the witness saw rebels raping girls, killing, looting, and burning houses.  At times there were food shortages.  Furthermore, rebels forced civilians to mine.  The witness spoke of rebels setting buildings on fire, raping young girls including herself, and otherwise torturing civilians.  Delivering the testimony brought her to tears, leading the Court to take a short adjournment.  The witness reported that she was at one point presented to Superman to be taken as a wife.  She witnessed murder and was held captive to clean, cook, and act as a wife.  She also spoke of cannibalistic behavior by a rebel with a Liberian accent.

Witness’s Experiences in Kailahun

The witness testified that she was at a training base in Kailahun until September 1998.  The training officer at the camp, CO. Monica was described as wicked and had sent trainees to the front line.  The witness performed domestic chores and was moved around several times.  At one point she met with Bockarie, who was introduced as the overall commander of the RUF.

Witness Leaves Kailahun after the Signing of the Lome Peace Accord

In July of 1999, with the signing of the Lome Peace Agreement, the witness was moved from her location by the RUF and the Sierra Leone Government.  She was informed the peace agreement had been signed and the war was over and she was set free within one month.  At this point the court moved into private session for the protection of the witness.

Cross Examination

The cross examination focused on inconsistencies between her written statements and oral testimony.  For instance, her oral testimony stated she was raped by RUF rebels in the living room of a house, while her written statement reported it had happened in the bush.  The Defense asked the witness about the possible reasons for her conflicting accounts, suggesting because of the traumatic ordeal she was possibly confusing her account.  The witness did agree that she had slight difficulties recalling some of the things that had happened to her.  The witness denied repeatedly that anyone had made suggestions to her as to things she should include in her Court testimony that she had not mentioned earlier.


The Prosecution asked the witness what she meant by stating that ECOMOG soldiers removed the soldiers from Freetown. The witness claimed she was referring to AFRC and RUF fighters. The Prosecution read from her statement that she was taken to a room and raped and the witness explained that she was raped in the living room.

Witness TF1-122/Alex Sheku Bao

The 41st witness, Witness TF1-122, Alex Seheku Bao, was the first in this case of the Special Court for Sierra Leone to give his testimony in writing.  He had previously given testimony in the RUF and AFCR cases, which was now tendered as 92bis evidence.  He faced only cross examination by the Defense.  The witness is a 48 year old member of the Mende tribe.  He was educated through form 5 and works as a sergeant with the Sierra Leonean police force.

Cross Examination

During cross examination, it was established the witness was contacted by the Office of the Prosecutor in 2007 and had received payments in excess of 2,206,000 Leones, about 10 times his monthly salary.  The witness was questioned regarding inconsistencies in his statements, evidence he offered in his past trials, especially in regards to the deaths of BS Massaquoi, Bonnie Wailer, and Mohamed Fityia.

The witness had confirmed the death of Mohamed Fityia, but had not investigated the matter, reporting that “the place was tense.”  Fityia had been killed because Bockarie had suspected him of a crime, namely looting.  However, it was suggested that Fityia was only forced to drive AFRC soldiers, but did not actually partake in the looting.

The witness investigated the death of Bonnie Wailer, who had been accused of stealing, arrested, brought to the police station, and killed.  He confirmed that Bonnie Wailer had been beaten and tortured.  The Defense claimed that his story had changed over time because in 2003 the account of the men who came to the police station did not include Bockarie.  However, in 2005 his story evolved to include Bockarie.  Bao remained steadfast that Bockarie had indeed been present.

The witness testified that in early February 1998 BS Massaquoi and six others were detained on allegations of collaboration with the Kamajors.  Having supervised the investigation, Bao recommended their immediate release.  When Bockarie learned that Massaquoi had been released on bail, he had him rearrested. The following Sunday the Kamajors attacked Kenema Town and attempted to rescue Massaquoi only to find him dead.  On Sunday February 8, 1998 the body of Massaquoi was found with gun and stab wounds.  The Defense suggested the allegations of collaboration with the Kamajors must be true if they had come to set him free, but the witness argued the Kamajors would try to free all who were held in captivity by the Junta forces.

Bao was arrested, briefly detained, and beaten at one point for intervening when a woman was being harassed by Junta forces. At another time he was forced to leave his home, which was then looted, resulting in damages of 10,000,000 Leones worth of household property. Bao agreed that during the Junta rule from May 25, 1997 to February 12, 1998 the Kamajors and ECOMOG forces committed crimes and atrocities, but he never saw child soldiers with ECOMOG forces.


The prosecutor went into detail regarding the money Bao received from the OTP and confirmed the witness met Issa Sesay on several occasions in Kenema, for both formal and casual meetings.

The Prosecution tendered four documents to be accepted as exhibits:
MFI-1: Transcript in the case of the Prosecutor vs Brima et al, several pages
MFI-2: Transcript in the case of the Prosecutor vs Sesay et al, several pages
MFI-3: an uncertified copy of the diary
MFI-4: a map of Kenema District
The defense objected to the uncertified copy of the diary since the original had not been shown during the testimony of this witness.  Thw prosecution replied that the original diary had been presented through another witness in the RUF trial as P28.  The original was also available to the Defense for inspection and comparison with this uncertified version.  The judges conferred and admitted into evidence all four documents pursuant to Article 92bis.

Witness TF1-588/Stephen Smith

The prosecution called the 42nd witness, Witness TF1-588, Stephen Smith, a factual witness on September 22.  He was a 51 year old American professor who had worked as a journalist in West Africa and had written numerous articles and books on sub-Saharan Africa.  The witness was in Liberia from January 1990 to August 1990, but left following an incident with Taylor, returned in 1991, and stayed until about 2004.  He has visited Sierra Leone several times.

Covering the Civil War

The witness covered Taylor’s movements from the time Taylor entered Liberia with the NPFL and moved towards Monrovia, which he reached in the summer of 1990. The witness has spoken with Bockarie, Sankoh, Taylor, and Lebanese in Taylor’s entourage. Smith met with Taylor on various occasions, usually in a group of journalists for briefings.

Incident with Charles Taylor

In August 1990 the witness met Taylor at the Roberts International Airport while in the company of other journalists.  The witness was singled out and made to understand that Taylor was angry with the press, and especially with the witness. The witness was taken away in a jeep by two bodyguards, verbally abused, and subjected to a mock execution. He was then detained and questioned as to his identity.  His passport was also confiscated.  After his release it was decided that all journalists would leave the area.  The witness believed that he was singled out essentially for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The Defense objected to this testimony as a personal experience having taken place in August 1990, and having no obvious relevance to the time span of this case from 1996 until 2002.  The judges upheld the objection.

Meetings with Taylor Following the Incident

The witness met with Taylor again in 1996 in Liberia, in 1998 in Paris, and in November of 2000 in Paris.  In the interview conducted with Taylor in 2000, Taylor discussed allegations against him concerning illegal diamond mining in Sierra Leone.

Cross Examination

The Defense began by inquiring whether it was possible the witness had ever been affiliated with the CIA.  The witness denied such an affiliation.  The Defense pointed out that none of the lectures or books of the witness was exclusively on Sierra Leone or Liberia.  The Defense established that the witness was based in Benin from 1984, in the Ivory Coast from 1986, and lived in Paris from 1988.  From Paris he made many trips to West-Africa. During the period from 1989 until 1996 he went to Liberia about a dozen times and spent four months there from January to August 1990.  Smith reported that Taylor attempted to bring former adversaries into his government as ministers, though they maintained only secondary roles.

Smith stated that at the time the UN peace keepers were held hostage, Taylor was the leading President of ECOWAS, making him primarily responsible.  According to Smith, the larger the role Taylor played in mediating, the more the US and Britain became convinced that there was a link between Taylor and those holding the hostages.

Smith agreed with the following:  Bockarie went to Liberia at the end of 1999; Taylor claimed that LURD rebels attacked Liberia from Guinea, while Conteh claimed that the first attack came from Liberia; the US helped train the Guinean military; and in 1999 LURD carried out three attacks from an area close to the Liberian/Guinean border.

According to the witness, the Liberian government did not have the right to obtain arms illegally while being attacked by LURD because of the UN arms embargo; the EU and UN could have instead been called upon for help.  Smith acknowledged embezzlement allegations against Taylor for $900,000 USD, for which Taylor served time in the United States until he escaped.  The witness agreed to a large number of propositions regarding Sierra Leone, the list of which can be found in its entirety on

Re-examination in Chief

Smith agreed that by March 23, 1991 it was self evident that there was a link between Taylor and the RUF fighting force in Sierra Leone.  Smith personally experienced and witnessed some of the terror himself.  Smith stated that community patterns changed with civilians moving to rural areas, not bothering to vote, and feeling a general return to some of the cold war conditions.

Edesanya Sandy Hyde

The 43rd witness, called on September 24, had testified before this Court in the RUF trial using protective measures, which he now waived.  The witness was a 48 year old member of the Mende tribe, born in Sierra Leone, and a graduate of the University of Sierra Leone. He works as an assistant superintendant with the Sierra Leonean police force.  The confidential portions of his former testimony from the RUF trial remained confidential despite the fact that his identity was no longer an issue.

Cross Examination

The witness had worked in Longee, Freetown, and Kenema.  He reported there were certain areas in his country where he could not go for fear of being conscripted by rebels.  He reported houses being demolished by rebels, including his mother’s home.  The witness reported that in 1997, the Kamajors fought alongside the Sierra Leonean Army (SLA) to oust the RUF in the eastern region. The witness reported that on May 28, 1997, three days after the intervention of the AFRC, he heard Sankoh tell the RUF to join the AFRC.  The witness also explained that “sobel” referred to the idea of a SLA soldier by day and a rebel by night.

The witness reported that Kamajors did not kill police officers until they believed the officers were involved with the RUF.  Although most officers were not interested in joining the RUF, the witness reported that some did collaborate, prompting the Kamajors to kill 42 officers.  The witness did not remember the Kamajors beheading or raping victims.

The witness testified that Bonnie Wailer was arrested after being found on the roof of a house while attempting to break in.  Wailer had no criminal record, but it was alleged that he was the leader of a criminal gang.  The witness saw Wailer executed as an example to potential looters.

The witness personally interviewed BS Massaquoi and Brima Kpaka and reported no evidence of links with the Kamajors in the bush.  On January 30, 1998 they were released on bail by orders of the Secretary of State.  They were re-arrested the next day amidst a rumor that the Kamajors were nearby.  On February 6, 1998 an MP of the SLA requested BS Massaquoi and the others being held be handed over.  The Kamajors attacked the police station two days later, scattering, but not burning police documents.  The witness maintained there was no proof that Massaquoi or any of the others were Kamajor sympathizers.  He did later hear that they were executed.  No RUF members were involved in taking the six from custody.  Regarding the diary, the witness explained that after the Kamajor intervention it was recovered from the trash scattered outside the police station, and was later found by investigators of the Special Court.

Re-examination in Chief

The Prosecution inquired as to the condition of Massaquoi and the six others when they were brought to the police station. The witness replied that they had been detained for six days at the AFRC secretariat and said they had been tied and flocked, which had caused wounds.

Witness TF1-062

This witness was to be a Rule 92bis witness, only introduced by the prosecution and then cross examined by the Defense.  The witness had previously testified in the AFRC trial, the CDF trial and the RUF trial using a pseudonym and a screen because the Defense did not object.  However, the witness was not officially entitled to such protection, and in this trial the Defense objected.  Given that protective measures would not be available, the witness was not prepared to testify.

Witness TF1-065/Samuel Bull

On September 24 the prosecution called its 44th witness, Witness TF1-065, Samuel Bull, who testified in Krio.  He is a 48 year old member of the Kono tribe.  He has been educated through form five and is a married man with five children.  Bull also serves as pastor of the IMC, the International Mission Church in Sierra Leone.

Events in Kono District in May 1997

On May 25, 1997 Bull was teaching Sunday school in Kono District in Sierra Leone.  Soldiers approached singing, “Anybody who does not want the soldiers will be killed like a chicken.”  The church members learned that President Kabbah had been ousted.  A few days later Sankoh announced that the RUF should leave the bush, join the AFRC, and join the People’s Army.

Events in 1998 and Capture by the RUF

In February 1998 the witness was in Koidu Town, Kono District where the shops had been looted by the AFRC and the RUF.  He did not see the looting, but arrived to find the shops empty.  After hearing gunshots on the road from Freetown to Kono on February 21, 1998, the witness brought his family to the bush, where he remained in hiding for two months.  He later heard that after he had fled, civilians were killed by the AFRC and the RUF.

Events in Fakoya Bush

On April 15, 1998 the witness was gathering yams in the Bush with his younger brother, Emmanuel, and Thomas Kobie.  Two of his relatives had gone in search of vegetables when they were captured by members of the RUF.  He described how they had been raped by the RUF, and that one of them was released while the other was held until the following year.  He became very emotional upon relating the story.  The witness related that the following day he and several others went in search of the relative held captive and he and his brother Emmanuel were captured and forced to go with the RUF.  He encountered child soldiers, civilians who were forced to turn over rice and palm oil, and civilians who were being beaten.  The witness was eventually able to escape, but his brother was taken by the RUF to Motema where he saw their relative who had been captured, after which he was released to the Bush to rejoin his family.  Following this ordeal, the witness left with his family for Mamboma in Nimikono at the advice of the Kamajors.

Events in Momboma in May 1998

The witness reported that Thomas Kobie was captured and beat by the RUF after being caught in the line of fire between the RUF and Kamajors.  The witness actually described Thomas Kobie as being chopped with a machete by the RUF.  He did not see this firsthand, but the details were related by his father and he saw the wounded corpse the following day.  He also spoke of a small boy being beaten and the boy’s father being shot to death.  The witness also described the murder, mutilation, and beheading of a man named Sandie, which he had witnessed personally.  A total of six civilians were killed that day, including a mother and child.  The following day he returned with others to bury the dead.  His son and brother were again captured by the rebels.

Return to Motema

The witness and his family went back to Motema on May 5th, 1998 to find the ECOMOG.  Many houses had been burnt, but they found one house in which to stay.  The house was attacked by the rebels on June 12, 1998 while the witness and approximately 50 others were present.  While the witness was able to escape, his grandmother and a small baby were killed.  Those who did not escape were captured by the RUF, who attempted to chop of their hands with a machete.  The rebels told those who were captured about “Operation No Living Thing,” which the witness could hear from his hiding spot outside.  The rebels later left when an armored car with ECOMOG soldiers arrived.  Seventeen corpses were recovered from the house.  The witness reported seeing corpses scattered along the road leading away from the house.

Cross Examination

The Defense established that the witness first spoke with investigators of the Office of the Prosecutor on November 14, 2002.  The witness was aware there were other trials against members of the RUF and the AFRC, but he had not been asked to testify in them.  He agreed that given the atrocities committed against members of his family, he was pleased to see those responsible on trial.  He would like to see more people put on trial for things done in Motema.  The witness confirmed that since the arrest of Taylor he has heard people say, “Hey, they got the man behind the RUF.”  The witness denied discussing his testimony with anyone he had travelled with to the Hague.

The witness worked as a diamond miner in Kono.  He agreed that during the Junta period the Junta had control over the Kono mining area.  He denied mining with the Junta forces between May 1997 and February 1998.  The Defense showed the witness a document containing notes from his first interview from 2002 in which he made a statement to the effect that there was no control over diamond mining in Kono and the AFRC and RUF could mine anywhere without permission.  The Defense suggested that the AFRC and RUF did not gain full control over diamond mining in Kono until 1999.  However, the witness denied that this was the case and stated that the AFRC and RUF were always in control of the diamond mining.

The Defense went through old interview notes, acknowledging inconsistencies between past and present testimony.  It was established that his brother was twice abducted by the RUF, but on neither occasion did the RUF try to conscript him.  The witness acknowledged that one of his relatives was a Kamajor, but claimed they were not well acquainted.  The witness denied that anyone he ever knew had appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Re-examination in Chief

The prosecutor clarified that youths were forced by the AFRC and the RUF to mine and that Junta forces were in control of mining in 1999 and forced mining all over Kono.

Witness TF1-459

The prosecution next called Witness TF1-459 on September 25.  The protective measures utilized by the witness in the RUF trial were rescinded.  He was a 29 year old from Kono, with a degree in engineering from the University of Freetown, who worked for a telecom company.

Mining in Freetown and Motema

The witness lived and studied in Freetown during the AFRC regime until the University was closed by the government and the witness moved to Kono to live in Motema with his family, where he arrived in 1997.  The witness testified that in February 1998, the Kamajors and the Donso took over the town and the AFRC and RUF rebels fled.

Moving to Fakoya and Fakoya Hills

The witness reported that in February 1998 he and his relatives decided to leave town and head towards the village of Fakoya.  While there, his uncle was killed, prompting them to leave for a cave in the Fakoya Hills, fearful of the RUF and AFRC rebels finding them.  The witness pointed out on a map the various towns he was discussing.

Rape and abduction by AFRC/RUF Rebels

The witness reported that while staying in the Fakoya Hills, awaiting the ECOMOG to reach Kono, they sustained themselves on yams, rats, and other bush food. One day the witness, his elder brother Samuel, and Thomas Kobie had been in search of food when they heard a gunshot.  They returned to the cave to check on their family to find that the AFRC and RUF rebels had left, their belongings had been scattered, and money and items had been stolen.  The witness was informed that a relative had been abducted by AFRC/RUF men.  They had raped two relatives, released one and abducted the other, in addition to abducting the son of Thomas Kobie, Immanuel Kobie. The following day the witness and six others left for Motema to recover those who had been abducted.  They were met by five Junta soldiers and were held at gunpoint.  The witness identified himself as a relative of one who had been abducted.  While walking with the rebels, the witness befriended a man named Pikin who allowed the witness to see his captured relative upon arrival at the camp.  The witness was able to console and comfort his captured relative, but then did not see her again for approximately sixteen months.  Once reunited with his family he learned that a relative who had already once been captured and released had again been captured along with Emmanuel Kobie.  Sixteen months would pass before he again saw this relative.


The witness next described the situation in Mamboma.  The witness had been bathing in a stream when he heard shouting to run and flee, which he did with his nephew, Thomas Bull.  He encountered armed AFRC/RUF members, whom he claimed had been using drugs and behaving roughly.  He was captured by rebels and brought back to Mamboma, where he saw burnt houses, dead bodies, and a head on a stick.  The witness reported that Thomas Kobie had been shot and chopped to death by rebels.  The rebels had stolen food, clothing, and other items from the people of Mamboma and forced the civilians to carry them away from the town.  While walking, one of the rebels said, “if you close your eyes on us, we will close our eyes on you”, which meant that if the civilians were too tired to keep up they would be executed.  At one point a woman with a baby was too tired to continue.  The witness reported that she was shot and her baby was given to another woman.  At one point the rebels contemplated killing all of the civilians, but another rebel was able to discourage this, saying: “We all fight for a common goal.”  After walking all day they arrived in Njaimah, Nimikoro Chiefdom in April 1998.


The witness located Njaimah, Nimikoro Chiefdom on a map.  He reported that once they arrived the group of civilians was given a propaganda lecture on how the government was monopolizing the country’s resources.  The rebels referred to the items stolen from the civilians as “government property.”  A number of the women in the group were selected and taken as wives by the rebels.

Death of the “old Pa’s”:

The witness reported that the rebels killed older civilians, whom they referred to as “the old Pa’s” because they were inactive and useless.  The rebels claimed they were only going to be relocated, but the witness believes they were taken away to be shot. 

Leaving Njaimah

One evening the group heard bombing from Alpha Jets and saw ECOMOG soldiers and vehicles advancing.  The rebels relocated the entire group of rebels and civilians towards Koidu.  As they moved the group grew in number to about 500 and eventually split into two.  The witness marked on a map the routes taken from Njaimah to Woeama and to Baiama.  The two groups eventually reunited and at this point totaled about fifty civilians and fifty rebels.  They sought out shelter at a coffee farm hiding from the Alpha Jets under the leaves of the coffee plants.

Combat Training and Food Finding Missions

The rebels trained some young men and boys for combat, including the witness, for about two weeks. The witness was trained in weaponry and food finding.  He sometimes went with the rebels on missions to steal food from farmers.  At one point the witness saw a commander amputate one man’s arms under the elbows and heard him shoot another.  He was informed this was done to give a message to the ECOMOG forces and the Kabbah government, that the AFRC/RUF was still active and would keep up the fight.  After the two week training period, the witness and other trainees were informed that they would be used for operations.  The attack on the Village at Kenema End was his first combat mission. The AFRC and RUF rebels set houses and a church on fire.  They then chased the Kamajors.

Operation “Clear the Way” and Operation “No Living Thing”

At another time, Foday Bangura forced the witness to participate as a bodyguard  in a mission called “Clear the Way,” despite the witness being ill with malaria. The mission was large and involved 61 rebels and trainees.  It was announced the men could not return unless they had 100 amputated civilian hands.  The basic instruction was to take as much property as possible, have the civilians carry it, and kill the remaining civilians.  The witness explained that Operation “Clear the Way” and Operation “No Living Thing” were actually two goals to be achieved in one mission by the ACRC and the RUF.  The operation began on May 9, 1998, headed in the direction of Njaimah, Nimikoro, unaware that the 5th battalion of the Nigerian army was deployed there. When the rebels crossed the bridge they heard a loud voice shout: “Halt!” The ECOMOG gave the rebels a chance to surrender, but Foday Bangura fired, prompting the ECOMOG to respond by firing.  Amidst the heavy fighting, which lasted until 4:00 AM the next morning, the witness fled.  The witness surrendered on May 10, 1998, calling himself a civilian.  The witness was able to show his ID to the ECOMOG soldiers, who took him to Njaimah, Nimikoro. As they left, the villagers shouted to the ECOMOG soldiers to hand over the witness so they could “bury him alive.”  In Njaimah, Nimikoro the ECOMOG soldiers wanted to interrogate him, while the Kamajors and the civilians wanted to kill him.  The Prosecutor later confirmed with the witness that he had surrendered to the ECOMOG.  He also marked on a map the routes of the operations he had been involved in.  The map was marked for identification as MFI-2.  While giving testimony, the witness broke down in tears and was attended to by the Witness and Victims Unit of the Special Court, causing Court to be temporarily adjourned.

Cross Examination

While the witness discussed his experiences with his family members, and they shared theirs with him, he denied his testimony was at all corrupted.  This experience in Freetown under the Junta rule was characterized by looting, armed robberies, and school closings, prompting him to relocate.  The witness confirmed that rebels would mine in certain places and civilians would mine elsewhere, while the AFRC and RUF rebels took the large diamonds for themselves.  The witness stated that no one was forced to mine.  The witness confirmed that the Kamajors killed members of the AFRC and the RUF, looted cars, and stole property.  Contrary to his brother Samuel’s testimony, the witness claimed no knowledge of a relative who was a Kamajor.

Witness TF1-173/Tamba Mondeh

On September 29, the 46th Prosecution witness, Witness TF1-173, Tamba Mondeh, testified in Kono.  His pre-trial protective measures were rescinded so that he could testify in open court.  He is a married man with four children, and resides in Motema, Kono, Sierra Leone.

Escaping the Rebels

When President Kabbah was ousted by the AFRC, the witness was residing in Motema.  The rebels arrived in his town, prompting him to flee to several villages in the bush.  He witnessed destruction, mutilation, and the death of a child at the hands of the rebels.  Whenever the ECOMOG captured a place, there was an announcement from Freetown, which prompted the people to go there for protection.  While in Motema, the witness and his family stayed in the house of Samuel Bull with many other civilians.

Attack by the Rebels in Motema

The witness described the day the rebels attacked the house in Motema.  While still inside the house, the witness was shot in the chin/throat, which left a nine centimeter scar.  The witness reported that another man, Aiah, and his son were shot and killed.  The rebels broke arms and legs and killed others.  The rebels also set fire to several houses.  When the ECOMOG soldiers arrived the rebels fled.  The witness reported many corpses scattered on the ground and later heard that 25 civilians had been killed.  The witness remained in the hospital for a year for his chin and as a result of his injury he can no longer work to support his family and is forced to beg.

Cross Examination

The witness testified that he knew Samuel Bull very well.  He knew Emmanuel Bull and the father of the two brothers to a lesser extent.  The witness confirmed that the Bull family operated a mining company under a license.  The witness could not testify as to whether the ECOMOG soldiers were involved in mining, but he had heard that there were people mining for the ECOMOG.

The witness stated that he was not a Kamajor, nor did he know any member of the Bull family to be a Kamajor. He had not seen any Kamajors staying at the Bull family house in Motema.  The witness confirmed that he was standing in the parlor when he was shot by the rebels.  The Defense suggested that the witness had been fighting for the Kamajors and was shot while lying down, which may explain the angle of the bullet.  The witness denied this assertion.  He confirmed that he was once asked by a friend to become a Kamajor, but he declined.

The witness testified that Sankoh was the rebel commander.  He testified that Fixo Bio was the rebel who led the attack on the Bull family house.

Witness TF1-060/ Abdul Otonjo Conteh

The prosecution called their 47th witness, Witness TF1-060, Otonjo Conteh, on September 29.  The witness had utilized protective measures during the RUF trial, but since he was a category 1 witness, he was not actually entitled to these protections, reserved for victims, children, and insiders, and so they were not used in this trial.  He was born in 1953 in Lalehun, Kenema District, which is also known as Tongo Fields, and is presently a 55 year old member of the Mende tribe.  He holds a degree and speaks Mende, Krio, and English.

On September 30, during the in Court testimony, Taylor was not present because he was observing the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hosanna.  The Court granted Taylor’s request that the proceedings continue in his absence.

Mining in Tongo Fields

The witness described Tongo Fields, a mining area of approximately ten villages.  He had worked there as a secondary school teacher until the rebels arrived in 1994, and was then a teacher again in 1996 and 1997.  The witness also worked as a diamond miner in 1996 and 1997.  He purchased land and a mining license, hired workers, and used a profit sharing plan.  The witness denied using guns in his operation.

RUF Atrocities During Election Time

The witness described firsthand the events leading up to the elections in 1996.  On December 25, 1995, Kenema District was attacked by RUF rebels and the fighting continued until January 1, 1996.  During this time the rebels mutilated and raped civilians to prevent them from voting.

Events After the Coup of May 25, 1997

On May 25, 1997 when the Kabbah government was overthrown and replaced by the AFRC Junta government by Johnny Paul Koroma, the witness reported that things changed quickly in Kenema.  SLA soldiers joined with the RUF rebels to form the AFRC.  The witness reported that the Kamajors and the Special Security Force had control in his village.  The witness reported that all of the houses in his town, including his own, had been looted.  The witness passed though another town, Tokpombu One, where he saw burnt houses and corpses lying in the streets.  On August 16, 1997 the witness heard that Bockarie had instructed civilians to return to their towns and cooperate with the AFRC government to avoid trouble.

Lower Bambara Caretaker Committee

In Tokpombu One, Lieutenant Sekou Kunateh was the OC (Officer in Command).  The witness and others were told that if they cooperated with the AFRC they would be free and safe.  Six persons, including the witness, volunteered to take this message to the Paramount Chief of the Lower Bambara Chiefdom, who resided in Kenema.  A committee, the Lower Bambara Caretaker Committee, was then formed to work with the AFRC, consisting of thirteen members.  The witness was appointed Secretary.  The committee was charged with caring for civilians living in the bush and with convincing them to leave the bush and return to their towns.

Diamond Mining

The witness testified to mining done under the control of the AFRC.  The witness spoke of RUF rebels entering villages and forcing civilians to mine.  The civilians were not compensated, but only received two cups of food each evening.  On one occasion, civilians attempted to mine on their own, and Bockarie sent child soldiers to injure and kill these miners.

The witness met Bockarie on August 16, 1997.  Bockarie arrived with children and adult rebels in a convoy at 8:00 AM to collect diamonds to take to Kenema Town.  The witness testified that he personally saw diamonds on two occasions.  On both occasions, diamonds were on a table being counted by Kunateh, who told the witness he was to take the diamonds to Bockarie.

Arrival of Aircraft

The witness testified to seeing a helicopter arrive on three occasions, and each time the civilians were instructed beforehand to stay in their houses.

Charles Taylor

When asked about the name Charles Taylor, the witness related a conversation he had had with an RUF commander he had befriended, Captain Eagle. Captain Eagle had told the witness that the RUF were supported by Taylor as well as Sankoh.  He had heard that diamonds were sent to Taylor in Liberia, and that Taylor supplied the ammunition for the RUF in Sierra Leone.

Leaving Tongo Field

Although it was a difficult existence, the witness remained in Tongo Field from August 11 until November 10, 1997, when he was approached by RUF rebels and accused of defending the Kamajors.  The RUF rebels asked the witness to fight Kamajors with them, to which he complied.  However, the plan to fight Kamajors was called off and the witness took the opportunity to leave Tongo Field that same day.

Cross Examination

The Defense questioned the witness regarding the eight reports he had made during the Junta period in 1997, asking why they had not been disclosed earlier.  The witness replied that he had kept them hidden.  The Defense highlighted the fact that the phrases “no” killing and “no” burning of houses in the reports were changed to “only few.”  The Defense established that the reports addressed property damage and civilians who were killed by stray bullets, not intentional assassinations.  Furthermore, three reports of the witness had allegedly gone missing.

The Defense questioned whether the witness actually knew what had happened with the diamonds.  However, the witness reasserted he had seen diamonds in Sekou Kunnateh’s office.

The Defense questioned why the witness had not mentioned the conversation he had with Captain Eagle concerning Taylor’s involvement in the RUF during the RUF trial or during meetings held prior to 2008.  The witness was also questioned as to why he did not earlier disclose that the helicopters that visited Tongo Field contained visitors from Liberia.

The Defense had established that during the time of the government of Valentine Strasser, Strasser’s men had looted property, illicitly mined diamonds, and destroyed the electrical provisions supplied in the area by the NDMC, the National Diamond Mining Company.

The witness denied being a Kamajor.  It was established that his brother was killed by Kamajors and his sister was killed by the Junta forces.  The witness agreed that both parties were responsible for committing atrocities.


The witness confirmed that in the eighth report made during the Junta period, he mentioned a list of atrocities committed by the Junta.  He clarified that it was not a complete list.  The Defense marked for identification the notes of Abdul Conteh made during the Junta period as MFI-1 and subsequently tendered this document into evidence as exhibit D-63.

Witness TF1-064

The 48th Prosecution Witness, TF1-064, was a crime-base witness called on September 30.  She was a 30 year old married woman who testified using protective measures, including a pseudonym, screen, and image distortion.  During the war in Sierra Leone she resided in Foendor, Kamara Chiefdom in Kono District, Sierra Leone.  Upon hearing that rebels were killing people, she and her family fled to the bush where they survived on yams.

Abduction and Rape

The first time the witness was abducted by the rebels she was released shortly thereafter because she was in the advanced stages of pregnancy.  She was unsure what had happened to the others who were captured, but not released.  The second time she was captured by rebels one wanted to take her as a wife, but she was released to return to the bush because she had an infant child.  The third time she was captured by rebels she was familiar with one of the capturers: Tamba Joe.  The rebels spoke in Krio and told her that they were ECOMOG, which she was unfamiliar with at the time.  The witness and her sister in law were raped and the witness never saw her sister in law again.  Following this encounter the rebels brought the witness and others to Foender, where their children were executed.  Recounting the story caused the witness to cry.

[1] Prosecutor v. Taylor, SCSL-03-1-T-556, Decision on Prosecution Notice Under Rule 92bis for the Admission of Evidence Related to Inter Alia Kenema District and on Prosecution Notice Under Rule 92bis for the Admission of the Prior Testimony of TF1-036 into Evidence, 15 July 2008, page 4, internal citations omitted.

[2] Prosecutor v. Taylor, SCSL-03-1-T, Decision on Defense Motion Pursuant to Rule 75(G) to Rescind Closed Session Protective Measures Granted Orally in Other Proceedings for Witness TF1-366.