Morning session: 49th Prosecution Witness TF1-233 Osman Jalloh is Called to the Stand

The Hague

October 1, 2008

This morning the Court sat in open session. Prosecutor Kathryn Howarth made an application for the rescission of the protective measures that the witness TF1-233 enjoyed previously. The Defense had no objection, the judges ruled these measures to be rescinded. Morris Anyah will have carriage of this witness for the Defense. The witness’s right hand was amputated, so he was sworn in on the Koran with his left hand.


Prosecutor Kathryn Howarth began her examination of the witness. The name of witness TF1-233 is Osman Jalloh, also known by the nickname Ojah Oju, he was born on December 25, 1935 in Makarankay, Bombali District, from the Temne tribe. Jalloh speaks Temne, a little Fullah and a little English. He used to have three wives, one died, another left him because he had his arm amputated, so now he has one wife. He used to have nine children, but one died, so now he has eight.

Events in January 1999

In January 1999 the witness was in Kalaba Town, a part of Freetown. A lot of people came, singing in Krio “we want peace, we want peace”. The people were not wearing combat, they were wearing civilian clothes. They did not stay in Kalaba Town, they went straight to Freetown. Some people said they were from Liberia. We waited about 2, 3 weeks. Then they came back and went into Kalaba Town.

Objection by the Defense

At this moment Defense Counsel Anyah rose and made an observation, saying there had not been disclosure of documents to the Defense, stating that the rebels came back to Kalaba Town.
Prosecutor Howarth answered that every document had been disclosed to the Defense, upon which Anyah said it concerned a broader issue, the witnesses may not reveal things orally in Court that have not been disclosed in writing.
Howarth brought out there are two briefing notes, about four pages and these have been disclosed to the Defense.
Anyah did not dispute he received all documents but made the observation that at the relevant time the Court will receive an application when the Defense feel they are being prejudiced.

Events in January 1999

The witness continued his testimony. Rebels were running after people from Wellington to Kisi to Kalaba Town. After some hours the witness heard gunshots and he knew the rebels were coming back. The witness’s house was not very well protected, so he and his family went to their neighbours’ house, Mr. Jalloh’s house, located about 50 yards from his own house. They hid in a tin shack in the back of the yard. Building materials were stored here. The witness was in a group of ten people, elderly men, women and children. They hid for about six days, not eating, only drinking water, afraid of being killed by rebels. Osman Jalloh identified a rebel as a person with a gun, wearing either civilian clothing or combat clothing. Most rebels wore civilian clothing.

Meeting the rebels

On the 6th day a rebel carrying a gun came to the door of the shack and the witness opened the door. The rebel had a horn in the shape of a goat’s horn on his forehead, tied with a red rope. The rebel wanted money and found 2,000 Leones in the pocket of the witness. The others were searched but no more money was found. They were all locked in the shack and the rebel put the shack on fire. After about five minutes they were released and again the rebel asked for money. The neighbour Mr. Jalloh offered him 86 bags of rice. The rebel signalled to other rebels outside and the 86 bags of rice were carried away. Some rebels left without a bag, so the witness concluded there were more than a hundred rebels. The witness and his family continued to stay with this neighbour as his house was well fenced and the house of the witness was not.

Taken to Sayinoh junction

The next day another rebel came, a tall man with a strange accent, he was not from that area and not even Sierra Leonean. He spoke Krio, but with an accent, difficult to decipher. The rebel told them that if another group of rebels came and they would not have anything to give the rebels, the rebels would certainly kill them. So for their own safety this tall rebel would take all of them to Sayinoh junction, located between Wellington and Kalaba Town. On the way there, the witness saw a lot of corpses lying on the road, civilians. Also there were young rebels, as young as ten years old, carrying guns, standing by the highway packing stones so ECOMOG could not come through. They heard shooting, later finding out that the rebels were being driven out of town by ECOMOG. At Sayinoh junction they were taken to a house, the house of Mr. Okabia, a two story house. Many rebels sat on the ground outside the house, their commander was seated in a chair. All of the rebels wore civilian clothing. There were about a hundred rebels, as young as ten years old, but also older ones. There had been a helicopter shooting at rebels, referred to as Wowo Boy, “wowo” being a Krio word meaning “ugly”. The witness and the others were made to understand that if Wowo Boy would come, their hands would be cut off. They were told to go into the house and upstairs, where they saw looted items. After about 15 minutes the helicopter came and started shooting. The glass of the windows had been broken, the witness and the others could look outside and noticed that all the rebels had left, hiding in the bushes. When the helicopter left, the rebels came back and the witness and the others were told to come downstairs. Osheck, one of the witness’s neighbours was leading the queue, then the witness, then the women. One woman, a suckling mother, hid under the stairs. The commander was sitting in the corner. One individual, elderly, fat, wearing civilian clothing, was holding a machete. They called Osheck who had to put his hand on the mortar. Osheck pleaded and cried. The one with the machete said, that all of them who came here, their hands would not go to town.

At this moment in the testimony Court is adjourned at 11.30 a.m. for the mid-morning break.