October 14, 2008
This morning Prosecutor Alain Werner introduced 57th Prosecution witness TF1-077 who will testify under Rule 92bis. The witness is sworn in on the Bible and will testify in Kono.
The name of the witness is Tamba Yomba Ngekia, born in 1949 from the Kono tribe, living in Tombodu, Kono District. He has never been to school and speaks Kono and a little Krio. Ngekia has testified in the RUF trial on July 20 and 21, 2004 and testified that recently this testimony was read to him in a language he understands and adopted this as his prior testimony. The transcript is marked for identification as MFI-1a and MFI-1b (the part of the transcript that contained his testimony given in private session).
Lead Defense Counsel Courtenay Griffiths cross-examined the witness and established the following.
When the witness was captured in December 1999, the witness was 50 years old. Ngekia was married and had six children. At the time he was living in Tombodu and under the control of ECOMOG. Then the rebels came and they identified themselves as RUF, stating they had taken over the government from ECOMOG. His house was burnt and three of his children were killed by the soldiers. He was taken by the rebels and was forced to mine for them. One time the rebels brought a town chief called Sogbeh, who was injured and was told to work. When the chief could not work the rebels killed him and threw his body in the river.
When asked, the witness did not remember the exact date when he was captured and said he did not tell anyone of the Special Court this date. Griffiths took the witness to a statement of Ngekia to the OTP dated November 16, 2002 stating the date of his capture by the rebels was December 16, 1998, to which the witness answered that he did state a date at the time, but does not remember the date now, because it was a long time ago. Ngekia agreed it was December 16, 2008 and that he was captured for more than six months.
When the war first started in Sierra Leone, the witness was living in Tombodu. The witness first heard about the war from other civilians. The first time he saw rebels in Tombodu was in 1998, a year before he was captured. The rebels chased ECOMOG out of Tombodu. ECOMOG was there for a short period of time but did not do any mining. The witness and his family left Tombodu for the Guinea border and after that went to Koidu, when the rainy season reached the dry season.
During the six months the witness was forced to mine he did not see any Lebanese diamond merchants. He has heard the name of Savage, but never saw him. Officer Med was his mining commander and was a rebel, not an SLA, however wearing the uniform of an SLA soldier. Officer Med would take the diamonds directly to Issa Sesay, Ngekia witnessed this once, on a day when a large diamond was found. In a statement to the OTP Ngekia said he saw Issa Sesay many times. Ngekia explained that he saw Sesay come many times to pick up diamonds, but only once Sesay came to the pit where Ngekia was working and the big diamond was found. Issa Sesay would come often in the evening to pick up diamonds.
The witness has heard the names Mosquito and Sam Bockarie but never saw them. Ngekia has also heard the names Superman and SAJ Musa, but never met them. He heard the names during the war, but cannot say exactly when. Ngekia has never heard of the mining system called the “2 piles system”. The witness has heard of the name Peleto, but has never seen him in the Tombodu mines. When UN troops came, the witness was freed. Since the war the witness has been working as a farmer.
Re-examination in chief
Prosecutor Werner established that the witness heard about the Lome Peace Accord when he was at the border with Guinea, this was before he was captured.
MFI-1a and MFI-1b are tendered as evidence by the Prosecution and become exhibit P196a and P196b (confidential).
58th prosecution witness TF1-215
Prosecution witness TF1-215 was first presented in this Court as prosecution witness 25, but was not prepared to testify in open Court. At the time the Defense objected to the witness’s protective measures, arguing that that the witness had appeared in a video released to the public and therefore should not be granted protective measures. The Bench then ruled the witness to be stripped of protective measures and the Prosecution withdrew the witness. The Prosecution had appealed to this decision but now no longer pursues this appeal and the witness will take the stand and testify openly. Subsequently the witness is sworn in on the Quoran and will testify in Krio. Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian will lead the witness.
The name of the witness is Sieh Mansaray, he was born in 1951, in Sakutar village, Bafodia Chiefdom, Koinadugu District. He moved to Kondembaia village, Diang Chiefdom, Koinadugu District in 1976. He is married and has eight children. Before the war he did not have any education and does not know how to read. He speaks Limba, Koranko and Krio. The witness never had any military training. Before the war his work was farming, sawing timber and baking bread.
Events in February and March 1998
In February 1998 Johnny Paul Koroma had to leave Freetown. Mansaray heard about it over the radio and people were telling about it. After hearing this, life in Kondembaia, where he was tribal head, changed. Many people from Freetown came to the villages up country. They were called the People’s Army. Some made a checkpoint at his house. Kondembaia is on a road to Kono, but it is not the main road. At the checkpoint the rebels would take anything they liked from civilians, they called it “Operation Pay Yourself”. Even clothes, shoes and watches they would take from people. The soldiers from the People’s Army were of different age groups, some as old as 40, others as young as 10. They all had guns. One day rebels came to the back of his hose and took his chicken and looked to capture his daughter Agnes, 12 years old at the time, but Mansaray told his daughter in his own language, Limba, to run away and hide. The rebels were speaking Krio. The witness pretended to be disabled and therefore they did not capture him. Another man, Urah Marah of about 18 years old, was captured and had to carry loads for them, together with about two others. The People’s Army were in his village from February to the end of March 1998.
Events in April 1998
Early April Mansaray heard about events in Yeathen (spelling?). Yeathen is about two days walking from Kondembaia. A man called Kabbah Jalloh, a friend of the witness, had both his hands amputated in Yeathen. Many were amputated in Yeathen. Kabbah Jalloh arrived in Kondembaia with his wife and brother and related all these events to the witness. The shoulder and head of the brother of Jalloh were hacked with a machete, he survived, but died after six months. All the houses in Yeathen Town had been burnt.
At this point in Mansaray’s testimony Court is adjourned at 11.30 a.m. for the mid-morning break.