October 16, 2008
This morning, after having taken appearances, Lead prosecutor Brenda Hollis rose to explain that, even though yesterday’s early adjournment was due to illness of the witness and due to unavailability of Kono interpretation, it was not due to the Kono interpreters or their lack of co-operation, on the contrary. The interpreters have been very cooperative and helpful to the Prosecution. The reason that they were unable to interpret for the Prosecution was due to their work in the interpretation booth and Hollis wanted to make this clear for the record.
The next witness, the 63rd witness, TF1-197 is a category one witness and will testify in open Court without protective measures. The witness will not testify under Rule 92bis, meaning there will be an examination in chief by the Prosecution. The witness is sworn in on the Bible and will testify in Kono.
The name of the witness is Sahr Bindi, age 37, born in Papwema, Chiefdom Gbane, Kono District. He is married and has six children, has not been to school and does not know to read. He speaks Kono, Krio and Koranko.
When the war broke out Bindi and his family moved to Koidu. In 1998 he lived in Koidu, and one night there was shooting by the RUF/AFRC. This was the time that president Kabbah was reinstated; some time after the reinstatement the witness and his family left Koidu and went to Tombodu. They stayed there for a little while. One day soldiers came and told the civilians to assemble together. They were differently dressed, some in complete combat, others half in combat, others in civilian clothing, but all had guns. They identified themselves as AFRC soldiers and RUF rebels. They told the civilians not to run away from them and that their chairman, Johnny Paul Koroma, was now the authority. It was in the dry season, going into the rainy season, it could have been February. After the meeting, the civilians returned to their houses. The AFRC and RUF returned to Koidu.
Attack by the AFRC/RUF
For a few weeks nothing happened. Then one day at day break they heard shooting and vehicles approaching. Bindi saw rebels with red bands tied around their head. It was the AFRC/RUF and the civilians fled into the bush. They stayed for many hours, then almost towards evening the shooting subsided and Bindi heard the vehicles leaving. Bindi and others returned to their houses. The witness saw a man who had been shot, he was wearing civilian clothes, the bullet came through his neck. He saw another corps whom he recognised as a Maraka man, a civilian, a diamond trader. The Maraka was shot from the back and the bullet came out through the front. When Bindi returned to his house the door was broken. Things were thrown all over the place. At the time he was a petty trader, selling clothes. All the clothes were gone, other things had been stolen as well. Other civilians had their doors broken as well. The AFRC/RUF had done this, they were dressed the same way as the day they had come to introduce themselves to the civilians. The witness was very frightened, he took what was left over in the house and took his family back in the bush. The landlord, Komba, knew the area and Komba took them to a place in the bush where they built a hut. One day at day break rebels came and wanted diamonds and rice from Bindi and his family, but they did not have anything to give the rebels. The witness was blindfolded and the rebels made him fall in a place with ants.
At this moment in his testimony the witness started to cry and Court was adjourned at 10.15 a.m. to give the witness a break. At 10.30 Court reconvened and Howarth continued her examination in chief.
Continued description of the attack
These events happened during the dry season. The witness knew the men were RUF/AFRC because they introduced themselves as such, they were about six people, four of them had guns. Binda, his wife, Komba and Komba’s wife had to come out of the hut, the children remained inside, crying. The four of them were taken by the fighters up the road to a junction. The fighters wanted money, diamonds, palm oil and rice. Binda and the others were blindfolded, beaten, threatened, had guns put between their legs and were made to fall into the ants. Binda was stabbed with a knife on the side of his head. At this moment Binda showed the scar on his head, about three inches long, to the Court. When Binda was stabbed he was bleeding from his nose and his ears. Then Binda told the fighters he had money in the hut and they all returned to the hut. Binda gave them money and cigarettes, the fighters also took his bicycle.
To Guinea and return to Sierra Leone
The next morning the two families left for Guinea and stayed there for about a month. Then they heard an announcement on the radio that ECOMOG was in Koidu and civilians were encouraged to return to their homes. Bindi and his family returned, by now it was the dry season, maybe April, the year still being 1998. Bindi and his family settled in a village called Baiama, Kamara Chiefdom, Kono District.
One day Binda and his younger brother Safia went out and were captured by AFRC/RUF fighters, five or six of them. The fighters introduced themselves as such and Binda recognised their way of dress. They had guns. The rebels took Binda and Safia to their boss in Tombodu, Staff Alhaji. Binda and Safia, at the order of Alhaji, were tied to a mango tree close to the house and were repeatedly beaten from morning till almost evening. At one moment during the day Alhaji had a woman brought to him, a suckling mother. Binda knew the woman from the time he lived in Tombodu. Alhaji raped the woman after pointing his gun at her head.
Taken to Tombodu
Alhaji ordered some fighters to take Binda and his brother to Tombodu to his boss. This happened and Binda saw this boss, but did not get to know his name. This boss ordered to have them put in a cell for them to be killed the next morning. There were other civilians in that cell. In the evening the witness, his brother and four others were taken out, the witness thought they were going to be killed. The witness saw three corpses.
At this point in the testimony Court is adjourned for the mid-morning break at 11.30 a.m.