October 20, 2008
Today present were Presiding Judge Teresa Doherty, Justice Richard Lussick and Justice El Hadji Malick Sow, who will replace Justice Julia Sebutinde during her absence. Prosecution witness TF1-314 is sworn in on the Bible and will be testifying in Krio. Christopher Santora will lead the witness.
The name of the witness is Edna M. Bangura, born on October 10, 1984, in Masimbi, Tonkolili District. Edna speaks Temne, Krio and a little English and has education up to form 5. She had three children, the two youngest have died. Her son was born on February 27, 1995, when she was 10 years old.
In 1994 Edna was living with her grandmother in Masimbi. Her father lived in Masimbi, but not in the same house. One day, when at the sports grounds of the school, RUF rebels came and captured her. Three rebels took her to a cellar under the shop of a Lebanese and raped her. She could not see their faces, as they were masked, but she could tell they were young adults, any way older than she was. After they had raped her, the three rebels left her there. Edna spent the night lying on the floor, she was too weak to get up. The next morning an RUF patrol commander named C.O. Blood came and found her. She explained to him what happened, but of course could not tell him who the rapists were. Blood packed some items from the Lebanese shop and told her to carry these. The bag contained food and clothing and was very heavy for a young girl like her. A large group went on their way to Buedu. There were more than 20 civilians captured: men, women and children. She could not estimate the number of civilians. All civilians had to carry goods. A civilian could not say he was tired and wanted to rest. One old man did this and he was shot: “Now you can rest”, the rebels said. They walked for a week before they reached Buedu and passed many villages, but she did not ask the names of the villages, Edna only remembers the name of one fairly big place: Bama Konta. This happened in 1994, but she does not remember the month, nor if it was the rainy season or the dry season.
Time in the training camp near Buedu
The day after they reached Buedu the civilians were informed by RUF C.O. Issa Sesay that they would get military training. The training was given to a group of about 50 civilians between the ages of 10 and 25. The training lasted two weeks and was given by a female officer, Monica Pearson, a Liberian. Edna knew Monica was Liberian, because others told her so and because she herself could tell by the way Monica was speaking. Edna learned how to use and fire a gun, how to ambush and how to retreat. Edna had a two pistol grip which did not fire automatic rounds, it had to be opened and cocked before it can be used to shoot with. There were also G3’s and LAR’s. After the training the witness stayed in this military camp until November/December 1998.
SGU and food finding missions
After the training Edna was assigned to C.O. Scorpion and his wife Hawah. Scorpion had an SBU (Small Boy Unit) of five boys assigned to him. Hawah had an SGU (Small Girl Unit) of five girls including Edna assigned to her. The boys and girls in these units were between 8 and 13 years old. Edna did domestic chores for Hawah, like cooking, laundry and pounding rice. The SGU’s were for domestic work, the SBU’s were for security.
Edna named commanders: Mosquito, Superman and Issa Sesay.
Sometimes food would be scarce and Scorpion would then send SBU’s and SGU’s together with some older ones on food finding missions. Edna went on two of those missions around Buedu. First a spy would go into the village to find out if there were soldiers and/or Kamajors. After the spy had come back they would enter the village. Some had guns, others did not. The civilians were held at gunpoint, the rebels would enter the houses and take things, and the civilians had to carry the goods for the rebels. They would also capture civilians, men and women of all ages. Only a suckling mother would sometimes be left alone. When doing this, Edna was close to being 11.
Rape, “marriage” and children
One day, this was after the second food finding mission, she was raped by a rebel called C.O. Ray, who later took her as his “wife”. She got pregnant, but lost this baby. Later she gave birth to a baby, the father being C.O. Ray. Edna never saw women refuse becoming “wife” to a rebel. As a “wife” a woman had at least a little protection and would not be bothered by other rebels. If a woman or girl did not have a “husband” there was no protection and any rebel who would come along “could do anything he liked with her”. The capturing of civilians and the food finding missions continued all the time Edna was there from 1994 to 1998. If a person would flee, he or she, when caught, would be killed. It was considered betrayal.
Old people would work on a government farm, located between Kailahun and Buedu. It was called government farm, because the RUF considered themselves to be the government. The food from the farm would go to Issa Sesay.
Commanders and arms delivery
Towards the end of her capture the following commanders were in the camp: Mosquito, Issa Sesay, Augustine Gbao and Morris Kallon. Superman was not based there, he only used to visit.
One day Edna saw a truck in the camp, a six tire truck. She concluded it was a military truck because it was green. It was strange to see a truck like that, so Edna asked Hawah about it. Hawah told her that it was loaded with arms and ammunition and that it came from Liberia. Edna could not tell exactly when this happened but it was not at the beginning of her time at the camp.
In 1998 SAJ Musa, an SLA man, sent a radio message to Issa Sesay that he wanted back up for attacking Freetown. The witness heard this from Hawah, who looked forward to going back to Freetown. Scorpion was going to Freetown under the command of Issa. Edna and Hawah went as well to Freetown, but in a group more in the rear. There was radio communication between the various groups. Edna doesn’t know if any men ever entered Freetown, she never got that far. Her group passed through Kono and Small Lebanon and she arrived with Hawah in Makeni in 1998. By this time both her husbands had died. C.O. Ray died in the war front. C.O. Mussa died in an attack. Edna stayed in Makeni until disarmament. At this time she was with a man called Mohamed. She had two more children but they died in an accident.
How the war affected her life
Edna related that the war has affected her greatly. She was very young when she was captured. She was forced to have sex with men when she was not mature enough. Because of that, it is difficult for her to be with a man even now. In the bush women had no freedom and life was very difficult.
Lead Defense Counsel Courtenay Griffiths began his cross-examination and established the following. She was ten years old at her capture in 1994. Disarmament began in 2001 when she was about 17 years old. She was robbed of her childhood by the war, which is a matter of great pain for her. She was snatched away from a sports day at her school and raped that very night by three men. Then she was taken into the bush in Buedu and forced to undergo military training. The person in charge of the training was Monica Pearson. The camp was in the bush about one to two hours walk from Buedu Town. She was attached as a domestic help to Hawah, the wife of C.O. Scorpion. She worked for Hawah less than a year and then became a “wife” to C.O. Ray, but was still living in the same house with Scorpion and Hawah. Apart from two food finding missions she was never involved in combat. She did carry a gun on the food finding missions. She never personally saw C.O. Issa nor Superman, but she did personally see Morris Kallon and Augustine Gbao, who both were friends of her boss, Scorpion. Arms and ammunition were obtained from ambushes on SLA and Kamajors. Once she saw a truck with arms in Buedu, about half way through the time she stayed there. During the travel from Buedu to Makeni her group stopped in Kono, but Edna never saw any diamond mining going on there. At her time in Small Lebanon she did not see any Lebanese there. Her time in Makeni lasted from 1998/1999 until 2004. During the time she spent with the RUF she had two “husbands”, C.O. Ray and C.O. Musa, both RUF. With C.O. Ray she had two children but the first one died. Both husbands died in combat. Also Mohamed, her third “husband”, died. Mohamed had given her a gun. During disarmament she disarmed with this weapon. She was given money in return, 300,000 Leones. Following disarmament in 2003 she was approached by investigators of the OTP shortly after her birthday in October 2003. She was contacted in Port Loko where Edna was doing training for ex child combatants.
At 11.30 a.m. Court is adjourned for the mid-morning break.