Morning session: Witness Ibrahim Wai Describes Atrocities Committed: Amputation, Rape and Burning

The Hague

October 17, 2008

This morning Presiding Judge Teresa Doherty began by explaining her absence in Court for 3,5 days earlier this week. This had been announced in Court on Friday last, but during a private session of the Court and therefore it had not been known publicly. There have been reports in the media wondering about her absence and she would like to clarify matters. Doherty has been in the United States delivering papers at a University and assured that the next time any absences would be announced in open Court.

Examination in chief of Ibrahim Wai continued

Prosecutor Mohamed Bangura continued his examination of 64th Prosecution witness TF1-097 Ibrahim Wai. Bangura went over yesterday’s transcript of Wai’s testimony and clarified the following. Mohamed, who later was nicknamed Captain Blood, used to visit Wai’s house on Friday and stayed until Sunday regularly. The last time Wai saw Mohamed before the events during the war was in 1985. The rebel who stopped Wai on this way to Kissi Town and who gave the witness a dozen lashes did this with an electric cable of about 7 mm thick.

Amputation, rape and burning

When he reached Kissi Town the witness went to the house of his sister. RUF rebels had said they wanted peace so they were burning tires in Kissi Town, around Falcon street. They “taxed” civilians, meaning the rebels forced civilians to come out of their houses and sing they wanted peace. This happened at night time. The base of the rebels was in the PWD compound, the mental home also known as “crazy yard”. Word got round that ECOMOG was coming, therefore his sister and her husband left the house in a hurry. Kai was still at home with the younger brother of his brother in law, Koroma Brima. Several times during his testimony Kai referred to Koroma Brima “my younger brother”, which caused confusion at first but was clarified later. Wai and Brima were sitting on the veranda when a man called Aboujah (spelling?) told them that the rebels wanted civilians to be in their houses, because ECOMOG was coming. Wai and Brima went inside the house. Two nephews were also present. Two rebels knocked at the door shouting that if the door was not opened, they would set the house on fire. Wai managed to let the two nephews escape through a window and decided to open the door. Two rebels entered: one dressed in full combat with a machete, one in half combat with a gun. The one with the machete was Mohamed, whom the witness knew from Waterloo and who had stayed with him so many weekends years before: the same Mohamed who had robbed him in Tombu in December 1998. Mohamed pushed Wai aside and demanded 400,000 Leones, which Wai could not give him because he did not have that amount of money. He offered Mohamed other possessions instead, but that was not what Mohamed wanted. Later another rebel joined the first two. Mohamed was called captain Blood by the other rebels, this is how the witness came to know the nickname of Mohamed. The rebel with the gun struck Wai with the back of his gun and he fell down the floor, crying. Mohamed used the flat side of his machete to hit Wai on his back. Subsequently Mohamed took the arm of Wai, put it on the table and amputated his hand with his machete. Captain Blood told him to go to Pa Kabbah (= ex President Kabbah) and ask for another hand. The rebels pushed Wai out of the house and Wai took shelter in the toilet in the yard that was part of his sister’s house and other houses. The toilet had no door. He was there until about midnight and observed what was going on in town: houses were ablaze with fire, the mental home as well. According to the witness these houses were set on fire by the rebels, civilians “are not brave enough to set houses on fire” as he stated. Koroma Brima was still in the house. The rebels amputated both his hands, Wai heard him crying. Wai also indicated that the rebels raped several girls but did not go into detail at this moment. Later the house was set on fire by the rebels and Koroma Brima was burned to death.

At 10.25 a.m. Court was adjourned for an early mid-morning break in connection with a ceremony in the ICC, to allow the members of the Court to be present at this ceremony. Court will reconvene at 11 a.m.