Wednesday January 28, 2009
12:00pm: Court resumed and prosecution counsel Nicholas Koumjian continued the examination of witness TF1-174. Counsel asked the witness about letters he wrote to religious authorities in Makeni, Issa Sesay’s leadership of the RUF and the witness’s welfare for children associated with fighting forces in Makeni.
Counsel asked the witness about letters he wrote to various authorities in Makeni. The witness explained the said letters were written on October 6, 2001. He said the first letter was copied to all religious leaders in Makein (Muslims and Christians) as well as the Lion News, which was the RUF Newspaper in Makeni. He said that he wrote a second letter on October 8, 2001 and it was directed to Issa Sesay and the RUF high command. The letters, he said addressed concerns about the delay in commencing the disarmament process in Makeni. The letters were read in court and marked for identification.
Issa Sesay’s Leadership of the RUF
The witness testified that when Foday Sankoh was arrested, Issa Sesay assumed the leadership of the RUF. He said that the RUF commanders travelled to Liberia where they came back with a decision that Issa Sesay was the new leader of the RUF. Asked how he knew that they were going to Liberia, the witness explained that Morris Kallon told him about it. When asked about Superman, the witness explained Superman’s departure from Makeni and he later heard that Superman had been killed in Liberia.
Witness’s Welfare for Children
The witness testified about his trip to Kono where he collected over 150 children, who were all with the RUF. When asked what the children were doing in Kono, the witness said they were involved in mining and domestic activities for their commanders. Explaining the process of collecting information from the children about themselves, the witness said that they obtained their personal information, which included taking down their real names at birth and the names given to them at the battle front, their addresses, as well as assessing marks or scars on their body. He said that their were girl mothers and mothers-to-be among the children. While the children were at the Interim Care Center, the witness said some commanders visited them saying they wanted to see their wives, who were small gilrs being catered for at the center. He explained that there was a particular girl among them who received honour from her colleagues because she was one of Issa Sesay’s wives. He said that the girl was about 14-15 years old. The witness wrote down the name of the girl in question. He also explained that the children shared stories of girls being shared among commanders and other fighters for sexual purposes. The witness wrote down the names of children who shared their stories with him at the center. He said many of the young boys and girls had already been used to having sex. Some of these children, he said were later sent to bigger child protection agencies like UNICEF. For victims of sexual violence, the witness said they conducted workshops for them. Asked about the ages of these girls and how they proved that they had had sex, the witness explained that the girls were as young as 9-10 years old and after sharing their stories, they were also sent to Medicins San Francais (MFS) where they were medically tested and proven to have had sex. In April 2001, he said that a group of 127 girls was taken to the center. He said that while some of the girsl were re-united with their families, some others were not accepted by their families because of the attrocities they had committed or the experiences they had undergone. Some of these children were taken to foster families where they made their homes.
Court adjourned for lunch break.