Wednesday January 28, 2009.
10:00am: Court resumed and prosecution counsel Mr. Nicholas Koumjian continued his examination of witness TF1-174. The witness is testifying with voice and image distortion.
Prosecution counsel had the witness make a brief recap of his testimony yesterday relating to his time in Mabanta town when Binkolo and Magburaka were attacked by rebels. The witness explained that during the attack, he saw six armed men, who shot a driver and took away several children.
RUF Commanders in Makeni
The witness further testified about the RUF presence in Makeni within in 1998/99. In response to a question about rebel commanders in Makeni, the witness explained that the RUF made Makeni their headquarters. He said there were several commanders in Makeni, some of whom were members of the RUF, some AFRC and some the STF. He said Superman was also in Makeni and he had several bodyguards. The witness also spoke about an incident relating to the capture of a Catholic Mission van and the arrest of a white priest. He said the rebels said they did not intend to harm the priest but wanted to him to help propagate the ideals of the RUF. He said that the Catholic Bishop’s house in Makeni was occupied by one of the RUF commander called Titus.
Release of Children by Commander 55
The witness also spoke about an occassion on which Tina Musa, the wife of the late SAJ Musa, helped them talk with Commander 55 to secure the release of many children who were taken to the Interim Care Center where the witness worked.
Infighting Among Fighting Forces in Makeni
The witness was asked about the incidents of April 1-2 1999 and the witness explained that he saw rebels with Rambo’s corpse and they told him that he had been killed by Superman. They told him Superman also wanted to attack Issa Sesay but the latter ran to Magburaka. He said a traditional healer for the RUF, Pa Demba was later able to reconcile all the fighters.
The witness said that in October of the same year, he was busy distributing relief supplies in villages when he was informed of fighting going on in Makeni. He said he returned to Makeni and found out that the children in the Interim Care Center had moved out of the center and that the Bishop in Makeni was arrested and taken to Superman while his vehicle was taken by Gibril Massaquoi. He said that this particular conflict was caused by an infighting between the AFRC and the RUF. According to the witness, Issa Sesay later declared a ceasefire. He said he heard that one CO. Senegal was killed by the AFRC soldiers. According to the witness, Senegal was not a Sierra Leonean but he could not tell what his nationality was.
By February 2000, all the children in the Interim Care Center were from the RUF. He said that they also catered for children fighting with Kamajors but they were not placed in the Center because they were fighting alondside their parents and so did not fall in the category of seperated children. The witness spoke of an incident relating to a visit to the Center by the head of the OSM (RUF’s Humanitarian wing) in the RUF, CO. Amara. He said that Amara asked them to produce all their documens as they wanted to do an evaluation of their work. The witness said he refused to submit the documengts to Amara because the information on children in their possession were all confidential. He said he was therefore summoned to report at the RUF office. The witness said because of his fears, he asked a UN Military Observer, a British National Col. Joe to accompany. When they got to the RUF office, the witness said that Augustine Gbao started lambasting Col. Joe. He said the left the office and had to return the other day
The witness also testified of an occassion when Morris Kallon told him he (Kallon) wanted to have an affair with a lady who worked in the witness’s office. The witness said that when he returned, he adviced the lady to move out of town immediately so she would not run into any problems.
Abduction of UN Peacekeepers
In response to a question about RUF skirmishes with UN Peacekeepers, the witness explained that at the end of April 2000, preparations were being made for the commencement of the disarmament process. He said there was information that no RUF rebels should disarm without permission from Augustine Gbao. He said that on April 29, 2000, 11 of the RUF rebels went and disarmed to the UN peacekeepers. He said the RUF disapproved of this and so there were skirmishes between the two groups. The witness said he sent one of his boys to go and assess what the problem was. The boy, he said returned and told him of the skirmishes between the two groups. He further explained that in the evening of the same day, there were heavy shootings in Makeni. He said that rebels went to the center and took away the food and clothing. He said that between May 1-6 2000, about 100 children were taken from the center. He said he also heard of an order that Kenyan Peacekeepers should be arrested. During the fighting at this time, the witness said he saw RUF rebels driving UN vehicles, boasting that they had captured UN officials. In the evening of same day, the witness said he saw three trucks, full of people who were half dressed. When he enquired, they told him they had captured them in a town called Makoth and that they were taking them to Issa at Teko Barracks and then to Kailahun. He said that on May 6, he left for Freetown but only arrived there on the 7th. When he returned to Makeni, he said many children had left the center but came back when they heard of the goodies he had brought for them. He said that on May 19, he started transporting all the children in his care to Freetown. On their way, he said they ran into some rebels who again took one of the boys from the group.
Court adjourned for mid-morning break.