The transcripts of the trial of Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia. More…

  • Please proceed, Mr Bangura.

  • Good afternoon, Mr Witness.

  • Good afternoon, sir.

  • Mr Witness, can you tell the Court your name, please?

  • Yes, sir. My name is Mohamed Sesay, born of Sierra Leone.

  • Now in which chiefdom in Sierra Leone were you born?

  • I was born in Koya chiefdom. The village where I was born is called Mayekson, Port Loko District.

  • Mr Witness, just pause. Your Honours, Mayekson is M-A-Y-E-K-S-O-N and Port Loko is P-O-R-T, one word, L-O-K-O. Mr Witness, you presently reside in the Western Area of Sierra Leone. Correct?

  • Just before you answer I am not inviting you to say exactly where you live. The area where you live in Sierra Leone is in the Western Area. Is that correct?

  • Yes.

  • Mr Witness, do you have a family?

  • What is the composition of your family?

  • Well, myself, number one. I have my son who is Osman Sesay. The second one is my girl child, her name is Kadiatu Sesay and the third one is Foday Sesay. The youngest is called Mohamed Junior Sesay. The other one, that is my wife, her name is Safiatu Kamara. That is the family I have.

  • Thank you, Mr Witness. Your Honours, I will provide some spellings. Osman is O-S-M-A-N. Kadiatu is K-A-D-I-A-T-U. Foday is F-O-D-A-Y. Mohamed is M-O-H-A-M-E-D, it could be double M. Safiatu is S-A-F-I-A-T-U. And they all carry one surname which is Sesay, S-E-S-A-Y.

    Mr Witness, what do you do for a living at the moment?

  • Well, for now except I go to town to beg the people and whatever they will give to me and I will bring it home and we eat. And apart from that my wife does some gardening and when she harvest from that garden she will sell the proceeds and we will eat and that is how we live.

  • Mr Witness, you have said that you go around and you beg. How long - and you beg and what you get from begging is partly what you survive on. How long have you lived in this kind of situation?

  • Well, that is from 1999 January 6. After I had this accident that I have now I had no other way to do what I used to do.

  • Okay, thank you, Mr Witness. You've said that since January 6 of 1999 and you talked about an accident. I shall be asking you about that later. Now before this accident which you talk about what did you used to do to earn a living?

  • Well, I was a petty trader. I used to buy and sell. But from that time - before that time, before the accident that was how I used to get my living.

  • Thank you. Now, Mr Witness, do you recall - you mentioned a date just now January 6 of 1999. You recall that date very well, correct?

  • Now at this time where were you living?

  • I was in Freetown.

  • Where in Freetown?

  • At Kissy Shell company. The name of the street is Falcom Street. Number 5 Falcom Street. That was where I was.

  • Your Honours, Falcom is F-A-L-C-O-M as pronounced by the witness. I think Kissy and Shell have been spelt before.

  • Mr Witness, on this date January 6 of 1999 did anything happen?

  • Yes, sir. We were in bed in the middle of the night when we heard firing. Then I realised that the rebels had come.

  • Now just before we move on you said you heard firing. What sort of firing did you hear?

  • We heard gunshots all over the place.

  • And then you said in your mind that you said the rebels had come. Now why did you say that to yourself?

  • Why I said that to myself was before January 6 we used to receive people, they were coming and running, telling us that the rebels were coming. At that time all of us were panicked in the city. But at that time it was the Kamajors who were securing the city.

  • Now, Mr Witness, you said before this date you had people who came and were saying that the rebels were coming. Who were the rebels as far as you knew?

  • These were people who were fighting against those bad people, Pa Sankoh's people, with the SLAs. We used to see them during the AFRC time when Mr Koroma was in power and he invited the rebels to the city. So the people were saying that and I used to see them too.

  • Mr Witness, I just need you to clarify one or two points. Now you have said that these were people who were fighting against those bad people, Pa Sankoh's people. Can you clarify that again or can you clearly explain who these rebels were as you understood them?

  • The rebels were fighting to come to the city. Their leader was Pa Sankoh with other people who was Paul Koroma. That is what I understood about them.

  • And you said your understanding of them spans from the period of the AFRC. Is that correct?

  • Yes, sir.

  • Now let us come to January 6 again. You heard the shooting during the night. Did anything happen in the morning when you woke up?

  • Yes, sir. In the morning when I woke up everywhere I turned I would only see rebels. They had guns. Some of them had machetes. Some of them had axes. Some of them, the way they were dressed, some of them had socks on without having shoes, some had military shirts on without the pants, some of them will have the military pants without the shirts on. There were many at that time.

  • Mr Witness, these people that you saw that morning, were they doing anything?

  • Yes. They were shooting in the area.

  • And were they saying anything to anybody?

  • No at that time except the noise that they were causing and the shooting around.

  • Now, Mr Witness, you have talked about the situation as you woke up that morning. Were you able to do anything or go anywhere because of that situation?

  • No, sir. At that time we had nowhere to go. We were only in houses, up to five to six days.

  • Just before you go on to what happened after five or six days, when you say we who are you referring to? Yourself and who?

  • That was my family and me, together with the other civilians who were within the same area.

  • So you were coming to the situation as it unfolded after five or six days. Did anything happen by that time?

  • Yes, sir. After five to six days we the civilians had a way to go out. We went out to buy to eat. We went out to a market which we called Marbela market.

  • Just pause, Mr Witness. Your Honours, Marbela is M-A-R-B-E-L-A. Yes, and where was this Marbela market situated?

  • Well, it is in the eastern part. It is in Freetown. That was where we went and bought things, the food to eat.

  • And did anything happen during that time when you went to Marbela to buy food?

  • Yes. After we had bought food then we returned. While returning together with my companions who had gone to buy we got to PWD. That is by Ferry Junction. We met a checkpoint there.

  • Now this checkpoint which you met at PWD, did you know who had mounted it?

  • Yes, sir.

  • We met the rebels and the SLAs. They constructed - they mounted that checkpoint.

  • And did anything --

  • When we got to the checkpoint then they asked us the civilians to sit down.

  • Who asked you to sit down?

  • The rebels. The rebel told me to sit down on the floor. When we sat down then he made a remark. He said, "We the rebels whom you said are dead", he said, "We are not dead, we are here. We've come back. We are the rebels".

  • Now, Mr Witness, when you arrived at this checkpoint apart from the rebels and the SLAs who had mounted the checkpoint itself did you meet anyone there?

  • Yes, sir. We met so many people there. We even met our president who was Momoh. He was in a hammock.

  • Now, Mr Witness, this person whose name you've called Momoh and you say he is the president, was he president at that time?

  • No.

  • Now you have said that you met many people there at this checkpoint. What were they doing?

  • Well, I cannot say this is what they did there but --

  • In what condition did you find them when you got there?

  • Well, the only thing that I know, after they had asked us to sit down one of the rebels came out and told his colleague rebels that - that we were to offer a sacrifice. After he had said that, that was when two men were taken from us the civilians.

  • Can you describe these two men that were taken from you the civilians?

  • Yes, sir. One of them is black. The other one is fair in complexion.

  • Now when you say one of them is black and the other is fair in complexion, can you explain better what you mean by the other being black?

  • Well, I am talking about the skin colour. We are all black people but the skin colours are not the same.

  • Was he dark in complexion and the other fair; is that what you mean?

  • Okay, thank you. So what happened next?

  • So one of the rebels shot the black man and he told the other rebels after he had shot the man who was black in complexion that they were to stab the other man who was fair in complexion to death.

  • Your Honours, can the witness repeat that.

  • Mr Witness, can you please repeat the last part of your answer for the interpreter.

  • One of the rebels who had said that we should offer a sacrifice, he shot the man who was black in complexion and he told the other rebels to stab the other man who was fair in complexion to death.

  • And was this order carried out?

  • Yes, they did it. They stabbed him to death.

  • Did anything happen after that?

  • Yes. After they had killed him, then they took some of his blood and they put the blood in one bowl. After that then they went. Those who stayed at the checkpoint, they allowed us to pass through and we were passed through.

  • Thank you, Mr Witness. Now this rebel who gave the order for a sacrifice to be made, when he spoke was he speaking to all of you or did he speak only to his commanders?

  • He was not talking to us. He was talking to those who were the rebels and the SLAs who had met there. He was talking to them.

  • Just before you go to the next question, Mr Bangura, I notice you said only to his commanders. Have we ascertained whether there were any commanders present?

  • That was my error. I should have used another word:

  • Was he talking to his colleagues, not commanders actually?

  • Now you said you were given - you were allowed to pass at that stage to continue on your journey. Did anything happen next?

  • Yes, sir. From there we arrived at the place called Saroula.

  • Your Honours, Saroula is S-A-R-O-U-L-A.

  • We met a checkpoint there too. This checkpoint that we met there, they told us that we should sit down.

  • Who told you to sit down at this checkpoint?

  • The rebels and the SLA who we met at that same checkpoint.

  • And did anything happen? Did you follow their orders?

  • Yes, sir. Then we sat down. After we had sat down they started arguing among themselves. One of them who was a rebel, he was telling the SLA that they should go and fight in town. The SLA was telling him that he was not going. He said the reason is that they have not come to the city to fight, to overthrow. He said they had not come to the city to overthrow. They had an arrangement to pay them to put them into the city. So if you say we should go and fight again they have to first give them the money they had promised them to take them to the city. If they did not give them the money he was not going anywhere to fight any more.

  • Thank you, Mr Witness. Can you just clarify for us, who said that they had an arrangement with the other?

  • The SLA was telling the rebel that the rebels and the SLAs had had an arrangement to pay them some money.

  • Who was to pay who money?

  • The rebels were to pay the SLAs to take them to the city.

  • To take who into the city?

  • The rebels. The SLAs were to take the rebels to the city.

  • Did anything happen after - as they got on with this argument?

  • Yes. It was not long when one rebel said, "Okay, look at Captain Blood coming". After he had said that he came.

  • Who came, Mr Witness? Who came?

  • The leader of the rebels, one of them whom they called Captain Blood. He came, he asked them. When he asked them all of them explained to him.

  • What did he ask them?

  • Captain Blood asked the rebel who was arguing with the SLA, he explained to him. After he had finished explaining he asked the SLA and he too explained to him. After he had explained Captain Blood told them that, that you the SLAs and us the rebels are one. He said please, the problem which you've spoken about, the money, we would organise it. Then the SLA said okay. From then on they allowed us to go through and we went through. At that time where I was to where I stayed were close so I went to my house.

  • Now, Mr Witness, did anything happen after this day that you recall?

  • No. I just went to my house. We slept for about two to three days. It was after that that something happened.

  • What happened after two to three days?

  • We were sitting at the back of our house at 5 Falcom Street. We the civilians and the other rebels who were around, we had a mango tree which was at the back of our yard. That was where they used to sit. We were sitting down there, we were many civilians and SLAs.

  • You said civilians and SLAs and who else?

  • With the rebels. The rebels.

  • Did anything happen while you were sitting there at the back of your house?

  • Please tell the Court?

  • We were sitting down there when we saw five men who were rebels. They were carrying guns. All of them were carrying guns. They met us there. One of them spoke to the rebels and the SLAs who were sitting together. He told them that, "You people are sitting down here, they've asked you to go and fight and you've refused". He said, "Look at what President Kabbah - look at what President Kabbah has done". He said, "When they said there should be ceasefire we had accepted the ceasefire but he refused". He said, "Now he has sent the ECOMOG to come and fight us". He said, "From now if they come all of us will die".

  • After he had said these words, one of the rebels had said these words, did anything happen?

  • Yes. So it was not long - it was not even up to five minutes from the time he spoke then two rebels came again. One of them was a lady. The other was a man. They met us at the same place.

  • Now you said one of these was a female. Can you describe her?

  • Yes. She was not carrying a gun, the woman. But the one who was with her had a gun. But the way she spoke, she was not speaking like a Sierra Leonean. The way she spoke she was speaking Liberian language, that is the woman.

  • Did she say anything, this woman?

  • Yes, yes. He said the same thing that he had first spoken to them. He said now that you've refused to fight, he said - she said, "Now they want to come and kill us". She said, "Right now I'm giving you all an order, Operation No Living Thing". So this was what she said.

  • Before you continue let us just clear up a few things. This woman, can you describe how she was dressed?

  • Well, the woman, she was not carrying a gun. I didn't see her carrying any rifle. The only thing was that she was wearing a black boot. She wore a black boot and a trousers and a [indiscernible] t-shirt.

  • And what about the man with whom she had come. You said there were two of them that came. The other rebel, what about him?

  • Well, he wore the full uniform but he hadn't a boot on.

  • Now you said that this woman spoke in a language which did not sound Sierra Leonean. You said she sounded Liberian. How could you tell or how were you able to tell at that time that the language she spoke sounded Liberian?

  • Well, I had been to Liberia for some good four months. I had gone to visit my brother in Liberia.

  • Your Honours, can the witness kindly repeat the name of the brother.

  • Just pause, Mr Witness, please, the interpreter asked you to repeat the name of the brother. Is there any problem with him naming the brother, Mr Bangura?

  • No, your Honour.

  • Could you please repeat the name of the brother you referred to.

  • My brother's name is Mohamed Deen. He was in Liberia.

  • Your Honours, Deen is D-E-E-N.

  • Also, Mr Bangura, I'm sorry to interrupt, but the interpreter - there was a lot of he said she said. I'm not sure who was speaking, whether it was this female or whether it was the earlier rebel that had said a statement. There's he said, she said.

  • I will cover that, your Honour:

  • Now, Mr Witness, you have said that after the five rebels came this lady and another rebel, two others, came and you said she also said something. Is that correct?

  • No. I said the two rebels, one of them was wearing a uniform, the woman is a rebel, but at that time she was not wearing a combat. She was wearing a civilian dress.

  • And this woman, this rebel woman, said something; is that not so?

  • Yes, sir. She told them that now that they have refused to fight Pa Kabbah has sent ECOMOG to come and fight against them, so now she was giving an order to the SLAs and the rebels with whom we were sitting in the same place, she told them that Operation No Living Thing. That was the only thing that the woman said where I was.

  • Now you said that this woman was addressing the soldiers - the rebels and the SLAs who were there with you. How were you able to hear these orders that she gave to the soldiers - the rebels and the SLAs?

  • We were sitting down in the same place, them and us the civilians were sitting in the same place.

  • Now after this order had been given did anything happen?

  • Yes. After she had said that we were with one rebel who was with us at the house where I was whom they called Issa Conteh.

  • Your Honours, Issa is I-S-S-A and Conteh is C-O-N-T-E-H:

  • Yes, continue.

  • So one old man who was passing by, Issa Conteh shot the old man and killed her.

  • Mr Interpreter, did you say shot the old man and killed her?

  • The old woman and killed her.

  • Yes, an old woman and killed her.

  • Now, Mr Witness, just clarify for us after the order was given for Operation No Living Thing you said one of the rebels Issa Conteh shot at somebody. Who did he shoot at?

  • One woman. He shot a woman and killed her. From there an old man was passing on that same lane. I saw him too fall down and died, but I do not actually know the person who shot him when he died.

  • Now you said one of the rebels was called Issa Conteh. How did you know his name?

  • Well, he was a person I knew before. We were born in the same town. His people - he had joined the rebel war or had become a rebel for long. Even his people drove him away because he joined the rebels. So he was an old man in the rebel movement. So that was where I knew him.

  • So apart from Issa Conteh did you know any of the rebels before? The ones that were in your area, did you know any of them before?

  • Yes. The others I did not know before, I do not know their names. It was only Issa Sesay whom I knew before, but --

  • Your Honours, did I hear the interpreter say Sesay?

  • Yes, that's why I'm querying it.

  • Mr Witness, we're talking of Issa --

  • Can we find out what name the witness said, not the name that is about to be put to him, please.

  • Mr Witness, you said a name just now. What was the name you said? Please repeat it.

  • Your Honours, I don't think there is any doubt that the witness has been referring to Issa Conteh. I think the record is clear.

  • There is no doubt that that was the name he first used. It doesn't follow that that's the name that he's always going to use and he should not be led.

  • I'm not leading him. I'm querying it, Mr Munyard.

  • Madam President, I'm not suggesting you're leading him. It was my learned friend who was about to.

  • Also talking of leading, Mr Bangura, you keep referring to this word soldiers. I've let it go twice. I don't know what or who you're talking about but this has not come from the witness and there is a presumption that we know what SLA means through this witness. We don't know what SLA means through this witness.

  • Your Honour, I caught myself twice referring to soldiers but I believe I tried to correct myself and go back to SLA, but I will get the witness to clarify that:

  • Mr Witness, the SLAs that you refer to who came, who were in your area, who were they? Apart from knowing them as SLAs do you know them by any other name?

  • Yes. We used to call them People's Army. That is the soldiers who were in Sierra Leone. That was what we were calling them. Those who joined the rebels, that was the name that we used to call them, People's Army, SLA, that was how we called them.

  • Now what about the rebels, did you know them by any other name?

  • Yes. We used to call them rebels, RUF. Those were the names we used to call them.

  • Now those that you say you used to call People's Army, from what time did you start calling them that name or did you know that they were called by that name?

  • Well, since the AFRC days. That was the time we started calling them those names.

  • Mr Witness, coming back to the shootings that had taken place around your house, did anything happen after - you said you saw two people getting killed. Did anything happen after that?

  • Yes. That day they were just shooting around the area. At that time we too went into our houses up to nightfall.

  • Mr Witness, during this period that we're talking of since 6 January 1999 up until that moment what was the situation for the civilians generally? What was life like for civilians?

  • Well, he can only talk about what life was like for himself and those immediately around him.

  • Your Honours, I imagine that those around him who lived with him were also civilians.

  • You will have to limit it to those he knows of, Mr Bangura.

  • Mr Witness, yourself and the people around you who lived in your area, what was life like for you about this time, from January 6 through to this period you're talking of?

  • During those times we were very frightened. Our lives were just hanging at that time, the reason being that we didn't know that we would survive. We were frightened. There was nobody who was not panic stricken. We were very frightened at that time. That was the only thing we the civilians were going through at that time.

  • Now did anything happen after this day on which two people were shot dead?

  • No. It was after one day and on the second day in the evening I was in my house when I saw two rebels arrive. We used to sit together. The one was carrying one --

  • Your Honours, can the witness clarify what he means by one rubber of petrol.

  • Mr Bangura, if you're going to put the question please do so.

  • Mr Witness, you said that you saw two rebels who came and can you just say what they were carrying again?

  • Yes. One of them was carrying - was carrying a Havoline rubber that had fuel. He took the fuel and sprayed it on the house.

  • Mr Witness, just before you continue you said one was carrying a rubber which you called Havoline. What sort of rubber is this?

  • Those rubbers in which they put oil. Those were the rubbers I'm referring to.

  • Just pause, Mr Witness. Mr Interpreter, exactly interpret the word rubber, please.

  • It could be a jerry can but we are worried about the size.

  • Madam President, I think both Mr Bangura and I heard the word Havoline twice. I think indiscernible has come up but I think Havoline is a brand and if that could be clarified with the witness I'm sure we'll all understand what he's referring to.

  • I've also written the word Havoline, but --

  • I was going to get on to size and get him to clarify:

  • Mr Witness, the rubber which you have described as Havoline, what size was it?

  • It was 5 gallons.

  • And when you say Havoline, what do you mean?

  • It's the same jerry can in which they put oil. That's how we call them there, Havoline. That's how we call them there.

  • Okay, thank you. I hope that suffices. Mr Witness, you said you saw these two people. Where were you when you saw them?

  • I was inside the house, but I was in the parlour. One of the windows was open. It was there that I was when I saw them. The one who was carrying the jerry can, he took the fuel and sprinkled it on the house. The other one took the match, lit it and lit the house.

  • Mr Witness, were you alone in the house at this time?

  • Yes. Before that time I had sent my wife and my children to some other place and I said I will stay in the house.

  • And after they had sprinkled fuel and lit a match on the house did anything happen?

  • Yes. The house caught fire and I was in the house. One of the rooms was burnt and the fire went into the other rooms and I came out running. I went to one man's house. He was called Pa Bobodin. I hid there.

  • Just pause, Mr Witness. Your Honours, Bobodin is B-O-B-O-D-I-N. Continue, please.

  • Then we slept.

  • When you say we slept were there other people in the house, Bobodin's house?

  • Yes. I met civilians in the parlour.

  • Did anything happen the next day?

  • Yes. In the morning we left Pa Bobodin's place trying to leave the area. We met our companions, civilians, at one Mr Abass's house.

  • Your Honours, Abass is A-B-A-S-S.

  • When we met our fellow civilians there we went into the house and we sat.

  • Now, Mr Witness, you said yourself and other civilians moved from - first of all you met other civilians in Pa Bobodin's parlour, Pa Bobodin's house. Now these other people that you met in Pa Bobodin's house, were they all living in that house themselves?

  • Do you know why they had come there?

  • Well, during the time of the fight everybody was fighting to escape. Those were the people I met there.

  • Now the next day you said you moved and you went to Mr Abass's house and you met some more civilians there. Is that correct?

  • Yes, sir. We met many of them there but the house where we met them was a storey building. It was a two storey building. But that too was burnt. We went and sat under the house.

  • Mr Witness, when you say under the house what part of the house are you referring to?

  • After the first floor --

  • Your Honours, the witness is using an expression, can he say that again.

  • Mr Witness, it is not clear which part of the house you were. Can you say again which part of the house you went into?

  • Well, it was at the veranda, somewhere in the parlour, but the house was burnt. So that was where we were sitting on that day.

  • Now you have said that your house was burnt the day before and here also you said that Mr Abass's house was partly burnt. Now apart from these two houses did you know of other houses that had been burnt in your area about this time?

  • Yes. They burnt so many houses in the area. Even at Falcom Street they burnt many houses there. Even at Taylor Street they burnt many houses. Even at Saroula they burnt many houses there. Coming right up to Alpha Morlai they burnt houses there.

  • Your Honours, Alpha Morlai is A-L-P-H-A M-O-R-L-A-I.

  • Now you said that there were many of you civilians in Mr Abass's house. Can you give an estimate of the number of people there at that time?

  • Well, I can even tell you that we were more than 50 people. We were many. But that is the only number that I can give for now, but there were many.

  • Now did anything happen while you were in Mr Abass's house?

  • Yes. I was there at the veranda. We saw seven rebels, they met us there. Their commando told the six other men, the rebels, he said, "Bring all the young men from among them to the junction".

  • Now at this time what was the composition of you the people in Mr Abass's house?

  • They were civilians, but we had old women and old men amongst us. We had some children, small children and young ladies. But he said we the young men should be selected from amongst the number.

  • Mr Bangura, was this the commando or commander or who was this person? I thought I heard commando through the interpreter.

  • I will get the witness to say again, your Honour:

  • Mr Witness, you said there were seven people who came to the house, Mr Abass's house, and one of them was - he ordered the six to go and get you the young men out of the house. Now this one who ordered the six others, what was he? Who was he, what was his title?

  • Well, they called him commando.

  • Thank you. And so did these six men carry out the orders of the commando?

  • Yes. They selected all of us and took us to the junction.

  • Do you remember how many of you were selected?

  • Yes. When we got there they asked us to queue, to queue up. But at that time I was standing. They counted us and we were 24 in number.

  • And did anything happen after that?

  • Yes. On that day the commando who gave the order, who had said they should select us, said he was going to amputate our arms but we pleaded with him but he did not accept. He told the other rebels to go and look for a stick to come and amputate our arms.

  • Mr Witness, when you say a stick what kind of stick was this?

  • It was a log, a big one, but not very big.

  • Now can you explain what happened next?

  • Yes. Then he put the log in front of us, we who were queued up. But after that the seven rebels and he the commando - he the commando had a pistol in his hand. The four other rebels had four guns. One of them had an axe. The other one had a machete.

  • Now when you say the four rebels had four guns, how did they distribute four guns amongst themselves?

  • At that time what I saw is what I have explained. One of them had a machete, the other had an axe. The four others had long rifles. The commando had a pistol. That was what I saw at that time.

  • And you have said that the commando ordered his men to go and get a log. Did they follow his orders?

  • Yes. They went, searched for it and they brought it.

  • Did anything happen after that?

  • Yes. The commando told the man who was in front of us, the civilians who were in the queue, he told him to put his hand down to - his arm down to be amputated. The man pleaded with him, saying, "Please don't do that to me".

  • Mr Witness, you are talking of two people here. Could you be clear enough and say who asked who to put their hand down and who was pleading with who?

  • The commando, the rebel, told the civilian to put his arm down to be amputated. So the civilian was pleading with him not to do that. The rebel commando did not accept. The civilian man as well refused to put his arm down and the commando took one of the long rifles from one of the rebels and shot the man in his face and he killed him.

  • Which man did he shoot, Mr Witness?

  • The civilian whom he had said should put down his arm to be amputated and he had refused. That was the civilian he killed.

  • Did anything happen after this?

  • After he had killed him he took the gun again and gave it to the junior rebel from whom he had taken it.

  • Did anything happen after that?

  • Yes. He told the next man in the line after he had killed the first one to put his arm down. That man too pleaded with him. That was the civilian pleading with the rebel commando for his arm not to be amputated. The commando did not accept. He took the rifle again from the same boy whom he had given the long rifle and shot the man on his chest and he jumped up twice and he fell down and died.

  • At this stage, Mr Witness, did anything happen?

  • Yes. After he had done that we were all frightened. All of us our shivering, we didn't know what to do nex t. At that time I cannot describe to you how I felt. Let that day never come again in my life.

  • Your Honours, can the witness repeat that.

  • Mr Witness, could you please repeat the last part of your answer for the interpreter.

  • Mr Witness, you were saying that you pray that that day never comes again?

  • It was after that, Mr Bangura.

  • After that what did you say next?

  • I said what I saw on that day, I pray that I'll never experience that in my life. How I was, how my life was, how I felt, that was the first day that I had ever had such a feeling, with the sort of way that I was frightened.

  • Your Honours, I had earlier asked that the support officer be around. I'm not so sure, the witness has not said that he needs a sip of water but he's been on for over an hour. We could go on but it might --

  • Mr Witness, are you all right?

  • Mr Witness, are you all right?

  • Your Honour, can I suggest we have a short break.

  • Mr Witness, would you like to have a short break please to help you? Would you like to have a short break, Mr Witness?

  • Let us continue. I am just recalling what I saw on that day.

  • I understand, Mr Witness. If you need a break you just tell us.

  • Let us continue.

  • Mr Witness, you were going to tell us what happened next after the second person had been shot. Do you recall that?

  • Can you continue, please?

  • After that one he told the other man to put his arm down and the man was still pleading him and he did not agree. He fired - shot rapidly and he killed about six of them. After he had finished killing them he told the rebels that they should not waste their bullets any more. Then he took the weapon and gave it back to the rebel whom he had taken it from. Then he took out the marijuana from his pocket and all of them sat down and wrapped it, the seven rebels. After they had wrapped the marijuana they smoked. After they had finished smoking, the commando told the other rebels that - he said they should lacerate the people on their heads and they should be killed. That is the civilians who were there.

  • Your Honours, I'm not so sure the witness's evidence has come out the way it's been stated. Now, I will probably ask the question again and get the interpreter to say:

  • Now, Mr Witness, you said that after they had smoked the marijuana the commander ordered the rebels with him to do something to the other people. What did he order them to do?

  • He told them to use the axe and the machete and split the people's heads, he said because he was not going to waste his bullets any more. After he had finished saying that, they did it.

  • Now, when you say "they did it", what did they do and who did what?

  • They took the cutlass and the axe and they split people's heads, five of them.

  • Who took the cutlass and the axe? Who?

  • The same rebels from among the seven rebels, those who - the one who had the machete and the other one who had the axe, they did that. It was not the commando who did it. About five of them, their heads were split and they were killed.

  • Thank you. Did anything happen after this?

  • Before you go on to say what happened, at this point what was the - how did you feel?

  • I said I pray that that day will never come back in my life, because you would want to turn your face the other way so that you could not see what was happening, but they would not accept that. I was not feeling good. I was afraid. All of us were sitting, whom they had said we should sit there at that junction, we were all frightened.

  • Were there any other people around at the time? Apart from you who had been brought out of Mr Abass's house and the rebels who were with you, were there any other people around?

  • No. At that time I did not see any other civilian around us. The only people - everywhere, everywhere you would turn you would only see rebels and SLA.

  • Now, after these five others had been killed did anything happen?

  • Please tell the Court?

  • That was the day, that was the time - in that queue I was the first person in the queue. Then one of them said, "This one who is standing, we are going to amputate his arm. We're going to start with him." Then I pleaded with them. I said, "Instead of you amputating my arm, I'll rather - I'd rather prefer you kill me", and the man said I was not to dictate to him what he should do. He said what he wanted to do was what he was going to do.

  • Mr Witness, which one of them was talking to you at this time - were you having this conversation with at this time?

  • Me and - I and the commando.

  • After that the other men who were sitting on the ground, all of them got up and we were pleading with him and he said, "Okay, now I see, now that you are standing up you want to fight us", and we told him that, "We don't want to fight you", and he said no, we wanted to fight them. He dipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out the --

  • Your Honours, can the witness repeat the word that he --

  • He got out a whistle and he blew it. When he blew the whistle many rebels came and they gathered around us.

  • Now, Mr Witness, you earlier said that there were seven of them, the commander included. You say now that he blew his whistle and many came. Were there more than the seven who were with you?

  • They were many. They came from all angles and they came.

  • Did anything happen after this?

  • Yes, sir. They came and got us forcefully, put us on the ground and tied all of us up. They beat some people even, but I was not beaten. They tied all of us up.

  • Did anything happen after that?

  • Yes, sir. At that time the commando told one of the rebels to go and untie us. This rebel whom he had told to untie me, he was the youngest of the rebels. He was not even 13 years old. He asked him to go and amputate my arm. Then the boy came. He came and untied my arm. At that time those who had come, we were now under gunpoint and they got hold of my arm and put it on the log. The boy had the machete. He took the machete and amputated me here on the left [indicated]. He amputated me here first. The commando said - he said, "Are you a fittish person that you can - someone would want to amputate you and they cannot amputate your bone, only your flesh can go off?" He told the boy whom he had told to amputate me, he said, "Okay, excuse me", he took the axe from the other rebel and he came.

  • Mr Witness, who is he?

  • That is the commando took the axe and he came. He put my arm. When they put my arm he came and hit my left arm twice.

  • Where did he cut your arm - your hand? You said he came and he put your hand. Where did he put your hand?

  • The other rebels held us and put our arms on the log where our arms were to be amputated.

  • And what did the commander do - commando do?

  • After they had put my arm on the log he took the axe. He hit the left arm twice.

  • Did anything happen?

  • It was not cut off completely, but it was just hanging now on a small flesh, small lump of flesh.

  • When you say it was not cut off completely, what was not cut off completely, please explain?

  • When he had hit it twice the bone was cut off, but then the arm was still hanging on a small flesh.

  • And this was your left hand, you said?

  • Yes, sir. After that they took this other arm and put it on the same log.

  • Which hand was that?

  • Your Honours, can counsel wait for the interpretation.

  • Say again, which was the next hand?

  • This was the first one, the left that they first amputated. The next one was the right arm. They took it again and put it on the log. That one he only hit it once. This too was hanging on the flesh just as the left one, but he had cut it off almost already.

  • Now, Mr Witness, earlier in your evidence you mentioned something about an accident which you suffered, when I asked you whether you - what work you do and you talked about since you had an accident you had not been working gainfully. Is this the accident that you were referring to?

  • Yes, sir. I had no other problem in my life.

  • Now, after this had happened did anything --

  • Mr Bangura, before you proceed I note that on the record the age of this rebel, which I thought I heard was 13 years, is recorded as 30 years.

  • Thank you, your Honour. It's noted. I was going to ask him to clarify that again:

  • Mr Witness, you said when you were tied the commando gave an order to one of his rebels to untie you and you said that that order was given to the smallest of the rebels. You gave an age, you said that this rebel was not even up to a certain age. Do you remember the number that you gave?

  • Can you say again what that number is?

  • I said the boy who he commanded to come and amputate me was not even 13 years. If he was 13, he was not up to 14 years. He was the youngest of them.

  • Thank you, Mr Witness. Now, after the commando had cut your right hand and amputated your right hand, did anything happen?

  • Yes, sir. He told the other man to put his arm down. As he put his arm, one of the seven rebels he told him that Rambo is coming.

  • Now just clarify "he". One of the seven rebels told who?

  • The youngest of the seven rebels told the commander that, "Look at Rambo coming." After he had told him he did not amputate the man's arm again. Rambo was with many other people.

  • Mr Witness, just before we talk about Rambo, as a result of this act by the commander, who you say amputated your hands, you are in the present condition in which you are, is that correct, regarding your physical condition? Is that correct?

  • Yes, sir. It was as a result of the cutting that that man did, that was why I don't have a complete arm.

  • Your Honours, I would ask that the record reflect the witness's physical condition, which is as a result of the blows he received from the commando.

  • Yes, we have noted for purposes of record that the witness has both hands amputated above the wrist.

  • Now, you said that Rambo arrived. Who was Rambo?

  • Well, I think he was their leader. He was one of their leaders. When he came, he came along with a lot of people. We had a street there around our area there which we called --

  • Your Honours, can he kindly repeat the name of the street.

  • Mr Witness, you talked about a street in your area. What's the name of that street, please?

  • Bus stop. It was an old bus stop closer to Kissy Mental Home, in that area.

  • And what happened there?

  • So all of them came and parked the vehicles in which they had come.

  • Can you remember how many of them?

  • They were more than 40.

  • And did anything happen when they arrived there?

  • Yes, sir. He went and met us. When he met us, where they had killed the people and where they had amputated my arms --

  • Mr Witness, who are you referring to when you say "he"? Please give the name?

  • Rambo met us there along with the people he had come with. When he met us there, the commando and the others, all of them saluted him. After they had saluted him Rambo asked the commando, he said, "What are you doing here?" He said, "Why are you killing these people?" He said, "Why are you chopping off these people's arms?" He said, "Is that why you came here?" He said, "I am going to punish you." Then he said, "Release these people, release these remaining people." He told him - at that time he was holding to my one hand, my one arm, that is Rambo, he still held my one arm. He told the commando who had chopped off our arms, whom he had said he would punish, he said, "All of you follow me to the base." We went up there. Look at the church and there was - look at the Kissy Mental Home. It was in that area that I was. So when we arrived there we met a lot of guns. When we arrived he told them to stand there, that is he told the commando and the other rebels who were there, he put them outside, he told them to stand there. He asked for one Captain Blood. I saw the Pa come out. He asked him, "Where is the doctors?"

  • Sorry, correction, interpreter, "Where are the doctors?"

  • And the Pa told him that they had gone out. So Rambo told Captain Blood that, "Have you seen what this man did to these people?" He said, "I was going to punish him." He said, "That was not why he came." Then he took out 100,000, that is Rambo took out 100,000 and placed it in my pocket. He told me to endure, that was what God ordained. Then he took - he asked one rebel to accompany me. So the rebel accompanied me up to Taylor Street and he returned. At that time I was feeling dizzy. I was not seeing properly and I fell down close to the bathroom. That was where I laid. In the morning of Friday I tried to get to Helena.

  • Your Honours, Helena is H-E-L-E-N-A:

  • So the ECOMOG met me there with their armoured car. They put me in, took me to Ferry Junction. After Ferry Junction they took me to Connaught Hospital. I was there at Connaught Hospital for 26 days, but when we went there there were no medicines there.

  • At Connaught Hospital - your Honours, Connaught is C-O-N-N-A-U-G-H-T. At Connaught Hospital were you the only amputee who was taken there at this time?

  • No, so many people whose arms had been amputated, I met some there, some met us there. Throughout that week they were taking them there.

  • Did you learn where these others had had their hands amputated?

  • Yes. Some of them said their arms were amputated in Freetown. They would call the street where they were at that time. At that time it was only the capital city and there were other people from the provinces, different areas, so that was how they were giving the reports.

  • Mr Witness, in your earlier evidence you mentioned a Captain Blood. At Saroula - there was an argument between SLAs and RUF at Saroula and you said a Captain Blood, who was a senior person amongst the RUF, came to the scene and then later you also mention the same name, Captain Blood, when you were taken to the base where Rambo was. Now, are they the same, one and the same persons, the Captain Blood who you saw at Saroula and the Captain Blood who was at the base where Rambo took you? Are they one and the same persons?

  • No, no. The one at Saroula and the one at the base by Kissy Mental Home, they were not the same people. The last one, I had never known him. He's an ageable person, he has bald head, but the one who was at Saroula was a young man.

  • Mr Witness, you said that the house where you lived at 5 Falcom Street was burned?

  • Mr Interpreter, what is "ageable"?

  • That was what he said. An old man.

  • What I mean, he's a fairly old man. He's a fairly old man. What we say, he's an old man, fairly old man. He's not a young man.

  • Thank you, Mr Witness. You talked about the house where you lived at 5 Falcom Street which got burnt. Who was the owner of that house?

  • The house was owned by my dad. That was where we stayed with our other family members. It had four rooms and a parlour, but it was a house made of board. That was where we lived.

  • Now, at the time when your hands were amputated, or after your hands had been amputated, did anybody say anything to you just after that?

  • Yes. The only person who told - the commando who amputated my arm, after he had amputated my arm he told me to go to President Kabbah because we had voted for him, let him give me a false arm. That was the only person who spoke to me. No other person told me that.

  • Mr Witness, do you remember on what date this incident occurred, the amputation of your hands?

  • Of January. That January 6th, the 19th, on a Thursday. On Friday 28th I went to Connaught Hospital.

  • Now, you mentioned Rambo. Is this somebody whom you had known before?

  • Yes, I knew him a little. At one time I was coming from where I sell wares at Fourah Bay Road and arrived at - I arrived by Taylor Street. He had a car which had broken down. We met him there. He asked us to push his car for it to get started. We pushed it up to Cline Town. That was when the car started moving. One civilian who was among us, those of us who were pushing the car, he told us that this was one of the bosses for the RUF. He said this is the Rambo who has the name.

  • Mr Bangura, I would have been hopeful to finish the examination-in-chief, but the tape and time have run out and we will have to adjourn at this point.

    Mr Witness, this is the time we normally have to finish for today. We will hear the rest of your story tomorrow and between now and the time that all your evidence is finished you must not discuss your evidence with anyone else. Do you understand?

    Was that interpreted to the witness?

  • Yes, your Honours.

  • Thank you. We will adjourn the Court until 9.30 tomorrow.

  • [Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 4.30 p.m. to be reconvened on Friday, 15 February at 9.30 a.m.]