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

  • There was a question from the interpreters as to the language.

  • Yes. Well, what language is this witness going to speak?

  • Your Honour, the witness will testify in English and I would just note for the record a change of appearance in that Ms Howarth has left the Prosecution side. May I proceed, your Honours, with the examination?

    Your Honours, I would like to take the personal information from this witness in a private session. I believe that will take 15 or 20 minutes.

  • Yes. No problem with that, is there, Mr Griffiths?

  • No difficulty at all.

  • Well, members of the public, we are going to go briefly into a private session to take some personal details from this witness that may tend to identify him and thus prejudice his security.

    What that means is that the public can see the proceedings while the private session is in force, but they won't be able to hear what is going on. This is anticipated to last about 20 minutes. Madam Court Manager, could you put the Court into private session, please.

  • [At this point in the proceedings, a portion of the transcript, pages 23652 to 23661, was extracted and sealed under separate cover, as the proceeding was heard in private session.]

  • [Open session]

  • Your Honour, we are in open session.

  • Thank you. Yes, Mr Koumjian.

  • Sir, can you give us a rough idea of the population of Makeni, let us say during the years 1996 to 2002?

  • In 1996, definitely I cannot give a clear-cut number of the population in Makeni because Makeni was actually full with people from Kono. In the - in the relief team the Kono displaced in Makeni were over 120,000, those we registered, and there were those from 91, those from Port Loko, Kambia, Port Loko, Kabala, because all of those areas were attacked, so actually I cannot give a clear-cut population at that time.

    We only have a population of people who were displaced, but about '98, when there was a supply just for the Makeni people, excluding all the displaced, the four agencies that came together, which were Caritas, CARE, CRS and ACF, we made a registration of 145,000 people - about that - which we supplied. These were residents of Makeni excluding the displaced.

  • Can you tell us what is the --

  • Mr Koumjian, the witness did mention a name of an institution. I don't know if that is relevant.

  • It is, your Honour, but we believe that that is inevitable. The fact the organisations he worked with we were willing to put in open session, just the exact positions I wanted to keep in private session. Thank you:

  • Sir, can you please tell us what ethnicities made up Makeni? Can you give us the approximate ethnic make-up?

  • The majority of people living in Makeni are the Temnes. The Temnes form the majority. Then we have the Limbas. We have the Lokos, and then there are also settlers from - we have settlers who are Mendes, Fullahs, Mandingos, but the three major tribes are the Temne, Limba and the Lokos.

  • Were there ever Lebanese living in Makeni?

  • There were Lebanese there.

  • Did the Lebanese remain there during the war?

  • Shortly before the war almost all of them left. The only person I knew who was moving around with us was a young boy, one Lebanese boy we used to call Face.

  • Sir, what is the approximate distance from Makeni to Freetown?

  • Makeni to Freetown is exactly 115 miles.

  • Can you tell us approximately how long it takes to drive in a good vehicle from Makeni to Freetown?

  • Using our NGO vehicles, most time it was two hours or very close to two hours. Most of the public vehicles it is about three hours.

  • Thank you. I am moving into a different topic, but as your Honours please.

  • I think that is a convenient time. Thank you, Mr Koumjian. Mr Witness, we are going to adjourn now for lunch and we will resume again at 2.30. You please be seated there and you will be helped out of the Court without your identity being endangered. So we will adjourn the Court now.

  • [Lunch break taken at 1.30 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 2.30 p.m.]

  • Go ahead, Mr Koumjian.

  • Sir, in your earlier testimony in the private session you talked about relief work that you did. Did you come across any RUF checkpoints while doing that work?

  • We did. At one time we went to distribute food in Lunsar, in the Port Loko District and Lunsar is just about 40 miles from Makeni along the Freetown Highway. On our way back, after about five miles, we came to Foredugu and there we met a human head, it was cut off from somebody and the penis hung at one of their checkpoints.

  • I believe the record caught what you said about a human head, but what else besides a human head did you see displayed?

  • With the human head there was a penis.

  • First of all, sire, do you know how to spell Foredugu?

  • F-O-R-E-D-U-G-U.

  • Thank you. Can you tell us approximately when this was?

  • It was around Christmas 1996.

  • Could you determine whose checkpoint it was, what force or forces were there?

  • It was an RUF checkpoint.

  • Do you recall the 1996 elections in Sierra Leone?

  • Do you recall any activities of the RUF that you became aware of during that election period?

  • Up until this election period Makeni as a town was not actually attacked, but during the election period there was an attack in Tonkolili District leading to some villages very close to Makeni, one of which was Makombo. And while elections process were going on, there was the saying that if you vote for - if you vote for whatever person, your right hand with the ink, the thumb with the ink will be cut off. This made a lot of people not to go to the voting centres. This happened in Makombo about three/four miles to Makeni.

  • When you say this happened, what happened there?

  • The attack of the RUF in the villages close to Makeni on election day.

  • Were, in fact, any body parts amputated? You said it was said that that would happened. Do you know - and if you don't know just say so - whether or not in fact any amputations occurred?

  • There were reports but I did not see anybody.

  • You've mentioned the name of the village Makombo. Can you spell that?

  • It is M-A-K-O-M-B-O.

  • Thank you, sir. I want to take you now to the events of May 1997 after the election of the government and the events that occurred in May 1997. Do you recall what happened in Makeni at that time?

  • One Sunday we were in church and then the reverend father, while he was giving his sermon, he informed us that a new government has been formed and that the government of the time, the government of Tejan Kabbah was overthrown. And there were actually misgivings. We felt very ugly at the time because we don't want the past NPRC experience to come back to Makeni. So we continued praying.

    After some times, we heard an announcement calling for the RUF to come to town and then we thought the war had come to an end. They came from around Magburaka direction, they entered through Agricultural Road, to Teko Road and then direct to Teko Barracks. It is when they settled in Teko Barracks that we members of CYMA and CYWA decided to go there and when we went there we saw that the plight of children there was not encouraging. They do not have enough food to eat. They were a bit not encouraged by the civilians who were there or the other soldiers who were there. So we decided to ask the permission from one of their commanders who came from Makeni and he was received jubilantly. He was Colonel Isaac.

  • Thank you, sir. Let me just stop you there and I want to go back and cover in a bit more detail or clarify a few things that you told us. Now you said that after you learned in church about the change of government you said, "We heard an announcement calling for the RUF to come to town". How did you hear that announcement?

  • It was from the BBC through our transmission radios when we heard the late Pa Foday Sankoh calling the RUF to come and join the AFRC.

  • Sir, during the war how common was it for you to be listening to the radio?

  • Well, the war in Sierra Leone actually promoted a lot of people to be listening to radio, because there was no communication at the time. Especially in the north, we had no mobiles, we had no residence correspondence, so we were much more listening to radio, BBC, RFI. Those were the only channels we received information. So when it is about 3 o'clock, 5 o'clock, we come together in groups and listen.

  • Thank you. Now you said, and I am quoting you, "They came from around Magburaka direction and they entered through Agricultural Road to Teko Road". Can you tell us what you yourself specifically recall seeing about this event?

  • When the talk went around in Makeni that the RUF were coming that morning into Makeni, and the people started seeing them coming from Magburaka direction, we ran to the streets which were very close and we thought were the route they will take. So myself and some friends we came to Agricultural Road and they came there in lines of two. The children, younger ones, were in front and the bigger ones were behind. Then they walked quietly, through Agriculture Road and through Teko Road to Teko Barracks.

  • When you say they came in lines of two, can you just explain what you mean by that?

  • There were two - two lines, each two people. They came that way.

  • Thank you. And you said, "The children, younger ones, were in front". What were the ages of the people that you saw in this group of RUF that came to Makeni in 1997?

  • When we saw them we saw short boys - small boys - in front, but when we started to deal with them in Teko Barracks and we wanted to know their ages there were those who were in school, they tell us immediately their ages, and later those who were not in school we put them to - we paired them through the experience we had as teachers that this one is 11 and this one also might be 11, so we put them together. They formed the majority. The younger children were about 400 in Teko Barracks. The majority of them were below 14/15.

  • Thank you. Now, you said that a commander came. Can you tell us about the coming of this commander? Was this the same day that you saw the two lines of RUF coming down Agriculture road?

  • It was not the same day. He came later, about two/three days after that day, and what we saw was we saw a large crowd of people dancing and so we wanted to know why the merriment, why were people dancing, why were they masquerading in the street. Then we heard that, "Colonel Isaac has come. The war is ended. Colonel Isaac has come. The war is ended". We went to see who this man was, because we used to hear the name but we don't know and so people wanted to know him. This is why we came in large numbers through the streets of Makeni. He marched through Magburaka Road, Rogbaneh Road down to the Makeni Road and came back. He came back to the Independent Square, then Station Road and then to Teko Barracks.

  • You said that a large crowd of people were dancing. Who was dancing?

  • The people of Makeni. The traders and everybody was just dancing that this man has come to town and it means the war has come to an end.

  • And what about Colonel Isaac?

  • Well, he was also dancing. He was in front.

  • Going back for a moment to the lines, the two lines that you saw first come into Makeni where you talked about the children being in front, was anyone in that line armed, or can you tell us which were armed and which were not?

  • A good number of them were carrying guns and some were in tattered clothes. Some had half military clothes and half civilian clothes. Just that way they came into Makeni.

  • I am sorry, but I didn't understand when you first described the clothes. You said some were carrying guns and some were in --

  • I said a good number were carrying guns and some were wearing just torn civilian clothes. Others were in military clothes. Others were just a mix. The trousers can be civilian and then the clothes is military. Others the clothes is military - the trousers is military and the clothes is civilian.

  • Now did you yourself, sir, ever meet with Colonel Isaac?

  • I did. As I said, when they were already settled, after about a week with CYMA we went there and we were directed to him. We met him. We asked his permission if we could talk to the children. We told him about our agenda, what we would like to do with the children, that we wanted to give them some helps in terms of food and in terms of interacting with them. He welcomed the idea, he appreciated us and directed us to John Karimu, adjutant of the RUF in Teko Barracks we were told. From there we went to meet the children. With the help of John Karimu we were able to gather them in one place and we started interacting with them.

  • Can you tell us in a bit of detail what you actually did - after receiving this permission what you actually did with the children in Teko Barracks?

  • Well, with John Karimu we wanted to register them. He even helped us, because among them they have what they call the SBU, Small Boys Unit or Small Girls Unit. They helped to bring them together to us, and while we were together there is a big hall - there is a school there, the Catholic Mission has a school there and has a big hall - and we met in that hall.

    First, we welcomed them that they are brothers - we are brothers and we should come together. We thought the war was ended. Now that the war is ended we should all come together to rebuild the country, to rebuild our towns. After that, since we had - we already had the food from Father Victor, which he gave us, we started cooking. We went there and cooked together with them, we ate together, we play games, we sing songs and we pray together. We even invited them to come to the church. They used to come very often and so we continued living as one people of Sierra Leone.

  • Sir, you've mentioned John Karimu. Who is he? Who was he?

  • We were told he was the adjutant of the RUF in Teko Barracks.

  • Do you know how to spell Karimu?

  • Thank you, sir. When you spoke to these children, did you learn how they came to be with the RUF?

  • We spoke to them in length and very frequently. Some of them told us they were captured by the RUF from Kabala, Koinadugu District, others told us they were captured from Kambia and others from towns and villages in the south and east of the country where the rebels had been attacking.

  • Sir, when these children in Teko Barracks were not with you, do you know what they were doing there in Makeni in Teko Barracks?

  • Repeat this, please.

  • Did the children perform any function for the RUF at that time?

  • In Teko Barracks?

  • Or in the surrounding areas?

  • Well in Teko Barracks they were under the command of their big command of the RUF, especially that of Colonel Isaac, because whatever we want to do each morning we go there. We go to greet him so he will continue to know what we were doing. Apart from what we went to do there, when we go out of Teko - well we don't exactly know what they were doing in Teko, but whenever we go there we perform our own function and we carry on our activities. As I said, we cook for them. After eating we would go to the field. We took footballs, other indoor games, checkers, Ludo. We play different games. When we return it's their own business until we come the next day.

  • At that time, during the period of the AFRC regime in Makeni, these children in Teko Barracks what was their gender?

  • Most time they were telling us that the war is over and they have come to stay.

  • Sorry, I didn't mean agenda. What was their sex?

  • They were both male and females. Young girls and young boys.

  • Thank you. Did these RUF at that time, after the overthrow of the Kabbah government, call their force anything? Did they have any other name besides RUF?

  • Yeah, after some time because they had joined together with the AFRC they introduced the name which was known as the People's Army.

  • We've talked about Teko Barracks. Can you just describe it a bit and where it's located?

  • Teko Barracks is in the east of Makeni. It is a military barracks set aside purposefully for the military and their families. It's about three miles from the centre of Makeni.

  • Prior to the coming of the RUF to Makeni, was there any army force at Teko Barracks?

  • The 2nd Battalion of Sierra Leonean government was always in Teko Barracks.

  • Now, sir, at some point - are you familiar with the term the intervention? Excuse me.

  • Yes.

  • Can you tell us about how those events affected Makeni? When did you first become aware of an intervention that was going to affect Makeni?

  • We were in Makeni and most of the time we heard about what was coming in Freetown through people who were running from Freetown to Makeni, but then on 17 February in the evening, about 5/6 o'clock, the jet came to Makeni and dropped a bomb at the police station - the police station ground. At the time that the bomb was dropped immediately wherever you go all around Makeni the rebels started saying, "You civilians are in support of ECOMOG", and immediately that night there was heavy shooting throughout the night and looting of houses - both civilian, business people and mission houses. It started on the night of the 17th and continued until when they were flushed out of Makeni.

  • What year is this?

  • Sir, which year? When you said 17 February, which year are you speaking of?

  • 17 February and it was 1998.

  • Now you said the RUF, or the forces, started looting. There was looting of houses. Was that the first looting since the RUF had come to Makeni?

  • And can you tell us that you said the jet dropped the bomb. What kind of jet was it, do you know?

  • Well, it was we were told the Alpha Jet. It just came around and dropped the bomb in the police station ground and away it went. Then immediately this bomb - the whole of Makeni was panicked, civilians were panicked and the People's Army started saying we civilians will support the ECOMOG when they come to Makeni. There was looting, there was harassment, knocking from houses, there was raping and everything was going on evil in Makeni.

  • You said that the RUF were saying, "You civilians will support ECOMOG". Do you know if they had any reason to say that?

  • Well, this is just something we were thinking of - personally I was thinking of - that when ECOMOG come they will challenge them and they will move them from out of Makeni.

  • This period when the looting started and the other crimes that you have described, the raping et cetera, did this have any name, or does it have any name in Makeni?

  • In Makeni we call it the 17 day period.

  • And so we are clear, when did the 17 day period start?

  • It was - it started on 17 March until 2/3 April when ECOMOG entered Makeni and they ran away into the bush.

  • I thought the witness earlier said on two occasions 17 February. Did he misspeak?

  • Thank you, your Honour:

  • Sir, which month did this start?

  • It was 17 February.

  • How long did it continue for?

  • It continued until the night of 2 and 3 March.

  • In your previous answer you said 17 March until 2/3 April?

  • Sir, did this action - you talked about the citizens of Makeni calling this the 17 day period. Did the RUF soldiers there give a name to this period?

  • We called it the 17 day period, but during this 17 days there was also what they called an Operation Pay Yourself.

  • How did you learn this name, Operation Pay Yourself?

  • They themselves told us. Everybody in Makeni knew that it was the period of Operation Pay Yourself.

  • Now you've mentioned looting during this period. Can you tell us in some detail what was looted?

  • As I said, all houses were looted everywhere. The mission was looted. The seminary was looted. The schools in Makeni, primary, secondary and even the college, were all looted. There was rampant looting all over. So at the end of even the 17 days we had what we called the retrieval committee, when, most of the property they left in houses of other people, they used to bring them to the field so that whoever has this property will come and identify them and they will be given to you. There was rampant looting. The bishop's vehicles in the mission were looted.

  • Was your own home looted or not?

  • My home was also looted.

  • Sir, are you aware of any sexual violence during this 17 day period?

  • As I said, it was very, very rampant. And all over, when night comes, from all the houses people were shouting, raping, raping, don't rape me, don't rape me, I have been raped. Most girls - in my house, in my compound, even the girls in the surrounding houses, they came to my place so that all of us will be sitting together. We pray at night that, oh, Papa God, save us from this thing that is happening in Makeni. I live in a house which we share. It is a two apartment house. I have one apartment with my family and the other family which was one --

  • If you are going to say the name perhaps we should write this if this is the name of a victim - that will identify a rape victim.

  • Okay. The house of this neighbour was attacked so immediately while they were there I opened my door hoping that they will come into my place any time so they will not have time to break the door again. I left it open. But, thank God, when they moved from this house in which they raped two of the daughters of the man, they went to other places without touching my own apartment. So we continued to live until two/three days Father Victor came to me and said, "{Redacted}, do you have a wheelbarrow?" I said yes. He said, "Well, come. Let's go. Let's go and help. Some people have been killed".

  • The witness has --

  • We have plenty of time, Mr Witness, so let's take our time, Mr Witness. Thank you very much?

  • My concern is about the name.

  • For my part, Mr President, I have no need to know the name, so unless it's directly relevant.

  • Thank you, Mr Griffiths.

  • The witness has indicated that the daughters of a neighbour --

  • No, I am not referring to that, Mr Koumjian. I am referring to the witness's own name.

  • I'm sorry. Thank you very much. I missed that. May that be redacted, please? I would ask that it be redacted from the tape. It is my page 93, line 11, and the sentence begins, "So we continued to live until two/three days" and in that sentence before he says, "Do you have a wheelbarrow" the name is mentioned.

  • I see it. Thank you, Mr Koumjian. I make it page 94, line 7 on mine. But, Madam Court Manager, you know what we are referring to, don't you? Just the name will be redacted from the transcript.

  • Incidentally, Mr Koumjian, we have heard evidence of these lootings and rapings so on. Could we establish who was implicated in this? It has not been established.

  • Sir, when we talk about these crimes during the 17 day period, first the looting you've already described, who were the perpetrators, if you know?

  • At this time it was the combined forces of both the RUF and AFRC, because they formed together what was known as the People's Army.

  • I want to go into a little detail then about what you said happened to the neighbour's daughters. First, you said you were in your home. What were you doing at the time you first became aware of this violence?

  • On the first day I was coming from my work. As I said, it was about 5 or 6 in the evening. I passed through a friend's. We played cards together. We were playing when people heard this, we heard the sound of the jet, and the jet came around Makeni. Then all of a sudden we saw what appeared like a red light and then the sound of the bomb. So we were all shouting, "Oh, Makeni has been bombed. The war has come to Makeni". From that both the People's Army were running helter-skelter and we were running to our places, coming together with our family, we don't know what will happen next.

    Then in the evening there was shooting all over Makeni Town and then they started moving vehicles from Teko Barracks. They were holding private vehicles. They removed the drivers and took away the vehicles and started going to the Lebanese shops and loot all material, then to all houses in Makeni.

  • I want to ask you where you were when you became aware that your neighbour's daughters were being assaulted.

  • I was in my house by then.

  • What were you doing at that time?

  • We were praying together with the other young girls who came to seek refuge in my place.

  • What did you see or hear that made you believe that the neighbour's daughters were being assaulted?

  • All over there was this shouting, "We are raped. We are raped. Una kam ep. Una kam ep. Please come to our aid". Then gradually they came to the apartment of this of my neighbour and then, as I said, at that time, because our door was closed, so I decided to open the door and left it open.

  • When you say, "They came to the apartment of my neighbour", who do you mean had come?

  • These forces, the People's Army, AFRC or RUF.

  • What did you hear or see then?

  • Well, there was shouting in my neighbour's apartment and then after, because we afraid to come out, we came to know in the morning that they were - the two girls were raped.

  • What was the age, the ages of the girls?

  • One was about 14. The other was 15/16.

  • Now, you said you heard shooting. Do you know if anyone was shot during that 17 day period?

  • That was the point I was trying to explain when you stopped me. When this reverend father came to - called me so that we could go out and help those people who were killed, so we started going round collecting these bodies, Magburaka Road, Rogbaneh Road at the Makeni government hospital. So at the end those we collected and buried were 13.

  • Now these 13 bodies that you collected and buried, did you observe any injuries on those bodies?

  • They were all shot.

  • Could you tell us anything about the ages or genders of the persons, the deceased?

  • All of them were male and most of them were in their late teens or early 20s.

  • How did this 17 day period come to an end?

  • Well, the 17 day period came to an end, first we started hearing - about three/four days we started hearing the movement of the ECOMOG to the interior of Sierra Leone and Makeni. We heard that they were in Waterloo at some point. At some point we heard they were at 47, Masiaka. At some point we heard they were very close to Lunsar. And because of this we were thinking and praying that very soon they will come to Makeni because it is only when they come we will be free. But for some of us - mostly people, we came to Our Lady of Fatima compound. It is just a very large field. We settled there. Our thinking was if these people come, they meet us here then they will know that we are not rebels, so from there they will begin to pick and choose.

    So we were at the Fatima compound until when they arrived in Makeni unexpectedly at about the evening hours. About 8, 9 we heard a very large gunshot towards the entrance of Makeni and immediately we said, "Oh, Papa God, thank you. These people have come". Then immediately we started seeing the People's Army running. Dat yu de se, "Lek wi go den don kam".

  • You just said a phrase in Krio. Can you translate it for us?

  • Say, "Brother, man, are you staying? We are not staying. This ECOMOG have come, so let's go". And they started running to the northern part of Makeni, because that is the area far from where the ECOMOG entered Makeni.

  • Mr Koumjian, this may sound a little pedantic, but the 13 people who died or who were buried by the witness, should we assume they were civilians?

  • Thank you, your Honour:

  • Sir, you talked about 13 male bodies that you buried. Can you tell us first of all how they were dressed?

  • Except the one we met at the government hospital who had some military dressing, but the rest were in civilian dressing and one of them was in a shop. He was shot because he was sleeping in his father's shop and while they were trying to get open the door they shot at the bolt and he was killed inside. We met him.

    The others now - because at this time in point it was very difficult. Most of them were also in civilians since they came in May. They were not so much in their old military, because even when we went to Teko we used to supply them second-hand clothing.

  • You were talking about the People's Army?

  • When they came they also used to wear civilian clothing?

  • Let me ask you this, sir: Are you aware during the 17 day period until the arrival of ECOMOG, what forces were in Makeni? What armed forces are you aware of being in Makeni?

  • They were the People's Army.

  • Was there any opposing force in Makeni at that time?

  • No. There was no opposing force until when the ECOMOG came.

  • Now, you said you had received some information about these various movements you talked about of ECOMOG coming towards Makeni. How did you receive that information?

  • First, we were informed by one of the reverend fathers, because it was communicated to him by our bishop in Makeni who was in Freetown that very soon ECOMOG will come to Makeni, so we should try to be together. And it was because of that we decided to go to - we were going round the last two days that if you hear any big shooting, if you see these people fighting, people come to Our Lady of Fatima, we will be there. If anything should happen we will be informed. And then we were also listening to the radio because they keep on informing people where - I mean the transistor radio.

  • Can you give us the approximate date that ECOMOG did arrive in Makeni?

  • It was on the evening of 2 March.

  • Of what year?

  • Sir, how was Makeni that night after ECOMOG arrived?

  • Well, when they came definitely from the centre where we were, we all came out because in about one hour to two hours they have almost run out of Makeni and there was peace. We came out to dance and greet these people who have come to relieve us from what was happening in Makeni.

  • After the People's Army fled Makeni, did any individuals start arriving in the town?

  • Well from that time, for those 17 days, most of the elderly people in Makeni had gone to some other villages and some had travelled to Freetown. Then since ECOMOG has come and then the people ran away that evening, ECOMOG and their commanders came, there was a meeting at the chief's compound and then most of the elderly people also came back to Makeni.

  • As time went by in the following months after the arrival of ECOMOG, did others arrive in Makeni?

  • When they left Makeni, they were in the surrounding villages. Some were along the Magburaka Kono Highway and we heard of attacks there: Makeni Kabala Highway, Makeni Kamakwie Highway and also very seldom part of the Freetown Highway. So because they were attacking in these villages, the villagers started coming to Makeni as displaced and we were going around continuously to register them. To some of the nearby villages we also went and registered them and then give them relief supply.

  • These villages that were attacked, just so we are clear, who was attacking the villages that you just mentioned?

  • Well up to this point in time it was the two factions, the AFRC and the RUF, because they were still together. While these people - the people who attacked, they come and they will just tell us "The People's Army".

  • Sir, do you know where Gbendembu is?

  • I know where Gbendembu is.

  • Can you tell us, please.

  • Gbendembu is situated on the Makeni Kamakwie Highway, about 22 miles from Makeni.

  • Did you have any reason to go to Gbendembu after the intervention during 1998?

  • We did. We did go to Gbendembu - because it was not only Gbendembu. After any village was attacked, in order to verify and see the impact that was already created through this attack, we wanted to know whether people were there, we wanted to know the kind of destruction in that place. So we went to Gbendembu also and we met and it was burnt. Not every house, it was not completely burnt, but most of the major houses - the beautiful houses - were all burnt.

    Then we started receiving people into Makeni. We collect some who were - because it was around this Gbendembu. Gbendembu is a big - it is the headquarter town of Gbendembu Chiefdom also and very close to Gbendembu Chiefdom there is a village called Gotohun. It is where they started the amputation of people.

  • First can you spell the name of that village, please?

  • Gotohun is G-O-T-O-H-U-N.

  • What district is Gbendembu Town and Chiefdom in?

  • It is in the Bombali District.

  • Can you tell us approximately when it was that you went to Gbendembu?

  • It was around June/July.

  • Did you speak to the people from Gbendembu about what happened in that town?

  • At that time when we went to Gbendembu it was completely - there was nobody there. It was completely - there was nobody. Then along the way, coming back to Makeni, we met some of them because this time they knew our vehicle. They knew the Caritas vehicle. They knew the mission vehicle. They started coming, explaining their stories, and right up to the following days we came back to Makeni they started. Those who were amputated started coming to the two Sisters' compounds, the Missionaries of Charity and the Sisters of St Joseph, and some were in the Sisters of Charity and some were in the Sisters of St Joseph's compound. So from there again we started going there to help them, because they needed people to help them to wash and they needed people to help them do other things.

  • Now, did the people from Gbendembu tell you what happened when the town was burnt? How did that happen?

  • Well they said it was an attack, the rebels attacked there, because at this point in time there were so many attacks. There were rampant attacks from one village to the other. Today you heard about this town. Tomorrow you heard about another town. They continuously attacked throughout this period and so people were continuously pouring into Makeni from the villages.

  • Do you know - and if you don't just tell us - were there any killings during that attack on Gbendembu?

  • There were killings. People reported killings. Some ECOMOGs were also killed.

  • Now you talked about amputations occurring in, correct me if I am wrong, Gbendembu and the neighbouring village that you spelt for us a few moments ago?

  • Can you tell us what was amputated? What body parts?

  • The hands were amputated and the ears.

  • What happened to these people who had suffered the amputations?

  • Well, they were - they came to Makeni and these Sisters were taking care of them. They were both in St Joseph's and the Missionaries of Charity. So we also were going there to help them launder their clothes and take care, because the two Sisters both have clinics. They were doing some other things. They were there in these two compounds until when late in December there was another attack when everybody dispersed from Makeni.

  • When you say your group went there to help them, what did you do for the amputees - your group?

  • Well, for these people there was enough food already provided by the Sisters. We only come there to counsel them. We talked to them. We help them do the - because most of them were male at the time and so the Sisters don't want to do the other jobs with them. So we go there to wash them and if they go to the toilet we help them because at this time some of them can no longer do it for themselves.

  • How many amputees were there?

  • At St Joseph where I was mostly going there were 11, but others were also at the Sisters of Missionaries of Charity.

  • Now, you talked about during the time that the People's Army was in Makeni going to Teko Barracks and dealing with the children that were there. What happened to those children at the time of the intervention?

  • During the time they were staying with us we had thought that at this time these people have come to stay but, when the intervention came and started on 17th again, during those 17 days we saw most of them holding guns. They were carrying guns. They were with their big ground commanders again. They were involved in the looting, moving there and there. Again, we became very much afraid of them and so we walk away. They were on their way and they were - none of them actually came back to us.

  • Now during the period after ECOMOG arrived you said in March 1998 up until December 1998, were there any armed forces - what, if any, armed force was in Makeni during that period of time?

  • This time it was only the ECOMOG and some of those soldiers whom we call the loyal soldiers who remained with the ECOMOG, because during the junta when the ECOMOG arrived most of them ran away. A good number of the soldiers also went with them. So those who remained we used to call the loyal soldiers in Makeni and so they were working together with ECOMOG.

  • Where were they based?

  • They were based at Teko Barracks.

  • Now, I want to move to December 1998. In December 1998, did the war again affect Makeni?

  • Can you tell us the first events that made you aware of the upcoming problems?

  • Well, as I said, throughout the surrounding villages there had been attacks, but then on 18 December there was an attack at Binkolo village and this attack was so severe that people came running that night. So in Makeni we said, "Well, finally, the time has come". This was on the 18th. Then the following day attacks started happening also in Magburaka Town, which is about 14 miles from Makeni, and again we don't know what to do because we thought that this time Makeni will not be spared and so some people even started running from Makeni to the nearby villages. Myself I leave, but nothing happens on 19, 20, 21 and we came - me myself I came and some other people came - and just that, well, we thought it is over. They will not come this time, because the time we expected them nothing happened. Then the missionaries held a meeting. They told - the Bishop told the people to move out of Makeni. It is not safe. So we clearly came to know that, well, if these people are moving, who have all the information, then Makeni will not be spared. It will surely come to attack.

  • Let me just go back over your answer a little bit. I apologise for interrupting. You talked about an attack on 18 December 1998 at Binkolo?

  • I just want to make sure it is spelt correctly. That is B-I-N-K-O-L-O, correct?

  • Now, where is Binkolo?

  • Binkolo is 7 miles away from Makeni. It is on the way to Kabala.

  • What district is it in?

  • It is also in Bombali District.

  • Now, the next day you said there was an attack on Magburaka. How far is Magburaka from Makeni?

  • Magburaka is 14 miles from Makeni. It is in Tonkolili District. It is the headquarter of Tonkolili District.

  • Who did you hear was attacking these towns?

  • All this time it is the combined RUF and AFRC.

  • You talked about the meeting, where the missionaries held a meeting, and you said that if these people are --

  • That they should leave for Freetown.

  • Because of the war. Since they have been - most of the missionary members had been suffering and so this time they want to go to safer areas.

  • Do you recall the approximate date of that meeting?

  • It was about the 3rd.

  • 3rd of - 23 December.

  • Sorry, it was on 20 December. 23rd is the day of attack.

  • Just so you know, sir, so that the voice distortion works we can't talk at the same time and so please allow a second or two to pass before you begin your answer after I finish to allow me to turn off my microphone. Thank you. Now, after this meeting where did you go?

  • Well, I had nowhere to go. I came back to my compound because my family was there and the vehicles taken by these missionaries I cannot go there. Also my wife, my children and some dependants were with me. So I came and I told them that these people had left Makeni. Then one of my friends came to take me to Freetown, but he cannot carry us - all of us - and so I said, "Well, you can go with my wife". "No, I will not go". The wife said, "No, I will not go if you don't go". So we were debating who will go and who will not go. Then I told him, "Go". Thank God for me I was lucky that we didn't go, because on the way we heard he was killed.

  • Where did you go?

  • I remained in Makeni, but instead myself, the family members and some of the neighbouring people we went to a bush near Mabanta village off Makeni.

  • Can you spell Mabanta, please.

  • It is M-A-B-A-N-T-A.

  • What happened there?

  • We were in Mabanta and then the day itself came on the 23rd, at about 10 o'clock in the evening, when we heard a big - the sound of a big gun. And so there we started saying well, finally Makeni is doomed. And then there was continuous firing throughout from that time. We heard heavy guns, all different types of weapons. We were even counting there. Well, when we heard one big gunshot we said, okay, one house is gone in the bush. We were just there, very much panicked. And that continued from the 23rd until after Christmas, 26/27, announcement - we started hearing announcement from - and it was the voice of the usual Makeni town crier that all civilians should come back to Makeni. If you stay in the bush, whatever meets you there, you will suffer the consequences. So some people actually started coming back to Makeni, but some of us were afraid because we have heard there are so many checkpoints before we reach our destinations, our houses, so we waited small to see what was happening with the other people.

  • Now, you said on the 23rd you heard heavy shooting and heavy guns. Is that correct?

  • Yeah, correct.

  • How long did that heavy shooting - exchange of fire go on as far as what you could hear?

  • I said it continued until about the 26th/27th, then it faded off small. Then the announcement came that the ECOMOG had been wiped out of Makeni, so people should come back to come and stay because the RUF, since they have removed ECOMOG, they will go exist with us in Makeni, so we should come out.

  • Before leaving Mabanta did any other individuals come from Makeni and tell you about things going on there?

  • Yes. We were in Mabanta there, two girls, young girls of one of our relatives who also came there - but when they came they were crying. And I told my wife with one of the neighbour who was a nurse to ask why the girls were crying. They told them, who later told us, that they had been raped. So I called one of them said, "Is it true this thing happened to you?" She said yes. And then we asked them to stay with us. We were there, they were being taken care of by this nurse who was with us until when we all moved back to town and I took them back to their father.

  • How old were these --

  • One was 12. The other was about 14/15.

  • Please pause a little bit before you answer after my question.

  • Mr Koumjian, what would be helpful is for us not to assume the perpetrators, but where possible to establish who they were.

  • Thank you, that was my next question:

  • Sir, did the girls tell you who it was who had raped them?

  • Well, they simply told us the rebels in one of their checkpoints.

  • Aside from civilians, did anyone else come out to Mabanta while you were there?

  • We were there when the announcement came on the 26th/27th that we should go to town, that was the time they actually started going into some of these --

  • I am just stopping you, sir, because try to avoid saying "they".

  • If you can specify who it is. You said around the 26th or 27th "they". Can you explain who you mean?

  • The rebels, who were the People's Army, both RUF and AFRC, some of them came to the place where we were because at this time first they came, they wanted - a vehicle was parked very close to the place where we were. So first they came to ask for the keys - who owned the keys to that vehicle. Nobody could answer. We told them we don't know. They demanded the keys. We don't know. We said, "We don't know who parked it". Then suddenly they turned around, they said, "Well, the two girls", the two girls of one of the men we went to hide in that place, and the man came out and said, "These are my daughters, please don't carry them".

  • This man, can you just tell us his occupation?

  • He was a driver.

  • So let's refer to him as the driver.

  • What happened after the - first of all, how many people came out to Mabanta at that time?

  • There were about six of them.

  • How were they armed, or not?

  • They were all armed.

  • And how were they dressed?

  • They dressed in their half military attire.

  • Were these men or women that came out?

  • There was no woman. All of them were men.

  • And did you know what group they were with?

  • Well, they were the People's Army.

  • What happened to the driver at that time?

  • When the driver came out and said, "These are my daughters, please don't take them" and they wanted to move, he held on to one of them, he was shot and died, but again they took away the children. So that made all of us to pack our little bundles and return back to town because this time we have realised that what was announced has come true, so we should go to town. We would rather die in the town than in the bush.

  • How far away was that spot in Mabanta from Makeni?

  • It's about two miles.

  • On what day did you go back to Makeni then?

  • On 28 December I left the - that morning I left to go back to Makeni and back to my house. On 28 December.

  • Tell us what happened when you went back to Makeni on 28 December 1998?

  • Well, coming back, as we have already received the information that there were checkpoints, indeed there were checkpoints. We were searched, they let us go, the People's Army, and then I came to my house but this time my house was already occupied by People's Army. I decided to go back to a friend at Mac-Robert Street.

  • Before we go on, I think we misunderstood you. You said, at the checkpoints you were what?

  • I said we were searched.

  • Yeah, they wanted - they said nobody should come - according to them they said nobody should come with arms, but indeed they were looking for money because for most people who had money with them they took it away.

  • Thank you. Now, after you realised that your house was occupied by the People's Army and you decided to go and see your friend at Mac-Robert Street - first can you spell Mac-Robert, please?

  • It is spelt M-A-C dash R-O-B-E-R-T. Mac-Robert.

  • What happened when you got to Mac-Robert Street?

  • I came to my friend who was staying at Mac-Robert and then we were there sitting, discussing about what was actually going on when we saw a vehicle loaded with some other people. It was a car. And then it stopped by the place where we were sitting, because there was also one young lady called - there was a young lady. And then they stopped, they greeted this young woman and she introduced us to Issa. And so we chat small and then they left. Then from there I want to go back to my house to see whether my wife and my children were there.

  • Let me stop you there. First let me remind you again to just take your time and speak a little more slowly and pause before you answer. Also please try to look at the judges and not me. I know it's natural for you to speak to the person that is asking you the questions. Now you said at Mac-Robert Street this woman whose name you did not call out today so far introduced you to Issa. Who do you mean when you say Issa?

  • It was Issa Sesay, one of the grand commanders of RUF.

  • Where was Issa Sesay when she introduced you to him?

  • He was driving a car, but when he came to the point - there is a familiarity between him and this woman, so they were chatting. So immediately the woman hastened to introduce us to the man, Issa, and then Issa was also introduced to us but then he passed by.

  • Was he alone or with anyone else?

  • He was with other - about six or seven of his men in that car.

  • Remember to pause when I finish the question before you answer. After being introduced to Issa Sesay, what happened then?

  • Well, from there, as I said, I wanted to go back to my house and check for my family. On my way I have to cross the centre of Makeni which is known as Independence Square and then at Independence Square, just by there, I met a Mercedes Benz car vehicle. They stopped me and I stopped. There were about six of them dressed in black and military attires. So they asked me whether I was happy about what was going on. I told them that if I were not happy I should not have been in Makeni. Then one of them pointed to a vehicle in front of them loaded with young men and young women, that very soon we will hear what will come out of Freetown, even the vehicle ahead was proceeding to Freetown. Then immediately there were two other vehicles coming from behind the same vehicle. And after that, when they passed, I went home. I met my wife and my children and I told them that this is not a good place for us to live.

  • Let me stop you there and ask you some questions about what happened when you got to Independence Square. First of all, remind us, what day is this, the date?

  • It was on the 28th. In the evening of the 28th.

  • And you talked about six men in a Mercedes car. Were the men by the car? What was the relationship between the men and the car?

  • They were all rebels because they had guns, they have RPG and they dress in their military brown and green shirt, T-shirt. And they stopped me, as I said.

  • Were they inside the car?

  • They were all inside the car.

  • And you said they pointed to a vehicle in front. Can you describe that vehicle?

  • That vehicle was one of the ECOMOG vehicles which they captured and it was carrying a group of young men, boys and girls and they said to me they were heading for Freetown and very soon we will come to hear what will happen.

  • Now you said there were two other vehicles behind. Do you mean behind --

  • Behind the Mercedes Benz car.

  • And what kind of vehicle were those?

  • They were the same vehicles.

  • Please give me just a second after I finish the question to answer.

  • Could you see whether there was anyone inside those vehicles?

  • Well, inside those vehicles there were young men and young girls. They were shouting, they are going, they are going. So I was trying to go to my house. When all of the vehicles have passed, I went straight to the house.

  • Okay. When you say that these three vehicles were ECOMOG vehicles, were they automobiles, were they pick-up trucks? How would you describe the vehicle?

  • They were big trucks which the ECOMOG were using before and these were vehicles that for the ECOMOG they will have carried about 20-30 people. But for our situation they will even carry 90-100 people.

  • Approximately how full were these vehicles that you saw?

  • They were really full with young men and young girls.

  • Could you see if any of them were armed?

  • Yes, they were armed, those who were sitting at the back door. Because there were tarpaulin, but those at the back were with guns.

  • Now after you returned to Makeni did you see any other ECOMOG vehicles besides these three trucks that you've described?

  • Well, after that night there was also an announcement from the People's Army that the people of Makeni should go to Teko and see their might, what they have done to ECOMOG, that a good number of them have been killed. Well people went there and I also went there, but when I looked at the first vehicle and saw the dead bodies packed there I decided to come back home without proceeding. Some of the other friends who came later, they told me there were also other two - why I didn't go so far. I said, "No, I can't bear the sight", and so I came back. They told me there was other two vehicles, but I saw the one loaded with the dead bodies.

  • Could you identify anything about the bodies that were in the ECOMOG truck?

  • Well from what they, the RUF themselves, announced in Makeni that they were the bodies of the ECOMOG soldiers.

  • Were the bodies in uniforms?

  • Some of them were in uniforms.

  • Before Makeni was attacked in December 1998, do you know whether or not ECOMOG or the loyal SLAs had any armoured vehicles?

  • They had. They had many armoured vehicles, because they were going up and down.

  • Did you see any of those vehicles after you came out of the bush on 28 December?

  • One was burnt very close to the compound of MCA secondary school.

  • Did you see any other ECOMOG vehicles after you returned to Makeni?

  • A good number of them. A good number of those vehicles were there being used by the People's Army. These were the vehicles that were taking them to attack Bumbuna, Kabala, Port Loko and even Freetown.

  • Now after the People's Army took Makeni and you came back, how were the civilians treated?

  • From that night there was - except you were lucky, but there was rampant shooting and again like in the 17 days there was rampant raping, until when later we heard that the raping period or the shooting period should come to an end, and that that was their mandate that when they attack any place they have 72 days, or a little more.

  • 72 days?

  • 72 hours, or a little more, in which they were allowed to do anything. Then at about - sometimes there was also an announcement that the commander, Issa Sesay, had asked everybody to stop the harassment, the looting and whatever they were doing, and it was at that moment when actually the thing came to a very low scale. But before that there was looting all over and there was raping all over. They were doing everything; harassment of all kind and such.

  • Did you see any of the raping?

  • Yeah, at the Mac-Robert Street where I slept that night there is a neighbouring village and apart from the fact that everybody was talking about this there is a young, young girl there who has a little baby. He [sic] was gang raped by some of these People's Army and the house was just closest to our - where we were sleeping. They started shouting and then we heard the shouting, but we cannot do anything until later he [sic] came out running when they had finished their thing when we saw that this is the girl who was shouting and he [sic] was crying and going to some other place leaving where he [sic] was raped.

  • You are saying "he was raped"?

  • Who exactly - just so we are clear, who was gang raped?

  • It is a girl of about 14 years.

  • Did you actually see any of it?

  • We saw them, but the place was dark and there are no lights. We see them passing, but we cannot recognise them and we knew they have their guns. They came, they passed by and then the girl came also running and shouting, crying, leaving that place to another place.

  • Now, what happened after the 72 hours or so period? What occurred in Makeni?

  • Well in early January they summon all of us to a meeting, that all civilians should come together at the Makeni Town Hall. At the time now it is the City Hall. In that City - in that City Hall they wanted to name some members of the community who will help them to administer Makeni, and so in each they appointed a chairman and some members of the executive and we dispersed.

    Then another day they also summoned a meeting and we hastily went there. In that meeting - both meetings, the first meeting I talked about and this other meeting, were chaired by MP Jalloh and he told us that at this time neither they have - we have elected these people into this position and they have no jails, they have no police, they have no judges. Whoever does anything that is contrary to their laws will be considered committing a sin they call the ID and that person will be shot there and then.

  • When you say "the ID", do you know what that is?

  • They have something they call overlooking, but they were calling it ID. Overlooking means you go against the law, or different identities only. It is DI. You have different idea about them. You are overlooking them. They call it the DI crime. You don't obey. They give you order and you don't obey, you have committed an ADI. You have a different identity. You are not ready to live with them and so you overlook them. Therefore, you will be punished.

  • Sir, I am going to go over your answer a little bit just for some clarifications. You said, "In early January they summoned all of us to a meeting". When you say "they", who do you mean?

  • Well, the meeting as I said was chaired by MP Jalloh and MP Jalloh was RUF.

  • Now, sir, you said early January. Do you recall the approximate date?

  • It's on the 3rd we have this meeting.

  • Thank you. Now, you said there was a second meeting. Do you recall approximately how long after the first you had the second?

  • Yeah, it's the day after. We have the first meeting like today and tomorrow we have the second meeting.

  • At the second meeting, did MP Jalloh ask anything else of the people of Makeni?

  • After they have given us their basic laws and how they want us to live together and they have introduced the executive of the Makeni Town, he told us that they have lost a good number of their men, "They have been left behind" in his words, and that Makeni should consider donating young boys and girls to them because they want to pursue their agenda.

  • What happened after he made this request for Makeni to donate young boys and girls?

  • Well immediately after this, the following days that week, actually some people started registering young boys and girls. Others were captured, because if you walk in the street you will be captured, and then others register. We were told there were about 3,000 young men and girls who registered.

  • When you talk about boys and girls, or young boys - young men and girls, what ages were the people that were being registered?

  • The registration was from 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and above, because they said categorically that they don't want elderly people because we will not take command. The children will easily be commanded than elderly people.

  • Do you know what happened with those who registered?

  • Well those that were registered, after a few days, about three, four, five days, they started the training at the Agricultural Road compound. It used to be the ministry of agriculture offices and when they came that is what they made their office also. The training started there and after a few days they started moving the children to Kono or Kailahun, they told us. Then I saw three vehicles, but one of their man - one of the men in Makeni, who was also a member of the executive, told us about 1,000 were to be taken to Kailahun.

  • Okay. Sir, you said that they started the training at Agricultural Road compound. Did you actually see anyone training there?

  • I saw the training.

  • I saw them. They have assembly, they are running and then from afar you can see the instructor was talking to these young boys, but they were running throughout the streets very close to where they had the offices, especially in the evening and early morning.

  • And can you tell us the approximate ages of those you saw being trained at Agricultural Road compound?

  • Like I said they were 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and above, but they did not want any adults.

  • You indicated that you saw three vehicles. Can you explain what you saw?

  • It was one evening while they were carrying their - while they were carrying on their training and then we heard singing in the compound, because each time we heard something there, singing, shouting or shooting, we will go around to see what was happening and ask some people around to know because they seemed to be more informed because they were closer. These people were not - they will say whatever they want to do and so it was not a hidden secret. So we went there and myself I saw these three vehicles moving. They were singing that, "We are going. We are going. We are coming".

  • Approximately when was this?

  • This was early January, about the second week to its end. Second week/third week January.

  • Just so we are clear, which year?

  • Can you describe the vehicles? Are you talking about automobiles, or what kind of vehicle?

  • These vehicles are still the same type of vehicles the ECOMOG were using, because at this time it is either the ECOMOG vehicle or one company [indiscernible] at Magburaka's vehicle. They were just the vehicle they were passing around.

  • Mr Witness, if I can just ask you in the interests of the transcribers who have to write down what we both say to pause a little bit after I finish the question before you begin the answer. Thank you. Now, where - in what direction did you see the vehicles going?

  • They were moving from Makeni, through Isolanee [phon] Highway towards Magburaka.

  • Can you describe the occupants, if any, that you saw inside the vehicle?

  • They were mostly the young boys that were registered. Young boys and girls.

  • Would the ages be any different than those you described at the training?

  • They are the same ages.

  • In Makeni at that time, in addition to Issa Sesay, did you see any other or were you introduced to any other RUF commanders?

  • May we redact the sentence "My house was occupied by ..." that could identify the witness, please. Assuming this person knows what house he occupied, my fear is that that would identify the witness.

  • The only words you want redacted are, "My house was occupied", is that right?

  • Actually the only words I think we need to redact is the name of the person that occupied his house, so that it's not matched to him.

  • Is the witness not saying two names occupied? There is a second, { Redacted }.

  • { Redacted }.

  • I think I cut him off before he completed that.

  • Okay. So perhaps if the sentence could be redacted and I will start the question again. I am not sure where the witness was going exactly with that answer.

  • You asked him were there any other RUF commanders in the area and he begins to tell you the commanders, some of whom were in his house.

  • My only concern is that the people who were in his house, that that be redacted. So I suggest that the answer be redacted and I will ask the question again and ask the witness not to indicate who was in his house.

  • I take it, Mr Griffiths, you don't have any problems with that?

  • I don't have any difficulties with that at all.

  • Thank you. Madam Court Manager, you know the sentence counsel is referring to? I think there are two names in that sentence, but I will order that the whole sentence be redacted. Go ahead, Mr Koumjian.

  • Sir, I will come back to this subject later. I want to ask you during this time in early January 1999, did you continue to listen to the radio as you told us you were in earlier times?

  • We continuously listened to the radio, every day.

  • What kind of radios did you have access to?

  • It was - we had our transistor radios and we listened to RFI programme, Radio France International. We listened to BBC mostly - especially at 5 o'clock we come together. And after - if there is something about Sierra Leone, immediately after that we scattered because few of us wanted to listen about other areas, but at that point in time every person, both literate, we all come together and we explained to them what was happening.

  • Do you recall any radio broadcasts in that first week of January that you heard concerning Freetown?

  • I do recall during that week there were some radio announcements from BBC. From Father Mario we heard. From the minister of information we heard. From the fighting forces, the People's Army, we also heard what was being asked to them.

  • Do you recall any broadcasts, whether you listened to the radio on 6 January?

  • I will not confirm exactly on the 6th, but about that period we listened.

  • What do you recall hearing about Freetown around that time?

  • Well, first we heard about the attack at Waterloo and then whoever the journalist was said the rebels were descending like mannas from heaven. And then we also heard from our minister of information who was continuously telling people to be calm, to stay in their houses, they will do everything possible to flush the rebels. But then we also heard from the rebels that they had captured Freetown and it is at that point wherein in Makeni we were asked to come out and dance, and we did.

  • When the rebels captured Freetown do you recall hearing any broadcasts on the radio?

  • We heard the broadcast from one Sesay who said they have captured Freetown.

  • Your Honour, at this time I have a portion of a broadcast I would like to play. The transcript has been distributed. Just so everyone is clear, part of this was played before and is a separate exhibit, but the original portion that was played did not begin at the beginning of the broadcast. So now this tape and transcript begins with the very beginning of the programme and broadcast. So I would ask that that be played now, with your Honour's permission.

  • Do you remember the exhibit number, Mr Koumjian?

  • I believe it's 262. Yes. But this is a larger portion of the broadcast. So, if your Honour wants, perhaps later when we get to admitting it it might be marked B or either next in order. Either 262B or next in order as your Honour pleases. May we play the broadcast, your Honour?

  • This track that you are going to play now, Mr Koumjian, it's part of a tape that was admitted, or it's part of a tape and another part of the tape has already been admitted but not this part. Is that correct?

  • Let me explain in detail. The part that was admitted included only the phone call from one individual to the radio broadcaster. I am proposing to play from the beginning of the broadcast up to the end of that phone call. So what I am proposing to play is a bit longer, about three minutes longer, than what was played previously in 262. The entire programme we are not planning to play because it includes other subjects not related to Sierra Leone.

  • It would be accurate, Mr Koumjian, to say this excerpt was not played, was not admitted in evidence. The thing that we are going to listen to was not admitted in evidence?

  • That would be accurate. Only a portion of this, approximately the last six minutes of approximately nine minutes was not admitted into evidence. Your Honour, if I could explain a bit, I wanted the beginning because it does indicate the time of the broadcast and the programme.

  • Mr Griffiths, did you want to say something on this before the tape is played?

  • No, I don't.

  • Yes, go ahead and please play the tape, Mr Koumjian.

  • [Audio tape played to the Court]

  • Sir, did you recognise any part of the broadcast we just heard?

  • We heard this broadcast. And it was - as I said, it was after this broadcast that there was jubilation in Makeni.

  • Can you describe who was jubilating in Makeni?

  • Well, we were asked by the RUF to come and rejoice because Freetown was captured and that since they have removed the ECOMOG from Makeni and what they were telling us about their might has come true, so they are now going to rule the country Sierra Leone and so we should come out, and so we were out there dancing.

  • Did you yourself take part in this celebration?

  • Myself, I danced.

  • Because everybody was dancing. If you don't dance you will be charged.

  • Sir, from 28 December for the next weeks did you see any movement of troops of this People's Army that had captured Makeni?

  • Did you see any troop movements between let's say from 28 December through the next few weeks?

  • The People's Army, that is the RUF and the AFRC, were continuously moving, going to Kabala, to Port Loko, to Lunsar, Bumbuna and Freetown.

  • How do you know that?

  • They themselves were saying it and we saw them loading in their vehicles and they will tell you, "We are going to Kabala today". They will go and come back. They tell you, "We captured this village". Other times they will come and when they were unable to captured any village, they come, they are silent. But they will always say that, "We are going".

  • Sir, you told us in the private session about some of your work and you told us that you came across some children with the RUF. Did any of them ever tell you that they were involved in fighting in Freetown in January 1999?

  • Yes, a few of them did. They told us that they were in the fight in Freetown.

  • Your Honour, could the witness be given a piece of paper to write down the names he recalls of children who told him that they were involved in the fight in Freetown in January 1999.

  • Yes, if that can be arranged, please.

  • Your Honour, while the witness is doing that, since this is a more complete broadcast, I would ask that this be given an MFI number.

  • I see the transcript you've provided us with is actually headed up "Track 1" and "Track 2", but I think we only heard track 2. Is that the case?

  • I believe you only heard part of track 2. The entire broadcast is much longer and we have only taken an excerpt related to Sierra Leone.

  • All right. You only want marked for identification the part we've heard?

  • And the accompanying transcript?

  • We will mark that track from Focus On Africa that the Court has just heard. I think it's identified as track 2 on 6 January 1999. We will mark the tape MFI-39A and the transcript of the tape will be marked MFI-39B.

  • Sir, have you written the names that you recall of children who told you that they were involved in fighting in Freetown in January 1999?

  • I have.

  • Your Honours, may that be put on the document display, with the admonition to the booth not to display it to the public, so perhaps we can all see that in the courtroom.

  • Thank you. Can that be arranged, Madam Court Manager?

  • Your Honour, that will be effected.

  • Mr President, I wonder whether it would be sensible for the witness to put his TF1 number and the date on that piece of paper for identification purposes.

  • Yes, that sounds --

  • I have no problem with that.

  • Yes. Could you write your TF1 number and the date, please, Mr Witness.

  • Is it safe to display that now?

  • Your Honour, the booth has been informed and they will effect it.

  • Will the Court Officer please place the document then on the ELMO:

  • Mr Witness, I see four names there. I just want to ask you about the last name on the bottom. Is that the person's actual name?

  • I cannot remember his actual name but this was the name we had been using and for sure even when we meet him now this is just the name he carries right even now.

  • That could be put away then. May that be given an MFI number, please?

  • Yes. That will be marked MFI-40.

  • May that be confidential, please?

  • And marked confidential.

  • Thank you, Mr President:

  • Sir, following the invasion in Freetown in January 1999 what forces were based in Makeni?

  • Majority of the RUF were in Makeni and then there were also the AFRC. Then also there was another group called STF.

  • Can you give us the names, and please just the names, of any commanders that you know were present during that time or part of that time in the months following the January - let's say between January and April 1999?

  • The RUF was headed by Issa Sesay. The STF was one Liberian General Bropleh. The AFRC was headed by Brigadier Mani.

  • Can you tell us the names of any other commanders that you recall being present or coming and going into Makeni during that period of time?

  • In Makeni, there was Titus and then Superman was coming and going. We were told he was small resident in Lunsar, but he used to come very frequently to Makeni and goes. It was the same for Gibril Massaquoi, Kallon, until finally they had some places in Makeni, but in the beginning they were going and coming.

    There were others, but we came to know them as really time goes by but in the beginning these were the major commanders. As I said, Superman was going and coming and we were told he was a support to any group that goes to attack. If they cannot succeed in the attack he will follow with his group to give support.

  • You made a gesture with your hands that I would describe - I don't know if your Honours saw that. Actually I don't know quite how to describe it, but you put your fists together and you clinched your fists. What did you a mean by that?

  • It's an emphasis on the support he gave.

  • Mr Koumjian, the witness has mentioned STF, I think. I don't think he has mentioned it before. Who are they?

  • Sir, what do you know about the STF?

  • We he were told and we came to realise that they were the Special Task Force from Liberia headed by General Bropleh and General Bropleh was a Liberian.

  • You mentioned Brigadier Mani. Who was he?

  • He was a brigadier from the Sierra Leone Army, so at this time he is one of the renegades who now heads the AFRC specifically in Makeni.

  • Were there any other former SLAs that were commanders in Makeni at that time that you recall?

  • Yes, there were some of them. As I said, it was gradually that we came to know them. There was also one - somebody who most times when they call his name we thought it would have been the leader of the AFRC, but it was not him. It was Johnny P Koroma. He was a major. Then there was one Sesay who comes often and go back and then there was Major - Captain, later Major, Michael. They were there.

  • Just so we are absolutely clear, Johnny P Koroma what is his - you said he was a major?

  • He was a major. He was working together with Titus in the collection of dues from the market.

  • Is that the same person as Johnny Paul Koroma, just to be clear?

  • No, he is not. This is why I said when I call his name most people think that it is Johnny Paul Koroma, but it is not Johnny Paul Koroma. This is another JPK.

  • Were there any women commanders, former SLAs?

  • I was introduced to Krio Mammy, who was Agnes Mani [phon], and another Liberian lady, Old Woman Louisa. These people were also in Makeni. There is a good number of them. There was a Massah Turay. These were members of the WACs, they explained to us, women army commanders.

  • You've mentioned a Kallon. Who was Kallon?

  • It is Morris Kallon.

  • Which faction did he belong to?

  • You've also mentioned Titus. Who was Titus?

  • Titus was the administrative director of the RUF in Makeni.

  • What can you tell us about Superman besides what you've already told us?

  • Well as time went on in Makeni, especially after the - when people started going for this Lome, there was a little peace in Makeni. They asked us to form football teams, which we did, and it was one of his team which was also known - which was also known as Superman's team. He was one of the players. We meet together. We play together. He had his team, which he support, and he played for this team also.

  • Approximately what month, or months, was that that you met Superman playing football?

  • That was about the end - we started forming these football teams by the end of April, leading right down to the attack in - even after the chaos they had with themselves over the infighting, we still continued until finally in December when before until the time of disarmament, or whatever, we continued.

  • We are just about at the end of the tape, Mr Koumjian.

  • Mr Witness, we are going to adjourn now until 9.30 tomorrow morning. You are still in the course of giving evidence and so I must tell you that you are ordered not to discuss this case with anybody. Is that clear?

  • It's clear.

  • Yes, we will adjourn.

  • [Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 4.30 p.m. to be reconvened on Wednesday, 28 January 2009 at 9.30 a.m.]