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

  • Good morning sir. How are you?

  • Good morning. I am fine.

  • Sir, I just want to remind you that because of the technology that we are using I have to turn off my microphone before you begin your answer so you can see this red light. Please wait until you see that red light off before you begin your answer and take your time and speak to the judges. Sir, I apologise but I would like to go back to one of your answers yesterday to seek a clarification and that is on page 23669. Excuse me, I believe I gave the wrong page number; 23691.

    You were talking about being in the village of Mabanta with your family and others when you heard - after Binkolo and Magburaka were attacked and you talked about a driver who was there. On line 19 you also said that some armed men - six armed men - came out to the village, and on line 19 you said:

    "When the driver came out and said, 'These are my daughters, please don't take them' and they wanted to move, he held onto one of them, he was shot and died, but again they took away the children."

    Just so we are clear - absolutely clear - who was shot?

  • The driver who was there with us, Mr Mohamed --

  • I don't think it is necessary to mention his name.

  • Okay, it was the driver.

  • Okay, thank you. I don't think it is a problem if we call him Mr Mohamed. You have given his first name. And can you tell us who shot the driver, Mr Mohamed?

  • He was shot by one of the six armed men who came to the bush in Mabanta village.

  • And sir, when you say they took away the children, what do you mean?

  • The six of them who came, the RUF and the AFRC forces, because at that time they were the combined forces and they took away the children along with them.

  • Who were these children that you are talking about?

  • They were the children of the driver, the man who was shot.

  • Were these male or female?

  • They were female.

  • Two young girls.

  • Do you know what happened to those young girls after they were taken away from Mabanta at that time?

  • Since then, I have no idea of whatever might have happened to them.

  • Have you ever seen them again?

  • I have not seen them.

  • Have you ever heard word of what happened to them?

  • Thank you. Sir, when we left off yesterday, you were talking about - we were talking about Superman and you said that you had met him playing football, he had sponsored a team, and your last answer was that:

    "We formed, we started forming these teams by the end of April leading right up down to the attack. Even the chaos they had with themselves of the infighting we still continued until finally in December before - until the time of disarmament or whatever we continued."

    So, sir, in approximately what time periods did you see Superman in Makeni?

  • Superman was in Makeni from about mid-January 1999 throughout until when I left Makeni finally to go to Lungi where we had the then interim care centre being transferred.

  • And so we are clear, when was that?

  • It was May. I stopped - 19 May when we left Makeni, it was that time I stopped seeing him.

  • 19 May of which year?

  • Okay, thank you. Now, do you recall any of - did Superman have bodyguards?

  • He had a very large number of bodyguards who were following him.

  • Do you recall any of the nicknames of some of his bodyguards?

  • He had a fair complexion boy who was called Charles Taylor.

  • Now, after the Freetown was invaded, did the RUF stay in Makeni?

  • They made Makeni their headquarters and Makeni remained to be the headquarters until when everything came to an end. The headquarters of the RUF.

  • You have previously mentioned that there were other factions or commanders present in Makeni at that time. Was any faction predominant in Makeni after January 1999?

  • From that time, in the beginning of January, all we know was RUF until when they introduced some of - some members of this other faction like the STF, as I said, which was headed by General Bropleh and the AFRC headed by Brigadier Mani.

  • Approximately when was that that you were introduced to these groups, or commanders, in Makeni?

  • Well, they were introduced during the meetings - the two meetings they had with the general public in Makeni.

  • Sir, I noticed I have been failing to turn off my microphone. I am going to try and do that and you can help me. If you don't see this red light go off don't answer the question, okay? Did you ever have any occasion to negotiate with both groups, or with the RUF and one of the other groups?

  • There was an occasion when we had to negotiate between the - we negotiated with the RUF and also the RUF - some members of the RUF referred us to the AFRC who was Brigadier Mani.

  • Before we move on to that, I see, worrying about my microphone, I failed to really listen to your previous answer. So my question had been approximately when was it that you were introduced to these groups or commanders, that is the AFRC and STF in Makeni, and you said there were two meetings they had with the general public. When was that, these two meetings?

  • These two meetings were held in early January.

  • Are these meetings headed by MP Jalloh that you told us about earlier?

  • Those were the meetings.

  • Thank you, sir. Now going back - I apologise again, but going back now to your answer about, "There was an occasion when we negotiated with the RUF" and you said, "The RUF referred us to the AFRC who was Brigadier Mani", can you explain to the Court about these negotiations?

  • Well, about mid-January we were working because there was nothing to be done in Makeni, there was no work, and I saw a Land Rover, but that Land Rover belonged to the mission, the Catholic mission, in Kambia. I wanted to know what is happening with this Land Rover? Why is it in Makeni at this time? And then when we followed the Land Rover we saw one white but at this moment we could not identify who was this white man. And because we can recognise the Land Rover we were thinking it might be one of our reverend fathers and indeed we went there and we saw it was one of the reverend fathers in Kambia District.

    So we went to MP Jalloh because the Land Rover went straight to the Agricultural Road headquarters and we asked a few questions why father was there and they told us he has done nothing, the only - the fact that he was arrested, they wanted him to help propagate the ideas of the - the ideals of the movement of the RUF. So there was nothing harm that was going to be done to him and at the same time they permitted us to visit him any moment any time of the day. So we started visiting father. But again as time goes on we said, "Well, it is not a good thing to continue to hold on to father. Please leave him. Let him go". We were told they cannot do this by themselves alone, we have to meet other commanders like the AFRC Brigadier Mani and so we took time to go there.

    Well, knowing that people were - who have come to stay with us, we tried. The first time we were not fortunate to see him because he was still sleeping. We went there the second time. Again he was still sleeping. So we decided to change the time of going there. We went there the third time and he woke up, but again it was impossible to talk to him because he was not very normal as we thought we could have communicated with him and we cannot secure the release of the reverend father. So we continued to visit him who was then in the house of the bishop and the house of the bishop was occupied by Titus who was the administrative head of the RUF in Makeni.

  • When you say that Mani was not normal, can you describe what you mean?

  • Well, the time he came when he woke up and he met us, we wanted to talk to him but he was drunk and he even had a cup of mamanini which is this local bread type of wine, so we just left the place.

  • Thank you. Now, after the RUF and its allies had taken Makeni in December '98/January '99, did you ever try - excuse me, you have already talked about this at some point in your testimony, but can you tell us how it was that the interim care centre came to be open there?

  • In the beginning by the end of February and early March in 1999 as I said we were in Makeni, we received a word from the director of Caritas and the reverend fathers from Freetown that we should start to gather the children that were in Makeni and at that time we were trying to - first we wanted to know who will actually help us among these three factions in Makeni and we were directed to Baby Tina, or Tina Musa. She was actually called that name, Baby Tina. And then we went to her, we spoke, she asked us to come the next day. We came and she introduced us to Five-Five who was close to her and immediately herself and Five-Five - we were permitted to go around and meet the commanders so that they can release the children and they released them, we had them in the centre. But at this time we do not have them the whole day. We started by getting them from morning to evening and we let them go gradually until they centre was set up, then we had those we had in the centre and then we were there both day and night.

  • Thank you. Sir, do you know who was Five-Five?

  • Five-Five was one of the leaders of the AFRC at the time, a Sierra Leonean soldier.

  • And, sir, who was Tina Musa?

  • Tina Musa, during the revolution we heard that she was the wife of SAJ Musa.

  • With the help of Tina Musa and with Five-Five, what commanders did you meet in order to negotiate your work with the children?

  • These two people gave us the permission and they told us they were going to inform all the other commanders, and they did, and while we were going to them everybody actually respected the information and they gave us the children.

  • What about the commanders from the RUF? Did they respect this me the negotiation you had with Tina Musa and Five-Five?

  • So what happened then, sir?

  • And then we continued to operate the interim care centre, but about the first week of April, on the 2nd, we heard some heavy shooting again in Makeni, because though there were shootings they were not as frequent as this night again. Heavy weapons were used because we heard the sound. And then we became panicked again in Makeni. What happened - what happened then --

  • I apologise for interrupting you. Just before we go into that, at this time before you heard this heavy shooting on, you said, 2 April, how many children were you working with approximately in the interim care stern?

  • At this time we had about 300-270. The number fluctuated because the children at times they come, others just went away without permission. But we were between about 270-300 and a little above at this time.

  • Do you know what factions - fighting factions - these children came from?

  • At this time they were both children of the AFRC and the RUF.

  • Can you give us a rough proportion of how many were AFRC children and how many were RUF?

  • They were almost about 50/50.

  • Thank you. Now, just so we are clear, in your earlier work at Teko Barracks during the period 1997 until, you said, February 1998 during the time that the Kabbah government had been overthrown, those children, what factions did they belong to?

  • The children in Teko Barracks at that time were children from the - those that we were dealing with at that time were purely from the RUF.

  • Thank you, sir. So please continue and tell us - first of all you said 2 April. Just remind us what year are you speaking of?

  • I am talking about 1999.

  • And what happened? Continue to tell us what happened around 2 April 1999.

  • It was about midnight from about 11 when we heard this heavy shooting and the shooting went rampantly all over Makeni Town again. We were disturbed, because we were not thinking anything of this nature will happen at this time again. But then we wanted to know what actually happened and early in the morning - because on that night there was no sleep. We wanted to know why. I was standing by Northern Motel and we saw a group of them coming with a dead body which was the body of Rambo in Makeni. So the body was put in front of the Northern Motel and they threatened to retaliate.

    Well, I asked them, "Who did this? Why did this happen?" They said Superman has come from Lunsar and has attacked Rambo and even wanted to attack Issa Sesay, but Issa ran away to Magburaka and Rambo was killed and the situation remained tense. One group which was supporting Rambo who was killed headed by one Colonel Bakarr, they were threatening to retaliate. And the other group were also coming together that if they were attacked they will also continue to fight and the situation remained tense.

    But actually there was no fighting. It was just these threats on the 3rd, 4th and so on until about the 13th at night again we heard heavy shooting. That is the group of Issa Sesay from Magburaka has now come to revenge with the group of Makeni - in Makeni. And at this time the two groups, each contains both RUF and AFRC. It was just those who were supporting Superman and those who were supporting the dead Rambo and Issa Sesay. And the fighting continues day and night until about the 23rd when we heard that one elderly Pa, Pa Demba, who was a juju man for the RUF has intervened between the two groups and has reconciled between them. So the two groups came together, they marched with their weapons in Makeni saying now the infighting is ended. Indeed from that time there was a little calm and a little peace.

  • Thank you. Now just a few questions to make sure we understand everything. First of all, can you spell Pa Demba? Is that one word or two words?

  • It is two words. The Pa signifies the age P-A and then the name Demba is D-E-M-B-A.

  • And then while I am interrupting you for spellings could you help us with the spelling of the local wine that you said you saw Brigadier Mani have in his hand?

  • In Makeni it was called mamanini, M-A-M-A-N-I-N-I. It is locally brewed in Sierra Leone. Commonly it is called omolai.

  • Well then perhaps you could help us with spelling that?

  • It is O-M-O-L-A-I.

  • Thank you, sir. If you can, just for precision, you said it was midnight, April 2nd. Do you mean between the 1st and 2nd or between the 2nd and 3rd?

  • It was between the 2nd and the 3rd.

  • Now, you indicated that each group contained RUF and AFRC. Can you just expand on that a little bit?

  • Well, at this time it was not like later when the AFRC fought against the RUF. This time it is two heads fighting between themselves so in each group there were the AFRC, there were the RUF and one group which was headed by Issa contains both AFRC, RUF and even some STF. So there was - it was not factional. It was just between Issa and most of those who were in Magburaka and Superman and those who were stationed in Makeni because those who come to revenge always come from Magburaka direction.

  • Thank you. Can you tell us a little more about Pa Demba. Did he belong to any particular faction?

  • Pa Demba was actually brought to Makeni and he was introduced to us in the church during one of our prayers by Titus, and since Titus brought him to us, and from the way he introduced him to us, that this is a big man who has some supernatural powers and has come to stay with them, they have been using him throughout the time of their period as rebels in the bush and since that time a lot of people go there. Ourselves, we used the church choir. We go there to sing Christian songs. He gave us some money, but he was highly esteemed, he was highly recognised and almost all the RUF and the AFRC at that time did fear him as - and they call him their Pa also.

  • Did he belong to one of the factions?

  • He was, as I said, from the man who introduced him to us we thought he was RUF.

  • How did this fighting affect your work in the interim care centre?

  • Well, immediately the fighting started, as I said, we were very much afraid. Everybody, we scattered from the interim care centre. We, the workers, everybody went his own way. The children we had gathered, everyone went back their own way. Some went to their commanders. Others were staying in town because they could not find their commanders. And so we scattered around. There was nothing again functioning as interim care centre until when they ended their conflict.

  • Can you remind us again the exact date, if you know, that the conflict ended?

  • It ended exactly on 23 April 1999.

  • And after it ended, did you see any evidence that the groups had reconciled?

  • Yes, because they came to Makeni, they joined together, they were joyfully singing and we saw groups from Magburaka. At that time it was headed by one Francis, one Captain Francis who was in Magburaka and then those in Makeni. They danced in the streets and Pa Demba was there boasting that he has brought the people together again. And since we saw them dancing and marching and then no fighting, we all agreed that it has ended again.

  • After 23 April, on occasions did you see Superman in Makeni?

  • After the 23rd he was coming very frequently and it was this time more - he involved much with us. As I said, he both sponsored a team also called Superman Football Club and we have our own clubs also at the same time. We played together in the field. It is after this period he became much, much involved with us playing football and again at this time most of them join our secret societies. We were together.

  • So what happened with the interim care centre after the fighting ended and the reconciliation?

  • Well, again, by the end of May we were not tired; we started again. Without going to any of them, the children just came and we started and this time nobody asked us so we continued because they were still together and nobody disturbed us. We continued. The centre became functional again. We continued.

    We were going to Freetown, coming. Again, not until 15 October, and shortly before 15 October I received a message from my director to help CRS because they were coming to distribute food in Makeni and from Makeni to supply all the villages along Makeni-Kabala highway. We started a venture, we did that in Makeni. We ended it. We were going to start the one at the villages from Makeni to Kabala and when the vehicles started arriving we asked them to stop by so that we can introduce them to some of the commanders, particularly in the centre of Makeni where the old bank was.

    Well, we went there. We met AB Dugba who was commanding that office and, well, we introduced the drivers and those people who came from Freetown. Well, one of the drivers of this vehicle, who brought the food, had his money on his chest pocket and then somebody actually stole the money and he reported. So we reported the case to AB Dugba and the other people there. They searched around and they caught one of their men, one of their soldiers too, and he was shot on the leg. Immediately there was a little bit of panic so we hastened to get out of the office and proceed to do our work.

    We continued. We started from the first village until we reached at - we were almost ending the supply at Binkolo when somebody came and said, "Hey, you are supplying here, but there is also another big fight in Makeni."

    Well, we heard no shooting, we were far off - we thought - did not take it very seriously. Anyhow, we hastened to do the supply fast fast to move to the next village. We were in the next village again when somebody else met us and said, "This time the fight is heavier than all the fights that has taken place in Makeni."

    Well, I told the drivers now, because the place where we were, the only way to go to - to go back to Freetown is either you go into Guinea or you go deep north and you can find your whatever way old roads, traditional roads, feeder roads, to go to Freetown. If you - some of you that manage to go to Port Loko, well, no problem. If you - some said they will come towards Makeni, there is a road at Panlap village, it is just about two miles from Makeni. If you can get there then you will have a way to go to Freetown through Port Loko. Otherwise, do whatever you can. We have stopped here. Because it is also at this time we saw some of the AFRC coming and those who first came, actually they were harmless. They only told us there is a big fight in Makeni. So for us, we thought it fit to go back to Makeni whatever road to see the centre, what was happening or what we could do again. And then we came to Panlap.

    It is at Panlap we slept on the 15th. There was - and when we heard the shooting it was a heavy shooting again throughout and, to my estimation, this is the time they used the heavier weapons than all the attacks in Makeni. So we walked through our footpath; we came to the centre.

    Well, again in the centre, some of the children have rejoined again their commanders. Others have scattered. It was only not even ten children we met and we asked them each to go his own way, but after the fighting they should come again because we had no security in the centre.

    I went straight to the sisters' compound because it happened that also at this time the bishop was in Makeni and he was also stranded. The vehicle was taken by Gibril Massaquoi. He had no option. So we told him to go to - that we should go to one of the commanders who will protect him and two of the reverend fathers so that the person will - this commander will also find a way to get him out of Makeni to Freetown or Bumbuna and so we went to Superman and we met him. He received the bishop and he tried to let him get out of Makeni on the following day.

    By the 17th, again there was announcement that Issa has ordered the atrocities, the shooting, whatever was going on to come to a close, to come to an end and, as I said, this infighting started on the 15th and ended on the 17th when they sent one of their G5 member to talk to the people to announce that, well, the infighting has ended. The AFRC has run away out of Makeni.

    Instead, the following day, silently they were looking from one house to the other if there is any AFRC. Well, that was how this infighting ended in Makeni.

  • Thank you. First, I want to do a spelling and correct me if I am wrong, Mr Witness. You said AB - is that initials?

  • Those are - they are initials. AB Dugba.

  • And Dugba, D-U-G-B-A?

  • Yes. Some spell it D-U-G-B-A, the others spell D-I-G-B-A.

  • Who was fighting on the various sides in this conflict, according to the information you received?

  • In this three day conflict it was purely between AFRC and RUF.

  • So which side was Superman on?

  • Superman was RUF.

  • What happened to the AFRC troops?

  • They ran away from Makeni. Most of them we heard they went to Port Loko and about three days thereafter, because I was immediately asked to transfer to do whatever I can to move to Port Loko, we should forget about Makeni at this time, except if I can manage to carry some children, then we should be moving to Port Loko.

    So myself, I passed word round that - to the children - that whoever can should meet us at Port Loko. So I moved straight to Port Loko. It is on the way of my going to Port Loko, because we met dead bodies because while the AFRC were moving, since they were attacked by RUF in Makeni, they were also attacking RUF on the way. So we met few dead bodies. I did not count, because we were very much in haste to move and go to Port Loko, and we heard the news that one of the commanders who was either STF or RUF, Senegal, Colonel Senegal, was also killed on the way by the AFRC.

  • Who was this Colonel Senegal? Can you tell us anything about him?

  • Well, when they came newly to Makeni, Senegal had a place which was a no-go area because we were told - we were informed that he was having some kind of radio where he communicate and they do not want civilians to go by. But he was very close to the house occupied by Superman at Sylvanus Street. So we don't bother to go close because we know if you go close what will happen. But after some time when he used to come out I heard him speaking both English and French and his English was not the type of Sierra Leonean English we generally talk, so he was not a Sierra Leonean. I just cannot identify what - but he was not a Senegalese also by the way he speaks as I was able to determine.

  • Which group killed Senegal - Colonel Senegal?

  • It was the AFRC on their retreating from Makeni.

  • So you have indicated that because of this fight you moved to --

  • We moved to Port Loko.

  • And when did you return?

  • We were in Port Loko throughout until again February in 2000 we came back to Makeni to resume the activities of the interim care centre.

  • Can you tell us approximately how many children there were in Port Loko?

  • In Port Loko the number varies from 300, 400 even up to 600 or 700.

  • Did you determine what factions they had come from?

  • Well, in Port Loko there it was both. Port Loko again it was both RUF and AFRC.

  • What were the genders?

  • We have girls and boys. The majority - the larger majority were boys.

  • You have talked about caring for children from the AFRC and the RUF. What about children who had fought with the Kamajors or the Civil Defence Forces? Did you ever have contact with them?

  • We did, but the children with the Kamajors were not brought to the centre. We simply registered them, gave them their packages, they go back with their parents, because we were much interested with the - they were fighting too, but they were fighting alongside their parents. We were much interested with those who have actually been taken away from their parents and because we wanted to reunify them. These ones with the natives or Kamajors, they have been with their parents, their fathers, their mothers throughout, so we only gave them their packages and made follow-up visitation, gave follow-up counselling and follow-up support.

  • After you left - well, first can you tell us again when did this October infighting end?

  • The October infighting ends on 17 October.

  • When did you return to Makeni?

  • I came back to Makeni on February.

  • And after your return to Makeni, was the interim care centre operating?

  • We came back to start the operations of the interim care centre in Makeni, because even up to that time there were still many of the children who were still with their commanders.

  • Were you able to reopen the interim care centre after returning to Makeni in February?

  • Just so it's easy for us when we read this record, February of which year?

  • It was February 2000.

  • Can you describe the children that you worked with at the centre in this period after February 2000?

  • Well, in this period at the centre they were 100 per cent children from the RUF.

  • I don't think it's necessary to go through, but tell me if it is. Is the ages of the children that you worked with any different during the different periods of time?

  • Well, the ages always remain the same and the way we categorise them remained the same throughout the period of our functions.

  • Can you estimate approximately what proportion were 14 or under?

  • The larger majority of the children, about 65 to 70 per cent, were below 15 in our estimate. Well, actually we were looking at 15, because we had zero to five, six to ten, 11 to 15, because the larger majority were below - about 60-70 per cent were below 15 - they were 15 or below years.

  • Approximately how many children did you work with in the centre between your return in February 2000 let's say up to April 2000?

  • The highest at a given point there were about 450.

  • Did anything happen in April 2000 that affected the centre?

  • Well, about mid-April while they have permitted us and we were functioning amicably it was one evening when about four or five members of the RUF headed by the leader of OSM and his name was Gaskin Amara, he was the head of the OSM and the OSM is the organisation of the RUF, it was the organisation for the survival of mankind, they told us. They had an office in Makeni. He came to us that he has come to monitor and to evaluate our work and they wanted to see even our records, but our documents were confidential. They were only to be seen by Caritas, other child protection agencies and UNICEF and so I became defiant. I told them, "This is not your mandate. It is only UNICEF and the child protection agencies that has the mandate to come and evaluate our work to see our records", and because of this they went away.

    They came again the second day. Still I was very much defiant and they told me that if we have not given them this information they need then I will be invited to the high command of the RUF at Agricultural Road compound where they have their offices.

    Well, two days thereafter I was invited, but before going I informed one of the MILOBs, one Colonel Joe who was a MILOB member, a British. I said, "Well, I have been invited by the RUF command through Gaskin Amara OSM and I don't want to go there alone. Please help me". Immediately he hastened. We went. We met them sitting, about a group of nine or ten, at a round table. They gave us our chairs. We also sat down. But then I was thinking they will attack me immediately. Instead this time nobody asked me - Augustine Gbao immediately started attacking Colonel Joe that, "These British people, you are hypocrites, foolish" and he was saying all sorts of words. So I said, "Well, Pa Joseph, Pa Joe, it's me who has brought you to this thing". He said, "No, don't worry. This is the work we are doing". And then there was this quarrel until we left the place. The only question they asked me was who mandated me to open and run the centre. Then I told them it was - we had the permission directly from Augustine Gbao who was the commander of Makeni section, of the area that was controlled by RUF. So they asked me if I was permitted just by word of mouth or I had a written letter. I told them, "Yes, I have a written letter" and we scattered, but there was a heated argument between Gbao and Colonel, so we left.

    Again we came the second day. This time we invited the CO of KENBATT-5, the Kenyan battalion. So the CO was there, again Colonel was there. We came. I simply submitted the letter and while they were reading the letter again there was this heated argument which continues between Colonel Joe and the RUF, Augustine Gbao and some of its members, and CO KENBATT was intervening, trying to stop them. We ended.

    The third day we went there again.

  • Sorry to interrupt you, but I just want to clarify some things we might not have gotten. In your last sentence you said that the argument continued between Colonel Joe and the RUF, Augustine Gbao and some of its members and CO - what was the other person you said?

  • The CO of the KENBATT-5, of the Kenyan battalion. They were the UN forces in Makeni at that time.

  • Is KENBATT, sir, spelt --

  • Thank you. You have also mentioned Gaskin Amara. Can you spell his name?

  • He spell it as G-A-S-K-I-N A-M-A-R-A.

  • He was in charge of the organisation for the survival of mankind.

  • So we are absolutely clear, what was the nationality of Colonel Joe?

  • Colonel Joe was a British.

  • And who was he working for at that time?

  • He was working for MILOBs, the UN team.

  • Okay, sir. I interrupted you?

  • Could you spell that word, MILOBs. It must be some kind of acronym or something.

  • Yes, it is military observers. M-I-L-L-O-B.

  • I believe it is M-I-L-O-B.

  • Yes, MILOBs, military observers.

  • Sir, I interrupted you when you were about to say on the third day. What happened on the third day when you went there again?

  • On the third day we went there. As I was saying, the same tension increased and while we were sitting there they read the letter. They were somewhere and they desist from attacking Colonel Joe because some of the members, including Morris Kallon, were accusing Gbao why he had not informed them about all these activities, that he has put them to shame because if they could have done anything to me he would have been the person to blame.

    Then again they returned to attack Colonel Joe. We were there waiting and then suddenly Morris Kallon called me and he asked me to convey a message to my other worker that he wants to fall in love with her. I said, "Well, I will convey the message". So I went to the lady and told him, "Leave Makeni this evening or tomorrow. Don't stay", because I was afraid at the fact that he has started proposing love that any other thing might happen to him - to the lady. So I said, "Leave Makeni. Go. Leave me alone. I will continue to do the fighting. Colonel Joe is here", the other KENBATTs were there and at this time they were three, the PRO of KENBATT was also there, one Major Marawa.

  • Can you spell that, please?

  • He used to spell it M-A-R-A-W-A.

  • Then what happened, sir?

  • And then after that while the argument continued again Morris told us that all that was going, the argument between Gbao and Joe, well, we shall come to know in three weeks' time what RUF can do and the whole world will come to know to hear about what RUF will do.

    Well, we had no option. We listened. They told us that they had to see, to hear from Issa Sesay and the Lion before they do anything, whether we shall continue to run the ICC or even to move the children, because more, it was the point of moving the children from Makeni to Freetown or Port Loko that created the conflict.

    So we continued to visit Gbao at his Teko Barracks residence. You go there and, like I was explaining for Mani, you meet him drunk. You have to wait until he gets up and then, actually, he led us to another house and that house was serving as an office of the RUF where they have their communication.

    We were sitting in the parlour, we heard them talking inside the room proposed to be the - where they have the machine to talk to either Issa Sesay and the Lion, but then they came and told us to wait. Again, we went there the other day. I took a bag of rice to Augustine Gbao that he should hasten. We want to move the children. He took the bag. But then after that day, in the evening, one boy who was working with Gaskin Amara came to us and said, "You can move the children whenever, but you have to give us a list of the names of the children you are moving to Port Loko or Freetown." I said, "Okay, I will do that".

    I actually wrote the names, but I did not submit that paper and with the help of KENBATT they moved 91 children in their vehicles to Freetown, and then we had a little bit of relief and we continued to work from - as from that time onwards.

  • Okay, let me stop and ask you a few questions about what you have told us. First, you have mentioned the Lion, that they said that permission had to be sought from Issa Sesay and the Lion. Who was the Lion?

  • The Lion was Pa Foday Sankoh.

  • Then you said, "We were sitting in the parlour, we heard them talking inside the room proposed to be where they have the machine to talk". What do you mean by the machine to talk?

  • I mean their communication radio.

  • Now, you have told us that you wanted to move children from the centre to other locations. Why was that?

  • Well, one, the first reason was Makeni was still occupied by the rebels at this time and we had the children. Some of them had stayed more than we would like them to stay. Two, a good number of them have their parents in Freetown in Bo, Kenema and Port Loko. These were the children we actually choose. And by taking them to Freetown they can be easily be reunified to their parents, their families, or communities, and this was why we wanted to take them.

    We were being pressed by our director at UNICEF that they want to save those children who belong to communities where they were no longer fighting. Like with the south and western area and so that was why we wanted to move them.

  • Now, sir, if I understood you correctly, you indicated that you had several hundred children in the centre and you have told us about receiving permission to move 91. How did you come up with the 91 children that were moved as opposed to all the others?

  • The 91, after our assessment, we had the children that belonged to areas that were completely free and they could be easily reunified to their parents.

  • Were any other children moved besides these 91 that KENBATT helped you move?

  • Well, all the time, even before this time, and especially when the rift was on, we were moving other children secretly.

  • What was the condition of health of the children in the centre?

  • Well, usually when - because the commanders, some of the commanders were bringing the children, or we go to their houses and ask them that the children should go to the centre, some consented and some did not. The others we went to collect ourselves. The others were brought to us by the UN personnel. But most of them on arrival, some of them had fevers, others were just sick, stomach ache, so, but we don't have the expertise working in Caritas.

    There was an MSF Holland, and then we have ACF France, so they were doing the medical screening. They were coming to the centre. They were doing this. As I said, there was this interagency, there was this collaboration between the NGOs. So they were completely in charge of the health and the medical facilities for the children. So whoever comes first to the centre we sent him or her to them, at least the first week so that they can screen and tell us what is the condition and from there they will continue to give medication or advice.

  • Were any --

  • Mr Koumjian, I am sorry to interrupt. These numbers of children that we have heard that came into the witness's custody, were they all former abductees or were some of them merely internally displaced children?

  • Sir, I don't know if you understood the question. I will just rephrase it for you.

  • You do. Then please answer it.

  • They were all former abductees and former fighters of the RUF, or those that were used by the RUF as domestic workers, who were not their children.

  • Were any of the children in the centre ever seriously ill?

  • Yeah, we received some - some were amputees, some came with bullet wounds, some they have venereal disease, like gonorrhoea, syphilis, some high fever, so they were being treated by either MSF and ACF, but ACF was doing the screening and they did the treatment together with - MSF do the screening. They do the treatment together with ACF.

  • To your knowledge were the medical facilities in Makeni equal to those available in Freetown at that time?

  • It was incomparable. It was very low and even MSF, they were just trying because even at some point their stores were attacked by the RUF too. They removed the medicine so they had very small amount of medicine, but they go to Freetown very often because, from past experience, they did not want to lost all. They prefer small small.

  • I think I understand your answer, but just so it is clear, again, how did the facilities compare in Makeni and Freetown? You said it was incomparable. In what way?

  • In Freetown you have all these facilities that were functioning. In Makeni it was like a - just a feeding centre. You received small, you treat, you go back for other treatment. As I said, in the past they were attacked, and they had all their facilities taken away, so when we came back they came back equally as we did, as we suffered, so this time they were bringing little supply. When they were about to finish they go for some. So it was not like in Freetown. And this was also the reason why we had to send some of them to be treated in Freetown.

  • Sir, going back to the events of April that affected the centre, can you tell us what else happened during that month?

  • What happened at the end of April that affected Makeni, April 2000?

  • Well, by the end of April there were preparations to have disarmament start, and then they have the disarmament centre at Magburaka this time, and we had a UN, they were all prepared, they were ready, we were going there, but there were a lot of checkpoints to the place, meaning that no RUF shall disarm until they have permission from Augustine Gbao.

    And about the end of April information started coming that some of them actually wanted to disarm, but they were not permitted. And not until on the 29th we heard in the morning that 11 of them had gone to disarm and they were disarmed and because of this there were skirmishes.

  • Now, sir, just so it is perfectly clear, you said that there was a disarmament centre at Magburaka, that they were all prepared, they were ready. Who was ready for disarmament?

  • Some of the low ranks of the RUF were ready to disarm.

  • And who - what prevented them at that time from disarming?

  • The high command did not give them the permission to disarm.

  • Was there anything stopping them from just walking from Makeni to the disarmament centre?

  • There were checkpoints that were checking those who - who were not permitting those who wanted to go and disarm.

  • What happened after the morning of the 29th when you heard that 11 - well, first of all, you said 11 of them had gone to disarm. Eleven of who had gone to disarm?

  • 11 of the RUF fighters who were in Makeni.

  • What happened after that?

  • Well, because of the stories that were coming at this time, we wanted to get every bit of information because of the past experiences. About midday on that day myself, I went to one elderly man in Makeni, because he is one of the persons who was close with this, with the RUF, and we can easily get information from him.

    So I went there, but before introducing the topic what I wanted to know, one of the junior commanders came and told the man that indeed these 11 people had gone to disarm and that they have been commanded by Augustine Gbao to arrest any UN man, especially the KENBATT, they meet in the streets of Makeni. So I went back to the compound. I went to the compound. Still I wanted to know in detail.

    I sent one of our boys, because he is very crafty with - he was very crafty with them. He went there and he came and told us that indeed fighting has erupted again in Magburaka between this time the UN and AFRC, as directed by Augustine Gbao.

  • Sorry, the UN and AFRC?

  • Thank you. Then what happened, sir?

  • And then late that evening shooting started in Makeni and then we came again to realise that, yeah, the same thing has resumed again.

  • Did you yourself hear the shooting?

  • I heard the shooting and it was not only heard in town. They came even in the - this time they came into the compound. From those days, until when even I left to go back to Freetown on the 6th, throughout those days they were coming to the compound and they were demanding some of their children who they thought - who they said to us were good fighters and we could not do anything.

    About the 3rd they came again to the compound and this time not only demanding the children, but they took away our rice and some of the secondhand clothing we had in the compound. We cannot bear. The situation was grim. Too tense for us. Food was almost finished. So I called a meeting of --

  • If I could just stop you there for a moment. Just to clarify your answer, I apologise. Sir, you said that they were coming to the compound. First, when you say the compound, what do you mean?

  • Where we have the interim care centre in St Francis Secondary School.

  • When you say they were coming, who do you mean was coming into the centre?

  • At this time it is the RUF fighters and commanders.

  • Do you recall approximately how many children were taken out of the centre?

  • Before I went to Freetown, as I said, we had about 400. They would have taken - they took more than 100 from the centre.

  • Okay, I apologise. You were explaining that the situation was very grim and food was almost finished so you called a meeting. When was that?

  • I called a meeting on 4 May that I had a plan to go to Freetown, but I will do everything possible. I was not running away. They should expect me by whatever means I would come back. I was going simply to tell the story about the compound and to know what we will do next this time.

  • Mr Koumjian, could we ascertain the time frame when these 100 children were taken away?

  • Sir, can you tell us when was it that the children were taken away, or over what period of time?

  • It was between 1 May to 5 May before I left on the 6th to go to Freetown.

  • Now, sir, did you have any permission from the RUF to go to Freetown?

  • It was only - because when the fighting started on 29 April, on the 4th we heard that they were going to reopen the road to Lunsar because since this time it was a no-go area. As I said, because right in the - in front of us at St Francis gate there they had their vehicle loading their fighters to go towards Freetown, the drove from Magburaka to Makeni and they were progressing to Lunsar and Freetown this time.

    So we were told - information reached us that Issa Sesay was coming and he will lead the way on that day to open the road from Makeni to Gberi Junction and I hastily made - that was why I hastily made a plan to go along so I will carry messages. At that time we have no radio in Makeni, there was no mobiles, so unless one has to go.

  • Sir, before we go on to your trip to Freetown, so we don't get too much out of chronological order I want to ask you: You told us that you heard about an order to arrest Kenyan peacekeepers in Makeni. Did you ever see what happened or learn any information about what happened after that order was given?

  • Yes, indeed there was fighting, as I said, which erupted and started in Magburaka camp and they came right into Makeni. On the evening - one evening of about 2 or 3 May some of the Kenyans who were at the Magburaka demobilisation site at about 10 o'clock or 11 o'clock on that evening they came to the centre demanding my help to lead them to one of the centres they were occupying at Mabanta, which was very close to us. But we had to cross the main road from Makeni, Magburaka and to Freetown, and that was the area where most of them were parking.

    So those who came, I told them to wait, because I cannot do it alone. I have also to contact some of these boys whom we have actually cajoled and they were working on our side to help us to know whether they are still at the main road which we had to cross. And they were going and coming. They were standing at a particular point and they continued - they continuously come. So we were leading them to the Mabanta camp where they have what they call their Section C.

  • Did you ever see whether any UN peacekeepers were in fact arrested or captured in Makeni in May 2000?

  • Well, while the fighting was going on and it was proceeding towards Lunsar, a few days we saw RUF riding - driving UN Land Rovers. These were fresh Land Rovers. They were not the vehicles of the Kenyans. And they were boasting, yes, that they had captured the UN who were coming to fight them and this again caused a lot of panic, like in January of '99 when they told us they had captured Freetown. They said what power have these people that they can capture even UN. They were riding UN going up and down in Makeni, they put on the UN caps, they had their uniforms on them. So it was so difficult at this time to identify who UN was and who RUF was until late in the evening we saw some trucks and in three of those trucks were these foreign guys who were half dressed, some don't have their uniform again, they wear vests, and others were almost completely naked. They came and passed through St Francis gate.

    Well, most people in Makeni were standing there and we were asking, "What actually happened? Where did this happen?" Then they told us they had captured them at a village called Makoth which is about 13 miles from Makeni and these people were on their way to Makeni. Well, we also wanted to know where they had taken them, are they going to stay in Makeni or not. They told us they were taking them to Issa Sesay at Teko Barracks and from they will lead them to Kailahun which they used to call Burkina Faso.

  • Sir, can you spell Makoth?

  • Makoth is M-A-K-O-T-H.

  • Did you ever learn the nationalities of these men that were in the truck that you said were half dressed?

  • Later we were told they were Zambians.

  • What kind of UN vehicles did you see the RUF fighters driving in in Makeni in May 2000?

  • They were using Land Rovers and these big trucks brought by the UN and then there was also one of the armoured cars which they were also driving and later parked at the front of Issa's compound.

  • When you say parked at the front of Issa's compound, which Issa are you talking about?

  • It is Issa Sesay, the leader of the RUF, in the house where he was living, because actually it is not his compound.

  • In addition to losing children from the centre, was anything else taken from the centre at this period of time?

  • As I told the Court earlier on, our food was taken away from us. They took most of the rice we had in our store. The food items, the second-hand clothings. And for myself they took away my - because at that time I had already packed my bag ready to move whenever, but they went into the room where I was, they took away the bag in which there was small money, I don't know the amount, and then there were all my documents. Papers I had from a workshop and even my certificates were all taken away.

  • When you say they took it away, who was it that took these items from the centre?

  • It was the RUF fighters fighting against the UN in Makeni.

  • So, sir, what day did you leave for Freetown?

  • I left on 6 May, but I did not arrive in Freetown until the 7th.

  • Yeah, the year 2000.

  • What did you do in Freetown?

  • Well, I went to Freetown to see the director, to see UNICEF and I wanted to know what we could do because the situation in Makeni was too grim. So what we do? They themselves, they don't know what to do. And I gave them the information that some of the children had been taken away. So they demanded if I want to go back. I told them yes, because I had promised that on no account I won't go back. I don't mind if I go and have to come again, but they should see me.

    So I was given some money from 11 May to go back. I tried my best. I wanted to use the Port Loko route, but while moving from Lungi to Port Loko there was an attack this time to the British soldiers who were there. I had no way. I came back to Freetown, but without reporting to either Caritas or UNICEF. I tried to main road, that is the Freetown-Rokel-Masiaka Highway. I used a taxi which brought me as far as Rokel because Rokel was the - after Rokel it was a no-go area, even UN cannot go there.

    I went through some footpath and then came to 91, crossed, passed through Malal and the river and finally I went to Makeni and when I came back to Makeni the children were less than 200, those I met in the centre. But when I started walking around the street a good number of them came because this time I had a few footballs which were all taken and a few games. And I was also given a letter to show to the UN stations and even the Kamajors that if I was going to move with the children if we ever meet this UN I have been permitted by UNICEF and other agencies. And so I made many copies. To whatever village I reached I gave the chief that letter. Maybe also at a shorter date I will be passing, so he should know that I will be bringing children who are not rebels, who are not fighters, who are not harmful.

    Until I reached to Makeni, again we bought local food now because you cannot come with food at that time. We started living again. The number grew again, but the situation continues to deteriorate until one night, well, when I have rested and I am ready for the journey again on foot to Freetown, I called some of them who were there at about 10/11.

  • Let me stop you there and, before we go on to that, I want to clarify a few things. Approximately when was it, the date, when you arrived back in Makeni after conferring with these people in Freetown?

  • I arrived back to Makeni on the night of 14/15 May.

  • Now you said when you arrived back there were only about 200 children in the centre, so can you estimate approximately how many had disappeared or were out of the centre from the time you left to go to Freetown until you returned?

  • Before I went to Freetown 100 had already disappeared so there were about 300. And when I came about another 100 were not there. So all together half of the children had gone, about 200.

  • Now you said that after resting you were ready for the journey again and you called them. What date was that?

  • Well, that was on 19 May 2000.

  • And what happened on 19 May 2000 when you called for a meeting?

  • I put the idea before them how we should do it. A good number of them agreed and I told them, "Since you have agreed we have no time to waste. Whoever is not here, be you a worker or any other child, we shall be moving because any delay is dangerous at this time".

  • Who was at the meeting? Just so we are clear, you said you called "them" and you talked to "them"?

  • The children I was dealing with and some of the caretakers, the workers of Caritas in the centre.

  • So you told them there should be no delay because any delay is dangerous. Did you ask people whether or not they wanted to go with you?

  • I did. That was why I called the meeting and some - a good number of them consented and we started the journey together. The children were 107 and also 27 of the staff members. Though some of them joined much later because when they came in the morning and they didn't see us, they just took the road to Freetown. So we all, the staff, we all arrive at Lungi in that week, 27 of us. The children were 107 and on our arrival in Freetown about 20 were seen by their parents and we reunified them there immediately.

  • Okay, sir, I appreciate you have gone to when you arrived in Freetown, but I want to go into detail about how you got there. After you called the meeting you said 107 children agreed to go and some - and 27 of the staff members. Did you make any preparations to leave Makeni and go to Freetown before you left the centre?

  • The preparations were immediate. Immediately after the meeting I opened the store, the office. First, I took away some of the second-hand clothings we had and asked each of them to, boys, girls, "If you can put on two or three trousers, two or three clothes", and most of them, whichever opened the bags of the secondhand clothing, everyone choose immediately what he or she wanted and then after wearing them I took some of the rice and I asked those who have pockets, especially the bigger boys, everybody just take two cup of the rice and put it in your pocket. If we meet - if we arrive in any village where we had to cook, well, we will have no struggle about rice because I was estimating the journey to be two or three days and we had not eaten that morning.

    So we are prepared ourselves. We have some onions, some tomato paste, salt and the rice. Well, I had my - the little money I came with to spend on the way when - wherever they are hungry if we can get food, and immediately that night, at about midnight I started moving them. We arranged them in groups of ten, groups of 12, some eight, elder boys, bigger boys, and smaller guys so that when the younger ones are tired they will help them. We started moving from Makeni bit by bit until about four, myself, I finally left the centre.

  • Sir, I apologise for going back for a moment. You talked about children being taken out, that they were looking for the good fighters. Do you know where the children were taken or do you have any information about that?

  • Yeah. Well, after they had taken this, when I came because I wanted to know, one of the nights, one or two days there, when I came to the centre there after --

  • Just so we are precise, you are now talking about after you had returned to Makeni?

  • After the - I believe you said 11 May?

  • It was when I returned back to Makeni on the 19th.

  • On the 19th.

  • Then, one of the boys came, he was not there, but when they heard that I was there some of them started coming and later this boy came. He was crying, "Man, what happened? Why are you crying? I have come" then he told me, "{Redacted}" --

  • Excuse me, may we redact that, please.

  • Yes, just one moment, please. Madam Court Manager, we are going to redact that name.

  • There are a few persons in the audience.

  • Yes. Any member of the public who heard that name just mentioned is ordered not to repeat it outside of this Court or not to repeat it at all.

  • Sir, what happened when the boy came to you crying?

  • He was crying and he said "Sir, I will not fight again. I will never fight again." "Why you will not fight again?" He said, "All the men we went with, about 45 of them, were killed on the truck by an explosive", either it was RPG or a bomb, while they were being taken to Lunsar. I said, "Well, now that you have come I want you to stay with me. Anything can happen. Maybe UN will come to help us and I don't want you to be - I want you to be a part to whatever help that will be given to us." And he had been with us throughout the time. Luckily, he was one of the boys we went to Freetown.

  • Just so we are clear, this boy that was crying came to you and said, "All of the men we went with", who did he mean? Or do you know who he meant by "the men we went with"?

  • Those, some of the few commanders and those of them the young boys and girls who were taken, because they have been thought to be good fighters, were taken to fight in - at Lunsar. Before reaching Lunsar they had - they were shot at and almost all of them were killed.

  • Do you know if any of those killed in this incident were children from your centre?

  • The boy explained that 45 of them were taken from the centre.

  • So what time did you leave the centre on 19 May on this journey towards - to Freetown?

  • We started leaving the centre by midnight until four in the morning when myself, I took the last group, and we were following, because I had told them each to walk to at least until we crossed the area where we thought RUF were patrolling, because the route we were taking there were RUF up to a point from Makeni, and there was an area of no go, RUF don't go there, the Kamajors don't come there, which was very close to the river at Malal.

    So we started, so I told them until they reached that point nobody should stop going. Whoever be there I will follow and we all reached there when I follow in the morning. I met them and so from there I told them what to do next.

  • Can you spell Malal. You said the point very close to the river?

  • It is M-A-L-A-L, Malal.

  • Did you have any money with you?

  • I had some money given to me by my director to spend for the boys when I - to spend for the children when I came back to the centre and to spend even while, if I can take some of them, whatever we will use on the way.

  • So when your group rendezvoused at Malal, what happened? Tell us in detail about the trip to Freetown?

  • Well, from there, at a village called Manewa suddenly we saw about six or seven - about six of them, six, seven, armed members of the RUF. They told me that they were sent to collect the children back to Makeni and that the leader, if they resist, the leader will be killed. I said, "No, we are not going any place that we don't want to come back to Makeni. We were simply going to Mile 91 to collect food and come back", because as I told them, these are - these were all school children and they should come back to learn.

    But they still insist that they will take the children. Up to it's a point, looking at the other members, because they started searching some of the bags, the little bags the children were carrying and I thought they needed money so I told them, "If it is the things you want, the money you want, we will give you, but please let us go. We will come back." They asked us to drop whatever amount of money we have on the ground.

    Well, I only searched one of my pockets and dropped some money, I don't know, because I just - all what I was having I just dropped. The other caretakers also, everybody dropped. The children, those who had small small things on them would drop all those things.

    Then they started searching the bags and then they removed some of the T-shirts, especially the boys were wearing, and then they demanded that they should take some of the boys because they were good fighters and that they will carry the materials we have dropped down for them.

    Well, again we started begging, "Please don't do that. Leave us now to go. You have taken the money. You have taken all this. Let us go", but they insisted finally that one of the boys they insisted they will take him away. Well, since we have come to that point I said, "Well", and looking at the boy, "100 plus people cannot suffer because of you alone and so please go, but if you can" - I spoke in Temne, "If you can please do your way and join us", because I realised that the people I met none of them was a Temne man.

    So they took the money, they took the boy and we went away until we reached to the river, where again we had to spend a long time because we had to cross the river. It was not everybody who was able to swim, because the river - the water was by my neck and some of the boys and the girls they were too short to cross it by themselves and most of them cannot swim, so we had to go one after the other until finally we crossed.

  • What was the name of the river?

  • It was the River Rokel.

  • And you said you encountered these six or seven armed RUF at a village Manewa. Can you spell that?

  • It is M-A-N-E-W-A.

  • So how did the smaller or shorter children get across the river?

  • A few of us who can swim and who could withstand the current of the river we were going drop them, come back and take the other and drop them until finally - this is why I said we took a very long time because we had to take them one after the other, especially the women and the younger children.

  • How young were the youngest children in that group?

  • Well, the time we were crossing we even had two girl mothers with us. They have their small children.

  • What happened after you crossed the river?

  • Well, when we crossed we reached to a village where we - because as I said earlier on my way to Makeni I had informed the people that we were coming. I went to the chief and I told him that, "I am the person who told you that I was coming with these children". It was already night-time and we slept there in the mosque and in the church.

    Then in the early morning we proceeded again too, but this time I have to go from one village, explain myself, come, collect the children, go reach that and you go again. That make us again to spend almost half the day for another 15 mile walk, until when we met with the Kamajors who were - because they were told a group of large people were coming. They had already ambushed, because if it was going to be a bad group they will have attacked us, but when they see us coming they stood up. We were very much afraid. Others almost wanted to run. Then I came in front, talked to them and that if they do not believe us they should escort us to the UN team in Mile 91. They agreed that if we reach Mile 91 and at Mile 91 UN did not tell them that they know about it, then all of us would be killed. I said, "Well, fine. We accept that", and so we went there.

    When we went immediately the captain who was taking care of that battalion, who was a Captain Kamara from Guinea, welcomed us although he could not offer us a place to sleep because the place they were occupying was also very small and he cannot cater for all these numbers. I simply told him that. "Thank God, since we crossed the river these people have helped us a lot", and so he bid them farewell and they left us there. So after he spoke to us and wished us well, again we started the journey to Freetown.

  • From leaving Makeni up to that point, you had done the entire journey on foot. Is that correct?

  • How far had you walked?

  • It was about 40 miles from Makeni to Mile 91.

  • What did you do then?

  • Well, we started walking again until about another ten miles when luckily we saw one truck trailer which was carrying - the driver really came there to collect sticks. I went to him and said, "I want to hire you, so how much will I pay?" He looked at me and first he told me he would not take us. I went to the driver's mate or the apprentice. I said, "How much do you pay for a vehicle from here to Freetown?" He told me it was 400,000. So I went to the driver and I said, "Well, I will give you 1 million if you can take us to Freetown". Immediately he agreed and we boarded the vehicle and we started the journey now on vehicle to Freetown.

  • When you say 400,000 and 1 million, which currency do you mean?

  • I mean our Sierra Leone currency, the leone.

  • And where did you have - from where had you got this money?

  • It was the money given to me by UNICEF and Caritas.

  • How long did it take you in total then to get to Freetown from when you left on the evening of 19 May 2000?

  • It was three days altogether.

  • What happened to the boy that you had to leave with the six RUF that stopped you in Manewa?

  • Well, actually by the time we were negotiating with the driver of this vehicle to take us to Freetown we saw him coming.

  • Did he tell you how - what happened?

  • He told us he escaped and so we said thank God, so we went together to Freetown.

  • After this time, where did you go? What did you do?

  • Well, we were on the vehicle proceeding to Freetown. About another ten miles we started meeting other checkpoints and this time they were the checkpoints of the RUF - sorry, it was the AFRC around Masiaka, right down after Gberi Junction, Mabora, so at any given point they stop us and some of - they were also demanding some of the children, so we have to intervene, talk, talk, talk, and then they will leave us.

    Until we came to a checkpoint after Masiaka where we had - they had - the AFRC had the last checkpoint. We spent a lot of time there begging, begging, until finally suddenly somebody came who called himself - he was driving a Sierra Leone Army Land Rover. He was Captain Kargbo. Well, I don't know him before, but from that point he interceded on our behalf and they let us go. We moved, he moved with us. He was in front until we came to where they used to have what they call the Sierra Leonean soldier - loyal soldier - have the rapid defence force and that was the last place we slept. He went round the village asking for food for us, because this time even the food we were carrying we had cooked the previous night, and people helped. They brought small small food from one family after another and we gave to the younger children until from there now early in the morning there was no more disturbance. We went straight to Freetown at Blackhall Road.

  • What happened to the children you brought to Freetown?

  • Well, when we came to Blackhall Road, there is a house which was already bought by the Catholic mission, or Catholic diocese at Makeni, so we went there straight because there was a big compound. I know the place. So while we were there I went to somebody to ask for the phone. I called my director that we have finally arrived, we are at Blackhall Road, the mission house. From there representative from all the agencies, UNICEF, Caritas, they pour into the place and they made arrangements for us to cross to go to Lungi. Then serving us food, buying food from all the cookery shops that were around that place. So after eating immediately the ferry was arranged and then we crossed.

  • Did most of these children stay for some time at the centre in Lungi?

  • Yes, we had them for a good number of time.

  • Approximately how many children were in the interim care centre in Lungi after May 2000?

  • When we went to Lungi we were not alone, because already during from Lunsar the interim care centre had been moved, those in Port Loko had been moved. For us in Makeni we had also moved. So we were there between about 700/800 at a time.

  • Sir, after this experience escaping Makeni in May 2000, did you ever return to Makeni?

  • We returned again. Again I returned after we had been told that the Abuja peace accord - second Abuja peace accord was already confirmed and we were told there was also the tripartite meeting, so I have to go again because there was also a large number of children and this time it was in 2001, February/March again we went to Makeni.

  • Thank you. When you got back to Makeni in March 2001, what forces were there?

  • It was purely - purely - RUF.

  • Sir, during the year 2000 when you were in Lungi, were you aware of whether RUF was recruiting soldiers after May?

  • Throughout while we were in Makeni they were recruiting. At some point we were told that when they shall have succeeded in capturing Sierra Leone the next place will be Guinea and continuously they were planning, they were doing that, but nothing was done until when we were in Lungi at about September one night we saw a UN vehicle, they came, they brought a few children. When they were delivered to the UN man he told us the fight has erupted again at the Guinea border and we interviewed the children. They told us they were taken by the UN and brought to us from that section. Then we started hearing from the radios and people started coming even in Lungi fleeing the attack at the border.

  • These children that you interviewed, were these simply refugees, or had they been with their parents, or who were they?

  • They were brought by the UN people as children from the fighting forces there, from the RUF.

  • So how long were you back working in the interim care centre in Makeni after you returned in 2001?

  • When we returned in 2001, we continued to operate until after disarmament when we realised that actually disarmament has stopped and we have reunified most of the children. Then in about mid-2003 Caritas and the child protection agencies started scaling down the staff because we don't have as much children again as we had before in the centres. So for me, I resigned completely in 2003. But still the authority wanted me to wait, but I insisted until early 2004 I completely opted out of the Caritas.

  • Sir, you had told us earlier about an RUF policy against disarmament and you talked about that being in place before the UN peacekeepers were captured in May 2000. When did the RUF begin cooperating in disarmament according to your experience?

  • It was this time that when we came back to Makeni, because when we came this time in 2001 this is the first time even when with some of their members, we were told, one who was given to us, Gbukumu from Lunsar, who is supposed to be a relative of Morris Kallon, he was given to us and we went as far as Kono to collect children from the mining areas to bring them to Makeni where subsequently we took also at this time about 600 to Port Loko because we were very much afraid to keep children in Makeni this time.

    So when we collected them we had some ceremony at the town football field, we burnt - we made a ceremony of burning the uniform we were receiving because all the time we were keeping them in the centre and we had a poem recited "Don't Harm the Child".

    After that they were moved by UNICEF and this time it was the help of the Nigerian soldiers who were there to Port Loko and whoever come, every week they learn our vehicle used to come to collect them immediately. As we get ten, 15, 20 we move them immediately to Port Loko or to Lunsar. So Makeni was just a reception centre until finally when the disarmament came.

  • Can you give us a month and year when disarmament began in earnest, when the RUF began to cooperate in disarmament?

  • Well, disarmament actually started about September/November of 2001.

  • How about the AFRC? What was their attitude towards disarmament?

  • Well, I was in Makeni - from the time we moved after the infighting the AFRC had been disarming in Port Loko, Lungi, because there were disarmament sites there. They were already disarming. It was in Makeni the RUF were the only stubborn people who did not resign. And since they did not do this we came to a time when we wrote a letter. This time it was a combined letter of the religious leaders in Makeni, pastors, priests and imams and some of us who were key people in this mission. We collected ourselves and wrote a letter.

    We went there with the committee headed by one of the religious heads in Makeni. We met Issa, Massaquoi and Kallon in Issa's place where he was. We discussed the issue and then actually there was no clear-cut promise, but after two days they sent us one gentleman who was a member of their G5 to announce to the people of Makeni that they were ready.

    But again, because this time UN had structured the demobilisation site at St Francis compound, they gave a reason that St Francis was not good for them to disarm because the children had to go to school and there was a long time before then, they had to put down all the structures in St Francis and move to another site until then there was disarmament.

  • Sir, you have talked about a letter. First of all, how many letters - did you write any letters?

  • I personally wrote a letter directed to all the imams, all the pastors, commanders of the RUF. I sent one to a print newspaper they themselves had in Makeni called the Lion News Press, because at this time there was still too much of looting schools, private homes, missionary compounds, NGO compounds. Looting was still going on even at this time.

    So because of that I used my position at the time to write on behalf of the children that while goodwill people are trying to bring sanity there are those who are not cooperating. So the imams especially and the pastors should preach, because we believe in Makeni that these are the two religions which are professed by all the people in the town. So I wrote that letter.

    When I had distributed the letter, my bishop came. I gave him a portion of the letter and before I gave him he was already informed. Some people were not happy about the letter. So it was at this time he sent me again to go around and collect the other leaders to write a common letter in which we appease them and still ask for - we asked them to start the demobilisation immediately.

  • Who signed the common letter?

  • The common letter was signed by a good number of us. As I said, the imams of the mosque in Makeni, pastors of churches and the priest and the representatives from the civilians who are leaders of the two religions, including myself.

  • Approximately when did you write these letters, or send these letters?

  • First the letter I wrote personally I sent before about two or three days when the bishop came and because there was - people - some people of the RUF were not very happy about my letter and so the bishop hastened so that we wrote this other letter about two or three days thereafter and we did.

  • Your Honour, I have two documents. I am just not sure if we have enough time to have those distributed now. I could try. I would ask the Court Officer to prepare tabs 2 and tab 3 and first we will show tab 2 to the witness confidentially. Both documents will need to be confidential. Then tab 3:

  • But perhaps, sir, I can first ask you earlier you talked about going to Kono and you mentioned the name of a person who you went with. Can you repeat that name and spell it?

  • It was Gbukumu. I will only spell it the way I will. It is G-B-U-K-U-M-U.

  • He was one of the RUF commander, but throughout he had been in Lunsar. It's only at this time he came to Makeni and he was given to us by Gibril Massaquoi and Kallon that this time, since they have consented to work alongside with us, he should lead us to Kono because without one of them the commanders in Kono would not have released the children. So we went there together.

  • And just to make it clear, when you say you are only spelling it the way you will do you mean that is your phonetic spelling; you never saw it written?

  • Yeah, I have never seen it written.

  • I think we are the end of the tape now, Mr Koumjian. We are going to have a break, Mr Witness. We will be back at 12 o'clock and you just sit there until it is safe to take you out of the Court without your identity being revealed. We will adjourn the Court.

  • [Break taken at 11.30 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.05 p.m.]

  • Just before we start, I would like to apologise for being slightly late back from that break. We had another matter that needed discussion straightaway. Yes, Mr Koumjian.

  • Your Honours, if I could just announce a change of appearance for the Prosecution. Brenda J Hollis, Mohamed A Bangura, Ruth Mary Hackler and we are joined by Ula Nathai-Lutchman. The spelling for the record is Ula is U-L-A and the family name N-A-T-H-A-I hyphen L-U-T-C-H-M-A-N.

  • Welcome, Ms Lutchman. Thank you, Mr Koumjian. Mr Griffiths.

  • Mr President, can I also indicate a change of appearance on the Defence bench. We are now joined by counsellor Supuwood.

  • Thank you, Mr Griffiths. Yes, Mr Koumjian.

  • Sir, I want to go back to the letters that you wrote in October 2001. Did you keep copies of those letters?

  • I had copies before.

  • And what did you do with the copies?

  • I submitted those copies to the Special Court in Freetown.

  • Thank you. Could the witness be shown tab 2. May this be treated confidentially and may the booth please be advised not to broadcast this document to the public because it does have the witness's name.

  • Have those arrangements been made, Madam Court Manager?

  • Your Honour, the arrangements are in place.

  • Your Honour, may the witness be shown the document in tab 2.

  • Do you want it on the overhead?

  • Yes, on the overhead, but not broadcast to the public, and if it can appear on the screen in front of the witness so that he will be able to read it:

  • Sir, we now have the top of the document on the screen and if the document could be moved up so we can see the bottom part of the document. The name that is typed at the bottom, over where it says "Copy", is that your name?

  • That is my name.

  • And is this a copy of the letter that you sent?

  • This is the letter.

  • This is the letter, or a copy of the letter?

  • A copy of the letter.

  • How many copies were made and distributed at the time?

  • I cannot exactly tell the Court now how many, but at the time there were about 95 mosques in Makeni and all the imams of those mosques had copies, there were four parishes of the Catholic church and each of them had a copy and so many other Protestant churches all of them had copies. There were over 150 copies I sent to all these people, but exactly I cannot tell you the exact number.

  • Perhaps with your Honour's permission, as your Honours please, the witness could read the letter for the record without of course reading his name.

  • Yes, go ahead, Mr Witness. You can read that letter on to the record.

  • Do I begin right from the top?

  • No, sir, please begin where we have "Reference". Begin with the line that says "Reference".

  • What is the date? The date would be relevant, I think, and it's not clear on the document.

  • Sir, do you know - the date line appears difficult to read? Do you know the date?

  • It was 6 October 2001.

  • Thank you. Can you read the "Reference" line.

  • "We have a concern and I would like to share to all. I would like to share it with people of goodwill. The children of Sierra Leone have experienced the loss of family members, abduction and forceful training into the fighting forces. Girls have been raped and entered adulthood too quickly. Most especially children in and around Makeni have had their education disrupted.

    While the war comes to an end goodwill people are desirous to bring back schools into normalcy, where children will regain their lost glory. There are people in our community, in whom evil is evident, who are doing everything possible concurrently to hinder the efforts of good people for whom the development and protection of our children is necessary.

    In every school there is destruction: removal of zinc, chairs, doors, window, toilet facilities, et cetera et cetera, from school buildings, churches and other institutions of learning.

    We deem it necessary to use preachers of God's message to all congregations to pray and preach to all people to desist from these acts that are ungodly and do not bring development.

    We should be very grateful if this message would be delivered to all congregations for at least one week.

    We thank you all very much for your usual cooperation and understanding. Firm regards and may God bless you all."

  • Now, sir, in the "Copy" line can you read which persons or institutions were copied?

  • The letter was copied to all imams of mosques, all pastors and priests of churches, the RUF party headquarters in Makeni and the press, the Lion News.

  • What was the Lion News?

  • This is a newspaper that was edited by the RUF command in Makeni. This was their newspaper.

  • Thank you. That document can be removed:

  • You indicated that a second letter was subsequently written by you that was signed by other individuals. Can you tell us who was that letter written to?

  • The letter was - this time it was directed to specifically Issa and other members of the RUF High Command.

  • When you say "Issa", who do you mean?

  • It is the then leader, Issa Sesay, of the RUF.

  • And approximately when was that letter sent?

  • It was on 8 October 2001.

  • Did you keep a copy of that letter?

  • I have copies, but I also submitted a copy to the Special Court in Freetown.

  • Your Honours, may the witness be shown tab 3 again with the caution to the video booth not to display the document.

  • Yes, that arrangement is still in place, is it, Madam Court Manager?

  • Your Honour, the arrangement is still in place.

  • Sir, do you recognise this document?

  • Is this the letter that was written on 8 October?

  • This is a copy of the letter.

  • And, again, tell us who actually wrote the letter? I see many persons are in the signature area, but who wrote the letter?

  • The letter was written by three of us, whose names are also involved in the presence of all those whose names are under mentioned.

  • Thank you, sir. Sir, can you then read the letter up to where it says "Sincerely yours" and then do not read the names of the signatories?

  • 8 October 2001 is the date, addressed to "General Issa Sesay, Interim Leader, RUFP, Makeni":

    "Sir, greetings in the name of the almighty. We write to you on behalf of the religious leaders of Makeni. We are happy that since you took over as the leader of the movement, the peace process has moved forward steadily. Presently, however, we are concerned about the delay and postponement of disarmament in Makeni. This delay is causing uncertainty and worry in the minds of the people. Moreover, Makeni is lagging behind other towns in terms of development and social structures. Business is slow and medical facilities are inadequate. Education is poor, to mention a few.

    Most Makeni people attend regularly either a mosque, or a church. We know their needs and their concerns. On behalf of our people we appeal to you to start disarmament immediately. We believe that, if you want, you have the power to order disarmament. Do not allow the enemies of progress to destroy your initiatives for peace. On our part, we pledge our continued support for the peace process and for the reconciliation of our people.

    Finally we pray for peace in our country and for God's guidance and blessings on you."

  • Thank you. That document may be removed. Your Honours, I would ask that the two documents, the letter dated 6 October and the letter dated 8 October, be given MFI numbers.

  • Yes, the letter dated 6 October will be marked for identification MFI-41 and the letter dated 8 October 2001 will be marked for identification MFI-42.

  • Sir, to your knowledge was this letter delivered to Issa Sesay?

  • We have a team of the people mentioned in that letter and we delivered it to him by hand ourselves.

  • Were you in the group that delivered the letter?

  • I was among the group.

  • Now, one clarification on the letter. It says "RUFP" on the address line. What was RUFP?

  • Well at this time, incursion, they have decided to use - to become a political party, so from the fighting force RUF now they are a political party which they have started to form and they have told us about it. They have even opened an office in Makeni named the RUF Party, so this is why this time it is not only RUF. It is RUFP, the Revolutionary United Front Party.

  • Now, sir, you told us that eventually the RUF did cooperate in disarmament. How long after this letter was delivered to Issa Sesay did the RUF begin to cooperate in disarmament?

  • It was about after two months, because disarmament start about November and early December in Makeni.

  • At that time when you delivered the letter, where was Issa Sesay?

  • He was at the residence he was occupying at Albert Street in Makeni.

  • You refer to him in the letter as the "Interim Leader". Do you have any information about how he obtained the leadership?

  • After the first leader, the Lion, Foday Sankoh, was arrested due to the May 2000 fighting in the country again, there were information that they were to go in Liberia and choose an interim leader. Then some people in Makeni were selected, they went and subsequently when they came they told us that from that time on Issa Sesay was the leader of the RUF. So we all recognised him to be that, and when they came to Makeni he was received again with joy and gladness and from then we call him the interim leader of the RUF and then later the RUFP.

  • How did you learn, sir, that the RUF went to Liberia to choose the leader of the movement?

  • Well, the information was passed in Makeni. They collected some members of their group and they told us that they were going to choose a leader. After a few days, they came back with the name that Issa Sesay was then the leader of the RUF.

  • Sir, had you heard of any other movements of RUF leaders or commanders to Liberia?

  • Morris Kallon was also one of the persons and he was the person from whom we heard the information that they were going to Liberia to choose a leader. A good number of them - many people - left Makeni, including even members of the G5 who went to Liberia for this exercise, and they came back that Issa has assumed the position of the interim leader of the RUFP and so they came back to Makeni. Since then he has been addressed that way. All the RUF were going and they were referring to him as "Leader", so we also did.

  • Aside from this trip where Issa Sesay was appointed the leader of the RUF in Liberia, or while in Liberia, do you know of any other trips or hear of any other trips he made to Liberia?

  • For most of the time, Issa was coming to Makeni. He comes and goes to Magburaka, we heard to Kono, to Kailahun, to Liberia, back and forth. He was never settled in Makeni. Most times he was going. This is why in most of our dealings we met the other commanders, especially Augustine Gbao, and most times even when we were making arrangements for the movement of children they have to call him. I don't know where he was, but he was not in Makeni. So he comes and goes. Most times he comes after some skirmish, like when they have their 72 hours of getting their whatever they want from the people, going around taking property, looting, then he will come back and say, "Don't". So most times they will tell you that he comes from Kono. Other times they tell you he comes from Kailahun. Other times we heard that he was in Liberia. So he used to come and go.

  • Did you ever hear whether Superman ever went outside of Sierra Leone?

  • Yes, Superman was also going and lately, until when we came in 2001, when we have opened the interim care again, we heard he was killed on his way coming from Liberia and since then we have not seen him and we have not heard from him.

  • Well, sir, when you say yes, he was going, I had asked you whether he went out of Sierra Leone. What had you heard about any trips that Superman made outside of Sierra Leone, aside from what you just told us about his reported death?

  • Well, as I said, Superman was not the man who was stationary in Makeni. He was all the time moving, going and coming.

  • Now, sir, so we understand the situation a bit better, at the time that the RUF finally began to cooperate in disarmament what forces were in the country supporting the Kabbah government?

  • It was the combined forces from countries who came to Sierra Leone under the United Nations. And at this time of the disarmament in Makeni, in Makeni we had the Nigerian contingent of the United Nations.

  • Did you know if any other force aside from the UN was there in Sierra Leone supporting the Kabbah government?

  • Well, there were also the British whom we heard they were not UN but they were supporting the UN, but the British soldiers were there and who later formed the IMATT.

  • When the RUF changed its policy and began to cooperate in disarmament, was that before or after the operations around Guinea that you told us about?

  • It was after the operation in Guinea, they told us they were ready to form a party known as the RUFP. And since then they an opened an office at Station Road, where they used to carry on their party activities. Gathering people. They began telling people about the party and what they intend doing.

  • Sir, earlier in your testimony before the last break, you were talking about a trip to Kono that you took. Can you first remind us approximately when was it that you went to the Kono District?

  • That trip - the trip to Kono we took immediately we came to Makeni to open the centre in March again in 2001.

  • Where did you go in Kono?

  • We went to Kono because we were reliably informed that there were so many children who were left behind there. They are either digging for their commanders or they were securing civilian who were digging diamond there. So we went there and we collected most of them from the beaches, from the town and from the houses they were occupying. And, like I said, we went there with one of the commanders they had assigned with us to collect the children, because it was him who will make it known to the commanders in Kono that at least we have agreed and the children must be given to Caritas.

  • Where exactly in the district did you go to collect the children? You said the town, but can you name the place or places you went?

  • It was in Kono town - Koidu.

  • And what did you see on that trip?

  • Well, we reached Koidu. The town was, there were pit holes all over. Water was in these holes. People - there were diggings all over the town. Some of the areas you cannot go through with the vehicle, so we walk on foot. We collected all the children we had there in three vehicles and we came back to Makeni.

  • About how many children did you collect on that trip?

  • From Kono we collected over 150.

  • Can you give us the age ranges of these children that you collected on the Kono trip?

  • This time we had young children. We had 11, up to 16 years of age. It was 16 years below we collected.

  • Did you ever discuss with these children their experiences with the RUF? First of all let me strike that. These children were with who when you collected them?

  • They were with the RUF. All of Kono District, Tonkolili District, Bombali District, part of Port Loko District and part of Koinadugu District were all controlled by the RUF at this time.

  • Did you ever discuss with these children what they did with the RUF during the times that they were with that movement?

  • On the way we discussed what they were doing. As I said, some were digging, digging for their adult commanders. Others were in the houses doing domestic work for the wives of the commanders. Those who were taking orders were digging themselves. Other were manning the pits that were - those that were used by civilians to dig so that no civilian will take any diamond for themselves.

  • How did the children prevent the civilian diggers from taking diamonds?

  • Well, they have there - when we went there they had their guns. The only thing is when we are taking them we are not allowing them to come with their guns, but on reaching Kono they still have their guns.

  • Did any of these children ever tell you whether they travelled with the RUF outside of Kono?

  • They did. They told us that with some of their commanders they go to Liberia and there their commanders will convey the diamonds they were holding they ever got and on the way they have their new guns, they have new dresses. And when they come those children who came from Kono, you see them with new trousers, new T-shirts and so on. And they were much bluffing to the others. So they told us these stories. On the way while we were coming and even at the centre.

  • Just a clarification. When you said they told you some of them went to Liberia and the commanders conveyed the diamonds and they were holding whatever they got and on the way they had new guns, new dresses, what do you mean "on the way"?

  • That is when they are again moving from Liberia to come back to Sierra Leone.

  • What does the witness mean when he said they were much bluffing to the others?

  • Well, because these other young boys who come with their commanders from the sale of diamond, they had new dresses.

  • What does bluffing mean?

  • Thank you. Sir, I want to go back now and ask you a final set of questions that deal with your work with the children in the interim care centre. Can you first of all describe what the process was of collecting information from these children?

  • Well, there were documents already prepared by a committee from UNICEF, representatives from the child protection agencies, representative from the ministry of social welfare, children and gender issues. We have these forms and so when we received the children, either directly from their commanders or from the disarmament site, the first thing we do is to have them documented.

    Some of the caution, after we know - we wanted to know first their family names, their real names, and then their baptism by RUF name and so we have all these names. I call it baptism. It is not exactly in the document, but that was some of the funny language we used because when you become like Captain Serpent, Black Scorpion, those are not the names you go - you went with into the RUF, so we wanted to know the real name but also the names that have been used by virtue of the fact that you have become a fighter, you have joined the RUF.

    And then we wanted to know who captured you. Where you were captured. When were you captured. What happened when you were captured. Where you were taken. Under whose command you were living. And did you attack any place, where, how many attacks did you witness. So we have all these sorts of questions.

    So when we have prepared this document we are not going to submit them, we still pack them because at a point we came to realise that at the beginning some of their adult commanders have told them not to give the proper names because they were not certain whether they will have to go back to the bush or this disarmament will stay. So we keep on changing records, because at one time he will give you this name, you do all the documentation and when you listen when his companions are calling him they call him a different name. So all of these we listened.

    Then finally after - very close to the time of taking you back to your parent if we have your parent we will do the final documentation. In this paper also as we said we want to know where they were captured, the house and since most villages don't have address we want to know what is the geographical location. Is there a big tree, is there a well, is there a mosque or a church by. We wanted to know.

    And some of the marks they came with into the centre, we wanted to know whether they were marks they - I mean scars. We wanted to know whether they have received them before they were captured or during the time they stayed with the RUF. All of these were questions we wanted to know. From there we continued to give them our support both socially, physically and morally.

  • Did any of these children have ranks they were able to convey to you?

  • Surely. When they came on their reception some will come, "I am captain". As I said, Captain Scorpion. We said, "No, we don't want the captain". So among them you have captains, among them you have lieutenants. They came with these different ranks naming themselves. And most times it is - the first talk is whenever they come: Here, we are children, we are no longer fighters. We don't have a captain here. We don't have a colonel here. We don't have a major here. We don't have any adjutants. Because themselves, in the beginning, when one talks they come, they tell him "sir", meaning they were still giving him the honour they had been given in the bush.

    That was one of the first thing we really tried to break down before we continued all the other works; to tell them they were not fighters. If ever they fought they were forced to do so. Here they are children, they should start life all over because they been derailed and now they should begin to think about how to come to normalcy. Those were some of things we do at the interim care centre.

  • You talk about some of the children giving honour to others based on some kind of rank. Did any of the girl children who arrived receive honours from the other children in the centre?

  • The women also - they still have the same honours for the girls. Some of them are honoured because of the fact that that particular girl was the wife of one of the commanders the boys were with and so the girls they used to be honoured madam. They called them "Dis na komanda in yon", that this one it was the lady for such-and-such a commander. They have the same honours given to them.

  • Sir, when you say the wife of a commander, what do you mean in this context when you are talking about the children in the interim care centre?

  • Well, these were the girls which were abducted and captured when they attacked villages whom they turned to be their wives, or who were - who at times who were raped and used by the commanders as their wives, so they came in with this idea still. A lot of them used to come to the centre demanding that they have come to see their wives, they have been with them and sometimes these girls even leave. They follow them. After some time they come back, but in the beginning we cannot do anything.

    We continued to talk to them. We continued to talk to them until finally some of them came to stay, and some of them were later - these girls we call girl mothers because a good number of them came pregnant, some were with babies and so we have this special section for them who were mothers, or mothers to be, and so we called that component the girl mothers.

  • Sir, just to clarify your last answer, you said "A lot of them used to come to the centre demanding that they have come to see their wives". Who do you mean when you say "they" or "them" used to come to the centre?

  • These are commanders of the RUF, the male adults who were not with us in the centre.

  • Sir, do you recall any particular girl at the centre who was particularly honoured by the other children?

  • Well, it was in Makeni. We have a girl who came and most of the children were giving honour to her, and then up to a time we wanted to know why she was so honoured. We thought because she was a beautiful looking girl, we thought because of her beauty, but we started to ask the other boys and they told us, "This is one of the wives of Issa", Issa Sesay by then. Up to a time when the fighting between the RUF and UNAMSIL came, she was one of the ladies removed from the compound. One commander came for her demanding that she should go with them and since that day we've not seen her.

  • May the witness please be given a piece of paper and something to write with.

  • Could we also establish the age of this individual.

  • That girl was about 14/15.

  • Sir, I am going to ask you in the next half hour or so to write the names of some of the children you are talking about and this will be confidential. So can you please put a number - perhaps turn the paper the other way, since we may have several names, and put a number 1 and write the name of this girl.

    Your Honours, can we please instruct the video booth that this piece of paper, since several names will be written, will not be broadcast publicly.

  • Yes, that is being taken care of, Mr Koumjian.

  • Your Honour, that measure is in place.

  • Can we see the name, or when?

  • May the Court Officer please display that on the ELMO:

  • Thank you, sir. Now, you've talked about young girls being taken as wives. When you say taken as wives, what were they used for?

  • Well on their capture, those whom we said were taken as wives are the young girls and young women that they used for sexual desires - to satisfy their sexual desires.

  • I now want to ask you some questions about the male children.

  • Mr Koumjian, I am just interested how would the witness know how these girls were used? How did he establish that?

  • I was going to come back to it later, but let me do it now:

  • Sir, when the girls were brought into the centre, did you have any interviews or any special procedures for talking to the girls, as opposed to the boys?

  • Yeah, we have a - we have interviews, but first and foremost some of them came with children, who they give birth to while they were with their commanders, and they did not go with these children to the bush at the time they were captured, or when they were with their parents.

    Secondly, in the centre we had sessions. Apart from the general session, wherein we bring together all the children, we had a specific session especially for the girls because they were very much ashamed to tell their stories in the general group and so we have specific groups for them.

    Again, because we didn't interview them together with the female caretakers, or care givers, and some of us the males whom they trusted, some of them they categorically tell you that, "I was married to this commander", and then seriously and in a funny way we asked them, "How come that you were married to this, because in our tradition in order for you to be married your parents should give this particular lady to any particular man or to the family of a particular man to be a wife, but how can you go to the bush and come and say 'This is my husband'?"

    It is at the time of capturing the adult commander they have to choose first the beautiful girls and the line goes down, so when they come some of them were no longer virgins, especially those 13, 14, 15. So from our estimate we ask this group, those who were already youths, so we can have a talk to them, and I said earlier on since they were screened by the medical people, MSF, they gave us the information that some of these are no longer young children in our term and some of them have venereal diseases they caught from sexual intercourse. So that was how we determined that they had been used by their commanders.

  • You said that the girls were put into a workshop. Was this a workshop to discuss what had happened to them sexually? Was that part of the purpose?

  • It was one of the issues we discussed, but we want to go intentionally because we believe the ladies have their own story to tell, different from the boys. For example like when they were captured and they were being shared among members of the group that captured them, we wanted to know. Like I said in the documentation, most of them had already told us that they were captured by such-and-such a commander and they were staying with such-and-such commander. So we wanted to know what happened throughout their stay and this is the time they revealed their stories, because this is the only time we will know how to go about helping them bringing them back to normalcy through counselling.

  • You told us in your earlier answer, "At the time of capturing the adults commander, they have to choose first the beautiful girls and the line goes down". Can you explain that?

  • It is simple. They come, they attack a village and they fight there, they captured both boys and girls. The girls they shared because they are going to become their wives. But as the boys explained, or the children explained, first it is the big commander that choose. Otherwise, there will be conflict.

  • And what happens? Are all the girls chosen and assigned to a soldier or commander?

  • Yeah, most of them had their big commanders as wife, and then, as I said, the line goes down. The others were being taken by the lower ranks as they were captured. And so they stayed as partners while in the bush.

  • Were any of the girls not assigned to a single husband?

  • Indeed some of them were not assigned.

  • What were they called, if anything?

  • They told us they were called the government women.

  • What does that mean, if you know?

  • They are free for any other person who comes because they don't have a particular commander.

  • Now, you also had young boys that were captured. Do you know if any of them were engaged in sexual activities?

  • Yeah. There was - there were. And one of them made us - even on the day we were going to reunify him and we were preparing a kit and then when we packed all that we were supposed to give him by virtue of how we were working he told us if that was is all we were going to give him. We said all other things will follow later because we also have a follow-up visit to the reunified children. We said, "Well, what do you actually want to do", because also when they were leaving we wanted them to know what they want to do and particularly those who have not been in school. Those who have been in school we encouraged them to continue to go back to school, but those who have not been in school and they are growing we said, "You should be learning some kind of skill", but then this boy said we should help him to get money so that when he goes home he will marry. "Is that all you need? Why do you wish to marry?" He said, "Because I am used to sex". Then we don't give him the money. We started talking to him to start thinking of something, so we reunified him.

  • How old was this boy?

  • He was about 14/15.

  • Do you know how long he - first of all, do you know which faction he was with?

  • Can you please write his name - write number 2 and write his name on the piece of paper. May that be displayed, your Honours?

  • Yes, Madam Court Manager, those same arrangements are in place, are they?

  • Your Honours, the measures are still in place.

  • Sir, is the name under number 2 the person that told you that they wanted money for a wife because they were used to having sex?

  • This is the boy I was talking about, yes.

  • Thank you. Now, sir, did any of these children ever tell you whether they were involved in any crimes themselves?

  • A good number of the children we had did partake in the activities of the RUF, that is attacking and looting, because they were also carrying guns. They attacked, they killed and they burnt. They did all the activities that were going on within the RUF.

  • What were the purposes of some of the attacks that they did?

  • Well, after their major attacks, when they were in Makeni it was mostly these younger boys they sent out to do food finding. All the groups, all the attacks in the small villages and in smaller communities were done by these people to go and collect food for their commanders and generals. So those operations were continuously called food finding missions. And in every village they go, they will shoot and ask the people to give them. If the people don't give more as they want, they searched the houses and took whatever they wanted and then they used the people to also carry these items right down to where their commanders were. These were happening almost every day until the time of disarmament there were food finding missions

  • Mr Koumjian, I really must interrupt before this goes off the top of the page. There was a question you asked the witness regarding those women who were not attached to any fighter, the ones that he described as government women. Then you asked the witness, "What does that mean, if you know?" His answer was, "They are afraid for any other person who comes because they don't have a particular commander". Now what does that mean? I am reading from the LiveNote record.

  • Thank you. I will clarify:

  • Sir, did you hear - the transcript that we have says that when I asked you what a government woman was, the LiveNote transcript says that you said they were afraid for anyone. What did you say?

  • It is not the word exactly that I used, "afraid". They are free, F-R-E-E.

  • What do you mean by that?

  • They are free that any other man can tamper with them because one commander cannot tamper with the wife of another, but these are free for whoever else comes.

  • Thank you. Sir, did any of the children that you talked to tell you that they themselves were involved in killings?

  • As I said, the number was many, because they fought. They were fighting alongside with their commanders. They carry gun, they shoot, and they killed.

  • Do you recall any particular child talking to you about killings?

  • Yes, a great number of them, but we had an example in the centre. We have the component of the food section, food and hygiene section, these were the cooks. But one of our laws were, since we were all in the centre, they should never leave the knives lying on the ground or, well, after using any knife, immediately they should keep those knives.

    But one day it happened that one of the cook, after using a knife, he put it around and then suddenly one boy came, took the knife and immediately the women started shouting at him. "Hey, bring the knife. Bring the knife. Bring back the knife. Bring back the knife. We are not allowed to do that", because it was a law. And he became annoyed and told them, "Una lef mi", that is "Just leave me alone". "If you make me vex, una na aw moch pipul a don kil?", which is "Do you know how much people I have killed?" "I have killed 11". So they went again to call me. I came there in the kitchen and I asked him to come. I took the knife from him. We went to the office. I started asking him in detail and, indeed, he told us he was commanded to kill and he did.

  • Can you please take the paper, write a number 3 and write down any names you know for this child. May that please be displayed. Sir, we have what appears to be two names and you have a dash "or" in between. Is one of those - can you explain the difference between the two names?

  • Actually there is no difference. The family name is the first I gave and the other one is the name he came with from the bush.

  • Thank you. How old was this --

  • By our estimate he was about 11 years.

  • Do you know what faction he belonged to?

  • This one came even with the RUF mark on his chest because also in the interim care centre we were also identifying those who were marked on their bodies with these names like RUF, AFRC, but this one was RUF.

  • Was this uncommon to have something like RUF marked on the body?

  • There were so many boys, especially boys, who had these marks. We even had a group of Italian doctors who came and they came to do some surgery to remove those marks. Both RUF and AFRC who had those marks, they were over 60 at the time throughout.

  • Did the children tell you how they were marked?

  • Well, some of them, they told us they were marked because they don't want them to run away, because at this time in Sierra Leone, specifically, people were saying that RUF had special stamp and if you are caught with this stamp then even the public will kill you because there was also this conflict, people don't want this RUF to come close to them because they just hated them because of what they are doing and they have done. And in the centre when they were coming, say this will make you stay with the commanders, you don't come out to town. And so we had a good number of them who were treated by medical groups including those Italian doctors who came to the centre.

  • These marks, were they marked with ink or how was the mark made, if you know?

  • They were cut either by blades or knives or whatever iron instrument, but they were actually cut on the body.

  • And when you say they didn't want them to run away, who didn't want the children to run away?

  • Those from the RUF, the RUF don't want them to run away. Those from the AFRC, the AFRC don't want them to run away. But we have - both groups were marking, but for this special case it was RUF.

  • When you did the interviews with the children, would they identify themselves as being either with the RUF or the AFRC or whatever faction they were with?

  • Yes. They were very proud in identifying themselves and some of them identified themselves. Some of them, they don't have to identify themselves because we took them directly from RUF or AFRC during disarmament, so we don't bother much. But we bother about those who were brought to us by the UNOMSIL people who were moving up and down and when they were able to get hold of these children they bring them. Those we go so much to ask to know where they belong. But the others wherein I am presently receiving them from the RUF, I don't bother to ask. It's straightaway I know he's RUF or AFRC.

  • Thank you. I want to go back for just a moment to something we talked about yesterday. Yesterday I asked you this question on page 23707. I said:

    "Q. 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


    Then you wrote four names on a piece of paper. How do you know that these four children were RUF?

  • Well, the children in the centre were very boastful about where they have gone, where they fought and succeeded. And even in our private interviews with them - as I said, in our documentation we want to know the history of your stay with either the RUF or AFRC. We want to know the date you were captured if you can, or the time of capture, or the name of the operation in which you were captured, or just the name of the village, because particularly for areas in the north we had dates of when most of the villages and towns were attacked. So we followed up those names. If you are attacked at Pendembu we know that at such-and-such a month and such-and-such a date Pendembu was attacked and so we have that date for those who cannot. But others who have been in school, who can tell us exactly, we follow their story.

  • Sir, you told us that some of the girls at the centre came with babies or were pregnant when they arrived. What was the youngest age or ages of the girls that came that were pregnant or with babies?

  • When we opened directly this time also with the help of Agnes Mani, who was the commander of WAC's, that is the women army commanders, and we received 127 young girls. They were about 13/14. But 15, 16, 17 were the majority of those with the pregnancy or children, so we received them. Also we gave them to the - we brought them to the interim care centre at a point where we were only dealing with them and later we sent them back to - we called UNICEF and the child protection agency to come for them. Some were then taken to COOPI, to FHM and to ADRA and other child protection agency out of Makeni.

  • You told us that you had workshops where you tried to deal with these issues of sexual assault. Did you originally put all the girls in that workshop or did you separate them by ages or in some other way?

  • Well, in the beginning we wrongly thought that maybe because when you look at some girls you would have thought nobody in his right senses would tamper with such a girl, and so some of the younger girls we said, "Well, you come out. Go yonder". So we did not believe that they had been tampered with. This time we only want to deal with those who have categorically said to us that, "Yes, I have been tampered with", so we know how to talk to them.

    Then after we had separated the group there was this girl who said, "Una no lef mio", which is, "Don't leave me". I said, "E bo komot. You go aside. Don't come this way". "Una no lef mio". And then, "Why we should not leave you?" "Mi sef sef a don do am", which is "Myself, I have been used", and we sent her to MSF. Again the sisters there prove it that indeed she was tampered with.

  • How old was this girl?

  • She was about nine or ten.

  • And how was it proven that she had been tampered with?

  • As I said, she said it to us and we sent her to UNICEF who were doing the medical - to MSF who were doing the medical screening and they confirmed.

  • Do you recall how they confirmed it?

  • Well, they know how to do their checking about who is tampered with and who is not tampered with. We got the result that she was tampered with.

  • Can you please write her name and the number - I believe we are on 4 and write her name on the paper.

  • Mr Koumjian, I may be asking something that is already on the record, but these 127 young girls that Commander Mani, Agnes Mani, handed over to the witness, do we have evidence where they came from? Where they were retrieved from?

  • Sir, can you help us with that information?

  • This 127 we got all of them in Makeni.

  • Do you know how they had come to Makeni, how they came to be in Makeni?

  • Yeah, they came with the - they were with the RUF commanders, in their different, well, I call them, they are different family setup. So when we intervene and Agnes Mani agreed, also with the help of her deputy, Marcia Turay, we all walk around Makeni, collected them. We announced to the commanders. They let them come and we registered them. Those who have children, you should come with the child. We register you and your child. Those, the others, because these were the only two category; either you are pregnant or you are with a child. So we had that number, this number, which is 127 and we have them for some days. Then again, UNICEF came. They took them from Makeni to Port Loko and they were there where some of them learnt some trades and they were given some packages to go back and resettle.

  • Do we have the ages of these girls?

  • You told us the ages of the mothers that were among the 127 girls. You said 13, 14, the majority 15, 16, 17, but the 127, the whole group, what was the age range?

  • We had from 13 to 19, 20.

  • And what, do you recall approximately what month and year it was that you received this group of girls?

  • This was followed about April. It was shortly after we sent the 600 boys and girls. Immediately we embarked on collecting the girl mothers, so it's about a difference of about a week. Then the following week we sent them to Port Loko.

  • April of which year?

  • Of 2001. After we sent those boys we collected from Kono and the other places.

  • Now, you said you found these girls with the RUF in Makeni. Do you know where they - were they originally from Makeni or where were they from?

  • Very few were from Makeni. A good number were Kenema, Kailahun, Tonkolili. Very few were actually from Makeni. Most of them were from the other districts.

  • If that paper could again be displayed so we can see the fourth name. Sir, we only have a first name. Is that the only name you recall?

  • Now, sir. Thank you. Mr Court Officer, thank you. We don't need display that any further at this time. Sir, you talked about some medical screenings and some of the girls being found with venereal diseases. Do you recall any specific incidents or statistics about that?

  • At some point in Makeni we had about 47 girls who were released by the RUF and we sent them to again MSF and ACF. The statistics they gave us was that we should be sending 43 of them for treatment. And we been sending them. And from there, we argued that all these 43 were - had some kind of venereal disease and they were treated.

  • Sir, you talked about the goal of the centre, one of the goals being to reunite the children with their parents, with families. Was there ever a problem with the parents when you tried to return the children?

  • We have some. There were problems. We have some of the problems and because we foresaw the problems, this was why we have a period of preparation before unification. To some, first, we go to the village and ask for the parents if they want accept back the child because we have a child who said he came from this village. Others will say, "Yes, come". Others will say, "Hmm. Una jos ol am", "Let her just stay with you", or, "Let him just stay with you", "Bikos di tin we don don", in that they think what he has done in this village they are not going to accept him or her and so we have to then open the - we also have a team within the child protection centre who were doing the advocacy and lobbying so that these children will be subsequently be accepted by their families and by their communities, so we have those problems.

    We also have problems of even in the final analysis, we have few problems, because some of them were giving us wrong names and you go to a village, you go to the specific direction he or she had given. You ask for Adama Sesay. He will tell you one of our daughters was actually taken away but she is not Adama Sesay or he is not Abdul. And so you go back and start all over again. So we have all these sort of challenges which you call problems.

  • Okay. The challenge, to use your word, that was created by some parents you said, when you went to the village, they said to you, if you could keep the child because of the things they have done in this village. Can you explain why were the parents reluctant to take back the child because of the things they have done in this village?

  • Some of the children, after they have been captured, they actually became fighters and alongside the adult commanders. They also killed. They burnt houses. They were involved in the amputation. And there were some members of the community who saw them doing this, so they were not readily too keen on accepting them back. This was why, as I said, we had to do a lot of lobbying, telling them that they cannot go nowhere. And also this was why in the beginning they were not even calling them their children, they called them Caritas children. So we have to go all around the community to explain to them that Caritas has no wife, has no husband. We are only helping. So they are not our children, they are your children. You should accept them back. We had a lot of - and therefore, also we formed the child welfare committees in many of these villages to help us to accept back the children.

  • Sir, were any of the children, I understand your goal was to reunite children with their parents, were any of the children at the centre actually orphans whose parents had died?

  • Yes. We have some whose parents were no longer there, they have died. And those are some of them who we put in permanent self homes. After long, lengthy time in the child centre we rent houses for them where they do things for themselves, because until they have somebody who will foster them they were on their own, in their homes. We only go there to monitor what was going on, how they were doing things and to talk to them how they should try to cope with life and then, subsequently, a good number of them were fostered with other parents and there were people who come and said, "Give me this child. I want to take one." They used to come and so we were giving them. And later you go to minister of social welfare and normalise what the law actually says how to foster a child because when we were fostering them it was on temporary basis so that when we shall have found your mother, or sister, or aunt or whoever is close within the family range, we sent her or he to that family. And so, that was how we were also working.

  • Sir, do you recall a particular boy who had lost his parents at the centre?

  • In the centre --

  • A boy at the centre whose parents were no longer alive.

  • Yes, we have, there were, we have them. One example was, there was a Kono boy, and --

  • Before you go further, could you write the boy's name on the paper under the number 5. May that be displayed under the same conditions, your Honours?

  • Sir, can you now tell us about the boy whose name you have written under 5, the Kono boy. What happened?

  • Well, this boy actually had been for a long time with us from Makeni to Port Loko and then to Lungi. And we came to a time where he became very much achieving whatever we were doing. But, when the AFRC boys and girls were brought, after the operation of the British, was it Operation Barras, and they brought some of these children who were with the AFRC. And then --

  • Just to clarify: The boy whose name you wrote under number 5 what faction was he with?

  • He was from Makeni.

  • Which faction was he with?

  • Makeni it was RUF.

  • Thank you. Please continue.

  • And then there was one of these girls, since this boy, this group of boys came to, and girls, there were about 30 of them brought to us by UNAMSIL and the members of the British, who attacked where the AFRC were, the West Side Boys, and this boy, when we used to meet in the evening, because every evening we come together, we pray, we sing songs, we play traditional games, he had been very active. But when these people came, he shied away from us. We didn't know what was happening. So one day I called him. I said, "Well, you don't seem to be active these days, what happened?" He did not explain, so I let him go. I was asking his friends when one told me, {Redacted}.

  • Redact that please.

  • Yes. You've just mentioned a name there, Mr Witness. Madam Court Manager, I will make an order redacting that name. Anybody in the Court, or members of the public who have heard that name, are ordered not to repeat it.

  • So sir, please continue. You said that --

  • And then he said the things you are doing in this centre is not good. Meaning some of the activities we were performing in the centre were not good. Well, we asked what were these activities that were not good.

  • Who said this?

  • The boy. And he told us we were bringing dead people or people who have died into the centre. We were bringing ghosts. How can we bring ghosts into the centre? But then we asked further and we came to realise that when Kono was attacked, he saw killings in the house of his parents, even of one of these girls who was brought, and then he was never thinking that they will meet again. And then, when he had explained the story, in the evening I made arrangements that we shall be meeting to make him show that this of his sister was not killed.

    And then we also called the sister. We gave her some prior information and we asked questions, that they should be meeting. So we prepared a small meeting between him, the sister and some of the few friends, and since that day he came to realise for sure that the girl was not killed. And really, we lived together. So we have some of these issues and these stories in from the centre.

  • So was the girl who was brought after the British operation against the West Side Boys, was she actually the sister of the boy from Kono under number 5?

  • They came to tell us the true story, that they were sisters from the same father.

  • And what happened to their parents?

  • The parents were killed. They were no more.

  • Do you know who killed their parents?

  • Well, we will - our interpretation was, it was either the AFRC or the RUF because from the point Kono was attacked they were together. And the fact that the girl was with the AFRC, and the boy was this, it's an interpretation that they were attacked at the time when they were both acting together.

  • Your Honour, I have very little left in my direct examination but I think it would be interruptive if I begin this last point at this time. If we could break now I would appreciate it.

  • Yes, we will break at this stage, if it's convenient, Mr Koumjian. We are going to have a break for lunch now, Mr Witness. We will resume at 2.30. And once again, just sit there until arrangements can be made to take you out of the Court. We will adjourn now.

  • [Lunch break taken at 1.30 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 2.30 p.m.]

  • Go ahead, Mr Koumjian.

  • Thank you. Your Honours, may the document that the witness just prepared with five names be given an MFI number and be marked confidential, please.

  • Before we mark it perhaps the witness could date it and also put his identification number on it, TF1 number.

  • Thank you, your Honours:

  • Mr Witness, would you please write your TF1 number 174 and then put today's date which is, I believe, 28 January 2009.

  • I would like to see that, please. Is it all right with you if I have a look at it? Did you want to have a look at that, Mr Griffiths?

  • What about you, Mr Koumjian?

  • No, thank you, your Honours.

  • All right. Thank you. That piece of paper on which the witness has written down five names will be marked for identification MFI-43, I think it is, and it will be marked confidential.

    I think the previous two letters I omitted to mark those confidential. Is that right, Mr Koumjian?

  • I forgot to ask you and I was just going to do that. Yes, thank you.

  • All right. While we're at it, the previous documents identified as MFI-41 and MFI-42 will also be marked confidential. Yes, Mr Koumjian.

  • Now, sir, you talked about the sister of number 5 on that list having come following a British operation against the AFRC that you called Operation Barras. Is that correct?

  • Your Honours, the spelling for that is B-A-R-R-A-S:

  • Mr Witness, do you recall approximately when this operation took place?

  • It was - well, it took place in the year 2000 at about very close to the end of the year.

  • Okay, thank you.

  • I don't remember exactly but it was close to the end of that year.

  • Thank you. Can you briefly tell us what you know about, or what you heard about what happened there, just a brief description?

  • Well, in the beginning, we heard that some British soldiers were plying the road to Gberi, a village very close where the West Side Boys were, and they were captured, and for a long time there were negotiations between the government, the UN, the British and these people who were there, that is the West Side Boys.

    And then there was - there seemed to be no release and then all of a sudden one morning we heard that the British have come and they have attacked the West Side Boys at Gberi and then they arrested some of the West Side Boys and then they were scattered and these, some of these children they brought to us and then the following days it was in all the newspapers in Freetown. That's all I know about it.

  • Approximately how many children from this operation, after this operation were brought to your centre?

  • They were about 30.

  • What were their ages, approximately?

  • Again, the ages were the same. It was - some were 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. They were in that range - age range.

  • And the sister of the boy, the Kono boy, number 5 on the list you just wrote, approximately how old was she?

  • She was a bit younger compared to the boy. She was about 13.

  • And once you got the two of them together, and discussed their fears about dead people being at the centre, how did they get along?

  • As I explained that we use our tactics. We talk to him, we talk to the boy, we arrange - to the girl and the boy. We arrange a meeting with them, plus few of their close friends; a close friend of the girl, a close friend of the boy. And they explain - the girl also explained that she was also thinking that this of her brother was killed and the boy was thinking the same. So when they met they were both thinking that each one was a ghost.

  • And once you got them together how did they react?

  • From - they were happy. From then they became united and they were fighting for each other.

  • Did you have any experiences with children at the centre who had used drugs?

  • Yeah. When they came we had a good number of them who said they were using drugs and even in the centre we have a good number. Once in a while we catch them smoking, especially the jamba or marijuana. It was very common among them. We continue because we - all of this was a topic we also wanted to know. In the centre, as I said, a good number of them were once in a while - at so many times they went to the corners and get their marijuana, which we call jamba, and so we asked them whether it was true that even in the bush they were using drugs. They said yes, but again jamba was the most common and they were using what they call blue boat and then latter we find out what this blue boat was.

    One of them brought a sample and then those who know what it was, it was the diazepam which was generally supplied at the mental home in Kissy. Then they used the locally brewed wine, as we say the Omolai and the palm wine. These were the - what we consider as drugs which they used very much.

    And then, because a good number of them told us that they have not seen cocaine, we asked but we heard so many stories that it was used. They said, no, it was only used by some of those who had enough money to buy it because it was very expensive. So it was not - very few number of those who use cocaine, but the majority were using marijuana.

  • How were the drugs taken? Were they swallowed, were they smoked or were they ingested in any other way did they get them into the body?

  • Well, for marijuana they told us they smoke, and at times it is cooked along with their sauce and again at times they also, with the food gun powder from the cartridges was also cooked and used. So they cooked it, the marijuana, they smoke it, they also boil it as tea and drink it.

  • Was there any other way that drugs were put into their blood system?

  • Well, for those who said that very few people were using cocaine, they told us some parts in the body were cut and then the cocaine is put in there, then they have a plaster on top of the sore and so.

  • Mr Witness, did you say they cooked gun powder?

  • After they cook it, they put it in the food, gun powder.

  • Sir, I only have one further question for you. As a citizen of Sierra Leone today, to this day, do you see any effects of this war that was brought to Sierra Leone in your current daily life?

  • The answer is yes, and we - I always say to my fellow citizen, whenever we discuss about the war, that any cut in the body usually leaves a scar and the cut of the RUF and the AFRC was too deep in the Sierra Leone situation. For example, in Makeni alone, we have four amputee camps now existing. There is one at Masongbo about five miles from Makeni; there is another after Teko Barracks in Teko village; there is one at Panlap just two miles from Makeni and there is one at Makombo. These are effects of the war because each time we see them we see the scar created by the war.

    Again we come back to specifically the children. A good number of them, though initially they were accepted and taken by their parents, after some times the parents were not able or were not willing to accept them back. If you go around the streets in Freetown, in Makeni, in Bo, in Kenema, you see - you find out that most of them are now engaged in riding what they call Okada, Honda, renting. They are renting, transporting people there and there within the towns and out of the towns to the nearby villages.

    So at times I wonder what will happen to these people. They have no education. You go to emergency hospital, most of - all the - most of the cases there, they are these boys. Most of them are not going to school. They have outgrown the ages of schools and some of the principal were not even willing to accept them back.

    So, to me, their future is bleak and for some of these, as earlier we said, this is why some of us even came to the realisation to have our private schools, so we can absorb some of them and we mix them together with those now we call children in difficult circumstances because most parents cannot accept.

    We look at the condition of the girls. The Sierra Leonean situation, especially the culture in the north, it will not permit - it does not permit girls who have been vaginated, who have been impregnated from these - who have got their pregnancies from these people. Most of our people, including myself, would not dare marry these people again. So it's like there is a high growth of what we term as a single parent who, especially with these girls, and they have no future, no man is helping them.

    And Sierra Leonean situation is not like other situations like here, or as we read and heard about the advanced world where a woman can stand by herself. Here, we need people to support these women to grow. They give support to each other as a family.

    And when we look at the children from, born by these young girls, in Sierra Leone, especially in the north, they have no future to fight politically - for any political power because our culture is we start to ask you: Where were you born? Who is your mother? Was your mother married to this paramount chief or this section chief or this family? And then these children will grow, those questions will be hard to answer. And they are asking them each time there are elections. This man, this woman, though she married to this man but she had this baby from a boyfriend, and that baby will never be accepted in the Sierra Leonean culture to fight for future powers, paramount chieftaincy, and so we use the same reason even to disqualify you for some other positions within the town.

    So there are problems and they will continue to remain and they are deep, I believe.

  • Your Honours, just a spelling. The witness used the word Okada, O-K-A-D-A, and I believe there were some spellings of the villages where there were amputation camps. I don't know if we need those from the witness or not.

  • Well, if there are in evidence we had better have the right spelling.

  • Sir, you said Panlap, can you spell that?

  • Panlap is P-A-N-L-A-P.

  • And can you remind us of the other areas you mentioned where the camps were?

  • Makombo, M-A-K-O-M-B-O. Masongbo, M-A-S-O-N-G-B-O and then Teko village, T-E-K-O?

  • Sorry, maybe just one more question: These former wives of the RUF, what do they do now?

  • Well, some of them now they are in Makeni. They are doing - some of them returned to the commanders who held them before, they're living together because most of them, as I said, they don't have the love and the appreciation from their parents and nobody there takes them. Others are moving from one NGO centre to - seeking for skills training, what they will do, what they will not do. Others are doing trading, selling petty things in the market.

    We meet very often. We talk, they are there. Very few have their - have young men who came out for them and they are staying. And in that town we have now a word, "Na den de?" Is he or - is he with them before? And people say "Yes", so it means they should not even dare make love with you, and so they are kind of discriminated.

  • Thank you, Mr Koumjian. I assume you've got a few questions, Mr Griffiths. I probably don't need to do this but I will just remind you there was a matter that Mr Koumjian mentioned at the beginning of this witness's evidence that if cross-examined upon in open court might tend to disclose the witness's identity.

  • And I'll seek to use a totally anodyne phrase, if that eventuality arises, doubtful as I think it will.

  • Thank you, Mr Griffiths.

  • You spent many years dealing with children who had been robbed of their childhood, didn't you?

  • I did.

  • It must have been undoubtedly very painful work, was it?

  • It was. As I said, it was a big challenge, but we went through it.

  • And I'm sure everyone would join with me in expressing our admiration for the kind of work that you were able to do with those young people. Now, I only have a few questions for you. It was in late December 1998, wasn't it, that the RUF entered Makeni?

  • That was the year and the period.

  • And the date we're talking about is 23 December, isn't it?

  • So it was just before Christmas?

  • It is.

  • Now, after they entered Makeni, there was heavy fighting for three or four days, wasn't there?

  • Thereafter, during that period of three or four days, there was also a lot of looting in Makeni, wasn't there?

  • Looting took place.

  • Was there any burning of houses?

  • At this time there was no burning.

  • But, as you've indicated, you heard reports of many females being raped during that period. Is that right?

  • And is it fair to say that after those three or four days things calmed down in Makeni for a while?

  • And is it the case that it was the efforts of the RUF commander for that area, Issa Sesay, which brought about that calm?

  • And for the most part, whilst Issa Sesay was in charge of Makeni, there was a sense of there being a rule of law in that city, wasn't there?

  • Put differently he did his best, did he not, to maintain law and order in Makeni?

  • Personally I would not call it law and order, because according to me you cannot execute or exercise law and order by killing without judging people. Just one or two questions, you kill. Just one or two questions, something happen, you kill, no evidence. I don't call that order.

  • Well, at least there was calm. Would you agree?

  • I will not agree with you in this matter.

  • Very well. Now prior to that December in 1998, the AFRC/RUF forces had been to Makeni on a previous occasion, hadn't they?

  • And that was in late February 1998?

  • Even it - they started living together in Makeni from the time of the coup of the AFRC.

  • It's my fault. Let me ask the question differently. In terms of fighting or looting, that kind of misbehaviour, there'd been a previous incident of such behaviour in late February/early March of 1998, wasn't there?

  • And that was when the AFRC forces, along with some members of the RUF, were retreating from Freetown following the ECOMOG intervention. That's right, isn't it?

  • And hoards of AFRC and RUF combatants descended on Makeni at that time, didn't they?

  • They were there, but during the fight those who were in Freetown also joined those who were in Makeni.

  • Yes, but in terms of fighting and violence is it right to say that the only occasion that occurred was in December 1998? Would you agree?

  • Also in the 17 day period which started mid-February.

  • '98, okay. So those two episodes of violence, yes. So we're talking about February 1998 and now December 1998, am I right?

  • Yes, you are right.

  • So two occasions. Now Issa Sesay remained in charge of RUF forces in Makeni up until disarmament, didn't he?

  • And during that period from about December 1998 through to 2001, apart from the periods of infighting within the RUF/AFRC partnership for the most part Makeni was calm, wasn't it, for the most part?

  • Some parts were calm. Some parts were not calm because, as I explained, there were the food finding missions and the food finding missions were activities of no calmness. They have to attack people, they will take their food, other property which belongs to them, and every day from one village and the other people come. So if today you are calm here the other people are not calm, so the period as a whole was not calm because every day, as I said, there were food finding missions and the food finding missions were not easy. There were also small attacks.

  • I think we all understand the picture. Now apart from Issa Sesay, others you saw in Makeni were Gibril Massaquoi. Is that right?

  • He comes in and go. He was more in Lunsar than in Makeni, but he was coming very often.

  • You also saw Superman?

  • He was there, coming and going.

  • Also one Rambo? The late Rambo?

  • Rambo was there until when he was attacked and killed.

  • Also Morris Kallon?

  • He was there, but he was also coming and going.

  • Also one General Bropleh?

  • Bropleh was there.

  • Now, I want to pause and ask you a little bit more about him. Bropleh was a Liberian, wasn't he?

  • We were told he was.

  • And he was in charge of a body of combatants called the STF, wasn't he?