''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke



Vol XI No 9

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Q. Witness, you said, "So they declared three days strike until the AFRC handed power." Can you explain what you mean by that?

A. The students said that the AFRC should hand over power, so they were declaring three days strike action against the government except they hand over power back to the elected government.

MS ALAGENDRA: Your Honours, the witness earlier mentioned Fourah Bay, F-O-U-R-A-H:

Q. Witness, did anything happen as a result of this demonstration?

A. Yes, my Lord.

Q. What happened?

A. Well, the government was well prepared for any eventualities because they warned the students that if they came out they would face strong resistance from the government and indeed the students came out. So I, honourable Papa and some of the other soldiers moved towards the east, but rumour was making the rounds that the students were well armed. So that led - for instance in our own area where I and Hassan Papa Bangura were covering, we met some stiff resistance from the students and we shot at them.

Q. Witness, were the students armed?AK-47 Assault Rifle - the type of weapon Alieu claimed was with students

A. Well actually they were throwing stones, but I did not see anyone shoot. But that was the rumour that was making the rounds that they were well armed. That they were well armed and they were prepared to resist the AFRC.

Q. When you say "We shot at them", who is the "we" you are talking about?

A. Well I am referring to myself and the other men, because the students were throwing stones and so we opened fire at them.

Q. Did anything happen as a result?

A. Well the area which I was covering together with my honourable, two students died within that area, within the east, so I and the honourable and the other soldiers arrested some because we took a large force along. We arrested most of the students and took them to Pademba Road Prison.

Q. Witness, when you say "myself and the other men", who are the other men that you are talking to - talking about?

A. Well, as I was with honourable Papa, we were about 12 in number who were with him permanently who were going around with him and some other commanders who had come, because it was not easy during that demonstration.

Q. Witness, which groups did the 12 men belong to?

A. Well the group with which I was consisted of SLAs, because it was a mixed operation. The group which I was with consisted of SLAs. We were all dressed in civilian dress - black trousers.

Q. How many groups were involved in relation to this demonstration?

A. Well, this demonstration involved the RUF and the SLAs. The groups were divided. Some went to east, while the others went to the west.

MS ALAGENDRA: Your Honours, if I can ask for a minute just to have a look at the record:

Q. Witness, apart from the students that died, did anything else happen to the students who were demonstrating?

A. Well the only thing that - I did not see that, but when we returned, when the situation had calmed down, rumour was doing the rounds that they raped some girls at the nursing - in the Sierra Leonean nursing students union or so, the nursing area, that some girls were raped and killed. I did not see that. That was the rumour. So, they too were dispersed.

Q. Where did you hear this rumour from?

A. Well when we reorganised at Cockerill we got this rumour, because some men were laughing about it, that in fact some of these children - some of these girls we troubled them at the nursing home.

Q. Who were these men?

A. Well it was both the SLA and the RUF because it was a mixed force, because the entire troop put the strike action to an end so everybody was jubilating.

Q. And when they said some of these girls would trouble them, what does that mean, witness?

A. Some men were saying that they raped some, because they were saying they did not want the government and so they had raped some and they did some bad things to some others. They were just saying it at the headquarters.

Q. When you say "because they were saying they did not want the government", which government did who not want?

A. They said they do not want the AFRC government, which compromised the SLA and the RUF.

Q. Who is "they"?

A. Well, the students were saying that.

Q. And who were the men that told you that they raped?

A. Well it consisted of the two forces, the RUF and the SLA. Everybody was saying his own version, that when they got there that was what they did. Everybody was saying his.

Q. Did you come to know how many students were raped at the nursing area?

A. Well actually I was not able to know the number, but there was a lot of public concern over the reaction of the AFRC government.AK-47 Assault Rifle - the type of weapon Alieu claimed was with students

Q. And during the public concern did you hear a figure as to how many women were raped?

A. No, I did not get any figure, but people were grumbling that the girls were raped. There was a lot of grumbling going on in the town.

Q. And the students who were killed, did you see them?

A. Well, like I said, in our own area I saw them in the east, the two, because that caused the crowd to run away.

Q. Did you come to hear how old those students were?

A. No, I did not know. I did not know their ages, but they were young people.

Q. And you said some students were taken and detained at Pademba Road Prison. Who took them there and detained them?

A. Well the troop that I was with we arrested some students and, whilst we were taking them along, we saw some in the west end who were taking some others to the prison.

Q. Do you know for how long these students were detained at Pademba Road Prison?

A. Well, as far as I can recall, some of them continued to be there until the AFRC was removed from power during the intervention to keep them quiet.

Q. When was that, witness? Can you give us a time?

A. Well, up to February 1998 when the AFRC was dislodged from Freetown.

We add: So now you know that despite all the denials, despite assurances that all those who were unlawfully detained by the junta had been freed, there were still people held by them in prison. And among those who carried out this war on the civilian population was one former Warrant Officer Idrissa Kamara aka Leatherboot, the killer hand-picked by President Ernest Koroma as his bodyguard whose upkeep would be borne by the very people he tormented, the civilian tax payer!!!!

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©Sierra Herald 2002