African Press International (API)

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Taylor trial witness tells of rape, killings, amputations and looting as a rebel captive

Posted by African Press International on May 10, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

Prosecution witness TF1-028 in the ongoing trial of the former Liberian leader Charles Taylor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, testifying behind a screen and with voice distortion, on Wednesday told the court a horrific tale of abduction and captivity at the hands of the rebels.

The witness testified that she lived in Karina, Bombali district (in western Sierra Leone) at the time of the 1998 ECOMOG intervention. She spoke of one morning when junta forces came to the town and how her brother and his 12-year old son were beaten by the soldiers, and molten plastic was dripped all over her brothers body. In addition, the witness said, the soldiers beat many other people and raped young girls. She recounted the rapes of two nieces, seven and eight years old. The witness said that the rebels returned that night and looted houses, explaining that this was Operation Pay Yourself.

After the soldiers left, the witness said that another group of RUF and AFRC, some of them Liberians, arrived in Karina and stayed for two weeks. She said they looted property, and then told the court that RUF and juntas had raped her 13 year-old daughter and 12 year-old niece. When Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra asked how she knew this, the witness broke down in tears. She said she knew because the girls had been damaged in their vaginas and were bleeding. After two weeks, she said, the rebels left Karina, but promised to return.

The witness testified how one day she saw rebels walking by with a man whose arm was amputated and a group of naked women, among them her sister-in-law, who she said was bleeding in the face. The witness said she attempted to escape to the bush with her children and her sisters four-year-old child strapped to her back, but she was accosted by rebels at the edge of the village. She recounted how the rebels stripped her naked and how she was beaten with a sword, and tied together with her sister-in-law and sister, both of whom were also beaten with cutlasses. They were taken to the mosque area in the village, where she saw her uncle lying on the ground and hacked on the neck. She said when her other uncle asked the rebels why they had done this, a soldier hacked him in the face, killing him.

The witness testified that she saw many corpses in the street that day. At the time, she said, the population of Karina was very high because during the intervention, many civilians had fled junta killing and looting in Freetown, Kono and Makeni. She testified that the rebels took her to be killed, but that when another junta man saw that she was about to be executed, he intervened, saying she was his niece. The witness said she had never seen the man, who just wanted to rape her. The witness said she was taken by this man from Karina.

Defense Counsel Morris Anyah began his cross examination of witness TF1-028 by seeking to establish that it was the AFRC and not the RUF who had been responsible for the atrocities described by the witness. The witness however said that from the time of her abduction until the reinforcements had arrived at Col. Eddie Town, she had only known of one RUF fighter with the rebel group – her abductor.

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African Press International – api

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