Trial Monitoring

Special Court for Sierra Leone, CDF Trial, Update 23

February 25, 2005
Michelle Staggs
Special Court for Sierra Leone, CDF Trial, Update 23
Case or Series

CDF Trial

Case or Series

Special Court for Sierra Leone


Sierra Leone



A bout of malaria halted the CDF trial on Monday, with Judge Thompson unfortunately calling in ill and unable to attend proceedings. The trial resumed on Tuesday with all members of the bench present and the proceedings continued to gather momentum, with a further 4 witnesses called this week.

The week’s testimony continued to center around alleged attacks by the Kamajors in the southeastern province of Kenema, with witnesses testifying to events which occurred in Tongo Field, Lalehun, Panguma, Dodo and Kenema town. Further testimony directly implicating the first accused was also given by a former Kamajor, who gave evidence regarding Hinga Norman’s attendance at a major gathering at Bo Waterside prior to the launch of an offensive at Zimmi, a former SLA strong-hold. Discussion about the systematic nature of the Kamajor attacks on civilians featured strongly, with the tribal nature of those assessed to be junta “collaborators” once again coming to the fore.

In matters procedural, a challenge was posed to the effectiveness of the OTP’s investigative process this week, when a witness, whose native language is not English and who is illiterate, claimed that an interview with members of the OTP in Kenema had never taken place. Given the witness’s illiteracy, there seemed no credible way to determine whether the statement from the interview (written in English) was his own, short of verifying the thumb-print on the bottom of each page was his own via forensic analysis. Meanwhile, some of the Defense counsels admitted to being wearied by the pace of the proceedings, counsel for the first accused seeking a leave of absence for a week and counsel for the third accused asking the Chamber to consider finishing at 5pm (instead of 6pm) each day (other than Wednesday, which is a half day).

The session finished at midday on Friday, so that the Chamber could consider whether or not to allow the Prosecution to move to calling witnesses from the Moyamba crime base next week, given this crime base is not included in the original indictment served on the first accused. (The first accused is currently appealing the decision to allow the Prosecution to amend the Amended and Consolidated Indictment. He is seeking an arraignment of the proceedings and the service of Page 2 of 8 U.C.B. War Crimes Studies Center, Sierra Leone Trial Monitoring Project Weekly Report no. 23 Please do not reproduce or circulate without permission. a new indictment). The bench anticipates delivering its ruling with regards to this matter next Monday.