Trial Monitoring

Special Court for Sierra Leone, CDF Trial, Update 5

September 24, 2004
Author(s)
Michelle Staggs
Sara Kendall
Special Court for Sierra Leone, CDF Trial, Update 5
Case or Series

CDF Trial

Case or Series

Special Court for Sierra Leone

Country

Sierra Leone

Language

English

The geographical focus of this past week’s proceedings shifted from Koribondo to events that took place in Kenema and Blama in February 1998. The prosecution called a further six witnesses to the stand this week, five of whom were police officers and one who was a Kenema shopkeeper, bringing the total number of witnesses heard thus far in the CDF trial to 15. The witnesses recounted events that allegedly took place in Kenema and Blama in February 1998 during a period of transition from AFRC and RUF control over the region to CDF control. AFRC and RUF juntas had displaced the democratically elected Kabbah government of Sierra Leone in May 1997. At the time of the alleged events, Kamajors acting on behalf of CDF interests had entered the towns in an effort to seize control from the RUF and AFRC juntas. In their efforts to gain control of Kenema and Blama, the Kamajors allegedly tortured and killed police officers as well as civilians. Five of the six witnesses were police officers who had previously been employed by the then-exiled Kabbah government.

Much of the cross-examination this week explored the nature of the relationship between the police and the juntas, since the status of the police was unsettled under the unconstitutional ruling junta. One witness testified that the Kamajors had been mobilized against the AFRC and RUF forces, and police officers may have been perceived as junta collaborators. Another witness testified that police forces were obliged to obey the de facto authority of the juntas under threat of death even though they had been instructed by the Kabbah government to resist. The legitimacy of the actions of the police force and their part in assisting the juntas was further called into question when two of the police officers testified under cross examination that they had not filed reports of the events in Kenema at that time. Defense counsel for Kondewa attempted to discredit one of the witnesses by claiming that his departure from Kenema shortly before the Kamajors established control there indicated his collaboration with the AFRC.