Special Court for Sierra Leone, RUF Trial, Update 7
Special Court for Sierra Leone
After one month of the CDF trial following its August recess, the court reopened proceedings for the RUF trial on Monday, 4 October. All three accused in the RUF trial have been charged with eighteen counts of crimes against humanity, violations of Article III common to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law for their alleged involvement in the command and organization of the RUF. The trial resumed this week in the presence of the first and second accused, Issa Sesay and Morris Kallon. As with the previous session, third accused Augustine Gbao continued to dispute the constitutional legitimacy of the court, and he refused to give instructions to counsel or to attend trial. Morris Kallon had dismissed his international counsel the week before and was represented by a team of Sierra Leonean lawyers.
Trial this week focused exclusively on the testimony of Brigadier General John Tarnue, the former commanding general of the armed forces of Liberia. The prosecution stated that Tarnue was considered a “category C” insider witness, and his testimony primarily focused on tracing the alleged connections between the National Patriotic Front for Liberia (NPFL) headed by Charles Taylor and the RUF and AFRC in Sierra Leone. In particular, Tarnue testified to the alleged transfer of diamonds and arms between the NPFL and the RUF as well as the command relationship between Taylor and the RUF leadership. His testimony additionally focused on the training of RUF forces in Liberia and their subsequent deployment in Sierra Leone. After nearly two days of examination in chief by the prosecution, the rest of the week was devoted to crossexamination of the witness by counsel for the first accused. Cross-examination by counsel for the second and third accused will continue next week.