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Archive for June, 2004

Bodies of UN crash victims recovered

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

Un-Helicopter_new1

Wednesday June 30, 2004

The bodies of all 24 victims in last Tuesday’s
helicopter crash in Yengema in the Kono District have
been recovered from the scene where the aircraft plunged .

Those identified include 14
Pakistanis, one Bangladeshi, One Ghanaian United
Nations Volunteer (UNV), one Sierra Leoneans UN
civilian contractor; four aid workers- three Sierra
Leoneans and one Ugandan with a non-governmental
organisation. Also the mortal remains of the three
Russian crew members were also recovered.

According to the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone’s
(UNAMSIL), a forensic expert has been identified to
investigate the cause of the accident.  The M18-MTV
-UNO 091 helicopter crashed into a hillside just five
minute from its destination in Yengema.
The helicopter, which was on contract from UT Air, took
off from Freetown Hastings airfield with 21 passengers
along with 3 crewmembers on board. They took off after
8 am Tuesday morning. The crew it was reported lost
contact with controls at 9.17 am. Immediately a rescue
team was dispatched to the area and at exactly 11.27am
rescuers spotted the burning aircraft from the air.

 

Defence queries prosecution witness

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

charles margai 06

CHARLES MARGAI

Defence Council Charles Margai Tuesday argued at the
Special Court over the reliability of the fourth
prosecution witness during cross-examinations. Counsel
Margai based his inconsistency to the fact that the
witness statements to that of his oral testimony are
not compatible.

The Counsel who is representing the
3rd indictee Allieu Kondewa cited that the witness was
very emphatic in his denial. He stated that the
witness first statement of January 19, 2003 he said he
was Sector Kamajor commander. But under
cross-examination by defence counsel Margai the
witness told the court, ” I didn’t say that. I said I
was sent to the section chief.”

Another inconsistency
Counsel Margai tried to establish was the statement
the witness made in which he quoted Hinga Norman as
saying that all four houses should be spared. The
fourth witness categorically told the court under
cross-examination that he said three houses. The
witness in responding to another question said openly
that certain portion of his statement should not be
credited to him, as he never said so. His response to
Counsel Margai’s question made the latter to ask, “how
did that portion came into the statement, it is a
cause for the prosecution”?

After a legal argument
between the prosecutors, the defence and the Bar,
Justice Bankole Thompson told the defence counsel that
the “statement was not made under oath before this
court.”  Counsel Margai responded saying, ” that where
one could impeach a witness, such could only be done
in relative of the statement on oath.” He went on,
“that is the inconsistency, and this witness could be
impeached.”

During cross-examination by Hinga Norman’s
standby counsel Wesley Hall; the witness agreed that
he was receiving the sum of Le10, 000 per day. The
witness also disclosed that he was not receiving the
amount on a daily basis, but received Le40, 000 to
Le300, 000 monthly for family assistance. The witness
under further cross-examination that each of his
family comprising of twelve is receiving the sum of
Le2, 000 per day.

He told the defence panel that he
had received so far the sum of Le600, 000. But the
witness further made a denial during cross-examination
from Charles Margai saying, ” I don’t know whether the
money I receive was payment.” He also emphasised, ” I
didn’t know I was going to talk about monetary
affairs, I was here to testify that is why I did not
talk about it.”  When told,
” you are not talking the whole truth,” the witness
responded, ” I can’t just answer a question like
that.”

However, the Presiding Judge, Justice Benjamin
Itoe requested the prosecution to make available the
original copy of the witness statement, following a
submission by Counsel Charles Marga. That the
prosecution had done.

ACC wades into Health Delivery system

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

As a means of increasing revenue collection in

Government hospitals, the Anti-Corruption Commission’s
Prevention Department is on a tour of the Northern
Province and Kono District, to conduct seminars on the
General Recommendations and Procedures for the Health
Delivery system.

This follows investigations into the
system, which examined the financial practices and
procedures as well as the administrative machinery of
various health institutions nationwide. The results of
these investigations were developed into a Best
Practice Guide produced by the ACC in collaboration
with the Ministry of Health and sanitation. Since
then, several seminars have been held in various
hospitals in the Western Area, Southern and Eastern
Province (with the exception of Kono District) to
explain the findings and recommendations in the Guide.

According to the ACC, this has led to an increase in
revenue collection in Government hospitals in the
Eastern and Southern Provinces. It is expected that
after the tour, which started on Friday 25th June, the
revenue generated in Government hospitals in these
areas will be considerably increased. The team is
expected back in Freetown in a fortnight.

President Kabbah warns APC about new responsibility as tussle continues over new Mayor

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

Wednesday June 30, 2004

The rat race for who will be the next Mayor of the
municipality that has been engulfed with filth will be
elected when the 32 Councillors assemble for their
maiden meeting tomorrow. (Thursday)

TEJANKABBAH2

PRESIDENT TEJAN KABBAH

The meeting will be held  at the Miatta Conference

Centre commencing at
10 a.m. The main agenda of the meeting will be the
election of the Mayor and the Deputy. Already four
names are amongst those vying for this prestigious
seat including, Mr. Whitstanley Johnson, a former
banker, Mrs. Rosaline Forde, a retired civil servant
who rose to the position of Permanent Secretary in the
Ministry of Social Welfare and Rural Development, Mr.
Herbert George Williams and Mr. Foday Kaloko.

According to sources within the APC party they have
not made any define choice as to who will be the next
Mayor. According to the source, “that is for the
Councillors to decide in the true spirit of
democracy.”

However other sources within the Party
explained that the two front-runners for the position
are Mr. Whitstanley Johnson and Mrs. Rosaline Forde.
But it seems that they are having a close run up for
their money from Mr. Foday Kaloko who is reported to
have made a lot of inroads with the Councillors. He is
basking his hope on the fact that he polled the
highest vote in the entire Western Area. After the
elections of both the Mayor and his Deputy, they will
retire and the elected Mayor will then be dressed in
the Mayoral robe.

On his or her re-arrival within the
hall, the Police Band will play the fanfare. The Mayor
elect would be accompanied by his Deputy, the Chief
Administrator and the City Solicitor. This will be
followed by the inaugural speech from the Mayor elect
in which it is expected that he will make emphasis on
how he hope to retransform the city into its once
prosperous state that has been rocked by filth over
the past years.

From the election venue the newly
elected Mayor will drive round the city unto the
Freetown City Council where the chief administrator
Mrs. Sarah A.A. Lewis will conduct him to his office.
So the million-dollar question on the lips of citizen
is “who will be the next Mayor.”

When President Tejan Kabbah was addressing the newly oath taking
Councillors last Monday, he told them, “you are taking
over an established local government infrastructure
which it is your duty to build upon.” He went on, “if
you do not allow politics or political considerations
to dominate the Council’s thinking and actions there
is every chance that you will succeed.” This,
President Tejan Kabbah stressed is his earnest wish
for them.  He further called upon them saying, “you
may have to take hard decisions which may be required
to ensure that the city is clean and orderly and that
the services which the law enjoins you to provide are
efficiently provided.”  “Such decision should be taken
in the sole interest of this municipality,” President
Kabbah stressed.

 

UN helicopter plunges into Yengema hillside , killing all 24 0nboard

Tuesday, June 29th, 2004

Tuesday June 29, 2004

By Cocorioko Reporter Samuel John

A U.N. helicopter on a scheduled flight from Hastings to Yengema crashed in Sierra Leone this morning. All 24 people aboard, including 3 crew members, were killed.

Un-Helicopter_new1

 

The helicopter, a Russian-built MI8-MT, registration number UNO-091, took off from Hastings Airfield at 8:00 a.m. At 9:17, ground controllers lost contact with the craft. Three aircraft were dispatched at 10:00 a.m. and they found the burning wreckage on a hillside five minutes from Yengema.

The news of the crash today left Sierra Leone wrapped in shrouds of grief, with thousands speculating who the victims may have been. 

According to a manifest, the passengers included 14 Pakistani peacekeepers and a Pakistani police officer, and travelers from several African countries. Others on the manifest were a U.N. volunteer from Ghana, three Sierra Leonean citizens, a Tanzanian working for the International Committee of the Red Cross and one Ugandan.

HERE IS AN ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORT ON THE ACCIDENT :

24 die in Sierra Leone U.N. copter crash

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — A U.N. helicopter crashed in flames on a remote hillside in Sierra Leone on Tuesday, killing all 24 peacekeepers, aid workers and others aboard, U.N. officials in the West African nation said.

Victims aboard the Russian-made Mi-8 included the Russian crew, U.N. mission spokeswoman Sharon McPherson said. A passenger manifest made available to The Associated Press said the passengers included 14 Pakistani peacekeepers and a Pakistani police officer, and travelers from several African countries.

Authorities offered no immediate explanation for the accident, which left the wreckage in flames on a hill.

The United Nations has about 11,800 peacekeepers in Sierra Leone, overseeing the country’s peace accord, which followed a vicious 1991-2002 civil war.

Fighting stopped by 2002, and there have been no known attacks on U.N. officials since.

The helicopter had taken off from the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown with 21 passengers and three crew, said Daniel Adekera, another U.N. spokesman.

Its ultimate destination was the western city of Kailahun, after a stop in Yengama, near some of the main diamond fields in mineral-rich Sierra Leone.

Ground crews lost radio contact, and sent out a search crew within seven minutes, Adekera said.

A farmer near the village of Massabendu Junction, in the area of the crash, told The AP he watched the flight’s last seconds.

“I saw this aircraft coming down and it hit a tree and it burst into flames,” the farmer, Komba Missa, said. “I was scared, and I ran into town to tell the police chiefs and others.”

The chopper had crashed just southeast of Yengema, U.N. and Sierra Leone aviation officials said.

The wreckage and victims were in remote, hard-to-reach bush area covered in red dirt and thick undergrowth. War has left communities nearby in ruins, with few roofs left on huts.

U.N. recovery teams had to use a second helicopter to reach the area, U.N. associate spokesman Marie Okabe said in New York.

They spotted the wreckage, still in flames more than an hour later, from the air, U.N. officials said.

After landing and walking three kilometers (1.5 miles), the searchers reached the crash site. They found no survivors.

Villagers by late in the day were helping clear brush to open a path to the site, Missa said.

Helicopters are the main method of transport cross-country in Sierra Leone, where sound roads are few. The white-painted U.N. helicopters lift off frequently from a helipad in the U.N. missions headquarters in Freetown, ferrying peacekeepers, relief workers and supplies.

In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s office said the United Nations had opened an investigation into the crash.

“The secretary-general extends his deep condolences to the families and governments of those who have perished in this tragedy,” a statement released by Annan’s office said.

“He once again pays tribute to the men and women who have lost their lives in the name of peace in this and other important peacekeeping operations.”

An official familiar with the flight, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The AP that the manifest for the flight included 14 Pakistani peacekeepers and one Pakistani civilian police officer.

Others on the manifest were a U.N. volunteer from Ghana, three Sierra Leone citizens, a Tanzanian and a Ugandan.

In New York, the aid group International Rescue Committee confirmed that two of its staff members were among the victims. Alan Mukuru, 35, a Ugandan, was director of the IRC’s aid programs in Sierra Leone, and Tanzanian Bahati Barongo, 37, was an administrative adviser based in Freetown, a statement said.

Passenger manifests in Africa frequently are incomplete and incorrect, and there was no confirmation that the manifest was correct for the flight.

Thirty-one countries have peacekeepers in Sierra Leone, including Britain, the country’s former colonial ruler, according to the mission’s Web site.

Bangladesh, Pakistan and West African nations are among the top contributors of troops.

The U.N. Security Council approved the U.N. mission in October 1999. Until Tuesday, a total of 137 U.N. personnel had died in Sierra Leone, including many killed in attacks during fighting.

In 2001, another Mi-8 used by the United Nations crashed in Sierra Leone, killing eight people.

Sierra Leone’s war pitted government forces against an insurgency fighting to gain control of the government and of diamond fields. Forceful military intervention by neighboring Guinea, Britain and the United Nations helped crush the rebels by 2002.

FREETOWN IS AN EYESORE

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2004

 

By Sampson Cole :

Thursday June 22, 2004

The Mayor of the Municipality of Freetown, Winstanley
Bankole Johnson has told members of the National
Traders Multi Purpose Union that the city of Freetown
which is the gateway t
potential visitors is an
eyesore.

 freetowntrash

THIS IS A DISGRACE

Addressing the Traders Union at his Wallace
Johnson Street yesterday, Mayor Johnson lamented that
it is not because market facilities are inadequate, so
people should sell their products everywhere on the
streets. He pointed out that most of the kiosks that
operate during the day are converted into bedrooms at
night with no toilet facilities. That is one of the
main reasons why you see a lot of black plastic bags
filtering the streets in the morning full of mess he
said. In a no nonsense mood he asked “Tell me is this
the right attitude?” adding that “at the end of the
day you blame government and the council for not doing
much in terms of cleanliness.”

 He stressed “We are
determined as a Council to transform this City to its
past glory.” He maintained that while traders are
complaining about lack of space within the markets,
the very traders themselves have converted the
spacious places into mosques. He went on, “traders’
leave their goods in the streets to attend prayers,”
and asked the Trader Union whether that behaviour is
right or fair. The Mayor called on the Union to embark
on an educative drive of its members to ensure that
they do things that would be in their best interest.
He called on those who have converted these market
places to mosques to go and pray at the nearby Central
Mosque. These burdens he stressed are caused by the
non-trading act, and they usually dump the blame on
both the Central Government and the City Council.


The Mayor further called the attention of the Union to the
situation that is prevailing within the Sewa Grounds,
where people who belong to these various Traders
Unions have used their influence with the previous
Council to put up cement structures and charge
exorbitant fees on other traders. He went on, “half of
Sewa Grounds is not properly planned.” He lamented
that people have converted the Sewa Grounds to
dwelling houses and all sorts of domestic and social
activities are carried out there, while people still
grumble that there is lack of market facilities in the
City. Mayor Winstanley Bankole Johnson urged the
National Traders Multi Purpose Union to address these
issues which would be in the good interest of all the
business people and those in the community.

 

In a determined tone, he told the traders that these
structures will be demolished with the blessing of the
National Traders Multi Purpose Union. Mayor Johnson
therefore urged them to do what is right inorder that
people will listen to them. The Mayor further
explained to the Union members that his Council would
soon be taking a drastic step against club owners who
usually disturb the free flow of traffic by putting
chairs in the streets and playing loud music much to
the displeasure of neighbours. On children roaming the
streets of the city, he warned that anyone who allowed
his child to engage in such activity would be
committing an offence. He explained the creation of a
committee whose sole function is to seek the welfare
of these children selling packets of cold water in the
streets. There is ample opportunity for them to grow
up as responsible citizens, he maintained.


On the issue of streets being converted in garages, the Mayor
explained to his audience that plans are afoot to
remove them from within to somewhere outside the city.
That is what is done in other countries so that
vehicular as well as human traffic can flow freely in
the city. The President of the Traders Union, Gibrilla
Turay raised the issue of the Non Citizen Trade Act,
which he said is one of the main constraints that have
led to numerous street trading in the city. He called
for the implementation of the act inorder to minimise
street trading.

The Mayor however quickly informed him
that his duties do not fall in that category. Also
yesterday the Mayor and Councillors received a
delegation from the Motor Drivers Union led by their
President Abubakarr Sillah, They too expressed their
desire for closer working relationship with the
council and called for the return of the Dan Street
lorry park back into their domain. Mayor Bankole
Johnson lauded them for their strides but called on
them to start thinking seriously of establishing these
parks outside the capital city so that development too
can be spread to the villages outside Freetown.

John Benjamin wins Kailahun District Council Chairmanship

Saturday, June 19th, 2004

 

 Stunning defeat for Professor Septimus KaiKai as John Karimu’s man wins……..

JOHN BENJAMIN WINS KAILAHUN DISTRICT COUNCIL CHAIRMANSHIP

The battle for Kailahun District has ended , with victory for former NPRC junta overlord, John Benjamin, who dealt a stunning blow to Professor Septimus KaiKai , in their race to gain a political constituency for their Presidential bids.

Both Benjamin and KaiKai want to become President of Sierra Leone and Kailahun District was their springboard for acquiring political constituency. The logic was that whoever won the dogfight to become Chairman of  the Kailahun District Council held the aces. Since he was already Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Professor Kaikai could not become District Council Chairman, but he was supporting Mr.Moinina Conteh for the position .Both Benjamin and Conteh had won the District Council elections, Benjamin returning unopposed in his constituency.

The battle was decided by big -money politics , with Benjamin,ofcourse holding the edge over both KaiKai and Conteh , especially as his bid was being solidly backed by National Revenue Authority ( NRA) Chief, John Karimu, who sprayed millions of leones into the fight.

Now John Benjamin has become Chairman of the Kailahun District Council, he also has a chance to win yet another laurel–The Chairmanship of the SLPP Eastern Region, another powerful position within the ruling party heirarchy because the incumbent, Minister of Development, M.B. Daramy , has been rendered ineffective by a liver disease.

John Benjamin is popular with the youths of the South/East as one of the young SLPP officials, but his problem had been the lack of a political constituency and his inability  or reluctance to reach out to the youths enmasse. Some of his supporters say he should also learn to appreciate .

As the Presential Elections of 2007  draws near, the Eastern Province, especially Kailahun, will be one of the hot spots from which the fight to replace Kabbah will emanate.

 

I WAS RAPED AND AMPUTATED–Witness testifies

Friday, June 18th, 2004

 

By Sampson Cole

Sunday July 18, 2004

At the Special Court the statement of the second
Prosecution witness in the RUF trial, read by a member
of the Prosecution, states that after rebels captured
her she was raped and later amputated. 

 According to
the statement, the witness said that she was living at
Malama with her husband when she learnt about an
attack at Mateboi (two miles from Malama) and they
decided to hide in the bush near Malama with some
other people whom she did not recognize. The date of
the attack she could not recall but said it was before
the January 6 invasion. They were at the bush, when
rebels including child soldiers as young as five; some
in combat and others in civilian clothes, carrying
RPGs, AK47s and cutlasses attacked Batmis.
Unfortunately they were all captured along with her
husband and herself and taken to Batmis. She said that
before they left for Batmis, she was raped by one of
the rebel who captured her while another watched.

 At
Batmis she and her husband was given rice and millet
to pound while others were sent to fetch water. Some
of those who went to fetch water escaped and because
of that the rebels then decided to amputate the rest
of them. The rebels then told her that they would kill
her husband and gave her pain that would last forever.
According to her the leader of the group whom she said
was called ?Mosquito’ then ordered that her husband
should be killed and he was chopped-up with a cutlass
in her presence. This ?Mosquito’ she went on, was
tall, slim and speaks Krio and Mende, adding that she
knew he was a big commander.  Then both her hands were
chopped off and was told to go to Kabba for new hands.

One rebel then escorted her to a certain point where
she continued in the bush until she met some of her
relatives who took her to Makama village. The rebels
she said were shooting or chopping the civilians apart
including her husband’s family before she left Batmis,
as she has not seen them up to this time. She said
that she was treated at the Makeni Government Hospital
and operated on by ICRC.

Leader of Northern Group of SLPP condemns the bogus party elections in the UK

Saturday, June 5th, 2004

 
The leader of the northern group within the SLPP, Mr Abdul Kargbo Jr has condemned in no uncertain terms the undemocratic and unpatriotic attempt at conducting Branch elections as a systematic ploy marred by discrimination to deliberately disenfranchised majority of party faithful.

Mr Kargbo said, the SLPP is a broad-church which should reflect all shades of opinion, therefore any attempt by a vocal minority to imposed their will on the silence majority will lead to the break of the branch into factions.Mr Kargbo emphasized the need for modalities to be put into place which will ensure free, fair and open elections.”As things stand at the moment we will not recognize Tamba Lamina under any circumstances.Mr Kargbo expressed his dismay by condemning the shameful methods that were used to high Nigerian thugs to denied access and entry into the hall of the chairman and majority of party faithfuls.
Mr Kargbo reintereted that the elections lacks the legitimacy and does not represent in any acceptable manner the true wishes of majority of party supporters in the UK.It seems as if we have still not learned some of the crucial reasons why we went into war in the first place.
Meanwhile plans are in the final stages for a meeting scheduled for Saturday by party supporters who will formally sign a petition condemning the “bogus and flawed ” elections and demanding a be free fair and open election

‘Crimes committed by the Kamajors will make men of civility and reason recoil’ -David Crane

Saturday, June 5th, 2004

 

Tamba Borbor reports from Freetown : 

Thursday June 5, 2004

The Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court,  David Crane,  in his opening statement at the start of the trial against the leadership of the Civilian Defence Force (CDF) said  that the crimes will be proven in large part by the people of Sierra Leone and the events  will make men of civility and reason recoil.

David Crane

DAVID CRANE

“They will come before you one by one, damaged, proud, some afraid, yet still brave,” he said. Crane promised  that during the trial “we will focus on crime bases in Koribundo, Kenema, Base Zero in Bonthe District, Moyamba, Bo and Tongo ,where alleged criminal acts or omissions took place.”

The Prosecutor revealed that throughout the trial children who fought in the CDF would be recounting stories of alleged horrors they committed as child soldier in Sierra Leone. He said that a witness will also testify how the CDF moved into the town of Bradford and began looting, how his wife was shot with her calling out his name and was robbed of her life savings. Others he went on will testify that in Tongo in 1997-98 the Kamajors allegedly picked people at random and hacked them to death a standard tactic.

Crane  went on to say that a  damaged and broken man would also testified in the court how around 65 people were taken behind a house separated into groups of three to four and shot with their bodies rolling  down a hill into a valley. The CDF, to save bullets,  began cutting the heads of the remaining. The witness who was the last in the group had his neck cut from behind and he rolled down the hill watching those in front of him die one at a time.

David Crane said that the case against these indictees is “about breach of duty perverted into a killing frenzy against innocent civilians, non combatants, their own fellow citizens.” He said that the CDF led by Norman and assisted by Fofana and Kondewa, largely supported by hunting society called Kamajors, was set up to counter internal threat of the RUF and later the AFRC. Their duty he said was to defend and protect the people of Sierra Leone, in the South and East in particular. “This duty was even more manifest by the fact that the indictee Norman was the Regent Chief in Koribundo, a located crime scene,” he went on.

Crane  said that they failed to do their duties and in their frustration turned on their own fellow citizens – the Mende people whom they declared as collaborators of the RUF and AFRC. He said that it was under the leadership of these indictees that they turned what should have been a just cause into an unjust effect, which are serious breaches of the law designed to protect humanity. Citing an example of this breach of duty the Prosecutor said that in February 1988 due to an attack by the Kamajors on Koribundo one of the witnesses will testify how he and his brother were taken to a Kamajor base, beaten and tortured.

He said that the man’s brother’s throat was cut in front of him and was told by the Kamajors to go back and tell the people of Koribundo what will happen to them if they collaborate with the Sierra Leonean Army. He said that the man returned to Koribundo and noticed a lot of graves and would recall that Hinga Norman himself came to the town as he was Regent Chief at that time and held a meeting. “At this meeting, allegedly Norman told the town people that they should not hold the Kamajors responsible for what they had done in the town, but they should hold his responsible, that they were acting on his orders,” David Crane went on.

He said that the witness will reveal how Norman said he was not happy with the Kamajors because they did not kill every living thing as were  told. Norman  was also said to be disappointed that the Kamajors  did not burn all and rebuked them for being afraid of killing.

According to him “no one deserves to live in circumstances like this, to die like this, to witness the horrors perpetrated by all sides and most certainly by these accused, who twisted a just cause to an unjust perversion. We will most assuredly show you through the witnesses the result of these unjust acts or omissions caused,” he said.