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Archive for July, 2004

Sierra Leone Special Court turns in employee who allegedly had carnal knowledge of 13 year old girl

Friday, July 30th, 2004

 Friday July 30, 2004

A   Police  investigation had been going on in Freetown about allegations that an investigator of the Special Court had sexual intercourse with a 13-year -old schoolgirl. The investigation , which was  being conducted by a crack Police team headed by the Inspector-General , Brima Acha Kamara , had  been going on for weeks.

SLSC (198 x 162)

According to the news of the alleged carnal knowledge , broken exclusively to this newspaper today by sources close to the investigation  , the Special Court acted expeditiously and judiciously to turn over its  own employee to the Police after  one of the employee’s  housemates ( who also works for the court )  exposed the alleged sexual tryst  between  the man and the child.

The whistle-blower, a female employee of the court ( also a european ), was said to have seen the girl sitting outside the apartment crying. When accosted by the woman, the child reported the incident to her.The woman immediately reported the matter to Special Court Chief Investigator, Al White and Chief Prosecutor, David Crane.

Our source praised the no-nonsense Special Court Prosecutor, Mr. David Crane  and Mr.White , who the reports said , summoned the employee immediately  and after a thorough investigation, called the Police. A fuming  Mr. Crane was said to have told the employee that the court will , on no account, tolerate such acts from employees, given the mission of the court, which is to bring justice to the Sierra Leonean people for these very  crimes.

The man , an Australian national  ( name withheld by this newspaper ) , who had just been employed by the court  has also been stripped off his diplomatic immunity by the Special Court and will likely face trial for allegedly  having carnal knowledge of a child.

The Special Court was set up through a treaty between the Sierra Leone government and the United Nations , to try those deemed as bearing the greatest responsibility for the atrocities committed by combatants during the Sierra Leone war. Thus far, the court has done a commendable job in its mission and the trials of those so far indicted by the court are progressing.

Rebels killed kids and packed their heads in a bag, says tearful prosecution witness

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

 

Tuesday July 27, 2004

More tears have been shed by witnesses  at the Special Court for Sierra Leone as they continue to narrate the atrocities  allegedly committed by rebels of the Revolutionary United Front ( RUF).

Witness TF-064 cried for over 5 minutes uninterrupted and Presiding Judge Benjamin Itoe (Pictured right) had to tell her to have comfort and continue her testimony when the woman broke down after telling the court about how the rebels raped her, though pregnant,  amputated both her hands; removed her sister’s underwear and plunged a knife into her private parts; rounded up kids  and assembled them along with adults under a tree.They included her own sons, who were 1 and 3 years old.

She alleged that the rebels  then separated the kids from the adults and murdered all but one of  the children, with the surviving child being asked to carry a blood-dripping bag as they left the village with their captives. The woman said she was asked at gunpoint to laugh when she saw the dead bodies of the children littering the floor. She was then shown the contents of the bloody bag–The heads of all the kids, including her sons’,  who  had been killed.

Our reporter , Soriebah Kalokoh, said that Sierra Leoneans were outraged by the testimonies , which are bringing back sad memories of the 11-year-old war and many people are blasting the court for not bringing to trial the rebels who individually perpetuated these wicked acts.

“What is the use of having us hear all these pathetic stories when the people who committed them are free and will not face charges ? “an old man was quoted as saying. The Special Court is trying only the leaders of the various armies , who are deemed as bearing the greatest responsibility for the horrors committed by their fighters.

 

 

 

Woman cries bitterly as tells Special Court how rebels raped her before son and massacred her whole family in Kono

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

 

By Sampson Cole in Freetown

Thursday  July 22, 2004

At the Special Court yesterday, the fifth Prosecution
Witness wept while narrating how rebels in Kono
allegedly killed her two sons, three brothers, mother,
mother and father-in-laws and other members of her
family.

The witness who was born in Kwakor, Gbense
Chiefdom in Kono said that during the war she was
staying Fuendor but when they heard about the rebels
she and her husband, mother, children together with
some other people from Tombodu hid in the bush near
Fuendor. In the bush she went on they ate only cassava
and ?potatoe leaves’ with no oil or rice to go with
it. “By that time I was heavily pregnant,” she said.

The witness further went on to narrate that it was not
too long after she delivered that together with her
family they were captured by the rebels. “While I was
with them they asked me to have sex with one of the
abductee who was a Temne man. I refused because I was
a suckling mother. They flogged the Temne man and me.
They then forced me down and took my legs apart and I
had sex with the man and my son was standing by crying
and they flogged also,” she said.

The rebels according
to her told them to go into the town and stop
punishing themselves in the bush and they then went to
Fuendor. She went on, “in Fuendor we were told to
undress and our children including my two boys aged
three and the other under one year were taken away
from us and placed under an orange tree,” adding,
“they undressed and too us into a room. I heard the
children screaming and crying for some time after
which there was silence. It was then that I knew the
children have been killed. I whispered my fears to my
mother and she fainted”

She said that whilst they were
in the room, the rebels took the people inside
including her relatives one by one outside and there
was gunshots and shouting from the people. “I was the
last to come outside and I saw dead bodies all around
including that of the Town Chief and one of my son,”
she wept. The witness went on further to explain that
the Temne man whom she had sex was given a bag of
human heads to carry while she too carried some other
loads. “When we arrived at Tombodu the heads were
thrown on the ground and I then saw the head of my
other son on the ground. Later the heads were thrown
into the river on the orders of their ?bossman’. The
head of the Temne man was slit open and the body
dragged into the river,” she said.

The woman also said  said that one
Tamba Joe who brought the rebels to their town ordered
that she should be killed but was saved by one Kissi
man and given in marriage to an old man. She said that
her way of escape came when she went to fetch water
and hide in the bush for about three days without
eating or drinking anything. “It was when my feet
started swelling that I decided to come out of hiding.
When I arrived to my aunt’s place they were afraid of
me thinking I was a ghost,” she said. She was then
taken to hospital for treatment.

WEST SIDE BOYS GO WILD IN PRISON

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

WESTSIDE BOYS

WEST SIDE BOYS

By Sampson Cole in Freetown

Thursday July 22, 2004

The Westside Boys who have been incarcerated in Prison
over two years now, for various charges on murder and
other related crimes, yesterday went berserk at the
Central Maximum Prison, Pademba Road. Other military
colleagues who are standing trial for the attempted
coup at the former Aureol Tobacco Company (ATC)
compound, which now houses a military ammunition
depot, joined them in their riotous act.

Reliable sources within the Prisons Department confirmed the
news, indicating that the two sets of suspects brought
pandemonium within the prisons as they went berserk
early yesterday morning. The source indicated that it
all started early in the morning when their various
cells were opened for the suspect to prepare
themselves for appearance at the High Court.
Suddenly, like a thunderous roar the two groups put
into motion their riotous scheme, causing a lot of
panic within the confines of the prison.

The Prisons Officer, who confirmed the panic- stricken incident,
said that he was extremely shocked to see the two
groups running helter skelter all over the Prison with
deadly weapons. He affirmed to Awoko that he is quite
sure that these suspects secured the weapons from the
blacksmith section where Prisoners learn trades while
in confinement. Their actions, he said, denied other
inmates who should have appeared in the various
Magistrate Courts, impossible. These other inmates
were so afraid, that they had to take shelter, to
prevent them being harmed by the wild-looking groups.

The Prison Officer further maintained that when the
situation had calmed down, he was able to learn from
one of the riotous Westside Boys that their action was
to send a message to the authorities, that efforts
should be made to speed up their trial which had been
going on at a snail pace over the last two years. The
complaint, he gathered, from the Wellington Treason
squad was that the Judiciary is effecting undue
punishment on them, as their trial is being prolonged.

However, when the dust had settled, Prisons
authorities were able to bring the two sets of
suspects to court. The Wellington Treason squad
appeared before Justice Bankole Rashid at the Freetown
High Court where the bar in now addressing the bench
in the case. The Westside Boys were seen at the lock-
up cells of the Law Court building in a quiet mood,
after their case was adjourned. As these two groups
went on the war path within the prisons yesterday
morning, it was reported that some Prisons Officer for
fear of their life, immediately removed their uniform,
while outside the Operational Support Division of the
Sierra Leone Police was in attendance to forestall any
breakage from the hungry riotous suspects.

Human and vehicular traffic around the Prisons were diverted and
during an on the spot investigation of the scene, a
National Fire Force vehicle was seen parked few yards
from the main entrance. Even shops and those living
around the area, became panicky, as the news filtered
from inside the Prison that these two groups had gone
berserk. However as we go to Press, traffic had
resumed around that area, as the dust had been
settled.

Deposed Dictator Moves In With Mom

Wednesday, July 21st, 2004

 

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Losing your job, quitting school, going broke and moving back home with your mother after living abroad for years would be tough on anyone

It’s even tougher when you’re a former military dictator who once had the power to execute opponents at will.

Valentine Strasser became the world’s youngest head of state when he seized power in 1992 at the age of 25. But the limelight didn’t last Ñ four years later, he was ousted in another coup.

“I’m basically living off my mother now. She’s been very supportive,” the 35-year-old said at a neighborhood bar on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital.

“It’s been tough. I’m unemployed, but I’m coping.”

It was well before noon and the former president was doing what he often does on weekdays: Joking around with friends, playing checkers and sipping diligently on a plastic cup of palm wine Ñ a cheap and highly potent alcoholic brew.

In contrast to the days when he commanded an army and courted the favor of foreign presidents, Strasser today seems to have reverted simply to being just another neighborhood kid.

Gone are the crisp military fatigues, new suits and wraparound sunglasses. In their place: A baseball hat worn backward, a Bob Marley T-shirt, dark green shorts and a pair of ‘Air’ Nike sneakers.

Asked how he spends his time now that he doesn’t have to rule the nation, Strasser took a drag of his cigarette and thought for a moment.

“I’ve been drinking palm wine,” he said. “You shouldn’t say that. But this is a democracy now. So go ahead.”

Things were very different a decade ago when Strasser, then a captain known for winning disco contests, headed up a group of twentysomething officers demanding unpaid salaries.

The protests snowballed into a popular coup that ousted dictator Maj. Gen. Joseph Momoh in April 1992.

Strasser was hailed as a savior by many. Even today, Freetown residents say he changed things for the better, drastically cutting inflation, cleaning up the capital and putting the long defunct national TV station back on air.

He and his junta Ñ known as “the boys” because most were only in their 20s Ñ scored points by waging war, if unsuccessfully, on the nation’s hated rebels.

But Strasser was no angel. The young ruler was widely criticized when his government executed two dozen alleged coup plotters without trial on a Freetown beach.

Strasser promised to hand over power in democratic elections in 1996. But he was beaten to the punch by his No. 2 man, Brig. Julius Maada Bio, who overthrew him in a bloodless coup in January that year.

Strasser was forced into exile and soon ended up in Britain, where the United Nations arranged a special scholarship for him to study law at Warwick University in Coventry.

University spokesman Peter Dunn said the former dictator spent 18 months at the school before dropping out, saying in a letter that he’d run out of money.

Media reports at the time said Strasser slipped away to London and changed his name to Reginald to avoid the press and potential enemies. In 2000, his student visa expired and he was deported.

Soon after, he made his way back to Sierra Leone, which is only now emerging peacefully from a decade of civil war in which rebels abducted children into their ranks and killed, raped and maimed tens of thousands of civilians.

Unlike many of the world’s former heads of state, however, Strasser was not treated to a generous government stipend or given a plush mansion or bodyguards.

A house he built for himself on the edge of town was burned down by aggrieved soldiers in 1999, so he moved into his mother’s two-story house across the street.

The government says Strasser is not entitled to benefits because he took power by force. Strasser concedes the point but says he should be treated better.

Last year, the government called on citizens not to throw stones at the former head of state, who without a car, was wandering around Freetown on foot.

But Strasser is still immensely popular among some, and may be able to capitalize on it. In five years, he’ll be eligible to run for president Ñ something he says he’s considering.

Charismatic, muscle-bound and 6-foot-2, he’s the dominant figure at the bar he often frequents, which stands tenuously together with bamboo poles and plastic sheeting somehow obtained from the U.N. World Food Program.

Whatever the future holds, Strasser will always have his high-profile past to relish.

“Oh it was good. I was the youngest … head of state in the whole wide world,” he said with a guffaw, looking around the bar for support.

Then he leaned forward with a wide smile and slapped a high-five on the hand of someone sitting across from him.

 

SIERRA LEONE KIDS STILL FACE HUGE CHALLEGE -UNICEF Chief

Sunday, July 18th, 2004
  • SIERRA LEONE KIDS STILL FACE HUGE CHALLEGE -UNICEF Chief

Sunday July 18, 2004

By Sampson Cole
 A lot of progress has been made but, our children
are still faced with huge challenges,” the UNICEF
representative Abouacry Tall commented at the official
launching ceremony of the ?child friendly’ version of
“the convention on the right of the child” held
yesterday at the British Council auditorium.

Sierra Leone KIDS

Re-echoing the words of the UNICEF Executive Director,
Carol Bellamy, ?children are still forced to serve as
soldiers, children orphaned by AIDS are abandon by
society and millions of children die from preventable
diseases. The rights of these children need to be our
highest priority. They need a healthy start in life,
quality basic education and a safe loving environment
in which to thrive.”

 He added that Sierra Leone, as we
quite well know, lost a whole decade, as a result of
the civil conflict. However as we move forward in this
transition process from recovery to development, it is
but incumbent upon each and every one of us to ensure
that the needs of the next generation are met;
immunization, HIV and AIDS prevention, access to
quality basic education, protection from abused,
violence, exploitation and discrimination among
others, should be a priority in the national agenda.
He disclosed that the Government and its development
partners are in the final stages of the draft of the
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), which will
serve as a development, plan of this country for the
next three years.

 Sierra Leone’s PRSP could be among
the first, if not the first to include children and
their rights as a pillar in the PRSP as well as put
resources in the promotion of child health, increased
access to school and better protection against abuse.
He explained, another issue to be given due
consideration is the passage of the Child Rights Bill
and its adaptation into the laws of Sierra Leone,
adding that since the key players, Ministers of
Justice and Social Welfare Gender and Children’s
Affairs are present, shows that tremendous effort have
been made by the government in this direction, he went
on. Infact, more recently UNICEF has supported the
government in the recruitment of an international
Consultant to work with two ministries to put together
a draft children’s bill for passage through parliament
by December 2004.

 He further explained that the child
friendly version of the CRC, which they are launching
today, calls on various players to take up the
challenge of ensuring the survival and development of
every Sierra Leonean child. Mr. Tall said that it must
be understood that though the government has a role to
play in providing adequate learning and health care
facilities, it is required of parents that they ensure
that children grow up in a loving and caring family
environment. “You need to ensure that your children
both boys and girls go to school, especially now that
education at least basic education up to Junior
Secondary School is free.

 Every child has the right to
be educated,” he maintained. He went on, “in this
direction UNICEF in collaboration with other NGO’s is
supporting the government in the establishment of what
has been termed “Pavilion Schools” in remote and hard
to reach areas to ensure that every child is provided
with access to learning environment. The UNICEF
representative reiterated, that parent also have the
responsibility to ensure that their children are
vaccinated- “vaccination is free,” he stressed. He
explained that over the past two years 90% of pre-war
facilities have been rehabilitated, and it is our duty
as parent or guardian to make sure that our children
are fully immunized up to DPT3, adding that according
to the recent Human Development Index Sierra Leone has
the highest child mortality rate in the world 316 per
1000 live births.

 Mr. Tall admonished parents to share
the fish and meat with the children, as they need it
more than adults.

 

 

New political leader urges Sierra Leoneans to join his party and help him take country back from corrupt politicians

Tuesday, July 13th, 2004

YAHYASILLAH

 Tuesday July 13, 2004

The leader and National Chairman of the National Alliance Democratic Party ( NADP), Mr. Mohamed Yahya Sillah,  has called on all Sierra Leoneans to join the party and help take back our nation from the hands of corrupt and godless politicians.

Mr.Sillah was talking today with the Editor-In-Chief of COCORIOKO, Rev. Wilfred Leeroy Kabs-Kanu in an exclusive interview , following what he described as a remarkable launching of the NADP  in an impressive ceremony last Saturday in Maryland, USA.

The NADP is actually not a new party, according to Mr. Sillah. The party  was founded in 1995 and  it contested the 1996 General Elections with Mr.Sillah as its Presidential candidate, but Saturday’s program was held to re-launch the NADP ,  which Mr.Sillah said,  would become a force to be reckoned with now in Sierra Leone. “Our quest was to re-introduce the party to Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora  so that they can know our vision and what we plan to do for our nation,” Mr. Sillah explained.

The party , Mr.Sillah went on, was formed to redeem the Sierra Leonean people .He asserted that everybody knows that the country is in bondage.He said that with the exception of Sir Milton Margai, all Sierra Leone’s leaders had misruled the nation. “We need a strong and God-fearing leader, ” he postulated.

Mr.Sillah said that if the leader of a nation feared God and did the things that God wanted, God will forgive that nation and pour abundant blessings on it. “But if our leaders resort to ritualistic killings to stay in power , abuse the people and steal the country’s money, God’s anger will be on that leader and the country will never be blessed “, Mr. Sillah continued.

Mr. Sillah regretted that Sierra Leone does not have the Spirit of God, but he promised that his party will bring God back to the throne

 

 

 

GLOBAL RIGHTS CONDEMNS CORRURTION

Friday, July 9th, 2004

Project Officer Global Rights Partners for Justice,
Joe Pemagbi has described corruption as the
“cankerworm,” which has destroyed the fabric of the
nation. Speaking during a stakeholders workshop on
Anti-Corruption held at the United Nations High
Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) conference hall in
Kono,

 Mr. Pemagbi said that the 1996 and 2002 General
Elections were geared towards creating checks and
balances while pointing out that corruption is not
only found in Government offices but also in homes and
communities.

He noted that his organisation was formed
20 years ago to empower local advocate and that they
continue to do work with various civil society groups
and local Organisations The programme, he disclosed
was organised by Global Rights Partners with funding
from USAID to assist in the fight against corruption.
The Chairman at the occasion, Cecilia Mattia also
spoke of the adverse effect corruption has on the
society in general and noted that there is now a
fairly high level of awareness on corruption.

She pointed to the fact that corruption in other areas
apart from Government circles are most times seriously
overlooked. Speaking on research done in the Kono
district, National Forum for Human Rights team leader,
Alfred Carew said that 90 % of the people he spoke to
expressed dissatisfaction about the mining going on in
the district.

He also added that the community is not
benefiting from what they referred to as Gems. Mr.
Carew called on Government to address issues of
environmental degradation, education and child labour
in the country. Human Rights Officer in UNAMSIL, Kwame
Anno-Kumi commended Global Rights Partners for Justice
on their initiative and advised them to form a
monitoring group at the end of their deliberations.

We are not in competition with SLPP central government –New Mayor

Tuesday, July 6th, 2004

 WINSTANLEYBANKOLEJOHNSON2

Tuesday July 6, 2004

By Sampson Cole from Freetown

The new Mayor The newly elected Mayor of the Municipality,
Councillor Winstanley Bankole-Johnson yesterday
stressed in his inaugural address that the task ahead
of the legally reconstituted Freetown City Council is
a gigantic one, and not in competition with the
central Government.

Mayor Bankole Johnson emphasised
that Local Council is a part of and complimentary to
the central Government. He therefore stressed, “in
short, Local Councils are empowered to cascade central
Government’s development plan to grass-root levels.”
The Mayor said “we would expect full support and
co-operation from the Government in pursuit of our
objectives in so far as they do not contravene the
National Constitution and the Local Government Act
2004.”

On his part and that of Councillors they
pledged to work assiduously with Government
hand-in-glove to facilitate delivery of services
throughout this municipality. Mayor Bankole Johnson
further maintained, “but with all eyes on us, we will
not hesitate to sound the alarm bells at the slightest
warning signals of deliberate attempts to derail our
progress.”

Speaking on the absent of anyone to
formally handover the administration of the council to
him, he noted “the poor state of council’s finances
with staff remaining unpaid for months on end, makes
it imperative for my administration to do a
comprehensive ?takeover’ exercise. An exercise devoid
of malicious witch hunting, but geared towards
abrogating all bogus leases over parks, schools and
cemeteries so that communities can once more have
unfettered access to the limited amenities originally
intended for their use and benefit.”

He thereforecalled on staff members and past administrators who
initiated those transactions for personal gains to
commence voluntary abrogation or naturally expect to
fall of the cliff. Mayor Bankole Johnson stressed,
“it’s now common knowledge that it is those who
defraud the state most are the very ones crying the
Government down. We will expose all of them.” He
maintained, “there is so much work to do that we
cannot afford to be distracted by endless Commissions
of Inquires,” adding,  “major discrepancies where they
are identified will be documented for the appropriate
authorities.

We believe the legal remedies in place
are adequate to provide redress.” The Mayor spoke
about the urgent need to transform the City Council
into a fully functional business entity comprising
several departments and committees that will be able
to hold its own in terms of providing sustainable
development programmes.

The newly elected Mayor
further said, “consideration will therefore be given
to harnessing our existing traditional revenue of city
rates and other dues to enable them break even for a
start.” In this regard, he said, “all those in arrears
or simply have not been paying at all even though they
have house addresses and street names (including
Government offices) should voluntarily troop to
Council offices to do so.”

He therefore called on
Government to honour their light, telephone and water
rates. “I see no valid reason why they should not
honour Council’s levies for their respective Ministry
buildings.”  Mayor Bankole-Johnson maintained, “and
for all you know by the time everyone pays up and with
proper accountability and efficient management of
resources, we might not even need to revise city rates
upwards or seek further external donor support.”

Hetherefore called on the citizens of the Municipality
saying, “it’s a common knowledge that some of you have
been deliberately withholding your obligations because
there was no legally constituted Local Government. We
are here now so you can come.”  The 53 year-old Mayor
was nominated by Council Foday Kaloko and elected
unopposed, and duly declared winner at exactly 12
midday. The Mayor elect then nominated Foday Kaloko as
his Deputy.

Both were declared duly elected by the
Commissioner for the Western Area, Freddie Bright.
Accompanied by the Chief Administrator of the City
Council, Ms. Sarah A. A. Lewis, the new elected Mayor
and Deputy were escorted out of the hall and decorated
in the Mayor regalia and chain respectively and drove
through the City in an open air car.

 

Yanks deport Sierra Leone journalist

Friday, July 2nd, 2004

YANKS DEPORT SIERRA LEONE JOURNALIST

Friday July 2, 2004

Sierra Leonean-born journalist, Paul Barrow , has been deported from the United States of America. Mr.Barrow was placed in a British Airways plane on Saturday and sent back to Sierra Leone after his legal appeal for a stay of deportation failed.

Barrow since February 9  had been detained at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in South Kearny, New Jersey , after he was arrested at home  in Smerset, New Jersey, by U.S. Immigration officers for allegedly failing to appear before an immigration judge to contest deportation for living illegally in the country.Barrow complained that he did not receive the immigration letters to the effect.

Barrow has an American wife and a 4-year old daughter , with whom he lived in Franklin Township . He told Immigration officials  that he fled Sierra Leone to avoid being killed by the Sierra Leone authorities for initially supporting the Revolutionary United Front (RUF),  a rebel army that spearheaded an 11 year-old bloody war in Sierra Leone that killed 50, 000 people and maimed thousands more. Barrow said his father, mother and brother were later massacred by the RUF.

Before his saga, Barrow stated that he worked for the now-defunct GLOBE  newspaper, edited then by former FBC English lecturer, Mr. Saaba Sam Tumoe , who died about four years ago.

His deportation had saddened many people who described him as a quiet and peaceful man. Community Activist, member of the Franklin Board and CEO  of the AAA Delivery Services in Franklin , Mr. Alex Mansaray told COCORIOKO that he made desperate attempts to save Barrow, but he complained that some evil-minded Sierra Leoneans used to call the Immigration to contradict Barrow’s story and pass on incriminating information.

Barrow’s lawyer, Mr. Mariusz Dragan of New York,  admitted  that it was sad sending Barrow away , but “It is the law”, he asserted. “It is the practice.”