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NEWS : Politics  

At Special Court, Hinga Norman says Kabbah knew about his arrest in Sierra Leone
By Tom E. Tommy & Saffia Kabbah
Feb 6, 2006, 14:11

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Chief Sam Hinga Norman continued his defence testimony last Friday at the Special Court for Sierra Leone with revelations on how he was arrested and maltreated by national and international security personnel under the orders of the Special Court of Sierra Leone, which he indicated was masterminded by the government. Hinga Norman also explained about the Rules of Engagement by which the Civil Defence Force were supposed to abide by during the course of the war. He was led in defense by his lead Counsel, Dr. Bu-buakie Jabbie.

On the issue of his arrest and maltreatment, he started by indicating that when he was Deputy Defence Minister in 1997 the relationship between him and the President was not that cordial. He recalled that on Friday 16 May, 1999, he reported to the President that certain officers in the Sierra Leone Army were planning to stage a coup and he advised him to do something about the mentioned officers and to as well put in place strategies that could stop the intended planned coup. Asked what was done in that direction by his Counsel, he replied that he did not know.

The President, Chief Norman went on, never listened to him when he advised him to be careful about his dealings with certain individuals in the party and that he continued with these advises, but that afterwards he came to realize that H.E. the President had became less interested in there relationship.

Chief Norman went on that sometime after the election in 2002 when he had been appointed Minister of Internal Affairs, he met with the President to inform him that he was seeing signs of dissensions in the party on the ground that he had imposed Solomon Berewa as Vice President on them. According to him, he expressed concern as to whether the people will accept him in the not too long future. The President, he went on after hearing those words from him looking not too happy with him left the meeting to inform the Vice President about what had transpired between them.

On the 10th of March, he said that he was sitting in his official chair as the Minister of Internal Affairs during the morning hours when he received a phone call from the President. Asked about the content of the discussion between him and the President, Chief Norman responded that they discussed nothing other than a question from the President enquiring whether he was in the office. "I just want to know whether you are in the office," he said the President enquired of him on the phone.

He said it was barely five minutes later that he saw police officers in his office headed by Mr. Francis informing him that he was under arrest under the orders of the Special Court. He explained he was immediately handcuffed, taken out of his office to a waiting vehicle painted on the outside, "Ambulance". He described the inside of the vehicle as a dumping ground with no seat or anchor to hold on to while the vehicle is in motion.

He went on to explain further that as the vehicle moved, he fell down and sustained pains in his hip that resulted to him leaping. He said he was rushed to a place in Lumley where he was put into a helicopter and flown to Bonthe where he said he was subjected to very serious maltreatments.

Chief Norman noted that the war was complex and characterized by brutality. He also noted that the war was far from being a conventional war as it involved various factions, a situation he attributed to the extensive loss of lives and properties. According to him, the factions involved fought to the extent of respecting international standards of warfare or had no respect for the Geneva Convention on warfare because, as he indicated, it was a matter of survival. He pointed out that there were no proper order as it was mixed up, between nationals and foreigners leading to difficulty in identifying who the enemy was for either sides of the war. He indicated that this confusion affected the Sierra Leone Army, the Sierra Leone Police, the Kamajors, the Vigilantes and civilians, the international force ECOMOG and the AFRC/RUF alliance.

On the Rules of Engagement for the CDF, he said, were regarded as guiding principles for survival during the war. He noted that the rules were binding on the fighters if they were to survive the war and said that this was explained to every Kamajor fighter on initiation. He said he was also warned against contravening these rules by his Initiator, Mualim Sesay after he was initiated.

According to him, the rules that were against the Kamajor principle include: Involving in a sexual contact with a woman. He said that fighter should restrain himself from his colleagues until the night separates the day and until that particular fighter washes himself fresh clean water. Secondly unless it was by accident there should be no willful killing of those not participating in the conflict. Thirdly that initiates were to be extremely extra careful not to kill a woman irrespective of her age, be it a baby, young or old. Also that initiates should only be interested in warfare not in looting. Those enemy fighters who surrender to them during the course of fighting (POWs) should be protected. That initiates should not have contact with dead bodies.

Chief Norman maintained that the fighters were strictly warned not to contravene these regulations and also stated that in the event where any of them was compelled by circumstances to violate these rules, they were however encouraged to report the incident after which a re-immunization was performed on them. He however noted that where this is not reported by a fighter, his punishment was that he will never return from any battle alive because his immunization has been faltered. The initiation, he said, is necessary because it prepares the minds of the fighters so as not to run away from battle. When one is initiated, he went on, you are traditionally protected from bullets and missiles.

CDF involvement in the war, he further maintained was to assist in the restoration of democracy and the reinstatement of the government of President Tejan Kabbah.

He also disclosed to the court that up to date he is a member of to the ruling SLPP party which he said, he joined in October 1972.




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