Although the defence lawyers for former President Tejan Kabbah’s former Defence Minister and coordinator of the Civil Defence Forces (CDF) Chief Sam Hinga Norman had tried very hard, yet it was Issa Sesay the former interim rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leader whose lawyer Wayne Jordash succeeded in getting the ex-president to come to the UN backed Special Court for Sierra Leone and testify on the witness stand.
Hinga Norman’s lawyers had wanted President Kabbah to testify on his behalf and somehow help absolve him of the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The court during that period ruled against President Kabbah testifying mainly because at the time he was a sitting president
Last Thursday the defence lawyers argued for ex President Kabbah to testify under some sort of protection, which may have been behind the screen or with his voice distorted or some other measures.
The Judges said No. Then both the Prosecution and Defence counsels agreed that President Kabbah can submit a statement, but again the Judges said no, and ordered that he should come to the court and testify.
As was expected Issa Sesay’s brilliant lawyer got the former president to say on oath that “When it came to the disarmament process itself Issa was very cooperative … was very very cooperative.”
President Kabbah also testified on how Issa Sesay became a leader, which was after the ECOWAS leaders had decided that Foday Sankoh was no longer a credible interlocutor and therefore he had to be replaced. President Kabbah testified that it was former Malian President Alpha Oumarr Konare and Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo who had brought Issa’s letter from Liberia, and that he attempted drafting a response to Issa to say that Sankoh had endorsed him as the Interim leader, but which Foday Sankoh rejected saying that “the boys” would not think the letter is from him.
President Kabbah also spoke about how he was tied to a rope and passed between two ECOMOG ships in mid sea so that he could talk to Foday Sankoh. He did not end there. He maintained that ordering him to testify could possibly have put his life in danger.”The thing that I am worried about and what concerned me was that the you see during the war with all these atrocities committed the civil society people or rather the Civil defence forces those were the ones that really provided the only reliable type of resistance to the onslaught of the rebels now and some of them were saying on the radio yesterday that I refused to come and give evidence in their favour and I’m here to give evidence in favour of the rebels now these are people some of them decent people and everything but they may have some of them that maybe a little hot headed so I have to think of my safety and so on.”
The ex president was not too happy at how journalists had reported his failure to appear on the first scheduled date, the Judges however appeased the ex-president saying that he has proved his critics wrong. By Betty Milton