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AML human rights abuse case…

Witness denies throwing stones, burning machinery

February 8, 2018 By Regina Pratt

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British Judge Mark Turner has moved his court to Freetown

A native of Ferengbeyah, Alie Kargbo, who is one of the claimants in the alleged human rights violation litigation brought by over a hundred claimants against African Minerals Limited (AML), has told a British Judge, while being cross- examined by defense counsel Moody that: “I did not see any youth throwing stones, or any machine burnt down by them at Simbili Hills, as we were not allowed to go to the hills by AML.”

He told the court that he was a student at the time of the incident and that he knew the AML worker only identified as Yallan, even before the company started operations in the district.

He narrated that Yalan was appointed as Community Liaison Officer and served as negotiator between the community and the company.

“When this incident happened, Yallan did not solve the problem. On the fateful day that my brother was arrested by force the officers broke open the door of our house, beat my brother and dragged him outside until his condition started to change. They left, but other officers came and continued to beat my brother, threw him into the truck and took away some of his properties as I hid in a corner,” the witness testified.

He furthered that he saw Yallan in a certain company vehicle directing officers to arrest and detain perceived rioters.

The defense lawyer asked the witness whether his brother’s statement was more reliable than his own, and replied that he could not tell as he was saying exactly what happened on that day.

“I will never forget that event because of the death of my brother who was paying my school fees,” he said while sobbing.

Another witness, Abubakarr Jalloh, also a native of Ferengbeyah and a former African Mineral Limited contractor, corroborated the testimony of the first witness. “I saw Yallan with three OSD [Operational Support Division] officers walking out from the gate and also overheard one of them saying something will happen today,” he said.

“The two delta officers [OSD] met me at our house verandah and slapped my father. I told them to leave my father but they started beating me up. When I saw a land cruiser driven by Bangura of AML, we were taken to the camp where Yallan instructed soldiers to beat us up, using sticks,” he testified.

Jalloh also testified that he was loaded into a truck and taken to Bumbuna and then to Makeni prison for three months before he was charged to court.

It could be recalled that some one hundred and forty-two (142) claimants from Koinadudgu district in northern Sierra Leone have filed a class action against Tonkolili Iron Ore Ltd, formerly a subsidiary of African Minerals Ltd, in the United Kingdom.

The matter, which is slated for six weeks, commenced in a UK High Court on 29th January against Tonkolili Iron Ore Ltd, which parent company African Minerals Ltd is alleged to have committed human rights abuses against workers and villagers living near one of their mines in Sierra Leone.

The litigants allege that the company played a role in a fatal shooting by the police of a 24-year-old female, whose uncle is one of the claimants, during a protest over working conditions and salary in the 2012 incident. The AML denies liability for the incident.

Law firm Leigh Day is representing the claimants, while Lawyer Moody is the lead defence lawyer.

The matter continues today.