RAPAPORT… This week –during former Liberia President Charles Taylor’s war crimes trial– the prosecution heard testimony from witness Abu Keita who described links between Taylor’s inner circle, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF,) and diamonds.
The witness said there were four strategic diamond areas in Kono that the RUF overtook and controlled in Sierra Leone. Those key areas were: The No.11 Plant, which operated full-scale mining; Kaisombo; Opera, where alluvial mining was taking place; and the Sewafe River where mining was conducted with divers.
Civilians worked these mines he said, they were not fed or allowed to keep the diamonds but they were cared for if they grew ill.
Anyone who broke RUF’s diamond mining rules was beaten and hanged.
Keita testified that at one point he’d met with general Ibrahim Bah (formerly of Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia) to advise on finding diamond buyers for RUF’s stones. The RUF’s assigned manager of diamonds was Eddie Kanneh. The United Nations listed Kanneh as commander in charge of buying arms with diamonds in 2001.