The transcripts of the trial of Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia. More…

  • [On former affirmation]

  • Yesterday afternoon, Mr Taylor, when we adjourned for the evening we had dealt with your dealings with President Momoh in Sierra Leone. Do you recall that?

  • And we will of course return to your dealings with him when we come to 1991, but I now want to pick up the account in or around 1988/'89. Now, at that stage, were you still resident in Burkina Faso?

  • And help us. Who was the President of Burkina Faso at that time?

  • And what were your relations with him like?

  • Very good. We became very good friends because I had stayed in Burkina Faso since my expulsion, I will call it, from Ghana and so we had grown to be very good friends.

  • What was the availability of travel from Ouagadougou to Tripoli?

  • There were regular weekly flights from Ouagadougou to Tripoli provided by the Russian airline Aeroflot and so it was very easy at least twice a week to travel between Ouagadougou and Tripoli.

  • By let's say the middle of 1988, how many men did you have then training in Libya?

  • The full 168 men were on the ground in Libya by that time.

  • Now, did you consider that number, 168, as being capable of carrying out your project?

  • No, not at all.

  • So how did you plan on using such a small number of men?

  • Excuse me, your Honour. The whole process of having men stay in Libya for two years, as I've mentioned previously to the Court, was to have them train not just as soldiers, but as revolutionaries knowing very well not just the art of war, but how to deal with civilians, how to treat the citizenry in particular and how to remain the what we call eyes and ears of the revolution.

    So our plan then was to train these whole men, may I say, and whole I mean in all aspects: the civilian administration, being military and being able to handle and understand the intricacies of what is necessary if we were lucky to take power that there would not be any excesses. They would then go into the country and because of the sympathy that existed on the ground, and may I say on an extreme level maybe the desire to maybe fight back at Samuel Doe, they would be in a position to take control. So one special force commander, we call them commandos, was capable of handling on his own. Now, let me --

  • Of doing what?

  • Of handling on his own. Let me explain what I mean by handling on his own. As we got into the country and spread, I could send one special force commando to a region and he was capable of organising, identifying people capable of being trained militarily, looking at the civilian administration and being able to practically serve as a type of administrator on his own without having to get that day-to-day instructions from central headquarters. So that is why it took them so long. It was a partial academic training, may I say, military training, administrative. Everything was put into these Special Forces.

  • Now, when did you start moving those men out of Libya?

  • By I would say the second quarter of 1989 we started moving them out of Libya.

  • Into Burkina Faso.

  • And where were they being housed and accommodated in Burkina Faso?

  • Because of the sheer size and number of them, we had requested a place outside of the capital Ouagadougou where they could stay and probably do some work. By work I mean a little farming, because let me just clarify one thing here. By the time these men are about to move we are desperate.

    What do I mean by desperate? Remember I explained to the Court we have not gotten yet a firm okay to move arms that we had been promised but had not received to Sierra Leone because of what I explained of the ambivalence on the part of Momoh and his own fear of what I explained of having such a large amount of arms come into the country.

    Burkina Faso is available, but they really can't help because they don't share a border with Liberia. The men are in Libya, the training is over and they are now anxious to move. Everyone is just jittery about moving. So the only solution is to move them into Burkina Faso and then provide - ask for a place that they could stay and do a little bit of farming at a subsistence level for themselves until something could be worked out. By something I mean that a mechanism was put into place to move them to their objective.

  • Right. So that is the second quarter of 1989?

  • And were they moved in one go, or did they gradually move into Burkina Faso?

  • They were moved, to be exact, I would say in about three to four groups.

  • And help us, who was paying for the transport from Libya to Burkina Faso?

  • The transportation was paid for by the Mataba. That is the Libyan government, I would say.

  • And whilst in Burkina Faso, how much contact did you have with them?

  • By "them" are you referring to the men?

  • Oh, I had all contacts with them. I am living in Burkina Faso before and I am back in Burkina Faso, so they are taken out of town to a place where they could do a little bit of subsistence farming but I visited them regularly.

  • Now those men who moved from Libya to Burkina Faso, what nationality were they?

  • Did either Foday Sankoh or Dr Manneh provide logistics for the move to Burkina Faso?

  • No, no, no, no. At the time Dr Manneh was himself scrambling to get something done, neither he nor I knew Foday Sankoh. So, no, in fact they needed help - he needed help himself.

  • So was there any kind of cooperation between you and either of those two men regarding this issue --

  • Movement not at all, no. In fact, on the Sierra Leonean side I mentioned to the Court that the Sierra Leonean group that was in Libya left before the Liberian group, long before the Liberian group. The only person that was in Burkina Faso, as we moved in, was Kukoi Samba Sanyang, the Gambian leader.

  • Now did they know, that is Sankoh and Dr Manneh, that you were moving your men from Libya to Burkina Faso?

  • No, I keep hearing the word - the name Sankoh. Sankoh is not in the picture. I don't know him. He - in fact Kabbah, Ali Kabbah, has disappeared with his men several months before the Liberian movement, so the only person that is aware as we are in Burkina Faso and moving is Dr Manneh who has his little group of men already on the ground in Burkina Faso.

  • So did you consult with anyone at all about the movement of these men from Libya to Burkina Faso?

  • So who did you consult with?

  • The President of Burkina Faso. He is the only one that I consulted. I had to get his agreement - his okay - to move the men back into Burkina Faso. He was explained to - in fact he knew the difficulties we were running into and expressed some sympathy for what we were going through, but there was very little that he could do except help with our lodging because he didn't have the type of arms and ammunition that would have helped us to go into Liberia.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, you had told us yesterday about the other organisers of the NPFL. Did you consult with them about this movement?

  • Oh, yes. Ellen knew. Tom Woweiyu knew. When you talk - when you use the - I am sorry if the Court got confused. When you say consulted, they were informed. Discussions occurred. I interpreted consultations in a little different way, but they were informed and aware because they were part of the organisation and did not necessarily need consultations because they were a part of the whole planning process for movement. So I am sorry if I misunderstood what you said.

  • And help us, did either of those two visit with you and the men whilst you were in Burkina Faso?

  • Mr President, this entire line of questioning has been leading in the sense it's calling for yes or no answers, it includes in the question suggestions as to the answers and we would ask that Defence counsel ask open ended non-leading questions.

  • I totally disagree, Mr President. I suggest it's not leading at all, because none of my questions have suggested the answer I submit.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • No, we will overrule you, Ms Hollis. Go ahead, Mr Griffiths.

  • How did you supply the men whilst they were in Burkina Faso?

  • Well let me just ask the time of the Court. I had not answered your question did either of the two go to Burkina Faso, yes. Tom Woweiyu visited us in Burkina Faso. Ellen did not while we were in Burkina Faso. She visited at another time at another place, but I will wait for that part.

  • Now, how did you provide for the men whilst they were in Burkina Faso?

  • While in Burkina Faso the Mataba, knowing our dilemma, continued to assist with a little bit of money - by a little bit of money I mean a few thousand dollars, $3,000/$5,000 - but the government of Burkina Faso at the time helped to provide some basic food stuff as sustenance to the men.

  • And at this stage did you have any supplies of arms and ammunition?

  • We are going to object again. This is more than directing the witness. This is indicating what - that in fact he is talking about supplies. He is directing it. He is asking for yes or no answers. He is not asking for explanations.

  • Well what I see in these questions, even though we are now outside the indictment period, is an attempt to answer in context the allegations in the indictment.

  • Yes, and as my learned friend Justice Sebutinde says and also the Prosecution evidence to the contrary. So I will overrule the objection and I will allow the question.

  • No, we had no arms and neither did we have any ammunition. Let me just remind the Court that one of the reasons why we are in this mess - and by mess I mean not going straight to Liberia - is because we don't have the means to go. Here is Momoh willing but hedging, Burkina Faso does not have the arms and ammunition necessary to carry out the objective and so we are just stuck and have to wait for a mechanism because second to that without the arms and ammunition we can't enter Liberia just that way. So we did not have anything at this time and that is the cause of the delay in Burkina Faso.

  • Now, yesterday you told us that there was another group of Liberians in Libya. Do you recall telling us that?

  • And they were under the control of whom?

  • Dr Henry B Fahnbulleh had taken them to Libya.

  • What had happened to those men?

  • At some point during the training the group that he had taken to Libya was apparently very small. I do not know the quantity, but a question arose at the Mataba as to the capacity for his men to be able to stage any successful revolution in Liberia and, secondly, the wisdom in having two competing Liberian groups in Libya at the same time.

    Now, the reason why I know his group was smaller is because a decision was taken that the two groups should come together and that their group should join our group because their group was smaller. And I am using "smaller" just in that sense because I don't know the numbers. But because their group was said to be smaller I have to say that it was less than 168.

    Dr Fahnbulleh did not agree. In fact, we had not sat to discuss this. He and I did not meet while we were there. And so, the group broke up.

    Two persons that were attached to his group decided that they would not leave. They would join the NPFL. The two - one was, and I am saying was, because he is deceased, was called Putu, that's P-U-T-U, Putu Major, that's M-A-J-O-R. The second is Paul Nimely, who is presently in Liberia - decided that they would join us and this is what brought the total up to now, instead of - we've been using the total of 168 in terms of the final number, but it was 166 plus two that led to the 168. So I've used in 168 in looking at the total NPFL at the time, but I think it's appropriate now that we explained that it grew to 168 as a result of these two that were connected to Dr Fahnbulleh joining the NPFL instead of leaving the training programme.

  • Now, what was the relationship like, Mr Taylor, between you and your men?

  • Well, I would say bittersweet, more sweet than bitter, and let me explain what I mean by this. While we were in training - and by we I mean the NPFL. Let me note here that I did not take any military training. A little group within the NPFL decided that they would use me, put the revolution together. They had already said to me - remember I explained to this Court that the decision for the leadership of the NPFL was made by the men and there was an agreement I mentioned to this Court that upon the completion of the revolution I would be President, but one of them should be Vice-President. And I will explain later how Moses Blah became Vice-President, not because of any big qualification but because of that promise.

    They decided - by "they" that little group in the NPFL decided that great, we want to do this but when we get on the ground and succeed to a particular point we will kill him. Since one of us will be Vice-President we will have everything in our hands. Most of them did not agree. This story broke up and a bunch of them were found to be involved in this conspiracy. Those that were found and even disciplined on the base included a gentleman called Anthony Mekunagbe. That name has come through - it's on the records. There was Oliver Varney. There was the late also Samuel Varney. You also had another one called Timothy Mulibah. Also a part of that group was a gentleman called Yegbeh Degbon. That is also on the record. That name has come forward. These are the individuals that formed this little gang. They were dealt with on the base by being punished, but as we go further we will know that they still harboured this intention as the revolution started.

  • What do you mean as we go forward?

  • Well, once we get into Liberia something unfolds and I am not sure I want to jump the gun here, but something unfolds because that group kicks into motion and begins planning all over and they are caught and that group of generals that was brought forward here by the Prosecution, including the Oliver Varney, the Mekunagbe, they end up being tried and executed in Liberia. That is what I mean as we go forward, so we will get to that.

  • Okay. Now, as far as you are aware, was the Doe regime aware of your presence in Burkina Faso?

  • I, based on my - and I make this statement based on my own knowledge of intelligence. I would just say he should have known. It would have been - it would have been silly if he didn't know because of the time that it had taken, and knowing that some people, by some people I mean the group that we left in la Cote d'Ivoire - by group I mean some of the names like Duopu, Nyuan, and all of these, Harry Nyuan, had all not gone. There was, I can say, that distinct possibility that he should have known.

  • Now, you've already told us of an attempt by the Doe regime to extradite you from the United States?

  • Was that the only attempt he made to extradite you?

  • No. As I was arrested in Sierra Leone by the late inspector of police Bambi Kamara, that news had spread that I had been picked up in Sierra Leone. Doe requested at that time that I be sent back to Liberia.

  • Not that I can recollect at this particular time.

  • So let's go to Burkina Faso then. How long did your men remain in Burkina Faso?

  • From the second quarter of '89 up until I would say the about the beginning of the fourth quarter of '89. That is I would put it to around October. We had gotten very desperate. Things had not changed. There appeared to be no way and we were within inches of losing the men. Some of them were threatening to leave. So we decided to leave on or about I would say the middle to the end of October.

  • And went where?

  • We decided to spread in la Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea. Those that were from the Mahn or the Mano ethnic group could go to Guinea. Those from the Dan ethnic group could go to la Cote d'Ivoire. And, for your Honours, you have the Dan ethnic group predominantly in la Cote d'Ivoire, also in Liberia, and the Mahn, which are the Manos, are also in Liberia and mostly in Guinea. So the Mahns are more closely attached to the Guinean side of the border and the Dans are more attached to the Dans on the Ivorian side.

    So we tried to break them up and put them back into these countries to begin doing minor work while we continued to fight to see if we could find locally, and by locally, I mean from security groups and friends - if we could get - you know, maybe buy a few rifles to at least start something, because these men were well trained and they kept saying to me: "Chief, look, we are trained. We will go in without weapons if we have to and we will have to get weapons even if we have to steal them from the army until we get sufficient". So they were anxious and so we split them up in these countries to just stay low and see if we could work something.

    In the meantime I obtained a few thousands dollars from the Mataba that would have assisted us if we found such sympathy amongst the securities either of the Guinean side of the border or the Ivorian side that we could in fact buy a few rifles if they were available.

  • So how long did this particular period of dispersal last for?

  • It lasted for close to two months and that is as of late October, or thereabouts, all November and most of December. By most of December, if the Court recognises, we launched the revolution on the 29th, so that's almost I would say a full two months. So we had pushed and pushed and set a date that come hell or high waters we would have to do something on that date and so we were in that area for close to two months.

  • And what were you doing during that period?

  • I would say sweating blocks of ice. I was under so much pressure. I couldn't afford to lose the men and they were on my back door. I was under tremendous pressure, moving around, visiting them surreptitiously, going in and trying to stay in contact, you know, to get something going, between Burkina Faso, la Cote d'Ivoire. I did not go into Guinea. I would come into la Cote d'Ivoire. And these men were not concentrated, I am using the general name la Cote d'Ivoire - not in Abidjan area. They were concentrated on the Ivorian-Liberian border in a major town called Bin-Houye. I think that's B-E-I-N and I think it's H-U-E-I. It's a French word. If we have got a map I am sure we will find it. It's Bin-Houye. These are all Gio towns spread across the border and so - but I was moving up and down during that particular period, trying to get things to work and finally resulted to unorthodox tactics to get the revolution started.

  • And what was that?

  • We had to end up buying hunting guns, shotguns, 12 gauge shotguns, and shotguns shells in la Cote d'Ivoire that was available on the regular market.

  • How many of those were you able to buy?

  • We bought a total of three shotguns and a lot of shotguns shells. The whole point was then what to do with these three shotguns. It was decided that, look, there was an army post of not more - I would speculate not more than about a platoon, that's about 44 men and probably not up to about 50. The whole point was that we would attack that post, get the ammo dump, by that I mean where the armoury was kept, and use those weapons to begin. Now, at that outpost --

  • Where was that?

  • In the town of Gbutuo, that is on the records here - Gbutuo, right on the Liberia-Ivorian border. And that was the strategy. It was a very risky one. Quite frankly, I didn't believe it would work. But, like I said, these men were well trained and they had the confidence and were very brave men and so we decided to use that method. But we also put into place a second plan and that is what we are going to get to. We did not just - that was one of about three plans put into place.

  • Well, tell us about the others, please?

  • While we were in training we had established contact with some of the Mahn and Dan ethnic members of the Armed Forces of Liberia that were stationed both in the capital of Monrovia and at Camp Schefflein. We sent regular messages into Liberia. In fact, one of the guys that was being trained as a special force came periodically from Libya and went into Liberia, so there was a group within the Armed Forces of Liberia that was aware of this operation taking place.

    We also made some contacts at Camp Naama. That is on the records also, N-A-A-M-A, in Bong County. We had in our midst a former colonel of the Armed Forces of Liberia, Colonel Samuel Varney. Varney was a trained veteran of about 25/30 years of the armed forces. Now, Camp Naama served as the artillery base in the Republic of Liberia. Naama is about the largest military base in Liberia. It hosted the artillery command and the then engineering command of the Armed Forces of Liberia. Now, Colonel Varney once commanded that base and had sympathy and respect amongst the officers on that base.

    Now, what we did was we sent him with that Guinean delegation on that operation - I am using the word "delegation", sorry, with that Guinean group, and their job was to try to get in on the base, find some of the loyalists to Colonel Varney and use them to start and take over Camp Naama.

    The third part of this was to send into Monrovia, both at the Barclay Training Centre and Camp Schefflein, some of our Special Forces that would be at those bases with their contacts that once the operation started on the border we anticipated that the Naama and the Gbutuo operation would take place. That would draw the Armed Forces of Liberia to begin to move reinforcement out of the city to the border. Those Special Forces in town and their collaborators would then seize Schefflein and BTC, which meant a very quick operation. This is how it was planned.

    Unluckily for us we had - and I don't want to be held to specific numbers. It has been a long time. But we sent into Monrovia about a command or platoon of about 44 men. They were divided into those two areas. Unsuccessfully for us, as the men were infiltrating into Monrovia some of them had reached their targets. They did not go in a group of a platoon. It would be silly. It took us several days to infiltrate them by the twos, by the threes, different - it may have taken us almost a week to infiltrate the men in there.

    The last group, as they were going into the city, some way somehow as information sometimes will leak the security picked it up and some of these men were arrested immediately, a few of them killed and the rest of them commenced exposing the plan, confessing. Even those that had already reached their destination at both Camp Schefflein and the Barclay Training Centre were very much in danger and they too began to scatter and trying to find their way back to the border to join the group that was supposed to attack Gbutuo.

    The group that was on their way to Camp Naama --

  • From where?

  • From la Cote d'Ivoire through Guinea. They were already in Guinea, leaving to get to Camp Naama, and they had to travel all the way near a town in Guinea called Nzerekore.

  • I am sorry, I am going to need some help from the Court on this one. That is in Guinea. It's a border town in Guinea.

  • Pronounce it again for us, please.

  • Unlucky for us a trained soldier sometimes is good, but sometimes he can be stupid. The way they moved and behaved there were other soldiers there that looked at these guys and said, "But you guys look a little different. I mean, your movements are movements of military people." And what happened to those boys that was explained to me later is there is a trick that I think military people use. At the back of the foot, behind the heel, a soldier can be picked up almost immediately. It's a little darkened because of the wearing of the boots. That was the inspection that was carried out on them and they saw the dark spot between the heel, coming up to the ankle. They said, "But you guys should have been in military training", and they ended up arresting most of them and so that part of the plan had failed.

    The only other thing that was left was Gbutuo and these men successfully went into Gbutuo and successfully are led by Prince Johnson.

  • How many men?

  • By this time the group that went to Gbutuo I would say was about a platoon and a half, around 60 plus men. Not more than a platoon and a half, because remember I said we had spread these men. There were only 168 men and we had spread them out.

    They successfully captured Gbutuo and it took another full day to two for those that were fleeing Monrovia. Imagine having to escape from Monrovia. There is only one road from Monrovia all the way up country through Gbarnga to the border. Some of them had to be avoiding security checkpoints. In fact, it took some of the boys almost up to a week to finally get back to their units. By this time the units have captured Gbutuo and have started advancing inward and so those boys reached.

    The group in Guinea we had to use some of their friends that they knew, because remember I said they had been sent into Guinea with the Mahn ethnic individuals that they knew. They all started putting pressures in, "These are our family people. They are not soldiers", so eventually I would say within five to seven days they were released.

    So what happens is everyone started moving back to la Cote d'Ivoire and by this time everybody knows that the troops are moving, so I would say by the second week almost the entire unit is now together and moving in the country.

  • When you say "entire unit", how many men are we talking about?

  • I am talking about approximately - the unit now I would say about one hundred and I would say fifty, because the rest of the men some of them are serving as security to me hiding out in la Cote d'Ivoire.

  • So you are in la Cote d'Ivoire at that time?

  • Oh, definitely. I don't go in with the men. I am not a soldier, so I don't go in.

  • Where in la Cote d'Ivoire?

  • So who was actually directing operations at the front line?

  • We initially had chosen a gentleman, late now, by the name of Isaac Musa. He turned out to be not able, or maybe he didn't have the stomach, to carry out the operation and immediately a very professional soldier, Prince Johnson, who before joining the NPFL was a trained member of the Armed Forces of Liberia, Prince Johnson immediately moved forward and led the operation that captured Gbutuo. And then once the information got to me I just authorised him to continue to hold over the command of the unit since Isaac Musa had retreated and was with me now in la Cote d'Ivoire, so Prince Johnson was ordered by me to hold the command of the unit.

  • What was Prince Johnson like?

  • Well, first of all Prince is now a senator in the Republic of Liberia. He is there. Prince Johnson is, or was then, a professional soldier and a disciplinarian. A very, very tough and professional soldier, I would say, and tough to the point that maybe sometimes he went a little overboard, but he was very professional.

  • What do you mean he went a little overboard?

  • Before the NPFL launched its revolution in Liberia, there was what is called in the military an operational order. That operational order laid down in black and white and spelt out the behaviour and comportmentation of the men as military people; what they could do and what they could not do. That operational order was strict and it was clear to them that who did not follow that operational order would be court-martialled and would be dealt with.

    Now, there arose an incident in Liberia as Prince was commanding. A couple of the Special Forces misbehaved. I think they fled in the sight of battle and endangered the troops. Now, Prince got annoyed and he executed them. Now, he did not have the authority to do that. He had no right to do that. That report reached to me and I ordered that he report and be available for an investigation.

    Because of your question I will stop there, okay? So I have just explained that he was a disciplinarian, but that is what I meant by sometimes he went a little overboard. While he could have taken action by arresting these men and probably disciplining them, he did not have a right to take that action against them and that is why I ordered his arrest.

  • Now, was the attack upon Gbutuo successful?

  • Extraordinarily successful. We captured the post and all the arms and ammunition that they had in the armoury, plus some of the soldiers that just ran and dropped their arms, and so by the end of the Gbutuo attack I can say almost all of the 60 men that had gone into Gbutuo had at least a rifle.

  • Were you in contact with the men from where you were in Bin-Houye?

  • What they would do - in fact, the first thing that Prince did very well I remember he sent back - we would have a courier, someone who would leave Gbutuo and it is just a few hours walk to the big town of Bin-Houye, and they will go in and report to me. Every day Prince sent someone to report to me in the progress every day.

  • And what progress was being made after Gbutuo?

  • Oh, the men were moving. They were moving very fast. They had captured Gbutuo and moved on forward to another town called Tiaplay. I am sure it's in the record, Tiaplay. They covered most of the border towns and maybe in some future if I got a map I can point it out.

  • Well, that is precisely what I am trying to do.

  • They moved and by this time don't let's forget - let me remind the Court we are in friendly territory. Nimba is friendly territory. So thousands of people are coming in immediately, which any training group would do. Training bases are opened immediately to volunteers. So there are thousands of people coming. And as rumours would have it, and this is where we have now that we are dealing with, that's what's got me here, there are good rumours and there are bad rumours. Now, there were some good rumours at the time that the NPFL had entered with thousands of men, and so the Armed Forces of Liberia was really put off track, but that was not true. We only had the exact number that I mentioned to this Court. So this whole bad rumour of thousands of men, just threw the Armed Forces of Liberia off and they were just - we went into towns that we didn't have to fight. I mean, they were just running and leaving the place. Okay.

    And those that were further away from Nimba, because what Doe had done successfully, the troops that are placed in Nimba - remember, Nimba is a hotbed, Doe is already angry, so the soldiers that are in Nimba are neither members of the Dan nor the Mahn ethnic groups. So these soldiers are just fleeing. They know they are in hostile territory so they just virtually desert. So within a very short time, within the first month, we had virtually captured all of Nimba County.

  • Pause there. I wonder if we could display this map helpfully provided by the Prosecution on an earlier occasion.

  • While that is happening I wonder if the witness could indicate kind of a time line when he says the Gbutuo attack happened, in terms of a month maybe and a year.

  • Also the attack on the Nimba County.

  • If you could explain that, please, Mr Taylor, which is a very clear question.

  • Yes. Gbutuo occurred on 29 December 1989, exactly on that particular day, and we progressed. Gbutuo is in Nimba County and it is from that point that we commenced spreading into Nimba.

  • The map is labelled L1 for the assistance of my learned friends. Mr Taylor, I wonder if you could change seats for a moment, please.

  • Mr Griffiths, does the Bench have that map?

  • You should, your Honour. It should be the first - you know that bundle is divided into two sections and the second section is the Liberia section. It should be the first map in that section, I think. Or it was at least in my bundle. It's the one that looks like that.

  • These exhibits are given numbers. It would be helpful --

  • We have an L section in this but it helpfully starts at L2, Mr Griffiths.

  • I am sure it has helpfully been put in a completely inconvenient position.

  • We have found it now, Mr Griffiths. It was on the back of another map.

  • Do we all have the map, your Honours?

  • I think we do now, yes. I think you can go ahead, Mr Griffiths.

  • Mr Taylor, with the assistance of this map, I wonder if we could now just briefly review some of the information you've recently given us. Firstly, can you locate Bin-Houye in the Cote d'Ivoire?

  • Could you just indicate - point the pen at it, please. We see you are indicating just over the border in Cote d'Ivoire spelt B-I-N H-O-U-Y-E?

  • So that is where you were based?

  • Can you also see Gbutuo?

  • Yes. Just above Bin-Houye there is Buutuo that's spelt B-U-U-T-U-O. Just above on the Liberian side there is Buutuo right there.

  • Now, I want us to be quite clear about this, Mr Taylor, because if you look just to the left of the word Bin-Houye there is a B-E-A-T-U-O as well.

  • That is a town in Nimba but that is not called Buutou. That's Beatuo.

  • Okay. So it's the one above Buutou?

  • Yes. Buutuo is just above the name Bin-Houye. That is Buutuo on the border. Further down what you talked about is Beatuo. Those are two different towns.

  • And can you just indicate for us Nimba County.

  • I will just use the back of the pen. Nimba runs in this direction. It includes Tappita, all the way, I see Sagleipie, come all the way up here. This entire horn coming all the way down through here is Nimba County.

  • Now, you mentioned that rapid progress was made and that you captured Tappita. Where is Tappita?

  • Right here. "Tapitta". I am sure your Honours can see that, where I am pointing. That's Tappita right there.

  • And how long did it take for your troops to capture Tappita?

  • I would say by the end of January of 1990 to the beginning of February we had captured Tappita.

  • And what about the rest of Nimba County?

  • Let me just explain here. If you look up, your Honours, going toward the horn of Nimba there is a place here where I am pointing called Sanniquellie. Now, if you follow that red line coming on down you are going to come to Ganta. That red line is the only highway that runs all the way through Liberia, all the way down to Monrovia. The only highway. So this section of Nimba was about the last area to be captured. But what we did do, realising that the strength of the armed forces then had moved into Ganta using the highway, we moved westward, coming into the direction of Buchanan, down here, where we had the least resistance. So while we had not captured all of Nimba County by the - let's say the beginning to the middle of February, but we had advanced substantially westward into the areas of less resistance. Okay. Because this is all bush area, forest area, so the commandos took the liberty of moving westward.

    So I just - I am saying this because I don't want the Court to believe that we are just stuck in Nimba trying to grab Nimba and if we have not grabbed it we have not moved, no. We are spreading and capturing those areas. So we were able for example to actually capture Buchanan before we even captured Gbarnga, which comes further down on that Monrovia Highway. If you follow my pen coming on down there is Gbarnga, right there. So you will see that we had moved from Gbutuo, all the way westward, but we had not moved fast enough going northeastward.

    If your Honours need any more clarification, I don't want it to be confusing, because we are not just stationary, the troops are spreading out. The areas of most resistance, we leave in a particular direction. The area of less resistance, we move full force and this is what we were doing.

  • Okay. Can we leave that map there for the moment, please, Mr Taylor, and could you return to your other seat, please. Now, you've spoken there about the geographical advance of your men. In terms of numbers that you can call upon, had there been any advance in that respect?

  • You mean in terms of increase in numbers?

  • Oh, tremendous. By about the first month, which we are now moving into, January, there are, like I mentioned, thousands of ordinary Liberians coming in, volunteering to fight. So I would say within that month of January we could have had as many - and I do not want to exaggerate. I would say as many as 7 to 10,000 volunteers that had come from Nimba County. Others had been walking from Bong County. We had two training bases that had to be opened immediately. There was not even any place for them to sleep in, because this is the rainforest region. They, being trained as guerrillas, had to sleep in the forest areas where - so it was just a large, large, large group.

  • Can you assist us with the locations of those two training bases?

  • Yes. The first training base was opened in a town called Tiaplay. That's on the map. The second was opened in the town called Gborplay.

  • I apologise for moving you around like this, Mr Taylor, but before we lose contact with that point I wonder if you could just briefly change seats again, please, and point out those two locations for us?

  • Mr Griffiths, what was the name of that last town?

  • The last town was called Gborplay. That's G-B-O-R-P-L-A-Y, Gborplay.

  • So the first place was called Tiaplay?

  • Tiaplay. If you look upward, I would say going up the map toward the horn above where we just came from Buutuo, there is a place there where I am pointing T-I-A-P-L-A-Y, that's Tiaplay.

  • And the other location was?

  • Gborplay. I am looking now to see that Gborplay is a little town right on the border. I am not sure if Gborplay is shown on this map.

  • How do you spell it?

  • G-B-O-R-P-L-A-Y. It is a little town right on the border there and I am not sure if it's mentioned on this map.

  • Do you see where there is B-O-R-G-P-L-A-Y, just to the left of Buutuo? Just to the left of Buutuo in the blue, do you see a town beginning B-O-R-G-P-L-A-Y?

  • Okay. Well, that is - okay. That's Gborplay, but it's supposed to be G-B because that phonetic "bor", maybe this was done by an American or English group, they can't do that "bor".

  • Above it do you see a G-B-O-L-O-R --

  • I am looking. Are we looking at the same map?

  • Maybe something is wrong with my glasses because I don't - I see Garplay, but I just --

  • Very well, if it's not there, Mr Taylor, let's not delay over it. Let's move on.

  • Let's try and do without the map for a while while I ask about something else. Now, taking things slowly, firstly, at those two training camps, who was in charge of training?

  • The training camps were under the command of one of our Special Forces called Samuel Sleshee. That's spelt S-L-E-S-H-E-E. It's pronounced Sleshee. It's a Gio name so I may not even get it right myself, but it's Sam Sleshee, one of our Special Forces commanders.

  • And what did the training involve?

  • The training involved basic military formation, covering and concealing oneself, learning how to disassemble and assemble rifles, learning how to carry out military formation, learning orders. They were taught, again, how to deal with civilians. They were taught not to take food or other items in their handling of civilians. I mentioned on yesterday they were again taught about what we call cordon and search operational procedures and I explained to the justice, the President, what I meant by cordon on yesterday. Basically - and also the rules of - to the extent about the arrest and treatment of prisoners of war.

  • How long did that training last, Mr Taylor?

  • The training - the initial training lasted for about six weeks. Subsequent trainings were much longer. Now, let me just let you know that we should take into consideration here that by the time this training is going on, members of the Armed Forces of Liberia that are from the Nimba region are now working their way backward. Members of the police that were trained - the police in Liberia were trained as task force personnel. By this time they have worked their way back.

  • I don't understand you, Mr Taylor.

  • Worked their way back? What do you mean?

  • The war is going on. These are Nimbadiens and other tribal groups that really want to join the fight. They are not in the Nimba area, they are away from Nimba. But as the war is going on, those men that are armed and at locations in counties that border Nimba begin to come back and join the rebels. So the amount is swelling while this training is going on.

  • And those former police officers and the like who come back, as you say, did they also require training?

  • No, no. The trained men went straight into combat.

  • Exactly who was being trained?

  • I was coming to that:

  • So exactly who was being trained then, Mr Taylor?

  • The volunteers from Nimba that had joined. The civilian voluntarily population that had come in their thousands were the people being trained.

  • And help us. What was the gender of those volunteers, civilian volunteers?

  • No one was accepted for military training or military combat under the age of 18.

  • Were there any volunteers under the age of 18?

  • Yes, there were. There were volunteers under the age of 18, but they came and they provided services to the training command.

  • They would what we call go for water, cut wood for cooking and wash clothes, you know, for those that were in the training command. They would carry out services for the training command.

  • Was there any system of conscription?

  • No. No. The NPFL did not have to worry about conscription because we - there were too many people available. People volunteered, came forward, and we received them. We did not have to go out asking people. They came in their thousands.

  • Was anyone forced to join the NPFL?

  • To the best of my knowledge, no. This is not to mean that some people were not influenced because of the connections of their family, but, for someone to be forced to join the NPFL, no, not at all. No, not to my knowledge.

  • This Court has heard evidence about the phenomenon of so-called bush wives. Did that occur?

  • To the best of my knowledge, no. Bush wives, as I heard in the - during the trial testimony, did not occur in Liberia, no. We did not have - at the time that we started this revolution, no, that did not happen with my knowledge. It would not have been accepted, because that would have constituted rape and we executed several soldiers for that. So we were very, very, very, very stringent.

    That phenomena in Liberia, I can't see it because you can have more than one wife. So, you know, and there are tribal procedures for getting married. We didn't have to go and get a licence. There were procedures that you could have one, two, three wives. So I am not claiming before this Court that that did not happen. I would not make such a claim. I am saying that to the best of my knowledge, it was not brought to my attention and if it had happened and it had been brought to my attention, that soldier would have been dealt with.

  • Now, assist us with this: You've already recounted the history of the behaviour of the NPFL in Nimba County, and the majority of your Special Forces, and indeed recruits, you tell us, were Manos and Gios, yes?

  • That is correct.

  • Bearing in mind their experience, did you appreciate that revenge may be on their minds?

  • What did you do to curb or forestall any such behaviour; if anything?

  • The first real indication of where we started taking action was, it was brought to my attention that while it was true the soldiers that were killed by Prince Johnson had done something wrong, but it was also brought to my attention that that was also based on an old family conflict. And immediately, the action was taken in an attempt to arrest Prince Johnson, we did not, but, the pursuit of Prince Johnson commenced and we chased Prince Johnson from the Gborplay area all the way into Monrovia. We did not relent.

    I said that Prince Johnson had to be arrested at all costs. He got afraid that we might take some very stringent actions as maybe court-martialling him and probably killing him and so he did not yield but, as we continued, every soldier, and I am not going to sit here and play no angel, every military personnel of the NPFL that violated that operational order that I explained before this Court by raping a woman or murdering a civilian or murdering another soldier, was court-martialled and a decision of that court martial was carried out to the limit.

  • But hold on a second, Mr Taylor. We are not just talking about Special Forces now, are we? We are talking about civilians without that training who might have revenge in their hearts. What did you do to try and curb that?

  • I mentioned to this Court that the Special Forces were also trained to turn these matters over to civilian courts. We did not dismantle the NPFL. When I say we, we did not dismantle the civilian structures that were on the ground. And they were told and taught that if civilians committed acts against civilians they went to justices of the peace. They were dealt with by civilian administration. Maybe this is one of the reasons why I won such a large percentage during the elections.

    When we got in, we knew what we wanted. Civilian activities remained. This is why - it's not to say that civilians did not do wrong things, but all of those executed were soldiers and so you wonder, "Well, did only soldiers do bad things?" No. But civilians that committed crimes were judged in civilian courts and they were sentenced and put in jail, so there were jails, there were justices of the peace, there were judges still that were put back into place in NPFL held territory.

  • You mentioned bad things, Mr Taylor. What are you talking about?

  • Well, by bad things I mean let's say if a civilian went and stole or killed another civilian, or went on their little old family tribal feud, that is what I am talking about, you would be dealt with in a civilian environment.

  • But, Mr Taylor, we are not just talking about stealing other people's property, are we?

  • No, we are talking about killing.

  • This Court has heard evidence about roadblocks festooned with human entrails and human heads. We've heard about decapitations and the like. Those kinds of things. Now, help us. Did they occur?

  • To the best of my knowledge, let me explain what I heard here from this boy Marzah. There were at checkpoints in Liberia skulls, not human heads. Skulls were used as symbols of death. I saw them, yes, not what the Prosecution said he drove by human heads. I drove by those skulls. They were used as symbols, I asked specifically, and these were not our people. The combat had gone on, enemy soldiers had been killed and skulls were used. I knew that and did not bother it, because again I am a member of western fraternal organisations. Symbols as skulls are used now today in western circles, at universities and other things.

    I saw - and I will be honest because this is about my life. I saw nothing wrong with using skulls. It's a blatant diabolical lie that I, Charles Ghankay Taylor, or anyone because of the discipline we had would drive by a human head and intestine.

    But let's think about it for a minute. How long would an animal intestine last? How long? If you even took an animal, say a sheep or a goat, intestine and you tied it up in the sun, within a few hours it would probably be disintegrated. It is total nonsense just to try to advertise and make this big publicity as though people are brutes and savages. Well, we are not. I am not.

    There were skulls, I knew of them and let me tell me I am a past noble father of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows. It's in Britain. It's in the United States. It is western. If any Oddfellow member is hearing this, we know what symbols are. Those were only skulls that I saw and would not have tolerated anyone killing or putting some human head up. It would have never happened and did not happen.

  • Mr Taylor, who was using these human skulls and where did they come from?

  • These skulls are enemy soldiers that are killed. Enemy soldiers were not buried during the war. Some bodies - some skulls were found. Some soldiers got lost. Some of them died. They did not bury. We buried our dead. It was compulsory that we bury our dead. No soldier left - if an NPFL soldier died he had to bury him. So these were enemy skulls that after you have fought in an area and people came by and they went in the bushes, if you found a skull you brought the skull and you put it at the gate as a symbol of death.

  • I am just curious why was it necessary for the NPFL to do this - to display skulls?

  • As I say, your Honour, it was a symbol. They use it as a symbol that death had occurred by the enemy.

  • Was it to instill fear, Mr Taylor?

  • Well one could assume that if someone saw a skull, of course, normally it would - it could instill fear, but a skull even in fraternal organisations is used also to say certain things that, "If you do wrong, this is the result." I am not going to go over - I don't have permission to expose western fraternities but, when you use symbols, symbols are designed to give a lesson that, "Look, here is the situation. If you don't do this then this happens, okay? This is the result of not following orders, okay?" That is why these skulls - not at every gate, but there were certain areas that skulls were there. I saw them, I investigated and I got to realise that they were enemy skulls and we did not think that that symbol meant anything wrong.

  • Let's not deal with investigation yet please, Mr Taylor. Did you order the setting up of skulls at these checkpoints?

  • No, no, no, no. I had the operational order as a way of instilling fear. I did not - I did not order that, no. I mean, why would I? No, not at all.

  • Was it part of NPFL policy --

  • -- to make areas fearful by such devices?

  • No, not at all. Let me just again deal with that word "fearful" as was interpreted in Liberia by the NPFL. If you reached a village, from a guerilla standpoint - now, I know all the hoopla that has been around about going to murder to make areas fearful. For the NPFL let me tell this Court what fearful meant. If you reached a village and the village was abandoned but you saw food and maybe you saw smoke but there is not one human, a guerilla was taught in the NPFL to be leaving right away. It was possible that an enemy was there and probably there was a possible ambush and so that area was a fearful area.

    That's how our commandos were trained, because ambushes can be - you get in a village and you see no-one, but you see let's say raw rice and you see smoke maybe from where there had been fire, it's possible that other soldiers were there and abandoned it. And we did fall - some of my soldiers did fall into ambush in that particular way.

    So from that particular point there were strict instructions that, "When you meet a deserted area, but signs of life, you must know it's a trap." That's what we interpreted a fearful area as being, not an orgy of murder and rape and nonsense. I sat here and listened to all of that. That is what the NPFL - any trained guerilla and any military person here would know you don't play with those kind. Those are the fearful areas in the NPFL. Deserted area, but sign of life that you have to be concerned about. So immediately they were taught, "You move into this area and you see it, what do you do? You withdraw immediately and observe the area for some time to see as to whether it is an ambush in the making."

  • Very well, but I'm still going to press you further on this topic. You accept, from what you've said, that you saw skulls at such checkpoints?

  • So why didn't you do something about it?

  • Because, as I said, I did not interpret the presence of a skull - and not a head - at that particular point as it was interpreted as a symbol, and knowing that I had also seen skulls in fraternal organisations that are western I felt that there was nothing wrong with a skull.

    I am not talking about - and I may as well clear this up. I am not talking about hundreds of skulls scattered all over the place. We are talking about at certain strategic junctions you may see a skull. I am not talking about not more than I would say a handful of strategic points where there would be such, but I had seen skulls before in university in the United States in fraternal organisations. I knew I had seen skulls in fraternal well-known organisations. Quite frankly, it could be considered a bad judgment. I did not consider it a bad judgment and I did not order them removed.

  • Mr Taylor, I am still pressing you on this --

  • -- because we are not talking about a campus at an American university. We are talking about Liberia.

  • Did it cross your mind that by not doing something about it you, the leader of the NPFL, would be seen as condoning that activity?

  • Quite frankly my interpretation of that particular skull being there did not cross my mind as something that will come up where the leader of the NPFL would be said to have condoned this or that, no. I did not see the presence of that symbol as being at that time, in my own calculation, what it has been interpreted here otherwise of being.

  • Mr Taylor, were atrocities committed by members of the NPFL or individuals hiding behind the NPFL banner? Were they?

  • Did you know that such activities were taking place?

  • We found out that they were taking place and we acted in bringing those responsible to justice.

  • Mr Taylor, do you accept that such activities were quite widespread?

  • I do not accept that at all, that it was widespread, because of the action that was taken against those individuals. Look, when you see the leader of the NPFL court-martial generals and Special Forces - and don't forget it took me two years. These were the best trained men, I can almost say, in West Africa. When you see me put them on trial and a court martial board comes down and says they are guilty and they are executed based on the ruling of the court martial, a junior commando or anybody else would have to be a fool to do the same thing. So it was not widespread, because we dealt with people from senior members of the NPFL that the Prosecution has talked about here. They've talked about Samuel Larto that the very Moses Blah spoke about here that was executed. They've talked about Oliver Varney. These are all Special Forces.

    Now, when you take those actions against the most senior of your armed forces, that is a lesson, and no one, no one can, in his or her rightful mind, say that it was widespread. It was not widespread. I deny that seriously. It was definitely not widespread. And if you can remember here, I - just before I stop - there has not been one case brought before this Court where there was an amputation in Liberia, not one. Not one case. So it was just not tolerated.

  • Help us with this, please, Mr Taylor: What systems were in place to impose discipline within NPFL controlled areas?

  • The first very, very principle thing was the operational order. That order was displayed from training camp. Every commander in the field had that order. That is the first thing. The second thing that was in place was a court martial board. The third thing that was put in place was a military police unit, and designated military jails. Those were in place. And people did appear before the military tribunals. They did get arrested by military police. Some of them did get executed. Some of them did get incarcerated.

  • And help us: Was there someone assigned to supervise discipline?

  • The discipline, yes, there was someone. That someone was, what we had, what we call our provost, our marshall general at the time.

  • And can you assist us with a name?

  • Yes. The provost marshall general at the time that we used also sat at the head of the tribunal. It's a gentleman called McDonald Boam. That's B-O-A-M, Boam. He also chaired the tribunal.

  • Now, I'm going to --

  • And he was a Special Forces commando also.

  • Thank you. I am going to come back to the structure of command within the NPFL. But before we come to that, there is a matter that I would like to deal with in the time available before we have the short adjournment. In the narrative chronology of events so far, we have come to the end of the first month or so of the revolution. During that time, had you set foot in Liberia?

  • Where had you been based during that time?

  • I am still across the border in Bin-Houye. The commandos would not let me come in. They said that they had to properly secure a sizeable area and set up a base for me.

  • Right. So let's go forward to come back. When did you first set foot during the campaign on Liberian soil?

  • In April of 1990 I first went into a base that had been prepared for me on the border in the town of - that I mentioned, Gborplay. That's where I am based.

  • Where the training camp was situated?

  • Just outside of the town, yes, Gborplay, yes.

  • So, between December and April when you arrive on Liberian soil, how had you maintained contact with your men?

  • Every day, there was a courier that came from inside Liberia, to me in Bin-Houye. There were regular, regular messages. By this time we don't even have radio communication. We are just sending people across the border, okay, informing us of what is going on.

    Another thing that was being done, at a particular time, the other gentleman that I mentioned, one of the other individuals that is a part of putting together the NPFL, Tom Woweiyu at this particular time, is getting information and becomes the spokesperson of the NPFL, so the third source, even sometimes we got some information ourselves, Focus on Africa became a famous place. They were reporting. So someone would call Tom and Tom what announce, because there were times I didn't even know where my front line was. By front line, I mean the military unit is moving - it's not moving like a conventional army on a straight line and progressing. You will find some people here, some people are maybe 15, 20 miles ahead because the advantage that we had, we were not using highways. These guerrillas would go into the bush, take short paths and everything, so I didn't even know for the most part where our front line was, but as they received message, the command structure would send the message across the border to me.

  • Now, you mentioned that you didn't have radios?

  • At what stage did you obtain radio communication facilities?

  • I would say somewhere about the mid of the year. After I moved into Liberia, and the news has spread about the NPFL operations in Liberia, I then come back out but by this time the security problems that had me hiding in la Cote d'Ivoire had dissipated and so I can now come out. So I came out.

    I get in in April. I come out and then go back to Burkina Faso to begin to see if I could plead with the authorities there for some real assistance in terms of communication, you know, to be able to reach our men at long distance areas.

  • And did you obtain that?

  • Yes. We did get initially some assistance in terms of radios and these are not military radios. Now, this Court has been hearing testimony about these so-called radios. What was not mentioned that these are not military radios, your Honours. These are your basic SSBs that even in America they use them on trucks. That anyone who is on that frequency will listen to it so these were not sophisticated radios. We wouldn't have been able to move sophisticated radios through la Cote d'Ivoire so it had to be something that just out of the ordinary that we could go through, so these were ordinary SSBs that we obtained to try to reach to some of our people.

  • Now, at that stage you tell us that you obtained that assistance from Burkina Faso. Did you consider requesting such assistance from say the Sierra Leoneans or Dr Manneh and his Gambians?

  • No. Dr Manneh is in Burkina Faso. His men are in Burkina Faso. They themselves are struggling, trying to put their act together and get their own revolution going, so he could not have helped me at all. He needed help himself.

  • Mr Griffiths, there was two parts to - there were really two questions in that. You asked about the Sierra Leones or Dr Manneh and his Gambians and I haven't got an answer to the Sierra Leone.

  • I was coming to that just now.

  • So what about the Sierra Leoneans, where were they, to your knowledge?

  • Which Sierra Leoneans? Are you talking about President Momoh?

  • No, no, no, we are talking about the Sierra Leoneans who had been in Libya?

  • No, I have explained to this Court that the Sierra Leoneans left Liberia before I left. I don't know where they had gone to. The only people that were in Burkina Faso were the Gambians, and if you can see, up until this time the Gambians are not even involved with us; they get involved later. But they are not a part of the NPFL entry into Liberia. These are trained Special Forces. They are not a part of the Liberian operation at all.

  • But just to go ahead to come back: Did there come a time when the Gambians became involved?

  • Now, you've told us, Mr Taylor, that you had not been in Liberia until April 1990?

  • That is correct.

  • Had you, however, made any attempt to address the Liberian people?

  • We would call the BBC, Focus on Africa, and speak from la Cote d'Ivoire.

  • And were any other methods of communication adopted?

  • Well, I just mentioned that Tom Woweiyu was also out there speaking. Ellen was in America speaking to - doing press releases but the one that comes to mind right now is the use of international radio to do interviews via the telephone.

  • Could the witness please be shown exhibits - documents for week 29, document at tab 2 please.

  • Mr President, we would object to the witness being shown this document until there is some foundation as to what the document is, how the witness knows about the document. Otherwise, the document would be leading the witness. That is what was ruled during our case.

  • That's correct. Mr Griffiths.

  • In January 1990, Mr Taylor, did you issue any statement in Liberia?

  • In what form was that statement?

  • There was a statement setting out the aims of and objectives of launching this revolution.

  • Who created that statement?

  • That statement was ordered by me but created by one of the founding members of the organisation by the name of Thomas Woweiyu.

  • Have you seen that statement?

  • When did you first see that statement?

  • Well, I had known of it and it had disappeared for some time because it was issued at the time. In recent weeks I've come across it.

  • I wonder if the witness can now be shown that document.

  • Yes, show the witness that document.

  • Is this the document, Mr Taylor?

  • This is the document.

  • Now, we see at the top that it's dated 1 January 1990. Do you see that?

  • Based on what you've told us, so this would have been shortly after the campaign was launched?

  • Could we now look at this document please. It's headed "Statement by Charles Ghankay Taylor leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia", is that right?

  • It reads as follows:

    "Since the bloody military coup of April 12, 1980, which brought the regime of Master Sergeant Samuel K Doe to power in Liberia, the Liberian people have endured ten years of oppression, summary killings, human rights violations, ethnic genocide, gross economic mismanagement and blatant widespread corruption."

    First of all, whose assessment was that?

  • Well, I could almost say it was the assessment of the vast majority of the Liberian population, in the first instance. I was just conveying the sentiments before we launched this revolution as to why we did this.

  • It continues:

    "In October 1985, despite threats and intimidation, the Liberian people turned out in massive numbers to express their will at the polls for a peaceful change of government, only to see the electoral process subverted by the Doe regime which unilaterally declared itself the winner despite all independent evidence to the contrary."

    To what were you adverting there?

  • I explained to this Court, I think on yesterday, the elections are held in Liberia in 1985. A vast majority of the citizens believed that the elections was won by I mentioned on yesterday Jackson Doe, N Doe, but Samuel Doe claimed to have won with a margin of 50.9 per cent. A vast majority of the family of nations disagreed that Doe had won the election. This is what I am alluding to.

  • And then it goes on, paragraph 3:

    "Following the aborted elections the popular resistance movement, under the leadership of the late commanding General Thomas Quiwonkpa sought to overturn the Doe regime with minimal force and restore democracy to Liberia. The Doe regime brutally put down this uprising and took harsh retaliation against innocent civilians in the northern counties taking hundreds of innocent lives, and forcing thousands of Liberians to flee their homes as refugees."

    You've already recounted that history and so we won't delay:

    "Having exhausted every possible avenue of reason and having seen every effort to peacefully effect a change of governance by constitutional means crushed by the harshest use of force we, the members of the National Patriotic Front, under the leadership of Charles Ghankay Taylor, feel it is our right and bounded duty to rid the people of Liberia of this cancerous despotism by whatever means at our disposal with the following objectives."

    Before we come to the objectives, however, help us with this please: It says on the first line of that paragraph, having exhausted every possible avenue of reason. What were they?

  • Not just Charles Taylor but the Liberian people had asked Doe to step aside and turn the presidency over to the individual that, for the most part, even the international community agreed had won the election. That was Jackson Doe.

    These arguments continued for a long time. He did not and then you had the incoming just barely one month after the elections in November, General Quiwonkpa launches this attack. He is crushed brutally. We again call for Doe to step down. Jackson Doe is still here. He does not so for us these were the reasonable things that we had done.

  • Now, noting the date of this statement, let us now look at the first stated objective.

    "The restoration of full constitutional democracy to the Liberian people through free, fair and open elections, to be conducted as soon as practically possible following the conclusion of military actions and the restoration of law and order to the country."

  • Mr Griffiths, I will just caution you that the tape is almost exhausted.

  • Is this convenient now to leave at this point?

  • It is as convenient as any.

  • All right, thank you. We will have a short adjournment and resume at 12 o'clock.

  • [Break taken at 11.30 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.00 p.m.]

  • Yes, continue, Mr Griffiths.

  • May it please your Honours:

  • Mr Taylor, before the short adjournment we were looking at a document. Do you still have that document in front of you?

  • Yes. May I take it now? I still have it.

  • It's the second tab and we were looking at the first numbered paragraph and the relevant passage read as follows:

    "The following objectives:

    1. The restoration of full constitutional democracy to the Liberian people through free, fair and open elections to be conducted as soon as practically possible following the conclusion of military actions and the restoration of law and order to the country."

    Now was that a general sentiment on the part of the NPFL, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, it was extraordinarily genuine. Yes.

  • And so these elections that you were proposing, how soon were you intending to embark upon that course?

  • We had first of all to defeat Doe. We did not know how long that would take. We were making rapid progress. But following the defeat of Doe it meant that you had to put into place the structures that would probably enable a democratic process.

    And what do I mean by structures? First there would have to be an interim arrangement of a government of a sort and in even dealing with electoral processes you have to deal with, what, voters' registration. You had to deal with probably some Parliamentary source and we had not quite figured that out to get election laws promulgated. We would have needed the cooperation of the international community, election advisors. It's a whole process. So by saying here "practically possible", I'm describing that process that we had to go through to secure an enabling environment for free and fair elections.

  • Now, help us with this. It goes on to say at paragraph 2:

    "The rebuilding of the Liberian economy on the basis of our traditional free enterprise system and the protection of private property, without excessive government bureaucracy and government corruption but with concern for basic health, education, housing, employment and food for the vast majority of our populace."

    Why was it thought necessary to mention to a commitment to a free enterprise system?

  • Quite frankly, we had taken a jab at the Marxist-Leninist group that we know are lurking some place that, "Hey, we are not going to have this. Even when we get in there will be none of that. We are going to subscribe to a free enterprise system."

  • And what about the mention of the protection of private property?

  • That's also a part of the democratic process. Under certain systems, you know, that private property don't exist - it did not exist under the communist system, so again this whole paragraph is dedicated towards saying, "Look, we're not going to be Marxists. We're not going to be Leninists", or whatever you call it. "We are going after the free enterprise system", and we wanted to be very clear on that at the outset.

  • Now, going on it says this:

    "3. The unification of all Liberian people without regard to class, social status, ethnic origin, religion or political philosophy in the common task of nation-building. The National Patriotic Front is a broad-based, popular, non-sectarian nationalist movement which believes in the right of every Liberian to equal protection and opportunity under the law and which does not subscribe to ethnic and social" - and I think that word should be factionalism - "or recriminations."

  • That is correct.

  • Why was that considered necessary?

  • I have explained to the Court the still intrinsic problem in Liberia of this divide between the so called Americo-Liberian and the aborigines. That is still a problem and until that problem is even resolved in Liberia today Liberia will not progress. I come in as the first possible leader of the country that stands squarely in the centre of this divide. I am half Americo-Liberian and half aborigine and so I see myself being in a unique position to begin to spell out I mean right away that, "Look, we cannot continue this. We are not going to accept it. We want to make sure that Liberia is going to be for Liberians and that anyone trying to bring about this sectional or racial divide would just be denied by the rest of us."

  • Now, the document continues in this way:

    "The National Patriotic Front is not beholden to any foreign group or power and believes in the maintenance of Liberia's traditional relationships with its close friends and allies, particularly the United States, and intends to work closely with this foreign partners in the reconstruction of the country."

    Pausing there. First of all, where in that paragraph it says, "The National Patriotic Front is not beholden to any foreign group or power", was that the truth?

  • But what about Libya?

  • That's what we were - that's the very point we were trying to make here. We are dealing with an era of the Cold War. Libya has been bombed by the United States. Libya is supposed to be the pariah in the international community. Surely having trained in Libya will be an issue.

    We while training in Libya, and I remember telling this Court, the Green Book - listen, I led a group into Libya as an educated man. We were not a bunch of - the three of us, Ellen, Tom and I, are educated people. The Green Book I said we read and it was not imperative that it be accepted in Libya. Libya did not insist on that.

    Now knowing that we had trained in Libya and it would be an issue during that period, we had made it clear to Libya - and Libya did not insist otherwise - and we remained very strong in our views and we wanted to make it very clear here and now that, "Look, for those of you that might come out and say because these people are trained in Libya these are supposed to be Gaddafi personal people, we are setting it straight here and now that we are not. We owe nothing to Gaddafi. He did not ask for anything in return for whatever assistance he gave." We wanted to set the record straight because our traditional friend the United States would have raised these kinds of issues and we wanted to assure the United States immediately that if we succeeded that they would remain our traditional allies, as they are.

  • But what about Burkina Faso? They'd assisted you, hadn't they?

  • Yes, but Burkina Faso like Libya made no demands whatsoever. Their assistance was from a purely revolutionary standpoint and again they were dealing with people that knew what we wanted. We were not like sheep being herded into the field. They were dealing with sound people. We were one of the groups that knew ourselves, so to speak. So there were no questions about us lingering in thoughts, no. We went there, we asked for assistance and we made it clear - very clear - about our orientation, which direction we leaned toward and since there were no specific demands from either of the two countries we had nothing to worry about. Our main concern was at that time how would our traditional ally interpret our accepting training in Libya during the Cold War. That was our concern, because those two countries had posed no particular threat to us.

  • I was coming to that. Why was it felt necessary to particularly mention the United States of America?

  • Look, no President of Liberia yesterday, no President today and no President tomorrow will be able to lead successfully in Liberia if there is the slightest view that Liberia is pulling away from our traditional relationship with the United States. It would be suicidal. It would never happen because Liberia is still considered to be America's little farm in West Africa.

    And I do not use that word "farm" in a negative sense. Liberia little brother. Let's not forget Liberia was established as a place of asylum for the black man by the American colonisation society and has remained in contact with America ever since. It was not Ghana, as President Obama went to. I mean, the blacks that returned from the United States went to Sierra Leone and Liberia. We are just unlucky Ghana is getting the glory. But the black population came from the southern states and all back to Liberia and so that connection with Liberia remains until this very day. America has always felt that her little brother is Liberia and that's why I mentioned as former President that America has not been the friend that she is capable of being.

    Now if you look in Africa, I mentioned yesterday the Francophone block and I did mention that these are those that had colonial masters as France. You had the Anglophone block and these were the British that were their masters. Liberia was never colonised by any country. The United States upon sending the freed slaves did not seek to colonise Liberia, so Liberia is neither Francophone nor Anglophone and so we are just a little island hanging out there that has traditionally stuck close to the United States. I hope I have explained it.

  • So at this early stage in the revolution then, Mr Taylor, were you seeking to send a positive signal to the United States?

  • Most definitely. Most definitely. Not only was I seeking, I was anxiously trying to make sure that it got understood and we did other things immediately thereafter to pursue that particular line, yes.

  • Other things such as what?

  • Besides just an open statement, I instructed the other colleague of mine, Mr Woweiyu, to send a direct and even clearer statement to the United States State Department detailing and re-emphasising our desires at the time.

  • We'll come to that in a moment, but let us conclude with this document first please. Paragraph 5:

    "The National Patriotic Front believes strongly in the implementation of all fundamental human rights guaranteed to every citizen of Liberia by the constitution, particularly the right of life, liberty and security; the right to freedom of the thought, expression, movement and peaceful assembly; and the right to equal protection and due process under the rule of law."

    Were you being sincere when you included that paragraph in this document?

  • Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

  • But, Mr Taylor, the cynic might say, "But your NPFL soldiers and those under their umbrella were committing atrocities in Liberia at this time and so this is the height of hypocrisy", so what do you say about that?

  • Excuse me, Mr President. This is not really rebutting an allegation in the indictment and this is leading.

  • Well what do you say to that, Mr Griffiths?

  • Well, I suggest it's not. This is the suggestion at the heart of the Prosecution case, that Mr Taylor was from the outset a bloodthirsty warlord with no belief in the rule of law or human rights, and it seems to us necessary, as we stated in our opening, to address that suggestion full on and that's what I'm seeking to do.

  • Yes, I'll overrule the objection. Go ahead.

  • What do you say to that, Mr Taylor?

  • Well I'm going to probably need some help, before I help you, from the Court. There are two parts to that question. When you say "under your umbrella", what are you referring to?

  • Well you were speaking earlier, were you not, of the desire for revenge on the part of many people in for example Nimba County. Do you remember telling us about that?

  • That's what I'm talking about.

  • Okay, I asked that question because "under your umbrella" goes again to the heart of this very indictment that it could be construed that the RUF was under my umbrella, so if we're not talking about the RUF I will continue while you have clarified this.

    Well I don't know, your Honours, what else I could have done in Liberia. I entered the country. I trained the men in the rule of law and respect for human rights. I keep into place civilian courts. I set up a court martial board. I put into place all the mechanism. There are several individuals at the highest level of the NPFL, my Special Forces that I took so long training, and you must understand it was painful for me to execute some of them. I followed the law and I meant everything that I said here and it was demonstrated on the ground. I don't claim for one minute that there may have been some things that went on that I did not know, or that did not come to the attention of authority, but I had everything put into place and even Prosecution witnesses who have come before this Court have talked about the tribunals and they've talked about the execution. I meant this. I followed it to the letter.

  • And it concludes:

    "We therefore call upon every patriotic Liberian, including the many truly patriotic elements of the Armed Forces of Liberia, and all freedom-loving peoples everywhere to make every sacrifice and join with us in this right and historic struggle to free the Liberian people and nation of the shackles of tyranny and injustice once and for all."

    Pausing there, that appeal to "all freedom-loving peoples everywhere", to whom was that addressed?

  • We had several target audiences, I would say. Again, principal was the response of the international community to what was going on. That was very principal in our traditional ally. That was very - this was one of our principal target populations. We were also looking at Liberians in the diaspora. We were also looking at other democratic countries around the world, because again - and I hate to keep repeating myself - we are dealing with the period of the Cold War. Anything, a little group like the NPFL going into Liberia and removing - and by the time of this crisis in Liberia, don't let's forget Doe has - while he's not liked for what happened during the elections, but Doe is beginning to receive support from the United States in an attempt to probably encourage him to leave. So Doe is not hanging out there to dry. So we are beginning almost immediately to appeal to the United States and the powers that be that this is a worthy cause and that we cannot be looked at as one of these groups that were coming to start some communist Marxist-Leninist regime in the heart of West Africa. So this is very intentional and it's very targeted in trying to deal with democratic nations across the world that we knew could come after us with the hammer.

  • Bearing in mind the nation of the allegation you face, where it says in that paragraph "all freedom-loving peoples everywhere", was that a reference to your supposed co-conspirators in the RUF and the Gambians say?

  • No, I mean we're talking apples and oranges. Who are these people that someone will have to appeal to them? I mean, number one I don't know even - the three letters you use RUF I don't even know who they are, because I mentioned to you I met Ali Kabbah in Libya. He had several unions there, but they were not called RUF. They were the Sierra Leonean Pan-African Revolutionary Movement, so RUF is something that doesn't even play. The little Gambian group that is in Burkina Faso are not - these are not the people to appeal to.

    What I'm appealing to are the large democratic nations, the leaders of the free world. When we talk about that, who are we talking about? We're talking about the United States, we're talking about Britain and we're talking about Europe in total because that's the free world at that time. So that appeal is going to nation states.

  • I was coming to that. To whom were you addressing this document?

  • This is a general pronouncement, but targeted at these nation states.

  • So to whom was it distributed?

  • To the press and the international media that was in la Cote d'Ivoire and it was published - it was distributed in the United States by our man in the United States, Tom Woweiyu, to press individuals and individuals that wanted to read about it. So this was a public document intended for mass distribution, but I'm in la Cote d'Ivoire and so it's going to the press.

  • Was it distributed, for example, to members of the NPFL?

  • Oh, definitely. Everyone knew. Yes, they had copies. Yes, yes.

  • And again, Mr Taylor, in light of the allegation you face, bearing in mind it is suggested that from the outset your intention was to terrorise the civilian population and that you're no more than a terrorist, what were you seeking to do with this document?

  • This document is - imagine this. The news wires, the radio stations, are reporting that there is some group that has attacked, you know, Liberia called the National Patriotic Front of Liberia. The first question in the minds of everyone, "Who are these people? Who are these people?" The next question logically will be, "What do they stand for?" We are setting out immediately to answer these questions that are surely to come and they did come, but we - you don't start a revolution, you don't start these kinds of things, without setting out for all interested parties and what we referred to here as "freedom-loving people" - setting out your objective: "Why are you doing this? After you do this, what do you expect to do thereafter?" If you are a serious minded person that knows what you are doing, you have to set out these general and specific objectives. That's what we're trying to do here.

  • Now, you mentioned earlier that this was not the only initiative taken at this time and that there was another initiative directed specifically to the US State Department. Do you remember telling us that?

  • And what was that initiative?

  • We constructed under the signature of my other colleague, Thomas Woweiyu, a document to a senior State Department official by the name of John Dobrin to also explain instead of in a general level which I'm sure the United States Government saw this copy, but we wanted to in a specific way speak to the United States Government as to our aims and our objectives and what we wanted to accomplish and we did that.

  • Have you seen the document which was sent to John Dobrin?

  • I wonder if the witness could be shown, please, from the Defence documents for week 30, the item behind tab 2:

  • Have you seen that document before, Mr Taylor?

  • Now it's headed "Memorandum" and we see that it's addressed to Mr John Dobrin, US Department of State. Pausing there. Did you send any memorandum like this to any other government around the world?

  • No. To my recollection we did not target any other government immediately. We targeted our traditional ally, the United States.

  • Who is John Dobrin?

  • Well, I'm not sure where he is now, John could be dead. John Dobrin was a senior United States State Department official I think at the level of - and I stand direct on this - I think he was at least at the level of Assistant Secretary of State or thereabouts.

  • Why was he selected?

  • Because he would have necessarily been in charge of the African situation and even more specifically the Liberian situation.

  • Now, we see below that from Jucontee Tom Woweiyu, National Patriotic Front. Who is he?

  • Remember I've mentioned Jucontee Tom Woweiyu is the same as - that Tom is just short, it's Thomas, the Thomas Woweiyu who is the other individual along with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that I said put the final touches on the NPFL.

  • At the time that this document was issued, and we see it's dated 22 January 1990, where was Mr Woweiyu?

  • Mr Woweiyu was in the United States.

  • And we see then that it's headed "The current situation in Liberia" and below that "objective".

    "1. The military action that commenced on December 24, 1990 in Gbutuo Nimba County has as its objective the overthrow of the Doe dictatorship and its replacement in a two-phase process by a democratically elected government."

    Let's pause there. Mr Taylor, this morning you told us that it commenced on 29 December, so which is right?

  • Mr President, Defence counsel is attempting to rehabilitate his witness on direct examination.

  • What do you say to that?

  • Your Honour, I find it amazing that my learned friend should make this objection. The fact that it began on 24 December, Christmas Eve, is an historical fact. Now, for my learned friend in those circumstances to say that in effect I'm trying to assist Mr Taylor on a date seems to us completely ridiculous.

    Obviously he misspoke this morning. Not everyone, particularly in the pressurised position of sitting in the chair being cross-examined, can recollect every date and every occasion and it seems to us perfectly legitimate for us to seek to assist the witness in this way and in effect correct the record where at page 50, line 19, I'm helpfully assisted, he evidently made an error. That's all we're seeking to do.

  • It's all right. I will overrule the objection and allow the question.

  • So which is right, Mr Taylor?

  • The revolution was launched the day before Christmas. I apologise; I did misspeak. It was launched the day before Christmas in Nimba.

  • And where it says in that paragraph "in a two-phase process", what does that mean?

  • I tried to explain that earlier. The first phase is the military phase. The second phase is putting in the structures that I described before, that whole process of going to election, the participation of the international community from your voters' registration, to your voters' education, to the establishment of political parties, that's that second phase that I'm referring to. So the first phase is military, the second phase is this - all of the trappings of the democratic process before elections are held.

  • Then it goes on:

    "Political programme. Upon the successful completion of the military campaign, a provisional administration will be established, led by the National Patriotic Front. Its mandate will be to restore order and prepare the country for multi-party presidential and legislative elections in accordance with the Liberian constitution. Although the precise composition of the provisional government has not yet been decided, it is envisaged that it will comprise elements of the various groupings that are making a contribution to the struggle for the restoration of democracy in Liberia."

    Can we pause there, please.

  • Now help us: Where it says "although the precise composition of the provisional government has not yet been decided", was that true?

  • But you had told us earlier, Mr Taylor, that it had already been agreed that you would be president and a Special Forces would be vice-president?

  • So what does that mean then?

  • Your Honour, at the risk of incurring the wrath of the Court, Defence counsel is once again attempting to rehabilitate his witness by reconciling possibly different language in a document and testimony. Contrary to what Defence counsel has just said, this witness is not under the pressure of cross-examination, this is direct examination, and we think that it's improper.

  • This witness is not in the ordinary position of other witnesses. This is the witness the Prosecution has alleged committed 11 serious - extremely serious counts and has called 91 witnesses and hundreds of documents in an attempt to prove those counts against this witness, the accused.

    Now, in the opinion of this Court, this accused has got the right to fully reply to those allegations and that evidence and questions directed to that aim will be allowed by this Court. Having said that, I'll overrule the objection and you go ahead, Mr Griffiths.

  • I'm grateful:

  • So what's the position, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, let me just explain this. When we talk about the composition has not been decided, we have to look at it in this particular light: The Special Forces agreed that if we succeed I, if I became the president, one of them would be vice-president. That's the military revolutionary process that is going on.

    This process that I'm talking about, I do not become President of Liberia until after an election. I am only known as leader of the NPFL. It was known that I would participate in the election. This process that I'm describing here, when I say the composition has not been decided, we have a typical example right here in court, your Honour.

    There were groups in Liberia, right in Monrovia, the gentleman sitting at the rear of the Court, Cllr Lavalie Supuwood, a member of my legal defence team, was one of the individuals in Monrovia that was dispatched via la Cote d'Ivoire to bear message from supporting groups of - remember I talked about progressives in Monrovia - to bring word to us that they were with us. So we had support in Monrovia.

    So by the time we succeeded militarily there would have had to be a transitional government. It is those progressives that would have to be brought on board in setting up this transitional government that would then put into place the mechanism for elections.

    Now, Charles Taylor was going to be a candidate, so the deal was wherever I led one of them would be vice-president and that is what happened. So, when I talk about not knowing the composition, we did not know yet in Monrovia who all were going to join the government, because everybody from the same Amos Sawyer, Cllr Supuwood in - the whole group in Monrovia said they paid his way, go, carry out message. That's how he came in the bush and joined us.

  • Now, what are you talking about in this document when it says "of the various groupings that are making a contribution to the struggle"?

  • That's what I'm talking about. I'm talking about in America we still have our major base over there, the Union of Liberian Associations in America. They are doing press releases, they are supporting. You've got in the Monrovia area, you've got - remember I mentioned to the Court that you had the Progressive Alliance of Liberia that later on became the PPP, the political party headed by Barcus Matthews. They are down there rooting for us. And that's why they sent him.

    So all of these groupings that were outside of Liberia, Liberians in the Diaspora that wanted to see this change, were out there supporting it. So if you were in Europe and a television or radio or a journalist came up to you and asked you questions, your mere statement of support meant something to us. That's what I'm talking about.

  • Very well. It goes on at paragraph 3:

    "One of the most unsettling features of the Doe dictatorship has been the injection into our body politic of pernicious tribal cleavages. Although this is a familiar theme in much of Sub-Saharan Africa it has never been part of our political culture. One of the urgent tasks of the NPF government will be to establish the principle that Liberia belongs to all Liberians, including the vanquished Krahns."

    What's that about?

  • Well, we have to pay attention to the third line where it talks about tribal cleavages. I have told this Court we have this divide between Americo-Liberians and aborigines as two groups. Doe comes in and he brings into place a third dimension that is now not a group dimension but a tribal dimension of the Krahn ethnic group where the Krahns then move forward and almost broke this whole thing down into not like Americo-Liberians versus aborigines, it almost became the Krahn ethnic group versus the rest of the country.

  • Just the Krahns?

  • Well, let me probably give the Court some information. There are four groupings in Liberia that speak different languages but practically understand each other. I will name them. One is called the Kru. The other is called the - that's K-R-U. The second is called the Sapo, that's S-A-P and some say P-P-O. The third grouping you have the Grebos, that's G-R-E-B-O-S, and then you have the Krahn.

    Now, close to the Krahn are the Sapos that speak the same language. So, as an extension of the Krahn ethnic group at that particular time the Sapos stopped calling themselves Sapos and started calling themselves Krahns. So we are talking about an extension of the Krahn Sapos. The Grebos did not join the Krahn in that way, neither did the Kru, but we are mostly talking about the Sapos and the Krahns.

  • And it goes on at paragraph 4:

    "The ideological orientation of the principal players in the current Liberian movement for democracy is pro-west, pro the free enterprise system. It our hope not nearly to retain ties with our traditional allies, but to expand them in a way which will command mutual respect. The undignified spectacle which we have had to endure these past years of a Liberia with its hands constantly outstretched in supplication is one we are anxious to change."

    Why was it felt necessary to make that statement?

  • Well, the first part is similar to the document we just saw before. Right away we want to tell them that: Look, this is no Marxist-Leninist operation. So we're going to just be, in other words, pro you. The second part of this is the pan-African wing of this that: Look, we are part of you, but we are not your little child. We want to be able to take care - for you to help us to take care of ourselves. We are tired of having to come to you respectfully to beg for a little money here, a little food here. We are looking at a process now where, in the old saying, you would teach us to grow our food instead of just giving us. We are tired with your handouts and treating us like your little children. We want to be looked at with some respect as a sovereign nation. We want you as our friend, we want you as our ally but we don't want you treating us as though we are on your plantations. This is what we are actually getting at here.

  • Now where it says "of the principal players in the current Liberian movement", why was it necessary to make that reference?

  • Well, you have one of our main individuals Ellen Johnson is very well known and respected in the United States and in the west. So we are - Tom Woweiyu is also in the United States, he is known from our days in the union. I am known. So we are really trying to deal with them knowing that, well, we are the guys in control. So you don't have to worry about some other influence, we are the individuals that you have to look at. So you can depend on us, in other words.

  • Go over the page, please. "Economic programme". Paragraph 5:

    "Perhaps the most enduring legacy of the Doe administration has been the despoliation of the Liberian economy. Ten years of negative growth, gargantuan deficits financed through heavy foreign borrowing and raids on the domestic banking system and abject neglect of the country's physical and human infrastructure have taken a heavy toll. An urgent priority will be to put into place the kinds of policies that will begin to address these problems in a meaningful way."

    What's all that about?

  • I'm going to have to break this down because there are about three, four different constructs in here. Let's deal with ten years of negative growth, guaranteeing deficits financed through heavy borrowing. The military comes to power. Doe is there; investment begin to dwindle. Most foreign investment in the country begin to find themselves pulling out because here we have a situation where the military is there; we've had an attempt before.

    We are still going through this terrible problem and there are open secrets that something - that Liberians are not, you know, were not prepared to permit this whole process to continue and that probably there will be trouble in the country, so this serves as a disincentive to foreign investment. So we had the decline in investment that led to this negative growth. And so what Liberia had to do at that particular time was Doe kept trying to borrow money to fill this gap that had been left as a result of this negative growth.

    This part that deals with the abject neglect of the country's physical and human infrastructure have taken a heavy toll. The human infrastructure had to deal with that segment of the up-and-coming students and the educated already population in Liberia and also in the Diaspora. Liberians that were educated and trained in various disciplines that might have wanted to come home found themselves not coming.

    Our universities found themselves losing assistance to the academic process, and so this whole process of renewal, training - growing and training to over time replace and keep the civil service and other parts of the economy going were all hampered because of this massive loss of revenue because of the negative growth. And so this is what we were talking about in that particular part.

  • It continues:

    "An implementable economic recovery programme is being drafted with specific prioritised goals which it is hoped will serve as a basis for discussions with our bilateral and multilateral partners.

    As a general principle, the broad thrust of NPF economic policy will be to diminish the commercial public sector presence, reorienting government's role away from that of active player and more towards that of regulator/referee. There will also be conscious efforts to provide opportunities for the development of Liberian entrepreneurship while at the same time providing a more hospitable environment for foreign investment."

    So what kind of economic route were you proposing there, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, let's deal with the diminishing of the commercial public sector and then I will work into what I'm talking about here. It's important for the Court to understand that Liberia is one of those curious countries where the commercial part of our economy was - I would almost say 85 per cent held by foreign nationals; Lebanese, Indians and other nationals that you could hardly find a Liberian with one little storefront to sell dry goods and other things.

    Liberians continued to remain dependent on the presence of foreign - and I don't say this is in negative way because we, I appreciate the presence of foreigners, they've contributed significantly - but this was to encourage Liberians to get involved in the whole economic structure by doing some business, do something, and not just leave it up to foreigners to do. Now that's what we meant by this commercial situation.

    The second part was that we are still hinting to non-government involvement in the - as far as control as in a communist type economic environment where there would be a free enterprise but there would be a type of what is referred here as a regulator/referee.

    So instead of owning, the government owning and operating the systems of distribution in the country, it would do what most western economies do is to - what you call regulate and referee and I guess if they had done that we would not have the - if they had continued doing that in the West we would not have the present global economic crisis.

  • Now pausing there for a minute, Mr Taylor. At this stage we're talking about 1990?

  • Who is President of the United States?

  • 1990. I've got to be very careful with this one. It's got to be - I think it's the old man George Bush, if I'm not mistaken.

  • And help us also: Can you recall now who was Prime Minister in England?

  • Yes, I can. It was the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher.

  • And help us: What kind of economic programme had come to be associated with her?

  • Well, to the best of my recollection, at that time Margaret Thatcher, to the best of my recollection, was a conservative and so there were some problems in Britain at the time with demonstrations from - I think on the part of trade unions and there was some restructuring of the British economy. That's the extent of my recollection and it was pretty tough. I think Britain was in dire economic straits during that particular time and she brought about some very tough, stringent measures that I think helped to rein in the trade unions and it did cause some problems.

  • I'm just looking here at the context in which you were saying this. Now could you put that document to one side, please. So we've now looked, Mr Taylor, in a little length at two documents dating from January 1990, so weeks after you had embarked upon this revolution, yes? And between those two documents do they set out what your goals were at the time?

  • Can you now please, Mr Taylor, help us with the progress of the Liberian revolution thereafter in 1990?

  • Well I will do my best here, because by January/February of this particular time while we are moving Doe is really beginning to go after people in the Monrovia and general area that he suspects are trying to help. Now, by May of 1990 NPFL forces take Buchanan. Now it's important, because if I have an opportunity it's important for this to be seen from a map because --

  • Well let's go to the map then, please.

  • Can we replace this map please, L1, which we've been looking at earlier today.

  • Yes. We have captured Buchanan and if you look Buchanan now is to the far west, but we have not reached to Gbarnga. I want to go to through this even before I get to the map, because I don't want it to be said that the map is leading me because I know this. So we have progressed west to Buchanan, we've captured Buchanan, but going northeastward towards Gbarnga we deliberately do not capture Gbarnga.

    By July - and this is very interesting. By July of 1990 the NPFL forces have reached the outskirts of Monrovia, by July, and so we are talking about a period of about six months we had moved from the border all the way right on the outskirts of Monrovia. We had practically encircled Monrovia. We still have not moved into Gbarnga.

    What we do, we go into Buchanan and then we move northward towards the town of Kakata. Now, Kakata - because you asked me the question about 1990. Kakata is on the road between Monrovia and Gbarnga. Now, from a military tactical position we have left Gbarnga in natural terms behind us. What we did was to go and capture the town of Kakata. There were still Armed Forces of Liberia troops in Gbarnga and to a great extent all the way back in the other part of Nimba, so when I told this Court we had not captured all of Nimba County, that part of Nimba County as I mentioned that is the northeastern side on the main highway that I tried to direct, Ganta coming on to Gbarnga, are still being held by the armed forces. So we bypass them, come to Buchanan, cut across to Kakata and leave Gbarnga and Ganta behind us.

    What happens then? The troops from the Armed Forces of Liberia have been cut off from the rest of the troops in Monrovia and most of them flee. Then we work our way back from Kakata towards - and I'll then show what I'm talking about on the map.

  • Please do.

  • Now, remember we enter at Gbutuo and begin to expand. We come, your Honours, all the way, we capture the town of Tappita. If you look coming right where I'm pointing is the town of Tappita.

    Now this is important here, because behind Tappita if you look going westward is Grand Gedeh. Grand Gedeh is the home county of Samuel Doe and there was a major military position here, but there is only one road into Grand Gedeh in and one road out and that is that road coming through Tappita that goes on - if you watch it, we don't have good roads in Liberia. From Tappita the next road you have to go up to Ganta before you go to Monrovia.

    Now, we captured Tappita and take this forest route that you see I'm going through here. I'm not sure if the judges are seeing this. Are you?

  • [Microphone not activated].

  • Okay. We take this bush road here and attack Buchanan. We capture Buchanan. We do not advance behind to Grand Gedeh. From Buchanan we work our way all the way up to the town of Kakata. So we move from Buchanan. We begin to fight. This is - right here is Roberts international airport and we move and we capture the town of Kakata, putting Harbel, which is the Firestone rubber plantation, in our control area.

    If you look, your Honours, further to your left there is that town - the military barracks - of Camp Schefflein right here. We do not go in that direction. We do not attack Schefflein. It's too strong. But we go up to Kakata, capture Kakata, station a major force there and begin to work our way backward to Gbarnga and backward to Ganta, joining now the full control of Nimba County and this entire area that involves Nimba, Bong, here is Margibi, this entire area. So we in effect have captured the very centre of the country.

    Doe forces that are in Grand Gedeh are cut off from Monrovia so we can fight them. Monrovia is still on that side, but we are dead centre and there can be no connection between the troops of the Armed Forces of Liberia. This is what happened.

    By this time, that's in May, we move to Kakata and push further toward Monrovia. We go on down to the town of - where is Careysburg? We come all the way here to Careysburg and then come near Monrovia and then we stop. We do not attack Camp Schefflein. It's a major military post and we don't touch it, but we just spread out.

    By this time in 1990 we get to Gbarnga. From Gbarnga we then started moving our troops toward the Lofa angle, but we crossed the St Paul River, we come into this Belle Yella area and attack this Bomi/Cape Mount area. So by July we have encircled Monrovia, but we have already now penetrated and we have captured most of Lofa and Cape Mount. So what has happened in effect by July, Monrovia is totally encircled from the Bomi/Cape Mount side all the way back up to the town of Tappita. That's the situation as of July.

    In August of 1990, this is when ECOMOG, the West African peacekeeping forces, come into Liberia and meet us and we begin fighting the ECOMOG and there is a reason for that.

    By September of 1990 Samuel Doe is killed. He is killed a month after the ECOMOG forces get into the country in September. By that time he had done some terrible things in Monrovia. The UN compound had been raided, somewhat earlier than July.

  • Can I ask you to pause at this stage please, Mr Taylor, because you've helpfully provided us with an outline of events for the first nine months of 1990.

  • I'd like us now to pause, please, and deal in a little bit more detail to assist these judges with some of the events you've mentioned. First of all, can you help us with the month in which Kakata was captured?

  • Kakata was captured - May is Buchanan, so by late May/early June we are moving up there. We moved straight across to Kakata.

  • Now, did Buchanan have any significance as a town?

  • Buchanan is - has a seaport. It was an iron ore staging post. Buchanan is about I would think the second city I would say to Monrovia. A very, very, very well planned and well organised city of industrial activities. This was important because it had a seaport. It was important because it meant a major blow to the government to lose such a commercially important part of the country.

  • Now, Harbel is the location for what economic activity?

  • Harbel is the location of the Firestone rubber plantation. The largest - at that time I would say one of the largest rubber plantations in the world.

  • And what was the significance of capturing that?

  • You had immediately a means that would provide the needed financial assistance that we needed for the revolution.

  • Well, once Harbel fell in our control - this was a major, major industrial area. Rubber was being sent out, rubber was being exported to the United States. So once we captured Harbel we then made it very clear to the Firestone plantation company that they could no longer be permitted to exercise allegiance to the government in Monrovia; that that which in terms of revenue were being generated from the sale of rubber that we did not ban had to be paid to the National Patriotic Front. So it became at that particular time our most significant principal source of foreign exchange.

  • And what kind of sums are we talking about?

  • Well, depending on the sale of rubber, we could do an average of one, two million dollars probably every two quarters.

  • And who received that money?

  • The National Patriotic Front of Liberia received that money.

  • And who controlled it?

  • I controlled the National Patriotic Front.

  • No, who controlled the money?

  • The organisation. We had a whole system set up that we could buy food and medicine and different things. There was a whole structure put into place that would be a financial structure to deal with the collection and distribution of the money. I want to clarify one thing. I am not eluding here. What Firestone did at that particular time was that, because of United States laws, Firestone, and I want to be very clear about this, did not pay money to the NPFL. I'm going to be very clear about this.

    What happened is that we took rubber in return for what and we sold the rubber mostly to la Cote d'Ivoire and then got the money from there. We had a mechanism set up where the rubber would be turned over to us and we would then send the rubber to la Cote d'Ivoire that was buying and exporting rubber and it was being bought by local merchants and we used the money that way. Firestone did not pay to us.

  • And I am dwelling on this topic for a reason, Mr Taylor. The money you received, was that in cash or was it kept in a bank?

  • No, we sold on the market in la Cote d'Ivoire in cash.

  • Yes, and where was the money kept?

  • And then the money was brought back - by now we are in Harbel, we moved to Gbarnga, by now we begin to set up our headquarters in Gbarnga. So it is being now used by what we call our ministry of finance.

  • But how is it kept?

  • Not in a bank. It was kept by the ministry officials I'm sure in the building there. There was no operating bank in Greater Liberia at the time.

  • And who was the minister of finance?

  • The minister of finance at that particular time started off to be a gentleman we called Togar McIntosh.

  • Can you spell the first time?

  • Togar, T-O-G-A-R and the last name is spelt M-C-I-N-T-O-S-H, I think, McIntosh.

  • Thank you. Now moving on, your assistance, please. Roughly when was Gbarnga captured? Just a month will do.

  • I would put Gbarnga to about - roughly about the same time that we are progressing toward Monrovia, so we are talking about roughly between June/July. We are moving in two directions. A group is going towards Monrovia, and a group is going backward to Gbarnga. Gbarnga may have been captured a little earlier than our encirclement of Monrovia because, as I mentioned to the Court, there is virtually no resistance behind us.

    Once we cut these people off most of the soldiers flee and so the first scout unit that we sent to the area didn't really find anything, so it was a very short time. So I would really put this to - if I really wanted to be pushed on this - to not later than maybe June because it was captured a little earlier than getting the circle around Monrovia.

  • Good enough for my purposes, Mr Taylor, but can I just return briefly, and I apologise for this, to the issue of money. The money that you were receiving from the sale of rubber, was any of that being sent to any groups outside Liberia?

  • No, no, no, no, no, no. We are not supporting any group or sending money to any groups outside Liberia at this particular time.

  • Another little detail. Given that you had come as far as Harbel, which we can see on the map is not that far from Monrovia, why did you not make a strike for Monrovia at that time?

  • We encircled Monrovia. As I said --

  • By July of 1990. By this particular time there are all kinds of efforts underway for a peacekeeping unit or the involvement of ECOWAS in this whole process.

  • Well, I'm coming to that. We are refusing to permit ECOWAS to come in at a time that we are about to capture Monrovia, but no one is listening to us. At this particular time our good friends the United States - now we're going - I want to make this clear now: We encircled Monrovia around July. We are moving on where there are discussions going on for these troops. The troops finally, I mentioned to the Court, entered in August.

  • Which troops?

  • The troops from ECOWAS finally entered. But there are these discussions going on.

  • The NPFL, the ECOWAS leadership about should it happen, should it not happen. All of that is going on. We are still insisting even after they get into Monrovia that: Hey, you're here, you do not meddle and this is unlike the meddling that the Prosecution mentions of me in Sierra Leone. You have nothing to do with what we are doing here, we are going to take Monrovia. We are now going forward.

    In September Doe is killed while ECOWAS is - the ECOMOG forces are in town. By or around October comes in the Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs.

  • Who?

  • Herman Cohen comes into the bush on the border at a different area now. He comes into an area called Loguato, that's on the map, in a little town just outside of Loguato called Duanplay to ask me and in fact to deliver a message to me, secretary Cohen came in the bush to deliver a message to me that it was the desire of the United States government that I not attack the city of Monrovia because there were close to a million citizens in the city and to attack the city would result to massive loss of life.

    And because we had captured Grand Cape Mount County, I explained to the Court not only had we - the encirclement of Monrovia means that we had come across and captured - I mentioned Lofa, Grand Cape Mount and Bomi.

    He secondly asked that we open a humanitarian corridor between Monrovia through Cape Mount to the Sierra Leonean border that citizens that wanted to leave could leave. We accepted. That's why we did not take Monrovia. We felt that it was a reasonable request and we accepted not to storm Monrovia.

  • Do you think you made a right decision?

  • On second thought one would look at it in a little different light, but I'll put it this way, counsel: I have no regrets that we took that decision because I believe that the United States was right, we did save lives. But on the other hand it did prolong the military operations in Liberia beyond a particular point, because what happened is that ECOMOG launched a counter-offensive against us. So how do I answer you?

    I am very glad that we saved lives because it was true that there would have been massive loss of lives, but regrettably there was almost on the other hand exactly what we were trying to prevent, unfortunately. So in direct answer I can't say now that I regret that decision because, on a whole, I think even more lives would have been more lost, the city would have been practically wiped out, and so I just have to - you know, to leave it at that.

  • Now, you mentioned that in September, a month after ECOMOG arrived, Samuel Doe was killed.

  • Now just to remind the Court, I had mentioned that my commander Prince Johnson had executed two individuals without due process.

  • Pause there. When?

  • We are talking all the way back now in about February of 1990.

  • He is now being still pursued by my forces to have him arrested. He manages to evade us all the way and he's ahead of us and so he gets within the Monrovia area.

  • And by this stage that he's in Monrovia, is he by himself?

  • Well, Prince Johnson pulled a little trick. He gets into the Monrovia area with a group that he calls the INPFL, that is the Independent National Patriotic Front. Along the way Prince Johnson is telling everywhere he reaches "I am working for my leader Charles Taylor and I'm just moving along." And so he got along with a whole lot.

    He gets into Monrovia and he strikes a deal with Samuel Doe and he actually enters the city. Prince Johnson comes and he captures and sits into an area of Monrovia called the Freeport of Monrovia. Unfortunately, this is where Doe is killed. Prince Johnson works out a deal with Samuel Doe by telling Doe that he wants peace and he wants to join Doe to help to fight against me because in fact I am chasing him. Doe begins to supply Prince with material.

  • What kind of material?

  • Arms and ammunition. But by this time Doe is under a little pressure to leave, but Prince is now in the city with the INPFL, in direct answer to your question.

  • And so how does the death of Doe come about?

  • One of the things that was said to me by secretary Cohen, and secretary Cohen has written extensively, he has a book published and these facts can be verified in his book. Secretary Cohen has said to me that: Look, this has to end. If and when you capture Roberts International Airport - now Roberts International Airport is in Harbel and there is the Firestone plantation in Harbel, the airport is in Harbel but the airport remained a strategic position for the Government of Liberia still under Samuel Doe and not far from the airport is this military barracks right down the road called Camp Schefflein. So Camp Schefflein is the barracks that is used to protect Roberts International Airport. So it is heavily defended by the government. Heavily defended. This is the only place that the government has to bring in its arms and ammunition to continue the war.

    Secretary Cohen says to me: If and when the NPFL captures Roberts International Airport we will know the war is over and the United States will convince Doe to step down and leave the country. This is what he said; it's in his book. He told me that. And when we captured Roberts International Airport shortly thereafter what happened was that Doe then was pressured and he was trying to leave the country.

  • Pause there, help us: When was Roberts international airfield captured, just roughly, just the month?

  • Yes. Well, Roberts International Airport was captured around August of 1990.

  • Around that time. Doe now, depending on this Prince Johnson boy, is leaving the country at the Freeport of Monrovia under the protection of the peacekeepers.

  • Which peacekeepers?

  • The ECOMOG. The Economic Community of West African States, the peacekeeping force that had been sent is called the Economic Monitoring Group, ECOMOG. He is captured at the Freeport. Now, don't let's forget the Freeport of Monrovia and that area is under Prince Johnson's command. But Doe relaxes because he believes that Prince is his ally now. He goes at the port with his team to leave, Prince Johnson attacks Doe, peacekeepers whoever, and captures Doe alive and subsequently kills him.

  • Now you speak of peacekeepers arriving in Liberia in August of 1990?

  • Were there any other troops unassociated with the peacekeepers who arrived at any time?

  • Well, at around this time, for the protection of American citizens, some 2,000 United States marines had been dispatched to Liberia. We were consulted also.

  • By our contacts in la Cote d'Ivoire, at the United States embassy in la Cote d'Ivoire, and they even came to Buchanan and other places to help evacuate American citizens. But the only other military force that came in and entered the territory of Liberia with the knowledge of Doe and myself was 2,000 United States marines.

  • I note the time, Mr President. Would that be a convenient point?

  • Yes, we'll adjourn now. We'll reconvene at 2.30.

  • [Lunch break taken at 1.29 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 2.30 p.m.]

  • Yes, go ahead, Mr Griffiths.

  • May it please you, your Honours:

  • Mr Taylor, before we adjourned for lunch you were - oh, I am sorry, there is a change of appearance on our side. We are joined this afternoon by my learned friend, Mr Terry Munyard.

  • Right, thank you. That is noted.

  • Before we adjourned for lunch, Mr Taylor, you were dealing with the arrival of some 2,000 United States marines in Liberia in 1990. Do you recall that?

  • Now, who had arrived first? The ECOWAS led force or the US marines?

  • The ECOWAS forces arrived in August. I think that is a little ahead of the marines.

  • Now you had told us before the luncheon adjournment, Mr Taylor, that you had been - the NPFL had been involved in discussions with the ECOWAS countries prior to the deployment of that force. Is that right?

  • Well, there were discussions going on. We had spoken to a few, yes.

  • Who had you spoken to?

  • Well, we had our representatives, our principal spokesperson, Mr Woweiyu, who had on different radios been talking about it. Let me be clear: There was no formal meeting or discussion with ECOWAS at this particular time. Okay, ECOWAS is looking at the problems in Liberia. The theory is advanced and we got to set the stage for where you are. At this particular time the chairmanship of ECOWAS is headed by Sir Dawda Jawara, then President --

  • Fine, no problem. Continue?

  • Please find out. Sir, Dawda Jawara the President of The Gambia is then the sitting chairman of ECOWAS. This is still during the administration of the elder Bush. So Dawda Jawara, hearing of this problem, and this I must attribute to him, a theory was developed that the revolution in Liberia is about to destabilise West Africa. I guess he could have drawn this experience from his own encounter with the gentleman I have mentioned here before, Kukoi Samba Sanyang as leading the problems in The Gambia. And so discussions are going on. There is no real consultation but discussions between and amongst states are going on. Nigeria is involved, but more than Nigeria Ghana, and a decision is taken to try to intervene but all along we object. The NPFL is objecting to their intervention at that time.

    Now, crucial to this objection is this: At this time the President of Nigeria is Ibrahim Babangida. Now, again the Court will have to help me with Babangida. He was President of Nigeria. I am sorry, your Honours, I am not as good as some of the other spellers, but I know the details.

    Babangida has developed a very, very close relationship with Samuel Doe. He is supplying arms and ammunition to Doe. They are good friends. Babangida is contacted by Jawara, Rawlings is still the President of Ghana. I at this time have no dealings with Ghana. As you know, I am arrested. I am out of Ghana.

    This revolution now is being led by us, but I can almost say with certainty that Rawlings is concerned because this Marxist group with the Sawyers and the Tipotehs of this word and the Commany Wisseh are based in Ghana, and remember I have been arrested because I was in a way disrupting what they were about to do.

    So, Ghana has interests in the intervention of ECOMOG, but Nigeria is drawn in because of their relationship with Doe. We then object. We see Nigeria's involvement because Nigeria is known as the powerhouse of West Africa. We see Nigeria's involvement as a way of holding and keeping Doe in power, so we object and we say: If ECOMOG troops arrive we will attack them because this is a backdoor way of keeping Doe in power. You understand me?

  • Yes. Now that ECOMOG force, Mr Taylor, how was it composed?

  • At that time the largest contingent was from Nigeria.

  • And guess who? The Gambia sent a force.

  • Along with Sierra Leone and Guinea.

  • Now, dealing with each of those contributing countries in turn, Nigeria, you have already told us, led by Ibrahim Babangida, What was his background?

  • Oh, General Babangida is a military. He is from the military background.

  • How had he come to power?

  • Now, help us: Ghana, who was in charge of Ghana at the time?

  • Flight-Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings. He had also seized power in a military coup.

  • Sierra Leone, who was in charge there?

  • It was also a military man who had not seized power by force of arms. He had had power handed over to him as a result of Siaka Stevens's removal, but he was a general in the armed forces, General Joseph Momoh.

  • We had there a military general who had seized power by force of arms following the death of Ahmed Sekou Toure.

  • So of the five countries, no, no, no, let's complete the picture. Gambia, who was in power?

  • Gambia at this particular time Sir Dawda is still there, but he is frightened by this new phenomena because of his experience, and I must say this is not what Sir Dawda Jawara said, I am just trying to, based on what I believe, because of his whole reaction in helping to develop this theory that the NPFL had set out to destabilise the entire West African --

  • I am coming to that, but just pause. But what was his background, Sir Dawda?

  • Oh, I really don't know, but he had come - Sir Dawda, well, you know, that sir comes from the British situation. He had come into The Gambia almost from the very beginning of independence, so I am not sure that I know his - I can almost say he was not military, but I am not sure of the rest.

  • But in any event, of the five contributing countries four were led by military dictatorships?

  • That is correct.

  • And the fifth, The Gambia, yes, you have told us that its leader was afraid of destabilisation in West Africa?

  • Now, you recall telling us of some Gambians you had met in the training camp in Libya?

  • That is correct. To be correct - not I had met in Libya, not at the training camp, but they were in Libya. They were not --

  • They were in Libya?

  • And was there a basis for this fear that Sir Dawda had about destabilisation?

  • Oh, I want to believe so. I want to believe so. Yes, I want to believe so. The gentleman that staged the attempted takeover from Sir Dawda Jawara, Kukoi Samba Sanyang that is also known as Dr Manneh, is in Libya. I meet him there with his men. They are not in the camp, but they serve as security guards at the area I keep referring to as the Mataba. So Sir Dawda's own experience I want to believe just led him to believing that knowing that again it had been said that the NPFL had trained in Libya and I know he knew that Kukoi and his boys had gone to Libya, just probably connected the whole thing and said, "No, this is going to destabilise West Africa. We cannot let the NPFL take over".

  • So let us just clarify the situation then, shall we? First of all, help me with this. The attempted coup in The Gambia, that you mentioned, when had that occurred?

  • I apologise for this. I really cannot recall the year. I am not up to snuff on that, but I do know that it could have occurred --

  • Just give us a rough time frame in terms of years before, months before, or whatever.

  • Okay, I begin going to Libya around '87 and so I would really put it to somewhere before 1987. That's as good as I can get.

  • Very well. So we have this situation then: The leader of The Gambia has had that experience, he knows that you have been training in Libya with those who attempted to overthrow him. Have I got that right so far?

  • Well, not quite because I am sure it's going to be reflected in the record. I am not sure if he - well, okay, training in Libya, but I really want it to be clear that they were not a part of any training that we were a part of because they had already been trained. So I do not want training to be construed in the future under cross-examination, "You said that you trained with the Gambians". I did not train with the Gambians.

  • However, there is this link with Libya?

  • And so he perceived what you were doing in Liberia as a threat to the peace of the sub-region, you tell us?

  • So help us, Mr Taylor. Did you have ambitions to become a Napoleon-type figure in West Africa?

  • No and there is a reason for that. A little, little, little Liberia. You have got huge armed forces like Nigeria. You have Ghana. A powerful military in Guinea. I think one would have to be a cuckoo to believe that he could become, even if he ever thought so, a Napoleon. What would happen to Nigeria? You have to, what, conquer, you know, Nigeria to become a Napoleon. That's pure nonsense. It could have never been a thought even remotely in my mind.

    All I was interested in and all the guys that I led were interested in was trying to solve our little internal problem in Liberia, build an environment where our people would have some peace, democracy and the rule of law. There was no act of adventure, no place at all.

  • Now, can I pause for a moment to assist with some spellings. Sir Dawda Jawara, D-A-W-D-A J-A-W-A-R-A. Ibrahim Babangida, I-B-R-A-H-I-M B-A-B-A-N-G-I-D-A. So you told us earlier then, Mr Taylor, you decided to attack ECOMOG. Is that right?

  • When did you make that decision?

  • Even before they came they were warned that we construe your intention to be one of preventing us from completing our objective. We construe your intentions of being one to perpetuate Doe in power. This we consider as being interference and if you put foot on Liberian soil we will attack you. We warned them before and when they landed we did attack them.

  • Well, help us then with this, Mr Taylor. How many troops did ECOWAS send to Liberia?

  • Well, in military terms they may say one thing, it could be differently. We understood at the time that they were 3,000, but they could have been as many as 5,000. You never believe these military stories.

  • To the best of your knowledge, were they well armed?

  • Yes. ECOMOG came in with a full Nigerian backed armoured unit. By armoured I am talking about tanks and armoured carrier. Here you can remember I said the city of Monrovia is not captured, it is surrounded. But there is an airport in Monrovia other than Robertsport. It is called Spriggs Payne airport. ECOMOG comes in with an air force, a Nigerian with Alpha Jet bombers, stationed at the airport and a large mechanised unit of tanks and armoured personnel carriers. Very well.

  • Spriggs Payne spelling?

  • S-P-R-I-G-G-S, Spriggs, and P-A-Y-N-E. Spriggs Payne airport. That is in the Sinkor section of the city of Monrovia. In fact the Special Court has offices there at Spriggs.

  • Now in comparison with the armaments available to that ECOMOG force, how well were the NPFL fighters armed at that time?

  • By this time the NPFL was not just well armed, but we had grown very intensively in numbers. We are talking now in or around July/August of 1990. Because ECOMOG comes in in August. We have captured all or most of the arms, ammunition and armament of the Armed Forces of Liberia from Naama. Remember I told this Court that Camp Naama was the main artillery base.

    We had captured Camp Naama. We had backtracked. The soldiers ran away from Gbarnga, I mentioned to the Court, and Ganta and left their principal equipment - I mean equipment. In Ganta they had left what you call a BM-40. Now what a BM-40 is, this is a 40 tube multi-launcher rocket vehicle. It is called a BM-40. With most of the armament. At Camp Naama we had captured close to two dozen American-made 105 Howitzer guns. Howitzer, I think it's H-O-W-I-T-Z-E-R. Howitzer gun. With all of the armaments. These artillery pieces can fire I think a distance of about 20 kilometres or more depending on I think some other military factors. We had those plus all of the armaments.

    We had another American-made recoilless rifle gun, it is a 106 millimetre cannon. It is a recoilless rifle. What I mean by recoilless, it fires I think I would say - I would put it to about three kilometres or more, but it is a gun that would sit practically on this table, lock it a little bit and it could fire without a massive push back. It was a very mobile type gun that you could mount on a jeep or whatnot. In fact it is used extensively, at least before, by the United States military because they - and let me clear this up before I misquote it. I am not saying that the United States gave us these weapons. The United States always trained and armed the Armed Forces of Liberia. That is how these weapons got there. We captured tonnes of that.

    The Armed Forces of Liberia at the time use the US M16 rifles. We captured thousands of M16 rifles, plus their ammunition. We also captured large amounts of United States 81 milli mortar guns. We also captured a very large mortar, military people will know, it is called the 4.2 deuce mortar.

  • Spell that.

  • I think it is D-U-C-E. 4.2 deuce mortar. It has a range of about I would say 12-15 kilometres, I would say. And we also captured a lot of 60 mortar guns.

    So, in answer to your question, we were well equipped and really didn't care about whatever forces ECOMOG came with. And in terms of number of troops, by this time the NPFL forces - and I am saying I can't give you a correct number, but I will give you very close and the reason being we are talking about a guerrilla force; there are no large rosters of I've got 1,000. We trained - and so we could have been in the neighbourhood of 15 to 18,000 fighting men at the time.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, I note that in that last answer, page 104, line 3 on my font, you say that you were well equipped and really didn't care about whatever forces ECOMOG came with. Well, you may not have cared about them. Did you care about the increased civilian casualties in Liberia which might occur if you decided to take on ECOMOG?

  • Yes, we thought about it and that is very clear because remember we had agreed with the reasonable request made to us by the United States government not to take Monrovia in the first place. But we have also done one thing why I am saying we did not care. Remember I also told this Court that one of the requests of Secretary Cohen was that we open a humanitarian corridor along the Liberian-Sierra Leonean road.

    So the population in Monrovia started reducing significantly because they were all - I mean, we didn't hide it. We made it very clear, we did threaten and say that we would attack ECOMOG if they came into the city and we were very, very clear about ECOMOG and we were not just thinking about overrunning the city, but we were trying to target ECOMOG and they had announced that they were coming into the Freeport of Monrovia.

  • Now moving on somewhat, and we are still dealing with the summer of 1990, you mentioned this morning that there had been a number of little incidents involving Doe during that period. What incidents are we talking about?

  • I will have to - that is very general. When I talk about with Doe as far as dealing I am a little off on this one.

  • Well, let's address it in this way: At the beginning of 1990, Mr Taylor, was your father still alive?

  • Was he still alive by the end of the year?

  • No, he was not alive by the end of the year.

  • Okay. What - when I speak about incidents I am talking about the - and I think I did mention it at the beginning of the morning - Samuel Doe commenced a few terrible things. The United Nations, as the war progressed and we are talking about - this is the early part now of 1990 - people from the Nimba area that felt that they were not safe took refuge at the compound of the United Nations.

  • In Monrovia. The first thing that Doe did was he stormed the UN compound and took these citizens out and really killed them. He stormed the compound.

  • How many people?

  • There could have been as many as a couple of hundred individuals. The second incident involved me personally. During this particular time my father took refuge in the Lutheran church.

  • Where?

  • In the city of Monrovia because we had all thought and always believed that churches, mosques and whatever were off limits. Doe ordered the soldiers into the church and everyone in that church were killed, including my father.

  • How did you feel about that, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, I was very, very, very angry. I was very, very sad, because my father and I were very close and Doe knew him well, very well.

  • Doe had explained to me that as a young man in the Armed Forces of Liberia, during those years I was in exile and had not started this situation, he had some problems with a Lebanese merchant in Monrovia and was taken to court. There was a system in Liberia called the LPA, the Legal Power of Attorney. What that was, during the course of the month you could go to a Lebanese store and pick up little provisions for your family and you will sign an IOU note. He would take your money at the end of the month, but that had to be in line with the dispersing officer of the Armed Forces of Liberia.

    So young Doe had a problem where the Lebanese man has seized his cheque on a couple of occasions. This time he manoeuvred and got the cheque before the Lebanese man and he took him to court. And my father was the presiding judge in this case and so my father just told the Lebanese man, "Listen, I am not going to send this young soldier to jail because he managed to get some money." He said, "He will pay you the next time so we are going to accept that" and gave him time to pay and Doe remembered it, but he didn't really know that that was my father until some time later - I can remember I we are sitting in his office talking about - he said "But Taylor is your father in Monrovia?" I said, "Yes." He said "Where is he?" I say, "He is across the street" and by across the street I mean the mansion, the Temple of Justice the courthouse in Monrovia is not too far from the mansion. I said, "He is the judge over there." I said "Judge Taylor." He said, "No, Judge Taylor?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Judge Taylor is your father?" I said, "Yes." He said, "No, no, no, is it Judge Taylor?" I said, "That is my father." He said "What?" Then he, Doe, explained the story to me, and Said, "Your father saved me before. Is he doing fine?" He said, "Go and bring him to me." And I went across and brought my father to his office. So he knew him very well.

  • And when did this occur, Mr Taylor, the killing of your father?

  • Oh, boy, I have tried to really wipe that out of my mind. This was in or around June/July I want to believe in 1990. I have really tried to not remember that date. I always get sensitive.

  • Now, just so that we can place this all what is happening in little Liberia in some kind of global context, what other major international event or was there a major international event taking place in the summer of 1990, Mr Taylor, that you recall?

  • Oh, event. Well, if we want to call it that. Well, remember I think in August of 1990 was the first Gulf War at that particular time. That is about the time that all these military forces are moving. ECOWAS is moving. It is the first Gulf War.

  • Now, I just want to tidy up this period before moving on. You mentioned earlier the capture of President Doe by Prince Johnson's men and his killing, yes?

  • What happens to Prince Johnson and the INPFL thereafter?

  • Well, Prince Johnson and the INPFL remain in Monrovia, but they get involved in a squabble with ECOMOG because when ECOMOG arrives in Liberia they are now dealing with the president still of Liberia who is Samuel Doe, and ECOMOG is in charge of Doe's security as they go into the port. So it created a very major embarrassment for ECOMOG, but after Prince Johnson carried out that act he then tried to - and the Court needs to understand this. The port of Monrovia, I am sorry we don't have a map, but I will explain it the best way I can. The port of Monrovia is located in a section of the city called Bushrod Island.

  • Spell it please.

  • That is B-U-S-H-R-O-D Island. Now Bushrod Island is connected to the city of Monrovia by two major bridges. One is the - known as the Gabriel, that is G-A-B-R-I-E-L, the Gabriel Tucker Bridge and the second bridge is known as the M-E-S-U-R-A-D-O Mesurado River Bridge. So Doe then kills - excuse me, Prince Johnson kills Doe and then tries to cross into the city of Monrovia to where the Executive Mansion is located to seize power and ECOMOG engages him in a major battle.

  • And what was the outcome of that battle?

  • Oh, he was just - he just did not manage to take the city, but he also very craftily agreed to a process of helping to set up an interim administration in Liberia as a way of bringing an end to the fighting.

  • Now, at this time, geographically where was ECOMOG deployed?

  • For the most part on Bushrod Island and in the city of Monrovia around the presidency, to the best of my knowledge.

  • Now, you have told us that the death of Doe occurs in September?

  • That is correct.

  • Can we just conclude this chapter by you outlining for our assistance the events for the rest of that year of 1990?

  • Well, attempts are now made by ECOWAS to quote/unquote set up an interim government and to hold elections. This is again being driven by Nigeria, The Gambia.

  • Pause there. Help us with a date for that event in 1990. A month?

  • Well, I think we want to be careful here and I am saying attempts because there are several meetings.

  • Very well.

  • So let me deal with it. We have at the beginning - we are now operating in the last quarter of 1990. There is the Bamako meeting where we try for peace. We don't get anywhere.

  • I don't know if we have had a spelling for Bamako before?

  • I don't think we have.

  • Bamako is B-A-M-A-K-O and Bamako is the capital of the West African country of Mali, that is M-A-L-I. At that time the President of Mali General Moussa Traore was the president.

  • Carry on, Mr Taylor.

  • You have all these - you have the Bamako meeting with all success. It ends up now, but we agree that we would set up an interim government but we still felt that such a government should be hated by the NPFL because we, by this time, have captured some 90 per cent of the country.

    As I explained to the Court, and we stopped at the point where our forces I did mention had come to Tappita, the strategic highway into Grand Gedeh, but this is, we don't stay there, we push into Grand Gedeh, so by this time the entire Republic of Liberia is in the hands of the NPFL save for the city of Monrovia.

  • Very well.

  • So we demand that we lead that government and that we would permit others - we would bring everybody on board, but we had to lead that government. And what is that predicated on?

    We are aware in the back of our minds that the whole attempt of bringing ECOMOG in Liberia at that time is to stop us because of this theory that permitting us would cause the destabilisation of the entire West Africa.

    We now agree that a meeting will be further held in The Gambia, in the capital. We agree that we would attend the meeting in The Gambia. We - a date is set. We send our delegates to this meeting. We are represented at that meeting by two individuals. We are represented by Mr Tom Woweiyu that I mentioned, and the gentleman that is not in court this afternoon Lavalie Supuwood. To our surprise they get to the airport and they are arrested. They are stopped.

  • Which airport?

  • At Banjul. Banjul, the capital of The Gambia. Banjul airport. They are not put in prison. They are just detained at the airport and not given an opportunity to go to the meeting. The meeting is held. There are 24 delegates at the meeting from different groupings and I understand - and this is only an understanding because we were not present - that Amos Sawyer was I will call it selected as the interim President of Liberia.

    At the close of that meeting our people then were released and put on a plane and sent back out and the NPFL decided that it would have none of that, that we would continue to fight until there was justice and we continued the fight. Amos Sawyer was brought into the city of Monrovia as the so-called interim President and we continued to fight.

    Now, I had mentioned before based on the question that you asked as to whether I had any regrets, and this is what I meant when I said that on the one hand I am glad that we accepted the reasonable statement from Secretary Cohen, and by Cohen I mean the Assistant Secretary of State of the United States for African Affairs Herman Cohen. But following our acceptance all of these machinations followed and so in some way it is regrettable. That's what I was alluding to.

  • Let's see if we can sum-up the situation then by the end of 1990. If I understand what you are telling us you - the NPFL control all of the country except Monrovia?

  • And what is preventing you from seizing Monrovia and thus controlling the whole country?

  • Yes, what is preventing you from doing that?

  • Well, I would say - now what I will say would be ECOMOG, but behind that it would be specifically Nigeria and The Gambia. At most I would lay on their doorstep.

  • Now, we have already examined this morning two documents setting out the programme which would have been implemented by the NPFL had they seized complete power. Do you recall telling us about that?

  • Now, following the ECOMOG intervention, which you say prevented you from gaining control of Monrovia, how many more years did the civil war in Liberia last, Mr Taylor?

  • Many more years. This is the main problem. The civil war lasted up until actually 1995.

  • So another five years?

  • Had you secured control of Monrovia by the end of 1990, so just, what, over 12 months after it had begun, what would you have done?

  • As I mentioned to the Court, our objective was to set up a national unity government involving the what I keep referring to as progressives, bring on some individuals, stabilise the country and hold free and fair elections. Our calculations, if we look at 1990 in the end as the base year, I would say that another at most two years could have accomplished our objective as we saw it. That is the years 1991 and 1992 would have brought an end to the military situation and we could have had elections by the end of 1992.

  • Now by this stage, Mr Taylor, the end of 1990, where are you based - you personally?

  • Well, I don't want to lose the Court. I begin in Gborplay. As we move forward I move my headquarters - I moved from Gborplay to Tappita. After Tappita, after - in May when Buchanan is captured, secured, people move forward, I then move on to Buchanan. By the time in July we have surrounded Monrovia and all this stuff is going on, Harbel is under full control, I move into Harbel.

    Now, we are now coming toward the end of 1990, but because of this situation that occurred in The Gambia where they have put this Sawyer man over Monrovia and we used to call him the President of Monrovia, the NPFL at that particular time sat with our senior military and civilian personnel and decided that they were not ready, they were not seriou