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

  • Please proceed, Mr Koumjian.

  • Good morning, sir. Would you please tell the Court what your name is?

  • I am Mr Isaac Tamba Mongor.

  • Can you spell Mongor, please?

  • Sir, where were you born?

  • I was born in Sierra Leone.

  • Where in Sierra Leone?

  • I was born in Kailahun District in a town, or a village, called Kangama.

  • What were the nationalities of your father and mother?

  • My father is a Kissi and my mother is a Bassa from Liberia.

  • Mr Witness, when were you born?

  • I was born in 1965, 24 November.

  • Where did you grow up?

  • I grew up in Liberia.

  • What languages did you learn growing up?

  • Well, I speak my mother's language and I also speak the Liberian English. I also speak Krio.

  • Sir, did you ever perform any military service?

  • Yes, I had been in the national army in Liberia before.

  • When did you first join the Liberian national army?

  • I joined it at the time when Doe was president. That was the time I joined it.

  • Do you recall what year it was when you joined the Liberian army?

  • I can recall that it was in 1985.

  • Were you trained after joining the Liberian army?

  • Yes, but I didn't complete the training and I left there.

  • For about how long were you a member of the Liberian army before you left?

  • Well, I didn't stay at the training base for too long when I ran away and left there because I never wanted the soldier job.

  • Can you give us an estimate of how many weeks or months you were in the army?

  • I can say that I spent about two or three months when I escaped.

  • When you left the army where did you go?

  • Well, I started doing business.

  • I used to go to Ivory Coast and buy goods that I used to sell in Liberia and I also used to go to Koindu, in Sierra Leone, where I used to buy goods and then bring them to Liberia for sale as well.

  • Sir, did you continue in that job for some time?

  • Yes, I worked on that for some time, until such a time when the war met us.

  • When you say the war met you, can you explain what you mean?

  • Yes, it was at one time when I went to buy. It was in a Christmas month when I went to buy goods. When I came to Nimba, that was the time the rebels entered and at that time they called themselves freedom fighters. They entered Nimba whilst I was in one village where I was captured.

  • Sir, you said it was Christmas month. Do you recall the year?

  • The people that you said were rebels that called themselves freedom fighters, did they indicate a name for their organisation?

  • Well, they said they were NPFL.

  • What happened when these fighters entered the village you were in in Nimba County?

  • Well, when they entered there they shot guns and then they - some people ran away and then, in fact, I was a stranger in the place so I also had to join people and then I entered their house. So, from there, when they ceased fire, they called that we should all come outside and then we all came outside, and then we all came and then they took us, the young men and the young women who were amongst the people, and then they took us along with them. They took us to their base where they were and the place was called Gborplay. That was the place where they took us to.

  • Mr Witness, do you recall the name of the village that you were in when you were captured?

  • I am unable to know the village name.

  • You indicated that the fighters entered and they were shooting guns. Were there any Liberian army forces inside that village when the rebels came?

  • The Liberian army was not there at all. They were not there.

  • Were there any fighters in that village when the rebels came in?

  • Inside the village there were no fighters. I didn't see anybody in that village that had a gun.

  • You indicated that the rebels took everyone from the houses. Where did they take them to?

  • Well, they took us to - they handpicked some of us. They did not take everybody along because there were old men and old women. They did not take everybody along, but for us, the young men and women who were there in the town, they handpicked us and took us along.

  • When you say young men and women, can you give us a range of ages of the people that were selected by the rebels to go along with them?

  • We had some other people like children who were about 12 years of age and some women. There were also small girls that they selected and took us all along.

  • You said that you were taken, I believe, to a training base at Gborplay; is that correct?

  • Yes, that was where they took us to go and train.

  • Approximately how many of you --

  • Mr Koumjian, is that the correct spelling as it appears on the transcript?

  • That is not the spelling I have. The spelling that I have has a "G" in front. It is G-B-O-R-P-L-A-Y, but I believe I have seen both spellings.

  • We have seen that other spelling but in relation to a person, at a much earlier stage in the trial. In other words, a family name.

  • Yes, it is a family name.

  • What is the spelling then since we have variations?

  • The spelling is M-O-N-G-O-R.

  • The witness is spelling his name. The question is the spelling of Gborplay and, your Honours, it is on our record G-B-O-R-P-L-A-Y:

  • Sir, can you describe what was going on at this camp at Gborplay?

  • Well, it was a place that was a training base. It was a place where they used to train people that they took to. So, when they took us along, they also took us there for us to be trained for us to fight for our country.

  • Who was training you?

  • Mr Koumjian, what does he mean by "our country"?

  • Sir, did the trainers indicate what country you were fighting for?

  • Yes, they said it was Liberia. It was in Liberia that we were to fight. The trainers who were there, they were many, the ones who used to train us.

  • Did they indicate who their leader was?

  • Yes, they told us that it was Mr Taylor. They used to call him CIC and I was there when he himself came to the base there, when I saw him, when I saw him and he himself introduced himself to us.

  • Do you know what CIC stood for?

  • CIC means he was the commander in chief.

  • How long were you trained at Gborplay?

  • I was there for two months when we were graduated from the base.

  • Can you tell us what types of training you received?

  • They gave us guerilla movement training and they taught us how to fire guns also.

  • During the training what were the ages of those that were undergoing training with you?

  • Well, we never had equal ages. We had some other small boys who were there and there were some other small girls that were there too, and for those of us who were grown up adults, we were there and there were some other people also who were older than us at the base.

  • What was the youngest ages of the boys and girls being trained?

  • Well, there were people who were about 10 years.

  • When you finished your training was there any ceremony?

  • Well, no ceremony was performed, but they just graduated us and said we have completed the training, so we were put on standby.

  • Where were you assigned after training?

  • They assigned me to go and fight on the war front.

  • Can you tell us what fronts you fought on?

  • I fought in that same Nimba County at a place called Ganta. I fought there.

  • When I fought there for some time, the CIC came there and established his base at the place and that for us to advance to go to another target where we should also go and fight, and then we were able to go and fight at the next target and that was Gbarnga. That was where we moved again.

  • Sir, when you say "the CIC came there", you were talking before about fighting at Ganta, do you mean the CIC came to Ganta? Do I understand you correctly?

  • Well, when we had fought at Ganta and captured the place, the CIC, who was Mr Taylor, came there for him to stay there before we could advance.

  • Then where did you go?

  • We went to the next target, which was Gbarnga, because at that time Prince Johnson had captured Gbarnga so we were fighting. We fought from the evening, up to midnight, until in the next morning before we were able to flush Prince Johnson out of Gbarnga.

  • Mr Witness, were you in a particular unit? Did your unit have some name, or designation?

  • Yes. At the time we captured Gbarnga they took me to join the Executive Mansion Guard and that was the CIC's bodyguard group. It was that unit that I joined.

  • When you were a member of the Executive Mansion Guard, who was your superior?

  • The overall boss - our overall boss, who was in the Executive Mansion Guard, was Cassius Jacobs. He was the boss for us.

  • You said you were captured in 1989, at the end of the year. Can you tell us when was it that you were assigned to the Executive Mansion Guard? What year was it?

  • Well, at the time we fought, up to the time we captured Bong Mines, or Ganta that I have spoken about, and when we came to Gbarnga it was the time that I was chosen to serve in the Executive Mansion Guard, but at that time the Christmas month in which I was captured had gone, but I cannot exactly tell you the month now.

  • Just to be clear, when you say "Christmas month" you mean December?

  • Yes, it is December that I am talking about. That was the time that I became a member of the NPFL.

  • Can you tell us when you were made a member of the Executive Mansion Guard? Was it in the next year, or was it after the next year? You said you were captured in December 1989. Do you know the year you were made a member of the Executive Mansion Guard?

  • Well, it was the next year because that December had gone and we had entered the next year and that was the time I entered that group.

  • Can you tell us the duties of the Executive Mansion Guard?

  • Those of us who were Executive Mansion Guards at that time, we used to guard the CIC, which was Mr Taylor, and we used to go to the front line. We also fought there and at any time the CIC was going somewhere, we used to go with him. When I was there myself, I was one of the persons who used to operate the heavy weapons and I was the advance team commander. At any time the CIC used to move, I was always in the front. I used to move first before the whole group followed me.

  • Did you have a rank at that time?

  • At that time I was a sergeant when I was using the AA one barrel and I was the advance team commander when I was always on the front line. When the CIC was going to a front line, I was the front line commander at that time.

  • Mr Koumjian, for the purposes of record we should have a definition of an AA.

  • Can you explain what an AA gun is?

  • An AA gun is an anti-aircraft.

  • Sir, when you were with the Executive Mansion Guard, how often would you see the commander in chief, the person you said was Mr Taylor?

  • Well, I used to see him every day because those of us who were Executive Mansion Guards, we had access to him and we were the ones who escorted him. We were also the ones at any time we went to the front line, if he never went with us we will explain to him what was happening on the front lines. So I can say I used to see him always.

  • At the Executive Mansion was there a routine? Was there something that happened normally every day?

  • We used to have a morning parade on the ground there. We always used to have a parade on the ground, when the Pa himself will come to inspect the troops.

  • Mr Witness, when you say "the Pa himself", who do you mean?

  • It is the CIC, Mr Taylor.

  • Who would come out to the parade ground for this inspection?

  • Well, the CIC himself would come to do the inspection, to see the men.

  • What men would be out there? What units would be out at the parade ground?

  • Well, at the parade ground we had SBU units. We had some other units also that were there, like the artillery units, to which I was a member and those were the ones who used the heavy weapons. They were also there.

  • You mentioned SBU unit. What did SBU stand for?

  • Those were small boys. That was their own unit.

  • What was the age range of the boys in the Small Boys Unit?

  • Well, like I have told you before, they had 10 years, some were 12 years. They were small boys. That was the age group of the boys and that was their own unit.

  • Did the Small Boys Unit have any particular jobs in the Executive Mansion?

  • They were also among the guards and they also used to go to the front line to fight.

  • How was the security for the commander in chief, for Mr Taylor, arranged?

  • Well, sometimes when he was about to go to somewhere he used to disguise himself. He never wanted people to know. Sometimes he could be amongst the SBU units, he would be within their own convoy, and sometimes when he passed through an area people would not be able to understand that he has passed through there. I, who was the head of the advance team, I have told you I used to use the AA. I would always be in front.

  • Mr Witness, when you say that he would disguise himself amongst the SBU units, can you clarify who "he" is?

  • It was the CIC, who is Mr Taylor. That is the person I am talking about.

  • Sir, Mr Witness, was Mr Taylor considered by the troops a military leader, or a political leader?

  • Which troops? We are starting to venture into the same territory as we were last week with a different witness, where large numbers of people, who may have disparate views, are being asked about through the medium of one witness who so far hasn't said anything at all to justify giving any kind of answer to that sweeping question.

  • Mr Koumjian, you heard the objection.

  • I will ask a different question, your Honour:

  • Sir, did you yourself receive any information about whether Mr Taylor had any military training?

  • What I know and what I heard was that they said Mr Taylor was a soldier, somebody who had been in the military, and that the group that he has brought to fight, he was the head of the group, and he owned all the fighters and that he was the commander for the fighters.

  • Mr Witness, did you yourself ever witness Mr Taylor giving military commands?

  • Yes, he used to give military commands wherein he will tell people to go to the front line to fight.

  • When you were a member of the Executive Mansion Guard did you observe how the forces of the NPFL were supplied with ammunition?

  • The ammunitions that they supplied us on the ground where the CIC was, that is the Executive Mansion Ground, that was where the ammunition were and it was Mr Taylor - at any time he was ready to move to the front line, the ammunition will be in the vehicle that was at the rear following him, that was going together with him, because at the time we were fighting to go to the city, when we captured Coca-Cola factory, that was where he established his base, so that was where he used to bring the ammunition and where he would keep them, and that was where he used to take them and give them to us, the fighters, to go and fight.

  • Mr Witness, where is the Coca-Cola factory you are speaking of?

  • The Coca-Cola factory that I am talking about is in the city, that is Monrovia. That is where the Coca-Cola factory is.

  • During the times that you were a member of the Executive Mansion Guard, where was the Executive Mansion? Was it in one place, or more than one place?

  • Well, they are at different locations, but the main location was Gbarnga and that was the main place. We had some other sub-bases like Bong Mines and from Bong Mines we went to Harbel, which is around the Firestone area. That was where we were, but Gbarnga was the main base for the CIC, who is Mr Taylor.

  • Was there any place --

  • Mr Koumjian, could we please have the spelling of that location near Firestone?

  • Harbel, H-A-R-B-E-L. Thank you, your Honour:

  • Sir, at Gbarnga was there any particular location where ammunition was kept?

  • Well, I can't recall about another location. It was Gbarnga where he kept the ammunition at the Executive Ground.

  • Thank you. That is what I am asking you. Where in the Executive Ground was the ammunition kept? Can you describe the place?

  • Well, when I said the Executive Ground, that was where Mr Taylor himself was and that was where they kept the ammunition.

  • In order for a commander to obtain ammunition from that location, did he need the permission of anyone?

  • You would always have to ensure that the Pa, who was Mr Taylor, approved for the ammunitions to come out of that place before they came out. If you didn't obtain his approval, no ammunition would come out of that place to go anywhere.

  • The place where the ammunition was kept, was it locked in any way?

  • Yes, it was locked and there was somebody who was there to ensure that when the Pa needed ammunition he will come and open and the person was called one Mr Moses Duoh, and he was also one of the Special Forces.

  • So when you say the Pa will come, that "when the Pa needed ammunition he will come", who will come?

  • Well, it is Mr Taylor who will come and he will come to deliver the ammunition. The fighters who were on the front line, when they requested for ammunition, Mr Taylor, who was the CIC, will have to approve for this ammunition to be taken out before they will take them out for them to be sent to the front line.

  • Mr Koumjian, the spelling of the name of Moses Duoh I think I heard the witness say.

  • Sir, you talked about the Small Boys Unit. I just want to ask you: While you were a member of the Executive Mansion Guard, do you recall the names, by any chance, of any of the young members of the Small Boys Unit?

  • Well, we had like Mosquito who was Christopher Varmoh. We had Zebun who was an SBU commander.

  • Your Honours, Christopher Varmoh, the last name is V-A-R-M-O-H and Zebun is Z-E-B-U-N:

  • At some time, Mr Witness, did you get a new assignment?

  • Yes. There came a time when I had a new assignment, but before I had the new assignment I was fighting on the front line and when I came from there before I was given that new assignment.

  • Okay, I am not sure - I asked you earlier, but perhaps it was not complete. Can you name the locations where you fought at the front line before you took this new assignment?

  • Well, the places where I fought, I fought at Bong Mines and I fought to go towards Monrovia up to Coca-Cola factory and up to the time we entered the capital city, which is Monrovia.

  • Just to clarify that, were you able to take Monrovia at that time when you were with the NPFL?

  • Well, we didn't capture the whole Monrovia, but we captured some areas because we were at the City Hall. That was where our defensive was. We were very close going towards the mansion. That was where we were and where we were, you could stand there and see the Mansion Ground.

  • Mr Witness, you mentioned earlier that at Gbarnga you fought against Prince Johnson forces. Did you fight against any other forces in Liberia?

  • I fought against Prince Johnson's group and the AFL.

  • Sir, you mentioned Bong Mines, you mentioned Monrovia and Gbarnga, were there any other locations where you fought at the front line that you recall right now?

  • Well, those are the places that I can recall for now. I fought at Kakata, of course, because you will have to move from Kakata before you go to Gbarnga. You will have to leave Kakata before you go to Bong Mines and then from Bong Mines before you go to Monrovia, but troops were already at Harbel area, around Firestone, and they had already been fighting there and people were there who were fighting. I went to Schefflin, which was one of the military bases for the AFL, and at that time it was the Pa himself, Mr Taylor, he himself was amongst the attacking force when we went to fight at Schefflin, which was one of the AFL barracks. At that time we were unable to capture there. It was later that we were able to capture there, so I fought in that area.

  • Mr Witness, I just want to clarify the pronunciation that we are getting on the interpretation of the barracks. Is that Schefflin barracks?

  • Yes, it was Schefflin barracks. That is what I am talking about.

  • I believe the Court has the spelling of Schefflin barracks, but I don't see it spelt on the screen. It is S-C-H-E-F-F-L-I-N. If I am wrong, my colleagues will correct me:

  • The new assignment that you had, Mr Witness, what was that? Tell us about it.

  • Well, the new assignment that I had was to go and train people who were to go and fight in Sierra Leone.

  • Mr Witness, when was it? Do you recall the year it was that you were given this new assignment?

  • It was in 1990. That was the time I was given the assignment to go and train those people.

  • If you can, can you give us any idea where in the year 1990 it was? Do you recall the month, or the approximate time of year?

  • It was in - I can say it was in March, or April. I cannot say exactly, but it could be within that period. That was the time I had that assignment.

  • Mr Witness, tell us how was it that you first learned about this assignment?

  • Well, I was one of the Executive Mansion Guards, I have told you that, and I was able to get this assignment from the CIC to help his friend, who was Pa Morlai, who was called Foday Sankoh, but at that time we were in Liberia we never knew that Foday Sankoh name. The name we used to call him was Pa Morlai, so he called me - the Pa called me, the CIC, who is Mr Taylor, he called me, together with Foday Sankoh, who was Pa Morlai, when he told me that I should go with that of his brother to help him train his people.

    I want you to know that at the time we were fighting in Liberia, Mr Taylor used to talk over the BBC and at that time he did say to the Sierra Leonean people that one day they will experience the bitterness of war, because at that time we were fighting, the Alpha Jets used to fly over from Sierra Leone and then bombard in Liberia. So, the CIC, who was Mr Taylor, passed an order that we should arrest the Sierra Leoneans and the Nigerians, so those Nigerians and Sierra Leoneans who were in Liberia, most of them were arrested and put in jail and they even killed some other people. So, he called me to go and train people who will go and fight in Sierra Leone, so he handed me over to his friend, that is Pa Morlai, for me to go and assist train his people.

  • Your Honours, Morlai I see is spelt correctly, at least the second time it appears and subsequently on the transcript, M-O-R-L-A-I:

  • Mr Witness, when you say that the commander in chief, Mr Taylor, gave you this assignment, was that face to face in person, or how was the message given to you?

  • Well, this business of the assignment, it was when Foday Sankoh, who is the same time Pa Morlai, they had already started discussing, the two of them, before they invited me to go there. But what I know was that it was Mr Taylor who told me to go with his brother, who was Pa Morlai, for me to assist him train his people. He was the one who told me.

  • Where exactly were you when Mr Taylor told you to go train Foday Sankoh's people?

  • I was on the ground where Taylor was, that is his Executive Ground, that is Gbarnga. That was where I was when he handed me over to Foday Sankoh for me to go and train his people.

  • Who was present at that time?

  • I have told you that when they called me I went and I met himself and Foday Sankoh sitting together before he told me that.

  • Thank you. Was this the first time you saw Foday Sankoh?

  • No, I used to see Foday Sankoh. I knew him. I used to see him, but I never knew he was a rebel leader, but I only knew that he was a member of the Special Forces and he himself was with Mr Taylor and they were the bosses that we used to guard.

  • After Mr Taylor turned you over to Foday Sankoh, where exactly did you go to do this training?

  • I went through the training at Camp Naama and that was the AFL military base. That was the area and we had already been in control of that area, so that was the area where they sent me to train the people because that was where Mr Taylor had given to Foday Sankoh for his men to be trained there.

  • What county is Camp Naama in?

  • Camp Naama is in Bong County.

  • Can you describe the camp? What does it look like?

  • Well, the camp was a military camp and it is a big place. They have a field there for the training. They had houses there where people live and even the NPFL used to train there. They also had their own base there where they used to train and those were people who were trained heavy weapons. That was where they trained them.

  • Who were the people that you were training there?

  • Well, I was training people there who were Sierra Leoneans and I have already told you that Mr Taylor had passed an order that they should arrest Sierra Leoneans and Nigerians, and who had already been jailed. So, at the time, when the issue of the training came up, those Sierra Leoneans who were already in jail, we used to go to their cells and then take them to the base. We will take them from there to the base. So, Mr Taylor had given us one Toyota truck that was what we used to transport the recruits to the base.

  • Okay. I want to regress a moment. I am sorry, Mr Witness, but your answer reminded me of a question I should have asked you earlier. When you said you were captured by the NPFL forces in this village in Nimba County and you and others were taken for training with the NPFL, did you and the others have a choice of whether or not to train with the NPFL?

  • At that time we never had any choice. There wasn't any choice, issue of choice at all, to say that I was willing to go. It was not a business of choice. It was a force to join them.

  • At the Executive Mansion, going back there for a moment, what nationalities were serving in the Executive Mansion Guard?

  • Well, he had people from Burkina Faso who were there, people from the Gambia, there were Gambians, they were there, and then he had Liberians there also. They were there. They were also Special Forces.

  • Was there any difference in the treatment, or assignments given to the Liberians and the foreigners by Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, there was a difference because at the time I was with them, the ones who were the foreign forces who were with him, he trusted them. He believed them more than the Special Forces, who were Liberians.

  • Going back to the training that you gave at Camp Naama in 1990, what were the ages of the people that you were training?

  • Well, the ages were just like when we were in the NPFL. We had SBUs who were training on the base. We had women. They had their own unit. It was called the WAC's unit. They were also there. We also had the men who were mature men. They were also there.

  • Were all of the people that you were training Sierra Leoneans, or were they other nationalities?

  • Well, Sierra Leoneans were many, but we had some other people who were there. We had some Liberians who were also there.

  • Mr Witness, a couple of times in your answers you referred to Special Forces. Can you tell us what you mean when you talk about the Special Forces in Liberia?

  • Well, the ones that they used to refer to as Special Forces were those who entered with the war and those who were trained in Libya and Burkina Faso. Those were the people who were called the Special Forces, that is those who entered with the war.

  • When you were a trainer at Camp Naama, what rank did you have then?

  • I was a lieutenant.

  • Do you recall the names of any of the other trainers at the camp?

  • I was one, Mohammed Tarawalli, Mike Lamin, Sam Dripo, Gongano, Rashid Mansaray. We were the people who used to train those men.

  • Your Honours, some spellings. Tarawalli I believe we have had before, but my spelling is different: T-A-R-A-W-A-L-L-E-Y. Gongano, G-O-N-G-A-N-O, and then we had Sam Dripo. The spelling I have is D-R-I-P-O although the witness pronounced it differently. We have Rashid Mansaray, I believe that spelling has been given before, yes:

  • Were all of you teaching the same subjects, or were there different subjects covered by different trainers?

  • Yes, we had different subjects that we used to teach. Like in my case, and together with Mohammed Tarawalli, Gongano, Sam Dripo, we gave them the physical training, but I was the first person who had been there for almost six months before the others met me there. Mike Lamin and Rashid Mansaray, they gave the ideology training and sometimes Foday Sankoh himself used to join them to give the class.

  • Did you ever see the Commander in Chief, Mr Taylor, at that camp?

  • I never saw him there at the time.

  • Thank you. At the camp did the recruits have food provided for them?

  • Yes, we used to receive supplies from Gbarnga. We used to receive rice that they used to bring in bags. We used to receive medicines.

  • Did you have any weapons or ammunition in the camp?

  • We had weapons that were there with Foday Sankoh and myself, who was an instructor, I had my own personal weapon that I took to the place there and Mike Lamin himself - all of us who were instructors, we all had weapons.

  • Where did the weapons come from?

  • Those weapons came from Gbarnga and they were NPFL property.

  • When you talked about the rice and supplies coming from Gbarnga, where in Gbarnga did it come from? From who?

  • The supplies were coming from the Executive Ground, that is Gbarnga where Mr Taylor was, and it was Mr Taylor who used to supply those foods to us.

  • Do you recall the names now of some of the soldiers that you trained at Camp Naama for this organisation?

  • Yes, Issa Sesay, one Morris Kallon, Mosquito, who was Sam Bockarie. There were many, but those are the few whose names I can call for now.

  • Just to clarify something, Mr Witness, you said "Mosquito, who was Sam Bockarie" and earlier you told us Christopher Varmoh was named Mosquito. Can you comment on that?

  • Yes, I want the Court to know that the Liberians had their own Mosquito, who was Christopher Varmoh, and the RUF also had their own Mosquito, who was Sam Bockarie.

  • Now, you mentioned that Foday Sankoh was at Camp Naama. Did you hear Foday Sankoh speaking to the recruits?

  • Yes, Foday Sankoh used to speak to the recruits.

  • Do you recall now anything that he would tell the recruits at Camp Naama?

  • Well, he used to tell them that Sierra Leone had a one party system at that time, so the country was corrupt and that he was training them for them to go and free the people from that one party system and for them to take over power and rule the country. So, those were the things that he used to tell the men during parade, and that they should be strong and that they should be courageous.

  • Did he ever indicate, that you can recall, how he would accomplish this task of taking over the country in Sierra Leone?

  • Well, he used to say that, "When you are here and you are training I can say I am a poor man, I don't have money, but all that I am doing here it is my brother, who is Mr Taylor, that is doing it." So, that was what he used to tell the men.

  • Would you yourself ever talk privately with Foday Sankoh?

  • Yes, I used to talk with Foday Sankoh.

  • Did Foday Sankoh ever mention Mr Taylor in your discussions with him?

  • Yes, he used to talk about Mr Taylor.

  • Can you recall now anything he said about Mr Taylor?

  • Well, he said that Mr Taylor was his brother and that what he was doing, that is when he was training those men, it was Mr Taylor who was doing it for him and that after the completion of the training, for them to go, it was Mr Taylor that he depended on to do everything, and so even myself, he used to encourage me and he used to tell me that the job I was doing, I should exercise patience and bear with him.

  • Did Foday Sankoh ever tell you how he met Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, he said Mr Taylor and himself had met for a long time. He said at one time he was in prison in Ghana and it was Mr Taylor who fought hard for him to be released, and that they all had gone to Libya and undergone training, so those were the things he told me.

  • Thank you, Mr Koumjian. Mr Witness, we are now going to take the lunchtime adjournment. We will have a break of one hour and we will resume court again at 2.30. Please adjourn court.

  • [Lunch break taken at 1.30 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 2.34 p.m.]

  • Please proceed, Mr Koumjian.

  • Mr Witness, after your assignment training at Camp Naama, can you tell us the next assignment that you received?

  • My next assignment was to move with the men to the place where we trained for.

  • Your Honour, I neglected to advise the Court that my colleague, Mr Mohamed A Bangura, is not with us this afternoon.

  • I should have noted that appearance myself, Mr Koumjian. I will put it on record.

  • Can you explain, Mr Witness, what you mean moved to the place that you trained for?

  • Well, I had told the Court that I was training the men for the Sierra Leone mission, so after their passing out we had some people who were part of the Special Forces. They took some people to go to Pujehun. The other ones were to come to Voinjama. We were to come and enter through the Koindu/Bomaru end, so we came to Voinjama.

  • Thank you. Mr Witness, you said "after their passing out" is how it was translated to us. Can you explain what you mean by the passing out?

  • After we had completed the training, that is what we call passing out.

  • Now, you said that "We went to Voinjama". Who went to Voinjama with you?

  • I went to Voinjama with those men whom I had trained, and Foday Sankoh too went with us, and we had other people who had come from Gbarnga who came with some trucks. We came to Gbarnga. That was where we met Mr Taylor at Voinjama.

  • Thank you. Now, you said some people came from Gbarnga with trucks. Can you tell us who those people were? Not necessarily their names, but what kind of people came with trucks?

  • They were soldiers, some of the Special Forces. They came with the materials that we were to use. The ammunition and arms that we were to use. That was what they brought.

  • And just to be very clear, these soldiers that came with the materials they were soldiers belonging to what fighting force?

  • They were NPFL soldiers.

  • You said that when you got to Voinjama that is where you met Mr Taylor. Is that correct?

  • Yes, we met him there.

  • Can you describe for the Court the meeting that you had with Mr Taylor in Voinjama?

  • Yes, when we got to Voinjama I had told you that we got there at night. Mr Taylor was on the ground which was referred to as the Executive Ground, because wherever he was based there was we referred to as the Executive Ground. So, he was there. Then I brought my men, put them on parade and later Foday Sankoh and Mr Taylor were in the house together with some other Special Forces and they invited me and I went inside. Then I was able to talk to Mr Taylor that night. And when Mr Taylor saw me he thanked me for the job that I had done, but he did not just stop there. We still had some other mission that we were to accomplish, so he said we were to come to Sierra Leone to fight and we should make sure that the mission that we were to come for should be accomplished. We should keep the ball rolling.

  • Thank you, Mr Witness. I want to ask you some details now about these events in Voinjama. First do you recall, can you give us any idea, of when it was that you went to Voinjama and these events took place?

  • We came to Voinjama in 1991. That was in the month of March. That was when we came to Voinjama. The group that came I told you initially that we had two groups, which one came to us towards the Lofa end, one was to go to Bomaru and the other one was to go to Koindu. Before we arrived there, the other men who were the Bomaru people had already left before we got there.

  • So I take it from your answer, correct me if I am wrong, that your group was the group assigned to go to Koindu?

  • Yes, that was the place where my group was to go.

  • You said you brought your men out to the parade - to the parade. First, can you tell us who are these men that you brought to the parade ground there?

  • They were the ones whom I trained from Camp Naama. They were the ones I put into the parade.

  • Your Honours, can the witness repeat his last answer?

  • Mr Witness, the interpreter needs you to repeat something. Pick up where you said, "They were the ones I put into the parade". Continue from there, please.

  • The ones that I put on the parade were those whom I had trained at Camp Naama, so I put them there so that the CIC, Mr Taylor, would see them.

  • Sir, these troops that you had with you, were they armed?

  • At that particular time we were not armed. When we were at Voinjama, we had no arms.

  • Okay, then I will come back to that in a moment. After the meeting at the parade you said you were called into the house. Is that correct?

  • Can you tell us whose house was that?

  • It was General Dopoe Menkarzon's place, who was called General Pepe.

  • I believe that has been spelled before, but the Dopoe we normally spell it D-O-P-O-E:

  • Who was present at the meeting inside the house that you have spoken about?

  • We had General Dopoe, who was the 2nd Battalion commander in that area; there was Francis Mewon, who was one of the Special Forces; there was Foday Sankoh himself, he was there; and there were some other generals, they too were there, like Ibrahim and a Gambian whose name was Lamin. He too was there.

  • You mentioned an Ibrahim. Can you tell us any more about who Ibrahim is?

  • Ibrahim, he was one of the Special Forces, but he was part of the foreign forces which was part of the NPFL.

  • Do you recall if he had a second name, Ibrahim, or a surname?

  • He was Ibrahim Bah.

  • When you were discussing this meeting earlier you mentioned Mr Taylor. Was he present at this meeting?

  • Mr Taylor was at the house. We met him at Voinjama at the house. He was there.

  • And what did Mr Taylor say, if anything, during this meeting?

  • I have told you that Mr Taylor told us - he thanked me a lot for training those men, but that that was not going to be the end of my mission. I had some other mission at hand that was to come and fight in Sierra Leone. That was the next mission we had at hand and that I should be strong and courageous and should keep the ball rolling.

  • Did anyone at the meeting indicate what the goal of the mission was?

  • Well, that mission was to come and fight in Sierra Leone and to take over power.

  • Thank you. Now, Mr Witness, you mentioned your troops were not armed at the time that they first arrived in Voinjama and at the time of the parade. Did your troops eventually get arms and ammunition?

  • Yes, we had arms and ammunition later on.

  • Can you explain how you obtained - when you obtained first - my first question, Mr Witness, is when did you get the arms and ammunition for your troops?

  • I got it when we left Voinjama and moved to Foya.

  • Where did the arms and ammunition come from?

  • I have told you that the arms and ammunition had been brought in a truck and they were in the trucks until we got to Foya where we were armed.

  • Mr Witness, just so I am clear that I understand you, are you saying that the trucks you mentioned that came from Gbarnga that were with NPFL were the ones that brought the arms and ammunition that you gave to your troops?

  • So after the meeting that night in Voinjama, can you tell the Court what happened next?

  • The following day we moved and we headed for Foya and it was there where the men were armed. After we had been armed, we were to move to - we came to - we came near Koindu, but we did not enter Koindu. We went to a place called Mendekoma. That is along the border. That was where we came so we could organise ourselves to move in.

  • Thank you. Mr Witness, which side of the border is Mendekoma?

  • Mendekoma is closer - it is on the Liberian border, but it is nearer to Sierra Leone. You will be there and you will see into Sierra Leone. You would be standing there and see right into Sierra Leone.

  • Thank you. After you organised yourselves in Mendekoma, what did you do?

  • We moved to the Sierra Leone customs, because that was our next target. The soldiers were there, so we started to fight.

  • Who were you fighting against?

  • We were fighting against the Momoh soldiers, the SLA.

  • That is the Sierra Leone Army soldiers?

  • And what happened in that fighting?

  • Well, when we entered the place, the place is called Baidu, we captured one twin barrel from the soldiers who were there and sent it back to Liberia, and we advanced to Koindu and we fought in Koindu and captured the place from the soldiers.

  • Mr Witness, I want to clarify the first place you mentioned, the name. Can you mention it again. You said you entered the place. The place is called?

  • Baidu.

  • Okay, apparently the spelling is correct in the LiveNote. Now after you captured Koindu, what happened?

  • When we captured Koindu, Foday Sankoh came there.

  • Had Mr Foday Sankoh crossed the border with your troops, or with the other troops, do you know?

  • No, he didn't cross over with any troops. He was in Liberia.

  • So after you took Koindu and you said he crossed the border, did you see him?

  • And then what happened?

  • When he came he addressed us, the fighters, and he told us that the mission had started so we should be strong and should be in readiness to move to the next target.

  • Mr Witness, when you crossed into Sierra Leone, were you in communication with anyone - any other forces or anyone - outside of your location?

  • Yes, we were fighting together with the NPFL people, so whatever we were doing there we would make sure that the NPFL commander, who was Mr Charles Taylor, knew everything that we were doing. We will tell him how the fighting was going on, where we were. That was why Foday Sankoh himself came to confirm our location. That was how it was right until the time we entered deeply into the terrain.

  • What means did you use to communicate to Liberia and to Mr Taylor?

  • When the war started, the NPFL men who were the commanders were bringing reports to Mr Taylor. Like General Pepe whom I have spoken about would bring the reports about the things that were happening on the ground, and we had Francis Mewon who would also bring reports to Mr Taylor relating to the things that were happening on the ground.

  • But how did they communicate, Mr Witness? Do you know what they used to get in touch - to send a message?

  • Well, after we had captured Pendembu we got a radio. Foday Sankoh brought a radio man called Foday K Lansana. He was also called Mr Nya. They brought a radio set. He was the first communication man whom Mr Taylor - Mr Sankoh said his brother, Mr Taylor, had given to him to set up the communication and operate.

  • Mr Witness, you talked about your troops and you talked about them, including people you trained at Camp Naama. Besides those people you trained at Camp Naama, were there any other forces fighting with you in this invasion of Sierra Leone?

  • Yes, we and the NPFL, because even myself I was an NPFL, and we had some other NPFL generals, other fighters. They were with us when we did the invasion.

  • What was your position during the time of this invasion of Sierra Leone?

  • I was the commander who led the troops from Koindu, where we were given ammunition to advance with my men who I had trained. I was in command of them.

  • Now, did there come a time that - let me strike that and start the question again. Where did you obtain the ammunition during your fighting? Was the ammunition that you brought with you sufficient?

  • The ammunition we brought, not all of them were given to us. They gave some to us. So when the first one depleted they came back to take some others at Foya, because it was at Foya where the ammunition was kept.

  • What kind of weapons and ammunition were you using during this initial invasion of Sierra Leone?

  • We used RPG, AKs, GMG and G3.

  • And I am not sure if we have a definition yet of G3. Can you tell us what a G3 is?

  • G3 is the - it is another rifle, but it is bigger than the AK. It is more - it is stronger than the AK.

  • Did Foday Sankoh stay in Sierra Leone with you and the fighting forces?

  • He did not stay. He would visit and return.

  • Where would he return to?

  • Gbarnga. They were in Gbarnga on the ground, so he would come to Sierra Leone, spend some time and return.

  • Now, Mr Witness, did you stay in Sierra Leone after entering and you mentioned Voinjama was March of 1991?

  • Yes, I stayed in Sierra Leone.

  • For how long did you stay in Sierra Leone?

  • I stayed in Sierra Leone when - since when we came, I was in Sierra Leone. I used to go back, but at that time I would only go to fight. I used to go there to fight in order to return, but I did not go there to stay.

  • When you say you would go there to fight, you would go where to fight, Mr Witness?

  • I will go to Liberia to fight.

  • Okay. Do you recall what year it was when you went to Liberia to fight?

  • It was in 1993 when the ULIMO occupied Voinjama, so Foday Sankoh called me and said his brother said I should send troops to clear that place. When I am talking about Foday Sankoh's brother, I am referring to Mr Taylor. So I went with troops, and NPFL too were coming from the Gbarnga end, fighting to come to Voinjama, where we were all to meet at that place to ensure that we had cleared the place. So I fought there and I captured Voinjama from the ULIMO. That was the fight I went for that I told you about.

  • When you were fighting in Liberia, after receiving this direction from Foday Sankoh, who were you reporting to in Liberia?

  • Well, I was reporting to - because the time we were fighting I joined with one other NPFL man who is called General Fayia. He was in charge of the Lofa end, so I joined forces with him to fight and so whatever we were doing I reported to him.

  • Your Honours, the spelling of Fayia is F-A-Y-I-A:

  • Now, Mr Witness, the troops that you had under your command in this fighting in Lofa, who were they? Who were these troops?

  • They were RUF men.

  • I believe, Mr Witness, this is the first time you have used the word "RUF". Can you just explain that word to us? What is the RUF?

  • The RUF were people who got trained at Camp Naama, whom I told you about that I trained for the Sierra Leone mission. They were called the RUF, that is Revolutionary United Front. Those are the people with that name.

  • Now, Mr Witness, how long did you remain in this fighting in Lofa County?

  • Well, I was in Lofa - in Voinjama I spent about a month about some days and then I left.

  • What was your rank during the years '91, '92 and '93 that you have been talking about?

  • Well I told you I was a lieutenant, but at that time I was in Liberia and so when we launched the attack I was promoted to captain. I went and at some point I was made colonel and acting battle group commander.

  • Mr Witness, do you recall what year it was that you were named the acting battle group commander?

  • I became acting battle group commander in 1992.

  • When you say "acting", does that mean you replaced someone temporarily?

  • Somebody was in the position and he was removed. I went there to act, yes. Yes, because somebody came that I was to hand over to him.

  • First this position battle group commander, can you explain what it is?

  • Well, the battle group commander was in charge of the fighters in the different front lines. He would get reports from the commanders at the different front lines and he in turn would forward the reports to the authorities who were above him.

  • Was this position within the NPFL, or RUF?

  • It was in the NPFL and it was in the RUF as well.

  • Okay, but the position that you took, were you acting battle group commander in the NPFL, or in the RUF?

  • No, it was the RUF. It was the RUF, they brought about that one, but when you are talking about battle group NPFL too had battle group commanders.

  • Who does the acting - who does the battle group commander report to?

  • The acting battle group commander reported to the field commander.

  • Who was the field commander when you were acting battle group commander?

  • It was Mohamed Tarawalli.

  • Who was it that you replaced as battle group commander temporarily?

  • It was a Mr John Kargbo.

  • I see the spelling is correct:

  • Why did you have to replace Mr Kargbo? What happened to him?

  • John Kargbo, Foday Sankoh said he had suspected him of having dealings with the enemies against whom we were fighting, so that was why the position was taken from him and I occupied it when I was there temporarily.

  • When you were acting battle group commander, were you engaged in fighting?

  • I was not engaged in fighting, but I monitored the various front lines and at times I would visit the various front lines.

  • Did you have any means of communication?

  • Yes, I had told you and the Court that we had - that we had had a communication set which Mr Taylor had sent and he sent the set together with an operator, so the set was on the ground where Pa Sankoh would normally be lodged when he would visit us and we too called the place Executive Ground. That was where the set was.

  • Did you use that set to report to any superiors?

  • Yes, we used it to communicate to Liberia to Mr Taylor.

  • Mr Witness, did you ever communicate with Mr Taylor using that radio?

  • Yes, I can remember I did it once when I requested for some ammunition to be sent for us, because at that time the ones that we had were getting to depletion levels so we asked for some more.

  • How do you know it was Charles Taylor that you were talking to on the radio?

  • I had been with Mr Taylor and I spent a long time with him, so I knew him and I knew his voice.

  • On this occasion where you requested ammunition, what was Mr Taylor's response?

  • He promised that he would send and some ammunition was sent for us.

  • Thank you. Now, Mr Witness, you have talked about this operation that you were on in Lofa County. When you left Lofa County, did anyone replace you?

  • Yes, somebody replaced me. It was Morris Kallon and Issa Sesay.

  • And were they - do you know if they were engaged in fighting in Lofa against ULIMO also?

  • Yes, they too were fighting against ULIMO.

  • What happened to Kallon and Sesay's group, if you know?

  • Well, Issa Sesay was taken from there and when he came back to Sierra Leone Morris Kallon was there then. Morris Kallon was still there, but they fought but couldn't - they couldn't dislodge the ULIMOs. Since they could not overpower the ULIMOs he planned to take a bypass to go to Gbarnga, but they couldn't make it up and the manpower that he had all of them were killed and Morris Kallon was able to escape. He survived that attack.

  • Did he return immediately to Sierra Leone, do you know?

  • He returned, but not immediately after the incident. It took some time before he came.

  • Were Morris Kallon and Issa Sesay fighting along with any other forces - any allies - in that fighting in Lofa?

  • Yes, I want to tell you, I want to tell the Court, that RUF was NPFL's younger brother and whenever NPFL would get any attack from ULIMOs their younger brother, which was the RUF, will go there and fight together.

  • So you indicated, Mr Witness, that the Kallon group was defeated in Lofa County at that time. Did that apply also to NPFL forces in Lofa County at that time?

  • Yes, the NPFL together with the RUF could not occupy the position where the ULIMO were and so --

  • Your Honours, can the witness repeat the last bit of his answer?

  • Mr Witness, again the interpreter requires you to finish your answer. Pick up where you said, "The RUF could not occupy the position where ULIMO were". Carry on from there, please.

  • I said they could not occupy the position, which was Voinjama. They could not take it from the ULIMO, so the NPFL too had come from the Gbarnga end were fighting, they too could not dislodge the men from there.

  • Mr Witness, where did the various NPFL forces go after ULIMO occupied Lofa?

  • Well, some came to Sierra Leone who were with the RUF.

  • Do you recall the name of a commander of these forces of NPFL that retreated from Lofa to Sierra Leone?

  • Yes, one of them came who was Colonel Jungle.

  • Okay, thank you, Mr Witness. To the best of your recollection now, do you recall what year it was then that Colonel Jungle and some NPFL forces retreated into Sierra Leone?

  • It was in the year 1993 that they came into Sierra Leone.

  • And, Mr Witness, I just want to make sure I didn't cut you off. Were you thinking of any other names, or was it just Colonel Jungle?

  • Well, Colonel Jungle came with other fighters, but he was the commander.

  • Do you recall Jungle's real name?

  • Jungle's real name was Tamba.

  • And that's T-A-M-B-A:

  • What tribe was Colonel Jungle?

  • He was Kissi.

  • Do you recall what his assignment was, if you knew, within the NPFL?

  • Jungle was a commander who too was with General Fayia at that Lofa.

  • Okay, thank you. We will come back to Mr Tamba later, Mr Witness. Let me just go now to one other question about Colonel Jungle. How long did Colonel Jungle stay with RUF in Sierra Leone after being pushed out of Lofa County?

  • Well, Colonel Jungle was with the RUF right up to the end of the war in Sierra Leone.

  • Did he ever return to Liberia, or make trips to Liberia, to your knowledge?

  • When he was with the RUF he used to go to Liberia, but at that time the ULIMO were not armed. The time we started going to Liberia the ULIMO were not armed any more.

  • Mr Witness, you have indicated that ULIMO pushed RUF and NPFL out of Lofa in 1993?

  • Sorry to interrupt, but Mr Koumjian was asking for some dates and a time frame and he asked about Colonel Jungle, "Did he ever go back to Liberia or make trips to Liberia?" The witness replied, "When he was with the RUF he used to go to Liberia but at that time the ULIMO were not armed. At the time we started going to Liberia the ULIMO were not armed any more". Could we find out what time he is talking about now, because for all I know it could be a very different time from the time he has given just a moment ago.

  • Mr Koumjian?

  • Can I respond. Your Honour, I am trying to do the examination in a logical order. I don't understand this to be an objection, but a request for clarification.

  • It is not an objection at all. It is just clarification.

  • Then I would request that the procedure be that I be allowed to ask my questions and often I am planning on clarifying that anyway. I just think it would be more efficient and then if there is further clarification necessary it can be done in cross-examination.

  • If you are coming to this clarification, come to it when - in due course.

  • Well, I think my next question began - it is now off my screen. It started out, "Mr Witness, you indicated ULIMO pushed RUF and NPFL out of Lofa in 1993. Can you tell us when it was that ULIMO no longer was blocking and occupying Lofa County"?

  • Well, they did not leave the place. I cannot tell you that they left the place, but what I know about, because I was not at that end from 1993 up to the time ULIMO were without arms, because it came to a time when we ourselves, we the RUF, were having pressure from the SLA soldiers. That was the time the NPRC were advancing on the RUF positions, so I was in the jungle. I was not along the border end any more, but Colonel Jungle was with us and I learnt that the --

  • Your Honours, can the witness repeat that one?

  • Again, Mr Interpreter, I notice this is the third time in the course of the afternoon you have asked for repeats. What is the problem, that you're not keeping up?

  • Your Honours, the witness uses an expression that can be both negative and positive so he was talking about the RUF, it could be had got or had not got contact with the ULIMO.

  • I see. Mr Witness, the interpreter is trying to keep up with you and understand what you are saying so can you repeat the - your answer at the point where you say, "But Colonel Jungle was with us and I learnt that". Continue from there, please.

  • I said I learnt that the RUF too had been in contact with the ULIMO because the ULIMO too were trying - were about to be disarmed, so the RUF was in contact with them. According to what I heard, they used to come to Sierra Leone and return and our men too would come to them at Foya and return to Sierra Leone.

  • Okay, Mr Witness, you have talked about the NPRC. First can you clarify what is the NPRC?

  • Well, NPRC they said was revolutionary - I don't know, council something, but I really don't know the full meaning.

  • Who what was the NPRC? Was it a government of a country?

  • Yes, the NPRC was a government for a country. They were - it was the government of the soldiers, the Sierra Leone Army.

  • You indicated that the RUF was pushed into the jungle by the NPRC. Can you tell us what year you think that this occurred?

  • Yes, in late '93 those men pushed the RUF to the border. At that time the ULIMO too were not at the border.

  • Now, when the RUF was pushed by the NPRC to the border did the strategies of RUF change in any way?

  • Yes, we changed our strategy to fight.

  • Can you tell us how you fought after being pushed to the border to the jungle by the NPRC?

  • We divided ourselves into groups at different locations and at that time he was not in Liberia when the border was closed. He was with us in Sierra Leone when the NPRC pushed us. We decided to have different jungles.

  • I am just a little unclear here. The transcript appears to use the word Jungle with a capital J meaning the person, but are we talking about the trees and the bushes?

  • Mr Witness, when you are talking now about being pushed to the jungle, can you explain what you mean?

  • I mean the bush. We went there and I want you to know, because I had spoken about Jungle before now, that was the name of somebody who has taken up that name, he was a commander. He was an NPFL member. But the time that I am referring now to this jungle that I am talking about means the bushes that we went to.

  • Yes, but the witness did say I think in line 7 that when the RUF was pushed by the NPRC he did not - he was not with us in Liberia. Who does he mean?

  • I believe he was referring to Foday Sankoh:

  • Mr Witness, at the time - first of all, Mr Witness, you've indicated the border was closed. When you say the border was closed, what do you mean?

  • What I mean, because that road is the one from Sierra Leone to the Liberian border, the road at Lofa, that was what we used to go to Gbarnga. And our leader, Foday Sankoh, that was the road he used to go and bring ammunition for us. But he had come, he was with us in Sierra Leone when the ULIMO occupied the border, when they took Foya, so he had no chance to return to Liberia. He was with us when the NPRC in turn were advancing on us and they pushed us.

  • So, Mr Witness, when you talk about the border being closed you are referring to ULIMO occupying Lofa and border areas, is that correct, in Liberia?

  • Yes, that's what I'm talking about.

  • You have indicated, is it correct, that this happened until ULIMO disarmed? Is that correct?

  • Yes, ULIMO was there right up to the time the disarmament went on in Liberia.

  • Your Honours, I believe rather than asking this witness to try to recollect that date, we have other evidence that establishes the dates of the disarmament.

  • Sir, Mr Witness, so during the time that the border was closed was there any communication going on with Liberia?

  • Yes, communication used to go on with Liberia because we had a communication set and the one that had been sent to us by Mr Taylor, after that particular one we had already we had also captured some other communication sets that were now with us.

  • Do you know if Foday Sankoh was using the radio?

  • Yes, Foday Sankoh used the radio.

  • Do you know who he communicated with on the radio?

  • Who would he talk to, or communicate with?

  • Well, he used to talk to his brother who is called Mr Taylor.

  • Now, Mr Witness, do you recall elections in Sierra Leone?

  • Yes, I recall that there was an election in Sierra Leone.

  • Do you recall the year of the elections?

  • '96 they have an election in Sierra Leone and at that time we were still in the bush.

  • Now, Mr Witness, at the time of the elections did the RUF have any plans because of the elections? Let me start over. Let me strike that question. Mr Witness, what was the attitude within the RUF towards the elections? Perhaps that's vague.

  • It is vague. I don't know if you are asking for a policy decision on the part of the organisation.

  • Mr Witness, did Foday Sankoh speak about the elections?

  • That's fine. You have answered that. Now my question is what did Foday Sankoh indicate was the RUF political position towards the elections at that time?

  • Well, when we started getting the information that there was going to be an election, at that time Foday Sankoh was in the jungle. That is a bush where we had established a jungle for him and the place was called Zogoda. That was where he was. So he called we the commanders to tell us what the plans were that the government had with regards the elections.

    So Foday Sankoh said that it appeared to him as though the government never wanted to recognise us because whilst the fighting was going on they were pushing on with the elections and they did not even call our attentions to that. So he said we were also going to carry out some kind of offensive that will not allow the elections to hold. So we were called upon and we came to Zogoda.

    I came there and I was there when his radio man came to call him and he said to him that his brother, Mr Charles Taylor, wanted to speak to him and then Foday Sankoh got up and then I joined him and we both went to the radio house. So when we went there we entered and then he sat down and he started talking to his brother, that is Mr Taylor. And when they spoke on the talk lasted up to 20 to 25 minutes during which Foday Sankoh explained how we had been cut off and that we were not even getting supplies from Liberia any longer and what the plans were on the government side, that they had decided to carry on with the elections, and so he had called on his commanders to meet him and that he wanted to give them a plan that we shall go on an offensive to make sure that the election does not hold at all and that the offensive that we were to undertake we should make fearful and that anybody who we will capture, we will have to amputate that person and we will ask that person to take his hands off the elections.

    So he was telling him that these were the plans that I had put together, that was why I called my commanders to come so that I will explain to them the offensive that we were to undertake. And then his brother told him in his reply that the plan is not a bad one, that is Mr Taylor, and so two days after they had spoken to each other we went on the offensive.

  • Thank you, Mr Witness. I want to go back over this a little bit. You said Foday Sankoh was in Zogoda. Is that correct?

  • Yes, that was where he was.

  • When he called you to come to Zogoda where were you?

  • I was at the northern jungle.

  • What district is Zogoda in?

  • Zogoda is in the Kenema District.

  • When you got to Zogoda, you said that you entered into a radio room with Foday Sankoh. Is that right?

  • And that you heard this radio conversation that you just told us about between Sankoh and Taylor, correct?

  • Who was present in the room?

  • Well, the radio man who was there was Foday Sankoh's radio man and he was called Z-Man. And whilst Foday Sankoh was going he went with his securities, but when the securities got there they didn't enter the radio room. The securities took positions around the booth where the radio was located and then Foday Sankoh entered the radio room and he sat down. And myself, I stood just in front of the radio room where he entered. And let me tell you where the radio was, it was not as if it was a place when you went there it had a door that you could lock. It was something like a thatch hut, so that was how it was. But somebody who will stand in front of the place whilst somebody was talking on the radio with somebody else, you will hear and understand.

  • Were you able to hear what Foday Sankoh was saying?

  • Yes, I heard what Foday Sankoh was talking and I also heard Mr Taylor's responses to him.

  • At that time within the RUF what was your position?

  • I was area commander. I was a major and it was later that I became colonel.

  • How many area commanders were there within the RUF at the time of the '96 elections?

  • I was one of the commanders in the northern jungle and we also had Superman who was also an area commander in the Western Area. We had Peter Vandi who was in Kailahun District as area commander as well.

  • Who was above, or who were above the area commanders in the RUF structure?

  • It was the man who was field commander and who was lieutenant colonel. He was Mohamed Tarawalli and he was the boss over the area commanders.

  • Was there a battle group commander at that time?

  • We had Sam Bockarie who was Mosquito. He was the battle group commander.

  • So would it be correct to say then, Mr Witness, that you as one of the three area commanders were among the top half dozen or so commanders of the RUF?

  • Please repeat that one.

  • Were you in the top command of the RUF?

  • Yes, I was one of them myself.

  • You said you were in command of the northern jungle. Can you explain to us what areas of Sierra Leone were covered by that term?

  • I was in the Tonkolili District. That was where I was.

  • Okay. Now, Mr Witness, just so we are absolutely clear, was the RUF participating in the elections in 1996?

  • We didn't take part in the elections. That was why we went on that offensive that I have told you about, because the government did not recognise us.

  • After Foday Sankoh's radio conversation with Charles Taylor that you heard, did he ever talk about what Taylor had told him to anyone else in your presence?

  • Well, Foday Sankoh was a man who did not hide things away from us. There were things that he used to tell his commanders or the soldiers. He told us that, "The plan for which I have called you people for us to carry on, my brother called me and I have explained everything to him and in his response he told me that the plan is not a bad plan at all".

  • Well, to be clear about what you just said, are you saying that Foday Sankoh told the other commanders that Taylor said it was not a bad plan?

  • Yes, I said what Foday Sankoh discussed with Taylor he explained to all the commanders who were present there in that meeting.

  • Okay. Now you said that Foday Sankoh talked about cutting hands. Is that correct?

  • Yes, he said anybody whom we captured, we should amputate that person and we should tell the person that he should take his hands off the elections. So the people who were to go and vote were the people that we were supposed to do those things to. So we had different targets to which we were to carry on with those offensives.

  • Now, Mr Witness, you said that the people - that you were going to cut the hands of the people who were to go and vote. How would you determine who were the people who were to go to vote?

  • Well, when we see you, because what normally happened in Sierra Leone, when somebody was going to vote, that person was to have an ID, that is an identity card. It was that ID card that you would use before you were allowed to enter the voting booth. So that was how we managed to know the people. And some of them, after voting, you will see a blue indelible ink on their fingers. So that was how we identified them.

  • You said there were various targets for this planned attack. What was your target that you were assigned to?

  • Well, I was to go to Masingbi.

  • When you say go to Masingbi, what do you mean?

  • That was supposed to be my own target. That was where I was supposed to fight. That was where I was supposed to attack.

  • Do you recall any of the other targets given to any of the other commanders?

  • Yes, the western jungle it was Mohamed Tarawalli and Superman and their target was to be Magburaka and Makeni and I was to go to Masingbi and Rambo and Mosquito were to go to Kenema Town. And those who were in Kailahun, they also had their own targets that they were supposed to face and that was the Pendembu area.

  • Masingbi may not have been spelled before. It is M-A-S-I-N-G-B-I.

  • Thank you, Mr Koumjian.

  • Going back for a moment to this meeting with the commanders, you said - who was present at the meeting, which commanders that you can recall now?

  • Well, we were many. All the commanders like from Kailahun, some from the Western Area, in the case of those it was Mohamed Tarawalli who came to represent them. There were some other people like Issa Sesay. He was already at that time under punishment so he had been at Zogoda already. And like Augustine Gbao, he was also present in the meeting. We had some other people who were around the Pujehun target area. They also came, like Rocky CO. He was called Emanuel Williams. Rambo. We had Jungle. He was based at Peyama, but he was present in that meeting and his own target was Kenema.

  • Okay, thank you. Now you have mentioned Rambo. There are a couple of Rambos. Is that correct?

  • Has this witness said that there are a couple of Rambos?

  • I don't recall the witness saying that.

  • And is that not a leading question?

  • Yes, I was about to say that, so in effect you are leading him.

  • Sure:

  • Mr Witness, can you tell us who Rambo is? What was his nationality?

  • He was a Liberian.

  • The Rambo that you were referring to, was he a member of the RUF or was he an SLA?

  • That assumes he must be either or, that question.

  • I was going to say there is another choice. In fact there's two other choices.

  • Was he a member of the RUF?

  • He was an RUF member.

  • Now, Mr Witness, you also mentioned Jungle was present. Is this the same person that you mentioned earlier?

  • It is the person that I have spoken about before.

  • At the time of this operation, first of all did the operation have a name?

  • Yes, the operation had a name and the name that the operation had was Operation Stop Elections.

  • Do you recall at this time was the border still blocked by ULIMO?

  • So you mentioned Colonel Jungle. Do you know if he - well, strike that. Strike that. After you had the meeting with the commanders and you were given your assignment, what did you do?

  • I went directly to my own target, and that is Masingbi, to attack there.

  • In attacking that target were you in command of any troops?

  • Yes, from the northern jungle I went with my men with whom we attacked Masingbi and that was my own target for us to stop the elections.

  • You indicated that about two days after the radio call there was the meeting with the commanders, is that correct, in Zogoda?

  • Yes, that was what I told you, that after they had had the radio communication it was then that we went for that meeting that where the Pa said that we should go on that operation, Stop Elections.

  • And when you are talking about that meeting and you say the Pa who are you referring to?

  • I am talking about Foday Sankoh.

  • Now you said you left immediately after that meeting. How long did it take you to get to your men in the northern jungle?

  • Well, I walked for the whole day and the whole night and we spent about - we spent 72 hours from Zogoda to the place, we spent three days, but you walk for the whole night, the whole day, but if you walk for the whole day and the whole night you might not spend up to that three days for you to get there.

  • When you arrived and met with your men in the northern jungle, did you meet with them before the attack?

  • I met with them and when I arrived I had to explain the reason for which we were called and what was supposed to be the next thing that we should do. So we had a parade because that parade was our daily routine. It was something we did every other day. And it was on the parade ground that we would know whether we had a mission at hand or we did not have a mission. So it was at the parade ground that I explained to them exactly the things that we had from Pa Foday Sankoh with regards the elections and what the operation was supposed to be that we should carry out to stop the elections.

  • Did you attack Masingbi?

  • Yes, I attacked Masingbi, but I was unable to overrun there.

  • Who were you fighting against?

  • I was fighting against the SLA and the Kamajors.

  • So your group from the northern jungle, were you able to capture any civilians or persons participating in the elections?

  • We were unable to capture people who were taking part in the elections in that of our own area.

  • Did you, Mr Witness, hear any reports of how the operation was carried out by other area commanders and whether there was any success?

  • Well, the other area commanders were able to succeed because like in the case of Magburaka, Mohamed Tarawalli, Superman and others, they were able to capture there and they also captured people and they carried out what the operation called for and that was to make sure that the people who were captured, they should amputate them so as for them to take their hands off the elections.

  • Well, what I understood you to say is they should amputate them. Did you hear whether any amputations actually took place?

  • Yes, I heard that they amputated people and they even carved "RUF" on some people's chest. They used razor blade to write on people's chest "RUF".

  • Thank you. Now, Mr Witness, do you recall the Abidjan peace accord?

  • Yes, I remember that.

  • Can you tell us where you were when the Abidjan accord was signed?

  • I was still in my area, that is the northern jungle. That is Tonkolili District. That was where I was.

  • And at some point after the Abidjan accord did you learn of a new political development in Freetown?

  • The time they went to sign the peace there was no fighting going on, because at that time the enemies never used to come on offensive and we also never used to go on the offensive again.

  • Now, Mr Witness, at some time after that did something occur in Freetown that you recall? Let me strike that. Let me ask another question. Mr Witness, you said you were in the northern jungle. Did you ever get an order to leave the northern jungle?

  • Well, it was not in the case of the Abidjan peace accord, because we are talking about the Abidjan peace accord. So when you talking about Abidjan peace accord, at that time I never had an order for me to leave that jungle.

  • Moving on, when did you get the order to leave the Jungle?

  • I don't think he has said, has he, that he did get an order. I thought he just said he didn't get an order.

  • The time I got the order to leave, at that time Foday Sankoh was not in the country. He had gone to Abidjan and he was arrested in Nigeria when he arrived there. But in the year 2000 it was the time I received instruction for me to leave the bush and that was when the AFRC - when they had launched a coup d'etat in Freetown. That was the time I received the orders to join the soldiers.

  • So, Mr Witness, you recall the time of the AFRC coup, correct? I am not asking you now, but you just remember that happening, correct?

  • Yes, I recall that it happened.

  • And tell us what news you received - what orders you received when you heard about the coup?

  • I received an order that said I should join the AFRC, those were the soldiers, that I should join them and that I should go with manpower, that is fighters, and they were gunmen and that we should go and join the soldiers. And they gave me certain things that I was supposed to do at any time we met on the way. We were supposed to meet with them at a place that is called Five Mile and that place is along the way when you are leaving Magburaka to go to Kono, that is when you pass through Matotoka, then you will get to the town that is referred to as Five Mile. So that was where I was supposed to meet with the soldiers. And when I would meet them I was supposed to use the sign using a torchlight. I will flash the torchlight three times and then they would also respond the same way I did. But when we got there we were unable to see them. The only thing that they did was that they also made a sign that would let us understand that they were already there. So they took some packets of ammunition and placed them on the road where we were coming from.

  • Okay. Mr Witness, who did you receive this order from to go and join the AFRC - to go and join the soldiers?

  • I got the order from Sam Bockarie.

  • What was Sam Bockarie's position at that time?

  • At that time Sam Bockarie was the field commander.

  • What happened to Mohamed Tarawalli?

  • Well, it was in 1996 that the Kamajors and the SLA soldiers, they attacked Zogoda. And at that time when Pa Sankoh was leaving to go to Abidjan it was Mohamed Tarawalli who came to Zogoda to replace him. So when they were attacked they took a road that led towards the Kailahun area and, according to them, they said when they reached towards the Moa River they were attacked by enemies and since then we haven't been able to see Mohamed Tarawalli up to this moment. So it was Mosquito that took his place.

  • Now you mentioned Foday Sankoh being arrested. Was he arrested before or after this AFRC coup when he was arrested in, you said, Nigeria?

  • Yes, he was arrested before the AFRC coup.

  • So at that time who was commanding the RUF in Sierra Leone?

  • It was Sam Bockarie who was the commander.

  • Are you aware if there were any communications with Foday Sankoh during the time he was under detention in Nigeria?

  • Yes, communication used to go on because the order that we received came from there even before we went to join the brothers.

  • Explain what you mean by the order came from there before you went to join the brothers?

  • Well, the order that I received from Sam Bockarie, he did say that the Pa, who was Foday Sankoh, sent a message that we should join the brothers, and that is the soldiers who had taken over the country at that moment and they were now in Freetown. And it was for that reason that he was passing the order on to me that I should go with my men to join the brothers.

  • Do you know, Mr Witness, what year Foday Sankoh was arrested in Nigeria?

  • Foday Sankoh was arrested at the time he went to Abidjan in 1996 for the peace accord and it was that year that I know that he was arrested in Nigeria.

  • Now, Mr Witness, do you recall how much time passed between Foday Sankoh's arrest and the AFRC coup?

  • I want you to go over that again.

  • Do you recall, Mr Witness, how many years passed, if any, between Foday Sankoh's arrest and the AFRC coup?

  • I can say it was just like one year, because it was in '97 that we joined the AFRC.

  • Thank you. Mr Witness, you had stated earlier that the coup was in 2000, just so you're aware?

  • No, no, it was 2007. It was a mistake that I made. Although I made that mistake, but that was not the case. It was in '97 that the coup took place.

  • Thank you, Mr Witness. So after you met with these SLAs at Five Mile what happened then to you?

  • I didn't meet them there, just like I have said, but I and my men, I put them in parade and we were there and we ambushed on either sides. The road that was coming from the Kono side, I ambushed there. The path from Matotoka, I also set an ambush there. So that was that - it was in those area that we were.

  • Okay. When you say, Mr Witness, that you ambushed, what do you mean when you say you ambushed?

  • Well, I set an ambush because they had called me to come and join the men, so if they had come and did not see me they were supposed to wait, because they had told me that when we meet with them the signs that we were supposed to use and they also knew about the sign. So when I reached there and did not meet them there I was not pleased at all. So I thought that they had applied a strategy. So in that case I also decided to set ambushes to protect the areas where I have already occupied. So if anything was going to happen I would have been able to defend my men.

  • What did the SLAs do then?

  • So later they came from Matotoka. When they came - because when I was leaving I went with a radio set and I went with Mr Nya who was called Foday K Lansana and then we mounted the radio, we tried to call them at first, but we were unable to get them, but later they came and met us. So we and them embraced one another. So from there they took us and we all drove to Matotoka. So they lined up the rebels and the soldiers all together in the same parade and the commanders from the SLA side and those from the rebel side, they all were able to talk to the men.

    From there we moved and went to Makeni. From Makeni we moved towards Freetown. We came to Benguema. From Benguema we moved to Hastings, because at Hastings we had some men who were there and that was Superman and his own men who were based within the Western Area, they were the ones who had already occupied Hastings. So when we got to Hastings at night the jubilation that we did in the Hastings camp, the ECOMOG people heard the sounds so they also very early in the morning did not wait. They also launched an attack. So we also fought and fighting started in that area.

  • Which groups were fighting in that Hastings area?

  • It was the RUF and the SLA on one side and the ECOMOG on the other side. So that was what the fighting was like. And they also had the Kamajors with them.

  • After this fighting in Hastings where did you go?

  • Well, I came back to Benguema and we were all there, but we received instructions that we should move to Freetown and it was Johnny Paul Koroma who sent the order.

  • And did you respond to Johnny Paul Koroma's order?

  • Yes, we responded to him.

  • And where did you go?

  • We went to Freetown. That was where we went.

  • Did you bring any of your troops with you into Freetown?

  • Yes, the fighters, I took them to Freetown.

  • When you got to Freetown were you given any position?

  • Yes, they gave me a position there.

  • First of all, let me ask can you do you recall approximately how long after the coup it was that you arrived in Freetown?

  • Well, when the coup took place it did not take a long time that we went, because the coup took place and the next day we received the instruction to join the men.

  • Well, can you give me an estimate of the number of days or weeks or months between the coup and when you arrived in Freetown?

  • Well, I can say almost a week when we came to join those men.

  • What was the position that you were given in Freetown?

  • When I got there, I was in a council that was formed by them and later on they removed me from there and I was at the front line commanding the front lines, but I was anti-looting squad commander.

  • So, Mr Witness, you said you were first in a council. Can you describe what that council was?

  • That council was the Supreme Council where in there you had authorities like JP and other authorities who used to discuss, who used to plan about the war what things that they were supposed to do to carry out - to carry on with the war. Those were some of the things that they did.

  • When you say JP can you tell us the name of the person you are talking about?

  • It is Johnny Paul Koroma that I am talking about.

  • What was his position, if any, on the council?

  • Well, Johnny Paul Koroma was the head of state.

  • Who else was on the council at the time that you were a member?

  • I don't quite understand that question. Do you mean what representatives of the same organisation were on it, or --

  • Who were the members of the council at the time you were on the council. You said you were removed later, but at time you were on the council who were the other members?

  • We had Tamba Brima. We had SO Williams. We had JPK that I have spoken about which is Johnny Paul Koroma. We had Issa Sesay. We had Gullit. Mosquito too was a member of that council. There were many that were members, but I can only recall those few ones for now.

  • Mr Witness, you said Mosquito was on the council. Which Mosquito are you referring to now?

  • I am talking about the RUF Mosquito who was Sam Bockarie.

  • Did Sam Bockarie then come to Freetown after the coup?

  • Yes, after the coup he came to Freetown.

  • And do you recall how long he stayed in Freetown?

  • Well, he did not spend a long time in Freetown. He spent some weeks in Freetown and then he later went to Kenema where he was based.

  • Mr Witness, at the time that you were a member of this council did anyone from another country come to meet with the council?

  • Yes, we had another person who came from a different country to meet us.

  • It was Mr Ibrahim Bah that I had spoken about before. He came and met us, because he met first those of us in the RUF, because we knew him before. We had fought alongside with him before in Sierra Leone. So he brought a message that Mr Taylor gave him for him to give to us. So when he came and met us he told us that, "The Pa, who is Mr Taylor, sent me to come and talk to you so that you and the brothers whom you have come to join, that is the AFRC men, he is asking that you work together".

  • Was Ibrahim Bah at that time to your knowledge a civilian or a military person?

  • Well, I knew that Ibrahim Bah was an NPFL. He was a soldier, he was a fighter and he was one of the Special Forces. I have spoken about him when I said he was a fighter and one of the Special Forces.

  • Do you know what rank he held within the NPFL?

  • He was a general.

  • Your Honour, I have more questions about the meetings with Mr Bah but perhaps this would be a good time and perhaps we could get an update on the situation?

  • Thank you, Mr Koumjian.

  • Madam President, do you want to release the witness first?

  • Yes, I think I will do that first. Mr Witness, we are now going to be adjourning shortly until tomorrow morning. We have some administrative matters to deal with. However, I must warn you that between now and the time that you finish all your evidence in the Court you should not discuss your evidence with any other person. Do you understand?

  • Please assist the witness, thank you. Mr Munyard, have you any news for us?

  • Yes, I do, Madam President. I spoke to Mr Griffiths not very long before we came back into court at half past two our time and he had not then finished cross-examining the witness and he did not anticipate that he would have finished by the end of this afternoon, but of course he said to me, "I will update you at the end of the afternoon". Well, the end of the afternoon in England is an hour away from now. They will still be in court now. Courts normally sit between - in the Old Bailey five past two until between 4.15 and 4.30 unless they want to sit on a little bit late or rise a little bit early, but those are the normal court times in the afternoon at that particular court. So that's the position. The latest that I know is that he is not anticipating being able to be released from that case until some time during the day tomorrow.

  • Thank you, Mr Munyard.

  • Your Honours, I understand the situation that counsel can't provide further information. The only thing I would like to bring to the Court's attention now for consideration is that the Prosecution will be applying to have the Court impose time limits on the parties in the examination of the next witness. This is a practice that has been done in many domestic courts, it's very common practice I think in almost all of the trials at the ICTY at the current time and our own position is while it is normally 50/50, the time division, I believe we would be willing to accept one day to do the direct, the essential parts of the direct.

    This is not a situation we like. To be very frank with the Court we believe the current witness is a critical witness and it not to our advantage to interrupt his testimony, but it's the only way that we can ever hear, we believe, the testimony of 399.

  • Mr Koumjian, whilst I don't wish to interrupt you, it would appear you are putting us on notice of a possible application. Is that what's happening?

  • And in due course you will refer us to relevant rules, et cetera.

  • If in fact you do proceed with such an application.

  • And to give the Defence fair notice that that would be our application also.

  • Just to give a bit more notice, Mr Koumjian, you would be submitting that the Prosecution be given one day with the witness and I presume you would be saying that the Defence cross-examine for one day?

  • No, we are willing to give the Defence the remainder of the time. I would like to have a half hour for redirect if necessary, but that's all that we are asking for and that I believe would give the Defence significantly more time than the Prosecution has for direct examination.

  • Thank you.

  • We will therefore adjourn until tomorrow at 9.30.

  • Madam President, I was just going to say I won't reply at this stage except to say I think it's only appropriate that Mr Griffiths is the person who replies because he is the person - if an application is made, because he is the person who has prepared this cross-examination.

  • Just a minute. Is it for the witness before us now or the prospective witness? The prospective witness.

  • The prospective witness.

  • I appreciate the difference. I see. That was not entirely clear.

  • No, I think my learned friend and I were at one, but the Court may not have been. The other thing is it is completely unheard of in the Courts of England and Wales that I have ever practiced in to impose such time limits. It may be the case in other jurisdictions.

  • You may have heard me ask for an indication concerning rules et cetera, so we will deal with that if and when it arises.

  • It's only because my learned friend referred to domestic courts as well. It may well be, but not in the one that I come from.

  • [Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 4.34 p.m. to be reconvened on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 9.30 a.m.]