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

  • [On former affirmation]

  • Mr Taylor, yesterday when we adjourned I was asking you about whether there had been any recurrence about these accusations and counter-accusations about invasions of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Do you recall that?

  • Now, we're now still in the first quarter of 2000 and at or about this time was there any recurrence of that?

  • What do you recall about that?

  • Well, we had a letter from President Kabbah really that was sent - I mean in fact a press release that was done by President Kabbah regarding what he saw as continuing problems with the situation.

  • So who was complaining about whom?

  • Kabbah was complaining that they were still getting reports of my so-called involvement in Sierra Leone.

  • Now, was there any counter-accusation being made by you?

  • Oh, yes. We also countered that it was not true and that in fact we were suspecting that Liberians were gathering also to stage attacks against us.

  • And was this a matter of concern to you?

  • Of course, yes, it was a matter of grave concern to me.

  • And is it a matter which you raised with the United Nations in any way?

  • With the special representative. We raised it with him and reported that we saw this as a grave problem, that this matter seemed not to be going away.

  • Could the witness please be shown in binder 1 of 4 for week 33, the document behind divider 40, please. Have you seen this document before, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes. This is a document from Thomas that I saw, yes. It deals with even a side bar meeting that Kabbah and myself even subsequently had. Yes, I've seen this.

  • Subsequently had where?

  • We were at a Heads of State meeting in Cairo and we talked about the problems and I reassured him.

  • Which meeting was that of?

  • It could have been an AU meeting in Cairo where just on a side bar he and I talked about this and I told him that if he had any concerns, his ambassador could be invited to the so-called training sites and whatnot.

  • Now let's have a look at this document, shall we. We see that it follows the format to which we've now become used. It's a code cable from Mr Downes-Thomas to Prendergast at the United Nations and it's dated 6 April 2000. Is that correct, Mr Taylor?

  • That is correct.

  • Now, the heading is, "UNAMSIL, Emergency Security Meeting."

  • "Thank you for your code of 4 April 2000 on the subject above to which you attached a note of 31 March 2000 from UNAMSIL regarding an investigation into a planned cross-border attack from Sierra Leone on Liberia.

    For UNOL the story was not new."

    Pausing there, Mr Taylor. As we earlier observed, such allegations were certainly not new, were they?

  • "We conveyed to headquarters on 18 November 1998 and on 20 December 1998 that the Government of Liberia had indeed advised that Liberians were being trained at Zimmi (Sierra Leone). What is novel, however, is the related confirmation by ECOMOG."

    What does that mean?

  • Well, it simply means that ECOMOG agreed that this training was going on in Zimmi.

  • "The Government of Liberia's reaction to the report has been measured and deliberately subdued. I've been reliably informed that before his departure to Cairo on Sunday, 2 April 2000, President Taylor had knowledge of some of the matters which the report has touched upon. He, however, advised that this matter should be addressed without fanfare but coolly and diplomatically."

    Why?

  • Well, we did not just want to rush. We had the information, it had been confirmed and there was no point in making a whole lot of noise about it. I knew that we were meeting. In fact my recollection is that I think this was France Afrique summit in Cairo to be exact - I stand corrected on this one - and not an OAU meeting. It was a France Afrique summit and I knew I was going to meet with President Kabbah there so I decided we should not go to the meeting throwing blows, that we could handle it very carefully and while there I would discuss it with him and maybe some of our other colleagues and bring it under control. So I urged that we handle it diplomatically without making a lot of noise and press reports and all that kind of stuff.

  • "Consequently, the Government of Liberia refrained from reacting to the report, although the BBC's Focus on Africa had aired stories on this issue on 4 April which were readily carried by the major newspapers in Monrovia the next day.

    It was not until late yesterday afternoon that the government's position on the matter was expressed by President Taylor at a welcoming ceremony held at the Executive Mansion. He revealed that while in Cairo, he had extensive talks with President Tejan Kabbah on matters relating to the peace and security of the Mano River Union states and on the measures the Sierra Leonean government had taken to foil an attempt to attack Liberia."

    Pause. What measures had been taken by the Sierra Leonean government?

  • Well, what Kabbah had said to me in Cairo was that he too had gotten this report and he had ordered that the people involved be dispersed and some of them were arrested and I can rest assured. So I'm just quoting what he told me, that he had taken steps to resolve the problem.

  • "In that regard he stressed that he thanked President Kabbah for the steps he had taken against those Liberians in Sierra Leone who were bent on destabilising Liberia. He assured President Kabbah that the diabolical lies circulating within certain intelligence circles alleging that the Government of Liberia was training Sierra Leoneans were baseless."

    Which intelligence sources are we talking about here Mr Taylor?

  • Reports, they come in. They were telling Kabbah that I was training people to fight him. They were coming to me, telling me that Kabbah was training people to fight me, so they just keep heads knocking. That's what they were doing. So I just told him - after we met in Cairo, he said, "Listen, my brother, it is not true. We heard of this report. We sent security to the area. We investigated, dispersed the Liberians in the area." I told him too that I had no problems with his ambassador in Monrovia going to visit these alleged areas where they say that we were training people. He agreed. So we just handled it amicably, where we just believed in each other and put it behind us.

  • Now, it continues:

    "He further assured his counterpart that everything would be done to secure peace and security in the Mano River area. He then articulated the Government of Liberia's position as follows: Emphasising that the allegations made within certain intelligence circles could have been a ploy to justify their schemes relating to the activities of Liberian dissidents in Sierra Leone, the President announced that his country would never harbour any dissident bent on destabilising any of the neighbouring countries. He indicated that the Sierra Leonean ambassador to Liberia would be invited to visit the country's military training camp to assure himself of the fact that there was no Sierra Leoneans being trained at the base."

    But because there for a moment, Mr Taylor. Do you think there was room here for a degree of misunderstanding to the extent that there were some Sierra Leoneans being trained in Liberia at the time, weren't there?

  • Well, I can say technically no. There were Liberians being trained. Those several Sierra Leoneans that came with Sam Bockarie were no longer Sierra Leoneans, they were Liberian citizens, and they were so identified in that by getting there - they had, from their intelligence sources, the individuals that they were looking for. It would be very simple to meet all of the - those former Sierra Leoneans that had come to Liberia. It was simple to meet with them. So, technically, I would say no.

  • But, Mr Taylor, it's a question of perception, is it not? If you were in Kabbah's shoes and you knew that hundreds of former RUF combatants had been recruited into the ATU, wouldn't that be a matter of concern?

  • Well, of course, yes, to an extent, yes, but there was a lot of transparency here. There's something funny that, you know, for the outside world, they don't understand these kinds of things. Look, the very Sierra Leoneans - or a lot of them, before they got their citizenship, that came with Sam Bockarie to Liberia in December of 1999 were very good friends with the embassy people. It's very difficult to bring our regions that like you look at other parts of the world. Okay?

    The very Sam Bockarie that was in Liberia, who says that he would not meet and speak to the Sierra Leonean ambassador or members of the embassy? There was - you know, you hear it and you think that there is war going - people don't behave that way. Sam Bockarie was in Liberia for that time. He would talk to Sierra Leonean officials. In fact, the very guesthouse of the RUF, Sierra Leonean officials assigned at the embassy visited there. These people were not trying to kill each other on the streets of Monrovia.

    So, from my standpoint, there was nothing being hidden. The Government of Sierra Leone knew that Sierra Leoneans were there. They - we did a complete accounting. Remember I had mentioned to this Court that the first 30 or so days we were dealing with immigration activities, identification processes. Everybody knew who came. We did not hide the number of people that came with Sam Bockarie. No, no, no, no, no.

    Everybody knew that wanted to know. It was published in newspapers - published them. So by inviting the ambassador to the base, he would see the people and they would be able to identify. The ambassador doesn't come alone. The ambassador comes with intelligence people, let there be no mistake, no - there's nothing I'm going to teach anybody here about. All embassies have intelligence people. They may call them vice-counsel or they may call them political officer. These are all spies. Every embassy, everybody - whether you are some officer at the embassy - is an intelligence officer. He is not covered by that title, but everyone have spies at the embassy. They collect intelligence. And so when the ambassador comes, he doesn't come alone. He comes with people. There may be press attache. Press attache is your title, but you could be a military officer.

    So it's very difficult to deceive people, but the exposure and the transparency by inviting them to these areas would give an assurance, at least, that there is transparency and the desire to doing good. This is the whole purpose.

  • Very well.

    "Referring to his government's preferred course of action in dealing with the issue, the President stressed that the Government of Liberia will take no extra measures in the deployment of troop along the border with Sierra Leone and that every aspect of the relationship between the two countries will be handled within the context of the Mano River Union. In this regard, he said that the upcoming Mano River Union summit to be held in Conakry on 7-8 May would offer ample opportunity to pursue such delicate matters.

    He stated that he will dispatch a high level delegation to Freetown to address these and related matters.

    He also took the opportunity to reiterate his willingness to allow the United Nations to monitor the Sierra Leone-Liberia border and to make the facilities of the Robert International Airport available to the UN for its operations in Sierra Leone. Again, this request for the monitoring of the border is not novel. You may wish to recall that the Government of Liberia renewed this request in its letter of 6 January 1999 to the then President of the Security Council, Ambassador Celso L Amorim, a copy of which we sent to headquarters by way of our code of the same date.

    Needless to say, we welcome both the swift measures taken by ECOMOG and the Sierra Leonean government on this sensitive matter, as well as the considered response of the Government of Liberia to the reports regarding the activities of dissident Liberians in Sierra Leone. These developments will auger well for the success of the long awaited summit of the Mano River Union to be held in Conakry and are bound to have a ripple effect on Liberia-Guinea relations.

    In a related development, you may wish to know that The Inquirer newspaper, which is currently undertaking its own investigation into the matter, has today published some findings as follows:

    One General Olpo Beennie of the defunct Alhaji Kromah's ULIMO-K, and another identified as 'Jungle Fire', also of the ULIMO-K, as well as General Amos Lincoln of the defunct Roosevelt Johnson's ULIMO-J, are said to be amongst those arrested in the Sierra Leonean town of Gendema."

    Pause. We've encountered that name, Amos Lincoln, before, have we not?

  • Yes, we have.

  • Mention had been made of a complaint about his presence in Sierra Leone, wasn't there?

  • Yes. This is that same Lincoln that was amongst the group at the embassy from that attack in Monrovia, yes.

  • And this General Olpo Beennie, is that someone you are aware of?

  • No, I didn't know him.

  • What about Jungle Fire?

  • I've heard the name - I had heard the name Jungle Fire, yes.

  • "A Lieutenant General Mohhammed L Fofana of the defunct ULIMO-K was positioned to effect the forcible release of prisoners from the central prison in Monrovia.

    Individuals identified as Philip Kamara (Sierra Leone), Jeketaye Quanteh (Guinea) and Ma Musu Saysay (Cote d'Ivoire) are said to be serving as contact persons.

    That another group of dissidents from the Guinean side are poised to launch an attack on Liberia at various entry points, including the Loguato border in Nimba County.

    Other mapped points of entry by the dissidents include Gbadin (Nimba County), Mano River Kongo (Grand Cape Mount County), Po River and (Montserrado County).

    Finally, be assured that we have taken due note of your observations relating to the exchange of information between UNOL and UNAMSIL."

    Pausing there. Mr Taylor, the newspaper report which the writer refers to mentions a number of people identified as once having been part of the ULIMO movement. Is that correct?

  • And was your government aware that such individuals were apparently seeking to create further difficulties in Liberia dissident activity? Were you aware of this?

  • Yes. Don't let's forget that this is an ongoing situation, so we are getting a lot of reports. Remember, we had already encountered - we've had two attacks. We had one in April; we had one in August. So we were listening out, and we knew that these attacks were coming from former ULIMO-J and K individuals that had changed their names. Some of them were calling themselves - they came in as Mosquito Spray. They come in as LURD. I was not familiar with any of the - those ULIMO generals that did not joint us. We he had heard of their names, but we were very aware that people were preparing to attack at these levels.

    Now, at the points mentioned here, these are strategic points where you just read. Gbadin in Nimba County is a very strategic - it is not a normal border entry point into Liberia, but it joins Guinea at a very hilly, semi-mountainous area that people could infiltrate into Liberia and probably be in that region for a long time, maybe a year or more, and you wouldn't even know. This is the - Nimba County is a section of the country that you find mountains where we to iron ore mining and that borders Guinea. So hearing of Gbadin, this is a very strategic point.

    When you talk about Mano River Kongo, in evidence led here, that question came up about the possibility of there being through-roads from Bomi Hills going into the forest area that this witness talked about. And I did tell the Court that the area called Kongo, there was a real link from Bomi Hills there, but there was no exact train road. This is an old mining area which is also fertile ground for people to infiltrate. That's the border now with Sierra Leone, and this is also a forest area.

    So Loguato was a little more difficult. This word has come up before in the evidence before this Court. Loguato is that section of the border with la Cote d'Ivoire that comes across from an area in la Cote d'Ivoire called Binta [phon]. That is on the record here, where it was stated that upon the return of Sam Bockarie and his major force, that they tried to come through Binta. So these are all strategic --

  • Mr Taylor, I'll interrupt you there. Apparently the LiveNote is not working.

    Do you have the same trouble?

  • Mine has suddenly stopped now as well.

  • Your Honour, there was a brief Internet interruption and now the internet is working again, hence the LiveNote - the lack of connectivity for some seconds, but it should be working again.

  • Mine seems to be reconnected.

  • Yes. Please go ahead, Mr Griffiths.

  • What were you saying, Mr Taylor, when, unfortunately, we had to stop?

  • Okay. I was just trying to say that the last point of Loguato is also strategic and so yes, in direct answer to your question we were aware of this information. We received the information, and I'm using the word information more than intelligence because for it to become intelligence you have to check it and recheck and make sure it is true, so there is a big difference between information and intelligence. But we had this information of these possible entry points. Because they were strategic we paid strict attention to it and tried to double-check. But we were aware of this attempt on the part of these former ULIMO people to destabilise the country. In fact they had carried out two attacks already.

  • Now, just start looking at that in a bit more detail, Mr Taylor. We are now three years into your government, aren't we?

  • And as we have examined earlier, you had made attempts to reconcile the former warring factions by bringing some of those combatants into your government and offering them posts. We've looked at that?

  • Including, of course, individuals like Varmuyan Sherif, yes?

  • We now have a situation where even after you've brought those former ULIMO fighters into your government, activity sponsored by ULIMO is occurring on your borders, yes?

  • Now, help us. Did that in any way affect your attitude towards those former ULIMO personnel who you had brought into your government?

  • Normally that would happen, but I was even more conciliatory in dealing with them and let me tell you what I mean. A lot of them could have been dismissed. We could have thrown them out of the government but we did not do that. So it did have some effect on - yes, on the overall attitude but you learn to control it in the interests of reconciliation and stability.

  • But did it affect any sense of trust you might have had in those individuals?

  • Oh, definitely. For example like in the case of Varmuyan, we removed him from the Executive Mansion and sent him to immigration.

  • Well, there were two major problems. In the first instance he had been involved with looting Mobil, this whole Mobil problem. He was arrested and investigated for the looting of the Mobil property. And then following that, we just moved him on to immigration where he would be less of a threat to my person.

  • What do you mean, a threat to your person?

  • Well, there's a former general that fought against me and would have killed me if he had been able to do that. He was a top senior general in ULIMO. We meet him in the Executive Mansion. We keep him on. We make sure he is not armed, and most Secret Service people are armed, but he is not armed around me. He is not - he does not - unlike what he said here, which is blatantly false, my general area of where I was, Varmuyan Sherif was not permitted in that general area. And he could have caused some harm to me, so all precautions were taken. Yes, a reconciliation, but security first.

  • And so what was your attitude then - general attitude to individuals like Varmuyan Sherif and Abu Keita?

  • No, I didn't know Abu Keita at all. Never knew him. I first saw the man here. No, I don't even want to talk about Keita. I really did not know Keita. Keita was not at the level for me to know. I knew Varmuyan. I knew when he got sick. I knew I sent him to get treatment. I knew that I sent him to Mali. I knew I sent him to Djenne in Mali. I knew Varmuyan. I didn't know any human called Abu Keita until I saw him sit here. No, I didn't know him.

    But the general attitude was that, yes, we transferred him. We did not disgrace him in any way because the whole point was to encourage and to keep senior people from all of these organisations around. That by moving in any negative way against Varmuyan Sherif would have discouraged others because Varmuyan Sherif was just one person that came from ULIMO. In the national police we had another top ULIMO general that was assistant director of the national police. And we had some other ULIMO people in the national security agency, in the national bureau of investigation. So they were spread throughout government and of course they would observe. If you take harsh actions against one of the senior people they all will begin to feel that it's a threat to them. So we had to be very careful in how we dealt with this matter.

    And Varmuyan was - in terms of real employment in the government, Varmuyan was at the bottom of the food chain. Remember, Roosevelt Johnson was a rebel leader who led a group. He was a minister in my government. Philip Kamah was a minister in my government. That name has come before this Court. Who was chief of staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia that fought against me? Hezekiah Bowen was chief of staff of the armed forces that fought against me. So I mean Varmuyan is really at the end of the food chain when it comes to top officials. And we tried to open our arms and embrace them. Even the commander of LPC forces, George Boley, that name is also on the record. A lady called Ruth Milton who was the principal commander of LPC forces, she was a senior official in my government.

    So we tried to bring people and even when they did wrong things we took action but we tried not to disturb the really fragile peace, because don't forget we have two attacks and you begin to go after senior generals that you brought from other factions in the government. That's only a recipe to pushing everybody else out and you have a bigger war on your hands.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, amongst the matters you had mentioned at the address at the Executive Mansion attended by Mr Downes-Thomas was again this issue of allowing the United Nations to monitor the Sierra Leone border?

  • And, as Mr Downes-Thomas observed, this is a topic which you had been raising with the United Nations for some years. Is that correct?

  • Now, there had appeared at an earlier stage in 2000 to be some impetus coming from the United Nations to make that desire a reality?

  • That is correct.

  • Now, were there any further discussions in this month of April regarding that topic?

  • Yes, there were some further discussions. What they then tried to do, remember they tried to get specific. They were calling upon us to become specific about what we wanted in terms of quantity, positions and all of that. But we took a little back step on that because what we anticipated at that particular time as far as the United Nations assisting us, we did not figure out that the UN was making this appear as though this was going to be a burden on the Liberian government. We expected the UN, in the interests of justice and fairness, to settle this matter. But they took a position that we were not too happy with and we made them understand that, look, yes, we want you to come, but you know we are not in a position to shoulder the responsibility. They were talking about housing and all that kind of stuff, so I said, "Well, look, we want you to help us to clear up this mess".

  • And with whom were you having these discussions?

  • Oh, with the - normally my main contact was the special representative.

  • And so far as your special representative is concerned, what was he saying about the attitude of UN headquarters about this idea?

  • Well, all UN personnel including him knew that there's normally this bureaucracy. Bureaucracy will kill you. Foot dragging and - so we were trying to - you know, we talked about the foot dragging behaviour of the UN system and how we could try to push it and make it move a little faster.

  • Could you look behind divider 41, please. Have you seen that document before, Mr Taylor?

  • Before we come to look at it, could I ask that that last code cable dated 6 April 2000 be marked for identification, please, MFI-129.

  • Yes, that document is marked MFI-129.

  • Now this document we're looking at now, Mr Taylor, have you seen it before?

  • How did you come to see it?

  • This is one of the documents again from - that normally we are presented from the special representative.

  • Now we see --

  • We say the way round in which this communication has occurred. It is from Mr Prendergast?

  • To Mr Downes-Thomas and it's dated 12 April 2000. Is that correct, Mr Taylor?

  • We see that the heading is, "Proposed deployment of UN observers on the Liberia-Sierra Leone border." Yes?

  • "We have read with interest your code cable of 6 April providing a report of President Taylor's comments made in Monrovia on 5 April."

    That's the document we've just looked at?

  • That is correct.

  • "Concerning his discussions with President Kabbah on security issues in the Mano River Union and providing the Government of Liberia's position on several security-related matters concerning Liberia and Sierra Leone. We noted that President Taylor reiterated his willingness to allow UN observers to monitor the Sierra Leone-Liberia border.

    As you will recall, President Taylor made a similar statement in a meeting with you on 27 January and, as he had requested, this information was conveyed to the Secretary-General in a note from Mr Prendergast to Mr Riza dated 11 February.

    In your code cable of 10 February we had suggested that one practical way to approach this issue was for the Government of Liberia to set out in writing exactly what it wants the UN to do and indicated a number of issues which the government should address.

    In your code cable of 14 February you had indicated that you would seek appointments to discuss the matter with the concerned authorities, including President Taylor. We would appreciate it if you could let us know whether any progress has been made along the lines suggested in your code cable 430."

    Yes, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, it may be important here to mention that our access to this kind of information here, it's very good to get it very clear. When you see something like this end up with my office, what are they referring to here? There is a report on the 6th, not quite a week before then. Kabbah and I meet in Cairo and discuss these matters. It is reported.

    Now, once it's coming from Prendergast, this must be reflected that the special representative in Liberia has raised these issues with his office. He is now responding, so we get to know the response. I think it's important to get this straight about the Prendergast or him and then we get it, because it involves the issues that we have raised and have gone forward, and the response from him now, we still get. I think it's important to get this very clear, because here he is talking about the meeting on the 6th in Cairo and then another memo of ours requesting his assistance, and now he is now responding, which we do again meet with Thomas to tell him what our own shortcomings are regarding the deployment, which comes a little later.

  • Now, you mentioned the meeting you had had in Cairo. Have a look at the document behind this one, please. Now, you see that this document is also dated 12 April?

  • And it's been copied to Mr Downes-Thomas?

  • And we see the subject matter of this document is "Emergency Security Meeting", yes?

  • "Thank you for sharing with us" - and it's from Adeniji in Freetown.

  • We've come across this individual before. He is the special representative of the Secretary-General in Freetown.

  • Now, let's note what he says:

    "Thank you for sharing with us code cable of 6 April 2000 in which Downes-Thomas provided his comments on our cable of 31 March regarding an investigation into a planned cross-border attack on Liberia.

    I wish to inform you that, in a discussion I had with President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah on 9 April, he confirmed to me the statement made by President Charles Taylor that Sierra Leone and Liberia will continue to work together to thwart any plan by dissidents to destabilise any country."

    Had you and Kabbah come to such an agreement?

  • Yes, this is the Cairo agreement. Yes, we talked about it. We pledged to each other that we would do everything to thwart any attempt on the part of any dissidents, whether on his side or my side, to destabilise the country. That's what we did in Cairo, yes.

  • "It appeared to me that President Kabbah is confident that the close cooperation existing now between him and his Liberian colleague will greatly help to keep the overall situation along the border with Sierra Leone-Liberia under control."

    Would you describe your relationship with Kabbah as one of "close cooperation" at this time, Mr Taylor?

  • And just so that we get a flavour of matters, what did this "close cooperation" involve?

  • Kabbah and I spoke regularly on the telephone. His ambassador accredited near Monrovia met with me. He was also meeting the foreign minister. Kabbah and I met at the Mano River Union meeting. We met at ECOWAS meetings. Now we are meeting at the France Afrique meeting. We are talking. And whenever there is a problem, we solve it, so that's - I viewed that as a close working relationship.

    There are incidents where Heads of State doesn't even communicate. He and I are communicating regularly. And so I've sent several security delegations to Sierra Leone. Kabbah has visited me so many times, you know. He was present in '99 for the burning of the arms. I mean, I have no other way of describing this except, from my standpoint, as being a close working relationship.

  • And it continues:

    "From our assessment, the continued reports of planned cross-border attacks on Liberia calls for increased vigilance. However, there is no cause for alarm. We will, therefore, continue to monitor all developments relating to possible subversive activity of Liberian dissidents from Sierra Leone."

    Now, there's a further document behind that, Mr Taylor. Could you turn over, please. Yes?

  • Now, you recall that in the first document behind this divider that we looked at there was a request from Mr Prendergast that this issue of UN monitors on the border be addressed with your government, yes?

  • And Mr Downes-Thomas was requested to provide a response, yes?

  • And we see that this document is dated now 4 April - 14 April, yes?

  • And it's a code cable from Mr Downes-Thomas to Prendergast, yes?

  • Which he says, "Thank you for your cable of 12 April on the subject. I raised the matter with the foreign minister yesterday afternoon. He provided me with a clarification to the effect that the Government of Liberia was not desperately inviting UN monitors/military observers or observers to Liberia. The request, he said, was made against a background of what appeared to be the international community's belief that Liberia was privy to, permitted, and sometimes orchestrated, various untoward cross-border activities that were inimicable to peace and stability in Sierra Leone."

    Let us pause there. "The request was made against the background of what appeared to be the international community's belief that Liberia was privy to, permitted and sometimes orchestrated various untoward cross-border activities that were inimicable to peace and stability in Sierra Leone." Now, help us, Mr Taylor. We're in April of 2000 here, aren't we?

  • And that belief by the international community, is it still prevalent?

  • Now, let us just go back at a page to the previous document we looked at from the special representative in Freetown, Mr Adeniji. Do you see any reference in that document to the kind of activities believed to be occurring by the international community?

  • Well, they seem to be interested, as far as activities go.

  • No. But do you see Mr Adeniji complaining in that document of Liberia orchestrating, being privy to, or permitting untoward cross-border activities?

  • No, no, no, no, he is not doing that.

  • In your meetings with Mr President Kabbah in Cairo and elsewhere, was he making those kinds of complaints to you at this time in the year 2000?

  • No, not exactly. Not exactly, no. Left to Kabbah and myself, I think there would not have been a problem. What would happen when you meet like this - he told me that there had been these reports. That's how Presidents - "Well, we have these reports and we are looking into them." And I told him I had reports that we he were looking into. But he had not made a finger-shaking accusation. "We know that you are" - no. None of this kind stuff, no. I mean, just sharing information. And sometimes we say, "Listen, my brother, you know our security forces, they have come up with this." And we tell them, "Go back and check." All of these security forces do that.

    There is information, information, information. Sometimes there is nothing to it. Sometimes we used to laugh when these - we say, when our security agencies get broke and need money, they find a mission. That's what we used to sometimes used to laugh and say.

  • "Since the Government of Liberia's denials of such activities fell on deaf ears, the minister stated, the Government of Liberia's request was made simply to assist the UN and the international community to engage in their own verification exercise."

    By "verification exercise", Mr Taylor, what are you talking about? Them finding some evidence?

  • Finding and producing. Finding and producing, and maybe in the way - if there is evidence obstructing the process. This is the whole point.

  • "The minister concluded by saying, it was up to the United Nations to decide whether it was necessary for it to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the request.

    I apologise for inadvertently failing to relay the President's reaction to the main elements of your code. It was not very different from the foreign minister's explanation as described above. He felt, however, that the matter raised in paragraph 2 of your code reflected a measure of foot dragging on the part of the United Nations.

    My own view is that the question raised in your code can be easily addressed and comprehensively so by a United Nations technical survey team. Should the United Nations, in the light of 1 and 2 above, decide that such a mission is necessary, kindly advise accordingly, and that specific matter would be further discussed with the Government of Liberia. In the meantime, I believe that it is most important to note that to date there has been absolutely no tension at the Sierra Leone-Liberia border. In this regard, I share fully Special Representative Adeniji's accurate observation that 'there is no cause for alarm'."

    Now, was that the state of affairs on the border, Mr Taylor?

  • Absolutely no tension?

  • After that discussion and before, yes, there was no tension at that time.

  • And would you regard the sending of arms and ammunition over the border as a matter of tension or not?

  • Oh, that would be tension. That would be serious tension, if arms and ammunition were going across the border. Of course, that would be tension.

  • So we have a situation here, do we not, in April of 2000, where both the United Nations' special representative in Freetown and his counterpart in Monrovia accept that there's no tension at the Sierra Leone-Liberia border. That's the position we've reached, isn't it?

  • And that is a position which has been reached because of, to quote, the close cooperation between yourself and President Tejan Kabbah?

  • That is correct.

  • Before we move on, Mr President, could I ask, please, that those three documents be marked for identification. MFI-130A, the proposed deployment of United Nations observers under Liberia-Sierra Leone border from Prendergast to Downes-Thomas dated 12 April 2000.

  • Yes, that document is marked MFI-130A.

  • And that the code cable from Adeniji to Downes-Thomas and United Nations headquarters, dated 12 April 2000, be marked as MFI-130B.

  • Yes.

  • Just for clarification, I think that document actually is from Adeniji to Miyet, Prendergast, not to Downes-Thomas.

  • Yes, I think that's correct, Mr Griffiths.

  • Okay. From Adeniji to Miyet copied to Downes-Thomas, dated 12 April 2000, be MFI-130B, please.

  • Yes, that document is marked MFI-130B.

  • And, finally, the code cable from Downes-Thomas to Prendergast on the proposed deployment of United Nations observers on the Liberia-Sierra Leone border, dated 14 April 2000, be 130C.

  • Yes, marked MFI-130C.

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  • Now, Mr Taylor, to what extent were you keeping abreast of the activities of ECOMOG and United Nations forces in Sierra Leone at this time?

  • Well, we were. I was keeping abreast of what was going on over there, because we were pushing forward and making sure that the process from Lome would start and we did not want any disruptions. We had some minor problems that we were focused on and we wanted to keep on top of the situation. So we were - I wouldn't say a hundred per cent on top of it, but we knew sufficient that was necessary for our standpoint, at least my standpoint as I would say the principal mediator at the time in dealing with this problem.

  • Now, did that involve, for example, any of your staff meeting with senior ECOMOG and United Nations military figures in Sierra Leone?

  • Well, we sent diplomats over there but not specifically with UN personnel, no. Not directly.

  • Do you recollect now who was in charge of the ECOMOG forces in Sierra Leone at this time?

  • That name Majukperuo. I forget the Nigerian name, but it's some Majukperuo who succeeded the general that I threw out of Liberia. I think it's - I'm not calling the name correctly. I think it's Majukperuo or something like that.

  • And what about United Nations forces there, who was in command of them?

  • I - at that time - they changed them. It could have been - I'm using that word even more constructively "could" than one might want. There was an Indian - I think an Indian general over there at the time. If my recollection is correct, I think Jetley. If it was not Jetley - I'm not too clear, but I think it was an Indian that was commanding.

  • And you mentioned a name Jetley?

  • Yes, it could have been the Indian general, yes.

  • And given your concern for the peace process over there, were you monitoring the relationship between the ECOMOG forces and the United Nations forces deployed in Sierra Leone?

  • To an extent I would say yes, and I will be specific about that. My interests - remember I mentioned that there was an increase in I think it's UNAMSIL forces and there was this talk about withdrawing some of ECOMOG forces and I had said we shouldn't do that. So to that extent we were monitoring what was going on. I was not aware of the military activities of the units, but their overall function as far as the process was concerned here, but not in touch with their day-to-day military operations.

  • I'm just interested in that overall - that overview which you maintained?

  • Now, what was the state of the relationship as far as you were aware from your vantage point between the ECOMOG forces and the United Nations forces?

  • My recollection - I can only remember from a document that was subsequently published by the general.

  • General Jetley. And it appears to me that while on the surface they were getting along, there was some professional concerns that the general - the UNAMSIL general had about the overall I would say comportmentation of some of the ECOMOG senior officers. It appears there was a little squabble that I didn't know at the time but I got to know subsequently after. A report was written by General Jetley that I developed an interest in.

  • Why did you have an interest in it?

  • Well, I wanted to know what was going on because, for one thing, we had been hearing about diamonds and Charles Taylor was supposed to be getting diamonds out of Liberia - I mean out of Sierra Leone. But we also were getting reports that there were Lebanese business people and private business people and even ECOMOG officers involved in diamond business and when I was told that some of these principal concerns were raised in this general report, I developed an interest in that.

    For example, I also heard that he had talked about the interests of individual member states that contributed to ECOMOG and how the chain of command went from state back to the central ECOMOG area, and I really wanted to know, especially on the issues relating to the overall behaviour.

  • So have you read that report?

  • And how did you come to get a copy of it?

  • Well, I heard that the report was out and in fact a copy was sent out to a UN official but I had read it before I saw that copy.

  • Did you have a copy of that report in your archives?

  • Could the witness please be shown the document behind divider 43, please. Have you seen this document before, Mr Taylor?

  • I have seen the one that - this is the report, but I read it on - this is a typed copy of it, but I read it off his page. But I have seen this report. This is the report.

  • Now, we see it's headed "Report on the crisis in Sierra Leone":

    "Background.

    The Lome Peace Accord was signed in July 1999 to end the eight-year-old bloody civil war in Sierra Leone. The primary reason for the signing of the accord was that a stalemate had been reached in the fighting and the ECOWAS states were finding it extremely difficult to support their peacekeeping force, ECOMOG, due to the extreme financial drain on their fragile economies.

    The accord called for the deployment of a peacekeeping force comprising ECOMOG and UNOMSIL to oversee the peace process. This was interpreted by the Nigerians (who formed the major chunk of ECOMOG) that ECOMOG would form a major part of the UN peacekeeping force and that this force would be headed by the ECOMOG force commander Major General Kpamber. However, when General Kpamber went to UN HQ New York he was very disappointed to learn that he was not going to be the force commander of UNAMSIL and that Nigeria would have three battalions as part of UNAMSIL, out of this they had to concede one battalion to the Guineans. The Nigerians therefore felt that they were not getting a fair deal in the peace process in Sierra Leone despite the sacrifices they had made to pave the way for the peace process. This to a very large extent is the genesis of the present crisis. It is my opinion that the ECOMOG force commander, along with the special representative of the Secretary-General and DCF, have worked hard to sabotage the peace process and show Indians in general and me in particular in a poor light."

    Who was the special representative of the Secretary-General at this time in Freetown?

  • It's still Adeniji. From the best of my knowledge it's still Adeniji.

  • "Relationship between ECOMOG and RUF.

    It is well-known that public opinion in Nigeria was against the continued deployment of Nigerian troops as part of ECOMOG in Sierra Leone. However, the Nigerian army was interested in staying in Sierra Leone due to the massive benefits they were getting from the illegal diamond mining. Brigadier General Maxwell Khobe was commonly known as $10 million man. It is alleged that he received up to $10 million to permit the activities of the RUF. The ECOMOG force commander Major General Kpamber was also involved in the illegal diamond mining in connivance with RUF leader Foday Sankoh."

    Pause there. Now, Mr Taylor, you said earlier that you had heard rumours to this effect, had you not?

  • That in effect the Nigerian troops in Sierra Leone were engaged in illegal diamond mining, yes?

  • And we here we have a United Nations general, Jetley, making the same accusations, yes?

  • And you note also that he says that this was going on in connivance with RUF leader Foday Sankoh. Do you see that?

  • But, Mr Taylor, as we understand this indictment, the RUF were sending their diamonds to you, not the Nigerians. So which is right?

  • Well, they would be terrible partners if they were not sending it to me, wouldn't they? This is total nonsense. There is no such thing as Foday Sankoh sending me diamonds and they know it. A lot of evidence I'm sure if it's not yet produced will be produced to show that Foday Sankoh was his own man. He dealt with his own people. We have documents from the OTP about his dealings in Belgium, South Africa. We know this is all false, so it's the fact that he was - I'm sure one will mention the arms were not coming from me in Liberia. So it must show that he was getting it from somebody and paying for it probably through diamonds.

  • Mr Taylor, we had looked at an earlier code cable reflected by both the UN special representative in Sierra Leone and the UN special representative in Liberia suggesting that there is cooperation between yourself and President Kabbah and the border is calm. Is that correct?

  • We now have a United Nations general saying that it's the Nigerians in ECOMOG who are benefiting from the diamond trade. So when you put those two together, what do you conclude?

  • The only conclusion that one can get from here is that the arms that the RUF are supposed to be using in Sierra Leone must be coming from the people that are getting - they are giving the diamonds to and that's the ECOMOG forces in Sierra Leone. That's the conclusion I reach.

    But let me just mention there is nothing new about that. There is nothing new about that. I during the Liberian civil war - I during the Liberian civil war bought material from ECOMOG forces that were peacekeepers on the ground. There's nothing new about ECOMOG selling arms to rebel groups. I, Charles Ghankay Taylor, bought arms and ammunition from ECOMOG peacekeepers in Liberia during the civil war even while we were fighting them. That may sound like it's coming from off in space, but it's true. You buy your material from this unit and you are fighting the other unit, so there's nothing new about this. So I mean this is - this is a constant.

  • "After the initial fighting between ECOMOG and RUF, the relationship had thawed when a stalemate had been reached militarily. It is understood that a tacit understanding was reached between the RUF and ECOMOG of noninterference in each other's activities. The total absence of ECOMOG deployment in RUF-held areas is indicative of this. I believe that the RUF leader, Foday Sankoh, was also under the impression that the United Nations peacekeeping force agreed to in Lome was primarily a rehatted ECOMOG with Major General Kpamber as its boss. The deployment of a neutral peacekeeping force (UNAMSIL) under an Indian general, keen to implement the peace accord in letter and spirit, was not what Sankoh had bargained for. He viewed UNAMSIL as a big obstacle in his ambition of becoming the next President of Sierra Leone."

    Now, we've touched on this topic before, we have not, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, we have.

  • Regarding the suggested withdrawal of ECOMOG?

  • Remind us, why didn't you want ECOMOG to go?

  • Because I felt that this foot-dragging on the part of the disarmament by Sankoh, the constant complaints even after we had pulled Bockarie out, and knowing that, in effect - in effect, that United Nation forces very rarely go into combat, very rarely with member states permit Blue Helmets to go into actual combat, that pulling out the ECOMOG forces at that particular time would have opened the road to seizing power in Freetown.

  • Who by?

  • "Relationship between force commander, special representative and DFC.

    The special representative and DFC had instructions from Nigeria to pursue the agenda for which they had been sent by him. Keeping the Nigerian interests was paramount, even if it meant scuttling the peace process, and this also implied that UNAMSIL was expendable. To this end, the special representative and DFC cultivated the RUF leadership, especially Foday Sankoh behind by back."

    Over the page, please.

  • Sorry, Mr Griffiths, just exactly, what does DFC stand for?

  • Mr Taylor?

  • This, I would daresay, could be deputy forces commander.

  • "I was sandwiched between the two of them, which severely hampered my functioning. Some instances which reflected my predicament:

    (A) The deputy force commander was sent to Nigeria in January 2000 without my approval on the pretext of resolving the equipment of Nigerian battalions, clearly a task not forming a part of the charter of duties of the DFC. The DFC returned after 13 days and did not think it fit to meet me for two days thereafter.

    During the discussions on the rehatting of the Nigerian battalions for 90 days, the DFC spoke openly against the logic given by me. The special representative conducted the entire conference with a pro-Nigeria bias."

    Pausing for a moment, Mr Taylor, what do you understand by the phrase "rehatting"?

  • Rehatting of the Nigerian battalions, I don't want to - this could be probably another word militarily for probably reorganising. I can't be too sure. But this is the best I can do with this. I can't help any further.

  • Very well:

    "Notwithstanding the fact that the special representative had absolutely nothing to do with military matters, he insisted on knowing the reasons why INDBAT" - Indian battalion - "could not deploy on widely separated axis at Koidu and Kailahun as it mistakenly planned off the map earlier. Even after my explaining to him in detail, he insisted on arranging a meeting with the DFC, COS" - Mr Taylor?

  • I surmise this is chief of staff.

  • "... (observer) who had joined UNAMSIL just two days ago and the chief of staff of the force; just to undermine my position and embarrass me in front of my subordinates. In hindsight, it appears that my decision has been vindicated. If I had deployed, as the special representative was insisting, we would have had the entire INDBAT either disarmed or decimated.

    With a view to making inroads into the certain most districts of Kailahun and Koidu, I sent strong patrols each of Kenya battalion and Ghana battalion to Koidu and Indian battalion to Kailahun respectively. While the Ghana battalion CO failed to execute my order, Kenya battalion could only achieve partial success. It was only India battalion which successfully reached Kailahun. When I informed the special representative about the above events, instead of complimenting the India battalion's spectacular achievement, he, in the presence of my subordinate staff officers, like the DFC and CMO, started questioning the rationale of my actions, suggesting that I should have sent joint patrols of all thee battalions to Koidu rather than the individual unit identities. At the end, I had to categorically ask him to leave the military matters to me since such plans are made and decisions taken after due consultation with my staff.

    On numerous occasions, the DFC has not executed tasks given by me. He has not even bothered to giver a feedback weeks after the scheduled date of submission of report of projects entrusted to him.

    Events leading to the present crisis and the conduct of Nigeria during the crisis.

    The present crisis has precipitated by the incident at Makeni where 10 RUF cadres had voluntarily disarmed and joined the DDR programme. However, this was not acceptable to the RUF leadership which had its own agenda. The complexity of Nigeria in the crisis is evident from the following:

    (A) The RUF action is timed with the withdrawal of ECOMOG troops from Sierra Leone.

    The special representative was on leave at the same time and could not be contacted for at least two days despite the best efforts of New York.

    RUF intercepts received by DHQ of the Republic of Sierra Leone army clearly indicate the close relationship between RUF and Nigerians."

    Let us pause. "RUF intercepts", what do you understand by that, Mr Taylor?

  • This could be one of two areas: Radio, the capacity to intercept radio communication. It could also be telephone. So it's the capacity to electronically take - get possession of information being transmitted by radio signals and in most cases telephone signals.

  • What does this mean? It means that in 2000, at least, independent military forces in Sierra Leone had the technical capacity to intercept RUF messages, yes?

  • Oh, definitely. They had it before then.

  • Now, help me, Mr Taylor. You are said to have been in communication with the RUF. Have you ever been shown a single intercept of a conversation you had with them?

  • Not one. Not one have I seen then or now, no.

  • Now, on this - a related topic, go back to paragraph 7, "precipitated by the incident at Makeni". What incident at Makeni?

  • I was not on top of the situation of what was going on in Makeni, but I - this could be referring to the incident of RUF people that were supposed to - this is what caused the initial trouble that I - this could be the initial trouble where some members of the RUF may have been disarmed.

  • And what did that lead to?

  • Oh, problems. Serious problems where the - they had disarmed, I understand, voluntarily. But the details of this - I even get the details because in May - very early May, I get a letter from Issa Sesay complaining about it. So they complained that it was not done voluntarily and that they were forcefully disarmed, and so it brings about a problem.

  • What was the problem that was raised?

  • Oh, serious trouble. A lot of exchange of gunfire. Some of the UN individuals were taken. It was a very serious problem that involved hostages and all that kind of stuff.

  • And you say you received the letter from Issa Sesay?

  • Yes. In, I would say, early May, we received a letter describing the problems.

  • Tell you what you do, Mr Taylor, put a hand in that page and just look quickly behind divider 47, because we're coming back to this document. Divider 47, behind it, is that the letter from Issa Sesay?

  • Let's go back. We'll come to that in due course.

    "RUF intercepts received by DHQ of the Republic of Sierra Leone army" - DHQ is what?

  • This could be defence headquarters of the Sierra Leonean army. Okay. This rings a bell, yeah.

  • So looking at this, the defence headquarters of the Sierra Leonean army, yes?

  • Have these intercepts, according to this, is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • Yeah, but there is something more interesting about this. There is something more interesting about this. At this particular time, what is happening at Sierra Leonean headquarters? They are being trained by the British. So this is, in addition to - this is not just the technical capacity of the Sierra Leonean armed forces. We're talking about an expanded - I think we should probably look at the expanded capabilities of this particular headquarters. So this raises a very interesting point for me.

  • It gets even more interesting, because the Government of Sierra Leone was a party to the treaty which set up this Court, wasn't it?

  • And according to this, that government's defence headquarters has radio intercepts with the RUF, according to this. Is that your understanding of the situation, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, that's me understanding. The only problem, when you say that the Government of Sierra Leone was a party to the creation of this Court, they were not - I mean, they created this Court. They. This is a Sierra Leonean Court, so they created this Court. So - but they do have these intercepts, and it looks like this is with great technical capability.

  • Over the page, please:

    "Initially the RUF effort was directed only against Kenyans and Indian. And when this aspect was discussed in the senior staff meeting there was a symbolic gesture at Kambia against a Nigerian battalion 2nd company located there.

    The complete Nigerian company at Kambia was permitted to move to Port Loko and the two Indian drivers with them were detained. They were later released after I intervened.

    No fight given by Nigerian troops of Nigerian battalion 2 to RUF at Lunsar and Rogberi, Rokel, Masiaka and Laia Junction.

    I was given confirmation that the Nigerian battalion 3rd company was deployed at Newton, an important location on the Masiaka to Freetown axis. However, when I personally landed there during my reconnaissance I found no troops deployed.

    The deputy force commander has been in constant touch with Foday Sankoh throughout this crisis. He has probably also compromised a lot of my operational plans.

    It is popularly believed by the locals in Freetown that the commanding officer Nigerian battalion took Foday Sankoh in his APC when the demonstrators turned violent at his house. In fact, eyewitnesses corroborated this. One of my source has also confirmed above. He was reportedly kept in custody in the house of the commanding officer of the Nigerian battalion 4 in Freetown, a fact which have been hidden from me so far.

    Other constraints in my functioning.

    In addition to the above problems, I have also had the following logistics difficulties in the mission to cope with.

    Transport. The present capability of the mission does not permit movement of one company at a time. Despite this, out of the 20 UN trucks, ten had been given to the private contract organisations called Dyncorp. My staff officers were forced to travel in minibuses and a few gypsies on the pretext that the Indian guard and administrative CO was to provide the transport whereas the MOU does not say so."

    MOU, Mr Taylor?

  • I can't help with that, I'm sorry.

  • Memorandum of understanding, I'm helpfully told.

    "Communications. Even after months since the establishment of peacekeeping mission I cannot talk directly to any battalion commander. There are severe shortages of communication equipment in a number of units which have not been made up despite several reminders to the admin staff. Some battalions have only one radio set in the company available with them. Most battalions have no fax facilities to forward situation reports or reports and returns.

    Fuel. The fuel contract for the mission has not yet been finalised. On numerous occasions I have had to cancel operational moves because of non-availability of POL. The system of fuel replenishment is based on a few POL bowsers held by the UN. Forward dumping facilities or kerb side petrol pumps have not yet been established."

    Let's skip rations and water and camp infrastructure. Let's look at, in light of the topics we're coming to, paragraph 9:

    "Capability of units. Most units under my command other than India, Kenya and Guinea, have very little or no equipment with them. They have not been properly briefed in their country about the application of Chapter 7 in this mission for certain contingencies. It is for this precise reasons that the troops do not have the mental aptitude or the will to fight the rebels when the situation so demanded and resorted to handing over their arms on the slightest danger to their life."

    Handing over their arms. In the context of this paragraph, handing over their arms to whom, Mr Taylor?

  • That would be the RUF.

  • "This aspect enabled the rebels to gain a clear and moral ascendency and thereby emboldened them to take on the United Nations in the manner in which they have done in the present crisis. Guinea, Kenya and Zambia case in point. Also units hoped that negotiations would help the rebels see reason. The rebels took advantage of the gullibility of these units and disarmed them."

    Did you know about these such incidents, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I did. This came before us, in fact, and we dealt with it and demanded that those weapons be returned.

  • "Conclusion. United Nations peacekeeping operations are a combination of diplomacy and tact. Generally in African countries the peace accord signed is shaky and fragile. In a mineral rich country like Sierra Leone, politics has a very major role to play in finding solutions to civil wars. In my case, the mission directive given to me and which I tried to follow implicitly, directly conflicted with the interests of not only the warring factions, but also of the major players in the diamond racket like Liberia and Nigeria. As an Indian, and having no hidden agenda to promote, I became a victim of the machinations of these countries. By placing their stooges in the right places they have not only tried to scuttle the peace process but also try and denigrate me and the country I represent to promote their own personal ambitions and personal interests."

    Now, major player in the diamond racket like Liberia, Mr Taylor?

  • What do you say about that?

  • Well, I say that while I agree with a lot of things that the general said here, but we didn't have anyone on the ground in Sierra Leone. We didn't have any troops there. I can understand what the general is talking about regarding the interest. One thing that has escaped here, Adeniji mentioned here, the special representative of the Secretary-General, is Nigerian. I know Adeniji very well. In fact after that post he became foreign minister under Obasanjo. I know Adeniji.

    So there's some - I can understand his frustration in dealing with that line. But what he is dealing with here again would be - the only thing I can think about is the rumour again because I don't have any diplomats assigned with the United Nations in Sierra Leone. I don't have any troops on the ground in Sierra Leone. My charge in Sierra Leone is not in direct contact with their meeting. So I guess he is referring to the allegation of alleged diamond trade across the border in Liberia and whatnot, and again I don't have any fuss - I have no big fuss with diamonds that may have been traded in Liberia. I don't think that's --

  • Were diamonds traded in Liberia?

  • I want to believe that diamonds were traded in Liberia before the UN sanctions on diamonds and they are traded there right now and nobody is going to stop that.

  • Mr Taylor, historically was Monrovia a diamond trading centre?

  • When we say historically, for what kind of time frame are we talking?

  • I'll go all the way back 50 years from a major diamond buyer like De Beers. De Beers had headquarters set up in Liberia, Monrovia, to purchase diamonds from Liberia and Sierra Leone going back as far as 50 years. It's never ended. It's never ended. It is going on now. The diamond trade in West Africa, except now where you have the Kimberly Process put into place - before United Nations sanctions and embargoes and different things it's a regular livelihood of West Africans. Sierra Leoneans, Liberians, mined their little diamonds in their little back forest areas. They are not mechanised. It's something that will never stop, okay. It will never, ever stop.

    So this whole thing about trying to make it appear there's some major problem on the planet like maybe a nuclear explosion, it's none of this nonsense. Diamonds are being traded in Sierra Leone and Liberia now. They are going across the border from Sierra Leone today into Guinea and from Guinea into Liberia. From Sierra Leone in Liberia the trade is going on. This is not something like talking about manufacturing an aircraft or something. So this matter here is as old as these countries are.

  • So you accept, Mr Taylor, do you, that at this time Sierra Leonean diamonds were being traded through Monrovia?

  • Through West Africa, yes. I have no qualms about that. I don't think that's my fuss, and I would be a hypocrite if I said here that Sierra Leoneans are not selling or were not selling - my point here is that this was not with the involvement and/or acquiescence of the Government of Liberia then. It is not with the involvement or the acquiescence of the Government of Liberia now, but it is happening. It is not with the acquiescence of the Government of Sierra Leone. Even though they have a Kimberly Process but diamonds are still going out. You can't stop diamonds from going.

  • Why not?

  • How do you control a little stone? And this is not something like you got to go into the capital city to get. Where are the diamond areas in West Africa - of Liberia. We'll look on the map. We've seen them in Lofa, we've seen them in Cape Mount, we've seen them in Bomi. We have diamond in Nimba. We showed it on the map here to this Court, okay. The whole northern tip of Liberia and southern tip of Sierra Leone coming from the whole - that whole part of Sierra Leone with the border into Liberia, those are the kimberlite areas. People are right - as we're talking in this Court people are in these forests, they stay there for months and on and dig diamonds. This is not something where, you know, people try to make it appear as though it's something so big and whatnot.

    There's a way of life like gold. You go into West Africa, you see every little boy with a gold chain on his neck. It doesn't mean that he is doing something illegal. You can find gold almost anywhere. You go any part of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, people go in the creek, they take their little calabash and they pan the gold and they go and make their gold chains, you understand me? That's how it works in those areas.

    So this theory that developed that the heart of the Sierra Leonean crisis was because of so-called blood diamonds is nonsense, total nonsense. So it's going on now, it will continue to go on until we are all finished. It's going on today.

  • Mr Taylor, was that trade going on with your consent and encouragement?

  • Never, ever. It does not take my consent, Kabbah's consent or even the President of Guinea. It doesn't take the consent of even as low as a minister or even as low as a commissioner in a village. It doesn't take anybody's consent. You don't even know when they find the diamonds and where they take it. You don't know. It's unofficial totally. In Sierra Leone, in Liberia, in Guinea, totally unofficial.

  • Mr Griffiths, before you move on, to fully understand this document could I have some information on the background of the person who is referred to throughout as the deputy forces commander?

  • Mr Taylor, who was the deputy forces commander at this time, do you know?

  • His name is Kpamber or something in here. He was the deputy forces commander to Jetley. Okay, where you have the Indian as commander, the deputy is Nigerian. He is mentioned in here. Let me just --

  • Have a look at paragraph 2 on the first page?

  • Yes, Kpamber. Major General Kpamber. So in a case, your Honours, where you have the forces commander is an Indian, the deputy is the Nigerian.

  • And he was previously - or part of ECOMOG. Is that what is being conveyed in paragraph 2?

  • What they were trying to do here was to just change hats. From the Nigerian hat you put on the blue and then you are ECOMOG, you know, change your hat and you become a UN. That's the way sometimes these forces operate.

  • So what's rehatting thing?

  • The rehatting is just the blue - blue hats are United Nations forces. You see where it says that ECOMOG would form a major part of UN peacekeeping in paragraph 2?

  • So, in that case, when it says "ECOMOG will form a major part of UN peacekeeping force", okay, what you would do is that they will change their hat. If the Nigerian army at that particular time - that section that is going to be performing that duty, let's say if they were wearing the green berets, they would take off the berets and then put on the blue berets. That's what I mean by rehatting.

  • Justice Doherty has asked the question. I'm not sure that matter has been clarified. If we look at paragraph 2, you'll see that General Kpamber is referred to as the ECOMOG force commander. And then in the last sentence of paragraph 2, it says, "In my opinion, the ECOMOG force commander, who was General Kpamber, along with the SRSG and DCF."

  • I don't know if I can respond. I don't know if your Honours want me to respond.

  • If you would, please.

  • Well, if we look at that paragraph fully, Mr President, we see here that this general was supposed to become the forces commander, but he is disappointed. He does not become the forces commander. Jetley takes over as forces commander. But this general is forces commander of ECOMOG, okay? But when they come under UN authority, it is Jetley. So they still refer him here to ECOMOG forces commander, along with the SRSG, because he's commander of ECOMOG forces, but he's deputy commander of UN forces under Jetley. That's my understanding of it.

  • If you read that last sentence in the second paragraph, which reads as follows - or, rather, "It is my opinion that the ECOMOG force commander" - that would be Kpamber - "along with the SRSG and the DCF."

  • DCF is different from DFC in paragraph 5.

  • What is it then? What is DCF? Because these three have worked hard to sabotage the peace process, et cetera. What is DCF?

  • I really can't - this is not - the DCF is not the deputy forces commander, no.

  • Well, I'm not sure --

  • -- that's not what was meant in paragraph 2, because there's quite a few typographical errors in this document and also errors in English, and it seems to me as though that "DCF" should have been "DFC".

  • That may well be right, Mr President.

  • If I'm correct there, that it should be DFC, then, obviously, Kpamber can't be both the ECOMOG force commander and the deputy force commander.

  • Not in the context of that sentence, no:

  • Can you help us, Mr Taylor?

  • Short of the wrath of the President, I'm not sure that there's a typographical - you know, we probably just need to probably reflect on this, but this could be another military - DCF could also be a civilian area. But I do not accept that DCF could have meant DFC. I'm going to be honest about it. This could be maybe another - because we're talking about the SRSG, which is a civilian post, and we just have to try to figure what the DC - it could be a civilian post, but I'll leave it at that.

  • Is it possible to move on?

  • Yes, move on, please, Mr Griffiths.

  • Before we move on, Mr President, could I ask that this report be marked for identification, please? So it's General Jetly's report, MFI-131, please.

  • Yes, that document is marked --

  • Excuse me, but I don't --

  • I don't see anywhere where it says that this is Jetly's report. Perhaps I misheard, but I don't see anything that indicates this is General Jetly's report.

  • You are referring, Mr Griffiths, to the e-mail address at the bottom?

  • I don't see that as meaning that's his report, necessarily. I don't know how it comes into being. So, perhaps it is; perhaps it isn't. I don't know.

  • It is part of Mr Taylor's evidence that it is Jetly's report, so, obviously, that's a matter that can be handled in cross-examination, Ms Hollis.

  • But that document is marked for identification MFI-131.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, what that document we've just been looking at, would you agree, appears to illustrate - is a degree of tension between the Nigerian ECOMOG forces and the United Nations forces, yes?

  • And it appears to suggest that the RUF combatants were taking advantage of that tension at this time?

  • Yes, it appears that way, that they are taking advantage because of what the - UN General Jetley believing that there is this business relationship, and so people are not executing their missions, yes.

  • Now, in this month of May, you will recall that at paragraph 7(g) of the report we've been looking at, mention is made of demonstrators turned violent at Foday Sankoh's house. This is on the third page of the document in the middle of the page. Do you want to go back and remind yourself?

  • Mr Griffiths, there are two 7Gs. It confuses us all.

  • Yes, there is. It's the G after the H that I'm looking at:

  • Do you have it, Mr Taylor?

  • I'm trying to find the G after the H. Yes, that's on the third page, starting with the D at the top, your Honour, and coming down to G.

  • Yes?

  • The second G on that page, "when the demonstrators turned violent at his house", to what does that refer?

  • Well, to the best of my recollection, this is referring to the famous situation in Sierra Leone where Foday Sankoh's house is stormed and he disappears that we hear about.

  • It's a matter about which this Court has heard evidence?

  • On 8 May 2000, there was an incident outside Foday Sankoh's house on Spur Road during which shots were fired and members of the public lost their lives, yes?

  • And his house was eventually stormed, and it resulted in his arrest and incarceration?

  • Now, at or about that time, Mr Taylor, was there any difficulty involving UNAMSIL troops in Sierra Leone?

  • Yes. As a matter of fact, there were some problems before then. Because I can remember about the very early part of May, when this started with this disarmament process with those people that were suppose to be having forcefully disarmed, I sent one of our former foreign ministers, Mrs Cooper, to Freetown to meet with President Kabbah and Foday Sankoh on this issue and to hear of - in fact, she had left. We were trying to get the first problem resolved when this second issue evolved about the 8th. In fact, this was a very bad time, because we had just - if I'm not mistaken, we were preparing for a Committee of Six meeting on the problem when this happened. So I was very aware, because we had tried to resolve it a few days before it took this particular direction.

  • Now, you say that you had dispatched Mrs Cooper to Sierra Leone. Is that right?

  • Now, was this something you had made public, Mr Taylor?

  • Oh, yes. Former foreign minister Cooper, the late Cooper, went there. We had talked to President Kabbah. I sent her. She met with Kabbah, met with Sankoh in trying to resolve the initial problem. There was an ongoing problem before the storming of this house up country.

  • And what was problem up country?

  • Where some of the UNAMSIL people had been taken and we were trying to get them released.

  • And it was in that context, was it, that you send Mrs Cooper to Sierra Leone?

  • Tell me, was there a statement issued by the Liberian government about this?

  • Oh, yes. It was a public situation. We issued - there was a press release from the Government of Liberia about the dispatch of Mrs Cooper to Freetown to meet with Kabbah and Sankoh in trying to resolve the initial pop up of the UNAMSIL problem.

  • Have a look in divider 44, please. Do you recognise that document?

  • Yes, this is the early document. This is about May 4. That's why I'm saying before that incident. Yes, this is the document.

  • We see it's headed "Republic of Liberia Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Executive Mansion.

    Press release.

    Executive Mansion, Monrovia, Liberia, Thursday, 4 May 2000. The President of Liberia has called for a total ceasefire in the Sierra Leonean conflict and urged all parties to adhere to the Lome accord. The President also said that the best way to solve the Sierra Leone conflict is not through violence but dialogue.

    According to an Executive Mansion release, the President said it is for this reason that he has dispatched his special negotiator, former Foreign Minister Mrs D Musuleng-Cooper, to Freetown to open up dialogue for the amicable solution to the Sierra Leonean crisis.

    Part of Mrs Cooper's assignment, according to the President, would be for the immediate cessation of hostilities, the release of the remains of the UN peacekeepers allegedly killed by the RUF fighters, the freeing of United Nations peacekeepers being held hostage, and the release of their weapons.

    Mrs Musuleng-Cooper served as special envoy and chief negotiator at the Lome conference last July, which brought about the peace agreement on Sierra Leone."

    Now, you already mentioned that, did you not, Mr Taylor?

  • That is correct.

  • "Meanwhile, according to the release, President Taylor has spent the last several days in constant contact with the United Nations Secretary-General, a number of world leaders, and authorities of the Economic Community of West African States sub-region, particularly President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and Corporal Foday Sankoh, in an attempt to solve the crisis."

    Pause there. Were you doing that?

  • Oh, definitely. We would not put out a Presidential press release on a lie. We had done all of this.

  • "Moreover, calls have come from a number of western nations calling on the Liberian leader to personally intervene in the Sierra Leonean crisis in order to keep the peace process on course."

    Is that true?

  • Of course. This is 100 per cent true. Every time - and this Court must believe this. Every time there is a problem developing in Sierra Leone, I'm called immediately to do whatever I can. Every time.

  • You remember when we looked at that Mano River summit, Mr Taylor, the report of that, yes, yesterday afternoon?

  • You remember there again that phrase appeared, "personally get involved," do you remember?

  • Now, that was a report dated March 2000. They requested the President to get personally involved. Now, that was your colleagues within the Mano River Union. Here it's western nations. Which western nations?

  • You name the biggest of the biggest. Of course, the first two governments that would be having their ambassadors call would be the United States/Britain. United States/Britain. What is Liberia doing? Convey to President Taylor that we expect his leadership in this matter. This is a very serious issue. We want him to do the best that he can. That's it. And you're busy on the phone. In fact, this issue as it evolves - we will soon stop, I'm sure - will show that it was so serious, I asked and obtained a Falcon 900 jet from the Libyan government to help will shuttle diplomacy in West Africa on this particular crisis here.

  • Pause there. We'll come back to it. I note the time.

  • Yes, I think there is almost no tape left. We'll adjourn now and resume at 12 o'clock.

  • [Break taken at 11.30 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.00 p.m.]

  • Please continue, Mr Griffiths.

  • May it please your Honours:

  • Mr Taylor, before we adjourned we were looking at the document behind divider 44. Could it be placed before the witness again, please. I had invited your attention to the last three lines of the press release which makes reference to:

    "Calls have come from a number of western nations calling on the Liberian leader to personally intervene in the Sierra Leonean crisis."

    Now help us, who was it who was asking you to become personally involved?

  • The United States, Britain, other western countries.

  • Your microphone isn't on, Mr Taylor.

  • I'm sorry.

  • Right. Could you start again, please.

  • The United States through their embassy and their representative Britain and other western governments, including whoever who had a direct interest, would call upon me to use my good offices to do whatever I could do get the crisis resolved. They knew I was responsible in a way. By "responsible in a way", I mean I was in charge of, not - okay.

  • Let me pause for a moment here, Mr Taylor. Now, these were the same people, the United States and Great Britain, whom you had accused in the past of being involved in a conspiracy against your country.

  • Do you remember that statement which was read out in London?

  • That is correct.

  • And the same people who are now asking for you to get involved in Sierra Leone, yes?

  • Yes, but more than that now, counsel. Even if we go back to the original trips by the special envoy of President Clinton, Reverend Jesse Jackson, and even what he said in trying to resolve this matter about a year or so before then. So this is an ongoing process where they are encouraging the involvement to help to resolve the problem, yes.

  • But what I'd like your assistance with is this contradiction: That on the one hand, these countries are accusing you of meddling in Sierra Leone, supplying the RUF with arms and ammunition; and now on the other hand, they're asking you to get involved. So how did you take that request coming from them?

  • Well, frankly, I was hoping in that process that they were coming to reason and that they were seeing in fact that what they had been saying - since they really knew they had no proof - I saw that as what you call a positive development in that they are making these calls because somewhere in their minds they must know they are saying the wrong things and they are beginning to realise that there's no truth to what they are saying, and they've realised that I'm playing a constructive role, so they keep calling on me to do it. I didn't look at it from a negative point. I looked at it just as I have explained it.

  • Now, let us just pause for a moment, then, and take stock of where we are in light of this request by a number of western nations. Now, you recall, Mr Taylor, last week we dealt with the transportation of the RUF delegation to Lome, yes?

  • That is correct.

  • And the involvement of your government in that process?

  • And in the peace talks in Lome which took place thereafter?

  • And that whole process began in and around April of 1999, didn't it?

  • We're now just over a year later in May of the year 2000, aren't we?

  • So that for somewhere approaching 12 months - well, more than 12 months, you have been directly involved and personally involved in what's going on in Sierra Leone, yes?

  • Now, Mr Taylor, you're aware, aren't you, that during this same period it is alleged that you were, in effect, supplying and arming the RUF in return for diamonds? What were you doing in Sierra Leone during that 12-month period: Were you arming the RUF in return for diamonds, or were you pursuing peace; which is right?

  • I was pursuing peace, and they know I was pursuing peace. Because if I had not been pursuing peace, for heaven's sake there is no need for them to have called on me, and not just for Lome. We did not just stop with Lome about what I did for Lome. After Lome, immediately following Lome, in August what do we have? We have a problem again. What is that problem? We have the Okra Hills situation. Mr Taylor, here we have another problem. Okra Hills with the West Side Boys, where some other UN personnel are taken there, the peace process is about to start, we had to get involved. They're calling upon me at that time. What do we do? We manage to get Johnny Paul Koroma out of Sierra Leone into Liberia, release all the UN people before - we're talking about August now in 1999.

  • But, Mr Taylor, suppose it's suggesting that, in effect, that was just a cover, that you were really playing a double game?

  • Well, my God, if they believe that, then there's something wrong with them. Then I'm telling you that I can see why I'm here, and this could be the same level of thinking that has got me here fighting for my very life because of this type of what I will call irrational thinking. How would anyone believe such a thing? How could you believe that, okay, when - so, okay, I had something to do with the West Side Boys. I know where Okra Hills is in Freetown. Do I know? So we bring these people, you work with me all along, diplomats are coming in and out, everything is transparent. We resolve the matter. We get all of them involved in putting this peace together finally to go to Freetown. When Foday Sankoh finally comes to Monrovia to meet Johnny Paul Koroma, who is involved? Everybody. United States ambassador meets with Foday Sankoh. The United Nations representative, other diplomatic representatives near Monrovia meet. All of this is transparent. So they're using me - Obasanjo sends a presidential plane to take them. We continue. We get into another problem with disarmament, and I'm warning them all along the way, okay, that I'm seeing some problems that we need to address in this way and do that. Even when Sankoh begins to mess up, I warn them again that I see some problems. I don't know how people can think that way. I don't understand it. If they thought that way, it's not just regrettable, but it's evil. I just don't understand it. That's the best I can say. I do not understand it.

  • Now, as a result of this developing situation in Sierra Leone, did you meet to discuss the situation with any of your colleagues in the sub-region?

  • Yes. In fact, you asked this question just before we went for break about this situation that starts on the 8th in Sierra Leone. Immediately - in fact, as I recollect, we had a scheduled meeting of the Committee of Six on Sierra Leone and that meeting occurred on the very 9th, the next day after this problem in Sierra Leone where the Committee of Six meets to discuss and all of us are there. Kabbah is there. I'm there. In fact, I leave Monrovia on about the same day of the 8th of this situation in Sierra Leone, and we all meet for a Committee of Six meeting.

  • Turn over the page, please, and have a look at the document behind divider 45. We're not going to dwell overlong on this, but we'll just pause and take a little diversion to look at something here. What we have here behind this divider is what, Mr Taylor?

  • This is the list of officials going to the Committee of Six meeting in Abuja on the 9th.

  • Now, I divert to look at this so that we can consider this question: How much planning is involved in a President attending a meeting such as this, Mr Taylor?

  • Serious planning. Weeks before you know the issues, you know the agenda items that are supposed to be discussed, and this again is about Sierra Leone. We don't know about this development, but the developing situation with the UNAMSIL soldiers that get killed up-country and all of that we already know is an issue for discussion at this meeting, because this happens - this particular situation up-country occurs a little earlier than this, so - but we are not aware of the 8th situation. It's not a part of the agenda, but it is discussed. A lot of planning go through it. Security, advance parties, foreign ministers on the phone. It's a lot of planning.

  • And let's have a look at some of the individuals who accompany you on this particular trip. There's your minister of foreign affairs, Monie Captan, yes?

  • Then we have your minister of defence Daniel Chea?

  • Your deputy minister for public affairs and your press secretary?

  • The special assistant to the President, yes?

  • And then we see a name which has cropped up many times in this trial: Benjamin Yeaten, director of the SSS?

  • Musa Cisse, your chief of protocol?

  • Major General Musa N'jie, your senior aide-de-camp?

  • Your religious leader?

  • And then we see Colonel Yanks Smythe?

  • Assistant director of the SSS?

  • Where is he from, Mr Taylor?

  • Colonel Yanks Smythe, Yanks is also a Liberian now but originally Gambian.

  • And how does he come to be your assistant director SSS?

  • Yanks Smythe is a naturalised Liberian now, but he's worked with me for a number of years. He is one of the Special Forces that were brought in all the way back at the beginning of the crisis when Dr Manneh came to Liberia and he served with me very closely throughout that time. Naturalised, married, got Liberian children and he's worked - he's a very trained man.

  • And then we see Richard Salebia, Edward Thomas, security, a video cameraman and a still photographer, yes?

  • Now, you go to the meeting and as we know, such meetings conclude with a final communique, is that right?

  • Turn over the page, please, behind divider 46, and can I pause to ask first of all that the press release of the Republic of Liberia dated 4 May 2000 be marked for identification MFI-132.

  • That document is marked MFI-132.

  • Grateful. And that the list of delegation accompanying the President to Abuja, 9 May 2000, be marked for identification MFI-133, please.

  • Yes, marked for identification MFI-133.

  • Yes, now let's look at the final communique following the summit of ECOWAS Heads of State, members of the committee on Sierra Leone of the Lome Peace Agreement, Abuja, 9 May 2000. Now let's go to the second page, please, Mr Taylor.

  • "At the initiative of the current ECOWAS chairman, His Excellency Alpha Oumar Konare, President of the Republic of Mali, a summit meeting of ECOWAS Heads of State, members of the joint implementation committee of the Lome Peace Agreement on Sierra Leone was held at the executive secretariat, Abuja, on Tuesday 9 May 2000.

    Present at the meeting were: His Excellency General Robert Guei, President of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire; His Excellency General Lansana Conte, President of the Republic of Guinea; yourself; His Excellency Alpha Oumar Konare, President of Mali; President Obasanjo; President Kabbah; President Eyadema; and also the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Mr Youssouf Oudraogo, representing Blaise Compaore; and in the absence of President Rawlings, His Excellency James Victor Gbeho, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • That is correct.

  • Also in attendance the Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity, the ECOWAS Secretary-General, and the special representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Sierra Leone. That's Mr Adejini, isn't it?

    "Heads of State deeply concerned about the latest developments in Sierra Leone listened to the reports presented by President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, and Ambassador Adejini, special representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Sierra Leone.

    They strongly condemned the action of the Revolutionary United Front rebels who had taken hostage soldiers of the United Nations mission to Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and called for the immediate and unconditional release of the captured soldiers as well as all their equipment, arms and ammunition. In this regard, they approved the mandate given by the current ECOWAS chairman and by the Heads of State of the Mano River Union to the President of the Republic of Liberia, His Excellency Dankpannah Dr Charles Ghankay Taylor, to involve himself personally to ensure the liberation of the hostages and the resumption of the application of the Lome Peace Agreement."

    Pause there. "In this regard the mandate given to you." Explain that to us, please, Mr Taylor?

  • It's always - remember I mentioned that we had met at the Mano River Union meeting just before this, and I had said that I was fed up and no longer wanted to be a part of any committees and that that was it. They prevailed upon me to remain and then at that meeting mandated me to get personally involved. Now, that's at the Mano River Union level. That's the heads of state of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. But also present at that meeting, if we will recall, was the chairman of ECOWAS, Alpha Oumar Konare.

    So what is happening now is that now this is a bigger delegation. If you see here, we have an expanded mini summit of ECOWAS Heads of State, even though this was scheduled to be a meeting of the committee on Sierra Leone, but it's expanded at this level, and they are all seeing again all along the contribution I have made, and they are aware of my anger and my wanting to get out. I again say, "No, no, no, you can't, we agree with our colleagues, get involved, make sure that this is happening." This is what is going on.

  • Now, why were you being given this particular mandate, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, this goes all the way back to 1997. This is nothing new. We get on the Committee of Five and we begin to work, and my colleagues in ECOWAS, most of them are saying what maybe people that are 15,000, 20,000 miles away are saying. They're seeing it from two different levels. While on the outside people are saying one thing, in ECOWAS it is not as it is being interpreted out there. So they are calling upon me, based on the work that I continued to do and the level of transparency involved, because I'm not doing it alone.

    This matter, just for you - you know, for the Court to understand, UN soldiers being taken hostage is not a hush-hush matter. There are telephone calls from almost diplomatic mission, and especially the troop-contributing countries. In this case there are just troops from Kenya, there are troops from Uganda, if I'm not mistaken. In fact, not too long I'm sure the Kenyan defence minister and a Parliamentary delegation come to Liberia, former General Daniel Opande. So it's not a hush-hush matter. Everybody is involved in trying to see who can best resolve a problem. That's why they called upon me all the time.

  • "Heads of State considered the hostage taking as a deliberate violation of the Lome Peace Agreement which had been painstakingly negotiated under the auspices of ECOWAS. Heads of State warned the RUF leadership that it runs the risk of revocation of the amnesty earlier granted to the members of the movement under the Lome Peace Agreement as well as being tried for war crimes if they continue to flout the Lome Peace Agreement."

    Now, that reference to them being tried for war crimes, Mr Taylor, were you party to that suggestion?

  • Well, I didn't take it that way at the time. But I'm here for that now, am I not? I didn't even figure from my wildest dreams that I would be one of those that would be sitting before the Court to answer questions for war crimes in Sierra Leone. Because as far as I was concerned, I was working with my colleagues. We were working together to bring about peace, and my contribution is very clear from the United Nations reports, from ECOWAS reports, from my colleagues. So I didn't think about it at that time in that way.

  • "Heads of State reaffirmed their total support for the peace process in Sierra Leone as set out in the Lome Peace Agreement, which remains the most appropriate framework for the resolution of the armed conflict that has been responsible for so much bloodshed in Sierra Leone for more than ten years.

    Heads of State also reaffirmed that UNAMSIL's presence in Sierra Leone is in accordance with the Lome Peace Agreement on Sierra Leone, supported by the United Nations Security Council. Consequently, UNAMSIL must be allowed to freely operate throughout the territory of Sierra Leone without hindrance.

    Heads of State considers as unacceptable all attempts to challenge the provisions of the Lome Peace Agreement and reaffirmed their determination to take every necessary measure to counter any such attempt.

    They announced that party leaders would be held personally responsible for actions or behaviour of their supporters which might undermine the peace process in Sierra Leone and delay the return to stability in the country."

    Pause. Who was that aimed at?

  • Well, I would say it must be aimed at those that were responsible that were not working for peace. I didn't think it was referring to me.

  • Was it aimed at Foday Sankoh?

  • I'm sure. I'm sure it was aimed at Foday Sankoh and probably a few other people, yes.

  • "Heads of State expressed their determination to use all means at their disposal, including the military option, to foil any attempt to take over power through the use of force, by ensuring the defence of democratic institutions in Sierra Leone. To this end, they reiterated their unshakable determination to restore peace to Sierra Leone by all means."

  • Now, can I pause at this stage, Mr President, because a difficulty arises at this stage. Because if you turn over the page, you see that there's been a photocopying error. Do you have a page which says "done in Bamako on 2 March 2000"?

  • Yes.

  • Well, it's not the page which follows from the page I've just been referring to. So we need to replace that, and I will seek to do that, hopefully by this afternoon. It's a photocopying error.

  • What are you proposing, Mr Griffiths? That we leave this document for now and come back?

  • Let's leave this document for now and come back to it at a later stage:

  • Now, Mr Taylor, we'll come back to that document later. Now, Mr Taylor, earlier you told us that you had received a letter from Issa Sesay, yes?

  • And we looked briefly at that document in the context of that reference by you?

  • Now let us note the following: The meeting in Abuja takes place on 9 and 10 May?

  • As we noted from the list of the delegation, yes?

  • Let us go behind divider 47 now, please. What is that?

  • Yes, this is a letter from General Issa Sesay.

  • Dated, as we see, 11 May 2000?

  • That is correct. This is right after we return from the Abuja meeting. We meet this letter complaining about attacks on their forces by UNAMSIL and other complaints.

  • As far as you're aware, Mr Taylor, did Mr Sesay or General Sesay, to give him his full title, write to any other Head of State?

  • I'm sure he did. I'm sure he did. This is just mine. I'm sure he did.

  • Now, what was Mr Sesay's status at this time, bearing in mind that Foday Sankoh had been arrested following the incident in Spur Road on 8 May?

  • At this time, quite frankly, I don't really know the direct title. I know that he was the most senior general following the departure of Sam Bockarie. So this would mean now he's probably the commander of the forces on the ground. This is my understanding at the time.

  • And help us, by this date, 11 May 2000, had you met Issa Sesay?

  • Never. Never had met him in my entire life. Never.

  • Now, we see that the letter is addressed to you, President of the Republic of Liberia:

    "Dear Mr President, in view of the developments unfolding in our country, the violations of the Lome Peace Accord by the United Nations which attacked our positions at Makeni, Magburaka and Lunsar, driving us to the current situation, the non-compliance by President Kabbah and his government of the Lome Peace Accord, refusing to appoint RUF representatives to designated government positions, refusing to create a commission to be chaired by the RUF, while insisting that the United Nations maintain conditions creating a personal army minus RUF participation, by including the other factions (Kamajors, SLA-AFRC), refusing to issue a diplomatic passport to our leader in his capacity as Vice-President of our country, plus numerous other affronts, and despite repeated protests by our leader to the international community, the United Nations and especially the ECOWAS, we have never received the slightest response, even negative.

    It is in this environment of complete indifference and abandonment by all parties the United Nations orchestrated and executed their unwarranted attack on our positions.

    Mr President, due to the inability of the United Nations to guarantee our leader's security, as well as that of our other members in Freetown, and the inability of the government to control its own militias, Kamajors and SLA-AFRC, we now face a situation that is more complicated than ever, especially with the direct involvement of the British army."

    What's that about, "the direct involvement of the British army"?

  • Well, this is another track of the whole conflict. I think we need to get it straight. You have now in Sierra Leone ECOMOG forces. You have some combined with the UN forces, UNAMSIL. But Britain decides that she's going to bring forces into Sierra Leone, but they will not operate under UN auspices. They will operate on their own. And so this is - now we have British forces now on the ground too in Sierra Leone.

  • And what are they doing?

  • I'm sure, like they always do, pursuing Britain's interests. Because they were not part of the UN forces. They're a permanent member of the Security Council that had approved UNAMSIL forces in the country. They could have even commanded those forces. They did not do that. They said they were not going to be a part of the UNAMSIL under UN command, so they brought their own forces. So I'm sure it was to pursue their own interests.

  • What does that mean, pursuing their own interests?

  • Well, your Honour, safeguarding British investment, British personnel, their diplomats in the country, because there was no other reason that they gave.

  • "Mr President, we have the firm conviction that the situation in our country can only be resolved by the ECOWAS and not by the United Nations whose involvement was never envisaged in the Lome Peace Accord."

    Is that true?

  • Why do you say that?

  • Because we had envisaged some UN involvement in Sierra Leone in Lome.

  • Over the page, please:

    "Here below, Mr President, are the demands we make on behalf of our movement.

    One, the unconditional release of our leader who we consider to be detained by the United Nations."

    Sankoh, of course, after the incident of Spur Road having been kept in custody, yes?

  • Yes, it appear this way, yes.

  • "The halt to the distribution of weapons to the militia by the United Nations." Were you aware of any evidence of that?

  • "The convening of an ECOWAS summit to restart the dialogue with the participation of all parties.

    Four, the immediate re-examination of the Lome Peace Accord in Monrovia."

    Were you amenable to that, Mr Taylor?

  • No. The meetings of Heads of State are decided among us and I would probably - at this particular time, if it had been requested by my colleagues, I wouldn't be opposed to holding one, but the decision for when meetings are held is a matter that we all decide. So this would not be something I would pay too much attention to.

  • "The creation of a National Council of State to govern the country during a transition period until elections are held.

    The complete disarmament of the country, including the so-called national army, created by President Kabbah, comprising the other factions, without the RUF.

    The immediate cessation of hostilities followed by the establishment of a verification committee directed by the ECOWAS."

    I suppose that should - at number eight should be "the travel ban should be lifted on all RUFP and walk forward to the Lome Peace Accord.

    Mr President, we are convinced that your mediation will achieve an end to the war in our country, given your experience and your abilities, which are recognised by all."

    Pause there. Let's just examine that, shall we. Because we know by this stage, Mr Taylor, you've got a mandate from ECOWAS to get personally involved, yes?

  • Which has been repeated more than once, yes?

  • We also know that certain western countries have also asked you to get personally involved, yes?

  • Here we now have the RUF also asking you to get personally involved, in effect, yes?

  • Yes, and I guess here, what we might point out too is, just reiterating the recognised position historically that I have - the part I have played coming throughout all of the agreements from the ceasefire, coming to Lome on, I think it's a recognition.

  • Which are recognised by all?

  • "Mr President, we are at your complete disposal to enable you to bring peace back to our country. We assure you of our complete cooperation as well as our profound desire to assist you in attaining this objective.

    Respectfully yours, General Issa Sesay, RUF field commander."

    Yes?

  • Now, Mr Taylor, can I pause at this point to inquire about a detail. At the time of this letter, 11 May 2000, is the RUF guesthouse in Monrovia still operational?

  • It is still operational, yes.

  • Is it still staffed by RUF personnel?

  • Yes, there are a few individuals. Nobody of any significance, but there are a few people there.

  • On that note, Mr Taylor - now, given the passage of time, it may be difficult to recall - can you recall now how this letter was delivered to you?

  • This - well, this letter could have been faxed in because the date of this letter, I am probably just returning from Abuja because this meeting is from the 9th to the 10th. So this is dated on the 11th. I could have gotten this letter maybe sometimes even a little later than the date. I'm sure it would have come through to my office. The date of this letter doesn't definitely mean that I received it on the same date, but I'm sure it probably came through maybe a fax to Monrovia to either maybe the foreign ministry under Tambakai Jangaba. I don't - because I don't see the stamp on it here, but I do know that's - I don't see how it came through, but it had to come through after 11 May.

  • Mr Griffiths, your question was: Can you recall now how this letter was delivered to you? I take it by Mr Taylor's answer that he doesn't know. Is that correct?

  • Well, the way the question is asked, do you recall how it was delivered to me, normally, a President receives things through the ministry of state. I'm just trying to go through the process here. This had to come through my office through the ministry of state, but I do not know how it got into the country.

  • That's the specific aspect that I was inquiring about. That's why I prefaced that question with the previous question about whether the RUF guesthouse was still operational.

  • And maybe it's my fault, and perhaps I ought to ask a more direct question. Was it the case that this letter was delivered by hand by someone coming over the border from RUF territory in Sierra Leone? Do you know?

  • No, I don't know. I don't know. But it would not - it would not be that way. It would not be that way. A letter of this kind could probably be faxed in, okay. It could be faxed in.

  • Do you remember, Mr Taylor; yes or no?

  • Very well. In any event, we now have a situation where you're being requested from a number of different viewpoints to get involved.

  • And what does that involve?

  • Well, I'm not sure how you want this handled, counsel, but we have to put this in context of the time. Even though this letter is coming, on the 8th, Foday Sankoh is arrested. I leave Monrovia. By the 9th, 10th, ECOWAS has met on this particular meeting. We've been briefed. There's a complaint written by the 11th to me also on this matter. What we do now, when I return to Monrovia, because it's involving delicate matters now, I request some assistance from the Libyan government in terms of an aircraft because it involves a lot of shuttle diplomacy around West Africa to resolve this matter.

    After we conduct consultations with our colleagues - because during this period a major question arises. What is it? Foday Sankoh is now incarcerated. We have gotten a letter from an individual calling himself the field commander. The RUF, for all intents and purposes now, is without a leader. We don't know who to talk to, and so consultations are held and decisions are taken now as of May to get this Issa Sesay in to talk to.

  • Into where?

  • Into Monrovia. In consultations with my colleague we invite Issa Sesay, this field commander, to come to Monrovia for consultations in getting the hostages released and pursuing Lome. So this is generally the process that takes place.

  • And did Mr Sesay come to Monrovia?

  • In May he made the first trip to Monrovia to discuss the hostage release, yes.

  • To your knowledge had he been to Monrovia before?

  • To my knowledge I would say definitely no. I had never known of Issa Sesay coming to Monrovia, because I had never met him. If he had, I did not know.

  • And when he came to Monrovia in that month of May, Mr Taylor, where did he stay?

  • He stayed right at the RUF guesthouse.

  • And when he came, did he come by himself?

  • No, he brought several individuals. Normally as field commander he travelled with a number of bodyguards to come to Monrovia.

  • And what was his purpose in coming to Monrovia?

  • To arrange the - to discuss the holding of the UN hostages at this time, and we're talking about quite a few of them.

  • Now, I just want to be sure that I understand. As you mentioned earlier, Sankoh, by this stage, had been arrested?

  • So from the viewpoint of yourself and the other West African leaders, would it be fair to depict the situation that there was a vacuum at the top of the RUF?

  • It is not only fair, it is factual. This was our discussions at the time, that there is a vacuum and in order to solve this hostage problem - and let's expand it beyond the West African leaders. Kofi Annan himself was on the phone with me several times on these hostage matters.

  • We'll come to Mr Annan in a moment.

  • Okay. So this is factual. This was our conclusion, that there's a vacuum, we have to resolve this. In order to get these hostages we must know, first of all, who to talk to and who is in charge. Yes, that's what happened.

  • So that's the purpose for Sesay coming to Monrovia?

  • Was it to bring you diamonds, Mr Taylor?

  • Sesay came to Monrovia to talk about hostages, not to bring me diamonds.

  • Mr Taylor, you know why I ask --

  • I know why you ask. It's just that - I know why you ask, but that was not the case. Only to come to discuss these hostages and to see who was in charge and how can Lome continue with Foday Sankoh now under arrest.

  • Now, you spoke of the vacuum at the head of the RUF. Now, as a result of your concerns about this situation in Sierra Leone which you've expressed, Mr Taylor, did the Government of Liberia release any press release at about this time?

  • Yes, we did about two or three. We talked - yes, about - at least a minimum of two or more press releases. As we made progress, we would announce the number of hostages, the discussions that were ongoing, who was released from what country. We did regular press releases on them at different intervals.

  • During this period?

  • Now, before we come to the press release could I ask, please, that the letter from Issa Sesay dated 11 May 2000 to President Taylor be marked for identification MFI-134, please.

  • That document is marked MFI-134.

  • Go behind the next divider, please, Mr Taylor, divider 48. Do you have it?

  • Now, we see that this is a press release dated 13 May 2000, issued by the Republic of Liberia, Ministry of State For Presidential Affairs, yes?

  • Executive Mansion, Monrovia, Liberia, Saturday, May 13, 2000. So, Mr Taylor, we're talking about now, what, three days after the Abuja meeting, which ended on the 11th?

  • So what have you been concentrating on during this period after you return from Abuja on 10 May?

  • How to resolve this problem in getting the UN hostages released. Consulting, manoeuvring in whatever we could to try to get this matter resolved, because this was a very serious matter of more than - I think some 500 plus UN soldiers and others that had been taken, and so I was very, very, very tied up with this particular situation.

  • Let's just pause for a moment and get clear in our minds the sequence of events during that week. You're in Abuja on Tuesday, 9 May, and you leave Abuja on the Wednesday, yes?

  • On the Thursday you receive the letter - well, there's a letter dated 11 May, the Thursday of that week, from General Issa Sesay, yes?

  • We then have Friday and by the Saturday now, 13 May, this press release is being put out, yes?

  • "The President of Liberia has expressed optimism that the current United Nations hostage crisis in Sierra Leone will be resolved.

    According to an Executive Mansion release, the President made the statement today following a round of intensive negotiations with RUF representatives in Sierra Leone and a series of high level consultations with the National Security Council and opinion leaders in the Liberian society.

    The President expressed concern over the whereabouts of Foday Sankoh and the fact that he has not surfaced for a week now. He, however, hoped that with the high level of involvement in the process, some positive results will be forthcoming."

    So at this stage, help us, "a round of intensive negotiations with RUF representatives in Sierra Leone"; who's that that we're talking about?

  • We're talking about Issa Sesay. He's still not in Liberia, that's why it's in Sierra Leone. On the telephone, national security people are really involved in these talks in trying to negotiate where it is made very clear that these people must be released.

  • Now help us. Are you in telephone contact at this stage then with the RUF?

  • At this stage for these negotiations I did speak to Issa Sesay at least once and made it very clear to him that the United Nations personnel had to be released unconditionally and voiced the outrage of the international community about holding United Nations personnel.

  • Now, can we pause and just deal with one or two more details regarding Mr Sesay. Now, you told us that you invited him to Monrovia. Who did you speak to before issuing that invite?

  • Give us the names, please?

  • The members of the committee knew. Kofi Annan knew. Downes-Thomas, his representative in Monrovia knew, that because of the issue that had been raised and agreed by all of us that there was a question in Sierra Leone of who to deal with. Who do we talk to? We had found the field commander and that he would be invited to Monrovia to discuss this. The members of the Committee of Six knew. In fact, other ECOWAS leaders that were not a member of the committee were informed. The United Nations personnel informed. The very United States embassy in Monrovia, they knew. This is nothing secret. Every one of them knew that he was coming to Monrovia for these negotiations. After he came and when we made progress, we announced that we had made progress.

  • "The President expressed concern over the whereabouts of Foday Sankoh."

    Now, you recall, Mr Taylor, following the incident at Spur Road, Mr Sankoh disappeared for a while before he was eventually arrested. At this stage had he been detained as far as you're aware?

  • I don't know. We don't - no one had any real information. What had reached me, and I'm sure a lot of my other colleagues, was that he couldn't be found. No one knew precisely over these first few days. If he was in custody, I surely didn't know.

  • Now, can I pause again and deal with another matter of detail, please. Now, you tell us that General Sesay eventually accepted the offer to come to Monrovia?

  • And you told us that he stayed at the RUF guesthouse?

  • Now, already in Liberia at this time, of course, is Sam Bockarie?

  • That is correct.

  • So where was Sam Bockarie and his combatants who he had come with from Sierra Leone when Sesay gets there?

  • I have mentioned to this Court that Sam Bockarie was not up put at the guesthouse. We were at a three - we leased a place I mentioned in Paynesville where Sam Bockarie was placed. From that guesthouse to where Sam Bockarie lived would be approximately, I would say, three to four miles far apart. They were - they did not come into contact at all. This is why that guesthouse was there, but it was secured. Any time RUF personnel came there, they were guarded by the Secret Service. So there was no contact.

  • Why didn't you want any contact between them?

  • Well, remember now when Bockarie went against Sankoh, Issa Sesay took Sankoh's side, and I did state in evidence here that rumours were that Issa Sesay was amassing to attack Bockarie. So even though Bockarie left in December not under direct gunfire, but there was some animosity between them. So there was no reason for them to get together.

  • Okay. Now you mentioned earlier, Mr Taylor, that amongst those whom you consulted with at this time was the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Is that correct?

  • Yes, through his representative, yes.

  • That being Kofi Annan?

  • Look behind divider 49, please. What's this?

  • This is the statement that was released by Kofi Annan on my role played in beginning the process of releasing the hostages.

  • Now, let's look closely at the details of this document bearing in mind the chronology starting from the Tuesday, the 9th, yes?

  • The press release we've just looked at by the Liberian government is the Saturday, that's the 13th?

  • This document now, "press release by the Secretary-General", is on the Monday, the 15th, yes?

  • So events are happening fairly rapidly over these days, aren't they, Mr Taylor?

  • "Secretary-General acknowledges Liberian President's role in peacekeepers' release."

    The following statement was issued today by the spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

    The Secretary-General would like to acknowledge the important role played by President Charles Taylor of Liberia in the release of detained United Nations peacekeepers in Sierra Leone. 139 peacekeepers are in Liberia today and will soon be brought back into the mission area in Sierra Leone.

    The Secretary-General will shortly be talking with President Taylor, who has been tasked by West African governments to facilitate the release of the United Nations detainees.

    He is gratified by the progress made thus far and will encourage President Taylor to press on until the roughly 350 remaining detainees held by the Revolutionary United Front are freed and their weapons and equipment recovered."

    Yes, Mr Taylor?

  • So Kofi Annan knew you were involved?

  • Of course, Kofi - yeah, of course, he knew. Yes.

  • And why you were involved?

  • And, Mr Taylor, tell me, when you met with Issa Sesay to discuss this, the release of these peacekeepers, over 400 of them, what did you say to him?

  • I was very firm. I had never met the gentleman before, as I said, but I was very firm because I was not just speaking as Charles Taylor. I was speaking for ECOWAS; I was speaking for the African Union; I was speaking to a great deal for the UN at that time in, really, conveying to the RUF what were the demands of the international community. We use the word "negotiations", but I was very firm. I told Issa, "Listen, the worst place to play with is the United Nations. To hold UN hostages, this is so stupid and so crazy." In fact, I regret so much that the late D Musuleng-Cooper is dead because when this first started, the message that I sent to Foday Sankoh in Freetown by D Musuleng-Cooper, she would have been the best person to convey. I was very upset because I felt it was stupid, you know, for them to be doing what they were doing. And I made it very clear to Issa that the United Nations people had to be released unconditionally and any other discussions had to be held after, but, first and foremost, release the UN people, release the bodies of the soldiers that had been killed, release their weapons. And this was the demand of the international community and that had it to be done. This was not a friendly chat between Issa and myself. I didn't know him before, and that's what I told him.

  • What was his response?

  • Well, he brought - he mentioned almost the same thing that he had mentioned in the letter, that the leader is being held by the UN. I said that was not my concern. My concern, "You don't take hostages. Release the people. And if you release the people, this matter, ECOWAS will be prepared to look into your discussions. I will ask for a Heads of State meeting to discuss some of the issues that you are complaining about, but that comes later." And true to my word, I did request a meeting which happens later in May. By the last week in May, a formal ECOWAS full meeting is called to again discuss a Sierra Leone based - this is during our what we call, I think it's the Silver Jubilee, but it is raised.

    But this was not something where two friends were meeting, talking. He received it straight. He appeared - and I must admit, he appeared to be slightly - I mean, an intelligent young man, and he understood where the international community was going. And he said that he would go back, and he was not the leader, but he would discuss it with their council and that they would release the UN personnel.

  • Now, did you see Mr Sesay again thereafter in 2000, Mr Taylor?

  • Because of the question of leadership in the RUF and the international community not knowing what to do, I convened a meeting of Heads of State in Monrovia in July, a few months - in July in Monrovia to discuss the matter of Sierra Leone, where several Heads of State attended that meeting to discuss the leadership of the RUF and who do we talk to. In July. That was the second time that I saw him. He was invited to that meeting and he met all of the Heads of State in Monrovia in July.

  • And we'll come to it. But just to give us a preview, what was the upshot of that meeting?

  • Well, you know, we had the hostages released and we just wanted to make sure that we had a leader.

  • And so was there any change in status for Mr Sesay following that meeting?

  • Definitely. Definitely. The discussions that we had been holding with Issa Sesay, up to that, he was not the leader of the RUF. Following that meeting - and maybe when we get to it, I don't want to go beyond the question that you asked, but later on Sesay becomes the leader and the ECOWAS, myself and two other Heads of State present later on in August name Issa Sesay as leader of the RUF. ECOWAS.

  • ECOWAS. Present at that meeting, Obasanjo of Nigeria; the chairman of ECOWAS, Alpha Konare; and Charles Taylor at Roberts International Airport in August of 2000 following the approval of Foday Sankoh. And this, we will come to that. Following the approval of Foday Sankoh, named Issa Sesay as leader of the RUF, unlike what I have heard that "Charles Taylor designated Issa Sesay". That is not true.

  • We'll come to it, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.

  • Before we move on, can I ask, please, that the press release by the Government of Liberia, dated 13 May 2000, be marked for identification MFI-135, please.

  • That document is marked MFI-135.

  • And the press release by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 15 May 2000 be marked for identification MFI-136, please.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, you mentioned that the Libyan government had kindly assisted your peace efforts with the provision of an aircraft?

  • That is correct.

  • Go behind the next divider, please. Now, we see here, do we not, a press released dated 16 May 2000. Is that right?

  • Issued again by the Republic of Liberia, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs. Is that correct, Mr Taylor?

  • "The President of Liberia will today hold a special press briefing on developments regarding the freeing of United Nations hostages and his efforts to broker resolution of the Sierra Leonean crisis.

    According to an Executive Mansion release, the briefing will be held in the parlours of the Executive Mansion at 3 p.m. all heads of National Security Agencies, local and international correspondents and the Executive Mansion press corps are expected to be seated by 2.30 p.m.

    Meanwhile, the government has extended thanks to the Government of Libya for providing a Falcon 900 executive jet to assist in carrying out its shuttle diplomacy throughout the sub-region in fulfilment of the ECOWAS mandate.

    In another development, the Kenyan government is sending a special delegation to Liberia later this week to hold discussions with the Liberian government on the Sierra Leonean crisis. The delegation includes the Kenyan defence minister, the former head of UNOMIL, General Daniel Opande, and two members of the Kenyan parliament. A large contingent of Kenyans are among the UN hostages being held in Sierra Leone."

    Tell us, Mr Taylor, apart from the provision of the Falcon 900 executive jet, did you receive any other assistance from the Government of Libya?

  • During this - well, yes, in terms of they did not - they bought the fuel at the various stopovers. To that extent, yes. They assisted in providing fuel for the movement throughout the region.

  • And the talks with that Kenyan government delegation, they were held in Monrovia, were they?

  • And what was the upshot of that?

  • Well, because there were Kenyan soldiers involved in that they had been taken hostage, General Opande - we see UNOMIL - General Opande, when he was commander before of UN forces in Liberia and we knew him very well, and I guess the Kenyan government felt that someone like Opande that knew Liberia and had made a lot of friends in Liberia would be somebody good to come. And he came along with some members of the parliament to just probably renew old links and meet with him, because I knew him personally.

  • Now, by this stage, as we noted from the press release put out by the Secretary-General, there were still over 300 peacekeepers still being detained?

  • Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • So were there ongoing efforts being made to secure their release?

  • Yes, yes. We were doing it in some way piecemeal. And as we got them, we released them. And it was ongoing.

  • And help us, Mr Taylor, on that topic. As they were released - no. Let me start again.

    What arrangements were made for their transport?

  • As they were released, the United Nations had UN helicopters available.

  • The United Nations sent helicopters. In fact, they came across the border from Sierra Leone into the Foya area that we've talked about, and we used - by this time, we had a small helicopter that we were using. The UN provided, I think, two or so helicopters to keep ferrying them to Monrovia. The injured ones, we took care of in our hospitals. We sent doctors and nurses to take care of them as they came. But the UN was involved.

    As they came into Liberia, the UN was involved in their movement to Monrovia, Spriggs Payne Airport, and they made aircrafts available there to fly them from Spriggs Payne Airport, and that's in the record, in Monrovia on to Lungi.

  • So that they'd been ferried by helicopter from Foya to Spriggs Payne and then on to Sierra Leone?

  • So they there would then be helicopters landing in Foya?

  • Excuse me, Mr Griffiths. These hostages were released from where - or, rather, where were they handed to the authorities?

  • Okay, your Honour. These hostages, from what we understand, were being held in, I think, Kailahun. I don't know the Sierra Leone towns very well across the border. Some 400 or 500 of them. They would drive them to the Liberian border at a place we've mentioned, Mendekoma, and hand them over at Mendekoma. They would be driven to Foya and airlifted from Foya to Monrovia. Mendekoma is the last border point in our evidence between Sierra Leone and Liberia.

  • So they were handed to who exactly?

  • And then handed over to whom?

  • Before I move on, that press release by the Government of Liberia dated 16 May 2000, can I ask that that be marked for identification, please, MFI-137.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, had the taking of these hostages resulted in any conflict within Sierra Leone?

  • Well, conflict as far as the delay of the peace process, I would say, yes. And even internally the Johnny Paul Koroma people were very upset by all of this, so that's the only little part that I know. Because remember, I had already done an analysis on Johnny Paul Koroma. To that extent I can say there was some disagreements, because Johnny Paul now and the SLA - or what they were calling themselves at this particular time - was not very happy with what they claimed the RUF was doing at this time to the best of my knowledge.

  • Now, you mentioned that there were a number of press releases issued by your government during this period, Mr Taylor?

  • Could I ask that everyone takes up now, please, volume 2 of 4 for week 33. Mr President, I wonder whilst we're sorting out the papers, if Mr Taylor could leave the room briefly for the usual reason.

  • Yes, certainly. He can be escorted out.

  • Do you recognise that document?

  • This is really one of, I think, two documents that we issued about this time on the - asking for a ceasefire and the whole hostage problem.

  • Now, we see that it's dated 22 May 2000, yes?

  • And it reads as follows:

    "The President of Liberia has reiterated his call to all parties in the Sierra Leone conflict for an immediate ceasefire in order to allow his mediation efforts at freeing the remaining hostages to proceed without difficulties."

    What was going on, Mr Taylor, which you're describing there?

  • The fighting. Attacks. The UN and ECOMOG forces are in full blast and there are attacks from them, attacks by the RUF on them. It's a very scary situation because you have hundreds of hostages; where do you keep them? The chances of more lives being lost exists, and so I'm trying to say well, let's - try and cool it, let's get the hostages out, you know, before you continue this.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, before we go further with this document, can I ask you something? Tell me, this jet which you'd been provided with by the Libyan government, where were you travelling to by use of that jet?

  • Well, "you", I hope is not just me personally. It was for the use. So that is being used be the foreign minister; not necessarily me. I hardly move again. But it's for the mediation. So the foreign minister is mostly moving up and down consulting. That would be Nigeria, that would be Bamako, that would be Accra.

  • Freetown?

  • I want to believe he went to Freetown, but it was a shuttling. He had to - he should have gone there, I would say. I don't quite recall if he stopped into Freetown, but I see no reason why he would not have. But it was a shuttle, you know, diplomacy. I don't remember the exact end of the reports in a number of countries, but several countries were - I'm sure he went to The Gambia. I'm sure he went to The Gambia.

  • Because we are now talking about this leadership problem, and we wanted to get as many countries involved, in fact, and to extend an invitation to the President of The Gambia to be present at this meeting in July, which he attends.

  • "According to an Executive Mansion release, the President has expressed his dissatisfaction over the slow pace of the release of the United Nations hostages owing to the continuing attacks against the Revolutionary United Front by government forces.

    'The longer these attacks are carried out,' the Liberian leaders said, 'the more difficult it will become in mediating a successful release of the remaining hostages.'

    He is therefore calling on the United Nations and the international community to impress upon the Sierra Leonean authorities the prudence of a ceasefire for the success of his mediation efforts."

    Yes, Mr Taylor?

  • Now, you say there were a number of press releases at this time. Before I move on could I ask, please, that the press release by the Government of Liberia dated 22 May 2000 be marked for identification MFI-138, please.

  • That document is marked MFI-138.

  • Now, you said there were a number of such press releases during this period, Mr Taylor?

  • Go behind divider 52, please. Do you recognise that document?

  • Yes, this is the one now that is - what I mentioned before that gets into nationalities and areas where the peacekeepers are coming from, the numbers released. This is a detailed account now.

  • Okay. "Monrovia, Liberia, May 2, 2000. Fifty-four additional United Nations hostages have been released by the RUF in Sierra Leone and given passage through Liberian territory. This brings to 204 the number of UN peacekeepers set free to date since President Taylor was given the mandate to mediate their release by the ECOWAS authority.

    According to an Executive Mansion release, the 54 UN personnel arrived by helicopter in Monrovia late Sunday evening from Foya, Lofa County, after being airlifted from Sierra Leonean territory.

    Three of the United Nations soldiers, who were badly wounded on arrival, received medical care by Liberian doctors, while all the others were given routine check-ups and supplied Liberian army uniforms before being turned over to the United Nations authorities.

    Detailed information on the statistics, including nationality and rank of the released UN peacekeepers, has been made available by the Liberian government as follows:

    Out of the 204 personnel, 180 are Zambians, 22 are Kenyans, one Malaysian, one Norwegian. In terms of rank, there is one naval commander, seven majors, 13 captains, ten lieutenants, 15 staff sergeants, 24 sergeants, 50 corporals, 39 lance-corporals, and the rest are privates and troopers.

    Commenting on the latest development, President Taylor said he is optimistic that more hostages will be released in the coming days in spite of the difficulties of the mediation process and the logistical problems faced by the Liberian mediators."

    What were those logistical problems?

  • How to get the hostages that were released inside Sierra Leone - how to get them out because of the fighting. This was a major challenge for us, how to get them out, because in the process you could fall into an ambush. So it was a very difficult process for us.

  • And tell us, Mr Taylor, during this time you've spoken of Issa Sesay having coming to Liberia to meet with you, yes?