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

  • Dr Ellis, yesterday you weren't aware of two of the references that I was putting to you. One is Mr Gberie's book on the war in Sierra Leone. It's a book that you're familiar with as you have cited it in one of the footnotes or some of the bibliography attached to your report. I think that's right, isn't it, that you're familiar with his book?

  • I'm very familiar the book. If I may - yes, I'm familiar with it, yes.

  • Just to give you the reference to his comments, what he writes about General Julu's campaign of violence, rape, murder and beheadings, it's on page 55 of his book "A Dirty War in West Africa."

    Equally you weren't aware of a specific reference to Mr Taylor's father being amongst the dead in the St Peter's church massacre. That's found in Mr Lester Hyman's book at page 30 where he deals with that particular massacre. That's Lester Hyman's book "United States Policy Towards Liberia 1822 to 2003."

    Can I ask one final matter while we're on the subject of books. You said yesterday that the second edition of your book came out in 2006. The copy that I have makes it clear that it came out in 2007, but I'm sure that's not something that we're going to fall out about?

  • Sorry, I said 2007. I wrongly corrected myself. And since it's my own book, I suppose, you know, it's something that effects me primarily.

  • Yes, it's not a matter of great moment and it's essentially an academic issue as to which year it came out?

  • Can I go back then please to where we left off yesterday and I just want to ask you a little bit more about some of the background before coming on to the wars in the two countries that we're concerned with. In particular I would like to ask you about Mr Taylor and his going to Libya. Now do you have any specific detail, verifiable detail, as to when he was in Libya in the 1980s?

  • I've spoken to a large number of Liberians, some of whom were part of the NPFL who were in Libya in the 1980s and who described Mr Taylor being there, the defendant. I've also seen photos of him in military uniform with Liberians in military uniform which were described to me as having been taken in Libya. I've also received accounts from at least one of the leaders of the RUF of the training camps in Libya.

    My own impression is that Mr Taylor was not in Libya for perhaps very long periods of time but that he was moving between different places, notably I think Burkina Faso and Libya, and no doubt other places as well, and I'm referring to the period 1987 to 1989.

  • Right, but you aren't able to give us anything more specific than that. The word you used was "my impression" and that's what it boils down to, isn't it?

  • Well, I should say the information in my possession suggests that he was in between Libya and Burkina Faso notably in the years 1987 to 1989.

  • You can't say with any certainty that he actually met Foday Sankoh whilst in Libya, can you?

  • I think I'm right in saying that in one of the UN documents, I can't remember which one, one of the expert panel reports, Mr Taylor is reported by the UN panel as saying that he knew Foday Sankoh, indeed was a friend of Foday Sankoh, in 1989 in Libya. I believe I'm right in saying that, but I can't remember which of the reports it is.

  • But you have no independent information other than what you think you've remembered from one of the reports written by others?

  • I was also informed of this by one of the leaders of the Revolutionary United Front.

  • But not Mr Sankoh himself?

  • Not Mr Sankoh himself whom I've never met.

  • No, so that's the state of your knowledge about their connection in Libya?

  • As a historian I would say that there's strong evidence that - I would say there's overwhelming evidence that Mr Taylor was in Libya at least occasionally during that period and it's pretty clear that he met Foday Sankoh during that period.

  • Well, I'm --

  • Sorry, I don't mean to interrupt you, I just want to say I don't dispute the fact that he was in Libya during that period but it's not accepted that he therefore got to know Foday Sankoh as opposed to may have come across him briefly whilst in Libya. Can I ask you a little bit more about something you've referred to in your evidence as pan-Africanisation or pan-Africanism. There's nothing sinister about the concept of pan-Africanism, is there?

  • No, the concept of pan-Africanism has existed for a long time, certainly since the middle of the 20th century, and some people would say earlier than that because it may even go back to the 19th century in some forms, but as it were a modern political force it exists since maybe the 1940s and it is simply the idea which is still current in some - well, it's still current in the African Union at least formally, that the whole of Africa should be united or could be united under one government.

  • Yes. Most notably the precursor body to the African Union was the Organisation of African Unity which was a group of states who've changed their names, their collective name, into the African Union now, but certainly there were very strong movements within the Organisation of African Unity, particularly from President Nkrumah of Ghana, to create a unified state comprising the whole of the African continent. You're no doubt aware of his speeches to the OAU in particular in 1983 and 1985 to that effect?

  • Sorry, whose speeches to the OAU?

  • President Nkrumah of Ghana.

  • No, he was dead by that time. He died in 1972.

  • Sorry. In the 1960s. 1965 in particular?

  • The concept of pan-Africanism, like I said, as a modern political concept and even as a political program in the sense of a pan-African government was advanced notably by President Nkrumah as he then was who was president of Ghana from 1957 until 1966. It's always been formally accepted by the Organisation of African Unity and indeed by its successor the African Union which exists today, but I emphasise the word "formally" because in practice many African heads of state of the time in fact had no intention, and said so, of associating with President Nkrumah in that goal and suspected him of overwhelming ambition in advancing his concept of pan-Africanism.

  • Can I move forward to Libya again in the 1980s. There weren't just people from Liberia and Sierra Leone seeking refuge in Libya in the 1980s, were there? At the same time there were people from Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa and Namibia in particular. Would you agree with that?

  • I first became - I first got some sort of direct account of military training camps in Libya in the period when I was working for Africa Confidential which was in the late 1980s and I met a young man from Mauritius who'd gone to Libya for some sort of cultural event and then had ended up in a military training camp and he gave me an account of it. The man from Mauritius, which of course is a member state of the organisation - was a member state of the Organisation of African Unity but is otherwise not really very close to the African continent.

    I'd read, like I'm sure many others, accounts in those days of Colonel Gadaffi, the leader of Libya, having a revolutionary vision in which he gave support to a great variety of anti-American and anti-Western movements from the FARC in Columbia, the IRA in Ireland, the New People's Army in the Philippines and a great variety of Middle Eastern and African movements. And indeed there was a great variety of people from different parts of Africa who went to Libya, including some who went for purposes of idealogical or military training.

  • And amongst those who went to Libya in the 1980s from West Africa were Amos Sawyer, do you agree?

  • I wasn't aware that he was in Libya but I don't dispute the fact. I mean, I know he was in Libya at a later date because told me so and showed me a photograph of himself with Colonel Gadaffi but that was from a later period.

  • Right. Again there's a reference in Mr Hyman's book to Amos Sawyer being one of those who went to Libya for training. Amos Sawyer who became the chosen president of the transitional government in Liberia in the 1990s. That's right, isn't it?

  • Yes, he became the interim president when the - what was known as the interim government of national unity was established in 1990.

  • Yes, I recognise that name.

  • And Ali Kabbeh was actually the person who originally set up the RUF, isn't he?

  • I believe so. Now I've spoken to a number of Sierra Leoneans who were in Libya at that time or associated with some of the exiled movements from Sierra Leone and the very early origins of the Revolutionary United Front remain, at least to me, somewhat obscure but I indeed have heard the name of Ali Kabbeh in that regard.

  • I should spell Ali Kabbeh, A-L-I and then K-A-B-B-E-H?

  • Well, I've seen it as E-H in a publication. Now can I move to the events of 1989 and 1990 and in particular we start with the invasion - incursion is probably the better word for it by the NPFL into Liberia from Cote d'Ivoire on Christmas Eve. You've said in your report that the NPFL consisted of no more than about 100 fighters at that stage, is that correct, that it was as small as that in the beginning?

  • Well, it's very difficult to define exactly what is meant by the NPFL at that point and with your permission, Madam President, I would just like to add a brief explanation of what I mean by that. We heard yesterday that due to the rather chaotic military politics of Liberia after the coup of 1980 it led to a very serious coup attempt in 1985 led by Thomas Quiwonkpa and which was defeated with a lot of loss of life and the people who had supported Thomas Quiwonkpa, the survivors of which scattered to many different places, were known among themselves or collectively as the National Patriotic Forces and that name was later to become the direct predecessor of the title we know to this day, or we knew in the 1990s, National Patriotic Front of Liberia. It was a direct derivative from this name rather loosely used by Quiwonkpa's people.

    In the late 1980s there were, very, very broadly speaking, I would say two groups of supporters who might have answered to the description of adherence or supporters of the National Patriotic Forces which were then becoming the National Patriotic Front of Liberia. One was friends and associates and supporters of Thomas Quiwonkpa who had survived the 1985 coup attempt and many of them were staying in different parts of West Africa; Burkina Faso, some of them went to Libya. Some of them were trained military people, people who had been officers under Thomas Quiwonkpa when he was still a general in the Liberian army. That's one component.

    The second component was people who were opponents, political opponents, of Samuel Doe and I would call these, if I may use the expression, members of the Liberian political class. So mostly more educated people and I would put Mr Taylor in that category, Amos Sawyer whom has been referred to was also in that category, and many others. Most or certainly a large section of the Liberian political class which is a relatively small number of people had felt after the 1985 election and the violence thereafter - felt constrained to leave Liberia and many of those people ended up in the United States and those broadly speaking were the forces.

    Mr Taylor of course had gone to the United States in 1983 and had there been imprisoned at the request of the Liberian government which wanted his extradition to Liberia on charges of embezzlement and he'd actually escaped from prison in the United States in 1985. Therefore having escaped from prison in the United States this is a felony of course in the American law so he couldn't easily go back to America and I think that was one of the reasons why he tended to be in West Africa rather than in the United States.

    Nevertheless these two groups of people broadly defined, that is to say supporters of Thomas Quiwonkpa, many of them from Nimba County, a few of them professional military people and the other a rather broader group of what I call the political class, many of them in America, they broadly supported this idea of an armed insurgency against Samuel Doe. In the event the attack on 24 December was one of actually several attacks then being planned by various movements, not all of them calling themselves the NPFL, and that was the one that actually achieved something in the sense that the attack took place in Nimba County and it led very rapidly to a spreading civil war inside Liberia.

  • A civil war by a number of different and not necessarily connected groups; is that what you're saying?

  • No, I'm saying that there were a number of different and not necessarily connected groups who were planning some sort of armed rising in Liberia and the one that, as it were, started it first was this particular group that I've referred to of some 100 people, trained military people, who actually attacked on 24 December 1989.

  • I don't want to dwell on events in America in the 1980s but it's right, isn't it, that if the United States government had extradited Mr Taylor back to Liberia there can be little doubt other than that he would have been executed by President Doe's forces?

  • That was the state of affairs prevailing in Liberia in the 1980s. Now we come to the end of 1989, beginning of 1990, various attacks taking place in Liberia, General Julu sent in again to Nimba County to crush the rebellion. I think you agree with that?

  • There were a succession of generals sent by Samuel Doe to try and crush the rebellion of whom General Julu was one.

  • Yes, and he was one with a particularly murderous reputation, particularly bloodthirsty reputation?

  • That's correct and the situation was complicated because I said that on 24 December 1989 there was an attack by some 100 armed cadres who had received military training and indeed some of them were professional military men.

  • They had actually originally wanted to invade Liberia from Sierra Leone, hadn't they?

  • That's correct and there were other groups also who were independent of the NPFL who were also thinking of attacking from Sierra Leone.

  • And approaches were made to President Momoh who had succeeded President Siaka Stevens in Sierra Leone and Momoh is widely believed to have effectively sold out to President Doe - to have said to President Doe of Liberia that he wouldn't [sic] allow incursions into Liberia from his territory if President Doe supported him financially. That's quite a widely held view, isn't it?

  • There are good documentary sources, notably the Sierra Leonean Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but also a memoir by a former Sierra Leone cabinet minister called Koroma, Abdul Koroma, that Mr Taylor in company with I think three other people travelling on Burkina Faso - Burkinabe passports visited Sierra Leone to request support from the Sierra Leonean government to attack Liberia. They were detained in Pademba Road prison, or at least Mr Taylor was, I assume the others were as well, for some two weeks and then expelled from Sierra Leone.

    I believe that this happened - I believe the visit was when President Momoh was temporarily out of the country, I'm not sure of that, he would have been informed of this of course very rapidly. I've heard a rumour that he gave the information to President Doe. I can't confirm that that is correct, but what he certainly did do was after a couple of weeks detention in Pademba Road prison to expel Mr Taylor and his three colleagues from Sierra Leone.

  • Yes, I think Mr Hyman again in the book that I was citing this morning - Mr Hyman describes him as selling his support to President Doe?

  • And indeed I heard a similar allegation from French diplomats many years ago and I describe it in another book that I wrote.

  • We then move to the middle - well, we move several months into 1990 at the stage at which the ECOWAS, the Economic Union of West African States, gathers together a military force and sends it into Liberia to support President Doe. You've already told the Court that that was essentially a decision by Nigeria by President Babangida?

  • Could I just explain the background to this. We've just heard that there was an attack - in a situation where everybody knew that Liberia was very volatile, that President Doe had little support, there was great deal of incipient violence, that there were even different groups actively preparing an armed rising, there was an attack on 24 December. In the way that counsel for the defendant has described, the President of Liberia, Samuel Doe, sent a series of forces to put down the rising with considerable brutality.

    As a result of the attack on 24 December which was then claimed by this organisation called the NPFL the insurgents started spreading weapons, notably in Nimba County, to the civilian population. You therefore within a very short space of time, within weeks - when we talk of the NPFL please allow me to be as clear as I can as to what I mean at this stage in the early months of 1990 by the NPFL. What I mean is there was a small number of trained insurgents, trained in Burkina Faso and Libya, some of them former members of the Liberian army and therefore professional army officers who - there was a small corps of such people, most of who became known in NPFL mythology as the Special Forces.

    Then there were thousands, literally thousands, of armed civilians, some of them very young, who roughly claimed to be allegiants to the NPFL because they were anti the government and they were being given weapons and there was very little control over them.

    Moreover, in terms of leadership there was no recognised single leader of the NPFL. I remember well Mr Taylor going onto the BBC World Service or the BBC Africa Service radio and speaking, I heard it myself. So we had a name and that was, to be honest, the first time I'd ever heard of Mr Taylor. And I think the same was true even for some Liberians, even though he had been a senior civil servant actually with, I believe, cabinet rank in the military junta of the early 1980s.

    There were other people within the NPFL who were claiming to be the leaders, there was no acknowledged leader, and during the middle months of 1990 there were clearly disputes between rivals claiming to be leader of the NPFL and many of those rival leaders disappeared, presumably killed at the behest of Charles Taylor in the middle months of 1990. The most important of those people was a man called Jackson F Doe.

  • Dr Ellis, what you've described is essentially a small group of soldiers - small group of people, some of whom were soldiers, in 1990 spreading across Nimba County and the population as a whole taking up arms against the government. Is that a fair summary of what was going on in the middle of 1990; a popular uprising spurred on by this small group and some other groups in other parts of the country?

  • That's a fair summary and I would just add that of course once you start - once the civil population started to acquire arms it wasn't just that they were attacking the government but they were attacking any people suspected of being government supporters and these people were identified largely by reference to ethnicity and moreover there was a great deal of settling of personal scores. So people killing each other, killing people who they thought had cheated them of land or family quarrels of that sort. So you had a very an anarchic situation.

  • In fact that anarchic situation prevailed throughout the war at various times and in various places, didn't it?

  • I would disagree with that. I would say that there was clearly - it depends what you mean by anarchic situation, but I mean throughout the war there were - none of the military factions that were eventually to emerge during the war had a really efficient bureaucracy or bureaucratic control in the manner of a modern army, a modern professional army, but nevertheless the sort of freelance killings that we saw in 1990, I mean that was rather exceptional and in the years following the patterns changed.

  • Indeed in the middle of 1990 Nigeria sent in its military under the title, some might say fig leaf, of ECOMOG?

  • The situation I've described in the early 1990s, it rapidly became clear to the world's media and of course to the governments of West Africa that there was a disastrous situation emerging in Liberia in which the government had lost all legitimacy and a great - and nearly all support. By May or June of 1990 President Doe was in control of little more than the Executive Mansion, his official residence, and a part of the capital city.

    Then other areas of the country were overrun by groups or just armed civilians claiming some sort of allegiance to the NPFL because it was the anti-government force, thousands of people were being massacred including by the NPFL. I would even say - you referred yesterday to the St Peter's church massacre in July 1990. That was a massacre perpetrated by the government's armed forces. But there were similar massacres perpetrated by the NPFL.

    Moreover a third force emerged known as the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia.

  • Samuel Johnson's break-away movement?

  • Prince Johnson's break-away movement.

  • Sorry, Prince Johnson.

  • Prince Johnson was a professional army officer who had been close to Thomas Quiwonkpa and he'd fled Liberia I believe in 1983. He'd been associated with the 1985 coup attempt by Thomas Quiwonkpa. He went into exile in Libya and indeed he became the training officer - as a professional military man he became the training officer for the NPFL military forces. And soon after the rising starting, even as early as about February 1990 he was really leading his own group. And this was important because although they weren't very numerous they were the bulk of the trained fighters.

    The other NPFL people, although far more numerous, were simply armed civilians whereas Prince Johnson was in command of a trained group and he also - if I may say so, I think of all these forces that I'm referring to, his group which he'd called the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia were probably the most disciplined, not least because Prince Johnson himself had had training as a military policeman in the United States and was known for simply shooting anybody he thought was not obeying his orders.

  • Can we go back to ECOMOG, please. ECOMOG is an essentially Nigerian force that went into Liberia uninvited by the Liberian government. Do you agree with that?

  • Samuel Doe had called - I couldn't say in exactly what form but he had asked for help from the Nigerian government and the Nigerian government had also - I referred yesterday to say that governments throughout the region - and I know the Nigerian government also because the former American ambassador told me precisely this. The Nigerian government had firmly believed that actually the United States would sooner or later intervene in Liberia and I think even the Nigerian government which supported President Doe really pretty much up to the end and was the only government to support him right up to near the end - the Nigerian government of course had its interests in Liberia but what really made the Nigerian government realise that there would be no American intervention was the fact that on 1 August 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait and therefore you --

  • Well, you talked about yesterday, I think?

  • We didn't mention that yesterday, but that completely changed the strategic situation.

  • Well, the day before?

  • I didn't mention it either the day before.

  • We know that the Americans did not in fact intervene in Liberia as many had been expecting them to do, but when ECOMOG came in ECOMOG acted with considerable force and at times very considerable brutality, didn't they?

  • When ECOMOG came in president - Mr Taylor, who was becoming acknowledged - especially after the purges that he'd carried out in the middle of the year, becoming acknowledged as the leader of the NPFL, he made it clear that he was going to fight against this intervention force and even as they landed in Monrovia there was some fighting against ECOMOG.

    There was - the situation was therefore very confused. Prince Johnson, who was the leader of the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia, the INPFL, on the contrary he welcomed ECOMOG. So he allowed them to stay in the small area that he controlled which was around the Freeport in Monrovia. So we had a rather confused situation which lasted until something which maybe we'll come on to which is the death of Samuel Doe.

  • Well, we dealt with the death of Samuel Doe I think in brief terms yesterday. That was in - later, in September, I think, of 1990?

  • His death was on 9 September 1990.

  • And after that ECOMOG were effectively conducting a civil war with Liberian groups, principally the NPFL?

  • The situation that I've described earlier this morning, 10 minutes ago, the early months of 1990 Liberia had descended really into some sort of anarchy. There were groups of armed civilians going around the country killing anybody they felt like in the name of the NPFL. There were - under the banner of the NPFL or a break-away group called the INPFL there were relatively more coherent groups, since they were trained, but they were small, they were maybe a few hundreds. There was for example the INPFL and there was one specific unit of the NPFL led by a man called Elmer Johnson who was a former US marine and his unit was regarded as being fairly coherent militarily and in terms of discipline. Then there was the government forces who were adopting a kind of scorched earth policy as they went back to Monrovia and they were massacring people in Monrovia, as we heard.

    Now there were thousands of people being killed in this period and it was - after about May it was in internation media, it was coming on television, reporters were describing it. They were describing it as mayhem. Also because of the theatrical nature of the war with the most terrible atrocities taking place in front of cameras. Young men dressed in women's clothing, people - decapitations, mutilations, which was just - the world's press found it very hard to understand.

    Now in these circumstances when it became clear that America was not going to intervene then the Nigerian government decided it would organise an intervention force. It of course had its own interests in Liberia, but it took the lead in organising an intervention force.

  • President Babangida of Nigeria had business interests together with President Doe in Liberia prior to these events, didn't he?

  • He did. I know some of those business interests, I would be very interested in having further information about the nature of those business interests.

  • And you mentioned yesterday a film that brought some of the atrocities of the Sierra Leone - of the Liberian war to the general public, but there was a particular incident in 1992 in Liberia when ECOMOG forces bombed civilian areas I think on the edges of Monrovia, wasn't there. It was part of what was known as Operation Octopus?

  • Sorry, just to set the record straight yesterday the film I referred to was a different filled called "Cry Freetown" which was a film made by a Sierra Leonean film maker called Sorious Samura concerning the attack on Freetown in January 1999. So that's a quite separate matter from what I'm referring to now.

  • I wasn't suggesting it was the same. I was saying that that brought world attention to Sierra Leone. World attention was also brought to Liberia when the ECOMOG forces using aircraft, cluster bombs and napalm killed - estimates vary, but killed up to 6,000 or more civilians on the outskirts of Monrovia in the course of something known as Operation Octopus. That is right, isn't it, Dr Ellis?

  • Operation Octopus was launched by Charles Taylor's forces against ECOMOG and ECOMOG replied using all the means at its disposal in the way that you've described although I think the estimate of 6,000 dead is rather high, but there were certainly a great number of deaths. And I myself met people and interviewed people who described having been bombed by Nigerian jets at that time. I met them somewhat later in 1994. However, I think you're skipping over some intervening years which rather makes the story rather more difficult to follow.

  • I'm trying not to cover every week of every month of every year. I'm trying to focus on what one might call signature features of the various armed parties and the conflict in Liberia at the moment and then we'll move on to Sierra Leone in due course?

  • Might I be permitted to summarise it in my own words, sir?

  • I've described the situation in 1990. I've described there as being up to August 1990 essentially three parties. Namely, Samuel Doe who by this time occupied little more than the Executive Mansion and had zero international legitimacy, Prince Johnson, no relative - sorry, Prince Johnson who was leading the Independent National Patriotic Front - sorry, Prince Johnson who was leading the INPFL, the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia, and who had control of a small area and then there was this disparate group of armed civilians mostly who claimed to be acting on behalf of the NPFL and by August of 1990 they had control of very large parts of Liberia. And within the NPFL there were one or two trained elements including the forces led by Elmer Johnson who was no relative of Prince Johnson and Charles Taylor had succeeded in eliminating physically some of his leading rivals to be considered the leader of the NPFL and the key person was a man called Jackson Doe who was no relative of Samuel Doe and he was a key person because he was the former leader of a political party, he was considered to be the real winner of the elections of 1985 which had been rigged, he came himself from Nimba County and therefore had a lot of support among many NPFL core members and I think there's little doubt that if America had been able to impose a political settlement in 1990 Jackson F Doe would have been their candidate for president of Liberia to replace Samuel Doe who was not his relative.

  • Without wanting to prolong this, if America had condemned the elections of 1985 then there is little doubt that Jackson Doe would have been installed as a legitimately elected president of Liberia?

  • There's little doubt in 1985 that if the elections had gone their proper course Jackson F Doe would have been the democratically elected president of Liberia in 1985. In 1990 Jackson F Doe was still alive and he passed into NPFL territory and I've received several accounts, including some very detailed ones from close associates of Charles Taylor, that he was murdered on Mr Taylor's orders.

  • I'm going to move on please to events in the early 1990s. We've touched on Operation Octopus, in late 1992 I think that was?

  • I mentioned that there was then after the Nigerian led ECOMOG force - well, the technical leader was a Ghanaian general but it was really a Nigerian dominated ECOMOG force, after it landed in Monrovia in August 1990 ECOMOG tried to secure control of Monrovia by military means and this it did quite effectively by about November or December of 1990. And at that point from --

  • How did it do it, when you say quite effectively?

  • It did it - it was an ally of the INPFL of Prince Johnson so they had no opposition from Prince Johnson, but essentially by military means, by fighting, they expelled NPFL fighters from the outskirts of Monrovia or from the areas of Monrovia where they were. So from the end of 1990 there was in fact a de facto ceasefire and I've seen photographs from that period - I have in my possession photographs from the period of early 1991 when ECOMOG soldiers, Nigerian soldiers, and NPFL fighters are fraternising, giving each other cigarettes, selling things to each other and indeed there was quite a lot of trade going on between the NPFL held areas and the Nigerian controlled areas of Monrovia.

    So there was a kind of de facto ceasefire, there were official peace negotiations taking place in a variety of locations in 1991 and 1992 and then in October 1992 the NPFL launched a surprise attack on the ECOMOG forces in Monrovia known as Operation Octopus and the Nigerian and other ECOMOG forces and various allies who they managed to mobilise for the purpose replied in the way that you have suggested.

  • You have made reference in both your evidence and in your report to Mr Taylor and the NPFL setting up effectively a government in all of that part of Liberia apart from Monrovia. It was called the National Patriotic Reconstruction Assembly government, a bit of a mouthful known as NPRAG for short. Now when do you say that institution was set up in covering really all of the territory of the country apart from the capital?

  • In the period that I've described in mid- 1990, so I'm talking about June, July, August, September 1990 there was the chaotic situation I've described. ECOMOG arrived. We've said that Samuel Doe was killed on 9 September 1990. ECOMOG imposed its own authority on Monrovia. There was thereafter somewhat of - sort of a phoney war. There was an effective ceasefire, there was some fraternisation. Moreover Mr Taylor by that stage had succeeded in eliminating his chief rivals to claim to be the leader of the NPFL.

  • Yes, I'm asking you about the NPRAG?

  • Yes and I'm saying that at that stage because he was then pretty much the acknowledged leader of the NPFL he established a quasi-government which is the one you've described called the NPRAG.

  • So when do you say that effectively took control?

  • I can't say when the NPRAG was officially proclaimed, but I would say it was in existence from the end of 1990, early 1991 onwards. And it was often known as Greater Liberia because in effect it controlled most of the country except for Monrovia and a few other key points.

  • And that's what Greater Liberia means when we talk - when we use that term, isn't it?

  • It was widely used at that time from early 1991 onwards to refer to the great majority of Liberian territory, let's say 90 per cent of the territory, which was under the increasingly effective control of the NPRAG and its acknowledged leader Mr Taylor who started calling himself president.

  • Once that government in effect had been set up and was operating there was opposition not just from ECOMOG but there were other opposition armed forces, were there not, in Liberia?

  • Well, what happened is that in the chaos that I've just described during 1990 of course a large number of Liberians fled abroad and most of them tended to flee to Sierra Leone or to Guinea which are the two neighbouring countries. From an early point, from as early as the middle of 1990 or even - yeah, May 1990, June 1990, some of these people fleeing abroad were starting to organise themselves.

    So by early 1991 we had - there were more or less clear or coherent organisations being formed among Liberian refugees in Sierra Leone and Guinea and most of those refugees were of specific ethnic groups and the reason for that was because the NPFL, which as I've said was not really a coherent movement at that stage, were attacking people by reference to their ethnicity.

    So these refugees were overwhelmingly Khran, which is the same ethnic group as Samuel Doe, and the Khran, their territory is the south of the country, the south-east and Grand Gedeh County, and Mandingo which is another group of population who had been singled out for persecution in 1990 because they were regarded as supporters of Samuel Doe.

  • And Mandingo are found on both sides of what I'll call the artificial border set up in the 19th century between Sierra Leone and Liberia. That's correct, isn't it?

  • Well, yes, but I think it's a little bit misleading to think of Mandingo as being an ethnic group like other ethnic groups in Liberia in the sense that it's - how to describe it. Mandingo is a part of a larger identity which is spread through many parts of West Africa and to be a Mandingo is essentially to be a trader. So they're a rather mobile group of people and you'd find - typically before the war you'd find the only place where there were communities of Mandingo who were established for many decades or even centuries tended to be in Lofa County. And in other parts of Liberia, notably in Nimba, they tended to be just shopkeepers or traders, just, you know, with one or two families in each village.

  • An organisation soon became set up called LUDF?

  • Liberians United for --

  • The Liberian United Democratic Front, I think. This was an organisation set up by General Albert Karpeh who was a Khran, a close ally of Samuel Doe, and he had been, I believe he was a former minister of defence and he had been Samuel Doe's ambassador in Freetown and from an early stage he started organising the refugees who were fleeing from Liberia, especially the Khran people who were his own people and Samuel Doe's people, and turning them into a militarised force called the LUDF.

  • The LUDF came in particularly from Sierra Leone but also from Guinea. Is that right?

  • Well, if you'll excuse me I think there's another stage we have to describe, which is that there were other organisations being set up --

  • I'm coming on to the other organisations, Dr Ellis. I'm just concentrating on this one for the moment?

  • Well, I don't believe the LUDF ever attacked Liberia because I think it was dissolved before we got that far.

  • It merged into ULIMO, did it not?

  • It merged into ULIMO but that's a later staged because it merged with some of the other organisations that I was alluding to and Albert Karpeh was murdered at that stage.

  • Who was financing the LUDF?

  • The LUDF, I don't know, but I would assume it was receiving some finance from the Sierra Leonean government.

  • We must avoid speculation of this kind.

  • I'm not asking Dr Ellis to speculate.

  • I'm going to put to you as a fact, not a speculation, that the LUDF was receiving financial support from the Sierra Leonean government. Are you aware of that?

  • I was not aware of that but it doesn't surprise me.

  • And they essentially merged into ULIMO after about six months?

  • That's correct. They merged with some other exiled groups into a group called ULIMO which certainly did receive money from the Sierra Leonean government and also received other help from the Ghanaian government.

  • Indeed, and they invaded - ULIMO certainly invaded and fought the NPFL and its institutions of government, the NPRAG, in Greater Liberia over a prolonged period?

  • It did, but before it did that it fought against the RUF in Sierra Leone, because let us recall that a war began in Sierra Leone on 23 March 1991 and that was the war said to be of the RUF, but we said yesterday that according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Sierra Leone in fact the war was largely started by NPFL fighters from Liberia by this stage under the control of Mr Taylor. And as I wrote in my report which has been submitted as a document to this Court there is clear evidence that that war was being prepared from November onwards when Mr Taylor had threatened that Sierra Leone would taste the bitterness of war.

  • Well, let's just deal briefly with what happened in Sierra Leone in 1991. The first step in that war was a broadcast by Foday Sankoh of the RUF, a radio broadcast threatening to attack unless President Momoh quit office and established a more democratic government. That was a broadcast I think in March of 1991?

  • The first attack is always described as 23 March 1991. I didn't hear that broadcast myself but I remember reading reports of it and that was the first time that I personally had ever heard of Foday Sankoh.

  • Foday Sankoh had of course previously been jailed in Sierra Leone for supporting an uprising against President Siaka Stevens, hadn't he?

  • Foday Sankoh was an army corporal who was a rather distant relative of a senior army officer who was jailed for a coup attempt in the 1970s. I'm struggling to remember exactly which year it was. I think 1973.

  • 71, sorry. Thank you. And he was jailed for that strangely enough of 23 March 1971. And he served some time in prison and then got out of prison and according for example to Lansana Gberie, whose book you've already cited, I'm a personal friend of Lansana Gberie's and I've often discussed this with him, he knew Foday Sankoh, he met him at that stage when he got out of prison and before the war and he was a rather embittered man and struggled to make a living as a professional photographer because of course he'd been cashiered from the army.

  • Because of his seven year prison sentence?

  • He was embittered by his prison sentence. I forgot how long he served in prison.

  • Seven years I believe, going on Mr Gberie's book.

  • Yes, okay, I accept that.

  • And Momoh had taken over from Siaka Stevens and was running a one party state in Sierra Leone at that stage, wasn't he. There was a great deal of public dissent against President Momoh and the one party state by 1990, 1991?

  • Sierra Leone was ruled by a party known as the All People's Congress, the APC, which was established by Siaka Stevens who was the president and when Stevens was getting old he arranged the succession and he engineered the transfer of power still within the same party, the APC, to actually the army chief who was General Momoh who you referred to and indeed the APC government was unpopular and General Momoh was generally seen as a weak president.

  • And there were several attempts led in particular by the Sierra Leonean bar association to bring about an end of the one party state rule, weren't there, in 1990 and 1991?

  • That's correct. Sierra Leone had been a multiparty state shortly after independence. There were therefore quite well established political party traditions including notably the Sierra Leone People's Party, the SLPP, and especially in view of international events at the time, because we're talking about the late 1980s and early 1990s, the end of the Cold War, the liberation of Nelson Mandela in South Africa and so on, there were, as you say, domestic lobbies calling for the restoration of multiparty democracy in Sierra Leone.

  • Yes, that didn't happen and then the RUF invasion occurred in March of 1991?

  • And I accept that the RUF and the NPFL had associations in the first year or so of the war in Sierra Leone?

  • But by the end of 1992 there had been a significant falling out between the RUF and the NPFL, hadn't there?

  • Well, the TRC describes the period 1991 to 1994 as the first phase of the war in Sierra Leone and it really describes that phase as being dominated by the NPFL.

  • Well, in fact the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Sierra Leone I accept divides the war in Sierra Leone up into three periods, the first of which is 91 to 94, but they acknowledge, do they not, that there was a serious breach between the RUF and the NPFL by the end of 1992, a bitter dispute between the two groups?

  • They do indeed. The TRC did in its report, and it's the part of the TRC report which personally interested me the most and which I found the most illuminating. It describes the beginning of the war as you've suggested, it describes increasing tensions by the RUF cadres and the NPFL who in fact were more numerous and it describes the first leaders of the RUF, including notably Rashid Mansaray, as being disillusioned by the brutality of the Liberian fighters and therefore being increasingly uncomfortable with the association.

  • And the association was effectively terminated, wasn't it, by the end of 1992?

  • That's not what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission says.

  • What do you say that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission says about the breach between the two organisations at the end of 1992, Dr Ellis?

  • That the relations between the RUF and the NPFL became increasingly difficult and some units of the RUF actually became more or less isolated from outside contact.

  • In the meantime in Liberia you have Charles Taylor's effective government in Greater Liberia, you have groups fighting against him, by this time, by 1992 onwards it's ULIMO, isn't it?

  • The significance - you referred earlier to Operation Octopus and I agree with you that this is a milestone because I've said already that the ECOMOG, the international intervention force, arrived in Liberia in August 1990, by the end of 1990 had acquired control of Monrovia and a number of other key points and that at the same time Mr Taylor had established his personal control of the NPFL and had institutionalised it as a quasi-government, an alternative government, known as the NPRAG colloquially known as Greater Liberia.

    So throughout 1991 and the first part of 1992 the situation in Liberia itself was relatively stable and the scene of fighting had passed to Sierra Leone and that's one of the ways in which these two wars have been linked by an umbilical cord since the start of the 1990s.

    Operation Octopus was an assault by Mr Taylor's forces, his NPFL forces, in an attempt to take Monrovia. It was an attack on Monrovia which ECOMOG was not prepared for, which it had not anticipated and it replied with all the means at its disposal which we've already discussed, including artillery and aircraft, and it included arming and supporting other elements of the Liberian population which it thought would be anti-NPFL.

  • In the meantime in Monrovia we have an organisation, the head of which was Amos Sawyer, which was a transitional government?

  • ECOMOG established its effective control of Monrovia, backed of course by the Nigerian government, in the last quarter of 1990 and it gave its support - Nigeria gave its diplomatic support, and other countries also, to the creation of an interim government led, as you suggest, by Professor Amos Sawyer. That government acquired support of a significant number of what I've already referred to as the Liberian political class, those Liberian exiles who had left Liberia because they were - they didn't agree with the government of Samuel Doe in the 1980s and who now saw a way of coming back to Monrovia under the protection and aegis, if I could put it that way, of ECOMOG.

  • The NPRAG also had support from ECOWAS, didn't it?

  • The original ECOMOG intervention in Liberia which was in August 1990 was extremely controversial because it was very much organised by Nigeria in its own interest and there were other countries that were members of ECOWAS which were against the intervention and these were notably Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso and they were against the intervention for the obvious reason that they were leading supporters of the NPFL.

    So the split inside Liberia between the capital city controlled by a Nigerian dominated intervention force with some international support, and the Greater Liberia led after late 1990 by Charles Taylor and with some, but less, international support. It also reflected an Anglophone/Francophone split within West Africa which reverberates historically, particularly for pan-Africanists because of course it conforms to a colonial split between Francophone and Anglophone countries based on colonial divisions.

  • Except that here you're talking about two Francophone countries supporting what was essentially an Anglophone organisation, the NPFL and - or the NPRAG government?

  • So that doesn't quite fit, does it, with your concept of an Anglophone/Francophone split?

  • There was an Anglophone/Francophone split within ECOWAS and, as you suggest, these two Francophone countries, members of ECOWAS, were supporting the NPFL and gave personal support to Charles Taylor, although his movement was an English speaking one of course in Liberia. But I'm just making the point that that split within the member states of ECOWAS between a number of states led by Nigeria, not all of them English speaking because Guinea also gave important support, and the most important of the Francophone states which was Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso which is important for other reasons, that did represent a wider historical and diplomatic split.

  • And efforts were being made by various states to try to bring about a compromise but Nigeria blocked any realistic efforts at a compromise that might lead to a situation where Charles Taylor became president of Liberia. That's correct, isn't it?

  • I think that it's true to say that the - particularly the General Babangida who was the military ruler of Nigeria until 1993 appears to have been personally extremely opposed to Charles Taylor and would not have easily lent his support to any peace accord which resulted in Charles Taylor becoming president of Liberia and that was also because Nigerian public opinion was very opposed to Charles Taylor because of the number of Nigerians who had been held hostage and even murdered in 1990 and some of the propaganda directed against Nigeria by Mr Taylor. And also of course the fact that, as in all wars, the more casualties there, in this case of Nigerian soldiers, the more ill feeling there is that develops among the public.

    I would also add that Mr Taylor made it pretty clear that he was uninterested in giving his support to any Peace Accord which did not result in him becoming president of Liberia.

  • He was in effect president of the whole country apart from Monrovia though, wasn't he, for some years?

  • That's correct except there were a few other enclaves and increasingly with ECOMOG support other groups managed to get control of other enclaves, particularly the ports like Buchanan.

  • Sorry, when you say other groups are you talking principally about ULIMO or are you talking about others too?

  • We've described the formation of ULIMO during 1991 and this became originally based in Sierra Leone and fighting the RUF in Sierra Leone as a surrogate of the Sierra Leonean government and then later on moving into Liberia and fighting Charles Taylor for its own reasons but also as a surrogate of Nigerian interests. That's the principal one. ULIMO in fact split into two wings known as ULIMO-K and ULIMO-J after the names of their respective leaders and we had other groups emerging including one which I saw at first-hand with the unlikely name of the Liberia Peace Council.

    And so we had a situation which I already alluded to yesterday where you had a multiplicity of armed groups inside Liberia, some of them also having connections with neighbouring countries and some of them actually getting unofficial but nevertheless very real support from the same countries which were officially championing and contributing troops to the peacekeeping movement ECOMOG. It was an utterly contradictory situation.

  • And eventually within Liberia, and I'm still concentrating on Liberia at the moment - eventually within Liberia the parties were able to reach a peace agreement once the dictator of Nigeria, General Babangida, was replaced by another military leader in another coup. That's right, isn't it?

  • I don't really know what you're referring to, with respect, because as it were the people of Liberia didn't really have much chance to express their opinions throughout - well, until 1997 in fact.

  • Well, that's what I'm coming to?

  • Yes, but I'm not quite sure what you're alluding to because General Babangida left power in 1993 which is four years before the elections in Liberia and the position of the Nigerian government did change somewhat and that did have an effect on the position of the parties in Liberia, but I'm not clear what you're alluding to when you say that the Liberians reached agreement.

  • Eventually hostilities - for the most part hostilities ceased and they were able to organise elections. ULIMO I think began to cease its hostilities against the NPFL and accept that there was a need for a broad brokered peace agreement and elections?

  • We're talking about a long period from - we've started off with, we said that the war effectively started in 1989 with an invasion or an attack or I forgot get the word used, an incursion I think you said, by the NPFL in Liberia. That we went through a period of anarchy which resulted in a great deal of bloodshed. In my estimate, or the estimates that I've garnered, in the year of 1990 there were probably about 18,000 people killed in Liberia. We then had a period of relative calm in Liberia in 1991 and 1992 until the attack by Mr Taylor and his NPFL known as Operation Octopus. This then resulted in a period of renewed armed conflict inside Liberia itself in which ECOMOG started increasingly arming and supporting, not officially but in fact, various Liberian groups and I saw that with my own eyes and I discussed it with various Liberian officials who - well, I won't burden you with the details.

    But meantime diplomatically things were changing because first of all the president of Nigeria who was after all not an elected president but a military man who'd arrived in power himself by a coup, General Babangida, he left in 1993 and he was eventually replaced by another military man, General Abacha, who really came to power also by military means, through a coup, but General Abacha was less opposed to Charles Taylor.

    So what was happening was that the Nigerian government, but also other West African governments, including importantly the Ivorian government which had supported the NPFL from the beginning, there was a collective realisation that the war going on in Liberia was ruinous to the country, ruinous in many respects to the region, although we shouldn't forget that there were also people making money out of the Liberian war including in those governments that were formally supporting peacekeeping in the country, but nevertheless there was a collective agreement that Charles Taylor in particular, but also some of the other political/military leaders, had to be brought into some sort of political settlement and the key breakthrough was - there were something like 13 or 14 peace accords signed during these years, but the key one was at Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, in 1995 and that was key because Charles Taylor attended. Until then he'd been afraid to go to Abuja because he was afraid he would be arrested or even murdered and he agreed to go to Abuja, he attended and therefore an agreement was able to take place which resulted in Mr Taylor personally being able to go to Monrovia and various other political/military leaders who'd been outside the capital being able to come into Monrovia.

    So we then had a very strange situation from 1995 really up until 1997 whereby you had armed groups known as armed factions sometimes fighting each other in the countryside while the leaders of those very same factions, often known in Liberia as warlords, were sat together in committees and various other places in Monrovia and it was possible on a Saturday night to see them frequenting the same bars together.

  • And that led to elections that were held in 1997 that were accepted by international monitors as free and fair elections which resulted in a landslide victory for Mr Taylor?

  • We're missing out one very important event which is the events of April 1996. The situation was as I've roughly described, that is to say there was by this time a government known as the Liberian National Transitional government which was essentially a collective presidency in which some of the key warlords were sitting including Mr Taylor. While they each had their respective armed factions disposed in various parts of the countryside and the members of this collective presidency known as the Liberian National Transitional government effectively carved up the offices of state between themselves, the Central Bank, the Ministry of Finance and so on and so forth.

    There was - by I would describe frankly as a manipulation by Mr Taylor there was an outbreak of very severe fighting in Monrovia on 6 April 1996 and I would describe this as the single most bloody incident of fighting of the entire Liberian war, 6 April 1996, and in fact, looking back, I would describe it as the biggest single battle in West Africa for at least - I don't know, at least I suppose since the Biafran war.

  • And what was the result of that battle?

  • The battle in Monrovia on 6 April 1996 was essentially an attempt by Mr Taylor to take control of Monrovia by military means. So it was the third in a long succession, by which I am referring to the original NPFL attack on Monrovia in the middle of 1990, Operation Octopus in October 1992 and then the 6 April attack in 1996 in which Mr Taylor and an ally, Alhaji Koroma, tried to take power by force and this drove the smaller factions into banding together in self-defence and it led to a chaotic, bloody battle in Monrovia. And since at that stage we had the ECOMOG force there, ECOMOG didn't really know what to do. At one stage it was arming both sides, at least unofficially, and we had an appalling situation which ended with a restoration of calm, further meetings in Abuja and another round of - it wasn't a peace accord, I don't think, but another agreement reached in Abuja that said, okay, we're going to send in a reinforced ECOMOG contingent which by this stage had more substantial American support and it was clear that this was going - that this potentially could lead to an NPFL victory, because what it signified was the Nigerian government now accepted that it did not want to put any insurmountable obstacles in the way of eventually Mr Taylor becoming president of Liberia.

  • Putting it very shortly, summarising the whole of the Liberian civil war up to that date, April of 1996, Mr Taylor and his NPFL forces were engaged in a series of armed conflicts with various groups, some of which were funded by - well, in the case of ECOMOG at times was actually supplying more than one opposing party?

  • That is correct. The factions essentially funded themselves through military activity, through looting, in other words, and through what they looted, this was able to help them buy guns and ammunition including from ECOMOG.

  • Mr Taylor became president in 1997 and shortly after that other military groups began to attack Liberia which became known in particular as LURD although that's not the name that it originally started with and MODEL, two military organisations which started to attack Liberia not very long after he became president?

  • I must apologise to the Court by saying I'm sorry, I think we're skipping over too much and I realise that we're not here to discuss Liberian history, but I honestly feel that it's not possible to get a clear understanding of events without looking at some things that we're in danger of skipping over.

  • Dr Ellis, my fear was that we were in danger of going into far too much detail about events in Liberia. I was trying to bring together in compendious form a picture of what was occupying Mr Taylor and his forces in Liberia over the period from December 1989 to the late 1990s. If you feel that we have to go into yet more detail then it's a matter for you, but I was trying to bring that to a relatively short close?

  • Well, sir, I mean I don't know what to say because I feel we've been discussing in some detail the Liberian situation and think it's been quite a fruitful discussion. I think if we're going to see how Mr Taylor became president, why and how he was attacked by various other groups including the two that you've mentioned then I do think we're not quite there yet, but I can summarise if the Court requires that.

  • Do you accept that not very long after he became elected president his government and his armed forces were then subjected to yet more military attacks by armed groups coming in from outside the country?

  • After the attack - we've already said that after the events of 6 April 1996 I think was a general acceptance throughout West Africa and also crucially from the United States that if - it would be possible to - to design and impose a process which would lead to elections and it was very likely that Mr Taylor would win those elections because he had support in some parts of the country, but above all he was the head of the biggest and most powerful existing organisation, namely the NPFL, and that's precisely what happened, because in July 1997, with lukewarm but nevertheless support, but nevertheless acquiescence from the government of Nigeria, and I suppose with a rather resigned support from the United States, he became president of Liberia.

    The hope of many people internationally, and I'm sure of very many Liberians, if not the great majority of Liberians, was that this would be an end to the war and that Mr Taylor would use his democratically legitimised election victory of July 1997 to create peace among Liberians and then to begin the process of rebuilding and the country and unfortunately that's not what happened.

    So we had various incidents in the country. I remember very well because I was in Liberia at the time, in 1997, the disappearance and murder of Sam Dokie and his family. Sam Dokie was a very close associate of Mr Taylor, he'd been his minister of internal affairs, he was from Nimba County, he was murdered in 1997. I was with Liberians at the time and I saw there was an almost palpable fear that went through Monrovia because people thought if he's killing his own friends what's he going to do to everybody else. So there was no real atmosphere of reconciliation in Monrovia.

    Moreover, ECOMOG forces, according to the agreement that had been reached in Abuja in 1996, that is the second of these agreements reached in Abuja that I've referred to - ECOMOG forces were supposed to retrain the military and the police and this is not what happened. Mr Taylor made it clear that as the elected leader of the sovereign state he did not wish to have these forces performing that function. So that signals that were going out were not very encouraging as regards peace.

    In September 1998 there was heavy fighting in Monrovia along Camp Johnson Road and even at the US embassy when opponents of Mr Taylor whom he accused, I think probably rightly, of planning a coup were shot and this also soured the atmosphere. So indeed by 1999 we started hearing again of externally based forces of Liberians in exile with a degree of external support planning and actually implementing attacks on the country.

  • In fact they started in 1998 from Guinea, did they not?

  • I don't recall attacks in 1998, but it's possible. My recollection is 1999 and the first time I ever heard of LURD was in February 2000 when I was in Conakry and I met a number of people who informed me of the existence of LURD and indeed I met some of the LURD fighters.

  • What about MODEL?

  • MODEL was the Movement for Democracy in Liberia. This was a movement which appears to have been created in Cote d'Ivoire at a slightly later stage and was essentially a derivative from LURD. It was a split from LURD.

    And as in the earlier rounds of fighting in Liberia in the 1990s we had the same phenomenon yet again which is Liberian exiles representing largely ethnic constituencies being supported by neighbouring countries in their own interests.

  • Now I want to move then please to aspects of your report. Madam President, I think this is MFI-1.

  • I think that is correct.

  • Can you have a look, please, at page 4 of the report. It's your section 4. I'm just going to start with section 4, but I'm simply giving everybody the reference for the beginning of that section. I want to ask you in particular about what you've written on page 5 within the body of section 4. You make a number of points about the way in which you say Mr Taylor organised his government?

  • Correct.

  • And in particular you're dealing with both the period of time when he was running the National Patriotic Reconstruction Assembly government and also after he'd been elected in free and fair elections as president of the country. You're dealing with both of those, aren't you?

  • That's right. I'm trying to look of the similarities in his method of government over an extended period in these two rather different circumstances, but I do detect similarities.

  • Now the first point that you make in those bullet points on page 5 is that his security apparatus in particular was associated with foreigners?

  • And it's also right, isn't it, that it's not an unusual feature of a number of countries in West Africa to have foreigners playing significant parts in aspects of government and running the country?

  • In varying degrees, yes.

  • You gave one example of General Khobe who was a Nigerian military commander who became head of the Sierra Leonean armed forces?

  • In the list that you've given there you've set out a number of people who you say were part of his security apparatus?

  • Kukoi Samba Sanyang, spelt K-U-K-O-I S-A-M-B-A S-A-N-Y-A-N-G, the vice-president in NPFL in 1990 was Gambian?

  • The vice-president isn't necessarily part of the security apparatus, is he?

  • No, but I believe he was one of the leaders of some of the military activity by the NPFL in Buchanan in 1990.

  • And Yanks Smart, the Liberian ambassador in Libya, Yank as in Y-A-N-K-S, Smart S-M-A-R-T, he was a Gambian. Again he's not part of the security apparatus, is he?

  • But given the role of Libya in security relationships and in the supply of weapons then - and finance for the NPFL, then I would regard that as a very important post from a security point of view.

  • Mr Munyard, I note that it's 11 o'clock when we normally break. Is this a convenient time?

  • Madam President, it is.

  • In that case we will take the usual mid-morning break until 11.30.

  • [Break taken at 11.00 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 11.30 a.m.]

  • Mr Munyard, just before you resume your cross-examination I mentioned earlier this morning there had been an order following a request for a photographer. Owing to a small technical hitch, whilst the gentleman was in the court precincts he was not able to come into the Court. He is here now with us from Cosmos news agency and will be here for one minute.

    Mr Munyard, when you are ready, please proceed.

  • Thank you, Madam President. I am not counting, but I think the minute may be up. Thank you, I will resume now that the photographer has finished.

    Dr Ellis, can I redirect you, please, to page 5 of your report, MFI-1.

  • We were dealing with the first bullet point. I just want to make one other point about that. You say that Charles Taylor was at times assisted by hundreds of troops loaned by the government of Burkina Faso.

  • I want to suggest to you that Burkina Faso supplied materials rather than manpower.

  • The President of Burkina Faso publicly acknowledged having supplied troops to Liberia.

  • At what particular time?

  • I couldn't tell you exactly, but much later. I would say in the late 1990s, but I couldn't recall the date.

  • The second bullet point you say that Mr Taylor's administration was associated with marked personalisation of power. You go on to say that he cultivated a personality cult and that Amos Sawyer, who we know was for a while the head of the transitional government, said Mr Taylor often boasted that he alone made decisions within the NPFL. Now, there is nothing unusual about the head of a government making decisions alone as opposed to in cabinet, as it were, is there?

  • No, it is not unusual. It is just that different governments have different styles and some are more collegial than others, but I agree with you.

  • Thank you. Over the page, please. You talk in the first bullet point on page 6 of Mr Taylor maintaining a number of separate armed units and security units, often headed by rival commanders. Now, when he became President, in particular, he inherited a number of security units, didn't he?

  • That is correct.

  • One of which was set up by the Israeli's for President Doe called the SATU, the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit?

  • I recall the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit of President Doe. I don't think it was still in existence by 1997. I think it ceased to exist with the downfall of President Doe and various former members of that unit resurfaced in some of the various armed groups of the early 1990s.

  • Yes. I am simply suggesting that that was a title, albeit the first word, "special", removed, that was the title of a pre-existing unit within the security apparatus of the Liberian State.

  • The Special Anti-Terrorist Unit, as you suggest, was an Israeli trained unit, but it had ceased to exist by 1991 I would say.

  • It is right that some of his family members had positions either in government, or government departments?

  • But not necessarily for long periods of time.

  • The names that I have put here is a small selection of what I could have used. Indeed, some of these were relatively short periods.

  • Yes, I just want to take one example. You have Adolphus Taylor as the director of the National Security Agency, Mr Taylor's brother. I want to suggest he worked for the National Security Agency, but not in the capacity of director.

  • If that is the case then I accept the amendment and apologise for the mistake.

  • In the next paragraph, on page 6, you talk about the absence of an efficient bureaucracy in Liberia. In fact, from 1997 onwards, when he became President, there was a fully functioning government with the usual government departments established in Liberia, wasn't there?

  • After President Taylor became President in 1997 there was a full range of government ministries and departments, but I am suggesting that these didn't actually cover an efficient bureaucracy in the normal understanding of the term. My point in saying this is to point out that this was, of course, largely as a result of the inheritance of 1997, the damage of the war, and, indeed, the fact that under President Doe a lot of the state bureaucracy had, in effect, been eroded even before 1989.

  • Under President Taylor there was a central bank, a Ministry of Finance, a taxation system.

  • Under President Taylor those titles and institutions indeed existed, but I would like to suggest that some of them were hollow shells.

  • There was also, for example, a Ministry of Lands, Mines and Mineral Resources.

  • There was indeed and President Taylor introduced the Strategic Commodities Act, which I believe has already been accepted as an exhibit by this Court, to say that all minerals were the - under the control of the President. One of the UN panels of experts, which reported in 2003 I think, reported that the Maritime Bureau was, in fact, taking monies which should have gone to the Treasury and using them for other purposes, and that is what I mean by saying that institutions were being hollowed out.

  • You are aware that the Maritime Agency was run by a company situated in Virginia in the United States?

  • Yes, but there was a Maritime Bureau also in Monrovia run by Banone Yuray [phon].

  • Yes, the agency that ran the maritime corporation effectively took the vast majority of the profits of the flags of convenience and other aspects of commercial trade that were managed by that organisation.

  • It is a rather complicated set up, but if you would like me to go into it, I could do so.

  • Again, I am trying -

  • Okay, but just please allow me to make the point.

  • Dr Ellis, the record is having a little trouble keeping up if you could just speak slightly slower. Thank you.

  • Sorry. I am just trying to make this point to support what I said about the lack of an efficient bureaucracy in some respects. There was one of the United Nations panel of experts which investigated - in fact more than one, but there was particularly one that reported, I think in 2003, which dealt in some detail with the manner in which Mr Taylor, after coming to power, had reorganised the system under which revenues were collected from so called flags of convenience, that is to say ships of other countries which become registered as Liberian vessels and which is an old established system, and that it was, indeed, reorganised. In fact, a key person in that reorganisation was Lester Hyman, the man whose book both you and I have quoted, and that is one of the reasons why I regard him as such an important source, for the reasons that I stated at an earlier stage of my testimony. The United Nations panel of experts also goes to show how monies were being diverted to go into arms purchases without going to the Nigerian - I am sorry, the Liberian Treasury. This was referred to, I think, as non-cash receipts in official financial bookkeeping.

  • Can I move you on to the final paragraph on page 6. It is really a repeat, or development of that bullet point that appears at the top of the page. You say that:

    "The maintenance of highly personal relations with key security officials heading rival units was a distinctive feature of his administration before and after his election."

    We dealt with the Anti-Terrorist Unit to take that example.

    When he was elected in 1997 he set up a government, effectively a government of national unity, didn't he?

  • His government was not called the government of national unity.

  • That is why I said effectively a government of national unity. Can I put it this way: His party, the National Patriotic party, had 40 per cent of government posts and the other 60 per cent were given to people who had previously been his adversaries.

  • Some of whom had been a his adversaries. I would accept that. However, I would like to make the point, and it comes back to what I was saying about administration, is that we also saw there a system where you nominated cabinet ministers but maintained parallel systems of control of the functions that they officially were there to administer.

  • We know, for example, that he brought former ULIMO members into government.

  • That is correct and there was also something like an inner circle of advisers, who in fact had substantial control irrespective of who the minister was, so I am thinking, for example, of somebody like Emmanuel Shaw who had actually been a finance minister under President Doe and who became a financial advisor to Mr Taylor. People in that sort of inner circle, or Talal El-Ndine for example, and many of these people are referred to in the UN reports and these - many of these people were in fact, when sanctions were applied, put on the UN travel ban and there you see their names, and these were many of the key officials who were never appointed government ministers.

  • But, nevertheless, he did appoint as government ministers more from outside his own party than inside his own party.

  • I have never been through the lists to check the exact percentages, but I accept your point that he did appoint to government offices people who historically had been members of other parties.

  • To take just one example: Al Hadji Koroma?

  • We have heard from another witness, in fact, who was a former commander with ULIMO who became deputy head of one of the security organisations that you referred to in your report.

  • Yes and there were other examples. Roosevelt Johnson springs to mind who was Minister of Agriculture and who was former head of a rival militia.

  • Yes, that was ULIMO-J?

  • Is that the same as Samuel Johnson who you referred to earlier?

  • I don't know of a Samuel Johnson. I only know Roosevelt Johnson. I know several Johnsons. I have spoken already about Elma Johnson, who was killed in the war, Prince Johnson and now Roosevelt Johnson.

  • All right. Last sentence in the body of your report on page 5, page 6, please, "Charles Taylor's association with the RUF may also be situated in this context of a multiplicity of armed forces." The situation you are describing in that paragraph, and, indeed, the paragraph at the top of the page, is describing how you say Mr Taylor maintained control and power within his movement and then within his government. You are describing, in effect, a divide and rule approach to government, aren't you?

  • How does that have any bearing on any association he may have had with the RUF?

  • Because he had a number of forces. If we are talking strictly about security forces, or military forces, he had a number of such forces which, as I have indicated, to some extent were used in competition with each other, but he also had, as we have just discussed, an unofficial network of control which paralleled the official networks, which are the sort of things that would figure in diplomatic correspondence and so on.

  • With respect, Dr Ellis, it doesn't make any sense at all. Ruling by means of divide and rule doesn't have any bearing on his association with the RUF in Sierra Leone, does it?

  • I was merely making the point that he had a multiplicity of armed and security forces and that the RUF can be understood within that context. I think, if I may say so, that a very good description is that that I have quoted at the bottom of page 5 where Professor Amos Sawyer, who after all is himself a former Head of State of Liberia, said Mr Taylor was able, and I quote, "To establish his autonomy from all sources of authority while pitting such sources against each other."

  • Yes, divide and rule?

  • He is saying the same thing, but he is not relating that to the RUF and Mr Taylor's association, if any, with the RUF.

  • I think in the passage I just quoted from Professor Sawyer, Amos Sawyer, as I recall, he is not specifically talking about the RUF, but I am making the point in my report that the relationship with the RUF can be understood within that context of a multiplicity of armed forces.

  • Can we move, please, to page 7 where you have a section dealing with Charles Taylor and the RUF. I think, in fact, we have dealt with a considerable amount of the first two paragraphs of page 7 in your earlier testimony: The setting up of that organisation, people who went to Libya and so on. I want to move, please, to the final paragraph on page 7 where you set out the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission's view and in the second half of paragraph you say:

    "The Commission's report attributes the main responsibility for the outbreak of war in Sierra Leone to the NPFL as primary perpetrators in the first phase of the Sierra Leonean civil war from 1991 to 1994."

    That doesn't take account, does it, of the breach between the NPFL and the RUF at the end of 1992?

  • Well, my recollection is that the TRC's account makes clear that there is, indeed, an evolution in the relations between the organisations and in the internal affairs of the RUF, but that the NPFL remained a dominant force in the war in Sierra Leone throughout this period, according to the TRC as I cited.

  • Can I suggest if you look at the last sentence on that page, going over to page 8, the TRC identifies three key phases of the war, the first phase being 1991 to 1994. What you have done is you have conflated what they say about the NPFL's involvement with the RUF in 1991 and 1992, you have conflated that with their categorisation of the three phases of the war.

  • No, I am sorry, that is not what I am doing. I am suggesting, and it is my understanding that it is the TRC's argument - I am trying to report what the TRC has said. My understanding of their argument is that they say the war can be understood as falling roughly into three phases, which is the ones we seem to agree on, and that that first phase - in that first phase the NPFL were primary perpetrators, which is one of the terms that the TRC uses in its extremely voluminous report which runs to over three volumes.

  • I am simply suggesting you are failing to distinguish the TRC's conclusions about the role of the NPFL in the first phase and that it did not conclude that the NPFL was dominant throughout the whole of the first phase of the war. Do you follow?

  • I follow what you are saying, sir, and I think my reading of it is slightly different, but what we seem to agree on is that there is a distinct change of phase after 1994.

  • Between, I would suggest, the end of 1992 and the beginning - and the presidency of Mr Taylor in 1997, there is virtually no contact at any formal level between the NPFL and the RUF.

  • Between 1994 and 1997?

  • I am saying end of 1992, beginning of 1993.

  • I am trying to think. Contact at a formal level? Well, I don't believe there was ever formal contact between the RUF and the NPFL, or the Government of Liberia, because of the nature of the RUF, but - so I am not quite sure what you are alluding to.

  • I said the NPFL, not the Government of Liberia.

  • Sorry, I can't quite understand what you mean by formal contacts between an organisation like the RUF -

  • Let me put it this way: I am not ruling out, because I can't rule it out, that there might have been people who were members of the NPFL acting with RUF groups during that period, but, looked at as a whole, globally, the NPFL was not involved with the RUF in Sierra Leone from - between 1993 and 1997.

  • I am sorry, I must disagree with you on that. I am still struggling to understand what you mean by formal contacts, but even if we leave that point to one side, there were continuing relations between members of the NPFL and members of the RUF, although I accept, in conformity with the findings of the TRC, that the intensity of that relationship had changed and, of course, a factor was that the organisation we have already discussed, ULIMO, at a certain point had physically taken control of a body of Liberian territory -

  • - which runs along the border between the two countries, so physical contact between the two became more difficult.

  • We have already heard evidence to that effect: That there was actually literally a land barrier between the RUF and the NPFL for a number of those years.

  • I agree with that. It doesn't mean that the contact entirely ceased, but effectively ULIMO had created a military wedge in between these two organisations.

  • You talk, in the second paragraph on page 8, about the diamond issue. You make the point that the illicit mining of diamonds in Sierra Leone and smuggling them to Liberia is not a new development. We have already heard evidence about this and I am not going to go over it in any detail at all from you, but the diamond industry in Sierra Leone had been dominated, or certainly had been seriously affected by the involvement of all sorts of dubious people from various parts of the world. Then you say, about halfway down that second paragraph:

    "It is clear that as Sierra Leone's civil war continued, control of the country's diamond fields became a steadily more important strategic objective among various participants in the war, including Charles Taylor."

    Now, control of the diamond fields is something of a illusory concept, isn't it?

  • I don't think it is an illusory concept. I visited some of these diamond fields and what you see there is a relatively small area, the places I am thinking of would be the size of maybe a football field, with dozens of people clambering over mounds of earth, digging diamonds and armed guards standing around, so physical control of a diamond working is not an illusion.

  • Control of the diamond fields though went - control to what extent it was, went from one side to another over periods of time, didn't it?

  • It did indeed and there were unofficial ceasefires between competing organisations allowing both sides to dig diamonds. But I am sorry, but I still think it is correct to talk about control of the diamond fields. Of course the control might be contested, but it is not illusory to talk about such control.

  • At times you say there were ceasefires to allow both sides to mine. That even included ECOMOG forces, didn't it?

  • It did and I remember even at a later stage a United Nations general, General Jetley, actually more or less resigning on that issue.

  • Yes, I think that was when ECOMOG was replaced by UNAMSIL.

  • He was a UNAMSIL - he was working for UNAMSIL because he was an Indian general, but I am just making the point that his letter of complaint, in effect, was an official acknowledgement of the degree to which international peacekeepers, ECOMOG and then later being replaced by international contingents in UNAMSIL, were themselves sometimes involved in diamond mining.

  • Yes and General Jetley levelled that accusation, in particular, at a Nigerian general.

  • And I think your friend, as you described him, Mr Gberie, says that even General Khobe was involved in the diamond business.

  • I don't recall that passage in his book, but it wouldn't surprise me.

  • I can certainly cite it to you if you wish me to.

  • I take your word for it.

  • ECOMOG - can we just deal with ECOMOG and the diamond trade for the moment while we are on this section. ECOMOG are in Sierra Leone at this stage.

  • What period are we talking about?

  • You are talking here about here, it would seem, 1991 onwards, in the paragraph.

  • As I mentioned, I think yesterday or the day before, there was, in fact, a small Nigerian presence in Sierra Leone as a result of a bilateral agreement, which remains somewhat obscure, from an extremely early period, but Nigerian troops were based in Sierra Leone as part of the general ECOMOG mobilisation from August 1990. Therefore, when the war in Sierra Leone reached a certain stage and particularly after the coup of 1997, ECOMOG forces, largely Nigerian, were involved, but in that sense ECOMOG was involved and it was present in Sierra Leone from 1991.

  • Right. What do you know of its role in the diamond business?

  • This is - we get into some extremely complex arrangements and extremely unclear arrangements because of the nature of the diamond business, but it is clear that over time some ECOMOG - some members of ECOMOG developed interests in the diamond business and it was complicated also because we had the arrival of an external security company -

  • Executive Outcomes.

  • - or, as you may prefer it, mercenaries, if you want to call them that, Executive Outcomes, who also were associated with companies having concessions in regard to diamonds.

  • Well, I think Executive Outcomes came in in some time around 1995.

  • I believe 1995 is correct, yes.

  • And what exactly did they do in terms of the diamond industry in Sierra Leone and any relationship they had with the ECOMOG forces?

  • Well, what exactly they did I am not sure that I could say, but strategically what they did, acting on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone, was to fight against the RUF and increasingly those military campaigns concerned areas which were also rich in diamonds, and, of course, since ECOMOG and Executive Outcomes were on the same side, as it were, then - well, they were on the same side. I don't know what specific implications that has for diamonds.

  • Well, the reality is that ECOMOG became part of the whole diamond smuggling operation themselves, didn't they? That is what the implication is, Dr Ellis.

  • There were elements within ECOMOG, and I have said that several times this morning, who developed interests in the diamond business.

  • But when you say developed interests, you are putting it rather delicately, if I may say so. You mean were involved in diamond smuggling?

  • And lining their own pockets?

  • Yes, but I am making it clear - the reason I am putting it that way is because these would be individuals who are not doing it as a result of any formal agreement.

  • As opposed to companies signing deals which have some sort of legal status.

  • By companies you are talking about the mercenary group Executive Outcomes?

  • For example, and the companies associated with it.

  • And there was even a report by the Economist, the British economic weekly journal, indicating that frontline officers and soldiers of ECOMOG were engaged in diamond minings on the opposite sides of the river bank from the RUF, with whom they had made local deals. You have no doubt seen that in Mr Gberie's book.

  • Yes and I don't know specifically which Economist report you are referring to, but I received many similar reports, just as during the Liberian war, which we were discussing before the break, ECOMOG on occasions was doing business with the NPFL, which was its enemy.

  • The report I am referring to cited in Mr Gberie's book is the Economist, an article called "Sierra Leone Diamond King" on 29 January 2000.

  • Okay, well, I accept that.

  • It may well be that by that time we are talking about UNAMSIL, but we are still essentially talking about Nigerian officers, aren't we?

  • Yes, of course, when UNAMSIL came in this was the process sometimes known as "blue hatting", whereby existing international intervention forces are recognised as UN forces, which has, of course, financial implications and legal implications, but they remain the same forces, but increasingly UNAMSIL was non-Nigerian troops. Would you excuse me for one moment?

  • Do you mean to leave the Court, Dr Ellis?

  • Yes, I am afraid so.

  • Please do so. The witness should be escorted out, please.

    Mr Munyard, when you are ready to proceed.

  • Thank you, Madam President.

    Dr Ellis, I am trying to be as chronological as possible and I think you will accept that your report, as we read it page followed by page, does jump about somewhat, chronologically speaking, and I want to see if I can stay with certain issues as well as keeping to a broadly chronological flow.

    We were just dealing with the diamond industry and, in particular, the role of various parties in that industry and you have touched upon the use of mercenaries by the Sierra Leone Government in the form of the company called Executive Outcomes. Now, they were involved in Sierra Leone. Over the page, on page 9, you make reference to somebody else and it is the second paragraph on page 9. We are talking about someone called Fred Rindel, formally a colonel in the South African Defence Force, who had, at one stage in his career, acted as a liaison between the then South African Defence Force and UNITA who were the opponents of the Angolan Government that came into power when it gained its independence from Portugal.

  • That is right.

  • I think, just as an aside and I don't want to go into this in any detail, to give us some flavour of Executive Outcomes, did they not also work for UNITA for a period of time before switching sides and going into the employment of the Angolan Government?

  • That is not quite correct.

  • Broadly correct, I think.

  • Well, no, for the following reason: Executive Outcomes was formed largely from specialised units, soldiers who had been employed in specialised units of the South African Defence Force. Many of those soldiers, like Colonel Rindel, or Rindel as I have normally heard it, had worked with UNITA before Executive Outcomes was in existence, in effective existence. After Executive Outcomes became an active company in the security field, it worked - well, its first big contract was with the Government of Angola so many of the individuals concerned would have previously worked for UNITA before working for the Angolan Government, but the company had not.

  • The company consists of individuals who in their previous employ had worked for UNITA and, when they were then employed by Executive Outcomes, worked for the other side. That is the simple point I am trying to make.

  • Yes, I agree with that.

  • Mr Rindel, or Rindel - I am quite happy to pronounce it as you do.

  • I am not sure what is correct, but I have always heard Rindel.

  • Mr Rindel had worked for the South African army during the apartheid regime. He had also, from what you say, worked with UNITA and by the late 1990s he had a contract working for the Liberian Government of President Taylor.

  • That is correct and I think that is detailed - I recall that that is detailed in one of the UN panel reports where they have interviewed Colonel Rindel, among others, and I think they specify the date of that contract, which is around - I think it is July or August 1998.

  • 1998. His contract was to train Liberian Government forces, in particular the Anti-Terrorist Unit, wasn't it?

  • I am not sure what the content of the contract was. I see here it was September 1998, but it certainly included working with the Anti-Terrorist Unit which had been established by President Taylor when he came into office.

  • Yes. It is not unusual, is it, to find people who had previously worked for organisations, or regimes that were opposed to black majority governments then working for black majority governments when the political situation changed?

  • That is a very common feature?

  • So the fact that he has been a mercenary, and may well be still categorised as a mercenary, doesn't cast any particular light on the nature of the contract that he had with the Liberian Government, does it?

  • Not on the nature of the contract, but I mean you describe him as a mercenary. These days people in that field tend to call themselves security consultants, or something like that.

  • I think on page 11 of your report, in the main paragraph -

  • 12 lines down. Sorry, 10 or 11 lines down you say - there is a sentence as follows, "Some sources have suggested that Liberian based mercenaries, or security operatives, in fact planned the January 1999 attack." That is the attack on Freetown. By "or security operatives" you are giving them their preferred title there.

  • I am deliberately in that place using both modes of address because it is a sensitive field and I don't want to be thought of trying to use a pejorative language. That is why I am using both forms of referring to people of this nature. You said the fact he is referred to as a mercenary, you said doesn't say anything about the type of contract. I am saying it does in the sense that his specialisation is military business.

  • It doesn't say anything about the nature of the contract. The fact that he has a contract with the Liberian Government is not, in and of itself, in any way sinister, the mere fact that he previously worked for either side, opposing sides, in warring countries.

  • In my view not, but of course it all depends on the nature of the contract.

  • Yes, all right. For example, today we know that there are many security operatives employed in Iraq, in and around Baghdad, who are former soldiers, some of whom are former soldiers from companies like Executive Outcomes.

  • Going back to your report then, Colonel Rindel was working for the government in Liberia and in - by 1998 there had been set up by ECOWAS a Committee of Five, hadn't there?

  • That is correct. I am not sure exactly what date it was set up, but yes.

  • Will you just help the Court with what the Committee of Five's role was? This is a committee of five Heads of State from ECOWAS.

  • Sorry, yes, I see it now. This was the period when the elected Government of Sierra Leone had been overthrown on 25 May 1997 and, as a result of that, as a result of that coup, the ECOWAS countries set up this Committee of Five that you have referred to.

  • And who were the five presidents - or which countries - I don't want to test your knowledge of who was in power in a particular country in a particular year. Who were the five countries involved?

  • I don't know, I am afraid, straight off. Certainly Nigeria, but we had a document yesterday admitted into the Court concerning the -

  • I am going to come to that in a moment.

  • I forget exactly what five countries they were, but certainly Nigeria and Ghana.

  • And Guinea and Burkina Faso?

  • I think later Togo was added to the list of countries and it became a committee of six.

  • If we go to the document, if you bear with me for a moment. What we saw yesterday was the Conakry Accord, it is at tab 13, and there is another document I am also going to refer you to as well, which is at tab 17: The agreement on ceasefire in Sierra Leone. We will just go first of all to tab 13.

  • That was MFI-6 for the record.

  • Thank you, your Honour.

  • That is correct, your Honour.

  • Sorry, could you wait. I haven't got the document.

  • I think this was the first, I may be wrong in saying that, but this was an earlier attempt at peace in Sierra Leone prior to the Lome Accord, which we see reference to in the document at tab 17 that I will turn to in a moment, but at the time of this document, and I am mentioning it because you raised it, the Committee of Five appears to have been set up already. If you look at the third page of this document, at the foot of it it says, "Done at Conakry this 23rd day of October 1997 for the Committee of Five of ECOWAS on Sierra Leone." There are several signatures that will have followed, but it doesn't actually set out all the governing states of the Committee of Five, but I think you agree that Liberia was one of those committees - sorry, was part of that committee?

  • I don't see the name here, but I take your word for it if you - if that was the case, yes.

  • What we see there is the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Nigeria and likewise the minister for Guinea -

  • Yes.

  • - signing for the Committee of Five.

  • That is why we don't see the five.

  • President Taylor was given particular - a particular position within the Committee of Five, was he not?

  • Well, how much work have you done on the work of the Committee of Five?

  • On the Committee of Five I don't claim to be an expert because, if I may say so, it was a relatively - it was an initiative which was relatively quickly bypassed due to events on the ground in Sierra Leone.

  • But it certainly attempted to revive peace talks in 1999, didn't it, which led to the Lome agreement?

  • The context in 1999 was very different, but what was clear was that West African states were attempting to reach agreement between each other to encourage peace in various troubled member states, as indeed they had been doing since the formation of ECOMOG in 1990, in different shapes and forms.

  • But it was not until 1997, after President Taylor was elected in Liberia, that he took on a formal role within ECOWAS and within this committee.

  • Correct, because in July 1997, or more correctly in August 1997 when he was formally sworn in, Liberia was then officially and diplomatically a sovereign state once more, no longer at war, and therefore a normal functioning part of the family of West African nations, so it is entirely consequent that it should take part in diplomatic arrangements of this sort.

  • Yes and he was given a leading role to negotiate peace between the warring parties in Sierra Leone, wasn't he?

  • Are you referring to 1997?

  • No, I am moving on from that.

  • In 1999 that is correct, by which time the situation had changed rather a lot.

  • Well, between 1997 and 1999 we had had the coming and going of the AFRC/RUF government in Sierra Leone, we had had the attack on Freetown, principally by AFRC troops, and we then got the Lome peace agreement in -

  • July 1999 and we also had the appointment of Jesse Jackson, Reverend Jesse Jackson, as the special envoy for the US President for democracy in Africa and he took a very active role in these events and that was also making a difference.

  • Indeed, the Americans had come back into the picture in an effective way in the affairs of West Africa by this time.

  • Well, I don't know if it was in an effective way, but there was a higher profile in American - a higher American profile in these events.

  • We can see if we turn to tab 17 -

  • Again, for the record this is MFI-7.

  • Thank you, your Honour. Do you have that in front of you, Dr Ellis?

  • The document I have may have an error at the very top of the page. I don't know if it is correct, or not, but at the very top of the page it reads, "Agreement on Ceasefire, 17 April 1999, Special Court for Sierra Leone." I suspect that that has been put on by somebody preparing these documents for this Tribunal. This is actually a copy of the agreement on ceasefire in Sierra Leone in May 1999, is it not?

  • It says here they met on 18 May and the question of the peace process was discussed, so I take it that is the case, yes.

  • So we can ignore the first line on that document as not being part of the original document?

  • We, of course, are looking at copies of the original.

  • We see there that President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone and the Reverend Jesse Jackson met, on 18 May 1999, with Corporal Foday Sankoh, under the auspices of President Eyad√©ma of Togo. Then there was a peace agreement set out in the following page and the various signatories are appended - signatures are appended. Now, it is obvious, is it not, that present at that meeting was Foday Sankoh of the RUF?

  • There is no sign of Johnny Paul Koroma at that meeting, is there?

  • I can't see any evidence of it, no.

  • I am not suggesting he was. I am just saying the document does not suggest that he was at that meeting.

  • You would be aware, would you not, if he had been at that meeting?

  • So would anybody else who had been at that meeting, including President Taylor of Liberia?

  • I would imagine so, yes.

  • So there would be no basis for him ever suggesting - him being President Taylor - that he had got Johnny Paul Koroma to that meeting?

  • Sorry, you are asking me -

  • I am asking you about a negative in effect.

  • I am sorry, I am finding this rather difficult to follow.

  • Let me enlighten you, if I may?

  • We had evidence from a previous witness saying that he was at a meeting with President Taylor and President Taylor, according to that witness's handwritten note, and typed note, got Johnny Paul Koroma to Lome, but Johnny Paul Koroma didn't go to Lome, or take any part in the Lome Accord, did he, from what you know?

  • I was not present in Lome. I have no recollection of Johnny Paul Koroma being present based on reports by people who were there, or the press and so on. I don't know what the whereabouts was of Johnny Paul Koroma in 1999, in any event, but the piece of paper we are consulting is about May 1999 which is two months before the Lome agreement.

  • Yes, but it was what led to the Lome agreement.

  • And Mr Taylor played a significant part in that agreement, didn't he?

  • I would say that the most significant actors behind the Lome Peace Accord of July 1999 were President Taylor and the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

  • Now, following the Lome Peace Accord there was something of a division within the RUF itself, wasn't there?

  • Yes, the RUF had been in a state of some divisiveness particularly since the arrest of Foday Sankoh in 1997 and, as I think the Truth and Reconciliation Commission stated, or observed, those - even when Foday Sankoh came back to the RUF, which was in 1999, really the divisions remained.

  • Yes, and following, or as part of the arrangements for the Lome peace agreement the Government of Liberia provided a guesthouse in Monrovia for the RUF leadership and both Foday Sankoh and Sam Bockarie came to Monrovia, stayed in that guesthouse, it was all very public. There was no subterfuge involved in all of this?

  • No, this was all very official, yes.

  • There then developed a disagreement between Foday Sankoh and Sam Bockarie where Sam Bockarie wanted to delay disarmament. Now, are you aware of that?

  • And despite the best efforts of everybody involved, Sam Bockarie would not agree to the disarmament process, or wouldn't agree to the pace at which the disarmament process was supposed to proceed.

  • That is as I have heard it reported, yes.

  • When it became clear that he wouldn't agree to that, it was agreed by both the President of Sierra Leone, Tejan Kabbah, and President Taylor that Sam Bockarie would be allowed to leave Sierra Leone and go and live in Liberia.

  • I don't know about that, but if you say so.

  • Right. Indeed, President Tejan Kabbah and United Nations forces assisted in providing an open corridor from Sierra Leone into Liberia and Bockarie then moved into Liberia in December 1999 together with an entourage of a large number of people, including his family and family members of his entourage, women and children, on the basis, at that stage, that he was going to be given a scholarship by the United States to study at Fort Bennett Military College in Georgia. Were you aware of that?

  • I was not.

  • And that is how Sam Bockarie came to live - came to move into Liberia at the end of 1999. It was a means of getting him out of Sierra Leone and letting Foday Sankoh, if at all possible, continue with the disarmament process.

  • Might I make some observation on that, sir?

  • I said yesterday that the Lome Peace Accord, or the period - the ten months from the Lome Peace Accord, until May 2000, was in retrospect the high point of the strategic influence within West Africa of President Taylor and I still think that is the case. Part of the significance of the Lome Peace Accord, which I remember well, there was - internationally there was quite a lot of opposition to it really because of shock that the movement which had attacked Freetown with such brutality, in January 1999, should now be officially admitted into what amounted to a government of national unity in Sierra Leone and with amnesty provisions written into it, so there was a lot of feeling that this was maybe not a very well-founded treaty in international diplomatic circles. If we say, "How did this treaty come into being?", I said already that I think the main protagonists were really President Taylor and Reverend Jesse Jackson, and I think that there were also, as Mr Taylor's counsel has referred to and as the TRC documents, there were also factional divisions within the RUF, which of course was one of the signatories of the accord, so there was a factional politics taking place. I think by common consent the judgment of Reverend Jesse Jackson was absolutely lamentable. I think this was the occasion where he referred to Foday Sankoh as the Nelson Mandela of Sierra Leone.

  • That might have been another person getting a name wrong.

  • He may have been getting a name wrong, but I don't think so. Foday Sankoh - I recall speaking to journalists who had been present and I think an American diplomat who had been present, describing how President Tejan Kabbah was more or less manhandled into a helicopter to go to Lome to sign the agreement. In other words, there was very great pressure put on the Government of Sierra Leone to sign this peace accord, the result of which was that Foday Sankoh became President of the Commission for Minerals of Sierra Leone, in effect the top diamond official of Sierra Leone and probably the second most powerful man in the country. So what we had here was a diplomatic confirmation of the importance of the RUF within Sierra Leone and I dare say if events had continued in a slightly different manner, we may well have ended up with a duly appointed President Foday Sankoh of Sierra Leone. That was the trajectory we were seeing, but it was causing ructions within the RUF, hence an increasing split between Foday Sankoh and Sam Bockarie and I have been told by people who were closely involved in these events that there were even plans to murder Foday Sankoh. I don't know if that was entirely true and I wouldn't know who was exactly behind those plans, but clearly it was a recognition of the intensity of the factional conflicts which Reverend Jesse Jackson, with possibly not an entire control of the detail of the process, and President Taylor, with a far more acute sense of the politics of the process, were attempting to control.

  • In any event, there was, for a limited period of time, peace, wasn't there?

  • There was, yes, there was. I would not say peace. Peace is not just an absence of war, but clearly the ceasefire and the Lome Accord did indeed lead to less fighting in Sierra Leone for a period.

  • Yes, and in fact the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as you point out in your report, concluded that really from 2000 onwards the RUF was a spent force. It was in "terminal decline", to quote your report on page 8, third line.

  • That is right and that was really a result of the arrival of British troops in May 2000 and the events immediately thereafter such as the assault on the West Side Boys.

  • Yes, well, in any event the RUF goes into decline. Certainly after May 2000 it is pretty well a spent force, is it not?

  • It was clearly in decline. We had Foday Sankoh being arrested in May 2000 and the RUF becoming very demoralised, but again we are skipping a little bit of rather important history.

  • I am not intending to skip. I want to go back to 1999. There are two important things I want to ask you about in 1999: One is the emergence of the LURD.

  • I suggested that the incursions began in 1998 from Guinea. Certainly LURD was formed, in a formal sense, by April of 1999, I suggest, and they were attacking the Liberian Government by 1999. I think you would agree with that.

  • I can't agree entirely with those dates. It is not clear to me exactly when LURD was formed. I first heard of them from one of the LURD organisers in February 2000 when I was in Conakry. I have seen documents suggesting that it was formed at an earlier date in 1999 and I have seen other documents suggesting that there were precursor organisations, possibly even ones set up by the very same General Khobe that we have been referring to earlier, going back to 1998. So clearly, putting these things together, I would summarise it in the following manner: I would say there were clearly, once again, Liberian refugee networks based in neighbouring countries, becoming militarily active, forming themselves into groups which then dissolved and formed other groups, and being sponsored by neighbouring countries from, let us say, 1998 onwards.

  • And the neighbouring countries that were sponsoring them, in particular, were Guinea and where do you say?

  • Well, I would say Guinea. I am not aware of Sierra Leone. We have just been hearing how in 1998 the Sierra Leonean Government didn't really have any armed forces.

  • Well, can I direct you, please, to page 13, middle paragraph of your report: MFI-1. It starts with your comment you made this morning:

    "In many respects the high water mark of President Taylor's regional influence was the Lome Peace Accord of July 1999 and the ten months following. Thereafter the growth of armed opposition forces, such as Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, LURD, and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia, MODEL, both of which enjoyed the support of one or more governments in the region and further afield, put the Liberian Government under increased military pressure."

    What were the one or more governments in the region and further afield who were supporting the LURD and MODEL?

  • Sorry, we had a slight problem with the chronology. I have said that LURD - you have told me that you think LURD was created in 1999 and I think you are probably right. But let us say, as I summarised it before, from 1998 there were Liberians in exile forming themselves into more or less coherent groups with names, some of which disappear and get replaced by other names, and undertaking military activities, including attacks into Liberia, with support. I said in the case of LURD it had support from the Guinean Government and I am perfectly sure of my grounds in this because I have met some of the Guinean officials involved.

  • Dr Ellis, I am not challenging you at all. I am asking: Were they supported by governments in addition to the Government of Guinea?

  • Yes, MODEL was formed at a later date and supported by the Government of Cote d'Ivoire. Again, I am very certain of what I am saying because I have met some of the individuals concerned. Both organisations, but particularly LURD, also had other support and there is no doubt at all that LURD also had a degree of support particularly from the United States government.

  • Yes, again, I accept that, that the United States government - are you talking about the United States government of President Clinton who had sent Jesse Jackson as his envoy in 1999?

  • Here we - I would like to just go back to something I said earlier. You said to me something like, if I recall correctly you said - when I observed the significance of Reverend Jackson becoming involved, you said to me, "Yes, effective US involvement", and I questioned the use of the word "effective" because we had a problem. In effect, as was said yesterday, in 1990 Liberia had sunk into temporary chaos partly because its traditional mentor and protector, the United States, refused to intervene, for reasons of its own, and it took many years for Liberia to begin to come out of that chaos. Frankly, and again I have this from good accounts, including I think the written account of Hank Cohen who was a key official, the American government, throughout the early 1990s, was never involved at a high level. We didn't get secretary of state, or presidents getting involved in the Liberian questions. It was left to relatively junior officials, middle ranking officials: Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, or the ambassador, or something of that nature. We then have the appointment of -

  • Excuse me, you are being asked to slow down by the recorders.

  • I do apologise. With the appointment of Reverend Jesse Jackson, who became - I don't know whether he was - I think he was officially appointed in 1998 by President Clinton, we then had a real confusion because this title of Special Envoy for Democracy in Africa was a new invention. Nobody knew what it meant. Does a special envoy for Africa rank higher than a US ambassador? Is he more important than a national security desk officer, or a national security advisor? Nobody knew. So what it meant was that when Jesse Jackson came to the region and made pronouncements about US Government policy, it was not clear at all to what degree those pronouncements really engaged the President of the United States and the State Department and the Pentagon. Nobody knew and that was part of the confusion. That is why I questioned when you said effective American policy.

  • I think all I meant was they were actually putting their feet on the ground, as it were, once again.

  • Well, Reverend Jackson was putting his feet on the ground, but I am not sure many other Americans were.

  • I don't want to prolong this particular discussion. I want us now to go to the other extremely significant event of 1999, which was the attack on Freetown on 6 January 1999, and can I just clarify, when you said earlier we seem to be skipping over events in 1999, was the attack on Freetown the major event of 1999 that you had in mind?

  • No, I think we discussed that at some length. What I was really thinking of was the changes that were taking place between the Lome Peace Accord of July 1999 and then, let us say, a year later.

  • Right and if you can do it in one sentence, one relatively short sentence, can you tell us what you mean by the changes that were taking place?

  • I think as a result of a number of factors, the British government and the American government, but I would say principally the British government had identified President Taylor and the Government of Liberia as one of the key factors behind the RUF and since the British government had expended quite a lot of diplomatic capital to try and stabilise Sierra Leone, this meant that British officials became interested in Liberia because of what they saw, in my view correctly, as its pivotal role in supporting the RUF in that country. That led to the British intervention of May 2000 and that completely changed the strategic situation. The American government, for maybe slightly different reasons, also became more involved, and I think at a slightly later period and particularly because of the attacks on Guinea in 2000 and 2001.

  • Right. I want to stay with 1999 if I may and look at page 11 of your report, please, Dr Ellis. I want to ask you some further questions about the attack on Freetown on 6 January 1999.

  • Six lines down in the main paragraph on page 11 you say:

    "Nevertheless, there is contradictory evidence concerning the precise role of these elements in the January 1999 attack on Freetown, the bloodiest event of the entire Sierra Leonean war. Some sources have suggested that Liberian based mercenaries, or security operatives, in fact planned the January 1999 attack. The newsletter Africa Confidential, for example, asserted that Colonel Rindel and other South African advisers were instrumental in planning the RUF offensives in 1998 and 1999 and this also was implied by the UN panel. Similarly, Human Rights Watch reported that armed white men were seen fighting with the RUF in January 1999, implying that South African or European contractors were operating in support of the RUF."

    Now, pausing there, can I just clarify one point: You were no longer editing Africa Confidential at this stage?

  • No, I had no connection with it at that stage.

  • There is contradictory evidence you say?

  • The sources that suggest that Liberian based mercenaries, or security operatives, were planning the January 1999 attack are - who are those sources?

  • Well, the ones that I have quoted there is the newsletter Africa Confidential, a UN panel of experts' report and Human Rights Watch which is a non-governmental organisation.

  • None of those organisations have done anything like the indepth analysis of what happened in Freetown in January 1999 as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has done, have they?

  • I think that is correct.

  • If with we read on, further down that paragraph you say:

    "However, the Sierra Leonean Truth and Reconciliation Commission found that 'the impetus for the attack on Freetown that began on 6 January 1999 came not from the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone (RUF), but from the dissident soldiers who had formed the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and their irregular fighting colleagues', and that these, and various elements of the RUF who joined the attack 'were not in fact acting in concert at the level of their respective high commands.'"

    You quote there from the TRC report, "Witness to Truth." That is now a widely held view, is it not?

  • Sorry, what exactly is a widely held view?

  • That it was the AFRC with some elements of the RUF, but not acting at the level of their respective high commands.

  • I for one don't claim to have a satisfactory knowledge of that attack in January 1999. It is absolutely clear that the attackers involved former soldiers of the AFRC junta period from 1997 to 1998 and that they also included RUF fighters, there is absolutely no doubt about that whatsoever, and that they perpetrated terrible atrocities when they attacked Freetown. That, in my view, is not in question. The question I am raising here is to say: Yes, but how were they organised? What I am suggesting is that there is a body of opinion that this attack had been well-planned and well-organised and it seems to me, as a layman with no specialised military knowledge, that indeed it was well-planned and attacked. However, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is the most authoritative source on this, implies that if planning there was, it was not really coordinated between the AFRC and the RUF. I must say that this quotation I have here is to some extent nuanced, or even you have a slightly different point of view, at other sections of the TRC report which is a very long document. It is over three volumes plus some supplementary. So I think it is possible to find other quotations from the TRC which might give a different perspective. All I was trying to signal here was that, if I am trying to be as fair as I can, the TRC, which is authoritative, is somewhat unclear where one would expect it to be clear.

  • It may be unclear, but the broad gist of its finding is that the 1999 attack on Freetown was essentially AFRC soldiers with some RUF involvement.

  • No, I don't think - I think they suggest that it was AFRC and RUF. I think where their thrust is slightly different is on the degree of planning and organisation.

  • Well, the quote there, and I am not going to prolong this, the quote there includes the words, "AFRC" - "'dissident soldiers who had formed the AFRC and their irregular fighting colleagues'", and you have then put in, "And that these and various elements of the RUF who joined the attack 'were not in fact acting in concert at the level of their respective high commands.'"

  • That is correct, that is what I put. That is my quotation from the TRC. All I am saying is if you went diligently through, as I am sure you have done, the TRC report in all its fullness you would find other quotations which might throw a slightly different light on it. That is all I am saying.

  • It is generally accepted, is it not, that the programme of mass amputations of the civilian population, although there had been amputations before, but the programme of mass amputations started as the AFRC and, as you would have it, their RUF counterparts were retreating from their attack on Freetown in January 1999.

  • I don't believe so. We spoke yesterday, was it, or the day before, I spoke about having visited Sierra Leone in May and June 1998 and having personally interviewed people who had just recently had their hands amputated in attacks. I remember talking to doctors in the hospital in Freetown, interviewing patients and actually asking them when they had been attacked and plotting on a map where and when they had been attacked and you could see that they were the victims of a wave of attacks spreading across a certain part of Sierra Leone. We are talking about 1998, in other words it was clearly some sort of planned campaign. If we move on to - so, in other words, the point I am making there is that those fighters who were doing these things in 1998 already had a degree of coherence and organisation in the precise tactic of amputating hands.

    In 1999 I believe that when the RUF and AFRC fighters attacked Freetown, from the beginning they were amputating hands and if I recall correctly, which I think I do, some of the victims said they were attacked by units who said, "We are the cut hands unit." In other words, they had been organised for the purpose of amputating people's hands.

  • Dr Ellis, I was not suggesting that this sort of thing had not happened before. I am suggesting that it was carried out on a much wider scale by those who were in retreat after their attack on Freetown in January 1999.

  • It happened on a large scale in January 1999. I am not sure if it happened while they were retreating. You may be correct, but that is not my impression at present.

  • Mr Gberie, in his book on the Sierra Leone civil war, makes this point at pages 14 and 15 if you want to see it later:

    "What is clear is that although the RUF started the amputations at an early stage of the war, its mass amputations started only when the civil defence group, the Kamajors, started posing serious challenges to the RUF in the mid-1990s."

    He goes on to say that:

    "The tactic was adopted by renegade elements of the Sierra Leone Army who joined forces with the RUF after the 1997 coup to form the so called People's Army and who, in their anger and frenzy after their expulsion from Freetown by the Nigerian led intervention force in 1998, undoubtedly carried out most of the atrocities, including mass amputations, after 1998."

    So it is his view that it was very much the so called People's Army, People's Liberation Army, formed around the time of the AFRC junta that then started - or very much increased the use of that particular barbaric practice.

  • I think that is certainly true. The only observation - I think Lansana Gberie is an authoritative source on this because he is one of the best Sierra Leonean journalists who worked throughout this period. The only thing I would say is I don't know of enough studies of the amputations whereby we can say this group did so many per cent and that group did so many per cent, so I don't know of any such studies, so different observers might have different opinions, but clearly the AFRC were responsible for a number of these amputations and so were the RUF.

  • Just in the time that is left before we break, can I just deal with one other aspect of events in January 1999. The Nigerian forces that were employed to drive out those who perpetrated the attack of 1999, themselves were found to have carried out summary executions and completely unwarranted murder of civilians, were they not?

  • Yes and that was one of the most shocking aspects of the film Cry Freetown because it is actually shown in that film.

  • I think that film focused very much on the actions of the so called peacekeepers.

  • Including, on the part of the forces - were they ECOMOG, or were they UNAMSIL by that time?

  • I think they are still ECOMOG at this stage, yes.

  • Including going into hospitals and executing people seeking treatment in hospital.

  • I don't recall that sequence, but, yes, clearly atrocities were perpetrated by those - by the intervention force.

  • Including executing an 8 year old boy caught in possession of a pistol?

  • What are you quoting from?

  • I can certainly give you a copy of this. We have been supplied with a witness statement and various annexes to it from Mr Michael O'Flaherty. Now, do you know who Mr O'Flaherty is?

  • I know him personally, yes.

  • Just for the benefit of the public listening, who is Mr O'Flaherty?

  • He is an Irish jurist who I first met in Sierra Leone in 1998 when he had been appointed as a human rights officer for the UN mission there. I think now he is a professor, or a lecturer, at the University of Nottingham.

  • He has done a report to which he has attached various United Nations situation reports.

    Madam President, I am conscious of the time. I want to hand this out, but I suspect we will have no more time than to hand it out.

  • Mr Munyard, you have until 1.30. As you may recall, we varied the time earlier in the week.

  • It will be obvious that I had completely forgotten that. I have copies for the Court.

  • Mr Munyard, additionally we would appreciate the spelling of O'Flaherty. I know it is a perfectly common name, but ---

  • It is common in the part of the world I come from, but probably not in many of the countries listening. O'Flaherty is spelt O'-F-L-A-H-E-R-T-Y.

  • Mr Munyard, could you pause before you go any further. I wish to clarify the present status of that witness in protected measures. I do recall his number. I think he is TF1-50.

  • I hope I have not spoken out of turn, but we will find out.

  • Ms Hollis, could you advise us as to the status of the witness and protected measures, please?

  • Yes, your Honour. Your Honour, the protective measures would apply to the contents of the report and the testimony, but the name itself is not protected.

  • Thank you for that clarification.

  • I had not appreciated that and I seek the guidance of the Court as to quite how we go about that in this case.

  • To the best of my recollection the report is not being tendered. The report Mr Munyard is referring to is not being tendered.

  • Your Honour, it was filed confidentially.

  • In that case we must take great care in having it divulged in any way, including to the present witness.

  • Madam President, I think I can deal with this in another way.

  • Mr Munyard, I will ask for the record of exactly what those protected measures are and how far they go so we can assess it better. Have we got a record of the appropriate order, please?

  • We do have it in electronic form and we could have it printed, perhaps with the assistance of Court Management.

  • Thank you, Ms Hollis.

  • Your Honours, as we were not aware this report was going to be used we did not have it readily available, but we do have the oral decision on protection and we do have the copy of what we filed confidentially, but the Case Manager is now in the process of getting that printed out. I apologise for the delay.

  • Thank you, Ms Hollis. It is just to ensure what the terms are and the limits are, the implications of those terms we have to ensure. The report itself I don't think we need at this point.

  • The report, insofar as it would reflect the testimony, would be confidential and that was why it was provided confidentially and perhaps, to the extent Defence counsel will go into the contents of the report, he could certainly do that but it would need to be in closed session.

  • We are bearing those possibilities in mind.

  • That was precisely the guidance I was seeking from the Court. Madam President, it may be that I can do it in a different way that doesn't involve specifying my source. I had understood what I was quoting from to be a public document, but I don't have to go into the document at this stage. I don't have to go into where I got it from. I can just put my facts to the witness and see what his reaction is to those facts.

  • I think it is apparent where it is coming from, Mr Munyard. Just let us consult very quickly in order to avoid further delay.

  • Sorry, Mr Bangura I don't intend to - I realise this is your witness. Mr Munyard has put an alternative course of action. Has the Prosecution any views on that alternative course of action?

  • Your Honour, we need to know exactly what course of action he intends to -

  • He is going to put quotations without indicating where they come from.

  • Your Honour has already pointed out that we clearly know the source of the information he intends to put to the witness.

  • Thank you for that indication.

    The view of the Court is that in the light of this, to ensure confidentiality of the source and of the document, the questions may be put but without them being recorded, in other words in private session, so they are not recorded and they are not to be heard by the public, just within the well of the Court. If that can be implemented, Madam Court Manager, please.

  • [At this point in the proceedings, a portion of the transcript, pages 1613 to 1616, was extracted and sealed under separate cover, as the proceeding was heard in closed session.]

  • [Open session]

  • Your Honour, we are now in open session.

  • Thank you. Mr Munyard, please proceed.

  • Dr Ellis, I want to move to the general question of these sort of atrocities and you have dealt with atrocities in the section of your report which starts on page 14, section 7, "Strategic command and tactics", and I would like you, please, to turn to page 8.

  • Page 8?

  • Sorry, page 15.

  • Before we look at it can I just establish this with you: That mass amputations did have a historical precedent in Africa, particularly during the time of King Leopold of the Belgians in Belgian Congo?

  • If you are referring to amputations of hands specifically then yes, that is correct, if you are referring to amputations for which the Belgian Congo, or the Free State of Congo as it was before then, was particularly notorious. If you are referring to amputations more generally, such as cutting off of noses, ears and so on, lips, that has a much more diffuse history as a form of punishment.

  • Unfortunately, these particular barbarities do not spring from the first time from the conflicts that we are looking at in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

  • If you are saying if you take the whole of Africa, has there ever been a case where people were systematically amputating hands, then indeed the Free State of Congo, later the Belgian Congo, springs to mind.

  • And mutilations of the sort we have been discussing were also commonly perpetrated by RENAMO, the opposition force to the Mozambique government when Mozambique gained its independence, in 1975, from Portugal.

  • Well, RENAMO - yes, but RENAMO was formed slightly later. Sorry, I am getting my timing wrong there, but yes, I agree with you about RENAMO, but I would say more specifically that throughout history we find similar such things.

  • ULIMO, for example, were noted for brutalities such as executing people and decapitating them and sticking their heads on wooden posts along the roadside. Were you aware of that?

  • I was certainly aware of that, yes.

  • And I am talking as far back as 1991 in the Pujehun District, observed personally by Mr Gberie.

  • Yes and he told me about that himself and I take his word for it.

  • What you say in your report, and I am now going to the first main paragraph on page 15, you look into the question of whether or not the RUF learned these particular tactics from what you call its NPFL mentors, or whether they had even been ordered to carry them out. You say there what you have already said in evidence: That in 1994 you yourself saw photographs of people who had had hands amputated when you were in Liberia and in 1997 you personally saw a victim who had had his ears cut off. But then you go on to say this:

    "However, in regard to the RUF's signature atrocity, the amputation of hands, there is little evidence of any Liberian precedent. The amputation of hands does not appear to have taken place on a large scale, or according to a detectable pattern, at any stage of the Liberian war and the present author is not aware of any evidence that the RUF adopted this tactic in imitation of the NPFL."

    You go on to make a further comment that doesn't concern me for these purposes.

    There is no evidence at all, is there, to suggest that that particular brutality is something that the RUF learned from the NPFL?

  • I don't know of any evidence to that effect, no.

  • Thank you. In the next paragraph you deal with the use of child soldiers and forced labour. I think we have already covered forced labour in your evidence when I first started asking you questions, what seems now like quite a long time ago.

    Can I deal with child soldiers? Again, there is a history, is there not, in Africa of the use of children in conflict?

  • Not just in Africa. In fact, I believe it is the origin of the word infantry.

  • I am sure you are right. The fact that the NPFL used child soldiers and organised them, in some cases, into what were called Small Boy Units, doesn't mean that therefore that the RUF, who also had Small Boy Units, must have learned this particular practice from the NPFL?

  • No, I don't think that is a necessary deduction.

  • Indeed, the use of child soldiers is not limited to the warring factions, is it? The Government of Sierra Leone itself has used child soldiers, hasn't it?

  • After 1991, after the start of the war, there was a rapid recruitment of soldiers, almost untrained, into the Sierra Leonean army and I believe some of them were really quite young, like 13 years old, or 14 years old, so they would be technically child soldiers, yes.

  • I don't want to quote any sources at the moment, but are you aware that in the latter stages of the war in Sierra Leone the government gave an undertaking to United Nations bodies that it would try to eliminate its use of child soldiers?

  • I didn't know that, but it doesn't surprise me.

  • Turning over to page 16 of your report, the third paragraph down, "In regard to rape there is still less clarity" - I am sorry, I am starting before it is on the screen.

    "Rape appears to have been widespread throughout the wars in both Liberia and Sierra Leone. The full extent is difficult to gauge due to the lack of research on the subject and the obvious difficulties in making enquiries into the matter. The present author is not aware of any evidence that rape was deliberately encouraged either by Charles Taylor, or senior commanders of NPFL as an instrument of intimidation."

    You go on to say "although the possibility exists", but there is a possibility of anything existing, Dr Ellis. There is no evidence, however, in this case that rape was deliberately encouraged by Charles Taylor, or the high command of the NPFL.

  • There is no evidence that I am aware of.

  • Thank you. Now, dealing with hostage taking, the final paragraph on page 16 of your report, on hostage taking you say that in 1990 - you give an example of Charles Taylor taking as hostages members of the citizens of the countries who supplied the ECOMOG force and then you say that:

    "Ten years later, in 2000, the RUF took hundreds of UN peacekeepers hostage, again to try and put pressure on the organisation responsible for their deployment. It is not known whether the RUF commanders who had ordered this action had themselves received orders or suggestions from Charles Taylor or his commanders to adopt this tactic, but given the close relationship between the Liberian Government and the RUF in early 2000 and given the long history of collaboration between the NPFL and the RUF, it seems likely that the NPFL's own extensive resort to hostage taking in the 1990s served as a precedent for the RUF ten years later."

    That doesn't mean anything more than it may have been that the RUF bore in mind something that had happened ten years earlier, does it?

  • It could mean that members of the RUF bore in mind something that happened ten years earlier, or it could mean that it was suggested to them by Mr Taylor or his lieutenants that this was a tactic which had proved effective in their own struggle in the past and they may have recommended it to the RUF, but I have no evidence that they ever did that. I am speculating.

  • As Madam President indicated earlier today, we are not here to receive speculation. That is a very important point, I suggest, and I am grateful to you for clarifying what you meant in that final part of that paragraph: That it amounts to no more than speculation.

    History, including the years 1990 to 2000, is littered with examples of hostage taking all over the world in order to put pressure on governments, singular or plural, to take a particular course of action. I am sure you would agree with that.

  • I agree with you.

  • It is a trite point really.

  • Now, over the page on page 17, the first paragraph there, you say there that you note that President Taylor in an interview, this is the La Monde interview, was aware that the RUF had committed terrible atrocities, but the entire world, by the time he gave that interview, was aware of that, wasn't it?

  • Yes and this was a point that already came up in discussion with Mr Bangura.

  • Yes. Can I ask you - I am coming to the end of my cross-examination. I am not quite sure if I am going to make it before 1.30 but I won't be long - if I go beyond that, I will not be much longer.

    Can I just ask you about the paragraph under heading 8, "Economic interests and the war in Sierra Leone", on page 17. It is right, isn't it, that there is a body of thought that suggests that there was an ideological underpinning to the RUF movement and its rebellion in Sierra Leone?

  • That is right and that was not - well, it was not quite what I was trying to get at in this paragraph, but it was a point I was trying to make elsewhere in the report, I think, or in the report in general: To say that there is a very substantial - or quite a substantial literature now on the RUF and the war in Sierra Leone and, broadly speaking, there are two points of view. I am making a very general remark for the purposes of clarification.

    There are those people, overwhelmingly - well, including many Sierra Leoneans, who would say the RUF had no political content whatsoever. It was essentially a kind of huge movement of delinquents, delinquency, by often very young people, but not really old enough to have a considered view and often drugged and so on and so forth.

    There is another point of view which says at least in its origins the RUF had a political ideology and some kind of political aspirations. I was very interested to see that that point of view is very much supported by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and I find that therefore I attach high importance to that point of view. The TRC says that the obvious problem with anybody who says the RUF was basically a political movement, to say it is there to rid Sierra Leone of a corrupt government, was to say, "In that case why did they cut off the people's hands"? You don't liberate people by cutting their hands off and that is an extremely important point of view. The answer, according to the TRC, is to say: Well, when the RUF started it had some sort of political ideology, but the brutalities committed by NPFL fighters from Liberia, on Sierra Leonean territory, operating outside their own country, was a very bad example and, moreover, the most ideological leaders of the RUF, such as Rashid Mansaray, were murdered, probably by Foday Sankoh, at a relatively early stage and the RUF lost, in effect, whatever political ideology it had had. That the TRC's point of view and, as I said before, I attach a high importance to it just because of the nature of the TRC and the degree of information it had been able to elicit in the course of its work.

  • So would you characterise it as a movement that had some ideological origins, but because of the nature of the people who were recruited to it those ideological underpinnings eventually evaporated and it amounted to something considerably less?

  • I would agree except I would say it is not just the people recruited to it, it was also the means of recruitment which was increasingly abduction of very young children, so that, for example - I mean I don't offer this as a scientific cross-system. There has been systematic sociological analysis of the composition of the RUF, but just as an anecdote, if I can put it that way, or a single example, the children I interviewed in 1998 in Freetown had been abducted at a very young age, 7, 8, 9 years old, and then gone through an initiation which brutalised them and I think it is only when one realises that that it becomes possible to say what was the state of mind of somebody who is prepared to cut off the hands of people who they have never met and against whom they have apparently no personal grudge, and who aren't even necessarily government supporters.

  • It is one of the truisms of all military training that the recruits are initiated into practices and ways of thinking that are not what many of us would call normal.

  • Mr Munyard, will your next questions be very short as we have only a few minutes?

  • I would be grateful if, rather than embarking on them now, I could do that after the break when I hope to have shortened them even more.

  • In the circumstances then, since we have half a minute to go we will take the lunch time adjournment now.

  • I notice we have been sitting at least a minute and in some cases two minutes early on several occasions this week, so we are gaining the few minutes that we lost at the beginning of the week.

  • Mr Munyard, I can tell you there is going to be a concerted effort to try and get the clocks that are here and in our office synchronised.

  • At present I have been going by the computer.

  • I never thought of it.

    As you know 2.30 resumption, please.

  • [Lunch taken at 1.30 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 2.30 p.m.]

  • I note a change of appearance at the Prosecution table?

  • Yes, your Honour. Miss Leigh Lawrie, Leigh is L-e-i-g-h and Lawrie is L-a-w-r-i-e, joins the team in place of Maja Dimitrova.

  • Thank you, Mr Bangura.

  • Thank you, your Honour.

  • Now, Mr Munyard, you were still in the course of cross-examination if you wish to proceed please.

  • Dr Ellis, can I ask you about a group called the STF, the special task force. Are you aware of who the special task force are?

  • I don't think I am. Could you explain to me a bit more?

  • A group of something in the region of 3,000 Liberians - Liberian nationals - led by General Bropleh, B-r-o-p-l-e-h, who were employed by the Sierra Leonean government of Tejan Kabbah?

  • I know General Bropleh's name. I didn't know that he was formerly employed by the government of Tejan Kabbah, or that if he had a military unit - I assume you are referring to a military unit?

  • That they had such a name. That is new to me. But I know his name, yes.

  • Were you aware that he was working with the Sierra Leonean government of Tejan Kabbah?

  • I knew that he had links to the Sierra Leonean government, but I didn't know whether or not these were formal.

  • And so it must follow, therefore, that you don't know what became of the STF, the Liberian special task force soldiers, when the Tejan Kabbah government was overthrown by the AFRC?

  • And from your answers there is little point in me asking you any further questions about the STF?

  • Very well. Yes, thank you very much, Madam President. Those are my questions.

  • Thank you, Mr Munyard. Mr Bangura, have you any matters in re-examination, please?

  • Good afternoon, Dr Ellis.

  • I shall take you briefly to matters that were raised during cross-examination by Mr Munyard. Now yesterday, on the question of forced labour, I believe it came out from your testimony that there was in fact - there had been in fact legislation in Liberia which allowed the use of labour by certain groups in the community and you did indicate that the latest in a series of those legislations that you had seen was in the 1940s, am I correct?

  • There was a document - as I think Mr Munyard was explaining, in the history of Liberia there was a distinction made between the counties, which were the coastal areas of Liberia, and the hinterland territories, and the peoples of those areas had a different status which was broadly speaking the difference between a citizen and a subject. There were regulations drawn up by the government I believe in the 1920s, although there may well have been earlier versions, which I have seen in the government archives, and these were called administrative regulations for the use in the hinterland, or words to that effect. They were revised on various occasions I think most recently in 1949 and there were some provisions for forced labour, and all these things were abolished in 1963 and 1964 when the hinterland territories were absorbed into a single Liberian political or constitutional system.

  • Thank you, Dr Ellis. You more or less have answered the question I was going to go to, whether in fact those legislations were in force at the time that we are concerned with when the conflict in Liberia had started and throughout its existence?

  • No, because in law all those special regulations that applied in regard to the hinterland people were abolished in the 1960s.

  • And to your knowledge, no similar legislation was in force in Sierra Leone at the time that the conflict broke out in --

  • I thought you were referring to Liberia, Mr Bangura?

  • Yes, your Honour, I am through with Liberia.

  • Oh, this is Sierra Leone?

  • This is Sierra Leone.

  • I am sorry, the administrative regulations I have been referring to were in regard to Liberia.

  • To Liberia, yes. I was going to direct my next questions to Sierra Leone and I was also going to ask whether to your knowledge any such legislation was in existence by 1991 when war broke out in Sierra Leone?

  • No, I don't have such - in that case I don't have such detailed knowledge of the precise regulations, but I am sure that no legislation of that nature would have been in force, or was in force, by 1991.

  • Thank you. Dr Ellis, yesterday in answer to questions put to you by Mr Munyard about the economy of Liberia during the rule of President Doe, or more specifically about the state of management of the economy under his rule, you did state that - you did agree to his suggestion that there was in fact known embezzlement by members of the Doe government and perhaps including himself, is that correct?

  • Yes, and I seem to remember saying in my reply to Mr Munyard that, while that government undoubtedly was associated with embezzlement on an absolutely enormous scale, that there was a perception by a number of people, including myself, that President Doe being a man without a high standard of education that it wasn't just him personally who ran that system, but some of his associates who probably were more familiar with accounting systems and so on also would have - also embezzled sums, as it were, on their own initiative.

  • And you did in fact agree further to Mr Munyard's suggestion that the extent of the mismanagement of the economy was such that ordinary people did not benefit from the large amount of aid that was being given to President Doe's government at the time?

  • Now, from your studies, was there any change in the situation of the people of Liberia under the rule of Mr Taylor when he was President? Would you say in effect that the people in any way benefited from the resources of the country while he was President or were in a better situation than those in the case under President Doe?

  • I find that very difficult to answer, because - partly because of course the whole country had suffered greatly from the war and everything associated with it between the period of President Doe up to 1990 and the period after 1997 when Mr Taylor became President of Liberia. I mean, a lot of things had happened in-between. Even the population patterns had changed, because during those war years from December 1989 until July 1997, if we take that as the period of war, there had been huge movements - in particular large numbers of people from rural areas had come into Monrovia, whose population had increased very greatly, and large numbers of people had fled abroad as refugees and then were coming back in 1997. I myself spent quite a lot of time in Liberia in some rural areas in 1997 and at that point people were coming back on a large scale, in this case from Guinea. I was in Lofa County.

    So - and I also haven't gone into the question of statistical measures of family income, or things like that, and so I really find it impossible to answer precisely whether - if that is the sense of the question, is whether the mass of the population was better off under President Taylor than under President Doe, I really couldn't say.

  • But you did in fact make the point that there was - President Taylor, as he then was, did operate a power led system whereby he had a clique of people around him who basically ran the business of running the country in an unofficial way and that would include running the finances of the country as well. Is that correct?

  • That is correct, yes.

  • Now, you mentioned the expression or the term "hollow shell" to describe those Liberian functionaries who had been appointed to positions - official positions - but who were not able to perform the duties of those functions. Could you further explain what you mean?

  • Yes, what I meant was that you had a situation where a number official organs of government and administration in effect had little power and sometimes very few funds and the formal responsibilities or duties of those administrations were often in fact implemented by unofficial networks of people who nevertheless owed their loyalty to President Taylor. So, it was a bit like I believe what is known as Potemkin villages; that is to say structures which from a distance look like proper buildings but in fact they are only two-dimensional.

  • Excuse me, what was the spelling of the word. Something villages?

  • Potemkin. P-o-t-e-m-k-i-n.

  • Thank you, Dr Ellis. Now in answer to questions earlier today regarding Africans who in 1989 had found themselves or who had gone to Libya, you did mention or you did agree to the fact that some of those Africans had gone there to seek refuge?

  • Are you saying after 1989?

  • And you did agree that some of them had gone there to seek refuge. Was it the case for most of the Africans who had been there at that time that they were basically going - they were basically there to seek refuge for maybe economic or fleeing political turmoil in their countries? Was that the case for all the Africans that were there at the time that they were seeking refuge?

  • You are referring to Africans in general?

  • Yes, in general, because there was a wide range of - there were examples of nationals from various countries.

  • Well, there has been in recent years a large number of people from sub-Saharan Africa going to work as migrants quite often illegally to seek work. I don't know exactly when that dates from, but there has been a considerable population of people from sub-Saharan Africa in Libya as essentially economic migrants certainly for the last 15 or 20 years and maybe a bit before that. But what I was referring to with the Liberians and Sierra Leoneans and some others was something rather different, which is relatively small numbers of people going to Libya perhaps with some financial sponsorship from the Libyan authorities for ideological, political or military training and that is not the same thing.

  • Thank you.

  • Those are relatively small numbers of people.

  • All right. And those who found themselves in that group that benefited from some kind of ideological training, as you have said, was probably the group from which we had persons that formed themselves into fighting groups that started a war in Liberia, is that correct?

  • That is correct. And in the document which I was commissioned to write for the report, which is now MF1 - I am sorry, MFI-1 - I refer to that very specifically on page 4.

  • Do you want to identify that?

  • I am just waiting for the Court Manager to project that. You will see on page 4 on line 2 there is a note referring to footnote 9 at the bottom of the page. This was a document given to me by - or two documents given to me by a person who was a very senior official of the NPFL, whom I met in Conakry, and he gave me two documents which were lists of names of Liberians who had been trained in Libya before 1989 and they were very much the heart of the NPFL apparatus. In fact by the year 2000 many of those people were dead, but the ones who were surviving were many of them key members of Mr Taylor's entourage, such as for example Benjamin Yeaten, the head of the special security service.

  • Thank you. Now, you mentioned quite a few names in answers to the questions put to you by Mr Munyard and those names were not actually spelt and I believe for the record we might need to have them correctly spelt. I will just go through a number of them. I believe President Babangida's name came up as President of Nigeria?

  • Would you like me to spell that?

  • B-a-b-a - sorry, B-a-b-a-n-g-i-d-a. Babangida.

  • You also mentioned Benoni Urey?

  • B-e-n-o-n-i, second name U-r-e-y.

  • Thank you. Now, in further answers to questions put to you by Mr Munyard regarding events in Liberia, on 6 April in Monrovia to be precise, you mentioned that there was an attack or other fighting in Liberia which took place or started on 6 April 1996 and had been started by the NPFL. According to you, that severe fighting took place and a large - the accused, Charles Taylor, at the time and El Hadji Koroma tried to take control militarily in Monrovia, is that correct?

  • Who was El Hadji Koroma, as far as you know?

  • El Hadji Koroma was the leader of a military force that we have referred to today as ULIMO-K, so he was one of the founders of ULIMO and at a certain point ULIMO split into two and his section because of his name Koroma, spelt K-r-o-m-a-h [sic], it became known as ULIMO-K. And I said that there was a Liberian national transitional government, which was in effect a collective presidency including several of the most influential what I would call military political entrepreneurs, but which Liberians often call war Lords, and El Hadji Koroma was one of those.

  • Now, just a few minutes ago you mentioned the name Benjamin Yeaten in answer to a previous question.

  • Do you have anything to say about who this person was?

  • He is - he was one of those Liberians who received training in Libya before 1989 and who was a core member of the NPFL and clearly a confidante of Mr Taylor, who later became President Taylor. Under President Taylor's administration he became director of the state of the special security service, the SSS, and, yes, was one of his senior security officials. I mentioned in my testimony, or in my responses to Mr Munyard in cross-examination, I mentioned the disappearance - well, the murder - in December 1997 of one Sam Dokie. I believe he was last seen alive in the custody of Benjamin Yeaten and, although there was some sort of court case taken, it went - it finished inconclusively and I think the assumption has to be that the murder of Sam Dokie that the person who appears to be primarily responsible was this same Benjamin Yeaten.

  • Thank you very much, Dr Ellis. Your Honours, I have no further questions for the witness.

  • Thank you, Mr Bangura. Just pause, Dr Ellis, please. Mr Bangura, there are no questions from the Bench. Please proceed.

  • Thank you, your Honour. Your Honour, may I at this stage move to have the documents which were earlier introduced in the course of Dr Ellis's testimony be tendered in evidence?

  • We will go through them one by one please, Mr Bangura, and I will hear Mr Munyard on each one.

  • I will proceed more or less in the order in which they were marked for identification. Your Honours, I move that the document marked MFI-1 be admitted in evidence. That is the report.

  • Thank you. Madam Court Manager, what number are we now up to on the Prosecution exhibits please?

  • That would be P-31, your Honour.

  • Thank you. MFI-1 becomes P-31.

    Mr Bangura, please proceed to your next one.

  • Your Honour, I move that document marked MFI-2, which is the panel of experts report concerning Liberia pursuant to resolution 1343, 2001 I believe, be tendered in evidence.

  • No objection to that, Madam President. I would invite the Court to note, however, that the composition of that panel is with one exception identical to the panel on Sierra Leone. I am simply stating that as a matter of record. I didn't raise it at the time and I should have done.

  • That is now on record, thank you, for submissions at some later date. That then I think will become exhibit number P-32?

  • That is correct, your Honour.

  • Your Honour, I move that the document marked for identification as MFI-3A be admitted in evidence. That is an interview with Taylor in French.