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

  • [On former affirmation]

  • Mr Taylor, yesterday when we adjourned we were looking at a white paper you had prepared on the topic of peace in the Mano River Union, do you recall that?

  • Can we go back and conclude that, please. We are looking at binder 2 behind divider 67. Do you have the document, Mr Taylor?

  • Can we go to page 11, please.

    It's binder number 2, your Honours, week 33.

  • Yes, go ahead, please, Mr Griffiths.

  • We now come to the issue of diamonds, Mr Taylor, and you say this:

    "In spite of the gallant efforts of the Liberian government to remain consistently engaged for peace in Sierra Leone, the international community remains unappreciative and incorrigibly accusative of Liberian in complicity, diamond dealing and gunrunning to the RUF.

    The government categorically denies all of these allegations and challenges anyone to produce one shred of evidence.

    In the fist place, it is wrong to assume that the war in Sierra Leone is only about diamonds, since diamond dealing in that country has thrived for decades under British rule and since independence of the Sierra Leonean state.

    The war in Sierra Leone cannot, and must not, be trivialised by assertions of diamond dealing as its primary cause, when other issues, such as ethnicity, tribalism, mistrust, the use of mercenaries, and the struggle for state power have not yet been addressed.

    Nonetheless, it is the moral obligation of the Liberian government to set forth the following principles to first exonerate itself of the false charges as a first step in contributing to the resolution of the crisis.

    The Government of Liberia fully supports UN resolution 1306, which calls for the certification of all diamonds exported out of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, and will not hesitate to apprehend and prosecute anyone found to be illegally dealing in, or smuggling diamonds across, the borders of Liberia.

    The Liberian government has invited the United Nations, the Mano River Union governments, the United States and Great Britain to monitor the Liberian-Sierra Leonean border.

    The Liberian government takes note of the report from De Beers company in South Africa, which states that allegations of illicit diamonds coming from Liberia are false and that most of the diamonds are coming from out of Eastern European countries, but are marked 'Liberia' to avoid paying taxes to their governments."

    Was that true, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, that was true.

  • And can you help us, Mr Taylor, when that report by De Beers was published?

  • Oh, boy. I don't have a copy here; I don't quite remember, but it had to be probably sometime before this. That report came out - I don't have a copy. I do not know how it's not in my papers, but this is factual. We may just have to search, I guess.

  • "The Liberian government is instituting means to empower the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy to monitor, scrutinize, and control all diamond transactions in the Republic of Liberia.

    The Liberian government invites Mano River Union members states to collaborate in the exchange of information and coordinate the implementation of UN resolution 1306.

    The Liberian government calls on the international community to provide logistical support to the formation of a joint Mano River Union diamond monitoring unit that will report directly to the United Nations any violations of UN resolution 1306. Such assistance should include training, uniforms, vehicles, housing and salaries."

    And then when we go over the page, Mr Taylor, we have the concluding topic, which is:

    "Liberia's position for a final resolution.

    More than any other country in the Mano River Union, and even within ECOWAS, Liberia is in an enviably unique position to foster peace and stability in the region, having been a direct beneficiary of a peace plan crafted and successfully implemented by ECOWAS to end the seven-year civil conflict.

    The ECOWAS formula used then is still the most reasonable and relevant of the many prescriptions that are now being proposed to end the hostilities in Sierra Leone. The Liberian peace formula, basically embodied in the Lome Agreement, remains the best hope for a final resolution in Sierra Leone as follows: Participation of all parties in the peace-building process; complete cessation of hostilities and disarmament and demobilisation.

    More than any other country, Liberia recognises the pitfalls that can delay indefinitely any peace proposal, given the diverse nature of the participants and interests attendant to the war in Sierra Leone.

    The Liberian government has been forthright in condemning the actions of the RUF, particularly in the taking of UN hostages, but it must be recognised and accepted that all parties to the Sierra Leonean conflict should bear responsibility for the collapse of the peace process and the commission of varying degrees of misdeeds.

    Aside from the efforts of the international community, the President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, has to maintain a practical leadership role as a 'Big Brother' and call all parties to the table like good, patriotic Sierra Leoneans. He must create the atmosphere for trust, confidence and integrity among all parties without fault or favour. His leadership at this time is critical for peace among his people.

    Unless there is a resolution to what is basically a Sierra Leonean problem within the ECOWAS-backed Lome Accord, any injection of a new prescription to suit outside interests can only delay peace indefinitely. At the end of the day, only Sierra Leoneans are suffering and dying. Sierra Leoneans must hold together with one accord and determine what is best for the future of their country.

    To this end, Liberia is opposed to any escalation of the war in Sierra Leone along the lines of massive arms build-up in the West African theatre. Just as British arms have found their way into the hands of dissidents that have attacked Liberia from Guinea, they could also find their way into the hands of dissidents all across the sub-region, thereby posing imminent danger to stability.

    On the issue of bringing to trial culprits who are suspected of derailing the peace process in Sierra Leone, Liberia believes that this move is premature. The question of trials for one party to the conflict while the country is infested with arms could be a misjudgment of the solution. If trials have to occur, then a full investigation of all parties to the conflict must be carried out in a free, fair and transparent manner following the disarmament and demobilisation process."

    Mr Taylor, that sentence "the question of trials for one party", what do you mean by that?

  • Well, there are other parties to the problem in Sierra Leone. It was not just the RUF involved in the war. You had the SLA, you had the Sierra Leonean government, you had Kabbah as defence minister, you had the Kamajors with my late good friend Hinga Norman that was deputy defence minister. So when we look at responsibility, we were saying that you had to look at all of the parties, because there were many parties to the conflict. And the only person that was being talked about at the time was: We're going to put Foday Sankoh on trial. I'm saying, well, look, it's premature. Let's get the guns, let's get everything and look at everybody including the defence minister, who was also President.

  • Because you go on:

    "Carrying out trials of leaders of any of the warring parties while their supporters remain fully armed is not only a disincentive for ceasefire, disarmament and demobilise, but could lead to tribal, social and political backlash long after the war has ended.

    Additionally, no member country of ECOWAS is prepared to sacrifice its young men in a war of attrition in Sierra Leone, when peace can be achieved through a thorough understanding of the problem, with patience and fair play.

    Consequently, the Government of Liberia fully adheres to the ECOWAS plan of action, a speedy return to the implementation of the Lome Accord.

    The Liberian government fully supports an immediate ceasefire in Sierra Leone, a return to the original line as of the signing of Lome agreement on July 7, 1999, demobilisation and disarmament of all factions in the Sierra Leonean conflict.

    The Liberian government invites statesmen of international stature such as former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, to investigate all allegations against Liberia and help to mediate the dispute in the Sierra Leone crisis and the Liberian-Guinea border issue.

    The Government of Liberia is prepared to host a round of talks in Monrovia through the auspices of the United Nations, Mano River Union and ECOWAS, that would bring together all parties to the conflict in Sierra Leone, in order to find a way forward and put the peace process back on course?

    The Government of Liberia offers to host a round of talks in Monrovia, bringing together Kabbah, RUF, AFRC, Mano River Union and ECOWAS.

    Finally, the Liberian government does admit to a relationship with the RUF, which is no secret. However, the government rejects any notion that that relationship is based on pecuniary gain from diamond dealing and gun-running. Liberia has never, nor does it intend to represent the RUF at any forum.

    Pause there. "The Liberian government admits to a relationship with the RUF", Mr Taylor, what were you speaking of there?

  • '91, '92 when we did have a relationship with them, yes.

  • "What the Liberian government expects is that the international community" --

  • Sorry, Mr Griffiths, I haven't understood that answer. What is the answer?

  • Well, I said there is evidence led here, your Honour, about our brief relationship with the RUF in the years beginning 1991 and ending in May of 1992.

  • And the relationship exactly is what? Or was what?

  • Okay. Well, if I can explain here. We do recall that on the issue of the border with Liberia, at the time the NPFL, at the time, had a security arrangement with the RUF for the protection of our borders at the entry of ULIMO from Sierra Leone. That evidence is before the Court.

  • "What the Liberian government expects is that the international community will use its relationship with the RUF, as with other parties to the conflict, in a constructive manner to bring peace to Sierra Leone and keep the Mano River Union stable and prosperous."

    Now, Mr Taylor, what did you do with this document after it was produced?

  • It was widely circulated, as most white papers are, throughout the Mano River Union countries and most ECOWAS countries. We unsuccessfully did not get it done in French but the Anglophone countries, Nigeria, Ghana, it was distributed through our embassies in those countries.

  • So did it go, for example, to President Kabbah?

  • And did you get any response from President Kabbah about it?

  • No, I did not get any response. This was not a letter addressed to him so probably he didn't see a need to respond directly to it. But it was published, as it was intended to be, but we didn't get any direct comments from him.

  • Okay. Now, Mr Taylor, apart from the situation in Sierra Leone, were there any other difficulties in West Africa at that time?

  • Yes. We had difficulties in la Cote d'Ivoire. There was a conflict that had developed following the elections of Laurent Gbagbo.

  • Could you spell that for us?

  • I think it's G-B-A-R-G-B-O. Maybe we can check that. Laurent Gbagbo was elected as President in a disputed election with the general that had overthrown former President Bedie in person of Robert Guei and there was a major war raging in la Cote d'Ivoire. I was a part of the discussions trying to bring peace there. We met in Togo. I was also invited to Paris and President Wade of Senegal was chairing that mediation group. He wrote me to inform me of the progress on the Ivorian situation.

  • Now, did you go to Paris?

  • That was in 2000. We had a meeting on the Ivorian rebel problem in Paris.

  • Can I deal with a spelling before we move on. Laurent Gbagbo, L-A-U-R-E-N-T G-B-A-G-B-O. Lest I forget, can I ask, please, that that document, "President Taylor's formula for peace in the Mano River Union" dated 22 July 2000 be marked for identification MFI-157, please.

  • That document is marked MFI-157.

  • Now, you said that President Wade of Senegal wrote to you, Mr Taylor, yes?

  • Have a look behind divider 70, please. And just to explain what is behind this divider, we first see a letter from the minister of foreign affairs, don't we, Mr Taylor?

  • That is correct.

  • "I present my compliments and have the honour to enclose the original and an unofficial translation of a letter of 20 July 2000 addressed to you from His Excellency Mr Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal."

    Wade is spelt W-A-D-E. And then we see the French version over the page, don't we, Mr Taylor?

  • And then the unofficial translation is behind that, yes?

  • "Mr President and dear brother, following the OAU summit resolution in Lome as regards dispatching a delegation to Abidjan and in consultation with President Eyadema, current chairman of the OAU and General Robert Guei, President of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, I would like to submit herewith the following plan of action:

    1. Schedule of the OAU, presidential delegation to Cote d'Ivoire, 11, 12, and 13 August 2000."

    Did you attend that meeting, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I did.

  • "This delegation would consist of the Heads of State of ECOWAS member countries as well as the President of Gabon.

    3. This delegation headed by the current chairman of the OAU will be structured as follows: Co-chair, Alpha Konare, the current chairman of ECOWAS; Rapporteur, President Wade of Senegal.

    The delegation will arrive in Abidjan on the morning of 11 August 2000 to meet with the authorised concern as well as other parties in order to find a durable political solution guaranteed by the OAU.

    All observations should be directly addressed to President Eyadema."

    Now, Mr Taylor, didn't you have enough on your plate with what you were doing in relation to Sierra Leone?

  • I didn't ask for this, counsel. The outside was looking at me differently, but my colleagues in ECOWAS and on the continent was looking at my differently and I didn't ask for this. They asked me to be involved. In fact, there were some adjustments to this meeting, we will only tell by the pictures. We go first to President Eyadema's farm at Kara and all of us we take pictures and hold a preliminary meeting before coming down to Abidjan. Those pictures are available.

    But I guess there used to be the joke that they used to joke me in meeting that, "You are a former rebel leader so you know how to deal with rebels." So they got me involved in all of these discussions and I would want to believe that they felt that my contribution was significant.

  • So there was now, at this stage, just to sum up the situation, conflict in Cote d'Ivoire?

  • Conflict in Sierra Leone?

  • And then we've got the incursion from Guinea in Lofa?

  • So on three sides you are having to deal with conflict?

  • Now, whilst you are engaged in that, Mr Taylor, how was the situation in Sierra Leone developing at this time?

  • Things were not moving. We had successfully put together the new leadership of the RUF and may I just correct something. In reviewing the transcript, I did not - in fact, I failed to express that the meeting that I mentioned on yesterday with the Heads of State to bring together, to find a leadership for the RUF, there were two parts to that meeting. The first part did include more than two persons. There were about at least four. The last part of that meeting included Sesay and Gibril Massaquoi. It had slipped me and I thought to correct the records.

  • When say the first part of that meeting there were --

  • There were at least three or four delegates from the RUF. I forgot that part, because they left the room after some time. When it got down to the major decision, Issa kept Gibril Massaquoi with him. But the first part of that meeting, there were others that came into that room, spent some time. I just did not mention it yesterday. It slipped me. And going through the transcript, I recall that there were more than two in the room. I wanted to correct the records.

  • Okay. But you were going on to say what?

  • That we had put the new leadership into place. Issa Sesay appeared to be very understanding and wanting to move forward. The RUF immediately - Issa Sesay announced that they were prepared to return the equipment that had been seized from the UN forces and that we've talked about here before. He also agreed to start immediately the disarmament and demobilisation process. And he had also asked that the - if you remember that the ECOWAS members that were assigned to the UN be deployed in RUF areas immediately.

    Now, these were very hot and interesting issues to move the peace process forward. So we are now asking for the troops to now be deployed, but specifically the United States said that they were opposed to the deployment of troops unless and until they were trained for six months.

    While this is going on there is still bloodshed in Sierra Leone, so by late August all of us are getting frustrated now. All of us, again, myself, the members of the committee, ECOWAS member states, we are all grumbling. So I write a letter immediately, a very long and detailed letter to again the Secretary-General of the United Nations asking that that letter be published as a Security Council document complaining about the attitude of the international community in not grabbing this opportunity that is now afforded by the new leadership of the RUF, to move this process forward instead of encouraging this war to continue in Sierra Leone.

    So I write a letter to Kofi Annan and it is published as a security document in late August, because of the continued conflict and the failure - I am not sure if failure is a good word. I would want to say the - I don't know what good word to describe it, but the inability of the international community to move, you know, to stop this problem.

  • Mr Griffiths, before you proceed, the statement, "Unless and until the troops were trained for six months", which troops are these, because my understanding was that the ECOWAS troops were trained troops?

  • Yes, your Honour, that's the whole problem. You're right. They are trained, but we couldn't understand why the United States was saying that before those same troops be redeployed, they should be trained - retrained for six months. That is why some of us started saying, "But wait a minute." It appears now that the military option has been decided by the principal powers, and this was disturbing for some of us, okay? These people are trained, they have been fighting. You said that they should not deploy until they retrain. It was disturbing for us, and I fired off a letter immediately to the Secretary-General complaining about this.

    After discussing with my colleagues: Well, you know, this is your thing. You are responsible. We want to be holding you - so you write the letter and we will all, you know, discuss it. And I did in late August.

  • Now, before we come to that letter, could I ask, please, that the letter from President Wade of Senegal to President Taylor dated 20 July 2000 be marked for identification, please.

  • Said document is marked for identification MFI-158.

  • I am grateful.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, before we come to look at the letter which you wrote, can I just seek some clarification on a couple of matters, please. Firstly this: You have helpfully provided some additional evidence regarding that meeting in July with Issa Sesay, and you had said that initially there were four or so members of the RUF present?

  • But when it got down to the nitty-gritty of the discussion, only two remained.

  • Now, can you help us with the identities of those who were there initially?

  • Oh, boy. One of those individuals that - there was a short, dark fellow. I don't quite remember his name. Shortish, stockish. I don't remember his name. Maybe if I saw a picture, I could identify him. But one of the other individuals that came in earlier has testified before the Court. One of the individuals testified before the Court.

  • Now, the letter you wrote to Kofi Annan, can we look behind divider 79, please, in this same bundle. Now, Mr Taylor, taking things slowly, the first three pages we see the letter you wrote, don't we?

  • And then behind that, that letter was later published by the Security Council?

  • So it's two different formats of the same document, yes?

  • Let's look at the Security Council version then, shall we. Letter dated 28 August 2000 from the President of Liberia addressed to the Secretary-General.

    "I extend compliments on behalf of the people of Liberia and in my own name to you on the occasion of the convocation of the millennium summit, where leaders of the world would be expected to define problems besetting our global family and determine solutions in the alleviation of those problems, engendering hope in the future of our one world, and carving new aspirations for the United Nations. Against this background, I am pleased to acquaint you with the current status of Liberia's engagement in Sierra Leone, a troubled portion of our global village.

    You may recall the commitment of the Government of Liberia to remain constructively engaged in the resolution of the crisis in the sisterly country of Sierra Leone. Recently our involvement, among other things, culminated in the release of over 500 United Nation peacekeepers who were, unfortunately, held against their will by the Revolutionary United Front. Our government will continue to be steadfastly bound to an immediate, peaceful, and diplomatic solution to the crisis in Sierra Leone, as well as the maintenance of peace, security and stability in the sub-region and will continue to offer public and practical expressions to these endeavours.

    However, the apparent silence of the international community to the repeated violations of our territorial integrity by armed insurgents from the area of the Guinea-Sierra Leone borders, including a third and most recent attack emanating from the Republic of Guinea, which is ongoing, continues to overburden the Liberian government with unnecessary loss of life and property and the displacement of a large number of our people.

    It is the request of the Government of Liberia that you utilise all forms of influence at your disposal to ensure the sanctity of our borders and the maintenance of peace, security and stability within the framework of the Mano River Union.

    As the inviolability of the borders between Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone remains a crucial issue, I recommend the following and request the support of the United Nations in ensuring their speedy implementation:

    (A) the Government of Liberia again calls for a monitoring presence of the United Nations at these borders to monitor all crossing points capable of conveying vehicular traffic. We recognise the enormous cost to individual nations of policing the entire length of the borders and suggest the utilisation of an airborne multispectral service in detection of any unusual movements along the entire border. Intelligence gathered therefrom could be shared by all appropriate authorities. The cost, which is relatively minor, could be borne by the international community.

    (B) on the status of the RUF, as has been previously done, the Liberian government has again called for the immediate disarmament and simultaneous deployment of troops from the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, under the United Nations mission in Sierra Leone in areas recently considered as RUF dominated. Along these lines, RUF has announced a new leadership acceptable to ECOWAS and has informed ECOWAS, through its chairman, that it welcomes our call for disarmament and demobilisation and that it has begun the process leading to its transformation to a political entity and subsequent reintegration into society.

    Additionally, RUF has informed ECOWAS of its wish to return weapons retrieved from United Nations peacekeepers and its desire to establish communications with the high command of UNAMSIL to facilitate and accelerate the return of the weapons and the process of confidence building.

    In keeping therewith, it is our recommendation that these initiatives be immediately exploited by the United Nations leading to a ceasefire; the withdrawal of all belligerent forces to positions as at 7 July, 1999; the simultaneous deployment of ECOWAS troops under UNAMSIL; and the total disarmament and demobilisation of the armed factions.

    You are doubtlessly aware of our unreserved support for Security Council resolution 1306 of 2000 calling for an end of the smuggling of diamonds from Sierra Leone. As evidence of this we are undertaking several initiatives, including the enactment of a statute criminalising the export of undocumented or uncertificated diamonds; the enforcement of legislation requiring the Central Bank of Liberia to issue certificates of origin; and our request to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to second experts who would assist in the development of a transparent process. Furthermore, the government calls for assistance from the international community to convene a meeting of international experts to focus on the trade and certification process in the Mano River Union countries.

    The Government of Liberia assures you of its continued commitment to the pursuit of peace and stability, both at home and in the sub-region, and we welcomes the convening of this summit with hope and anticipation for the evolution of solutions that will make our world a safer place for our children.

    Finally, I wish to request that you kindly circulate the present letter to all members of the Security Council as a document of the council."

    Now, Mr Taylor, did you get a response to that letter?

  • Yes, the Secretary-General did respond to this.

  • Now, before we proceed, can I that ask that that letter be marked for identification, please. The letter from President Taylor to the Secretary-General Kofi Annan, published by the Security Council, dated 28 August 2000, be marked for identification MFI-159, please.

  • You are also marking the original?

  • I would like the original letter to be marked.

  • Both, then as the one document?

  • That document is marked MFI-159.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, you recall that yesterday we looked at a document attributed to General Jetley regarding the situation in Sierra Leone?

  • Did General Jetley's report receive any publicity at the time?

  • Yes, it was widely published. I got a copy of a publication that was gone by The Guardian newspaper.

  • In which country is that newspaper published?

  • Out of Britain. Detailing the pitfalls of the Sierra Leonean crisis and the comments that had been made by General Jetley.

  • Yes. Have a look, please, behind divider 80. Do you have it?

  • And we see the handwritten file in the left-hand corner, Mr Taylor, whose writing is that?

  • I can't be sure, counsel, but probably someone from the office. I don't know precisely.

  • "Sierra Leone peace force accused of sabotage.

    Chris McGreal in Freetown.

    Saturday, September 9, 2000.

    The United Nations force commander in Sierra Leone has accused Nigerian political and military officials at the top of the UN mission in Freetown of working hard to sabotage the peace process and the Nigerian army command of looting diamonds in league with the now imprisoned rebel leader, Foday Sankoh.

    In a devastating four-page confidential report obtained by The Guardian, Major General Vijay Jetley paints a picture of a conspiracy to force him out as the UN commander in Sierra Leone.

    The public airing of bitter differences within the UN operation in Freetown comes at a particularly sensitive time as world leaders pledge to overhaul peacekeeping in Africa after a decade of humiliating failures in Angola, Somalia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. With 7,000 more UN troops destined for Freetown, General Jetley's report will force the Security Council to confront issues beyond the numbers of peacekeepers and their mandate and to consider whether the whole operation is a further threat to stability in West Africa?

    The memorandum called 'Report on the crisis in Sierra Leone' was written during the upheaval in May that prompted British intervention to prevent the rebel Revolutionary United Front from seizing power. General Jetley never officially submitted the document to the UN but it has been widely circulated among members of the Security Council and other major players in Sierra Leone. It's damning criticism of the Nigerians and its exposure of the deep divisions that have all but paralysed the UN mission has added pressure for a major shake up of a discredited peace keeping force that Britain is counting on to play a leading role in the defeat of the RUF.

    General Jetley singles out three Nigerians for particular criticism. Kofi Annan's special representative in Freetown, Under-Secretary-General Oluyemi Adeniji; the former head of ECOMOG, the West African intervention force for Sierra Leone which worked with the UN for six months, Major General Gabriel Kpamber; and the deputy force commander Brigadier General Mohamed Garba, who is General Jetley's immediate subordinate. The report lays bare the personal animosity between General Jetley and the men he accuses, but it goes further by detailing a series of actions that he says amounts to collusion with the rebels to wreck last year's peace accord because Nigeria wants a free hand to run Sierra Leone and its army wants to control the diamond trade. At the heart of the accusations lie charges that the Nigerians compromised General Jetley's efforts to free 500 of his peacekeepers taken hostage by the RUF in May.

    The mission directive given to me and which I tried to follow implicitly, directly conflicted with the interests of not only the warring factions but also of the major players in the diamond racket like Liberia and Nigeria.

    As an Indian, and having no hidden agenda to promote, I became a victim of the machinations of these countries. By placing their stooges in the right places they have not only tried to scuttle the peace process, but also tried to denigrate me and the country I represent to promote their own personal ambitions and personal interests.

    It is my opinion that the ECOMOG force commander, along with the special representative Mr Adeniji, and DFC General Garba have worked hard to sabotage the peace process and show Indians in general and me in particular in a poor light. Keeping the Nigerian interest was paramount even if it meant scuttling the peace process and this also implied that UNAMSIL was expendable.

    To this end, the special representative and deputy force commander cultivated the RUF leadership especially Foday Sankoh behind my back.

    But the report came as no surprise to western and senior UN officials who say there is ample evidence that the Nigerian army remains heavily implicated in the illegal diamond trade, that its senior officers worked closely with the RUF despite having also fought it, and that the Nigerians believe that, as the largest troop contingent in the UN mission, they should have overall command."

    Mr Taylor, can I pause there for a minute. This accusation about the Nigerian military being involved in the diamond trade, was it an accusation aired at any of the Committee of Six meetings you attended or the ECOWAS meetings?

  • Not officially. Unofficially it was whispered around the room, yeah, that there were indications that some of the soldiers were involved in the trade of diamonds.

  • I mean, for example, did President Kabbah directly accuse any of the succession of Nigerian Presidents of being involved in, in effect, the diamond trade in Sierra Leone?

  • Why wouldn't he do that?

  • I don't think - maybe diplomatically one would be wrong, but I don't think Kabbah is that brave a figure to do that. He wouldn't do that. You have got some 10,000 troops on your soil, heavily equipped, you depend on them for your very survival, they have brought you back to power through ECOWAS. This is the type of thing that Kabbah would not do. I know him. He wouldn't do that.

  • "General Jetley argues that senior Nigerian army officers, particularly General Kpamber and Brigadier General Maxwell Khobe who died earlier this year, did not want to withdraw from Sierra Leone because they were making huge amounts of money from illegal diamond mining and payments from the RUF.

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

    In January, General Kpamber astonished a meeting of regional Heads of State on the peace process by praising Mr Sankoh as a saviour of the nation. The two were often seen in each other's company, travelling to diamond towns from which the UN was barred. Sierra Leoneans referred to General Kpamber as Sankoh's ADC.

    General Jetley lists a series of actions by the Nigerian army which he concludes amounted to colluding in the abductions. He notes that while Kenyans, Zambians and Indians were taken captive, the rebels let the Nigerians go.

    But the alleged relationship between Sankoh and senior Nigerian officers and officials would explain why the rebel leader was trying to get to the Nigerian high commission when he was captured. General Jetley blames low morale for the mass surrender of his troops."

    Mr President, can I ask that that Guardian newspaper article on General Jetley's report, dated 9 September 2000, be marked for identification MFI-160, please.

  • That document is marked MFI-160.

  • Now, that article, as we see, Mr Taylor, appeared in September 2000?

  • Now, at this stage, what was the state of your relationship with the Guineans?

  • Things were deteriorating, they were at a very low stage, and so I tried to get the chairman of ECOWAS involved in a process to try to help to stabilise the situation, so I wrote him a letter. I think I also got the Secretary-General involved in trying to look into the Liberian-Guinean problem to see how we could bring about a successful resolution.

  • Who was the ECOWAS chairman at this time?

  • This particular time, what are we talking about, 2000? Alpha Konare is still chairman.

  • So was the incursion still going on, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes. We had had an incursion as late as July that was still going on. There was an incursion in July. That was still going on. And so what we did was - we were, by this time, also harassing Downes-Thomas to do something and wondering about why the international community was so indifferent to this and so we also harassed him. While I am getting ECOWAS involved, we harassed him to see if he could alert the United Nations of the problems going on with the failure of Liberia and Guinea to get this matter resolved.

  • Now, did Mr Downes-Thomas do anything about it?

  • Yes, he did. He did send over a memo that we were given a copy of an explanation trying to draw the UN attention to these deteriorating circumstances between the two countries and pointing to our complaint of what we called the indifference of the international community to this.

  • Have a look behind divider 82, please. Do you have it?

  • Now we see that it's an outgoing code cable from Mr Downes-Thomas to Prendergast and to Adeniji who is the special representative in Freetown let us remind ourselves. It's dated 12 September 2000 and the subject is "Liberia-Guinea relations":

    "Thank you for your code cable dated 8 September on the subject above. I attach, for your information, copies of articles carried in today's newspapers on the matter. It is to be noted that, in the wake of the most recent developments in Guinea, six of yesterday's newspapers carried lead headlines on Liberia-Guinea relations, while five of them devoted their editorials to the same topic."

    Was that the case, Mr Taylor?

  • So it was a very topical issue?

  • "The most recent manifestation of the unease which now typifies the relations between both governments is to be found in the widely reported harassment, threats to and detention of Liberian and Sierra Leonean nationals, especially refugees in Guinea."

    Was that going on?

  • Yes, yes, there was a problem even at the embassy environs and that Liberians in Liberia were also getting upset that if our people were ill-treated in Guinea, then they should expect some reciprocal action. It was a little tense, yes.

  • But, Mr Taylor, I am trying to understand what's going on here because on the one hand you say that the Guinean government was supporting or permitting Liberian dissidents to operate from their territory. On the other hand this is suggesting that Liberians were also being harassed by the Guineans. So which is right?

  • Both of them are right. You just need to make it clear. We have the pro-government and the anti-government camps. In the refugee camps, they were going in there and recruiting people to fight. Those that refused to fight were being harassed, yes.

  • "Liberian perspective on the matter is unanimous in its outrage and in its appeal to the Guinean authorities to demonstrate restraint. In this respect, the threat by the Guinean Prime Minister to go on the offensive against Liberia is particularly worrisome."

    Had he said that?

  • "The current strained relationship between Guinea and Liberia has serious implications, not only for the two countries, but also for all members of the Mano River Union. The deterioration in relations has its genesis in the first armed attack in Voinjama, the capital of Lofa County, on 21 April 19199, which the Government of Liberia blamed on Guinea. The second attack, launched less than four months later, on 10 August 1999, and the latest on 8 July 2000, have confirmed the worst fears of even those who had given Guinea the benefit of the doubt. While the Government of Liberia was able to repel the first two incursions within a matter of weeks, the latest fighting has been raging for the past two months with no immediate signs for a quick resolution?

    All three attacks exhibited a number of common features: They all involved an attack on the city of Voinjama; they were executed by dissidents allegedly affiliated to former faction leader Alhaji Kromah and all were concentrated in Lofa County, despite the fact that two other counties, Bong and Nimba, also share the border with Guinea. Repeated denials by Guinea of its involvement in these attacks were dismissed by the Government of Liberia as disingenuous, leading to a war of words between the two neighbours. It is not inconceivable that the dissidents may indeed have training bases in Guinea, as alleged by Liberia, but without the knowledge of the Government of Guinea, as alluded to by the Guinean ambassador to Liberia.

    The Guinean envoy has conceded in the past that among Liberian refugees in Guinea were some former factional elements who felt insecure staying in Liberia after the 1997 elections. He, however, emphasised that if these people are returning home and rearming themselves for whatever reason against their own government, we have no input and no knowledge about such actions.

    Despite public protestations to the contrary by the Guinean government, Liberia insists that it has evidence that dissidents opposed to the Liberian government were being trained at an agricultural institute outside of Macenta, Guinea, not far from the Liberian border. President Taylor has complained about the international community's silence whenever there was an incursion into Lofa from Guinea. His government has been telling the world about the untoward activities of Liberians abroad, especially Messrs Vamba Kanneh and Alhaji Kromah and their supporters in Guinea against Liberia and, not unpredictably, felt that the international community had turned a deaf ear to its concerns.

    It is worth noting that the difference between the previous attacks and the current one is in the latter's magnitude and its propensity to engulf the whole sub-region in the absence of timely interventions, particularly by the ECOWAS leadership and the United Nations. Unlike in the past, when dissident activities were confined within Liberian borders, Guinea had become the latest victim of cross-border attacks, allegedly from the Liberian and Sierra Leonean sides of the border.

    As with most conflicts, it is ordinary civilians, particularly those in border towns, who are caught in the crossfire. An immediate cause for alarm is the growing xenophobic round-up of Liberians and Sierra Leoneans residing in Conakry on the orders of President Lansana Conte."

    Mr Taylor, I thought Kabbah and Conte were supposed to be friends.

  • Oh, yes, they were more than friends; they were brothers, yes.

  • So can you help us as to why Sierra Leoneans were being rounded up in Conakry?

  • Well, very well. Civilian Sierra Leoneans are part - most of them are part of what? Of the Kamajors. So if you are in Guinea or in Liberia and you are not a part of the Kamajors and you are just sitting there, you will be harassed. So those that are being harassed are considered as anti-government elements of President Kabbah, not the pro-government elements.

  • "The Guinean government has accused Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees and ordinary civilians of being used by dissidents opposed to President Conte's government to undermine it. Since yesterday, the Government of Liberia has used local radio stations to appeal to Liberian citizens not to engage in revenge attacks in Guineans resident in Liberia. The appeal has so far been successful.

    At present, relations between Liberia and Guinea have reached a critical juncture. On the surface, the current tension between the two countries would seem to suggest the two sides' determination to resolve the conflict militarily, notwithstanding recent reconciliatory statements by the Government of Liberia. A military option would have obvious adverse effects on the general state of affairs in both countries, particularly on their economy and on the wellbeing of their citizens. If the experience in Lofa over the past 18 months, where there have been three military incursions, is anything to go by, then it goes without saying that Liberia has genuine and legitimate security concerns regarding its porous borders. Nevertheless, UNOL continues with its efforts to ensure that the government of Liberia does not consider the military option as a solution to the current crisis."

    Was the military option an option at all for you, Mr Taylor?

  • It was an option, but not an option to end the crisis. We had to take the military option to keep protecting our lives and property. It was not a final option.

  • "Appeals to ECOWAS, the Organisation of African Union, and to the United Nations to intervene speedily to avert any further escalation of sub-regional tensions and save the nascent Mano River Union revival, abound. The fact that Guinean authorities now consider the presence of refugees as a heavy burden, coupled with the events of the past few days in Guinea, underscores the need for urgent action on this front as a third step.

    In this regard, the proposed interdepartmental meeting is a step in the right direction. It will hopefully establish some sort of framework which will facilitate the safe and early return of Liberian refugees in Guinea to Liberia and establish modalities for a comprehensive arrangement for assistance to refugees and returnees in each of these three countries.

    What is also needed is a two-pronged and sustainable diplomatic intervention by both the United Nations and ECOWAS. Swift intervention by ECOWAS, either in the form of an emergency summit or a mini summit restricted to the major players, including all Mano River members, is needed now more than ever. Such a summit could endeavour to resuscitate the Mano River Union conflict resolution mechanism through the Union's joint security committee.

    Attempts were made to jump start it following the 8 July incursion into Liberia, but the efforts fizzled out for lack of international support in providing logistics. One may consider urgently encouraging the governments of the Mano River Union to widen the scope and terms of reference of the committee of inquiry into the incursions into Liberia created by the joint security committee. This will permit the committee to take a comprehensive look at the escalation in cross-border incursions sub-regionally and to recommend the related remedial measures for sub-regional stability.

    Other options may include inviting the Guinean government to jointly monitor, with Sierra Leone and Liberia, their common borders under the Mano River Union's security mechanism. Such an arrangement will benefit tremendously from United Nations' support. While one is not unaware of the difficulties of the question of controlling these areas, it may also be worth exploring, as a temporary measure, the idea of the creation of a buffer zone along the contiguous border areas of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone."

    Can I pause there, Mr Taylor. At this time, Mr Taylor, there is this incursion in Lofa County. Is that right?

  • That is correct.

  • And do the dissidents who have launched this incursion control any Liberian territory?

  • Can we have a look at a map, please, and seek your assistance. And can we look at - yes, this map will do, L1. I am interested in the area of Lofa County. So if we can get all that area, the green area on the map, on the screen. I am not interested in anywhere else.

    Now, let's start off with this, Mr Taylor. What part - just trace with a pen, please, on that map, without marking it, the area controlled by these dissidents who had entered Lofa.

  • This is Voinjama right here. Now, it looks short here, but from here to the border with Guinea here, I would approximate it to be about 3 to 5 miles. This is forest area with mostly little towns. So they had infiltrated from here into Voinjama and the fight was going on here. But the surrounding small towns that are not indicated in this map are being occupied by the rebels, and so they have a free opening here for supplies, resupplies, evacuation of the wounded. So they have opened this beachhead here and are controlling this section here - this entire section.

  • Okay. And have you sent troops to oppose them?

  • Yes. There is what we call a push-post situation going on. We would attack them, push them a little bit, occupy, they would reinforce, come, push us out. But it's taken some time now to fully defeat them, and so they now have a foothold because they do not fully retreat all the way back into Guinea, so they occupied here. You can't see it from this map, it looks very short from the drawing, but there's a good bit of territory behind here in this general area.

  • Now, also we know across the border into Sierra Leone, that area around Kailahun is RUF territory; that's right, isn't it?

  • Now, in terms of northern Lofa County, that part of Liberia, how would you describe the situation in that part of the country as a result of the incursion from Guinea and what's happening across the border in Sierra Leone? Is life orderly, or what?

  • Well, this is a period on that side of the border where you have - you still have conflict now. You still have - remember, we are just coming out of the UN hostage people businesses a few months back, so the whole disarmament, demobilisation has not taken place yet. So there is conflict across the border on that side.

  • But what I am interested in is, is that conflict - combined with the incursion from Guinea - what impact is that having on life in northern Lofa County?

  • You have displaced people. People are - it's a terrible burden on the people. People are becoming displaced again, moving because of the fighting.

  • So are things chaotic in that part of Lofa?

  • Very. Very, very chaotic. Just to remind the Court, remember the second attack that we've stated here on the records, remember occurred at Foya, which was the attack in August. I am talking about August of the previous year. That occurred in Foya. So once Voinjama is under attack, people, there are probes around here, so this entire area here becomes unbearable for the people to remain.

  • Yes, thank you, Mr Taylor. You may go back now and we can put that map to one side.

    "Given the foregoing, it would also be worthwhile to set our sites to the future. For its part the United Nations needs to establish strong working relations with ECOWAS. Serious thought should be given to establishing a United Nations operational mechanism or entity for this purpose. Such a mechanism/entity would, among other things, serve to foster closer collaboration with the Mano River Union as well as with ECOWAS, especially in matters pertaining to peace and security where coordinated approaches can contribute to a significant reduction in sub-regional tensions. It would also provide the United Nations with the much needed sub-regional dimension and approach to its work in this part of the world.

    Given the porous nature of the borders of Mano River states and taking into account the cultural, linguistic and ethnic links, as well as the economic interactions among those states, it should be clear that the security of its members is intrinsically intertwined. This becomes even clearer as we acknowledge the presence of combatants (former and current) and realise that their circulation and recycling within these countries had for some time been a source of accusations and counter-accusations in each of these countries. Consequently, it would be extremely difficult to resolve one member's security concerns while ignoring the security of the others in the hope of achieving a durable peace.

    UNOL continues to advise the Government of Liberia on the need to not only keep its communication lines open to the Guinean authorities, but to also extend its reconciliation policy to Liberians outside its borders, particularly those in neighbouring countries and in the United States."

    Now that paragraph 12, Mr Taylor, we see the recurrence - we are now in September 2000 - of this concern about combatants, former and current, circulating and being recycled in these countries?

  • Has that problem gone away?

  • When you say has it gone away, you mean looking at it even from today?

  • I doubt it. I doubt it. It has not really gone away. These combatants are circling and being recycled. Right now, look, since the end of the Liberian and Sierra Leonean crisis, you go into Liberia right now, you've got hundreds and probably thousands of ex-Sierra Leonean combatants that have now moved to Liberia living. You have thousands of Liberian ex-combatants that are now living in Sierra Leone. The same is true for la Cote d'Ivoire. They are moving out of their own crisis, but these actors are all over the place.

    So even right now you still have the presence of these people and they still - if something, God forbid, were to happen you will see they would rush right into it. There is always this demand for what they call trained guerrilla fighters. So if I look at it right now, I would say, yes, potential exists right now for these same heads to rear themselves up again.

  • Can I ask that that document, code cable from Downes-Thomas to Prendergast on Liberia-Guinea relations dated 12 September 2000 be marked for identification MFI-161, please.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, this deteriorating situation on the Guinea-Liberian border, was concern about it limited to the special representative or were other leaders in the sub-region equally concerned about it?

  • Yes, other leaders were concerned about it.

  • And did you communicate with them in seeking to resolve this situation?

  • Yes, I did. I sent envoys out to several West African countries to talk about the problem and asking that we try to get it resolved as it was tearing the region apart again.

  • And how much of your time was this occupying at this time, Mr Taylor?

  • I would almost say almost all of it. I was just overwhelmed at all sides with these problems. While I am trying to secure my problem, we are still trying to work on the Sierra Leonean problems. Because the whole thing is Sierra Leonean and we are now becoming to see - if we look back there was something that was mentioned in the Guardian report that was read that we didn't touch, but that gave - that should give a picture of some of our concerns, that outside powers had apparently resolved that they were now coming in and they were going to decide what would happen. So we could not - I just could not look at the Liberian problem as, "Well, let's me fix my problem." We still had to fix the Sierra Leonean problem because a major power had come in and said that they were going to solve Sierra Leone.

    And by the same taken, there was training going on in Guinea attacking us by another power. So for me it became very - it engulfed my entire time in trying to solve not just one now, but trying to resolve all of these problems in getting other Heads of State even more seriously involved in that venture.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, did any of the African leaders in the sub-region try to intervene to resolve this Liberia-Guinea difficulty?

  • Yes. For example, we sent a delegation out to The Gambia because remember Gambia was not a part of the Committee of Six but had played a very important role in getting this new leadership for the RUF settled in the July 2000 meeting of the Heads of State with Issa Sesay. So I sent a special envoy out to President Jammeh to talk about the issue and to ask him to begin to get more involved in trying to resolve some of these issues because at that time we understood he had some very close relationships with President Conte, so we tried to get him involved. Not leaving out Konare who was chairman, that we were also prodding to get more involved in trying to resolve the problem between Guinea and Liberia.

  • Now, did President Jammeh agree to assist in this regard?

  • Yes, Yahya received my envoys and on their return he wrote me a letter to that effect.

  • Have a look behind divider 83, please. Yes, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, this is the letter from my friend Yahya Jammeh on receiving my envoys that I sent to talk about this issue.

  • And we see that it reads as follows, it's dated 18 September 2000:

    "Your Excellency and dear brother,

    It was with a deep sense of gratitude and indeed with much appreciation that I received your communication of 7 September 2000, delivered by your special envoys, the Honourable Benoni Urey, Commissioner of Maritime Affairs, Republic of Liberia, and His Excellency, Musa Cisse, chief of protocol at the Executive Mansion. As I was out of the jurisdiction, the said envoys were received in audience by Her Excellency the Vice-President on the date of their arrival in Banjul and I am pleased to intimate that the objective of their mission as well as the content of the special message had been faithfully reported to me immediately upon my return.

    The rapidly deteriorating security situation around the Liberian borders with Guinea and Sierra Leone has been noted with much concern and I would hasten to appeal that all parties involved exercise maximum restraint for the time being to avert yet another catastrophe in our cherished sub-region. The dialogue process should be engaged as a matter of urgency and the OAU and ECOWAS secretariats seized on the issue.

    Let me take this opportunity to reiterate my plea for African leaders and for us in the sub-region in particular to give concrete expressions to our professed commitments to the OAU charter and ECOWAS protocols respectively. Needless to say, it is only with determined efforts in the maintenance of peace and stability that we can move our respective development agendas forward and, as has already been highlighted elsewhere, posterity and the future generations would never forgive us if we are found wanting in this respect.

    I also pledge my personal intervention in the pursuit of a speedy and definitive solution to the brewing crisis and look forward to the further cementing of the cordial relations of friendship and solidarity that exist between our two countries and people."

    So did President Jammeh intervene at all?

  • Well, yes, a little later on. I pushed further and at a meeting a little later on, right in line with our own protocols to get an emergency meeting of ECOWAS to look into the problems that were now coming up, he was very constructive at that meeting.

  • So we are now in late September, Mr Taylor?

  • In late September, did the situation in Lofa change in any way?

  • Not for the better. It remained very, very, very serious.

  • Now, was your foreign minister still Mr Captan at this time?

  • And in late September, did you require him to communicate with the special representative at all?

  • Yes. We did - there are different types of communication. In this case, we have what we call an official note. This was not one of the regular things where, "Would you do this? Please do this." We brought it to the - what we call the official attention, which meant that it was something of the utmost urgency. We sent a note verbale to the foreign ministry to the special representative on the matter and the seriousness, asking the international community again to take it more seriously.

  • And was there any particular event which occasioned that note?

  • Well, we - you have a crisis on hands. The prevailing situation of the expansion of the war and the burden that it's placing on the country is - for me at that time is the most serious.

  • Now, before we come to look at that note, could I ask, please, that letter from President Jammeh of Gambia to President Taylor dated 18 September 2000 be mark for identification, please, MFI-162.

  • That document is marked MFI-162 for identification.

  • Right, Mr Taylor, have a look, please, behind divider 84. Do you have it?

  • We see it's from Downs-Thomas to Prendergast, and again it's on the topic of Liberia-Guinea relations, and it provides that it attaches a self-explanatory note dated September 22. So let's go over the page, please, where we find the note, and we see that this note is from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia presents its compliments to the special representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and has the honour to draw the latter's attention to the seriousness which the Government of Liberia attaches to the recent shelling of Zorzor on Friday, September 22, 2000, by Guinean forces from the border town of Koryamah causing wanton destruction of towns and villages along the Liberia-Guinea border as well as severe causalities."

    Now, Mr Taylor, who is doing this; dissidents, or what?

  • The kind of artillery and the distance - Zorzor, if you look on the map, is a little distance - it's a little distance from Koryamah. So at that distance, our military people advised that it had to come from sophisticated machinery. We are talking a distance of about 15 miles - that would be about almost 20, 21-odd kilometres - and our securities were at a forward position between Zorzor and Koryamah, and those rounds, you know, were going over them. And so after we assessed that it was coming from Koryamah, we figured that it was being done by long-range artillery. To our intelligence, the rebels did not have long-range artillery to fire 20 kilometres. That's the distance of something like - I would say from my minimal military knowledge, that would be done by something like probably a 155-millimetre canon or something like a BM-21. A BM-21 can fire about that distance, and a BM-21 is a mobile mounted piece of equipment that the rebels would not have. So we then concluded that it was coming from a better equipped and better built armed forces, and this had to be the Government of Guinea.

  • And just quickly, Mr Taylor, if we can just put the map on the screen and just remind ourselves where Zorzor is. Just so we can get the relationship between this new area of conflict and the earlier area you had indicated. Do you follow me?

  • So where is Zorzor?

  • And earlier you had indicated that the incursion was further north around the Voinjama area?

  • I was wondering, Mr Griffiths, if perhaps the witness could show us this town of Koryamah.

  • This is Zorzor here. Strangely this map does not show Koryamah, because this is Zorzor. Yella is Guinea and the border. Koryamah is somewhere in this area here. Koryamah is a military base, maybe that's why they do not mention it here. But Koryamah is about I would say 12 to 15 miles from Yella here, which Yella is here, it's a Liberian-Guinea border town. There is a little creek here. Koryamah is in here. So Zorzor is about 10 miles just about from the border with Yella.

    So we had forces here at Yella. And what I was saying that the rounds were passing over us, when those rounds are travelling, your Honours, you can see the fire at the tail of the rocket. If it's a long-range BM-21 you can see the trace behind it. So our soldiers could look up and see rounds coming over them. We may have to find a Guinean map for the judges so we can point out Koryamah, but it's not mentioned on this map, but Koryamah is somewhere in this area. It's a military base.

  • Mr Taylor, whilst you're in front of the map, something just rather curiously has been brought to my attention. If you look to the northeast of where Zorzor is, there appears to be two Foya's on this map. Do you see? Northwest, do see two Foyas? Look where Kolahun is. There is a Foya and a Foya, do you see?

  • Yes, that happens in that area. I think one could be - they have - this could be Foya Tenge. Foya is just a general name but it would be Foya this and Foya that. One is Foya Kamala. There are two Foyas. One is Foya Kamala and one is Foya Tenge, I think.

  • Okay. Thank you, Mr Taylor, you may return.

    "The Government of Liberia views the action on the part of Guinea as provocative and tantamount to coercing Liberia to retaliate which could have adverse repercussion for the region. The series of attacks on Liberia by dissidents from the territory of Guinea has brought to the attention of the United Nations. The first attack occurred on 21 April 1999, while the second was on 10 August 1999. The third attack which began on 10 July 2000 is still in progress.

    The Government of Liberia cannot continue to sit supinely while its territory is being destroyed and its citizens innocently killed by Guinean forces. President Conte directed that Liberians and Sierra Leoneans be attacked. As a result of that directive, Liberians were beaten, raped and imprisoned and their properties destroyed. The Guinean authorities have refused to allow Liberian citizens to leave Guinea, and up till now have not given permission for Liberian aircraft to land in Conakry to evacuate Liberians. In this connection, the government is finding it difficult to contain its citizenry from carrying out reprisal action against Guineans in Liberia, although Liberians have been admonished to be calm and to allow the government to handle the situation diplomatically.

    The ministry of foreign affairs, in view of the foregoing, requests the special representative to use his good offices in seeing to it that Liberian citizens are permitted to leave Guinea, that the Government of Guinea contains dissidents from cross-border attacks from Liberian territories and that Guinean forces desist from shelling villages near the Liberia-Guinea border in Lofa County."

    Now, Mr Taylor, did you try to open any lines of communication with President Conte about this?

  • Yes, we did. We tried ourselves and even tried others to do. Amongst them Conte and I met in Abuja, we sat with the very Obasanjo. Conte denied - in fact, Conte and I went one step further. We were received by our friend, the King of Morocco, Mohamed VI. We met there. Mohamed sitting here, Conte there, I'm here, to discuss this.

    There is always these denials, but I think the presence of outside influence had really pushed matters I think beyond his control, I guess. But we did try. Because we didn't have an army, remember. We didn't have the arms to fight. I don't think Conte would have done that if Liberia had not destroyed her arms because they knew that we had the material in the country that could have defended ourselves. But don't forget we have destroyed the arms, we don't have an army and they took advantage.

    Everybody - this is why, until today, Liberians feel that it was a trick to destroy us when they asked us to destroy all of the arms in the country. And now we are under attack and everybody is saying, "Oh, no it's not an internal problem", until we are destroyed.

  • Can I ask, please, that that official note from the foreign minister of Liberia to the United Nations special representative, dated 22 September 2000, be marked for identification, please.

  • Yes, that document is marked for identification MFI-163.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, let us turn now from that border and look at what is going on in parallel across the border in Sierra Leone. Is progress being made so far as the peace process a concerned by late September?

  • No, progress is not being made. The offer from the RUF new leadership is being pushed aside and nothing is being done over there in the direction of peace. There appears to be more belligerence and a decision to fight.

  • So do you do anything about it?

  • I guess that's why they say I have been interfering. I write Kofi Annan again telling him, "Look, my country is on fire. The proposal from the RUF in Sierra Leone is not being looked at. The whole region is in flames." I write him and the chairman of ECOWAS, Alpha Konare, saying, "Listen, guys. We have got to get together quickly and bring this thing to an end because the thing is not getting smaller, it's getting bigger." So I write Kofi Annan and I write Alpha Konare.

  • Have a look behind divider 85, please. What do we see behind that divider?

  • This is a letter. Excuse me, counsel, I just wanted to say something. I am sorry to the Bench. Sometimes I guess to see me smile, there is nothing funny. I hope - I want to give my apologies. These smiles are not funny smiles to say Mr Taylor is not taking it seriously, your Honours.

  • We haven't drawn any conclusions at all, Mr Taylor.

  • Now, what do we see behind this divider, Mr Taylor?

  • This is the letter that I write to Secretary-General Annan on this particular issue I just mentioned about the offer from the RUF and nobody wants to take it up and people are still dying in Sierra Leone just as they are dying in Liberia.

  • Well, the RUF has said, "Look, we are prepared to go for a ceasefire. We are prepared to return all of the UN equipment. We want the ECOWAS unit with UNAMSIL to deploy. We want to get serious. We want to move." And everybody is saying, "No, let's wait. Let's wait." What are you waiting for?

  • Let's have a look at the letter:

    "I have the honour to present my compliments and herewith bring to your attention the deep concerns of my government relating to the very slow pace of the peace process in Sierra Leone since the breakthrough of the change in leadership of the RUF."

    Pause there. Because that change in leadership had occurred by 21 August, hadn't it?

  • That is correct.

  • And so we are over a month later?

  • And is that the reason for your concern that nothing appears to have happened in the interim?

  • "Following a meeting in Liberia on 21 August between His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, President commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Alpha Oumar Konare, President of Mali and chairman of ECOWAS, and myself, at which time we agreed to accelerate the peace process in consonance with the new development. I am taken aback by the slow response of the international community to the offers of the RUF leadership to enhance the process.

    I recall the offer by the new RUF leadership to effect a de facto ceasefire, open lines of communication with the UNAMSIL command structure and to return the military equipment seized several months ago when United Nations personnel were abducted."

    Had you been notified of that offer made by the RUF, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes. Everybody concerned with this process had been notified. ECOWAS, United Nations, everybody.

  • "I am disappointed that this offer has not been taken up and further delay in this respect could mean more delays in the peace process. I therefore urge the international community to take advantage of this window of opportunity to effect deployment of UNAMSIL forces in the RUF areas of control.

    I believe that this can be accomplished with the existing troop levels, rather than waiting for up to six months for reinforcements as has been prescribed through the training of additional troops from around the sub-region.

    The earlier such engagements take place, the better confidence will be enhanced between the RUF and UNAMSIL, thus contributing to better implementation of the peace process."

    Now, did you consider the RUF offer of a ceasefire to be genuine, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes. All of us did. I did, most particularly, yes. I think it was genuine. Even if they did not mean it, well, let's put the - what they say, the testing of the pudding is to taste it. If they say they wanted a ceasefire, well let's call their bluff on this.

  • Mr Taylor, just on that note, are you in contact with the new interim leader of the RUF throughout this period?

  • Yes, I am in contact with him. May I also add, I mentioned on yesterday that other Heads of State, now Obasanjo and Konare and Kabbah, are also in direct contact with Issa Sesay.

  • And that contact is by what means?

  • By telephone. We can call Issa by telephone and by radio. If I need him we can get him on the phone. We can inform our people to inform the people at the guesthouse, the guesthouse is still operating, and by this time the RUF leave Gibril Massaquoi, that's why I remember this name very well - is left as the spokesman. He is practically assigned now in Monrovia at this time at the guesthouse, Gibril Massaquoi.

  • Gibril Massaquoi?

  • And help us, can you help with a date as to when Massaquoi was deployed at the guesthouse?

  • I would say as of the taking over by Issa Sesay, that period, he remained there.

  • Which we know took place on 21 August?

  • Yes, but you have to back it up now to - I would put it to about July as a permanent time, because August is the final installment - I mean installation, but don't forget in July there is a meeting. So I would say as of July, because he does not return after the 26 July meeting when they go to make this decision, I can't be too sure, but Gibril is then posted at the guesthouse.

  • And for how long does he remain there?

  • Wow, I think Gibril is there for several months. About at least six months or more. Gibril is official spokesman and most of the public pronouncements regarding this period would either be made by Issa or sometimes it would be made by Gibril.

  • And help us, Mr Taylor, these lines of communication that are open, do you personally speak to Issa Sesay and Gibril Massaquoi, or is that delegated to someone else?

  • I sometimes speak to them and other times others speak to them. But may I just add here, counsel, based on the Justice Doherty's original question about this, aren't those soldiers already trained. You can see here, justice, I also raised it with the Secretary-General when we talk about - in the paragraph on page 2 where I say instead of waiting up to six months for reinforcements that has been prescribed through the training of additional troops, I am making reference to that.

  • Now, you said that you also wrote Alpha Konare. Is that right?

  • But before we come to look at that letter can I ask that the letter to the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, from President Taylor, dated 25 September 2000, be marked for identification MFI-164, please.

  • Yes, that's marked for identification MFI-164.

  • Look behind divider 86, Mr Taylor. What are we looking at there?

  • This is the letter to the chairman of ECOWAS, Alpha Konare, on the same problem.

  • And we will see that it bears the same date as the letter you wrote to the Secretary-General?

  • That is 25 September 2000?

  • And the letter is in these terms:

    "Predicated on our 21 August meeting at the Roberts International Airport in Liberia, at which time we took certain critical decisions relating to the enhancement of the peace process in Sierra Leone, I write to express my concern over the very slow pace of movement in the process, particularly in view of the change of leadership in the RUF.

    I recall the offer by the new RUF leadership to effect a de facto ceasefire, open lines of communication with the UNAMSIL command structure and to return the military equipment seized several months ago when United Nations personnel were abducted.

    I am disappointed that this offer has not been taken up and further delay in this respect could mean more delays in the peace process. I therefore urge the international community to take advantage of this window of opportunity to effect the deployment of UNAMSIL forces in the RUF areas of control.

    I believe that this can be accomplished with the existing troop levels rather than waiting for up to six months for reinforcement as has been prescribed through the training of additional troops from around the sub-region.

    The earlier such engagements can take place, the better confidence will be enhanced between the RUF and UNAMSIL, thus contributing to better implementation of the peace process."

    Now, Mr Taylor, did those letters to Konare, chairman of ECOWAS, and the United Nations Secretary-General have the desired effect of speeding up the process next door in Sierra Leone?

  • Not - sometimes it's how to quantify and evaluate. I can say there were little movement, but I pushed it further. By the time the month ends, I push further for a Heads of State meeting where this matter would be - in fact, an emergency meeting of ECOWAS to bring this matter front and centre. Because, yes, I know these organisations, they are huge organisations and they are hard to move, but it is better to get these matters before them so people can begin thinking about them. So there is not any substantial move, but I don't stop. I push further for an emergency meeting of ECOWAS to bring it front and centre.

  • And how do you go about that?

  • I sent the very Moses Blah that was here out with letters to about four or five Heads of State to ask them to support my call for an emergency session of ECOWAS to discuss it. Under the rules, you alone can't just get up and call for an emergency meeting. You have to get at least the concurrence of I think almost 50 per cent of the union, and I stand corrected on this, in order for the chairman to call for an emergency meeting. So I do that.

  • Okay. Now, before we come to look at the letters that you dispatched with Moses Blah --

  • Mr Griffiths, perhaps this is a good time to for me to interrupt. I want to understand the decision to delay the disarmament of the RUF and the decision to go through this additional training of troops, whose decision was that?

  • This was the position of the United States government. I think there will be a document further that will show that. It was a decision that - the people that fund these forces decide on what happens. They were funding these forces, the United States and Britain, and without the funds nobody could do anything and their opinion was that the troops had to be properly trained before they go in and it would take about six months to retrain them in a special way. We felt that this was wrong.

  • And this was the UNAMSIL troops based in Sierra Leone?

  • That is correct. What they were trying to do, your Honour, they were trying to use ECOWAS forces, ECOWAS member states troops, to come under the banner of UNAMSIL, okay, and those troops were the troops that they were saying had to be properly trained, even though they were soldiers already, but those countries that were sending them, those troops should be trained before being deployed in the theatre.

  • So then the Indian contingent had left by this time?

  • No. The Indian contingent was not a very large contingent to occupy the entire area. In fact, we were trying to build the forces of deployment.

  • Very well. Now before I forget, letter to President Alpha Konare from President Taylor dated 25 September 2000, may it be marked MFI-165, please.

  • Yes, that document is marked MFI-165.

  • Now, the letters you dispatched with Moses Blah that you told us about, have a look behind divider 88. And to how many places did you dispatch him?

  • I dispatched Moses to at least four countries. This is just one of the countries that he went to.

  • Now, we see that we are now in October 2000, aren't we?

  • 5 October 2000. It's a letter from you to Alpha Konare, President of Mali, yes?

  • "As we work together for peace, security and stability in our sub-region, I extend to you fraternal greetings and felicitations. The work that lies ahead for the resolution of conflict in the Mano River Union and the prevention of conflict in la Cote d'Ivoire continues to consume a major part of our energies as leaders of ECOWAS?

    It is in this respect that I have the honour to dispatch the Honourable Moses Blah, Vice-President of the Republic of Liberia, to deliver a special message in line with ongoing consultations.

    A primary focus of the mission of my Vice-President would be to solicit your endorsement of our suggestion for the convening of an emergency ECOWAS summit as soon as possible with a view to finding workable solutions to the problems of the sub-region."

    Now, Mr Taylor, why was it necessary to dispatch Moses Blah to carry these letters? Why not just send them through the post?

  • No, they will take too long. And normally, in addition to the letter, there is a message, a whole - you know, there is a fraternal message given during that particular time that you just don't put in the post.

  • I think that would be a convenient point.

  • We will take the morning adjournment and reconvene at 12 o'clock.

  • [Break taken at 11.30 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.00 p.m.]

  • Please continue, Mr Griffiths.

  • Mr Taylor, before the short adjournment we were looking at a letter sent in the custody of Moses Blah, Vice-President to Alpha Konare, dated 5 October 2000, yes?

  • It's behind divider 88. Now, Mr Taylor, you told us that you wrote similar letters and dispatched Moses Blah to carry them to other Presidents in the region.

  • Turn to behind the next divider, please. Now, this letter is in almost identical terms, is it not?

  • That is correct.

  • Save that there's an extra second paragraph?

  • Where you say, "I recall with fond memories receiving your special envoy several weeks ago in Monrovia and the kind sentiments that you expressed through him on the long-standing relations between Senegal and Liberia and your concerns over the situation in the sub-region." But apart from that, it's the same letter as the one before. If you would just flick back, you can see that the other paragraphs are identical, yes?

  • And just to complete the picture, if we go over the next divider, again, it's the same letter to Blaise Compaore, the same date, in the same terms, isn't it?

  • And if we go over the next divider, it's the same letter again, in the same terms to President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia, yes?

  • And the idea of sending out these four letters was, as we see from the last paragraph, to set up an emergency ECOWAS summit. Is that right?

  • On the situation in Sierra Leone. Is that right?

  • Because of the absence of progress on that issue, yes?

  • So, Mr Taylor, you writing these letters, can we take it then that it's your initiative to organise this emergency summit?

  • Yes, that is correct. It's a part of the protocols. I'm not the only one to do this kind of stuff. This is my initiative now, yes, but it is a custom that if any member of the community would like to have an emergency meeting on any particular subject matter, they follow the same procedure.

  • Before I proceed further, can I suggest, Mr President, that because we're dealing with identical letters but the addressees change, that we give them all the same MFI number but then A, B, C and D.

  • So that letters requesting an emergency ECOWAS summit, dated 5 October 2000, the letter to Alpha Konare is MFI-166A; the letter to President Wade of Senegal becomes 166B; the letter to Blaise Compaore becomes 166C and, finally, the letter to President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia becomes 166D.

  • Yes, those letters are so marked for identification.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, what about President Kabbah, did you send a letter to him?

  • Yes, around about this time, but the letter to Kabbah did not just contain this particular matter. About this time, President Kabbah sent his Vice-President, Joe Demby, to me to discuss the issue of the repatriation of refugees. And while Joseph Demby is there, we talk about this meeting, and I did ask for him to convey to his President my desire to having him support my call for an emergency meeting.

  • Can we look behind divider 92, please. Yes, Mr Taylor?

  • We see this is a letter dated 5 October 2000 addressed to President Kabbah:

    "By the hands of your special envoy, the Honourable Albert Joe Demby, Vice-President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, I have been delivered your missive of 27 September 2000 regarding the wrangling matters of the Mano River Union, which, in particular, relate to the Sierra Leonean refugees who desire to be repatriated and on whose behalf you have solicited my cooperation.

    As you are aware, my dear brother, nothing has claimed my attention more than the conflict now besetting our union. In every way possible, I have endeavoured to secure total restoration to our distressed peoples, not only for the citizens of Liberia, but for all members of the union. If I make my appeal for Liberian refugees in Guinea to be repatriated, certainly, my dear brother, that appeal translates into unequivocal empathy for refugees everywhere. On this matter, accordingly, you are my vigorous support for meeting the desires of your citizens to return home from Liberia, and I do fervently hope that their sojourn with us has not been marred by any unbrotherly acts of unkindness and inhospitality."

    And the normal salutation thereafter, yes, Mr Taylor?

  • That's correct.

  • Now, we're in October of the year 2000, and as we see from all those - that correspondence, you are anxiously at this time trying to organise this emergency summit. Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • That is correct.

  • Now, help us, what are relations like with the United States of America at this time?

  • Things are hotting up at this time. Remember, the Under-Secretary of State had come. We had exchanged --

  • Pickering. We had exchanged views. But, normally, these high-power trips are not just for exchanging views, even though we exchange views. But it is apparent that by the time Secretary Pickering came to Liberia, the United States government had taken certain principal decisions. And so his trip to Liberia, why we discussed, but those decisions, apparently, had already been taken. So within this period, that is, the period just before, I would say, between I would say this - the 1st and about the 10th and 12th of the month, the first week and a half, we were confronted with a decision on the part of the United States to suspend official visas to Liberian officials and what not. And so we then decided to take some actions in response to the actions of the United States government in suspending official visas to our diplomats that were there, that those who were on vacation would not be granted diplomatic visas to return. So we decided to act in line with what the United States had done, reciprocally.

  • Now, before we go into that in more detail, can I ask, please, that the letter to President Kabbah from President Taylor, dated 5 October 200, be marked for identification MFI-167.

  • That document is marked MFI-167.

  • Now, you say, Mr Taylor, that you decided to- that there was this difficulty about visas, yes?

  • Now, did the Liberian government decide to publicise this fact in any way?

  • It was already public. Yeah, we publicised it too. There was an official announcement by the United States government that these actions would be taken, and so we decided to respond to that.

  • And how did you respond?

  • Reciprocally through reciprocity. We decided to suspend United States government officials that had travelled, and those American diplomats that were on vacation, we suspended their visas too, that they would not return to their posts until the United States decided to reinstate our official visas.

  • After two or three weeks of this, they had more to lose through this process than we did. They had more officials on vacation, and so they decided that we should call a truce, and we did.

  • Now, did you - did the government - let me start again.

    Did the Liberian government seek to make this exchange between the Liberian government and the United States government public in any way?

  • Yeah. But I've said that they publicly took this action, and so our response was public also, yes.

  • And did you publish anything as a result?

  • Yes. We did a - there was an official press statement delivered on or around the - I would say, just before the Security Council delegation, that's just around, I would say, 13 October or thereabouts. It's got to be close to that delegation's arrival.

  • There is a Security Council delegation visiting Liberia led by Jeremy Greenstock. We do this just before they arrive in Liberia.

  • Okay. Have a look behind divider 93, please. What is this document, Mr Taylor?

  • This is the official statement on our reaction to that particular visa situation.

  • Now, we see that it's a press release issued by the ministry of foreign affairs, Monrovia, Liberia, dated 13 October 2000.

  • "The Government of Liberia has today imposed reciprocal visa restrictions on officials of the United States government and members of their immediate families. Additionally, the Liberian government reserves the right to evaluate the re-entry of US embassy personnel who are withdrawn temporarily or otherwise under the prevailing circumstances.

    The Government of Liberia wishes to inform the general public and the international community that the fighting in northern Liberia is restricted to that area and does not place at risk the safety and security of Liberians and foreigners throughout the rest the country. Hence, the US travel warning on Liberia at this time is most surprising."

    Pause there. What was this US travel warning, Mr Taylor?

  • You know, there are certain actions taken by major countries that cause devastating effects on little countries. We are having this problem in Liberia. The United States, a good friend and the worst, only super power, announces that it is warning - which is their constitutional responsibility. I don't quarrel with it - warning Americans to stay away from Liberia because of the conflict. This conflict is in Lofa. There is a Security Council delegation coming with senior diplomats coming to the country, normal things going. But these announcements - and those out there that are listening to this, they know what I am talking about. When these announcements come out, when the United States government says, "For reasons of security, we are reducing our embassy staff in Liberia and our" - right away, all flags go up all over the world. Everybody reacts. It's a destabilising effect. And sometimes we - well, in my case, I thought it was mischievous, in our case. You know we are trying to contain the problem. There are worse problems in other places, but this is - these are some of the steps that are taken to put pressure on governments, okay. Because once that announcement comes out from the United States, that we are reducing our embassy staff, other Western governments follow suit. Before you look, the country is empty. But this is also maybe unintentional on their part. This is also a signal to the insurgents to "step up your activities. You don't have to be concerned because foreigners are leaving the country." It's one of the most devastating things that can happen, and I don't take any - I don't - I mean, I'm sure it's the responsibility of the President to do it at that time, because he has to do it by law. But I'm just explaining the effects on little countries like ours that those kinds of announcements causes. That's what I'm talking about.

  • The LiveNote has broken down again I see.

  • I'm happy to continue so long as it's recording, Mr President.

  • Madam Court Manager, it will be recorded, won't it, even though LiveNote is not working?

  • Your Honour, the recording continues and I see the Internet has come back again. I presume it was an interruption, so I think users can click the reconnect button if that appears on their screens.

  • None of us have got a reconnect button.

  • If you're prepared to continue --

  • I'm happy to continue. So long as we're assured it's recording, I'm happy to continue.

  • Go ahead Mr Griffiths.

  • Mr Taylor, can we go back to the document. It continues:

    "Nevertheless, as always the Government of Liberia welcomes people of goodwill from everywhere and will continue to ensure the safety and security of all nationalities residing within our borders including Americans.

    The Government of Liberia categorically rejects the continued accusations of the United States government that the Liberian government is supporting the Revolutionary United Front."

  • Your Honour, I'm sorry to interrupt, but my LiveNote has also stopped so I would have to ascertain what the situation is presently.

  • Well, in the circumstances I had better pause because it may be that we're not recording now.

  • We'll have the audio recording, of course, but it's always good to have a fallback recording as well.

  • Your Honour, the technical problem appears to be with the stenographer's machine. She would therefore need to restart it.

  • I'm sorry, she would need to?

  • To restart her system.

  • And how long is that likely to take?

  • Your Honour, I would approximate ten minutes or so.

  • All right. We'll go off the Bench for ten minutes to allow that repair to take place.

  • [Break taken at 12.19 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.31 p.m.]

  • Yes, Mr Taylor. Before the brief adjournment we were looking at the press release behind divider 93.

  • And we just concluded looking at the second paragraph. Can we now turn to the third paragraph:

    "The Government of Liberia categorically rejects the continued accusations of the United States government that the Liberian government is supporting the Revolutionary United Front and impeding the peace process in Sierra Leone and that it is involved in the illicit trade in diamonds and weapons. These accusations, which the United States government has been unable to prove, are unfair and arbitrary.

    The President of Sierra Leone, Dr Alhaji Tejan Kabbah, recently conveyed his profound thanks to President Taylor for the positive role he is playing in the Sierra Leone peace process. As a matter of fact, Liberia-Sierra Leone relations have not deteriorated and could be said to be improving."

    Was that true, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, Joe Demby is just coming from Liberia --

  • The Vice-President?

  • Yes. Kabbah and I are talking. There's no problem.

  • "The matter of Sierra Leone is under consideration by the United Nations Security Council of which the United States is a permanent member. That body has constituted a panel of experts to investigate the illicit trade in diamonds and arms with regard to Sierra Leone. The panel recently concluded a fact-gathering mission to Liberia and has not yet reported its findings."

    Pause there. Mr Taylor, did you meet with that panel when they came to Liberia?

  • When did they come to Liberia?

  • I can't recall really, but it had not been too long. I think about a month or two before this time. I can't really recall.

  • "And has not yet reported its findings. In addition, a delegation of the Security Council, including the United States, is due in Liberia on Saturday, 14 October" - so that's the next day?

  • "... to discuss the issue of Sierra Leone with the Government of Liberia. The Government of Liberia expresses its concern at the timing of the imposition of visa restrictions on Liberia by the US government and hopes that this action was not taken to prejudice the outcome of the panel of experts report and the results of the upcoming meeting with the Security Council delegation in Monrovia."

    What do you mean by that last sentence?

  • To prejudice the decision?

  • Yes, what do you mean by that?

  • Well, these actions, once taken, this could be seen by the panel coming as a very strong move by its most powerful member of the international community and act in conjunction with those decisions. It's the timing. These kinds of decisions taken just before meetings or while meetings are in place by major players on the international scene are intended to prejudice the decisions.

    I mean, when you are about to receive a delegation and a day or two before the United States announces that, "We're taking these decisions against Liberia", right away people believe that there is substantial evidence that led to those actions and which we still have none. So this is why we say that this - even though we said we hope it's not intended, we know it is intended to prejudice the outcome.

  • And then you go on:

    "In this connection the Government of Liberia intends to treat this matter strictly as a bilateral matter that will not impact upon the upcoming meeting with the Security Council delegation. The Government of Liberia wishes to reiterate that its position on the Sierra Leone conflict remains unchanged and that it will continue to act in concert with the ECOWAS initiatives and decisions of the authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS. The United States' presumption that the President of Liberia, President Charles Ghankay Taylor, has the ability to influence the RUF based on his successful mediation of the release of the 500 UN hostages a few months ago, is overly simplistic and lacks an appreciation for the complexity of the Sierra Leone conflict".

    Can we pause again, please, Mr Taylor. Did you have any influence over the RUF?

  • None whatsoever. None.

  • So how had you been able to secure the release of the hostages then?

  • I would just put it to the long term of our association with the peace process and, having built that confidence over the months and the years, that we could talk to them and this is important in mediation. You must build up that trust. You must build up the confidence that when you say yes, you mean yes and when you say no, you mean no. And it is based on this type of contact that they were able to take us very seriously as we spoke, not for ourselves, but we spoke for ECOWAS in our position at that time.

  • Mr Taylor, let me pose the question differently. Did you have more influence over the RUF than any of your brother Presidents in the sub-region?

  • No, I didn't. I would say that Nigeria had very, very good contacts with the RUF. I would also say Burkina Faso had very good contacts. Mali had very good contacts. La Cote d'Ivoire - let's go back to the original agreement of November 1996. They had developed a very strong contact through the then President Konan Bedie and especially the foreign minister Amara Essy that had developed. So there were quite a number of countries that had very good contact with them, so they believed that I now being the mediator at this time have this magic wand that I can wave, it's foolhardy of them and we want to make that very clear.

  • Mr Taylor, if you didn't have more influence over the RUF than your colleagues, why did your brother Presidents make you the point man?

  • Well, I guess we share a border. There are two borders that surround Sierra Leone: Guinea and Liberia. The reason why in '96 we have Ivory Coast taking over is because, remember now, there is major conflict in Liberia. If not, I would suppose that they would have called upon Liberia even at that time. But I think it is the fact that they are contiguous borders and they have this animosity with Guinea. I mentioned here before that the RUF considered Kabbah, from what all the senior leaders said, as a foreigner and he was Guinean so they wanted to do nothing with Guinea, so they just felt that my experience in warfare, having led a rebel movement myself, and the fact that at some point during that particular time in '91 and '92 there had been this brief contact, they wanted for us to use all of that and our experience to do so. I guess this is the only reason.

  • "President Taylor has consistently tried to encourage the RUF to cooperate with the Government of Sierra Leone and the international community in peacefully resolving the Sierra Leonean civil war. The initiative of President Taylor which was mandated by ECOWAS requires the support and cooperation of the international community.

    In letters written to President William Jefferson Clinton and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan by President Taylor dated 23 August 2000 and 1 September 2000 respectively" - just to remind ourselves, the Clinton letter is behind our divider 75 if anyone wants to make a note for reference purposes.

    "... respectively he made concrete proposals to address United States concerns regarding the situation in Sierra Leone and called for their support for a cessation of hostilities, deployment of peacekeepers into territories occupied by the RUF, the relaunching of the DDR programme, and a general surveillance of the borders of the Mano River Union countries. Even though the letter to Secretary-General Annan has been published as a document of the United Nations Security Council, there has been no response from the United States administration to President Taylor's letter supra."

    So Clinton never responded to your letter of 23 August, Mr Taylor?

  • Not directly, no.

  • "Despite all of these efforts and the present window of opportunity existing in Sierra Leone as a result of the lull in fighting for the past several months, the Government of Liberia was disappointed to learn that the deployment of peacekeepers into RUF territories to relaunch the disarmament programme has been unduly delayed by the insistence of the United States to first train ECOWAS peacekeepers for a period of six months. This delay has the potential of plunging the Sierra Leonean conflict into a state of regression. This concern was raised by President Taylor in his recent letters of 5 October 2000 to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, ECOWAS chairman Alpha Konare, and President Olusegun Obasanjo respectively."

    Pause there. Mr Taylor, you've mentioned before this decision by the United States to first train ECOWAS peacekeepers for a period of six months and the delay that that would cause. Do you recall that?

  • Yes, I do.

  • Did the United States give a rationale for that decision?

  • The criticism was that the soldiers had acted unprofessionally, that they were seriously disorganised in the face of serious RUF combat, they could not stand - I think this was also alluded to in part by General Jetley when he was trying to talk about the comportmentation of the soldiers. So they just felt that they were not trained for this kind of mission and had to be trained.

    In fact, for the disarmament of the more than 500 UN troops there were reports that they - when they were confronted they just handed their arms over to the rebels. So the Americans were saying that, "Well, look, we need to train these people before putting them in the combat theatre", but leaving the void was a bigger problem because to say that everybody needed training was some of our concerns; that we felt that for example if you felt that the Nigerians were better trained or the Ghanians let's put those in theatre, let's get the process going, don't leave this void for an additional six months.

  • "The Government of Liberia was taken aback and disappointed by the assumption of the United States government that it has to impose sanctions against Liberia to influence Liberia to support the peace process in the sisterly African Republic of Sierra Leone. Liberia's commitment to Sierra Leone is a matter of fraternal duty and African solidarity.

    The Government of Liberia will continue its engagement on Sierra Leone through ECOWAS, the Organisation of African Unity and the United Nations. The Government of Liberia welcomes the United States government's participation in the United Nations delegation due to shortly arrive in Monrovia for discussions on Sierra Leone."

    Before I move on, can that press release from the Liberian ministry of foreign affairs dated 13 October 2000 be marked for identification, please, MFI-168.

  • Yes, that document is marked MFI-168.

  • Now, the next day, as you've already indicated, Mr Taylor, there was you United Nations Security Council mission to Liberia, wasn't there?

  • Yes, they had come - it was not specific to Liberia I think we need to note, but they had come to Liberia and Sierra Leone. They were touring the region.

  • And what had prompted this?

  • It's the overall Sierra Leonean problem and the understanding in view of the fact that we had now come up with these solutions to the Sierra Leonean problem with the new leadership and the whole problem of getting the hostages out. This was a full assessment mission to see what we would call which way forward on Sierra Leonean problem.

  • Now, did you meet with this mission?

  • Were notes made of the meeting?

  • Yes, following the meeting, yes, the Liberian government did her notes. Also present in that meeting were their own staff personnel including the special representative from Liberia. We did our notes based on our interpretation of what happened in the meeting and exchanged that with the special representative Downes-Thomas. They did their notes on what their interpretation was based on what they saw or heard in the meeting and exchanged that with us. So we exchanged, so we had our notes and we compared it with their notes to see if we had left anything out, added too much, subtracted, or whatever. So, yes, there were notes done on both sides and exchanged.

  • Now who headed this United Nations security mission?

  • Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's permanent representative to the Security Council.

  • Let's go behind divider 94, please. What do we see there, Mr Taylor?

  • Now here we have the - these are the Liberian government notes on what our officials saw as what transpired during the meeting.

  • Okay. We see that the document is headed "Pertinent notes of the meeting between members of the United Nations Security Council mission to West Africa and the Government of Liberia held at the Executive Mansion on Saturday, October 14, 2000, Monrovia, Liberia":

    On Saturday, 14 October 2000, the President of Liberia, at the head of a delegation of Liberian government officials, diplomats and foreign policy experts, received in audience an eleven-member United Nations Security Council mission headed by Sir Jeremy Greenstock, ambassador of the United Kingdom to the United Nations. The meeting was characterised by an atmosphere of cordiality, warmth, understanding and a determination to facilitate the objectives of the United Nations mission.

    Commencing the discussions, Ambassador Greenstock took note of the fact that his mission was the largest of its kind to be dispatched from the UN headquarters to Africa, thus signaling the importance of the mission's agenda. Besides Liberia, the mission's itinerary also included visits to Guinea, Nigeria, Mali and Sierra Leone. Ambassador Greenstock pointed out the objectives of his mission as follows:

    To define a coordinated strategy for the resolution of the crisis in Sierra Leone since it has the potential to export rebellion; to seek regional (ECOWAS and Mano River Union) cooperation in finding a political solution to the crisis; to gain a greater understanding of Liberia's strategic security concerns with a view to ending the rebellion at Liberia's border with Guinea on the one hand, and Guinea's border with Sierra Leone; to request Liberia's cooperation in curbing the trafficking of diamonds and arms in the Mano River Union areas; to find out what role President Taylor is prepared to play and what are his priorities in the context of the ECOWAS peace plan for the speedy resolution of the Sierra Leonean conflict and thereby prevent the isolation of Liberia by the international community.

    In further discussion of the possible prescriptions for resolving the crisis, Ambassador Greenstock pointed out the following: He called for the RUF to enter a formal agreement for a ceasefire and move rapidly towards disarmament and demobilisation."

    Pause there, Mr Taylor. In earlier correspondence you had mentioned that the RUF were prepared to have such a ceasefire hadn't you?

  • And since when had they been prepared to have such a ceasefire?

  • From 21 August they had made that very clear. 21 August referring to the appointment of Issa Sesay. That was very clear and I can see there's a little briefing error here on the part of the ambassador because the United Nations had been written even by me to talk about this and some of the other African leaders. So probably he had not been properly briefed.

  • "In the interim, he called for the UNAMSIL forces to move in to protect the diamond fields currently occupied by the RUF."

    Mr Taylor, you were at this meeting so help us, why was that seen as a priority?

  • We're talking about maybe it's an interests of Britain, maybe it's a strategic interest, but again there's a briefing problem and you wonder sometimes, because a part of this whole - of the letter that I wrote to the Secretary-General had to do with, "Listen, these guys want deployment" but Greenstock is forgetting here, and I think he is reminded later, that the very United States is stopping this because they want six months of training. So on the one hand he is calling for this, but he knows what the obstacles are, he knows, but we remind him about it.

  • "He urged President Taylor to accept the training of a new Sierra Leonean army as being in the interests of the security of Liberia. He said it was out of the question for RUF leadership currently detained to be part of any new arrangement in the peace process."

    "RUF leadership currently detained" is who?

  • So Greenstock is saying that Sankoh cannot be involved in the peace process?

  • Did you consider that to be wise?

  • I didn't really matter what I thought. I don't think it was a wise stuff because if Greenstock had remembered, or if he had been briefed, he must know that the decision that had been taken in Freetown when Konare and Obasanjo went along with Kabbah and met Sankoh, Issa Sesay was appointed interim leader and they - all of us in ECOWAS knew the procedures used to get to that decision for Issa Sesay to take over.

    But here we have it now, this is a major power, and since he is heading a United Nations Security Council delegation, under these conditions right away if you are in that room you must take note of the fact that this is a decision now that has been taken not just by Greenstock. We look at this now as a decision by the powers - the major powers of the world have decided Sankoh is not going to take part and so we took note of that.

  • Right:

    "He called for new arrangements for either elections or an interim government as President Kabbah nears the end of his tenure, hinting that Kabbah may not be interested in retaining the presidency."

    Had you detected such a sentiment on the part of President Kabbah, Mr Taylor?

  • No, he had not discussed that with me, no.

  • "Following an exhaustive exchange of views on the above outlined points, Ambassador Greenstock offered other members of his mission the opportunity to make remarks.

    Ambassador James B Cunningham of the United States. Reading from a prepared text, Ambassador Cunningham reiterated the oft repeated allegations of the United States government that the Government of Liberia is primarily responsible for aiding the conflict in Sierra Leone. He referred to the recent action of the US in imposing visa restrictions on Liberian government officials as the first step in a series of anticipated actions to pressure the Liberian government into playing a more constructive role in Sierra Leone."

    How did you respond to that, Mr Taylor, given that you were at this meeting?

  • By this time the air-conditioning is not really working very well. The heat is beginning to come up in the room literally. Because as soon as he pulled out this prepared text we knew that this was the same old line that we had warned about in the press statement the day before that we hoped that this would not prejudice the meeting and we sensed that they were going to be up to this little trick, to come in there and this is a prepared statement coming all the way back from when Under-Secretary Pickering came. So from a diplomatic study you can see all the connections. By this time we knew that - in fact we expected this and the room started getting unpleasant.

  • "Ambassador Cunningham expressed the desire of the United States to work cooperatively with Liberia as a traditional friend and said that his government is prepared to work with other governments to guarantee Liberia's security (in light of the cross-border incursions) if President Taylor plays a constructive role to solve the Sierra Leone problem."

    Can I ask you to pause again please, Mr Taylor. When the American ambassador, Mr Cunningham, made that statement, did you ask him for proof?

  • Right in the meeting. When we had an opportunity to speak, because we took it by turn, we raised all the issues of proof, asked them in that meeting to produce it, reiterated that it never, ever produced any proof, that these allegations had been just lingering out there. But we never got any.

  • Over the page, please:

    "Ambassador Doutriaux of France. The French ambassador expressed concern over the current development in the Mano River Union with respect to cross-border conflict between Guinea and Liberia. He encouraged President Taylor to initiate meetings and confidence building measures through negotiations in order to restore peace and stability in the Mano River Union."

    Then we had Ambassador Peter van Walsum of The Netherlands who indicated that although he had not met General Issa Sesay, the new interim head of the RUF, it was his understanding that he had been described as strikingly insignificant. If this were true, he inquired of President Taylor how could General Sesay be expected to be of any significance in the peace process.

    Was that your assessment of Issa Sesay, Mr Taylor?

  • It was not my assessment and I later on told him - I told him exactly how to assess somebody in my response to him, that you don't look at a person and say - how do you say somebody is strikingly insignificant?

  • "Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury of Bangladesh referred to reports of conflict diamonds being trafficked in the Mano River Union and asked whether President Taylor was aware of intelligence reports of such diamonds passing through Liberian territory."

    Help me, was any such intelligence report produced by any of these ambassadors?

  • No, no, no, but the word was out there that diamonds were passing through and we had never disputed the possibility that they were passing through.

  • But were you shown any intelligence reports?

  • Then we go over the page we see the remarks and responses of the President of Liberia:

    "Following expressions of thanks to the mission and acknowledging the importance of the visit, President Taylor gave a historic background on the genesis of the conflict in the Mano River Union beginning with the invasion of Liberia in the early 1990s by the ULIMO faction assisted by the Sierra Leonean government under President Joseph Momoh.

    He also described the complications of the Sierra Leonean conflict through the introduction of mercenaries, the defection of the Sierra Leonean army which then joined forces with the RUF to overthrow the government of President Kabbah, and the unusual precedent set when ECOWAS, at the urging of the late Nigerian Head of State Sani Abacha, established the policy of re-establishing by force regimes that had been overthrown by the military.

    The President also mentioned the three unprovoked incursions of Liberian territory by insurgents from Guinea, the silence of the international community, and the accommodation given the insurgents by the Guinean government as actions that have fueled instability in the Mano River Union.

    On the critical issue of resolution of the Sierra Leonean crisis, President Taylor made the following proposals:

    He reiterated his firm commitment to work within the ECOWAS framework for the resolution of the crisis; he lamented the simplification of the crisis in Sierra Leone to diamond smuggling in view of other larger issues such as tribal differences, misreading of the conflict, struggle for power, and misjudgment of the strength of the RUF. He also rejected the consistent unproved allegations against him personally and his government for gun-running and diamond smuggling; the President said he supports the establishment of a neutral interim government at the end of the Kabbah tenure; he called for the revisitation of the Lome accords with the original signatories; he said he is not opposed to trials for Corporal Foday Sankoh but he should be tried for crimes committed after the Lome accord was signed."

    Why do you think that was significant, Mr Taylor?

  • Because the Court had dealt with the issue of amnesty for all individuals. It is enshrined in that particular agreement.

  • "The President called for the international community to take advantage of the window of opportunity provided by a lull in the fighting and the positive engagement between the RUF and UNAMSIL officers to deploy peacekeepers in RUF territory to further enhance confidence building; on the issue of training, the President called for the training of members of all factions, rather than training a new Sierra Leonean army, which could become a new faction in the conflict; he finally stressed the need for an increased role for ECOWAS in the process adding that the sub-region should not be sidelined."

  • Do your Honours have behind this a letter dated October 3, 1999?

  • Some of us do and some of us don't.

  • It's a rogue document which shouldn't be there:

  • Now, before we move on, Mr Taylor --

  • Mr President, could we mark that document for identification, please, MFI-169.

  • That document is marked MFI-169.

  • Mr Griffiths, sorry to interrupt again. From this document, there's an issue that I'm still trying to understand. There's talk of training the Sierra Leone Army for six months. I'm not sure to do what exactly. And then there's the earlier issue of training UNAMSIL for six months to move into the RUF areas.

  • Could I seek your Honour's assistance to this extent: Where in particular in this document is the reference to training of the Sierra Leonean army for six months?

  • If you look at - unfortunately, it's not paginated, but page 2, where you have sort of in the top-middle the bullets, bullet 1, 2, 3, "He urged President Taylor to accept the training of a new Sierra Leonean army as being in the interests of the security of Liberia."

  • I see the passage.

  • That is the aspect I'm referring to. I wish to understand from the witness who was in this meeting, was the proposal to train a Sierra Leone Army for six months to take over RUF controlled areas, or was the proposal to train the UNAMSIL Nigerian peacekeepers to take over control?

  • Well, your Honour, I'm still a little lost on the six months for the Sierra Leonean army training. I'm still a little lost on that part, according to this document.

  • [Microphone not activated].

  • It's on the second page, the bullet 1, 2, 3 - bullet 3 on the second page of that document. "The training of a new Sierra Leone Army."

  • Yes. What I'm concerned about now, your Honour, is the six months attached to that. I don't think there's a time frame attached to the training of the Sierra Leonean armed forces that's why I'm asking for help here. The six months applies to the training of ECOWAS forces that will be placed under UNAMSIL to be deployed in the RUF area. But --

  • Perhaps it was my connection with your earlier testimony that you were opposed to the six months' training of UNAMSIL as that would delay the process of moving into the RUF areas and therefore the ceasefire.

  • That is correct, your Honour. That is correct.

  • So since you were opposed to that and this bullet speaks of asking or urging you to accept the training --

  • These are two different trainings, your Honour.

  • Are they two different --

  • They are, your Honour. I'm opposed to the training - the time it will take, the delay in trying to train trained people to deploy to get the process moving. That's UNAMSIL taking on ECOWAS military personnel for that purpose.

    This particular point here I have raised in an earlier document are concerns about the heavy armament being brought into Sierra Leone by the British government under the guise of wanting to train a new Sierra Leonean armed forces while the peace process is sill not resolved. So it will mean that one sector will get trained and the other would not get trained. But what we had anticipated in the Lome agreement was that, at the end of the process, members of all of the warring factions will be recruited and trained and a new national army would be built on to the old SLA. This is where we are.

    Did I clarify that?

  • Yes, thank you.

  • Did we mark that document for --

  • Now, Mr Taylor, you mentioned earlier that the United Nations special representative was also present at this meeting.

  • And he made his own notes which were exchanged with you.

  • That is correct, the Government of Liberia, yes.

  • Right. Can we have a look behind divider 97, please. Now, we see from the first page that this is an outgoing code cable from Special Representative Downes-Thomas to Prendergast dated 18 October 2000 attaching his account of the meeting held on - in Monrovia on October 14, yes, Mr Taylor?

  • That is correct.

  • Let's go over the page, please:

    "Meeting between the Security Council mission to Sierra Leone and President Charles Taylor held at the Executive Mansion, Monrovia, 14 October 2000.

    The Security Council mission to Sierra Leone, headed by United Kingdom permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, together with its support staff, attended a meeting with President Charles Taylor at the Executive Mansion in Monrovia on Saturday, October 14, 2000. The President was accompanied by twelve of his most senior advisers, including his Vice-President, minister of state for presidential affairs, director of cabinet, foreign minister, permanent representative to the United Nations, chairman of the ruling national patriotic party and national security adviser. Also in attendance were Mr Felix Downes-Thomas, representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Liberia; Mr John Kakonge, UN resident coordinator; two members of staff of the United Nations peace building support office in Liberia; and one political officer from the United Nations mission in Sierra Leone.

    Ambassador Greenstock explained the mission's mandate and pointed to the fact that his mission was the largest Security Council mission ever to travel on a single issue. He highlighted the implications of the visit, not only for peace in Sierra Leone, but more importantly within the West African region. He was of the view that what was urgently needed to secure peace and stability was a coordinated strategy on Sierra Leone, founded primarily on regional cooperation which took into consideration the political and security aspects of the Mano River Union relationship. He stated that, having heard from Presidents Konare, Kabbah, Conte and Obasanjo, as well as from ECOWAS's executive secretary, Kouyate, their views on how best one could arrive at a political solution to the Sierra Leonean crisis, the Security Council was eager to hear from President Taylor. He wanted President Taylor to know that his input was essential to arriving at any solution for lasting peace in the sub-region."

    Did you need to be reminded of that, Mr Taylor.

  • No, I did not.

  • "In light of the above, Ambassador Greenstock had several pointed questions for President Taylor:

    What did he (Taylor) need to help bring about stability in the sub-region?

    How could he assist in devising a mixture of measures that would end the exportation of trouble and the frequent cross border hostile activity affecting the Mano River Union member states?

    What recent contacts did he have with the RUF leadership to encourage the organisation to strike a deal to put an end to the conflict?

    What role did he see for ECOWAS in putting an end to the conflict?

    What are his priorities, and how can he retain stability for Liberia?

    President Taylor, in response, promised to pour his heart out and to 'address the issue squarely'. He provided a historical analysis of the conflict in the sub-region, which had as its points of departure the invasion of Liberia by ULIMO forces from Sierra Leone while 'Liberia's civil war was going on'. He emphasised that he had always known Foday Sankoh as well as several other Sierra Leonean officials including Sierra Leone's deputy defence minister who had taken refuge in Liberia for periods which go beyond a decade. Sierra Leone, he said, had experienced terrible mayhem and that he had always wanted peace. He cautioned that 'sometimes we confuse the process of seeking peace with getting at individuals'. He was of the view that the origins of ULIMO in Sierra Leone allowed for some of its former combatants to settle in Sierra Leone, thus fuel ling the crisis.

    President Taylor expressed his support for President Kabbah as the elected Head of State of Sierra Leone. He described him as 'a good man who is unfortunately a technocrat placed in a bad situation'."

    What did you mean by that, Mr Taylor?

  • Oh, Kabbah had worked for the UN all those years. They are just used to paperwork and discussions. Being out there in the real world is a little different from sitting in UN headquarters as a diplomat and that he is a good man, he is a good technocrat, educated, smart, but - I mean, you are dealing with a different type of situation on the ground, and he was just in a bad situation. And I don't think he knew how to handle it, and I was frank about it.

  • "He pointed out that his Sierra Leonean counterpart became President in the midst of an ongoing war in that country. With no disarmament and no demobilisation process in place, President Kabbah was not able to solve the problem he found in Sierra Leone. After his overthrow by Johnny Paul Koroma, the situation became even more difficult for him (Kabbah) as he now faced a dual opposition with the invitation to the RUF to join the government of the AFRC. During this period there was a massive importation of arms into Sierra Leone."

    How do you know?

  • Well, these were all reports. There were reports of a Russian vessel coming in with the AFRC in place. The AFRC itself, upon seizing power, had large amounts of arms that had been given them to help to fight against the rebels.

  • Hold on a second, Mr Taylor. Are you forgetting something here? Are you forgetting a letter from Johnny Paul Koroma, shortly after the coup and shortly after you became President, begging for weapons? Do you remember that?

  • Yes. Yes, I remember the letter.

  • So what's the situation? Where do you get this notion from that there was this massive importation of arms under the AFRC?

  • Well, during that particular time you have to remember that we get reports of Sandline and other people that had been paid to come to assist. Even Kabbah did before he left office. Kabbah is being assisted. So the weapons that are in Sierra Leone are not just what they are bringing but what even Kabbah had brought in that had been taken over when his army left him. So I don't know why Johnny Paul would even want weapons because they do have a lot of weapons.

  • "President Taylor further explained that in trying to deal with this complex situation, the west had not taken into consideration many African traditions which were a crucial factor in that situation and had consequently sought to apply unworkable solutions in an effort to find peace at all costs. He emphasised that with the RUF and the SLA as the new political contestants for power an agreement was signed at Lome against the objections of the western countries to allow sleeping dogs to lie and to avoid the question of trial for atrocities. Bearing the above in mind, it was President Taylor's considered view that unless we are now prepared to create a government of national unity under Lome, there can be no real way forward. He emphasised that he had never been against the idea of having Foday Sankoh stand trial for crimes committed after Lome.

    President Taylor expressed his frustration with the frequent accusations made against him by the west of fuel ling the war in Sierra Leone and recounted his efforts to bring peace in that country. He reminded the mission that he had been called upon by his ECOWAS colleagues, after President Kabbah's return to power, to do all in his power to bring peace to Sierra Leone."

    We've dealt with the various meetings where that was said, have we not, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, we have.

  • "He recounted his difficult but successful mediation efforts to bring Johnny Paul Koroma, a man he had never met, and Foday Sankoh and to encourage them into the political mainstream."

    A man you had never met, Mr Taylor. Is that right?

  • That's right.

  • When was the first time you met him?

  • First time I met Johnny Paul Koroma was in August of 1999. First time. I had never met him before.

  • "He wondered who then was responsible for the violation of the Lome agreement and what aspects of Lome were not adhered to. He recalled that similarly, when Sankoh had problems with Sam Bockarie, he (Taylor) was again called upon by the Secretary-General to intervene. He had successfully managed 'to pull Bockarie out of the fighting' only to be accused later of having invited Bockarie to Liberia to further train him for the battlefield."

    Pause there. Who had made this accusation that you had invited Bockarie to Liberia to further train him for the battlefield?

  • Same two countries; Britain and America had said that it was possible because he only brought him to train him.

  • What about Sierra Leone?

  • Well, yes, your Honour, to a great extent. But the Sierra Leonean accusation, I'm sorry - I'm talking about the principal ones that really made a difference. At some point later, yes, Sierra Leone does complain about it and we can go back to the delegation that visited Naama and all that. But Sierra Leone, yes, your Honour, was a part of that too.

  • "He complained that none of these efforts seemed to satisfy his accusers of his genuine desire for peace and that the latest accusations regarding gun-running and diamond smuggling levelled against him by the US and UK governments are simply not true.

    In this regard he reminded the mission that Liberia has diamonds of its own. He pointed out that indeed illegal diamonds may have passed through Liberia and found their way on to the international market."

    Pause there. Mr Taylor, have you ever denied that?

  • Never. Never denied that.

  • Mr Griffiths, I wonder if you could pause there. I hope that's a convenient place to pause for this morning. There is just something I wanted to say before we take the lunch adjournment. That is to place on record the Trial Chamber's concern at the delays that are being caused by problems experienced with the equipment used to record these court proceedings. There have been delays in the past, but they seem to be happening with increasing regularity. Earlier this week we had to adjourn court altogether to enable repairs to the equipment to be effected and earlier today we had to go off the Bench for the same reason.

    There's every possibility that these delays, caused by faulty equipment, are going to get worse. So I think it's appropriate at this stage not only to record the Trial Chamber's concern, but direct that our concern and our comments be brought to the attention of the Registrar and also the attention of the President.

    Having said that, we will adjourn for lunch and we'll resume at 2.30.

  • [Lunch break taken at 1.26 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 2.30 p.m.]

  • Please go ahead, Mr Griffiths.

  • May it please your Honours:

  • Mr Taylor, before we adjourned for lunch we were looking at this document prepared by the special representative of the Secretary-General, Mr Downes-Thomas?

  • Recording that same meeting on 14 October with the Security Council mission to Liberia, yes?

  • And we had got to paragraph 8 of that document, yes?

  • "In this regard, he reminded the mission that Liberia has diamonds of its own. He pointed out that indeed illegal diamonds may have passed through Liberia and found their way on to the international market, but not with the knowledge or acquiescence of the Government of Liberia. The Government of Liberia has no record of sales of any diamonds. If there is an illegal market, he advised, then there must also be a legitimate market. On this matter, he repeated his call to his accusers to provide him with the name/names of companies that could testify to doing business with Liberia or with Charles Taylor."

    Pause there. Mr Taylor, have you, then or since, been given the name or names of any company with whom you're supposed to have been dealing in diamonds?

  • No, we have not. We raised this issue with them. In fact, what I had said to them was a little more expanded. I said, Look, diamonds are bought and sold in Belgium, South Africa. Belgium is a major European country. There is no way you can take diamonds into any buying area in Belgium, sell them, and be paid in cash that you put in a bag or a whole bundle of money and walk out. If and when diamonds are sold in Belgium, the buying agency will give you, what? A cheque. Or maybe you give them some bank account that they will have to transfer the money. Nobody walks around the streets of Belgium with a half a million dollars in a plastic bag from selling African diamonds. So the banking system in Europe is very good. If anybody comes into a Belgian place that is registered with the government to sell a large amount of diamonds it would be registered and reported to the government. There is no way it can be hidden, because they have to pay taxes to their government. So nobody - you come from Africa with a million, a half a million dollars worth of diamonds and walk into the place, nobody is going to buy it under the table. There's got to be an exchange of change of money and not physical cash. There's ways that you can check on these things without having to make these foolish accusations that this person is trading in diamonds. Where is this trade going on? Everything is registered. Everything is reported in Belgium, in South Africa. So why don't we try to go and see if these things are there. There are no businesses, no records of any companies at that time, counsel, until now. Nobody has brought a company: Mr Taylor, here we have - here is a company that was registered in your name or somebody that you know that sold this quantity of diamonds and claimed it was for you. None of this kind of stuff until today, nothing.

  • "He said that it was grossly unfair to reduce the whole situation in Sierra Leone to his perceived desire for war. President Taylor also reminded the mission that he had, on more than one occasion, requested airborne surveillance of the region to either deter the cross-border illegal activity or to confirm the same. He had similarly written to the Security Council as well as to ECOWAS and the Secretary-General, suggesting the deployment of peacekeeping forces on the Liberian side of the border. He had also requested that observers be deployed at Liberia's international airports. All of these requests, he stated, had yet to receive any positive response from any quarter.

    With respect to the accusations against him of providing arms to the RUF, he warned that 'the peacekeepers need to be careful'. He declared that the NPFL had bought many of its weapons from the peacekeepers during Liberia's civil conflict and advised that Liberia has no tanks here, but that the RUF, which is not a machete group, has its own."

    Pause there. Did the RUF have tanks?

  • They captured - the reported - these are part of the equipment that they want returned. They have tanks now that they've seized from them. Heavy artillery, everything, yeah.

  • Did Liberia have that kind of armament?

  • No. Throughout up until I left office we never had a tank, never. Never had one.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, you had mentioned on an earlier occasion that the NPFL had bought many of its weapons from the peacekeepers, and this is a sentiment which you're sharing at this stage with this group as well?

  • That is correct, yes. Once you had money, we could buy arms. We could buy arms. When the NPFL was actually fighting, we would be fighting one unit on one side and buying arms from the other unit in another part of the country, so that was normal. Once you had money, the men were not paid, they were out there trying to get whatever they could. So we bought weapons from the peacekeepers, yes.

  • "President Taylor then made the following proposals to the mission:

    While recognising President Kabbah as a friend and Head of State, it is clear that he is too weak to solve the problems associated with restoring peace while upholding government. President Kabbah needs to be strengthened."

    Did you believe that, that he was too weak?

  • Yes, yes, definitely. I would not have said this if I didn't believe it. It's true.

  • "There is a need to look at the question of insuring the establishment of a National Transitional Government at the end of his current term, if his government does not succeed in bringing the required level of peace to Sierra Leone.

    Consonant with his assertion that following the change of the RUF leadership he has never opposed putting Foday Sankoh on trial for acts committed after Lome, there is a need to adhere to the provisions of Lome in this regard."

    And that's the particular provision granting amnesty to the combatants?

  • That is correct.

  • "While he is not opposed to revisiting Lome, only those who negotiated Lome should take part in its revisiting. There should be no extraneous parties involved."

    Who are you referring to as extraneous parties?

  • The steps now being taken by Britain and America - I'm referring to Britain and America - that seem to be coming in to take over this agreement from ECOWAS.

    Let me point out something that may not have been pointed out. From the moment in July of 1999 that the Lome agreement was signed, it was evident there, and all of us got to see that - we mentioned this a little earlier - the west, mostly Britain and America, were not in favour of the agreement, and most of us considered that agreement doomed from the moment it was signed because of the outside interference. So when you look at all of our communication coming after, we are talking about the ECOWAS plan and the Lome plan, because we know that they begin to contest the plan from Lome. And one issue that was contested in Lome by the British and the Americans, and most of the western countries, was this issue of the amnesty that we talk about here. From the beginning they set out to sabotage this agreement, and so we were always reminding them of the fact that we were aware of what they were up to.

  • What was the particular reason for the opposition to the amnesty, Mr Taylor?

  • You know, we were talking about trying to solve it the African way, and they were not prepared to solve it the African way. They did not think that amnesty was the proper way to go. They wanted to put people on trial. They wanted to - they were pushing for the Foday Sankoh trial at that particular time, and we told them that no - I remember all of the Heads of State, we just decided: No, this agreement, this is what ECOWAS wants, and we only ask you people to back us. But obviously they did not want to back us, and they didn't. So they kept undermining it. Remember, it starts with - even though I didn't like the gentleman because Shelpidi - let's go back a little bit. Remember, it was through the injection of these negative ideas also against Shelpidi by the then British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook that insisted that Shelpidi be moved. So it goes on and goes on. So that intervention started from as far back then when Robin Cook ingrained himself into the whole process and they started to undermine us. So we were pretty, pretty, pretty scared when they started this process.

  • "He would welcome an opportunity to review Lome's provisions with a view to changing some of them."

    Some of them like which ones?

  • Well, we didn't know - we did not know what they would have come up with. We didn't know. Because I'm talking to them - they are the ones that are saying that we must go back to Lome. So I say well, okay. The first thing, those that negotiated Lome should look at Lome. We don't want you people coming with a new set of negotiations, and of course we're open to some adjustments if we have to, but we want this to be a West African solution. This was the whole problem. And if you look at what Sir Jeremy Greenstock even said before in a meeting, he begins to suggest that Kabbah may not interested in the position after. So that whole issue - in some circles we had heard that they were dissatisfied also with Kabbah and were going to encourage him not to push any forward. But he puts it in diplomatic terms by saying that Kabbah may not be interested after his official term, so this whole process is interfering, really.

  • And then the next point you made was that:

    "The ongoing efforts by the United Kingdom to train the Sierra Leone Army are counterproductive. 'The SLA overthrew President Kabbah under Johnny Paul Koroma with the very soldiers the British are now trying to train, claiming that they wanted to be part of the process. Would the natural RUF reaction to this not be "why train only a part of the parties to the conflict?" The policy of picking and choosing who should be trained will only foment further hostility and alienate some forces as evidenced in the recent British experience with the West Side Boys.' The current training of the SLA needs to be curtailed."

    The recent experience with the West Side Boys, what's that about? What's that a reference to?

  • That was, from all reports, major combat between the British army in Sierra Leone and the West Side Boys. They fought, I think, for a day or two. There were casualties on, I think, both sides, and so - but the West Side Boys were also part of what? The SLA. So you are now going and training, some of them are not being trained, but when you - this is also in disregard of the Lome agreement, because the agreement was pushing - bringing people from all of the factions and training them. So when they come in now, change everything around, change the commander of the forces in Sierra Leone, even the commander of the Sierra Leonean forces, who was the late Khobe, is changed. A British officer is sent as commander of the Sierra Leonean armed forces. That's how he is sent. And so we see this with a part of the West Side Boys that are the SLA out, another part you are training, it's just not a stable environment.

  • And then go on to say that "the current training of the SLA needs to be curtailed." The next point you made to them was this, Mr Taylor:

    "UNAMSIL should be the only source of military force on the ground until the demobilisation and disarmament exercises have been completed. All other forces should disarm to UNAMSIL. Thereafter, a cohesive force may be trained."

    Now, when you were saying that "all other forces should disarm to UNAMSIL", were you including in that, Mr Taylor, the Sierra Leonean army?

  • Yeah, what was then called the Sierra Leonean army. All of these forces had fought. And as a reminder, the Sierra Leonean army split up into two. At the point of the overthrow of President Kabbah, some of the soldiers remained loyal to him, while others joined this AFRC situation.

    Now, the part of the army that is being trained now is that part of the army that remained loyal to Kabbah. A vast majority of the rest of the armed forces is not being trained. Also, who is being trained? They are now training some of the Kamajors. So you have one part of the Sierra Leonean army not being trained, you have the RUF not being trained, I see that as a very, very troubling factor because you would only discourage people from disarming. And what is even troubling about it, you are doing this while disarmament is not over.

    Why start this kind of thing to cause trouble? So people can say, "Oh, yes, so you're only training these people and you are arming them to fight us? We are not going to give up our arms." So I'm trying to tell them, get disarmament over first, then do your selection and your training.

  • "The Government of Sierra Leone needs to take advantage of the window of opportunity provided by the de facto ceasefire to now enter into dialogue with the new RUF leadership. If it had difficulties in so doing, he (President Taylor) would be a 'go between'. He could not, however, speak on behalf of the RUF and would never sacrifice the government and people of Liberia to save the RUF."

    Why did you feel it necessary to make that statement?

  • Well, again, you know, you have to be careful in these discussions. You are talking about - I'm the mediator, but I want them to know that there is only so far I will be prepared to go, and that if this - I'm hinting that if this process continues to threaten the peace and security of my government and Liberia that I would not - I mean, I would go for, what, Liberia first because I'm constituted - I'm the constitutionally-elected President of Liberia, so my first obligation is to Liberia.

  • "UNAMSIL forces should 'stay out of any exchange of fire, except when provoked'. The United Nations must be seen to remain neutral.

    ECOWAS forces under UNAMSIL should be allowed to move into and establish control over the diamond areas immediately."

    Did you mean that, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, because this was the British main - this was their main concern. Remember, the first thing that Greenstock said was that they needed for forces to move where? Into the diamonds areas.

  • But I think you misunderstand my question, Mr Taylor. This is you saying that "ECOWAS forces under UNAMSIL should be allowed to move into and establish control over the diamonds areas immediately."

  • Now, you're saying that?

  • But, Mr Taylor, if UNAMSIL, that is, neutral forces, move in and control the diamonds areas, then you can't get access to the RUF diamonds and you're supposed to be the one trading in those diamonds. So are you being hypocritical in suggesting this? Do you follow me?

  • I follow you very well. I do not control them. That's their warped thinking, but I do not control any diamonds and I want to bring this thing to a peace. So saying the diamond is the main problem, let's move into their quickly. No, I do not control them and I think people know that too.

  • "When groups from within the region came into Liberia to assist with demobilisation, this helped psychologically."

    What do you mean by this?

  • There's this fear factor. There's a fear factor in disarming. These guys felt better. When they saw - by groups I'm talking about contributing countries from ECOWAS to the military force. So when they saw people come from Niger, they saw some other soldiers, in fact, come from The Gambia or maybe they see - there were some soldiers from Mali, they begin to feel that, you know, they should remove the fear factor of giving up the arm and surely they will be making some progress, because there's always - the situation that I experienced, there's always the villain amongst the peacekeepers. There's the villain.

    Now, the villain, for a long time, in our case, was Nigeria. So we felt comfortable when Ghana sent in forces, you know, and Mali sent in forces, okay, fine, so it's neutralised. There's always a villain. So in the case over in Sierra Leone, I do not know who the RUF had seen then as the villain, but you always want to bring in more peoples that the villain will be overshadowed.

  • "The RUF will not wish to attack United Nations or ECOWAS forces. One should therefore use this window of opportunity now, rather than wait until after further training is provided to Nigerians and Ghanaians."

    Is that a further reference to this six months' training thing?

  • "The UN should seize on the desire for peace demonstrated by the new leadership of the RUF. Their willingness to return captured United Nations material should be capitalised on, though one should not expect, in the short term, to retrieve too many of the light weapons."

    Why were you saying that, Mr Taylor?

  • Because of the unstructured nature of these guerilla armies. These boys - I was talking about from the NPFL experience. Because things are not structured, you don't have any real control over these people. I tell you, some people are taking a beating for nothing. You don't have control over these combatants. You do not.

    They are fighting here today, they may get a rifle. Let's say this disarm these peacekeepers and there were soldiers standing around without weapons and let's say they handed a weapon to them, this guy may be fighting here. By tomorrow, he could be three, four, five miles away under a new commander. There is nothing structured about these groups.

    So I know from the Liberian experience that these weapons would have been dispersed so widely because you don't even remember who you gave them to. Nobody - there is no roster with John Brown, this weapon, weapon number 4561 - there is none of this thing in these guerilla armies.

    You find a weapon, you hand it to the first man available and he's gone. So there is no way, I figured, and I could have been wrong, that they would have retrieved it because of my experience in the unstructured nature of the way these guerillas operate.

  • "President Taylor reiterated that no one should count on him to exercise any control over the RUF. It was simply not possible for him to do so, nor was it his desire. Liberia, he said, does not want trouble, but peace within its borders and within the sub-region. He expressed his desire to leave for posterity a legacy of peace, not war. In this regard, he complained about the three attacks which Liberia had sustained from dissidents operating out of Guinea. He was not impressed by the fact that assistant Secretary-General Fall had come to the region and had not mentioned in his recent briefing to the Security Council attacks on Liberia but made clear reference to attacks emanating from Liberia."

    Is that true?

  • Yeah, I think Fall made a mistake, yes, and we pointed that out. That's true. Maybe he made a mistake. He wanted to say "attacks on Liberia", but he said "emanating from" and we took exception to that.

  • "He further expressed his government's frustration over the treatment of Liberian diplomats and refugees in Guinea, especially in light of his futile appeals made to the Secretary-General and the Security Council to intervene with the Government of Guinea on his behalf.

    President Taylor appealed with the council to lift the arms embargo imposed on Liberia. He commented that this request had been conveyed to the council on more than one occasion, and pointed out that the request was made in light of the three incursions Liberia had suffered over the last two years. He pleaded for at least a limited capacity to import sufficient weapons to enable the Government of Liberia to protect itself."

    Mr Taylor, can we pause there for a moment, please. We spoke during the course of 1999 about the destruction of those weapons collected during disarmament, yes?

  • And we dealt with that in some detail, and we're now aware that between July 1999 and October 1999, we looked at a list of weapons and other war material which was destroyed. Do you recall that?

  • Now, running in parallel with that process of weapons destruction, we've had attacks - three incursions into Liberia, yes?

  • The most recent beginning in July and still continuing?

  • Had you, despite the UN's arms embargo, made any attempt to import arms into Liberia?

  • By that time, no. Not at that time, no.

  • So by this date, 14 October, had any new arms come into Liberia?

  • No, we had not brought in any new arms. This is why the rebels were able to stay so long. From 8 July they attacked, this is all the way - they are still in because we don't have the means to really fight them. No, we had not brought in any weapons.

  • So, help us, Mr Taylor, what weapons were therefore being used to fight them?

  • Remember, I have said that when this thing - when we got the first and second attacks there was a call to all able-bodied men and women to come forward and it was at this time that as these soldiers came some of them in a very - I would say this was not a good thing, but they did - some of them had hidden their little individual rifles and we saw - people went digging up rifles. They brought - most of the guys that came brought the little one rifle. So this is why the disarmament was not as substantial as one would want. But the thousands that came, a lot of them brought - some of them brought two packs of ammunition. Not boxes. Maybe two packs, maybe a rifle. Some of them had hidden grenades, they brought them. So it is this collection of weapons from this national call across the country that we started using to push the rebels.

  • So what about the ATU, Mr Taylor? Where did they get weapons from?

  • The ATU were being trained and we had collected some of the same old weapons, this is what the ATU were using. They were not using anything more sophisticated than the rest of the country. Everybody was using the same.

  • "He also stated that if the council decided to deny Liberia the capacity to defend its territorial integrity, then the council had a duty to protect Liberia.

    The President concluded his remarks with an appeal to the council to support the Mano River Union and ECOWAS. He expressed the view that the latter 'should be permitted to play a stronger role than is currently the case'. He cautioned that New York or Washington cannot make decisions for the region or sub-region and pointed out that some countries will not contribute troops to the peacekeeping effort if they believe they are being sidelined. The burden for peacekeeping in the region needed to be put squarely back on the shoulders of ECOWAS.

    Ambassador Greenstock, in responding to some of President Taylor's comments, pointed out that Under-Secretary-General Prendergast, Mr Fall's boss, had recently briefed the council and made clear mention of the attacks on Liberia, which emanated from Guinea. He emphasised that there is now an urgent need for a settlement of the crisis in Sierra Leone as well as in the sub-region. He insisted that President Taylor needed to play a more constructive role in this respect and advised him that it was in his interest to make some choices or expect that without a change in circumstances, instability in Sierra Leone would be re-exported to Liberia and Guinea."

    "He insisted that President Taylor needed to play a more constructive role". Pausing, Mr Taylor: Did you think you had been playing a constructive role?

  • Yes, all along I have been playing, yes.

  • "Ambassador Greenstock agreed that engaging the RUF in dialogue was important. He saw a role for Liberia in that regard. What was also important, he emphasised, was to begin putting in place the modalities for commencing dialogue. He expressed a view that that could be achieved within the present arrangements and without having to restructure Lome. He mentioned that it was important for the RUF to come clean on a ceasefire and on disarmament. He also expressed the view that a strategy for deployment of UNAMSIL forces in the diamond areas and ECOWAS forces in the border areas needed to be more fully explored."

    Now, let's pause again, Mr Taylor. Did you detect a reason for UNAMSIL forces in the diamond areas and ECOWAS forces in the border areas?

  • Well, he tied up so many packages in this whole part you through out here. There are so many little snares and things that Greenstock talks about, but I will comment on what you just asked me.

    This is an expression of lack of confidence in the ECOWAS forces. This is why he was talking about UNAMSIL and this - this is - and this is the very thing that was annoying most of us, and maybe the big mouth - those of us that had the big mouth, we were talking. But the mumbling in these meetings was very --

  • Which meetings?

  • ECOWAS meetings. Mumbling and mumbling and mumbling.

  • Mumbling about what?

  • "The British are coming. They are trying to disturb us. This is an ECOWAS thing. We did it in Liberia. We can do it in Sierra Leone. They are coming and they are interrupting." But that's the end of it. It stayed right in the meeting walls, okay? Only a few of us will come out and really spread it out because, you know, we felt that we had a duty to. But you find that a lot, I mean, around. So Greenstock put - he tied many little things in here. When he talks about that things can be done within the framework, that's another diplomatic word for saying, "Yeah, we will do some of what you're doing within your framework, but there's some other things we want to." There's so many things that they throw out in the way to really let you know that when we want to do something we get it done, and that's it.

  • "President Obasanjo was willing to speak with President Taylor on this matter. He informed the meeting that President Obasanjo also wanted President Taylor to know that he needs a deal now with President Taylor clearly involved constructively. According to Ambassador Greenstock, it was also important to consider the length of the political period leading up to elections, but it was up to Sierra Leone to decide on that issue. In that regard, he suggested that President Taylor could also take concrete steps to counsel General Sesay, as a prolonged vacuum could not be in anyone's interest."

    So Greenstock is saying that you should counsel General Sesay. What did you understand that to mean, Mr Taylor?

  • In the first - I didn't even try to. I objected to this immediately. Because what Greenstock is saying, "That's your little boy that you control, so go and tell him what to do." I was having none of that nonsense. And they had gone to Obasanjo, and Obasanjo tells them very - you know, they were trying to do that divide and rule. Obasanjo told them, he said, "Listen, we know what President Taylor has been doing in this region and we want him involved." They were trying to undermine. Now he comes here and says in smooth, diplomatic language, "We want you to counsel." I was not Sesay's counsellor. He was not my boy. I didn't control them. In other words, he is really saying here: "You control them, so talk to them and bring them under control." I was having none of this.

  • "President Taylor observed that there was a need to call an urgent meeting to deal with a signed agreement on ceasefire."

    Pause. Now, remember this is 14 October, Mr Taylor, and on 5 October you had sent out your emissary, Vice-President Blah, with a letter trying to set up an emergency summit of ECOWAS. By the 14th, this meeting, had that taken place?

  • No, it had not taken place yet. It had not taken place.

  • "President Taylor observed that there was a need to call an urgent meeting to deal with a signed agreement on a ceasefire. He proposed that it could be done in Bamako prior to the further deployment of forces. He was of the view that no disarmament will take place in the absence of deployment. President Taylor further emphasised his concern about delays in moving ahead and suggested that UNAMSIL and the RUF might raise the bar on the level of the contacts between the two organisations. He did not think that it was wise to continue seeking solutions to Sierra Leone's problems outside the arena of conflict and urged that support should be given for talks to take place on Sierra Leonean soil. The President pointed out that the RUF must know what they want, as they have begun the transformation from warring faction to political party. Such a party mechanism, he said, should be given a chance to establish itself on the ground. The political leadership of the organisation must be given the opportunity to get itself organised. In that regard, he lamented that 'All the political muscle of the RUF is locked up in Freetown'."

    What's a reference to?

  • Foday Sankoh was not the only one arrested at that time. There were quite a few other senior people. I didn't know the exact amount, but we had reports that some senior, senior RUFP people were also arrested.

  • "He advised that 'those who must be put on trial must be put on trial. Those who need to be let go, must be let go'."

    Yes, Mr Taylor?

  • "President Taylor further offered to invite them to sign an agreement, but cautioned that this time it could be somewhat more difficult because of Sankoh's actions."

    What are you referring to there in terms of Sankoh's actions?

  • Well, it was alleged that the fracas - the information that got to us was that the fracas that occurred that led to Sankoh's arrest was provoked by him by firing on unarmed demonstrators, and so my concern now is that with Sankoh being in - that action resulted to many of the senior RUF political figures being arrested. Those actions are what I'm referring to, now have a backlash on what they want to do.

  • Okay, and then the writer goes on, paragraph 16:

    "Deputy US Permanent Representative Ambassador Cunningham read a statement which provided clarification on the United States' policy regarding visa restrictions imposed on the Government of Liberia officials and their families. He was appreciative of President Taylor's frankness and in the same spirit disclosed that Washington was not happy with how he works. Ambassador Cunningham cautioned that unless President Taylor used his considerable authority to ensure that Sierra Leone diamonds were used for the benefit of Sierra Leonean development, the United States government was prepared to contemplate other measures. Ambassador Cunningham called on President Taylor to create a credible process that would enable his government to work with other governments and added that the US was willing to work towards a restoration of ties in its relationship with Liberia which is 'in peril'.

    The permanent representative of the Netherlands, Ambassador van Walsum, sought an explanation as to why General Sesay, who is assessed as being politically unimpressive and decidedly insignificant, would be allowed to assume such a heavy responsibility as the leadership of the RUF entailed. President Taylor responded that in the field Sesay had acted for Sankoh as a commander. He urged the ambassador to look beyond his insignificant appearance to see whether he could deliver the goods. As to whether Sesay could be a politician, the response was negative, but here again President Taylor sought the help of the council on behalf of the political voices of the RUF, who are locked up in Freetown."

    Pause there. Mr Taylor, earlier in this document we saw at the end of paragraph 14 the suggestion that you should take concrete steps to counsel General Sesay. Do you see that?

  • When we go back over the page now to the passage we've just read, Sesay is being described by a member of this mission as politically unimpressive and decidedly insignificant. Did you see a connection between those two comments that you should counsel this politically unimpressive and decidedly insignificant individual? Did you see a connection?

  • Yes, big connection. This fellow was really saying something that was - from how we read it at that particular time that was - I almost consider it as being very rude on his part to describe another human being in such a way. But the deeper link is that he's saying, "But, look, Taylor, here you are, you have taken your little boy who really can't do anything. You've brought him here and you've given him to the world. We don't think he - I mean, from what we look at, this looks like one of your little hand-picked individuals that you want to do something, and we don't think that is going to work." This is what he's really saying here. There is a link. There's a direct link. So because you've brought this known entity to us, well, go and counsel him, go and control him, go and tell him what to do. But I dealt with - some of the things that we talked, you can't get all here, but I dealt with it. You know, maybe when they come to think that we are not educated too, but I dealt with it.

  • Well, let me ask you a very blunt question then, Mr Taylor. Had you selected Issa Sesay, that unimpressive and decidedly insignificant individual, to become the interim leader of the RUF because it suited your purpose because you could control him?

  • No. That's why he felt he was being smart, but he had forgotten how Issa Sesay - or maybe they didn't even care to know. You can tell that at least they were not properly briefed. If he had cared or if he were properly briefed, he would have known how Sesay became leader of the RUF. And because of this level of thinking - this is the some of the same ideas that floated around in putting together this whole case against Charles Taylor. He sent for Issa Sesay, he came and he installed him as the leader of the RUF and he sent him away, knowing the facts - knowing the facts are quite different from what is being stated right now, okay. They've always known this. But this is the type of thinking that had been reflected in some of their minds.

    So he didn't really care about ECOWAS leaders meeting in Monrovia, taking a decision along with Sesay and Sesay's so-called War Council and that those same Presidents, with the very Tejan Kabbah, sat down, as Foday Sankoh signed a letter authorising the interim leadership. Nobody wants to look at that. It is factual. And even Kabbah talks about it when he meets the Truth Commission. All this information is out there. Nobody wants to take it seriously, but it is the fact, other than what people want to portray as what I did in the Sierra Leonean crisis. So I do see the connection. There is.

  • "French Deputy Permanent Representative Ambassador Doutriaux referred to the relationship between Liberia and Guinea and appealed to President Taylor to make a positive contribution to the work on confidence building undertaken by Presidents Konare and Obasanjo as well as by ECOWAS Executive Secretary Kouyate. He reiterated that the positive contributions by Liberia and Guinea would go a long way to end the conflict and alleviate the plight of refugees. President Taylor responded that his Vice-President had only just returned from a four-nation trip within the region to canvass support for an emergency session of ECOWAS to deal with the three incursions into Liberia from Guinea.

    President Taylor made a special appeal to the United States to 'consider its own stance in the world as the only superpower'. He appealed to the United States to demonstrate its adherence to the concept of justice and fair play in its dealing with Liberia. He reminded the US deputy permanent representative that the burden of proof was on the US, which should not continue to confront Liberia with only accusations, but also with verifiable facts. He reiterated Liberia's innocence of the accusation of fuel ling the crisis in Sierra Leone by supporting the RUF with arms and diamond smuggling. He emphasised that Liberia cannot do without the United States. Liberia, he said, wants peace and development, not conflict.

    The Permanent Representative of Bangladesh, Ambassador Chowdhury, referred to public reports on 'conflict diamonds' and asked whether the Government of Liberia had any knowledge of such diamonds or arms passing through its territory. President Taylor responded that the control of diamonds is a serious and difficult undertaking. According to him, 'People do all sorts of things with diamonds. Some swallow them.' He said that he was sure that from time to time, diamonds did transit Liberian territory, but not with the specific knowledge or acquiescence of the Government of Liberia. There was no control whatever by his government over diamonds exported from the country."

    Are you saying that that trade was totally unregulated, Mr Taylor?

  • It's very difficult. You cannot regulate - to talk about regulating diamond trade is like regulating drug trade. Even with the Kimberley Process, it's going to be tough. It's very difficult. It was unregulated. Very difficult. Even with the border - now in America where they're building a fence between the United States and Mexico, they're not going to stop the drugs. It's a very difficult situation, trying to control a little rock that everybody's going out to find. You can find it, you can swallow it, you can eat it, do all kinds of things with diamonds. You can hide it, move through the bushes, nobody will see you --

  • Yes, Mr Taylor, I understand all of that, but what I'm saying is, you have an economy in a precarious position because of the lack of inward investment. Surely, taxation imposed on diamond sales would be a source of income. So bearing all of that in mind, are you saying that you had no systems in place for the regulation of the sale of diamonds in Liberia? Do you follow me?

  • I follow the question. We have a tax system in Liberia. If it's followed, you will collect. If it's not followed, you will not collect any revenue. We did have a system.

  • I'm sorry, Mr Taylor, I'm going to have to press you further.

  • I absolutely agree. I was going to say, he hasn't answered the question. The question was not whether you had a system of taxation but whether you had a system of regulation for the sale of diamonds in Liberia.

  • With that, there was not a system for the sale of diamonds. A system was being put into place. We did not have a system in place, no. We had a tax system that taxed revenues from diamonds, but that's different, because the type of system that people are talking about, they talk about a Kimberley system, certification, we did not have that.

  • All right, Mr Taylor. Let's try and break it down a bit further then. Was a diamond merchant in Monrovia required to register his credentials with the Liberian government or with an authority falling under the Liberian government?

  • Okay. There was not such a system. There was not such a system. I understand your question very well. There was not a law in Liberia at the time that set up that someone who bought a diamond had to pay a certain amount and register with the appropriate tax authority as a sale from diamonds. This is what - I had cut it short by saying that taxes were paid. Diamond was not being considered as it's considered now. People were registered, you buy and you sell, you had to pay an income tax based on your income, and it did not specify whether it was income from diamonds or income from wood. That's what I'm trying to cut it short to say.

  • Well, I'm sorry, Mr Taylor, but I still have to press you further on this.

  • For you, an economist, now President, did it not appear to be a logical thing to do to require that anyone dealing in diamonds in your country register, because it could be a lucrative source of government income? Didn't it cross your mind?

  • People dealing in diamonds were registered as business people. Yes, they were registered.

  • Yet, were they registered as businessmen or were they registered as diamond dealers?

  • They were registered as businessmen. That's what I am trying - honestly, they were registered as businessmen and reported an income from their business. They were not registered specifically as a diamond man. Or this other man is saying, "I'm a timber man." It's not done - you register as a business and you pay an income from that business. So we lost a lot.

  • Now, you did have a government department called the ministry of land and mines, didn't you?

  • And the minister responsible for that department was one Jenkins Dunbar.

  • Also known as Mineral?

  • Now, help me, did that department keep any records regarding the quantity of diamonds produced, the sale of diamonds or the export of diamonds, given its name, ministry of lands and mines?

  • No, we did not have that.

  • Because the ministry of lands and mines was not responsible for sale. They do not collect revenues. They are not responsible. Their responsibility was to identify areas, give out certificates of claim of where to work. After that point, they were not involved anymore.

  • Let's go back to the document, please:

    "There was no control whatever by his government over diamonds exported from the country. Consequently, there was nothing in his government's budget on revenues from diamonds."

    Does that mean that you as the President could not identify what portion of your income came from diamond sales?

  • No, we could not. We could not.

  • "The President rejected claims that Liberia may have exported $1.7 billion worth of diamonds. He expressed his agreement with the Security Council's resolution on the establishment of a mechanism to control the sale of diamonds but cautioned that, without the cooperation of buyers, this could prove futile. He pointed to the fact that most of the traders around who sold diamonds on the outside were Lebanese businessmen. On the question of arms, he said that arms might have travelled into Sierra Leone from Liberia as most of ULIMO's combatants did not disarm."

    Pause there - no, before we pause, let's read on a little further:

    "In addition, the border areas between Liberia and Sierra Leone were controlled by ULIMO forces up until the time of his assumption as President of Liberia."

    Now, Mr Taylor, at the time you made that statement to this mission, had you seen the salute report prepared by Sam Bockarie in September 1999 for his leader Foday Sankoh?

  • No, no, no. I had not seen it, no.

  • So when you were speaking here of this connection between arms travelling across the border and ULIMO, on what basis were you making that assertion?

  • Most of the senior ULIMO generals that joined us after my election in 1997 told us that they used to sell weapons to the RUF people. That's how we got to know.

  • So you knew of that connection before you saw it confirmed in Sam Bockarie's salute report?

  • Definitely. Sherif and all of them. The very Varmuyan Sherif had told us that this is how they survived on that side.

  • "That notwithstanding, he reiterated that the RUF had no problems with arms. He repeated that for as long as there are crooked peacekeepers in Sierra Leone, the RUF will buy arms. He again reminded Ambassador Chowdhury that the NPFL had bought arms from the peacekeepers during the Liberian conflict.

    In his summation, and in response to President Taylor's appeal for the lifting of the arms embargo on Liberia', Ambassador Greenstock explained that it was not wise to consider lifting it at this time on account of Liberia's current profile and on account of the security situation in the sub-region. President Taylor protested that this was unfair and reiterated his call for the Security Council to protect Liberia. Ambassador Greenstock warned that Liberia was in trouble and cautioned President Taylor that, We look to your actions more than your words. Serious action by you is needed.' President Taylor brought the meeting to its conclusion with the promise, 'I will do the best I can to move forward Liberia's interest, which is peace'."

    Now, Mr Taylor, when you were being told by Ambassador Greenstock that Liberia was in trouble, what did you understand that to mean?

  • Well, exactly what followed. That they had decided to destroy my government, that's all, and that Liberia - that's what he meant, that we are telling you now that we are going to expect the worst.

  • Now, before we move on can I ask, please, that this document be marked - which is notes taken by Felix Downes-Thomas, the special representative of the Secretary-General at a meeting on 14 October 2000 between the United States Security Council mission and the Government of Liberia, be marked for identification MFI-170, please.

  • That document is marked MFI-170.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, help us. Following that visit and meeting on the 14th, was there any response by the Government of Liberia to Ambassador Greenstock's mission?

  • Yes. Immediately following that meeting the - after all of the veiled threats and we knew what was coming, I instructed the foreign minister to write a letter to Ambassador Greenstock outlining again from an official perspective what Liberia's positions were and what to expect from the government.

  • Let us look, please, behind divider 96. What is that document, Mr Taylor?

  • This is the letter from the foreign minister to Ambassador Greenstock.

  • And we see that it's dated two days after the meeting on 16 October:

    "Dear Ambassador Greenstock, the President of Liberia has directed me to convey to you that the government and people of the Republic of Liberia take cognisance of the important and historic visit to Liberia of the United Nations Security Council mission that you headed. The crucial discussions held pertaining to the Security Council resolutions on Sierra Leone aimed at aiding the implementation of measures taken by Secretary-General Kofi Annan are reassuring.

    Reflectively, we are particularly encouraged by your understanding of the critical nuances relating to security and stability in the Mano River Union. We are also pleased that your mission was receptive of the Liberian government proposals in line with the objectives of ECOWAS for a speedy resolution of the conflict in Sierra Leone.

    The President of Liberia has consequently conveyed to his colleagues, Their Excellencies, Olusegun Obasanjo, President, Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Alpha Oumar Konare, President of the Republic of Mali and Chairman of ECOWAS, the following key points of his proposal. They are as follows:

    1. That a meeting be convened within two weeks by ECOWAS. Such a meeting should bring together the Sierra Leonean government and the new RUF leadership to negotiate and sign a formal ceasefire agreement and a commitment to work cooperatively for peace. President Taylor would be pleased to host such a meeting in Monrovia and help derive a constructive and positive result.

    2. Following the signing of the ceasefire agreement, ECOWAS forces working under UNAMSIL should be speedily deployed in RUF-controlled territory to make use of the window of opportunity provided by the lull in the fighting.

    3. Immediately following the deployment of UNAMSIL forces, demobilisation and disarmament should recommence.

    It is our conviction that progress can be made if we maintain a commonality of understanding as events unfold in the weeks and months ahead. We believe that Liberia can play a constructive role in these endeavours.

    Kindly share the contents of this letter with your colleagues of the Security Council.

    I am further enclosing a summary of the highlights of the discussions held with President Taylor."

    That summary is the document which we looked at earlier?

  • That is correct.

  • The document behind divider 94, yes?

  • Can that letter, please, letter from the Liberian Foreign Minister to Ambassador Greenstock, dated 16 October 2000, may that become MFI-171, please.

  • Yes. That document is marked for identification MFI-171.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, do you recall that you had written to President Clinton in August?

  • Did you get any kind of a response from the US government?

  • A letter was written by Sandy Berger, sent, that we did not respond to.

  • Did you receive a response from the President himself?

  • So this letter from Sandy Berger, was that meant to be a response to your letter in August?

  • Well, it was supposed to. Because what he says in his letter, he says he addressed the issue directly that I wrote the President about. And so he responded to it, but we didn't respond to him.

  • Have a look behind divider 95, please. Is that the letter?

  • We see that it's dated 16 October 2000?

  • Now, we see that it's on White House headed paper dated 16 October 2000:

    "Dear Mr President, while I appreciate the intent of your recent letter to the President, I must unfortunately conclude that your actions have not matched your words, particularly with regard to support for the RUF rebels.

    In your letter you state your commitment to the US objectives, as communicated by Under-Secretary Pickering, of attaining an immediate diplomat solution to the civil war in Sierra Leone. However, your support for the RUF continues, enabling it to disrupt the United Nations peacekeeping mission and prolong the misery of the war-weary people of Sierra Leone. Until you cease such support, the conflict in Sierra Leone, and the misery of the people of Sierra Leone, will not end."

    Mr Taylor, tell me, did you ever receive a document from the United States government, or, indeed, the British government, saying, "We know for these reasons that you are supporting the rebels in Sierra Leone"?

  • No, I've never. Because if such a document existed, it would probably be in this Court right now. Never, never, ever.

  • The record shows the author as Sandy Berger.

  • But letter this written is not by a Sandy Berger.

  • It's written by a Samuel Berger.

  • Okay. It's Samuel, but he was called most times - this is a short stuff, and I think your opposite side will recognise - Sandy, Samuel. But everybody just used to call him Sandy Berger, but it is Samuel R Berger for the record, but it's Sandy Berger. They call him Sandy Berger.

  • If I could just be of assistance on that. The Prosecution would agree that he was often referred to as Sandy Berger, this person Samuel.

  • Yes, I thought Sandy was his public name really. I didn't know he was called Samuel.

  • "As Under-Secretary Pickering has informed you, the United States would welcome a sincere effort on your part to cease all support for the RUF, to persuade RUF rebels to demobilise, to cease your involvement in activities that destabilise the region and to legally abide by diamond export controls. We might, under some circumstances, consider a monitoring regime along the lines you mentioned in your letter. Such a regime would lack effectiveness and credibility, however, absent genuine, transparent cooperation from all levels of the Liberian government. When and if you should decide to take the steps outlined above, we will be fully aware and will respond accordingly. Until that time, we must conclude that, sadly, Liberia is unwilling to commit itself to finding a solution to West African ills."

    A bit of a blunt letter, that, Mr Taylor?

  • Did you respond to it?

  • No, we did not. We didn't see a need. We now knew that the American government - because the way national security works is very simple, the Under-Secretary of State comes, he tells you one thing. The ambassador of the United Nations is on the same track. This is the national security adviser. This should tell you, if you've got any sense about yourself, that this is a decision by the United States government to continue along this line and they will not stop, just like as right now there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that we still haven't found. But they were on a course that the missile had been launched and there was no recall. So we didn't - of course, I didn't respond. If we had responded, I would have had my national security adviser write, Sandy Berger, but we just left it.

    We were now convinced that America was on the course to do what she wanted to do and really didn't care if there were any critical information that they were prepared to provide. They had taken a decision at the highest level of the American government and it would take some time before it would be reversed. We knew that.

  • Now, you will recall, Mr Taylor, that earlier we looked at a letter you addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations dated 25 September 2000. Do you recall that?

  • Did you ever get a response to that letter?

  • Yes, he responded after this period, after the UN visit, recognising what I had said was factual and that he would urge the UNAMSIL forces to engage with the RUF as quickly as possible, yes.

  • Now, before we come to look at the Secretary-General's response, can I ask, please, that the letter from Samuel R Berger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, to President Taylor, dated 16 October 2000, be marked for identification, please, MFI-172.

  • Yes, that document is marked MFI-172.

  • Mr Griffiths, I note there is a received stamp on the top of that letter with what appears to be a handwritten notation saying "December 11/00" which could be 11, 2000, or it could be 11 o'clock, but am I to take it from that that it was received in December?

  • That is correct, your Honour. This is very late.

  • Yes, two months after the date it is dated.

  • Can you explain how that comes about, Mr Taylor?

  • Maybe they wanted something. I don't know. But it shouldn't take this long. But at the time it was received at the - at our area, we would normally stamp it. You see most of the letters are stamped. I can't account for that. I'm sorry, I can't help with that. I would hate to say something that is incorrect, but I can't help as to why it took this long.

  • Because it is an inordinate period of time, isn't it?

  • Yes. Now, we were moving on, were we not, to deal with the response of the Secretary-General to your letter of 25 September?

  • Can we look, please, behind divider 98. Now, we see that there is a covering letter which encloses the letter which is on the second page.