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

  • [On former affirmation]

  • Mr Taylor, yesterday during the course of your testimony I asked you to indicate on a map the area of ULIMO incursion. Do you recall that?

  • And do you recall indicating on a map which unfortunately we couldn't mark the particular area in question?

  • I now have a blank map of Liberia which I would like to give to the witness and ask him to mark on this map the area in question.

  • Would you like me to start now?

  • ULIMO entered here around the Mano River Kongo area - I will just put an arrow here - with penetrations here and here. This is the general area of entry into Liberia. They eventually captured Grand Cape Mount County, they captured Bomi County and eventually had this entire section of the country. That lasted for some time while we were still fighting and then they pursued another route here.

  • Could you use a different colour here, please.

  • Because thereafter we can delineate the two areas of occupation in terms of date.

  • There's an important land feature here that I think will be very important. Here I will use this green to show the St Paul River, a very important landmark that had been mentioned here when you have heard witnesses speak about the St Paul River bridge. That expression has been used in testimony before this Court. That's the St Paul River bridge.

    Now, what ULIMO did, ULIMO then pursued the route from Tubmanburg to the town of Bopolu. That's entering the area of the country we call the Gola forest. This is the beginning of the real rainforest area. They continued from Bopolu and penetrated to this area called Belle Yella as spelled here on the map B-E-L-L-E and the last word is Y-E-L-L-A. It's Bille [phon] Yella. Not Belle, but Bille Yella. That's the very heart of the Gola forest in Liberia, the very heart of the forest. I'm talking about we have not been lucky to have elephants advertised on Animal Planet, but there are many elephants in this part of Liberia. This is very dense, dense forest.

    They then continued from Belle Yella all the way across to the town of Zorzor. Now, Zorzor is located here on the main highway and for some clear understanding here - we've run out of colours here. It is important for the Court to know that there is this road, just for the sake of the judges - there is one and only one road that comes out of Monrovia. It comes through Kakata, Totota, Gbatala, Gbarnga and then begins to go all the way - this is the road that runs to Voinjama. It comes down to Kolahun here and then it continues on to Foya.

    Now, when ULIMO cut Zorzor off, and I'll put an X here to mark a cut-off, the NPFL still had forces in - maybe I'll use a smaller line. Okay. In this part of the country I will just use lines across - small lines to demonstrate that we still had soldiers in this part of the country. This cut-off at Zorzor left all of our men in this section of the country virtually in space, cut off from the rest of the troops. This is what I explain on yesterday; that some of them retreated into Guinea, those that had strong connections on the Sierra Leonean side retreated into Sierra Leone, and those real experienced ones that were closer to the Zorzor region - and for even a better explanation for the Court, from Zorzor to Voinjama, from here to here, I would approximate it to be between 75 to 100 miles. I could be a little wrong on the numbers, but it is - I'm sure it's not less than 75 miles. And let's not forget that we are still - this road is really going through the forest. Because right between Zorzor and Voinjama is a major forest area called the - I think it's Koyoma forest.

  • How do you spell that?

  • I think it's K-O-Y-O-M-A, Koyoma. I think it's the Koyoma forest. But it's a part of this whole forest - this whole rainforest that I describe in this area, but depending on the villages in the area, they may call a section of the forest their own name.

    Now, I'm mentioning this because the Court will understand how those that are closer to Zorzor at the time of the attack, how they are able to penetrate and come back and join what we call the mother units. Those that are in Voinjama are too far to track all the way 75 miles back to Zorzor, so some of them find their way into Guinea. Those that are closer to the Foya - and strangely we don't see Foya here but we know the general direction of Foya. Foya - this map strangely doesn't show Foya, but Foya continues along this road here going towards the Sierra Leonean border. Those that are in that region retreat to Sierra Leone. So that's the general situation.

    So automatically by cutting us off at Zorzor, bringing disarray amongst the troops, ULIMO moves now - well, depending on what we say forward or backward, but for me they moved back into our territory towards Voinjama Kolahun and Foya and consolidate in that entire area. This entire area even where the small lines are drawn are all forest areas. So ULIMO in effect now takes control of Lofa, Grand Cape Mount/Bomi, along the lines and because they are in Zorzor they push forward all the way to the St Paul River bridge and finally ULIMO stops at the St Paul River bridge. So the line now that divides the NPFL forces from the ULIMO forces now stands at the so-called St Paul River bridge, right at this point. That's the situation I was explaining.

  • Just to assist us at a later date, Mr Taylor, I wonder if you could put a key at the bottom of that map so that firstly the orange arrows, that's the area of initial ULIMO incursion, yes?

  • I know what you're talking about. I have to just - is it okay to just move it aside to write?

  • And then if we can put that the area bounded in orange is the initial area of ULIMO occupation and if you could put a date when they achieved that objective. Okay, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I understand.

  • You can go around to the back of the map if necessary, Mr Taylor.

  • I wonder if I could have a look at that, please. I think it might be easiest for your Honours to look at this directly, because I'm not so sure it will show up on the overhead.

  • If I can just read what I wrote too, if your Honours don't mind.

  • Show the Prosecution as well, please.

  • Mr Griffiths, I see a "1" which says "April to around June '91". I'm not sure how that relates to the map.

  • Well I can explain that, your Honour. I'm making reference to "1" as saying at the right-hand side because there was no space I'm trying to describe the dates in question.

  • Is that clear, your Honour?

  • Yes, the incursion, the orange arrows, that date relates to the orange arrows?

  • If your Honours don't - since it is a question as raised by the Justice, I may just need to note that if your Honours don't mind for future purposes someone looking at this may have the same question that the Honourable Justice has.

  • Do you want that, Mr Griffiths?

  • Yes, very well, if you could just clarify that point.

  • Yes, just clarify what that '1" is.

  • Mr Griffiths, I think what is relevant is the time that ULIMO stopped at the St Paul River bridge.

  • Mr Taylor, could you also indicate on that map, please, the time when ULIMO penetrated as far as the St Paul's River bridge?

  • Well, that time may well be shown on the map. Has it been given in evidence? Has he given evidence as to that particular time?

  • Well, I don't recall him giving evidence that --

  • He didn't. That's why I'm asking.

  • If it's an important fact, that should not be left on a map alone. There should be some sworn evidence about it.

  • I'm just a little uncomfortable. I'm not sure what your client is writing on the map, but I repeat I don't want facts alleged on a map that have not been sworn to in evidence. I don't think it's appropriate to allege facts on a map.

  • Very well:

  • Mr Taylor, help us with this please. By what date did ULIMO penetrate as far as the St Paul's River bridge?

  • I would say that by or about August of 1991 ULIMO has taken control of the St Paul River bridge.

  • And for how long do they retain control of the areas you've marked on that map?

  • Oh, ULIMO is in full control of the areas marked on this map until I would say mid-1995 when all of us withdraw and turn those areas over to the ECOMOG forces. Now, I have to clarify that. Withdrawal, but there is still some form of control by the military. We withdraw and ECOMOG is in as the peace process is going, but final and absolute control by ULIMO actually stopped in 1997 after the presidential elections. So it's important to understand one distinction here, because I am sure i am going to be confronted with, "Well, you say ULIMO did not have control as of 1995." 1995 is usual as a date that all of the warring factional leaders moved to Monrovia, including myself, and ECOMOG deploy. Men are still armed and the factional leaders have military command still over their people, but for the sake of peace ECOMOG is deployed and there is the beginning of some movement. So there are two different levels of control: one with ECOMOG assisting, but final control actually comes in 1997 after I'm elected as President.

  • Mr Griffiths, you may have other questions about that map and you may also want to see the map, but I would just say at this stage before we leave the map it will need to be shown to the Prosecution and we would like to see it again. But if you have other questions first, by all means put them.

  • Well can I enquire, Mr President, whether any further clarification is required as to the date?

  • I never raised the query anyway. I'll ask my learned colleague Justice Sebutinde whether she is now satisfied with that comment.

  • Mr Taylor, can we go over this again, please, because I want there to be ultimate certainty as to what you are saying. Let's start right at the outset. The orange arrows depict initial ULIMO incursion at what date, please?

  • The orange arrows show the initial incursion by ULIMO between April and May of 1991.

  • Okay. The area bounded in orange, by what date had ULIMO achieved control of that area?

  • I would say around June. By June they have captured those two counties.

  • June of which year?

  • The thick blue lines indicating the advance of ULIMO towards Zorzor, when does that begin?

  • Ah, ULIMO begin their penetration - I wouldn't be able to tell just when because we were fighting, but I know that they get into Zorzor I would say on or about late June to July. They have already cut us off in Zorzor.

  • Now the double-headed arrow in red, yes?

  • Which we can see, that you indicated earlier represents ULIMO's penetration as far as the St Paul's River bridge. Am I right?

  • The double-headed arrow actually is used here to indicate the position of the St Paul River bridge. That's the position of the bridge. I just crossed that arrow to show where the bridge is located.

  • Right. Now there came a time, if I understand your evidence, when ULIMO reached as far as that point?

  • What date do you give to that?

  • I would put that to around August of 1991. They are moving this way and they are moving backward towards Voinjama, yes.

  • Now when they reach as far as the St Paul's River bridge, do they control thereafter all of the area to the left as we look at it of the St Paul's River which you have marked in turquoise?

  • Yes. All of the areas, that green - well, that for me green - or turquoise, that's the river. Everything - everything - to if you want to call it the northwest of that line, the St Paul River becomes the line of demarcation that divides ULIMO forces from NPFL forces whether we are talking about at that point, but also all along the river. That's why I drew that green line. That river runs all the way down and ends up into the Atlantic Ocean. Everything to the northwest side of that river is occupied fully by ULIMO. Everything coming what you want to say southwards is then NPFL area.

  • So from that point in August 1991 did the NPFL have any access to the border between Sierra Leone and Liberia?

  • None whatsoever. We could not even cross the St Paul River, no.

  • I hope that assists. Now can we all be shown the map, please.

  • May I just add one thing in all fairness? What the President of the Court was speaking about when the issue was raised initially about a date for the St Paul River bridge occupation it was suggested that it be written in, so I began writing in that information. Then the President of the Court said that he did not want anything written on the map that had not been stated in sworn testimony. I want to make that clear that I had begun writing this before the President raised it. I think this is where the confusion came about.

  • That's clear.

  • Could that please be marked for identification MFI-3.

  • Yes. The black and white map of Liberia marked in various colours by the accused and notated by the accused as well will be marked MFI-3.

  • I'm grateful.

  • I'm just wondering if he could, in line with our practice, perhaps sign the map and date it.

  • I think that would be most helpful:

  • Perhaps if you can sign it right at the top, Mr Taylor, with a date, 21 July 2009. Thank you.

    I think there is one final matter I want to ask you about about that in order to concretise this whole situation. The last answer you gave me was to the effect that from that date, August 1991, the NPFL did not have access to the border. When did you and your forces next have access to the border with Sierra Leone?

  • I would say about - I would put it to August/September of 1997. That is following my election as President and taking the oath in August, we then started the process of getting security and other personnel to begin to work along with ECOMOG that is posted at all of these areas. So I will put it to about August/September of 1997.

  • And by then, August of '97, was the NPFL still in existence?

  • No. That's what I'm referring to when you say when did I and my people. No. Before elections are held in Liberia, all warring parties are dissolved. They create political parties and actually they cease to exist as warring factions. And this process I would say starts at around the beginning of 1997. On or about, I would say, January, and I may stand corrected on this. I can't be so certain because by this time I'm already - I'm not on the council of state. I'm very busy preparing for elections. But all parties are dissolved in line with certain dates that are set aside by electoral laws and so we cease to exist as the NPFL. I think at most I would say a year and at least not under eight months.

  • Now, 1992, Mr Taylor, we were dealing with yesterday. Now, in the second half of 1992 can you just give us a rough idea of what the situation was so far as you were concerned and the NPFL?

  • By the second half of 1992, there are quite a few things going on. I would say that we - there is a follow-up to Yamoussoukro and I think a significant thing is what I will want to call Cotonou I.

  • How do you spell that?

  • C-O-T-O-N-O-U. Cotonou is the capital of the West African country of Benin. We begin the follow-up on the Yamoussoukro discussions pushing for peace. That's one of the important things that I would like to refer to at this time.

  • And any other major event in the second half of '92?

  • Yes. If my recollection is correct I just want to mention we are talking, but there is conflict. We then have, after we have really, really felt that people were not serious about negotiating and just wanted to prolong this war, to the best of my recollection I think Operation Octopus is launched around that time to the best of my recollection.

  • What is Operation Octopus?

  • We then decided that we would take the city of Monrovia and end the war.

  • So what did it involve?

  • And how costly was that operation, Mr Taylor, in terms of casualties?

  • These were - on our side we did have a lot of civilian casualties but we went after the peacekeepers or there to speak, they were not really peacekeepers. Don't let's forget and I know I used that word peacekeepers, maybe I shouldn't have even use it because I've told this Court of the deceit and the hypocrisy that was involved at that time where on the one hand this Nigeria had armed the Armed Forces of Liberia fighting alongside them, Guinea had armed ULIMO and they had troops in Liberia, so while they were calling themselves peacekeepers, for us they were not peacekeepers. That's what I described on yesterday as the hypocrisy involved at that particular time.

    And after we felt that their intention was just to prolong the war and really push the NPFL back out of the more than 80 per cent of the country we had, and realising all the other lost opportunities we had and the suffering of the people, we decided that we should end the war by taking the capital because the big explanation at the time was: Well, the NPFL cannot do anything as long as the capital is not in their hands. So even before ULIMO comes in we have captured the entire country except the boroughs of Monrovia, but we can't take power. So the whole thing was stuck on you don't have power unless you have the capital. So we said, "Well, great. So we'll take the capital and end the suffering of the Liberian people".

  • Was Operation Octopus successful?

  • In a way I would say yes. It is Operation Octopus that finally led to the serious discussions at Cotonou to bring about final peace to Liberia after those what I will call the - that I've described as hypocrites, after they realised that they would not defeat us militarily they then decided to talk seriously and so we go to Cotonou and right after Cotonou we go to Abuja and then it gets serious. So by the end of that particular year we then follow on with - by '93 we begin immediately with Cotonou II that finally sets up the framework for the final peace in Liberia.

    So I think to a great extent the show of force that went about in that particular time I think convinced them that they will not, and I mean not push the NPFL out. As the famous general that came, I think it was General Olarin, I think a Nigerian general, O-L-A-R-I-N, and General Olarin said that his mission then was to flush the NPFL out of Liberia. I think they realised that they couldn't do it.

  • Now you told us yesterday, Mr Taylor, that you on occasions spoke to the press, including Robin White on BBC Focus on Africa. Do you remember telling us that?

  • Yes, I do.

  • Now during this time in 1992, did you have any other access to not only the radio but to the print media as well?

  • Oh, yes. Amongst others I spoke extensively to the editor in chief of a magazine called New Africa, along with other journalists that were in and out of our area at the time, but I spoke extensively - the first and maybe the only one that I sat down with to talk to was the New Africa magazine chief editor.

  • What was his name?

  • I remember the name Baffour. I think it is Baffour. The last name slips me a little, but I remember Baffour. Baffour I think is B-A-F-F-O-U-R, if I'm not - I stand corrected on that - that I spoke to at length in a sit-down interview to really get what was happening.

  • And where did that conversation take place?

  • That conversation took place to the best of my recollection it had to be in Gbarnga, because - it had to be in Gbarnga.

  • And can you recall now how long that individual remained in Gbarnga?

  • Oh, no. Journalists were coming and going and I'm not too sure, but he had an opportunity to go around several areas of our NPFL control and it could have taken him a week or so. But journalists were in and out all the time and they were treated very fairly, unlike what one of the witnesses that came here and said - and I hate to get into this, but I don't want to pass this since we're dealing with journalists. There's this one man journalist called Stephen Smith that sat before this Court that I know very well, the gentleman that publishes Africa Confidential. I don't know how he managed to publish Africa Confidential, but the point I'm trying to make is that journalists were in there with all harassment.

    But in the specific case - and I really want to talk about him - the specific case of Mr Stephen Smith, Mr Stephen Smith was picked up by NPFL forces truly as he said on request and it may be good for him to know that today. Stephen Smith became an embarrassment to his intelligence colleagues and we were asked by the United States through its embassy in Abidjan to pick up Stephen Smith for them and have him sent out of the country because he was doing things that were not right. We picked him up and his passport was eventually delivered to our handlers at the embassy in Abidjan.

    So I'm just - I only brought that in to mention that we were treating journalists very well and Baffour could have stayed there much longer and if we have to talk about Stephen Smith later I'm sure we will.

  • I wonder if the witness could be shown, please, the item - the document behind divider 5 in the documents disclosed for week 29. It's the document which looks like that, your Honours.

  • Could we ask what the DCT number is?

  • It's - one moment. Sorry, I gave - I misled everyone. It's not for week 29, I'm sorry. It's for week 30 and the DCT number is 108, tab 5. Week 30, DCT-108, behind tab 5. That's not the document. That's the document behind tab --

  • Tab 9.

  • I apologise for the confusion, but it's actually behind tab - I need to check that at the break. I see some confusion on the opposite bench. Has the document been found?

  • We have a document 108 that has this cover. Are we talking about the same one?

  • That is the document. That is the document.

  • I think we've all got that document that's been catalogued as DCT-108, but I note that it's a copy of a New African whereas I thought the witness was talking about Africa Confidential.

  • No, he was talking about Africa Confidential in relation to Stephen Smith, but initially he spoke about New African:

  • Do you recall this interview, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, you can. I think it might be - I think you have the wrong one. Mr Taylor, you should be looking at a document headed "New African" dated October 1992. Thank you. Do you have the document now?

  • Do you recall giving this interview?

  • Now if we turn over to the second page, please, we can locate when this interview took place. Do you see it says "Baffour Ankomah"? Do you see that in the box at the top?

  • Is that the journalist?

  • Yes, that's him. Baffour. Baffour Ankomah.

  • "...spent a month behind the lines with Charles Taylor and his forces in Liberia. Later he had further interviews with ECOMOG and top ministers of the two governments in the country. He also interviewed top journalists, politicians, civil servants and ordinary people on both sides of the Liberian divide. In this comprehensive report, he tells why Taylor will not lay down his arms as long as he is under attack from ULIMO and why there can be no solution to Liberia's problems and no withdrawal of ECOMOG unless Taylor's position is taken into account."

    And then I do not intend to take you through this document word-for-word, but if we can just quickly skim some of the details in order to put in context the direct quotes reported from you. Do you see in the first paragraph it details how you chose the tiny village of Butuo for the attack on Christmas Eve, yes?

  • And it then sets out the symbolism of Butuo?

  • It then in paragraph 3 applauds your intelligence, do you see that?

  • And then it says this:

    "But the war spun so dangerously out of his control that he spent a good deal of last year apologising for the excesses committed by his troops."

    Is that true?

  • Yes, that is true.

  • And then it goes on to explain why the apology:

    "Doe's soldiers, badly humiliated, were in retreat and were burning whole villages and towns in Nimba County as they fled to Monrovia (the capital). Anything Gio or Mano that moved was fair game.

    Taylor's troops were in hot pursuit. And seeing the atrocities committed against their tribespeople by Doe's soldiers, they vented their spleen on Krahn and Mandingo civilians in a grotesque campaign of human destruction.

    Human beings were worth less than chickens those days. I was told that some Krahn pregnant women had their stomachs slit open in front of their husbands and their babies thrown into the air and allowed to fall to their deaths in a sickening show of human insensitivity."

    Is that true, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, this is - this is his account. I have been very open about what happened during the war and I think to put this in some context, because this is a journalist trying to be as objective as he could, just to cap it off remembering what led to the crisis in the first place, the destruction in Nimba County and other counties by Doe that led to people going for training and coming back. Now, the war starts - and I'm not going to misspeak this time about the date - on Christmas Eve of '89 and while the soldiers are retreating there is mayhem. In fact, I could probably --

  • Mr Taylor, I really don't want to cut you off, but I did ask a very simple question. Did things like those described in that paragraph occur in fact?

  • Well, but that's the whole point. A "Yes" or a "No" here would have to be put into context. The excesses on the part of the Doe soldiers led to some excesses on the part of the - of the soldiers - the NPFL soldiers - that were pursuing them. And so there were these kinds of problems that it is true that I apologised for, but there were some excesses and that I admit here, yes.

  • And was it because you had lost control of your troops?

  • No. That I disagree with. I disagree. There was not a loss of control. There were some bad apples that were trying to carry out this revenge and I would not have any of it. Let's go back and this is why these yes and nos can't work, especially for a politician like me.

    I'm pursuing Prince Johnson because of excesses that he started already in Nimba, okay. Now, that's not losing control but I had to take action and that's why Prince Johnson is fleeing. So we have excesses now being carried out by our people and as we are finding out we are taking action and that's what led to a lot of - what has come before the Court is only a small amount of the disciplinary actions that were taken by the leadership of the NPFL. So I disagree totally that we lost control.

  • Now let's continue, Mr Taylor:

    "Small boy soldiers. Some as young as nine and ten years old would put a knife to the throat of some elderly Krahn man and tell him, 'Popee, don't worry, it won't hurt you'. In another minute his head would not be his."

    Those things were going on, weren't they?

  • Yes, but I don't - I don't agree with - he is describing them as soldiers. These are individuals that are going along with their brothers, that have had their families killed and there is this revenge attitude going on. Some of this did go on where Krahns and Mandingos were killed along the way, yes.

  • Let's continue and see how the report unfolds:

    "Some teenage soldiers, both boys and girls, told me in separate interviews that they just wanted to seek revenge for the atrocities committed against their parents whose dismembered bodies were left to rot in the open by Doe soldiers.

    One boy, who is now 14 years old, told me in a disarmament camp at Kwedin near Tappita, 'I returned to our village from school in Monrovia to find I had no mother, no father. They had been slaughtered like goats by Doe's men. What did you want me to do? Sit down and cry? I joined President Taylor's army and sought revenge.

    More of such orphans, now put together in a Small Boys Unit, joined Taylor's forces. Not only them. Villagers, men women, boys and girls, who saw their lives threatened by Doe's retreating soldiers hopped over to Taylor's side. They were given some weeks training before joining the war. Some though may have been forced into Taylor's army but they no longer admit it."

    Let's deal with that last sentence. Were people forced into your army, Mr Taylor?

  • No. No. People were not forced - were not forced into my army, but force could also mean something else. I do not know what the journalist meant by we were forced into the army. I can say I was forced to do something and it did not have to be somebody maybe holding a gun or knife to me. By force it could be - an internal urge can be described as - I don't know what the journalist meant when he said - when this person says, "I was forced to join", force here - he would have to explain this, but I can see force being used in two separate ways. That one, by virtue of circumstances I must do something. That's self force. So I don't know what he meant.

  • But, Mr Taylor, do you accept that children, yes some orphans, did become members of the NPFL?

  • Well, quite frankly I will tell you, if a child joined or went along with a unit, for me and the leadership of the NPFL, we did not encourage or recruit or train children. But I have said in this Court that children went along with their relatives to combat. They stopped at certain points and from my position that was not acceptable.

  • But, Mr Taylor, you see the use of that phrase Small Boys Unit. Is it a phrase you are familiar with?

  • Was that a phrase used at this time by the NPFL?

  • It was not a phrase used by the NPFL. It was a phrase that was used in NPFL area at the time. People used the word Small Boys. I've heard that, yes.

  • It goes on:

    "The courage, enthusiasm and fighting spirit shown by these Liberian civilians as they pursued Doe's disgraced soldiers was so overwhelming that Taylor, who had started the war with a few hundred Liberian commanders trained and armed by Libya, he also drew support from a number of dissident soldiers from other West African countries, soon found that he could not control the venom of his now oversized army."

    Do you agree with that?

  • Well, there is some truth to that. And I think that we, just reading a journalist's own opinion of a situation, have to be very, very - must - I mean, I have to put this in context of - because this is a journalist's view. And the Court must understand the context of this when I say there is some truth to that, because the reason why we did not and no one has been able to come up with a roster for the so-called NPFL is that there - thousands of people came and joined the NPFL. Some - using that word NPFL during that particular time, anywhere in that place there could have been units going on that the leadership of the NPFL would have never known about. We had grown to about what, 40, 50,000 people. Some individuals, some districts may have just put their own people together, get their hunting guns. Without training they had become NPFL and were going after other people.

    So there is a great deal of truth to the fact that there was a period that things really got really shaky. I mean, where groups and, you know, were carrying on so we had to try to begin to rein it in. But there's some truth to this that because of the sheer size of ordinary people that just took off and started doing things under the banner of NPFL, I can say there's a lot of truth to this.

  • Shaky or out of control, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, to a great extent I give some credence to out of control. I would not say 100 per cent, but I give some credence to things did get out of control at some point, yes.

  • Now, where it says, "He also drew support from a number of dissident soldiers from other West African countries," is that true?

  • And which African countries are we talking about here, Mr Taylor?

  • I'm sure he's speaking about the Gambians that he saw there. I'm sure he is talking about the Gambians. He is probably talking about some Nigerians that had served. In fact some people that had come to Liberia served with ECOMOG, left and came back and joined the movement. So there were some West African soldiers and I'm sure that's what he is talking about.

  • Let's continue with the narrative, please:

    "Taylor says he could have easily taken Monrovia had the Americans not stopped him. He says the UN Assistant Secretary of State For African Affairs, Herman Cohen, flew from Washington to the Ivorian capital Abidjan and came by road inside Liberia during the war. Fearing further bloodshed and destruction, Cohen asked Taylor not to attack Monrovia and also to leave the road to Sierra Leone open to enable Monrovians to flee to Sierra Leone."

    Is that true?

  • That is true. That is true. In fact these accounts - these very accounts are given in Secretary Cohen's book Intervening in Africa. Specifically chapter 5 of that book deals exclusively with the subject matter of his meeting with me. The title of his book is Intervening in Africa. Yes, Intervening in Africa. But it is covered at most in chapter 5 of that book. He narrates the entire situation.

  • It continues:

    "Taylor's reward would be the Americans putting pressure on Doe to leave Monrovia once Taylor captured the main airport, Roberts International, near Monrovia. He agreed and Herman Cohen left for Washington."

    Was there such a deal, Mr Taylor?

  • "Roberts International did fall to Taylor. Doe took it back. Taylor recaptured it. Doe took it back again. Taylor finally recaptured it after fierce fighting. Today the mangled remains of the main passenger terminal and the adjacent VIP lounge look like a freshly dug out construction site. The 70 room hotel nearby now stands as a white elephant on the banks of the huge and beautiful Famington River, stripped of all its furniture and fittings by the fighters.

    After the final fall of Roberts International Airport, the Americans asked Doe to leave. He wouldn't. Taylor's troops then encircled Monrovia and actually sat on the campus of the University of Liberia for more than two months. There was just a street dividing them from Doe's executive mansion. 'We could have taken the mansion any moment but we had a promise to keep', Taylor told me."

    Is that true?

  • That is very true and that's what I meant by lost opportunities by the United States. This is 100 per cent factual.

  • So tell me, at what stage was it that your soldiers were actually on the campus of the University of Liberia? By what date?

  • We are talking about close to the last quarter of 1990.

  • Then it continues:

    "But Doe would not go. According to an independent source the mansion was under heavy attack from Johnson's INPFL and Doe would not leave without all his soldiers, but the Americans turned him down. Doe stuck to his guns until Prince Johnson finally captured him under the noses of the ECOWAS peacekeepers, ECOMOG, and tortured him to death. ECOMOG later bombed Taylor's army out of Monrovia."

    Is all of that true?

  • Oh, yes, yes.

  • [Overlapping speakers].

  • And it continues:

    "Taylor now regrets taking Herman Cohen at his word. 'I made a terrible mistake. Terrible mistake. Very, very bad mistake. But my concern at the time was also to avoid additional massive loss of life had we launched a major artillery assault on Monrovia. And if you check all the records, my soldiers never entered Monrovia proper. There was no fighting by our soldiers in Monrovia'."

    Did you say that, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I did.

  • And when you said it, did you mean it?

  • I think I've used the expression bittersweet here before this Court. You know, 20/20 hindsight is another - it's another whole matter. I am glad that I took the decision not to bomb Monrovia and overrun the city because of the large numbers of civilians that would have died. There were close to I would say a million people in the city. And so on that count I have no real regrets.

    But then if you look right on the other side, because of that the war lasted another five, six years with machinations on the part of these people I have described, deceit and all of this, and, yes, they started a whole campaign and actually bombed us out of Monrovia and killed a lot of people. So it's the type of situation from a legal perspective you can say yes and no, but for me it's a bittersweet situation. If we had taken Monrovia, there would have been loss of life, the war would have ended in 1990. We made the right decision by not attacking the city with a million people. I think it was another good decision, so it's a bittersweet situation quite frankly.

  • It continues:

    "If ever there was a real people's army, Taylor had and still has one. Fathers, mothers, sons and daughters all fought as units in the war and still have their weapons tucked away in their huts in the small villages dotting the countryside and they are prepared, they tell me, to go into the bush again and fight if need be. Taylor now has about 12,000 men, women, boys and girls in uniform, his regular army, but he says he can call up over 85,000 reservists in a twinkle of an eye. And I believe him."

    Could you?

  • Oh, yes. I know we want to go through this, but if we just rush through this we'll have a problem. Now, let's put this into context because this is a journalist writing and I think the judges need to understand. There are thousands of people that come fight and because we are not running a regular paid army, the way this worked, some people come and fight, they may fight for a month or two and the guy is gone maybe back to his village to go and take care of his farm. So this total of 85,000, I'm saying there's just thousands of people that if we were to do an emergency call in because of a major problem and say all of those that fought before please come back, they will come back. But this is not any conventional army where you've got people ready and willing. It was always a situation where people could come and go.

    And I want to point out when you touch the Herman Cohen situation and I mentioned his book, we've got to be very careful during this period as people are writing. Children and boys, girls, Secretary Cohen in his book in chapter 5 states that he is surprised to see a lot of young men - I think he says young men and women of the age 15 and 16 are holding guns. Well, we have to be very careful with that because that's Secretary Cohen's own explanation as to young people that he is seeing. But the question comes why doesn't - why can't they be 17 and 18? Or, for that matter, why can't they be 14 and 15? How can Secretary Cohen write and say he saw young men 15 and 16? So this has got to do also with perception.

    And after Herman Cohen - and in fact I think I did mention it because you know he did some work for me later after he left the State Department for the government. I mean, this is a period where people are coming up with statements and some of them really you can't - they can't be factual.

    Now, Secretary Cohen saw young faces but immediately and sadly he attaches an age. He did not interview any boys - I mean any of these people and say, "How old are you and how old are you?" So he comes. So we have to be very careful during this time of the writing maybe Europeans and Americans have a way of looking at faces and exaggerating ages, but in some African context you may see a face that may look younger than maybe on European standards or American standards that are quite older than that. Not to praise myself, but if you see a Caucasian in Europe or something at my age of near 62 I'm sure he looks older. I'm not trying to attack them.

    I mean we're talking about different sets of people and I'm just pointing out here that just as he uses just a blanket expression "boys and girls", it's similar to what Secretary Cohen did when he talked about he saw 15 and 16 when he had not asked anyone but he came out with a number. So my question is, well, what makes you think they are not 17 or 18, or why don't you say they were 13 and 14? You come up with 15 and 16. So we've got to be careful and contextualise some of these things that journalists write. I mean I think it's important.

  • Let's continue:

    "As I drove up and down the country for four weeks through the dense rainforest that covers the country from border to border, I began to understand why there was such carnage during the war. The killing, however, was not limited to one side. All three factions that fought the war, President Doe's Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Taylor's National Patriotic Forces of Liberia, (NPFL) and Prince Johnson's Interim National Patriotic Forces of Liberia (INPFL), all share a common guilt for the atrocities.

    An estimated 13,000 people, some say over 20,000, including other West African citizens were slaughtered by the three warring factions as they pushed towards Monrovia. Talking to the ordinary people in the street you begin to understand why there was such common hatred of Doe and his soldiers. Liberia, size 111,400 square kilometres stretched over 13 counties with 579 kilometres of coastline, an estimated population of three million, had been misruled and kept sickeningly backward for 133 years by 18 Americo-Liberian Presidents before Doe's seized power in a coup d'etat in 1980.

    To this day much of Liberia is still rainforest. What they call cities in the country are dilapidated large downs that do not in all sincerity deserve the name of cities.

    To this day there is just one major highway asphalted from Monrovia to Ganta about 145 miles away. Apart from two other minor tar roads, one built free of charge for Doe by Nigerian President Ibrahim Babangida in Cape Mount County going to the Sierra Leone border, and another built by the American Firestone rubber company from Ganta from Gate 15, on the main Monrovia-Ganta Highway, to Buchanan - there is nothing more in the country deserving the name of a road. And this is in a nation that achieved independence 145 years ago."

    Pause there. That last paragraph describing the transport infrastructure in 1992, Mr Taylor, is that correct?

  • It's correct, including today.

  • So in terms of vehicular traffic from, say, Monrovia to Lofa and the border with Kailahun, was there an asphalted road running all the way which trucks could use?

  • Thus when Doe finally overthrew the Americo-Liberian oligarchy in 1980, native Liberians had hoped it was the time to redress the ills of 133 years of Americo-Liberian misrule.

    Doe, a semi-illiterate who himself was a fruit of the Americo-Liberian neglect of the natives, actually did well initially according to some Liberian historians. Doe initially surrounded himself with the cream of the Liberian political elite. Togba-Nah Tipoteh was his planning minister. Amos Sawyer, the current Interim President of Liberia, was his special visor. Boima Fahnbulleh was his educational minister. Gabriel Baccus Matthews was his foreign minister. George Boley was his presidential affairs minister. And Charles Taylor himself was Doe's director general of the state-owned General Services Agency.

    Because of Taylor's contribution to the consolidation of Doe's government in the early days, Doe gave him the rank of major, a 25 member bodyguard and a place in the cabinet even though he was not a minister.

    But this broad, tolerant government lasted for only a while. Doe suddenly changed his tack and began promoting his small Krahn tribe to the disgust of the other tribes in the country. This, I was told, was largely due to bad advice from certain influential Krahn elites.

    Suddenly the Krahn's became the privileged people who lived dangerously above the law and when Doe started persecuting the other tribes using his Krahn soldiers, his tribe, naturally, became a people living on borrowed time.

    Taylor said that by 1983 when Doe's government began to rot from the head, he, General Quiwonkpa, Mohammed Wimpey and others planned a coup to oust him. News leaked out. Wimpey and others were arrested. Taylor and Quiwonkpa escaped and Doe, fearful of what the Taylor/Quiwonkpa duo could do to his government from abroad, framed Taylor, accusing him of embezzling $900,000 which led to his arrest in the US on extradition charges. He spent 18 months in prison before escaping to Ghana.

    Thus, thoroughly bitter about the way Doe's government had treated them for nearly ten years, the people of Liberia, at least the two million or so who live in Greater Liberia, saw in Charles Taylor, who himself is half Americo-Liberian and half native, a saviour who had come to liberate them from Doe's tyranny.

    This is why, contrary to earlier press reports, there was such massive support for Taylor during the war and why Doe's soldiers were easily routed.

    Today the scars of the war are all too visible to ignore. But compared to other war-destroyed African countries, especially Somalia, Liberia came out of the war looking quite good.

    Much of the infrastructure is still intact, perhaps because there wasn't much in Liberia to destroy anyway. Even the capital Monrovia, despite the exaggerated press reports of destruction in the city, does not look too bad. There are still bullet marks on a number of houses in the northern suburb of Paynesville and the charred remains of a few houses could still be seen in other suburbs. But much of the city is intact, though water and electricity are scarce.

    The real miracle of Liberia is that after the war there has been no famine and outbreaks of disease in the country as in Somalia or Mozambique. The people are well fed, strong and beautiful as if there has been no war - and there are people who have work for two years or more in Taylor's area without pay."

    Pause there. Is that true, working without pay?

  • Well, it depends on who he is talking about here. The military was not paid. But civilians were paid.

  • And it continues: "They get a bag of rice each month and an allowance every Independence Day, 26 July."

    And then it goes on to deal with the celebrations and then it carries on:

    "What is striking is the enthusiasm and dedication shown by these unpaid people in Greater Liberia towards their jobs. Taylor's minister for health and social welfare, Dr Kou Nehway" - pronounce that last word for me, Mr Taylor.

  • "...Gbokolo, a very enterprising young woman, says, 'It's a joy. Liberians know they were working for themselves. Pay or no pay we know that there is a great future we must work for'."

    Now in describing there events in Greater Liberia, what was the entity known as Greater Liberia?

  • The entire country minus the borough of Monrovia.

  • "Thus if the leaders of the country could sort out their political differences in a fair manner, Liberia could quickly put the horrors of the war behind it and look to the future with hope, but this is not so.

    Today there are two governments running the country, each pursuing different agendas. Amos Sawyer, one of the leading lights of Liberian politics, heads one of the governments called the Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU), which controls only the city of Monrovia and its suburbs.

    Sawyer does not even control the whole of Monrovia. He shares the control of the city with Prince Johnson's INPFL which broke away from Taylor's NPFL during the war. Johnson's stronghold of Caldwell is one of the suburbs of Monrovia where Sawyer's laws do not apply.

    For example, when Sawyer printed a new currency last year and outlawed the old Liberian dollar bills throughout the whole of Liberia, Prince Johnson, like Taylor, refused to allow the new currency to circulate in Caldwell. The new currency is therefore circulating in only about four-fifths of Monrovia, and thus its value against the old outlawed currency has been spinning dangerously out of control. It was exchanging for nearly two to one by mid August."

    Can we skip the next few paragraphs, please, and jump to the third paragraph from the bottom in the next column:

    "The other government, the National Patriotic Reconstruction Assembly Government (NPRAG), which controls all of Liberia except the one city of Monrovia, is headed by Charles Taylor. Though the West Africa Economic Community (ECOWAS) and Sawyer's IGNU do not recognise the NPRAG, Taylor nonetheless is running a functioning government at Gbarnga complete with ministries and ministers."

    Can we pause again, please. Is that true, Mr Taylor?

  • That is true. I have explained to the Court that we kept a civilian structure into place and I think the Court can recall that I mentioned that by the middle of 1991 it moved to Gbarnga. The assembly is sitting at Cuttington University College and there is order. Courts are in existence. Schools are open. The children are going to school and not fighting war. Tribunals are operating. There's a functioning government. And again I disagree with just one little part here where he says that ECOWAS - in fact this is a mistake here. ECOWAS has in fact accepted the NPRAG.

  • Can we go over the page, please:

    "The US, the traditional godmother of Liberia, does not recognise either of the two governments, a decision which of itself is a destabilising factor that has deepened the stalemate in Liberia.

    Yet the differences between the two Presidents of Liberia, Sawyer and Taylor, are not fundamentally unresolvable. Both want elections badly but they can't agree how. Sawyer wants disarmament and encampment of fighting forces first to facilitate the electoral campaigning in the whole country. Taylor agrees, but he says he cannot disarm and encamp his forces when Sawyer's government and other West African nations are supporting Doe's soldiers who fled to Sierra Leone, now calling themselves ULIMO, to regroup and attack him."

    Pause there. Did you want elections?

  • And did you consider elections to be feasible at this time in 1992?

  • Well, it's the process. We were in favour of a process, and that process had been described here before; the disarmament, demobilisation and encampment of soldiers that we had agreed to. But he is right here that once that process was put into place properly we agreed to submit to that process. We could not at that time because we saw it as a trick. So I do agree, we had a process and now we have submitted to a process, that's separate from if we had assumed power, I have described that process already to the Court, but we are now going through the peace process and we would have submitted to a process that we felt was fair.

  • It goes on, if we skip the next paragraph:

    "Sawyer was next elected and installed as interim President of Liberia by 22 Liberian exiles who flew from the US and elsewhere during the war to the Gambian capital Banjul in mid-1990. At the time Samuel Doe was still alive and holed up in the Executive Mansion and was effectively the President of Liberia. All three warring factions rejected Sawyer's election."

    Was that the method by which Sawyer was made President, Mr Taylor?

  • In fact I disagree with the term "elected". He was selected and this is the crux of the problem. Not having to repeat myself, but I think it's important here for the Court to understand. If you see what he is describing here, this is what I described earlier as lost opportunities by this, what he calls here, traditional godmother. Here we are, Samuel Doe is not killed until when? September of 1990. I'm at the university campus by I would say August. Doe is in the mansion. Herman Cohen has said don't take the city. Doe is still in Liberia when these people I have described as hypocrites have convened a meeting to talk about peace, but they go and put an interim President while the elected President of Liberia is still alive and sitting in the mansion.

    So of course these people did not want peace. How? How? How could you want peace when Doe is alive in the mansion? They put 22 little fellows, you know, from the United States come in, we're going to put in the President. So they put him in and nobody accepts him. I don't accept him. Doe doesn't accept him. No one accepts him. So that's the chaotic situation existing at that particular time.

    So except for the electoral process - no 22 Liberians can claim election. I disagree. They selected him.

  • "Then came the ceasefire agreement on 28 November 1900, signed in the Malian capital Bamako". You've dealt with that.

  • "That effectively ended Liberian civil war. This was followed by the All Liberian Conference in March 1991 to elect an interim administration pending free and fair elections.

    A misunderstanding arose at the conference over the participation of the representatives of Liberia's 13 counties. Taylor was for it because he felt they would be sympathetic to him. Sawyer and his politicians were against it because they thought the county representatives would vote against them. This forced Taylor's faction to withdraw from the conference which went ahead to elect and install Sawyer yet again as interim President. Taylor's faction rejected the decision, leading to the current stalemate in the country."

    Now, that's March 1991, the All Liberian Conference. Did you attend that conference, Mr Taylor?

  • No, that was - I didn't attend that conference.

  • Where was the conference held?

  • To the best of my recollection, it was held in Monrovia.

  • "Enter ECOWAS and its peacekeepers ECOMOG.

    Although it is difficult to find agreement on anything Liberian these days, everyone agrees that the ECOWAS peacekeepers, ECOMOG, did a good job in stopping the carnage when they first entered Monrovia in mid-1990.

    However, the overall performance of ECOMOG and its impartiality in the conflict are questioned. The Nigerian ECOMOG field commander General Ishaya Bakut told me, 'ECOMOG under my command will not partake in double dealing and telling lies, because the moment you lose credibility then you lose credibility of being a peacekeeper.'

    But this is exactly what has happened. Last year Ghana which conceived the ECOMOG idea and provided its first commander, was so worried about the political agenda being pushed by ECOMOG in Liberia that the Rawlings government announced publicly that if ECOMOG deviated any further from its earlier stated goals Ghana would withdraw.

    Since the statement, Ghana has withdrawn itself totally from the internal politics of Liberia to the extent that Ghanaian soldiers in Liberia now concentrate on peacekeeping only. This has endeared the Ghanaians to all the factions and indeed everybody in Liberia. While I was there a leading Monrovian newspaper The Inquirer described them as the 'ECOMOG heroes from Ghana'. Sadly the same cannot be said about the other countries in ECOMOG - Nigeria, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Senegal. All of them seem to be pursuing a hidden agenda and appear to say they would gladly accept anybody as head of a united Liberia if his name is not Charles Taylor."

    Pause there. The description about the role of the Ghanaians, Mr Taylor, is that something you were aware of at the time?

  • "For example, Sierra Leone and Guinea have units serving with ECOMOG supposedly to keep the peace in Liberia, yet the two countries provide operational and training bases for the United Liberation Movement (ULIMO) which has been fighting Taylor since late last year.

    ULIMO, now led by the former Liberian banker Raleigh Seekie, is mostly made up of Doe's former Krahn soldiers who fled to Sierra Leone during the war. They also have in their ranks Mandingo Muslims led by Alhaji Kromah who felt persecuted during the war by Taylor's forces. Alhaji Kromah is concerned with fighting a religious war but the other ULIMO faction led by Seekie thinks this is bad public relations. So on the surface, ULIMO says it is fighting to force Taylor to obey the West African peace plan but the group's real objective is to drive Taylor out of Liberia. As Togba-Nah Tipoteh one of doyens of Liberian politics puts it: 'You don't make cold water cold with hot water. That is a bad policy'.

    Taylor believes ULIMO is supported openly by Sierra Leone and Guinea, and covertly by Sawyer, ECOMOG and Nigeria."

    Did you believe that?

  • I believed it and it was true.

  • "Monrovia newspapers which are stridently anti-Taylor have reported for months that Sawyer's government is training 'Liberians' (an euphemism for ULIMO fighters) in camps in Guinea and Sierra Leone. Though Sawyer himself has denied it, one of his ministers was seen by BBC reporters visiting one of the camps at Kankan (Guinea) in late July.

    Whilst this article was being written in early September in London, ULIMO was announcing successes in its war with Taylor. It said it had captured Cape Mount, Bomi and part of Lofa Counties bordering Sierra Leone. It had launched a surprise attack on Taylor's troops along the border and was making good grounds inland. ULIMO later rejected ceasefire proposals put forward by ECOMOG.

    The ULIMO war has now focused attention on the double role being played by ECOWAS in Liberia. By their own peace plan, the famous 'Yamoussoukro IV Accord' signed in the Ivorian political capital in October 1991 which Taylor stands accused of not implementing, ECOWAS ought to have removed all 'hostile foreign forces' from the territory of Sierra Leone by now and ECOMOG should have 'eliminated all external threats to Liberia to facilitate disarmament and encampment of troops by the warring factions'.

    ECOWAS and ECOMOG have not implemented their sides of the Accord, yet they threatened at the recent ECOWAS meeting in the Senegalese capital of Dakar (27-29 July), that if Taylor did not disarm and encamp his troops by 30 August, ECOMOG would impose economic sanctions, with UN blessing, on his areas of control.

    When ECOWAS issued this threat, ULIMO was fighting Taylor's troops on the Sierra Leonean border yet not a word was said by the West African leaders about ULIMO and its war against Taylor.

    When the 30 August ultimatum expired, ULIMO was still engaged in fierce fighting in Cape Mount County, so ECOWAS could not impose the threatened sanctions - an act which proved, beyond doubt, the partiality of ECOWAS and ECOMOG in the crisis. Taylor, naturally, rejected the sanctions threat and said he could not disarm his troops while ULIMO was shooting at him - a demand Togba-Nah Tipoteh in a rare show of political acuity lacking in Monrovia these days, calls 'a reasonable demand'.

    Most impartial politicians and journalists in Monrovia, also a rare breed these days, say that Sierra Leone and Guinea's provision of operational bases for ULIMO should disqualify them from participating in ECOMOG. ECOWAS, however, does not see anything wrong with the two countries' continued participation in ECOMOG.

    Sierra Leone justifies its support for ULIMO on Taylor's continued support for the Sierra Leonean rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), led by Captain Foday Sankoh which has been fighting a guerrilla war inside Sierra Leone since early 1991.

    Sankoh, who has had problems with the Sierra Leonean leadership for years, fought alongside Taylor against Doe. According to conventional thinking in Monrovia, Taylor used Sankoh to 'invade' Sierra Leone as a way of putting pressure on Sierra Leone to remove the ECOMOG supply base in Freetown."

    Is that true, Mr Taylor?

  • That is not true and that's what I'm saying that I disagree with some of the things he said. This is exactly what he said "conventional thinking". That's all it is.

  • "But this tit for tat could be easily removed by ECOWAS. But it hasn't. ECOWAS would only say in the Dakar communique that 'some progress had been made' in the implementation of Yamoussoukro IV without elaborating.

    For instance, ECOWAS would not say that its troops had been deployed at all the major entry points into Liberia since April 1992 - including Gbarnga, Taylor's headquarters - and that the most substantial point in the Accord left for Taylor to implement was disarming and encamping his troops.

    Neither would ECOWAS admit that its troops had been on the Sierra Leone border since 30 April and that it withdrew its troops from the border in mid-July as soon as ULIMO intensified the war against Taylor. Which brings into focus again the partiality of ECOWAS in the conflict."

    Pause there. Was it the case that ECOWAS had deployed troops along the Liberian Sierra Leone border, Mr Taylor?

  • That is true.

  • That is just before the ULIMO incursion into Liberia, which started around I would say, oh, '91, on or around I would say April, not to be too exact. But they were there and not only were they getting them into Liberia, but they had posted ECOMOG inside Sierra Leone maybe as a security precaution. This is just describing what I have tried to describe as best as I could and I've used one word that that's it. The hypocrisy at that time and the people - and the lost opportunities for peace. No-one could be serious about telling us to - these people were just not serious.

  • So was it true that they were there guarding the border and then withdrew immediately ULIMO attacked?

  • "Since the ceasefire in November 1990, no fighting has gone on between the three main warring factions. Thus the only external threats to Liberia has come from ULIMO. The ECOWAS troops were on the border in the first place to prevent just what ULIMO is doing, but ECOMOG, while I was still in Liberia, was happily issuing press releases showing the position of ULIMO in the war instead of concentrating on 'eliminating' the threat posed by ULIMO as Yamoussoukro IV had agreed.

    There is a general feeling among the two million or so people living under Taylor that if ECOWAS and ECOMOG do not change their tune, they would soon drive Liberia into another major war which could be bloodier than the first.

    According to the people, the much-reported 'intransigence' of Taylor stems from the fact that ECOWAS has not been impartial in brokering the peace. It has treated Taylor largely like a 'warlord' not worthy of any proper hearing.

    Up till now, Taylor says, he has not been able to meet one-on-one with some of the leaders brokering the peace - like Nigeria's Babangida and Ghana's Rawlings. 'How do you want peace in Liberia when you don't even want to sit down and really listen to one of the major actors in the conflict?', Taylor asks."

  • I think the tape has almost run out Mr Griffiths. That would probably be a very good spot to stop at this stage.

  • We will take a short break and resume at 12 o'clock.

  • [Break taken at 11.30 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.00 p.m.]

  • Mr President, I would simply note for the record that Mr Bangura has departed the courtroom.

  • Yes, thank you. Go ahead, Mr Griffiths.

  • May it please your Honours:

  • Mr Taylor, before the short adjournment we were looking at the middle column of this report and can I now invite your attention, please, to the last paragraph in that middle column:

    "Up until now, Taylor says he has not been able to meet one on one with some of the leaders brokering the peace like Nigeria's Babangida and Ghana's Rawlings. 'How do you want peace in Liberia when you don't even want to sit down and really listen to one of the major actors in the conflict?' says Taylor".

    Mr Taylor, during this period from the start of the revolution until 1992, where we are now, had you spoken to any of the ECOWAS leaders?

  • Oh, I [microphone not activated] had spoken - when you say ECOWAS leaders, that is - oh, excuse me, your Honours. When you say ECOWAS leaders, I had spoken to some ECOWAS leaders, okay, now - but the leaders mentioned here, I had not spoke to them. But ECOWAS is a 16 member state.

  • Yes, but those leaders who had sent troops to Liberia, had you spoken to any of them?

  • No, no. Excuse me, Mr President, may I have the privilege of just pointing out one little point that I have reflected upon? With your permission if I may state it?

  • Well, you are --

  • I have no difficulty.

  • All right. Please go ahead.

  • You know, I am running - we are talking about a 20 year or more period. I am running through dates and different things and on reflection, there was a question posed by counsel about the time that ULIMO took possession of the St Paul River bridge, and I know the date is August 1992. Now on reflection I think I did say 1991. That would be incorrect. I wanted to make it very - you know, you are talking using dates, but that would be totally incorrect. If I said August 1991, it is incorrect. It is August 1992, and I just wanted to correct that.

  • Thank you. Let's complete the article. Then I am going to ask you one or two more questions about it. "For example, one major Taylor complaint ignored by ECOWAS is that he cannot trust Amos Sawyer to organise a fair transitional period leading to elections. He complains that Sawyer, Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson, and other politicians now serving in Sawyer's government failed to support him financially in his war with Doe, despite their promises. Taylor is bitter that Sawyer and his friends who abandoned the war effort in midstream, despite their promises, are now hiding behind ECOWAS leaders to take the prize they didn't fight for. One doyen of Liberian politics told me off-the-record that Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson and other friends of Sawyer were collecting money in the US in support of Taylor before the war. Sawyer denies this, and Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson said last year that the money was for refugee relief only".

    Pause there. Were you receiving that kind of financial backing from Sawyer and Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson, Mr Taylor?

  • I received the money from Ellen. Sawyer and these people may have contributed. I have no evidence to that. But the money was raised by Ellen.

  • And was the money only for refugee relief?

  • The money was not for refugee relief. I had met Ellen and had shown her in Paris the photos of the men that were already in training. What kind of relief is that when men are in Libya training? I mean, if Ellen said that, Ellen is lying, and she knows that she is lying, okay? Ellen was in America raising money. What kind of release is that? You know people are in training. Well, what is she saying in another interview in another magazine that she is going to drink champagne when we finally take Monrovia. Do you take a government by relief supplies? Nonsense. I mean, Ellen raised the money. She visited me in Gborplay in the bush, not for - she saw the soldiers, she spent a few days there and she bent back. This is totally not true. Totally.

  • Let's go to the final page of this document, Mr Taylor, and there are only four sections of this --

  • Are we talking about page 16?

  • We do have an objection to this. This is not in fact the final page of the article. The final page of the article is the prior page with the little square after "Nobody could have said it better". That is the end of the article that deals with the interview with this accused. If you look at the next page, it is purely and simply the opinions of another person. There is no foundation for this, and we would object to this, and they do have other means available to put this information in. This is not a matter of the accused speaking on his own behalf.

  • Yes, what do you say to that objection, Mr Griffiths?

  • That is why I prefaced what I had to say about this by saying I only want to ask about particular passages. I am aware this is an editorial and it is the opinion of the writer, but if one looks at the top of the third column for it by way of example, we see a quote from the Guinean President, "Charles Taylor is a bad example. Civilians shouldn't be encouraged to overthrow military regimes". Can I not put that to the witness and ask the witness if he is aware of that as a fact? That is a statement of fact, not opinion, and in consequence where particular facts are mentioned in the editorial in that way, it seems to us that it does not contravene the rule against opinion evidence to ask the witness about it.

  • Where did you quote that passage from again, Mr Griffiths?

  • The top of the third column.

  • Oh, I see. Yes, just excuse me a moment.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • Yes, we will overrule the objection. We will allow you to put those quotations that you have already referred to to the witness.

  • -- I am only dealing with particular quotations here, okay?

  • Now if we look at the penultimate paragraph in the middle column which begins "This being the background", do you see that?

  • Yes, I do.

  • Do you see that comment that "Taylor's virous must be stopped before it contaminates the whole West African sub-region"? Had you heard that being said?

  • Oh, it started with Dawda Kairaba Jawara, and this was the basis upon which they launched this deceitful campaign against me. So Conteh saying it was normal, there were quite a few of them saying that.

  • Now when we go to the next column do you see there is a quote attributed to the Guinean President Lansana Conte, "Charles Taylor is a bad example. Civilians shouldn't be encouraged to overthrow military regimes". Do you recall that being said by the President of Guinea?

  • I do recall that, and I've mentioned to this Court that most of the military juntas in West Africa at that particular time were in fact afraid, and he did say that.

  • And if you look - miss a paragraph - at the paragraph thereafter which begins "According to", do you see a quote attributed to the ECOWAS Secretary-General Abbas Bundu, "'It is no longer fashionable to ascend to power through the barrel of the gun,' he told the Voice of America in late August". Do you recall that being said?

  • Oh, yes, I recall Bundu and I do recall that I responded to this one by Abbas, and I think my reference was that well: Fine, what do you call what just happened in Nigeria? What do you do about Nigeria? When military governments come, what do you do about them? They came by the barrel of the gun. I recall this very well.

  • And in similar vein what had quite recently happened in Sierra Leone?

  • It had a military regime in Sierra Leone.

  • Yes, but what had happened quite recently in Sierra Leone? What had happened to Momoh?

  • Well, President Momoh had been overthrown.

  • Momoh was overthrown by Captain Valentine Strasser.

  • And help me. At the time did you hear any ECOWAS leader complaining about what had happened in Sierra Leone?

  • Oh, well to tell the truth, there were some complaints about the takeover because one of the fellow generals had been removed from power, and I think pressure commenced immediately for what they call return to a democratic process. Yes, but there were some questions about it.

  • Now the final thing I want to ask you about is this. Go back to the first column, please. Yes?

  • The second to last paragraph speaks of two stories against Taylor being carried in the local press and later carried by the BBC. Do you know about that?

  • I am not sure about the exact stories. There could have been so many, I'm not sure which stories the author is referring to here.

  • Very well.

  • All the newspapers in Monrovia are owned by Sawyer, so --

  • Now, Mr Taylor, I want now to ask you in general terms about a couple of things, bearing in mind the indictment, and so can we go back a page to page 15 of the article, please. Okay?

  • So the penultimate page. I have in mind in asking you the suggestion of joint criminal enterprise. First column, third paragraph from the bottom of the column:

    "Sankoh, who had had problems with the Sierra Leonean leadership for years, fought alongside Taylor against Doe. According to conventional thinking in Monrovia, Taylor used Sankoh to invade Sierra Leone as a way of putting pressure on Sierra Leone to remove the ECOMOG supply base in Freetown".

    Question number 1: Were you aware of Sankoh fighting alongside the NPFL?

  • No, I was not aware and in fact Sankoh did not, because if he had fought alongside the NPFL I would have known. But even if we go one step further, by all accounts before this Court I don't recall - and I stand corrected on this - any evidence that was led in this Court that suggested that Sankoh and Mohamed Tarawalli and the other fought alongside any NPFL unit by the Prosecution's own account of evidence before this Court, and I stand corrected.

  • Now the second aspect of this, this suggests that you used Sankoh to invade in order to put pressure on Sierra Leone to remove the ECOMOG supply base in Freetown. Did you at any stage harbour such an intention?

  • Never, ever harboured any such intention, never planned any such intention. There was no reason to plan any such intention.

  • Now yesterday you accepted that for a period you did provide support to Sankoh?

  • Let's look at - my thinking at that time cannot be considered any less important than the conventional thinking of any major Western or other country or let's say educated person, even today. What do I mean by that? I have explained to this Court that here we have - Guinea has armed a group of individuals called ULIMO. Here is Sierra Leone, and they have armed another group called the Liberian United For Democracy, finally coming together forming ULIMO. Two countries are waging war against me. I don't think anyone in his sound mind expected me to just sit there and do nothing about it. My relationship with Sankoh was a pure and simple security relationship to protect my border, that we would fight ULIMO in Sierra Leone without having to fight them in Liberia.

    Look, I don't - for the love of facts and truth this - the Prosecution can construct, they can construe, they can design whatever plans, and it is up to these wonderful judges to decide. I never went or ordered troops on that border in Sierra Leone for no other reason except security. Now whatever way the Prosecution puts it would be the decision of the judges. The fact of the matter is it is that and only that reason. No other reason.

  • Now the other general matter I want you to help me with, based on that article, is this. You appreciate, Mr Taylor, that on Count 9 of this indictment you are charged with the use of child soldiers, yes?

  • Now did you, as leader of the NPFL, use children as soldiers?

  • Now in that article it states quite clearly, or suggests quite clearly, that children were being so used and that they had a specific name, Small Boys Unit. So what are you saying about this allegation, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, I have said to this Court so many times I do not dispute and will not sit here and dispute today that children at different points in Liberia at the time were out with soldiers, they went into areas where military activities occurred, they went with their families, they went with their brothers, they were at gates, there was no official policy of the NPFL to recruit, train, arm and send into combat soldiers.

    In fact, we may probably be able to get the individual - I even had one of the largest orphanages during the war in the city of Gbarnga. We hoped that the lady, she is very old now - we hope she is alive before this is over because we lost one of our older women in Liberia.

    The whole phenomena of children in combat situations I will call it is not a new one. It's an old one. In the West African sub-region whether it is Liberia, whether you go into the central African region, there is always - whenever you have a crisis where there is massive loss of lives you will always find soldiers, I mean, moving around with children, using them for different purposes. And it can be construed as them being used for combat, because soldiers carry - these children carry arms and then you and your brother walk and they hold arms. Some of them that look like children are of age. But the fact of the matter is I will not sit here and say that children were not involved in the whole scenario of the civil war for other purposes, but not directly officially for combat, no.

  • Were SBUs, that is children, used to provide security at the Executive Mansion in Gbarnga?

  • At the Executive Mansion in Gbarnga there were many younger people. Yes, there were some young people there, not for security purposes. I have heard the name mentioned here in this Court about Zobon has been used who is in fact related to me, he and his cousin, that also his cousin was a soldier, it is a she, and they were around there. Even from the orphanage they will come to the yard, they will cut grass in the yard, they would sit at the gates with the soldiers, yes. Observe what they are doing when they are not in school. Yes, there were many children that were around the Executive Mansion, yes.

  • My question is more specific, Mr Taylor.

  • Did you knowingly employ children to provide security at the Executive Mansion?

  • In your relations with Foday Sankoh and what you later learnt to be the RUF, did you instruct them or incite them in any way to employ children as soldiers?

  • No. How can I instruct a leader of another country almost? No.

  • Did you implore Sankoh or any RUF leader to employ children as soldiers?

  • No. And I understand the question. The answer is no, but I want to give a little explanation here. Look, I know these questions are designed because of the type of story that we have from the side of the Prosecution, but it must be established. The whole issue of what is going on in Sierra Leone in fact is none of my business. Look, if ULIMO had not attacked Liberia you have never - you would have never heard of this foolishness, because there would have been no need to secure some cooperation to protect my border. As simple as that.

    So I want to lay it in concrete. This belief that Foday Sankoh and his people are a bunch of idiots, don't know what they are doing, they are almost my wards, that I am feeding them, clothing them, instructing them, is pure nonsense and that is what is giving rise to these specific questions as to this indictment.

    These people with their own ambitions, that started years before Taylor. They own there problem in Sierra Leone. There were coup d'etats in Sierra Leone before it ever reached Liberia. The first coup d'etat in Africa I think was staged in Togo by Eyadema against Sylvanus Olympio. Other than that, Sierra Leone had their crisis.

    As a young man I remember coming to my father's office. He worked briefly at the immigration before I left for the States and there was a gentleman I met in my father's office. There was a General Lansana. He was involved in a coup d'etat - an attempted coup d'etat in Sierra Leone and had fled to Liberia during the administration of Siaka Stevens and there were long negotiations. He was eventually extradited to Sierra Leone and executed by Siaka Stevens. I am not sure if this is the same area that Foday Sankoh and Hinga Norman and that group were all involved, I am not too sure, but what am I trying to say?

    I am trying to say that you have got a history of problem in Sierra Leone with people wanting to take what they call the government. I have said to this Court I go to Libya. I meet the Sierra Leoneans there preparing for what they wanted to do. So for someone to believe that all of a sudden Charles Taylor has met a bunch of sheep that are lost, they don't know what they are doing, and he is guiding them, he is directing them. There is nothing further removed from the truth than this. This is beyond, your Honours - beyond my own thinking.

    Maybe, you know, for whatever reason I am going through this crisis, you know, is my own fate, but this is sheer foolishness, that somebody would believe that these people who have been fighting all their lives, coups, counter-coups, executions here and there, who go to Libya, receive training, that Taylor who has never had military training in his life is now teleguiding them is a lie.

  • Can I assist with a spelling, please, Mr President. Sylvanus Olympio, S-Y-L-V-A-N-U-S O-L-Y-M-P-I-O. He was the first Head of State of Togo.

  • That should be on the record.

  • It is on the record, yes. He is a little cousin of mine.

  • And speaking of Zobon, did he have any particular area of responsibility?

  • No, he lived practically with me. He was always at the mansion and he was taken to be in testimony here an SBU leader. He is my little cousin and his other cousin also worked with me, a lady, that was one of our principal commanders.

  • Was he leader of the SBU?

  • Was there a formal organisation within the NPFL called SBU?

  • The truth of the matter is - well, there was a group that was referred to in I will almost say like a joke form that there is a unit of young people, almost like an auxiliary, like you have a boy scout, they were just called a unit of boys, yes. It was known - that word was used throughout Gbarnga, yes.

  • Would your Honour give me a moment. I would now like us, please, to put that document away and before we do that I am helpfully reminded could I have that document marked for identification, please, MFI-4.

  • Yes, the document catalogued DCT-108 being a copy of an article from the New African, October 1992 will be marked MFI-4.

  • I am grateful:

  • Now, Mr Taylor, can we now continue the narrative, please. Now, you have helpfully told us that ULIMO control and its extension to the St Paul's bridge was achieved by August 1992, yes?

  • That is correct. That is correct.

  • Now, help us. By that stage, August 1992, was there still existing a relationship between you and Foday Sankoh?

  • No, no, no, no. That relationship had been severed some months earlier than that.

  • Were you providing any - were you continuing to provide supplies to Mr Foday Sankoh after this date?

  • You will recall, Mr Taylor, that this Court has heard testimony to the effect that bush paths were being used through the forests which border Sierra Leone to conduct supplies to Mr Sankoh. Was that going on?

  • Counsel, your Honours, first, I heard that testimony. It is - in direct answer to your question, it is false, misleading and really vicious. A vicious lie. Now, let me take this Court back to the records and if I recall, that precise statement could have been - and I stand corrected - made by an unprotected witness, so I can mention his name, General Varmuyan Sherif, if I am right. Now, who is Varmuyan Sherif? Varmuyan Sherif at this time is a ULIMO general. Now Varmuyan Sherif is not an NPFL general at this time. Now, if Varmuyan Sherif says - and if there is any truth to this - that the NPFL is still having relationship with the RUF and is using bush routes to get arms and ammunition, or arms, whatever he said, to the RUF, it is very clear then he is not a very good general. He is not a very good general, because if he is an enemy general, and arms are passing through his territory and he knows of it, and he permits the arms to pass, he is a useless general, and that is what makes it even a bigger lie. These people, I don't know how they got to these lies. I have said to this Court with all honesty the St Paul River marked the line of demarcation after May of 1992 when Top 20, Top 40 and Top Final occurred and we subsequently withdrew. And I'd said to this Court we withdrew our men from Sierra Leone before ULIMO took full control of that bridge. That is why I said to the Court that if I said 1991, it was misleading. It is 1992. We had severed relationship even before ULIMO fully controlled Lofa. Now here is a general sitting before a fellow sitting down here saying there were bush paths. Just for the sake of the court, let's look at the area. We are talking about the rainforest. It would be normal that the first line of defence for ULIMO forces - and I am trying to go through this slowly because we are dealing with military. ULIMO has captured this area from us. On our side of the river at every available point we are putting, what, security to keep ULIMO from infiltrating because there were so many attempts on the part of ULIMO to come across the St Paul River to come to Gbarnga. From the St Paul River bridge to the city of Gbarnga is about 20/25 miles and ULIMO did not just come to the St Paul River bridge and say, "Okay, we are happy. This is it. We are going to stop". They were prodding. They wanted to get to Gbarnga. So there was combat. We were fighting, and so there were heavy defences on both sides; on the ULIMO side on that side of the St Paul River, on the NPFL side on this side of the St Paul River, along the river for as long as we could go in a horizontal fashion.

    Now if someone comes and sits and tells these judges that things were going, then he should not have been a general. Where we would have - how did we break through ULIMO's line to travel almost 150 miles from the St Paul River to Sierra Leone to penetrate with arms and ammunition? It just could not happen; it did not happen; and this Varmuyan Sherif lied. Because of all of the reasons I have mentioned, he lied. He lied.

  • Were you aware that he was a ULIMO general?

  • Who, Sherif? Those days during the war we got to know some of their names. I have mentioned there were Mandingos fighting for me too, yes? We got to know. It is a part of military intelligence work to get to know the names of the top commanders on the other side. It is also a part of their duty to find out which areas that particular general is commanding, because there are some very good officers and there are some not so good officers. So there are certain areas that if you know certain officers are commanding, from your side you would try to put a counter officer to command the area because when two top commanders meet, it is a matter of trying to see who can outwit the other. I guess one - this Court can be reminded of the dual between - I think it is General ^ Rambo and Patton during World War II in Northern Africa. Wherever General ^ ram BOES was, Patten wanted to know what happened there, and so it is the same procedure. And so we knew of their names. We knew and we tried to pick out where they were so we could counter them with certain officers. So we did know that General Sherif was a senior ULIMO commander, yes.

  • And did he belong to a particular faction within ULIMO?

  • Oh, yes, yes. General Sheriff is Mandingo and he was a ULIMO-K.

  • And ULIMO-K after the split within ULIMO ended up controlling what part of Liberia?

  • ULIMO-K controlled Lofa County in full. ULIMO-J controlled Cape Mount and Bomi Counties.

  • So did Varmuyan Sherif later - was he later appointed to any post by you after you became President?

  • What post was that?

  • Varmuyan Sherif was left or permitted - I permitted him to remain in a position of assistant director of the Special Security Services for - he was responsible for what we called the - it is operations, but his primary responsibility was for arranging the convoy of the President. He was in charge of the convoy, we call it, the operational convoy.

  • So, let us try and put together what you have told us, please. So Varmuyan Sherif starts off as a general in a force fighting against the NPFL, is that right?

  • He is later assistant director of what group?

  • Of the SSS, the Special Security Services.

  • He is also Mandingo?

  • Did you, as suggested to this Court by him, use him at any time to transport arms to Sierra Leone?

  • Never. When I use the expression he was permitted to stay, we have got to put this into context. The context is as follows. During the transitional government where I sat on the Council of State as of 1995, I was in the mansion, Alhaji Kromah, Boley, George Boley, the members of the Council of State, brought in different personnel to work in the building because no-one really trusted the other, and Varmuyan Sherif was in that position acting when Alhaji Kromah sat on the Council of State. So after my election as President, in an act of reconciliation and making sure that we can unite all sides, we left him stay there, but cognizant of the fact that he was before then an enemy soldier. And so Varmuyan Sherif actually being put at where he was put was a demonstration of the fact that there was an issue of trust. Because the SSS, the Special Security Services, is something like the - what in other countries is called the Secret Service, and that position that had to do with the - the actual word used at that particular time is motorcade, okay? It was called the motorcade. That did not involve being directly in the presence of the President or being armed around the President. It was a secure position away from the President where you could work with the motorcade, prepare, make sure that everyone is ready and on board and did not call for him being close to the President, because in fact there was this issue of doubt. And so I could not and did not send Varmuyan Sherif to carry any arms into Sierra Leone; number 1, because he was not what you could call a confidante, he was not close to me that I could trust him. Now, I have gone through a war with hundreds of what I will call very trusted soldiers and generals. Now, I would have to be out - I would be cuckoo to take an enemy soldier and tell him to go and take arms to anyone, even if it's a - even to a unit inside Liberia. I do not know why Varmuyan alleged that, but I guess he has to make his story look good, but I have explained this to show the distance. I don't disclaim that Varmuyan worked there, but the motorcade was a secure position away from the President and that he was not a confidante, no.

  • Mr Griffiths, when the witness said that Varmuyan Sherif was a director in the SSS, was this under the NPFL?

  • No, that's - I presume that question was during my presidency. The question was did I appoint him subsequently. It is during my presidency.

  • And on that note, just so that we are clear, does there come a time when the NPFL ceases to exist?

  • When is that?

  • Again, that question, you know, we passed through it. I would say - I would say about a year or so before the elections the NPFL - all warring factions had to disband, form political parties, become certified before you could participate in the election, so that process had to happen. The NPFL did not cease to exist at the time in 1995 of the deployment of ECOMOG throughout the country. I want to draw that distinction.

  • Now just to deal with another aspect of Mr Sherif, that Prosecution witness. As far as you are aware, Mr Taylor, was he all of sound mind?

  • No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Varmuyan - I don't know this boy. When I became President and Varmuyan remained in that position, actually Varmuyan went, sadly - and I say this earnestly - sadly because I wish no bad fate for him, but Varmuyan went out of his mind and what which call in Liberia he went crazy. Varmuyan was on the streets naked and eating from garbage areas. We took him and I sent him to Mali to - there is an area. I am not sure if it is on the map. There is an area in Mali, it is called Jenny.

  • How do you spell that?

  • Oh, my God. J-E-N-N-Y. Jenny is a highly religious part of Mali, very, very - they have very senior - senior clerics, Islamic clerics there. It is called Jenny. We sent him there for treatment because Sherif is also Muslim, and thank God he was healed and he was returned.

  • And can you recall when those problems beset him, Mr Taylor, just roughly?

  • Oh, that had to be I would say round about - not too long. About late '97 or thereabouts. It was not too long. It was not too long that Varmuyan got sick. It was not too long after my presidency that he got sick.

  • And after his return from Djenne in Mali did he maintain his role within the SSS?

  • No, after Varmuyan returned there were some little problems and he was transferred to the - what we call the bureau of immigration and naturalisation services. That is where he was transferred to.

  • Now we have sidetracked somewhat to deal with other matters. Can we now return to the narrative, August 1992. I am being assisted helpfully by my learned friend, Mr Anyah. Djenne, D-J-E-N-N-E.

  • And, yes, there is an acute accent over the two Es:

  • Yes, Mr Taylor, let's return to the narrative. August 1992. You have already explained at length what is the state of affairs on the ground. What is happening during the second half of '92?

  • Well, you have peace talks again start up. We also mention the problem with Octopus, we have mentioned that already, but it is mostly - I think it's Cotonou, that we are pursuing Cotonou, and Abuja during that particular time. Cotonou and Abuja. I think, you know, we are talking about a long period. I have - we have - I have gone through extensively with - because of this period and not being caught up later with some of these dates, because this whole thing is date oriented. There is a whole - in my archives a whole time line dealing with this whole thing because if I am not wrong there may be as many as a dozen peace agreements. I mean there is Cotonou I, Cotonou II, there is Abuja, there is Banjul, there is Dakar. So I guess I would really be able not to mislead this Court if at some point we can be helped with - there is a document in my archives of a full time line. I can give the years and probably we can - because I could probably get mixed up with this and I don't want to mislead the Court. Because in '92 we are talking about at least two major discussions going on. We are talking about Cotonou and we are talking about Abuja.

  • Well, Mr Taylor, this is not a memory test and the document you referred to is available. It is in a bundle entitled "Additional Documents For Week 30" and it should be behind divider 3.

  • Yes, I am saying this because in '93 you have got Cotonou, you've got all kinds of agreements going. '94 we have got the first interim government taking seat. So it's a lot of --

  • Do your Honours have the document? It should be headed page 1 "Preface". I am grateful:

  • Mr Taylor, you can look at the document. It is behind divider 3.

  • Now, first of all just help us, please. What is this document, please, Mr Taylor?

  • This is a document that is setting out the time line. I just mentioned to the Court that by late 1992 we are dealing with two different talks that follow combat and the reason why I had asked to refer to this, as we go into 1993 we have got a second set as early as the first half of 1993 where we go back into Cotonou, which is Cotonou II, to begin to set out the groundwork for the establishment of a transitional government system in Liberia.

    That particular whole situation, Cotonou II, in my opinion is the actual document that finally establishes a road map for peace in Liberia and then that goes on, we push it around and there is still a little conflict here and there. That is the government that set up the first Council of State. We are represented on this Council of State by one of our senior generals, the late General Isaac Musa. That particular council is headed by Professor David Kpomakpor.

  • Spelling, please?

  • It is a Gola name. It is K-P-O-M-A-K-P-O-R. I think it is Kpomakpor, yes. I stand corrected. I think it K-P-O-M-A-K-P-O-R, Kpomakpor. Professor Kpomakpor is heading that particular government and they take over actually in 1994 and then they are there and so then there is problem again. He is trying to put into place a mechanism for election, it doesn't work too well and then another guy comes in later on and we go to Abuja again. So there is this confusion that I am glad that we can come to this document because they are all tied in and I could mislead the Court, but I just did this to give a general view that the Court may know that I am very aware of this particular period.

  • As I say, Mr Taylor, this should not be a test of memory. If there are historical documents available, let's refer to them. But help me before we look at the document with this: What is the source of this document? Where does it come in?

  • This document is put together really by, you know, a research group that did it to establish a chronology of the events in Liberia.

  • Yes, but the particular document physically where does it come from?

  • Now we see from the --

  • Could we be a little bit more specific with the author of the document? He said a particular group.

  • Well, we had a bunch of historians and journalists, a group that put it together for our study. And I know you want the name of the group. I did not have a name. It was a committee put together to put this into chronology.

  • Now we see that the document is entitled, "Analytical Chronology of the ECOWAS Peace Plan for Liberia: Banjul to Akosombo and Beyond". We then have the Taylor contents which need not delay us, and then, just to put the document in context, let's have a look at the introduction briefly, please:

    "In the 14 October 1994 report to the Security Council the Secretary-General recommends a three month extension of the mandate of UNOMIL until 13 January 1995."

    The purpose of that is to execute a fact-finding mission upon which the Secretary-General's recommendation on UNOMIL 's future roles in Liberia will be based.

    I don't delay any further with that. Let's go over to page 6, please, and we see that the document starts with a description of the humanitarian conflict situation in Liberia on the eve of the Banjul ECOWAS meeting in 1990 and there is then set out in numbered paragraphs the thinking behind the deployment in due course of ECOMOG in Liberia. So let's just take a moment and reacquaint ourselves with this:

    "While pressures for change in the conduct and governance of President Doe's government had been mounting in the years preceding the invasion of Liberia by the forces of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia in 1989, the mounting of that invasion marked the shift of the struggle of state power contestation in Liberia from constitutionalist politics to that of national security politics. With the invasion the main issue of politics in Liberia had become that of securing or changing an order of power through war. From December 1989 to February 1990 NPFL invasion" --

  • Ms Hollis?

  • Yes, Mr President, this does not appear to be a straightforward chronology. It appears to be comment by someone we do not know, prepared for what purpose we don't know and I don't think sufficient foundation has been established for this to be put to this witness. This entire document is something of a mystery. Some research group and somehow it ended up in an archive. So I would suggest there is not enough of a foundation for this witness to have this information put to him in this document.

  • Yes, Mr Griffiths?

  • I preface my response, Mr President, with this observation: Here we have a witness being required effectively to give an account of his whole life, in particular a period of more than a decade during which for several years he was the President of a nation state. Bearing in mind of course that the giving of evidence should not be solely a memory testing exercise, and furthermore that it is incumbent upon this Court to ensure that it avails itself of the best evidence possible, it seems to us the wisest course is to allow such a man to have access to necessary and available historical records to assist him in the giving of his account.

    In relation to this particular document, he has told us who prepared it, where it comes from - his own archives - which suggests of course his own familiarity with the document. It seems to me, bearing in mind all of those facts, that there can be nothing wrong in allowing a witness in Mr Taylor's unique position to avail himself of the assistance this document necessarily can provide.

    And before I sit down, I am dealing with this initial part in order to put into context the remainder of the document which truly does set out a chronology.

  • I know not whether my learned friends have read the document properly, because if so they would be able to confirm that it is in fact a chronology and I don't propose to go through it word for word. I was merely seeking at this preliminary stage to introduce the chronology. So we would say there is nothing wrong in these circumstances in the witness being able to assist the giving of his account by reference to this document.

  • Excuse me, sir, but as a matter of law and procedure, there are official documents relating to Security Council resolutions, or discussions, or minutes, or reports, and there are official documents which set out all of the numerous peace agreements, ceasefires, and other accords that were involved in the war in Liberia. That would be the official record, not this unknown document that seems to have someone's opinion about things.

  • Mr Griffiths - firstly, Ms Hollis, Mr Griffiths asked the question and you objected, and he replied to your objection. In future you don't have a reply to his reply. But, Mr Griffiths, we are going to confer on this, but before we do, I just wanted to clarify one thing. Before showing this document to the witness, you said that this is not a memory test. Now did you show the document to the witness to refresh his memory of facts that he knows himself without extracting them from a document, or are you showing him the document so as to put to him facts alleged in the document with which he may or may not agree?

  • Well, it is the former primarily, Mr President, because he has already mentioned that there has been a number of agreements during this period - ceasefire agreements - and those are detailed in the document. So the document is being used to refresh his memory to prevent the kind of mistake made earlier in his testimony on more than one occasion when he gives an erroneous date which only later reflection allows him to correct. And so it is to prevent that kind of hiatus in the giving of his account that we submit reference to the dates given in this document should be allowed.

  • Well, I think I see what Ms Hollis was objecting to. Because in putting the document to the witness, you were in fact reading the document on to the record as evidence of itself, not as evidence of a refreshment of the witness's memory, but of itself being evidence. I think Ms Hollis has objected on the grounds that if you are going to do that, then there is not sufficient foundation. Anyway, I am just summarising the objection at this stage. We will confer briefly.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • Mr Griffiths, we are not satisfied at the moment that you have in fact laid sufficient foundation for the use of the document in the manner that you were proceeding to do. We really are in the dark as to its origin and when it was prepared and for what purpose. Was it prepared specifically for the purposes of this litigation, or for some other purpose? We would like further clarification on those matters.

  • Very well:

  • Mr Taylor, help us. Do you recall when this document was first prepared?

  • This document was first prepared - I would put it to around the beginning of 1994.

  • Why do you put it at that date?

  • That is about the time when the first Council of State is really put together in 1994.

  • And who ordered the preparation of this document?

  • This document was prepared by - I think under the instructions of the council, if I am not mistaken, at the time, because this was a copy that was brought to me by the member of the council that sat there, General Musa, and I have kept it over the years.

  • Which council are we talking about?

  • The first council in 1994. It was also called the Council of State.

  • And was this a document prepared with litigation in mind?

  • No, no, no. This was a document prepared for historical records.

  • Quite frankly, I have said before I don't know the name given to the committee, but it was an instruction for a government committee that prepared this during the council.

  • A government of which country?

  • And how did you come by a copy?

  • This copy was given to me by our representative on the Council of State, the late General Musa.

  • And have you had it since?

  • Yes. The whole thing here is that I am sure the Court wants to proceed. Whether it is Cotonou, Abuja, I can go through these agreements without even - if this is a major problem, we can - I can tell you the year. We are dealing with the year in 1992 or '93 or '94 to the council. We can be specific about it, because it is not something that I would just need this document to teach me about what happened. I just want to make sure that we do not mislead. Sometimes, you know, when you are at this place, your Honour, your head is telling you one thing and by the time you speak it out, it comes out a different thing. It happened to me here before. I am thinking August 1992. By the time I speak it, it comes out as August 1991 as regards the issue with the St Paul River bridge. So I mean, while I do not know the entry cat details of every agreement, but at least a timeframe and what they were all about, I know this. I don't think this is a fight. So, you know, we can proceed. I can tell you the period we are talking about there are two agreements in question, Cotonou and --

  • Mr Taylor, perhaps allow Mr Griffiths to finish laying the foundation he intended to do.

  • And, Mr Taylor, what was the purpose of preparing this record?

  • Historical. Purely historical to have a record of what is going on - what happened before and what is going on at the time. It is a historical document.

  • The government at the time and interested people in the future that may want to study it.

  • And why have you kept it?

  • Because it has been important for me. I have planned - or I had, up until now, planned to have for the first time in Liberia a presidential library set up to display historical documents and if my recollection serves me well, you counsel asked this Bench for permission to extend the time given the new team when you informed this Court that you had just come across some documents from my archives, and the Court did give you permission and extended time to look at those documents. So there is no question about the historical nature of my archives, even though the whole details are not known.

  • And help us, Mr Taylor. Whilst we are dealing with your archives, in an effort to put this particular topic to bed, how many documents were in the archives that we, your legal team, came into possession of?

  • Oh, Jesus. There were several cartons. Maybe more than a dozen cartons of documents.

  • And help us. What kind of documents were in your archives?

  • Ah, they include documents from all of the crises of Liberia from the war, the inception, different publications that had been done by even Liberian historians, copies of agreements that had been signed at these different venues. These are all there. We have also some historical documents from our previous administrations, and then documents relating to my own administration from the time I came into office.

  • What kind of documents?

  • Decisions on the part of government of my administration, programmes that were put into place, bills that were passed by the legislature, all of these. Just a mixture of history, economics, everything - in fact, some analysis even done, some notes by me as to why certain decisions were taken at particular times, what reasons that posterity would be able to know why this happened. It is a very rich archive that involved all of these historical documents of all the agreements during the war, it dealt with - there are so many copies of UN resolutions, ECOWAS resolutions. Just this --

  • What about correspondence?

  • Oh, yes. Yes, there were correspondence that I received from both ends that I sent to leaders around the world, correspondence that I received in return from them. Also included in my archives were the electoral report, the entire report that was documented by the election commission at the time of my coming to the presidency. So can I just say it involves almost every piece of historical document that I was putting together to form a library for posterity.

  • Mr President, can I pause there. And I have quite deliberately extended the area of my questioning of Mr Taylor on this topic because in our submission, this is a point of some importance and significance, and I have quite deliberately allowed him to elaborate on what is contained within the archives that have been available to us so that hopefully we can resolve a fundamental issue - a procedural issue - at this stage.

    I will be frank with your Honours. Yes, we have a substantial amount of material, several large cartons full. We have reduced that down in total for this witness to somewhere in the region of seven A4 lever arch files and I don't apologise for the fact that your Honours will be receiving in the next few days all of that material. And in particular when we come to the period after 1996 we are going to slow down considerably, because effectively we can go through on an almost daily basis and detail through the use of documents what was happening in this man's life.

    And so consequently it seems to us important that we establish certain fundamental principles at this stage; how are these documents to be used. I appreciate that the conventional form is to lay foundation and I am not disputing that, but when one is dealing with that quantity of material, how is a witness expected to recall every single item, every single document, which he may have amassed over a period of over a decade? That is asking too much of the human memory and it seems to us that a more flexible approach needs to be adopted in these particular circumstances if we are to provide, as we seek to do, the best possible assistance available to this Court.

    It seems to us where documents like this are available to assist not only the witness but the Court, that we should retain within the procedural discretion of the Court the power and ability to avail ourselves of it and that's all we are asking to do, so that there is available to the Court a historical record independent of the oral evidence of the witness, but which in itself tells the story. That is all we are seeking to do.

  • Well, we started off with this one document and your showing it to the witness was challenged by the Prosecution on the basis that you had not laid sufficient foundation. You have now led further evidence on foundation and in fairness we will hear from Ms Hollis as to whether she now regards that as sufficient foundation, but I don't want to expand this present issue into a consideration of every document in the archive.

    There is already jurisprudence to the fact that if a witness can prove - is familiar with the facts of a document he can prove them by oral evidence and if he is not then you are looking at Rule 92 bis. But I think at this stage surely we can confine ourselves to this present document.

    Your objection, Ms Hollis, was that there was not sufficient foundation. You have now heard the witness give certain facts in foundation. Are you still maintaining your objection?

  • No, Mr President. We think now there is sufficient foundation.

  • Thank you, Ms Hollis. Yes, go ahead, Mr Griffiths.

  • I am grateful, Mr President, but I do note the time.

  • I think this is an appropriate time to break for lunch.

  • I am most grateful.

  • We will adjourn now and we will resume at 2.30.

  • [Lunch break taken at 1.26 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 2.30 p.m.]

  • May it please your Honour:

  • Mr Taylor, it is not my intention to go through this document word for word. All we want to do is to use this to set out as briefly as we can a chronology so that we get the dates correct. Do you follow me?

  • Can we turn then, please, to page 12 first of all. Do you have it, Mr Taylor?

  • Paragraph 19, you see that briefly there set out we have a short chronology, "August 90 - ECOMOG was deployed in Monrovia", yes?

  • That is correct.

  • "September 90 - President Doe was captured and killed".

  • Also September, "September 90 - A Nigerian Commander replaces the Ghanaian Commander".

  • "October 90 - ECOMOG establishes control over Monrovia", yes?

  • "November 90 - an Interim Government of National Unity with Dr Amos Claudius Sawyer its installed President", yes?

  • Then "March 91 - NPFL-backed rebel raided into Sierra Leone and a new party, United Liberation Movement for Democracy, fought alongside Sierra Leone forces", yes?

  • "September 91 - ULIMO inaugurated its own bid for state power in cross border war with NPFL in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties", yes?

  • Do you agree with all of that, Mr Taylor?

  • And then we see paragraph 20:

    "Dr Amos C Sawyer invited to Yamoussoukro was in attendance as President of the Interim Government of Liberia, and Mr Charles Taylor similarly invited also attended as Head of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia."

    And then we jump to the bottom of the page, "Yamoussoukro during its last meeting of 16 and 17 September 1991", was that the date you recall, Mr Taylor?

  • And were you in attendance at that meeting?

  • So that's 16 and 17 September 1991. Now, was that the first peace meeting that you attended?

  • Which was the first?

  • Bamako was I would say very late in 1990.

  • Very well. So, anyway, we've set out those dates there. Let's skip a few pages, because as I say I'm not interested in all of this document, and can we go to page 16 please. I just want to look at the three dates at paragraph 23 which your Honours might find has not been photocopied properly.

    "November 1991 - ULIMO war for territory". Can you expand on that for us, Mr Taylor, so that we can give some meaning to that event?

  • "ULIMO war for territory" is the continued movement out of Bomi coming towards the Lofa side.

  • "April 1992 - the junta led by Captain" - no doubt that's Valentine Strasser - "overthrows government of President Momoh". Then "May 1992 - ULIMO gains more" - and should that be "ground", do you think, Mr Taylor?

  • Okay. Can we go over the page, please, to page 17. Now at Yamoussoukro, Mr Taylor, what had been the essence of the agreement?

  • Yamoussoukro was about trying to set up a commission to deal with the process of going to elections.

  • And were there practical decisions made as to how that decision - how you would come to that process?

  • Yes, there were some real good suggestions. May I just add that at that meeting in Yamoussoukro President Babangida of Nigeria attended that meeting along with President Houphouet-Boigny and so the whole point now that we do have the groups here. In fact, at the beginning of the meeting it was decided that the NPFL I had told them that, "Listen, we have a government in what you call Greater Liberia and it's called the NPRAG", so the first order of business was to agree that there would be a government called the NPRAG which stands for the National Patriotic Reconstruction Assembly Government. That basis then led to the next stop which was, fine, two governments, so the next step would be putting into place a mechanism for elections.

  • Right. Now, let's go to page 17 and do you see that at paragraph 29.5 it says:

    "The following revised Programme of Implementation be carried out by ECOMOG without delay:

    April 1992 - ECOMOG operations commence.

    May 1992 - ECOMOG completes the occupation of the buffer zone between Liberia and Sierra Leone."

    Now do you recall this event, Mr Taylor?

  • Now help us, please, and it may be that if you can just briefly pause for a moment and with the assistance of another map, which actually is I should have indicated this morning a Prosecution exhibit and if memory serves me this map is Prosecution exhibit 62, or is it 96?

  • I believe that is 26.

  • 26, I'm grateful. So I failed to mention that this morning:

  • I wonder if you could just indicate on this map, Mr Taylor, where the buffer zone was?

  • The buffer zone set up at the time concentrated for the most part in this general area around where we call Bo Waterside. This area in here was set up as the buffer zone. There was no buffer set up in the forest area and ECOMOG then came into the Voinjama area. So I would say from about here, the area that I have crossed, that's the zone of separation really.

  • So that's where the buffer zones were?

  • Could you sign and date that, please.

  • What date do you want to show on this one?

  • It's the 21st today.

  • Would your Honours like to see that up close?

  • Yes, but perhaps show the Prosecution first.

  • Yes, after my learned friend has seen it. I've seen it on the screen. I don't need to see it.

  • Mr Griffiths, perhaps you could have the witness explain exactly what this buffer zone was all about.

  • Can I come to that in a moment, your Honour, after we've all seen the map:

  • Mr Taylor, take back the map, please. Just a couple of questions about that and, because I'm told the reception is not so good when you're sitting in that seat, could you ensure that you keep your voice up. Firstly, why were those buffer zones established?

  • A buffer really is a separation buffer - a separation zone - the argument being that supplies and assistance are coming out of Sierra Leone to ULIMO and that we want ULIMO forces far from the border. So what the UN would do is that they would move in - they would have ULIMO move inland and within a space, I would approximate it depending on the area that it could be anywhere from a quarter of a mile, is set up along the border where ULIMO men could not enter. They would be occupied by United Nations forces, or ECOMOG forces I mean.

  • And that was the next question. Who was going to man these buffer zones?

  • We will see a little further that at the height of the negotiations and because the ECOMOG forces have lost their I would call it capacity for neutrality, then we argued for UN forces to occupy that and eventually United Nations forces did get involved.

  • Okay. Is there any further assistance I can provide on that, your Honour?

  • Was this like a projected time frame of events, or is this the time indicated that events actually happened?

  • This is a time that events are taking place. They are happening.

  • Could I clarify what is meant by "The Group"? It has referred to, "The Group made the following clarifications", and you have referred to some of those clarifications in evidence.

  • I'm trying to locate that. Is this a --

  • Mr Griffiths, if you look at the opening to paragraph 27, 28 and then again at 29, and you have referred us to 29.5, it says, "The Group made the following".

  • I see. I'm grateful:

  • Mr Taylor, do you see numbered paragraph 28 on that page?

  • Mr Taylor, do you see paragraph 27 on that page, page 17?

  • You see that it begins "The Group reaffirmed its belief", yes? Do you see that?

  • Just for clarification, go back a page to page 16. At paragraph 26 do you see a reference to "The Consultative Group"?

  • Now, help us. Who was that?

  • Oh, let me think very much. The consultative group spoken about constituted the committee. There was also a Committee on Liberia of ECOWAS member states on Liberia, that's the group, of which Nigeria was on it, Ivory Coast, la Cote d'Ivoire. That's the group being referred to here.

  • That's the group being referred to?

  • Okay, can we go back then to page 17. Do you see, "All seaports, including Buchanan, Greenville and Harper, to be secured by ECOMOG"?

  • That is the correct. That is correct.

  • And did that in fact take place?

  • Yes, ECOMOG did secure the seaports, yeah.

  • And was that in May 1992?

  • Let me see. By this - this particular situation here comes back to the question - excuse me for pointing, your Honour, I will put my hand down - that was advanced by Justice Sebutinde. What we are looking at are the historical facts of agreements and things that are to be apparently implemented, okay, that is expected as far as these discussions are concerned. The fact of the matter is it's like an ongoing process, all of these don't take place at the time. So when I say that they are actually ongoing, so if you read the language, it's not saying they had actually gone. They had occupied some of these places, but it's an ongoing process. The real process is not completed until later on at a later year, around 1995. So this is an ongoing process. This is I can almost say an agreement of what must take place, and it has not all taken place.

  • Okay. And then we see "ECOMOG secures all airports and airfields" and again do we need to look at that with the caveat you've just explained?

  • The same thing.

  • Over the page, please:

    "All roadblocks maintained by all factions to be dismantled. Encampment and disarmament of all warring factions commence at all selected sites. Documentation of personnel, weapons and ammunition as well as crating and storage of weapons at designated centres run concurrently" and then confirmatory ECOMOG patrol commences.

    Then 1992, "Only ECOMOG and Mr Charles Taylor's security company shall bear arms after 1 June 1992."

    What's that a reference to, Mr Taylor?

  • They are trying to really assure me of my security, which is a principal concern. By "company" here they are not referring to an association as you have. This is as referring to - this is more a military terminology as a company which comprise I would say, what, 160 men. These are people that are supposed to guide me, because my concern is that these are ECOMOG soldiers who are firing at me, you want all of these things so I want some security. And they permitted, in this agreement, that a company size could protect me.

  • Now let's jump to letter B towards the bottom of that page. Do you see reference is made to the 15th session of the authority of Heads of State and government in Dakar?

  • What was that meeting about, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, all of these agreements and discussions are being conducted by various Heads of State and whatnot, but they have to all be taken - those decisions have to be taken to the Heads of State meeting. And so when they talk about the section of the authority of Heads of State, the ECOWAS is called the authority of Heads of State. So what this meeting was about was receiving these recommendations that had come from the - remember they've used this word "group" - from those responsible for carrying out the negotiations to finally take a decision.

  • And then if we go to page 20. At page 20 you see at 32.5 reference to the authority. Now is that the authority you've just described?

  • Yes, the "authority" here refers to the Heads of State of ECOWAS countries. That's the authority.

  • And you will notice at 33.7 that the authority decided, 33.7.2, that:

    "Unless Charles Taylor and the NPFL comply fully with the implementation of the said programme, the authority shall impose comprehensive sanctions against Charles Taylor and the NPFL controlled areas of Liberia and any other party that fails to comply with the implementation of the programme."

    Now do you recall that, Mr Taylor?

  • And was this something that was communicated to this?

  • This was a decision in form of a threat to put pressure on all of the parties. I was fully aware of it.

  • Now did you attend that Dakar summit?

  • Go over the page, please, to page 21. So you went to the Dakar summit and help us, do you have any kind of record of that, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes. There are photographs of my attending that summit and my meeting with the then President Abdou Diouf that I do have, and I'm sure the Defence should have it.

  • We'll have to look at those at a later stage. Now, after Dakar what was the - where was the next meeting?

  • After Dakar then we went - I think we went on to Cotonou. We went to Cotonou for another set of discussions.

  • And we there at later C on that page, page 21, "Pre-Cotonou Accord Diplomatic Activities". We're not going to delay overlong on that section. Let's move on, though. Page 23, please. Whilst we're all finding that page, a spelling. Abdou Diouf, A-B-D-O-U D-I-O-U-F. We see a reference on page 23, Mr Taylor --

  • -- to peace talks on Liberia held at Geneva, 10 to 17 July 1993. Do you recall that event?

  • Yes. These events occur a little before Cotonou. We come to Geneva, there are all of the sponsors. In all of this cases these sponsors are also major countries, European and North American states. We come to Geneva and all of the principal players in Africa are present, and President Houphouet-Boigny is very generous in hosting the conference in Geneva really.

  • And did you attend?

  • And we see that the dates are 10 to 17 July 1993.

  • So help us, Mr Taylor. How did you physically get from Gbarnga to Geneva at this time?

  • To la Cote d'Ivoire. President Houphouet-Boigny, who was sponsoring the talks, had vehicles at the border. We were driven to the international airport. There is an international airport at Yamoussoukro, and he was generous enough to provide the transportation for us to go to Geneva.

  • Okay. And how long did you stay in Geneva?

  • The talks lasted a few days and we returned. It was not a very long time.

  • Now following Geneva when is the next meeting?

  • And if we go on to page 24 now we see 25 July 1993, Cotonou Agreement. First of all, Mr Taylor, where is Cotonou?

  • Cotonou is the capital of the West African country of Benin.

  • And how significant was this agreement on 25 July 1993?

  • In my personal opinion, I think this Cotonou Agreement for the first time throughout the crisis actually lay the groundwork for what eventually became the peace that we all wanted, and let me tell you why I am saying that. We have agreed that these two governments, the NPRAG and the IGNU, would dissolve and that a process would be put into place where a government will come and set up the mechanism for free and fair elections, and under this agreement the idea stuck of a Council of State. That is interpreted almost as a collective presidency. At stake is who do you trust, who do you believe? No one wanted to give up for the next guy to lead the government. I had the largest faction. They did not want me to lead the transitional government. We could not let Kromah led the transitional government because he had a small faction. By this time there are other little groups. The AFL, the Armed Forces of Liberia, is operating now not as a national army, it's operating as a factional force. We are not going to let them take over the government, so for the first time we decided to put into place what is called a collective presidency that is often referred to as the Council of State, which was the collective presidency. That put into place this collective presidency and under that government the entire fabric for the Court, the Court system, the legislative system, the executive system were all put into agreement for this Council of State to move with and eventually bring piece to the country. So I considered this really the most important agreement during that particular period.

  • So would you say this date is something of a watershed in the history of the Liberian conflict?

  • By my own calculations. I'm sure that there may be many that would disagree. So by my own calculations, yes.

  • Now what was to be done in terms of the presence of a force to enforce this agreement? Who was to be given that role?

  • There was a joint role given. The United Nations would send forces, and they would work along with ECOMOG to make sure that this whole question of trust would then be looked at more seriously.

  • And when we go to page 33 - yes, Mr Taylor, are you there?

  • We see at letter F in the middle of the page, "The Establishment of UNOMIL", yes?

  • And was that to be the force?

  • And then if we skip a number of pages and go to page 42 we see at paragraph 71, do we not, what the responsibilities of that UNOMIL force was to be? Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • And we see:

    "UNOMIL is deploying throughout Liberia. It has established 4 regional headquarters namely:

    Monrovia (Central region)

    Tubmanburg (Western region)

    Gbarnga (Northern region)

    Tapeta (Eastern region)

    ECOMOG has deployed in:

    The western region (Tubmanburg)

    The northern region (Gbarnga)."

    Now help us, Mr Taylor. When they say, "UNOMIL has established 4 regional headquarters", just explain to me precisely what UNOMIL did on the ground?

  • When UNOMIL arrived, if you look at this - I just want to remind the Court - Monrovia, yes, that's aside from me, but if you look at this you will see 71.1.3 you see "Gbarnga (Northern region)", that's an NPFL area, and then you see 71.1.4 "Tapeta" and that's also an NPFL area. So you can then deduce from here that UNOMIL - because of the concerns of the NPFL/NPRAG at the time, UNOMIL comes more into our areas as a way of trying to satisfy our concerns for security and so they actually deploy.

    Now they are not large in numbers, the UNOMIL force is not in the thousands, but their mere presence - and, again, not to enforce. Their presence was to serve almost like referees to make sure that they observe - because they really didn't have enforcement powers at the time. To observe and I guess to allay our fears at the time.

  • Now I am pressing you for more information on this, Mr Taylor, for good reason. Now when you say they were there to observe, in practical terms how did they go about doing that? Did they patrol, or were they totally reliant on people coming to them with information? What are we talking about? Help us, please.

  • Oh, they did those and many more. UNOMIL set up checkpoints where they could - if arms were coming through those checkpoints they could stop them. They would not disarm the soldier, but they would not permit arms to come out. UNOMIL would patrol. They would patrol, because a part of this agreement called for the free movement of citizens wherever they wanted to go without hindrance from ULIMO, NPFL or whoever. So they patrolled also to make absolutely sure that that part of the agreement, you know, was okay.

    Now by deploying, as is mentioned here, these are the headquarter positions, but they could drive anywhere they wanted to drive within any part of Liberia. So the fact that they were deployed in let's say in Tappita, if you look on the map Tappita is a long way from Monrovia. So to get to Tappita you have to, what, come from Tappita back through Ganta, you have to come through Gbarnga and you have to go through Kakata based on the map that I showed here. So these are headquarter division - I mean areas, but they have free movement through a vast space.

  • And when you say they also set up road blocks, road blocks where?

  • At these central points that are mentioned here, at major intersections they had road blocks. For example, take for example in Gbarnga. If you look at the map, when you get to the town of Gbarnga there is one road that leads towards Lofa. So you can go Gbarnga, you can then go through this very thing that we talked about here today, the St Paul River bridge, and then you can go through Zorzor and Voinjama. There's only one road. It takes off from Gbarnga. Also from Gbarnga there's a road that continues southeastward that's going towards Ganta and going towards Tappita and all that way.

    So Gbarnga is a central point. So at as central point as Gbarnga in the main intersecting road they would then, what, set up a checkpoint to check people going through. And let's say for example vehicles that are coming from Lofa, don't forget now ULIMO is just at the St Paul River bridge and so maybe somebody mischievous could get in a pick-up with his arms and say, "I'm going down to Monrovia", because you cannot get to Monrovia unless you pass through Gbarnga.

    So they were there to make sure that if there were any little difficulties that there would be no altercations and so they had these checkpoints. I want to emphasise they were not authorised to disarm, or enforce. They were there to observe and if anybody came to that they would ask them to return, or something like that.

  • Now when were these checkpoints set up, Mr Taylor?

  • Before the Council of State - by the Council of State I'm referring to the 1994 Council of State, because this agreement that we are talking about, Cotonou, is actually put together in 1993. So I would say this Council of State came into place I would put it to around mid-1994, or thereabouts. They are deployed before the Council of State is seated; that is late 1993 to early 1994 that process is put into place.

  • And so by that stage we have in position throughout Liberia road blocks manned by an independent foreign UN backed force, is that right?

  • And how long do they stay in Liberia?

  • Oh, they stay there - they stay there for I think a couple of years, because by 1995/'96 - they are there for at least two or three years to the best of my recollection. They are there in Liberia. Even as I go to Monrovia on the Council of State in '95 they still have some presence.

  • I ask for this reason, Mr Taylor. You appreciate of course, don't you, that it's suggested that throughout this period you're supplying arms to the RUF? You appreciate that, don't you?

  • What do you say to that allegation in light of what you've just told us?

  • It's just nothing else but an allegation. It's false. It's a falsehood because - and let's just clarify this again. Yes, these forces are there and if you look here we have, what, two separate forces deployed in Gbarnga at the time. It is not just the United Nations, but if you look there also there is a second force in Gbarnga which is ECOMOG. ECOMOG is also in Gbarnga. But even if for the sake of argument we were to remove these forces, how would we get these so-called arms and ammunition across ULIMO? How do we get it from Gbarnga to the border? How do we get it? Except where there is, what, a collaboration between ULIMO and the NPFL, which is not the case.

  • So during these years up to 1994 - and we're taking things in stages - were you supplying arms to the RUF, Mr Taylor?

  • Or any kind of assistance?

  • No assistance whatsoever. No contact whatsoever.

  • Was it physically possible during these years for you to provide that kind of assistance?

  • It was not - not - physically possible and the reason is very simple. How do you get to these people? Somebody - I mean, you know, somebody must be able to reason this thing out. You've got enemy forces that have been facing each other, fighting for years. ULIMO fought tooth and nail and captured the Lofa, Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties. They had been prodding us, trying to get to Gbarnga. We had been fighting. And even when we get to understand that, even with all of this, this first Council of State does not resolve the problem. There is still trouble. How do we get a hundred or more - in fact, 150 miles from Gbarnga through enemy territory? How do we get to the border? Somebody must understand it does not make sense.

    Now these forces are there, so where do we go to with this? How do we go? Where do we go? What do we use? What is it? I mean these phantom ideas of near impossibilities I will call it, your Honours. I mean really there may be a whole lot of other things that can be maybe hypothesised about this whole process and maybe, you know, people have to think about it, but there are some really impossible things that - this, you will have to face death.

    But mind you, mind you, let me just interject one thing. When you listen to this evidence as given by Varmuyan Sherif, he forgets one thing. He doesn't say anywhere in the evidence that, "Look, on one occasion they were going and we intercepted them and we took everything from them and we killed a whole lot of them and we captured some people." He said, "There were roads that we were going." I mean, it's just not possible and anybody playing this kind of trick to try to get from Gbarnga to go to Sierra Leone is really looking for his death. It's as simple as that.

  • Mr Taylor, in that last answer you said amongst other things, "He doesn't say anywhere in the evidence that, 'Look, on one occasion they were going and we intercepted them and we took everything from them.'" Who is the "them" you're talking about?

  • Well to say that NPFL people are travelling to Sierra Leone to go and give Sierra Leoneans weapons, because when you look at the process in his testimony he does I think mention - I stand corrected, either him or some other witness - that some people are coming from Sierra Leone trying to enter Liberia and I think they are attacked. I think this is what he said. I'm not too certain. But he does not mention that NPFL people are leaving Gbarnga with ammunition going into Sierra Leone, no.

  • Before I leave this document, can I invite your attention to page 44, please, and just briefly seek your assistance with one matter. Do you see at paragraph 72.1:

    "In his acceptance speech on 7 March, 1994, the Chairman of the Council of State, Mr David Kpomakpor, stated that the holding of free and fair elections on 7 September 1994 was foremost for the LNTG."

    Firstly, taking things slowly, what's the LNTG?

  • That's the Liberian National Transitional Government.

  • And when was that established?

  • That is in 1994. That's a result, remember I said it, from Cotonou.

  • Right. And when it refers to an acceptance speech, as Chairman of the Council of State, what is the role of that Council of State?

  • The Council of State again is the collective presidency that is chaired by an individual who is then you want to consider as the - what's the best way - the best analysis I can give of it is maybe something that is along the line of what I think is practiced in Malaysia where you have Presidents, but somebody must chair at a particular time. He is the chair and is considered the leader at this particular time. But let me emphasise, the rest of the people are not Vice-Presidents. They are all Presidents.

  • And were you a part of this transitional government, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, I don't know, counsel. Help me what you mean by "you". If "you" is plural as the NPFL, yes. If it's singular, no, I was not personally there. I was represented by this council, on this council.

  • And who represented you on that council?

  • We were represented by the late General Isaac Musa.

  • And where did the Council of State sit?

  • Fine, this is the interesting part where I say that this is the most important agreement. They sat in Monrovia. They had to sit in Monrovia at the Executive Mansion, the office of the President. They all held all of their meetings, all official businesses were conducted at the mansion by this collective presidency and in fact what had to be done, like what you do in certain fora, they set around a round table. The table was not - they sat around a round table to ensure that all sides were equal.

  • Did you ever attend any of their meetings?

  • No. No, I did not. General Musa attended and he came up almost every weekend. I am still in Gbarnga. He came up every week and briefed me and the Vice-President of the NPRAG and the legislature. Because there's a full government going on, so he will come and brief me, report to the National Patriotic Reconstruction Assembly, he would report to them about the activities down there and would receive instructions on matters of state that were pending.

  • Why did you not attend any of these meetings?

  • Monrovia was still not secured, we felt, enough for me to go. Yes, they had made all these promises, but Monrovia was still a very dangerous place to be.

  • And so we've now traversed, have we not, Mr Taylor, up to 1994?

  • And is there anything further with which you can assist these judges in terms of events in 1993 and '94?

  • Well, except by informing the judges that as good as this is, it goes along for a little while. Things are put into place, but it doesn't really, really, really gel and then we have to go off again to another meeting. This time we go on to Abuja.

  • In which year is this?

  • We are talking about 1994. By late 1994 we are back in Abuja trying to patch up the little things. It doesn't - what goes on here that is really important is this: Things are not working. Our representative is down there and we go - while this is going on we go to - before Abuja we go to Akosombo. And while I'm in Akosombo at this meeting, my headquarters Gbarnga is taken over by ECOMOG, ULIMO and the rest of them while I'm sitting at the meeting table at Akosombo.

  • Which year is this?

  • So 1994, what time of the year?

  • Akosombo is held around August/September, around that time.

  • And whilst you're in Akosombo what do you say happens?

  • The same people that are talking to me, ECOMOG, ULIMO. By this time there's another group calling itself the LPC, the Armed Forces of Liberia. They are all together. They capture my headquarters.

  • This is 1994, yes?

  • And so what happens thereafter?

  • To Liberia, to Ganta and there is - and we begin a fight to recapture my headquarters.

  • And was it recaptured?

  • Some two, three months later we took it back.

  • And was it costly in terms of lives?

  • Well, lives were lost. Lives were lost.

  • And thereafter for the remainder of 1994 what occurs?

  • Well, then we have a very interesting thing happens where the then President of Nigeria, by this time Babangida, has left office and General Sani Abacha now takes over, and he extends an invitation to me to visit Abuja to discuss how we could bring final peace to Liberia.

  • And did you take him up on his offer?

  • And help us, when was that visit?

  • This visit had to be I would say at the very beginning of '95 or thereabouts. About the first - I would put it to about the first quarter in '95.

  • Okay. Now have we effectively now covered, Mr Taylor, up to the end of 1994?

  • To the best of my recollection, yes.

  • Can we pause then for a moment, please, and seek your assistance in this way: As far as you're aware, during the years 1993-1994 where was Foday Sankoh? And I'm not interested in your knowledge now; I'm interested in your knowledge at the time. Do you follow me?

  • If I answer this properly, quite frankly I don't know. I assume he has to be in Sierra Leone. I really don't know for sure, but I can say he had to be in Sierra Leone.

  • And help us further. What about Dr Manneh, where is he?

  • Dr Manneh is - by '94 Dr Manneh leaves Liberia. He leaves.

  • Quite frankly I'm not sure exactly where he went, where he ended up, but I think he probably returned to Burkina Faso or Ghana. I'm not too sure where he went at the time.

  • And so in those two years, 1993-1994, what was your main preoccupation?

  • As you can see, these various agreements, there is war. By "war" I mean trying to get back Gbarnga. Dealing with mostly the consolidation of peace. We were very, very, very busy. You know, things may look a little short here to your Honours, but some of these discussions for these agreements did not just take place over one day. Some of these agreements took two, three months to negotiate before we would go for final signature to the document. But they took extensive negotiations, periods of time, going, coming, delegations going and negotiating, coming back, before the leadership finally would get there. So we are very occupied with strategies and moving people from one country to the other on these peace agreements. If you see in one year you could have Cotonou. We had, what? We had Yamoussoukro. Then before you look you're going to Abuja or you're in Accra. So we were very, very busy those two years trying to make peace, and at the same time war was going on here and there.

  • Well, help us, Mr Taylor. Because you appreciate the suggestion is you're controlling the RUF, giving them orders and the like in nearby Sierra Leone. So the matters you've just told us about, how much of your time did it actually occupy? You know, the peace agreements, the planings and so on, how much of your time did it occupy?

  • I would say - besides my family I would say, what, 98 per cent of my time. Look, the very documents that this Court will have, the whole bunch will have to be brought to them, the number of papers and the agreements and I, as a leader of the NPFL, at the time NPRAG, with the legislature up there, and all of our court system and different things, there are at least maybe a dozen and a half or more agreements being negotiated over the 24 month period. I am extremely busy trying to bring peace. I'm extremely busy trying to secure my territory, because while we are making peace, there is war going on.

    You know, it reminds me - and the Court can be reminded of the famous Vietnam War where Le Duc Tho, the Vietnamese representative, and Henry Kissinger were in Paris talking peace and Vietnam was being bombed into smithereens. So the fact that discussions are going on, it does not mean that that is the absence of war. So I'm busy trying to - in the first place you have the very ULIMO, the very LPC, the armed forces, what are they trying to do during this time? They are trying to gain territory while we are negotiating, because the more territory you gain, the more strength you have at the negotiating table, okay? So I am too busy trying to save my back in the first place and trying to make peace. So it is total foolishness for anybody to suggest anything to the contrary. I mean, I'm busy trying to secure my own situation and not worry about anybody else. In fact with the confusion, the problem that had happened in '92 I have no interest, I have no reason to be in touch with Sankoh or anybody else, so that suggestion is total nonsense.

  • Can I pause for a spelling break please, Mr President. Le Duc Tho is L-E new word D-U-C and the final word T-H-O.

    Now lest I forget, can I ask please that this document, which I now ask be put away, be marked for identification MFI-6, please, and it's the "Analytical Chronology of the ECOWAS Peace Plan for Liberia: Banjul to Akosombo and Beyond". That description appears on the first page, Mr President.

  • Did you say --

  • Should it be 5, or 6?

  • 5 was the map of Liberia, the buffer zone.

  • Your Honours, it is MFI-5.

  • No, I don't think you had that marked.

  • No, you didn't tender that. You didn't mark that.

  • Well, before I forget can I ask that that be marked so that would be 5 and this then would become 6. I'm sorry.

  • All right. Well, firstly the black and white map entitled "Liberia", on which the witness has marked the buffer zones between Liberia and Sierra Leone, will be marked MFI-5. The copy of the document entitled "Analytical Chronology of the ECOWAS Peace Plan for Liberia: Banjul to Akosombo and Beyond" will be marked MFI-6.

  • I'm most grateful:

  • Mr Taylor, in 1994, despite what you have told us about your preoccupations and the absence of any support for the RUF and Foday Sankoh, were you aware of any public suggestions at the time that you were indeed supporting the RUF and Foday Sankoh?

  • If I'm aware of any public suggestion?

  • Well, I was not aware of any real public suggestion at that particular time. It may have been around. I was not aware. I became aware of that here in this Court.

  • Were you aware of any public statement made by the RUF in 1994 about your alleged involvement in that conflict?

  • Yes, I am aware. Some time in 1994 there was a statement that was released out of Ghana by the RUF I think detailing their own programmes. That was a matter that was on the news and I did hear of a statement that had been published by the RUF detailing their programme and what their programme was all about and even refuting the fact that there was any connection between themselves and the NPFL/NPRAG.

  • And have you ever seen a copy of that statement?

  • I wonder, please, if the witness can be shown from the additional documents for week 30 - yes - behind divider 1 DCT number 87.

  • What did you say? Which divider?

  • Divider 1. Is this the document you were referring to, Mr Taylor?

  • And we see then the document is headed, "Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone, RUF, Office of the Special Political and Foreign Affairs Coordinator, PO Box 1339, Accra, Ghana, West Africa", with a telephone number. Pause there. Help us, were you aware that the RUF had such an office in Ghana?

  • No, I was not aware. I was not aware, but it would not be unusual for this to have happened. Because of the Anglophone link with Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, I would not be surprised.

  • Now we see it's entitled "Public Release Statement" and is dated 23 March 1994. Now let's look, please, at the content of this press release:

    "There has been a lot of questions asked by the outside world about the existence of the RUF. Many are of the saying that the RUF is an agent for the National Patriotic Front of Liberia led by Mr Charles Taylor. Even the ECOWAS backed military dictators in Freetown are going from country to country misleading governments that the RUF has no programme for the benefit of Sierra Leone and the Sierra Leonean people. And now, therefore, the RUF declares to the Sierra Leonean people and to the international community its aims and objectives."

    Now pausing there, Mr Taylor. That suggestion which the writer of this document is seeking to refute in the second sentence, were you aware at this time that you were being labelled as the masters of the RUF in effect?