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

  • Please proceed, Mr Bangura.

  • Thank you, your Honour.

  • Good morning, Mr Smith. Mr Smith, good morning. Can you hear me?

  • Can you assist the witness with headphones, please. Can you hear clearly now, Mr Smith.

  • I'm going to lead you in evidence this morning. I will be asking you questions and I would ask that you listen carefully and give your responses. Can you hear me?

  • Perfectly, thank you.

  • Thank you. Can you state your name for the record please?

  • My name is Stephen William Smith.

  • How old are you, Mr Smith?

  • I am 51.

  • Are you currently employed?

  • I am currently employed by an American university, Duke University, North Carolina, and I also teach as an adjunct professor at John Hopkins University in Washington DC.

  • Sorry, that was what professor?

  • I'm professor at an American university, Duke University. D-U - Duke, if you prefer.

  • Yes, you said something about a something professor. An adjunct professor?

  • An adjunct professor, which is I also teach a course in Washington, but my employer is Duke.

  • Mr Smith, what is your area of - what area do you teach at university?

  • I have a split appointment in African studies, culture and anthropology and public policy.

  • Can you give this Court your educational background, if you will?

  • Yes. I studied at the Free University in Berlin, my mother being German so we stayed for some time in Germany, and then I finished my studies in Paris at the Sorbonne University with a thesis on the semiotics of foreign news coverage. I then became - dropped out of academics, so as to say, went into the journalistic field, settled in West Africa as a regional correspondence for Reuters news agency and afterwards became the African editor of a French daily newspaper, Libération, and after 12 years with the Libération I moved on to another French daily newspaper, Le Monde. I was the African editor and editor - deputy editor of the foreign news service. I left Le Monde in 2005 to become an independent journalist - freelance journalist. I'm also author of books on Africa, so I pursued that career prior to going to Duke last year for this split appointment as a professor.

  • Thank you, Mr Smith. Can I take you back briefly to your - the earlier part of your educational pursuits. You mentioned that you started your, or you were - you studied at Sorbonne University?

  • But before that you were in Germany. You studied in Germany. What did you study in Germany?

  • Philosophy, semiotics principally, that's - that was meant to be the science of information in the broader sense, and also history and political science.

  • And that was at the Free University?

  • That was at the Free University in West Berlin, yes.

  • And you graduated with what qualification?

  • With a PhD. I first had a BA, MA and then a PhD at the very end and in between I also acquired a few diplomas at the Sorbonne university, but I finished my studies with a PhD at the Free University.

  • Thank you. Now, you mentioned that you served - you worked as a journ alist for various newspapers and news agencies. Could we just briefly again go through them and say what period you worked at which of these ones. You have mentioned Reuters, you've mentioned the French daily Libération and you've mentioned Le Monde. Can you just briefly tell us what periods you worked at these?

  • Yes, sir. I started - I went to West Africa after my studies in 1984 and settled down in Cotonou Benin to cover mainly Nigeria for Reuters news agency. I then picked up also the regional coverage of Radio France International, so I worked as a journalist for them at the same time, and eventually in '86 I was asked to cover West Africa also for Libération and in 1988 I moved from Abidjan where I was then based to Paris as an Africa editor of Libération. I stayed with Libération as I mentioned for 12 years until 2000. I was then hired by Le Monde, stayed with Le Monde until 2005 and left in January 2005 to pursue as an independent journalist and book author.

  • You have written books and made contributions to articles and journals. Is that correct?

  • This is correct, yes. I have written - I don't know it by heart, but something like 12 or 15 books on various subjects. A biography of the late Moroccan General Oufkir, biographies on Bokassa, books on the American intervention in Somalia and mainly various books, sometimes co-authored, about the Franco-African relationship historically or topically and politically.

  • Generally, what area would you say that your writings have been focused on?

  • A very broad and narrow focus at the same time. It's all about Africa and mainly, except for the book that I mentioned about morocco, it would be Africa south of the Sahara. Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • And is there any particular theme that your writings have been focused on about Africa?

  • No, as I mentioned, as a field of speciality we tried together with a friend of mine, this is why I mentioned the co-authorship, we chronicled the Franco-African relationship out of Paris and - but beyond this I've been writing on non-French speaking countries. I'm supposed to be a specialist also on Nigeria, so I wrote a report - the first report - for International Crisis Group and wrote other reports for ICG on central - on the Central African Republic, for example, and otherwise it's a fairly broad field as I said. The humanitarian crisis in Somalia as well as a travel book on the River Congo, for example, with pictures.

  • Mr Bangura, what does the acronym ICG stand for?

  • ICG, International Crisis Group, excuse me.

  • Now, you said you wrote a report for ICG. When was this?

  • I wrote the latest report last year - at the end of last year - about the Central African Republic and in 2007 the first of their reports on Nigeria. So they started to cover Nigeria on a more regular basis and usually the first report is also something with a bit of historical background, so they asked me to do this.

  • When you say you wrote the last of the reports, have you written more than one report for the ICG?

  • Yes, I mentioned two and I'm right now in the process of doing a third one. Yes.

  • You mentioned something about a book - you mentioned something about "I sold beer in the Congo River". Is that a title of a book?

  • No, this is a foreword I wrote to a book by a Belgian author, his memoirs. He used to live in former Zaire and he just asked me to preface his book, which I've done, as I have prefaced for example maybe a little bit closer to our proceedings here a book by Mark Huband on the Liberian civil war. He also asked me to preface the book.

  • Have you contributed to any --

  • Your Honours, could the witness talk a little bit slower. We are interpreting here in Krio for the benefit of the people in Sierra Leone.

  • Just pause, Mr Bangura. Mr Smith, you have heard the interpreter.

  • I will take that into account, yes.

  • I probably missed that. Has it to do with the pace of --

  • It has to do with Mr Smith's speed of response because of the public broadcasting into Krio.

  • Mr Bangura, what channel are you on?

  • The zero, which should be the normal channel.

  • No, 1 is the normal channel.

  • And, Mr Bangura, could we please ask for spellings for some of these names. They are not common names. Certain names have been skipped over and for the record we need to have the proper spellings, please.

  • Thank you, your Honour. I will be coming back to some of them. I may not be able to spot all of the words that have not been clearly spelt out on the transcript.

  • There was the American [sic] general and there was - there's a few places that have been misspelt, but as you said you can pick them up.

  • If I may help out on the Moroccan general, it is O-U-F-K-I-R. He was number 2 under King Hassan II until '72.

  • And I think you mentioned something about writing the foreword to a book by a Belgian author, his memoirs? I am reading from --

  • Mark Huband, or something like that.

  • Mark Huband is a journalist formally employed by the Financial Times. Mark is M-A-R-K and Huband is H-U-B-A-N-D and he later moved on to other newspapers. He was covering the Liberian civil war right from the beginning. He was actually the first journalist to meet former President Taylor - western journalist - and he was riding on a train and was taken prisoner by Mr Taylor's group.

  • Yes, you mentioned that you wrote the foreword to a book by a Belgian author and you say that he used to live in former and what came out is Zaire?

  • Zaire, now the Republic of Congo, which means the Kongo Kinshasa by distinction from the Kongo Brazzaville and used to be Zaire under late President Mobutu.

  • Thank you, Mr Smith. Now, do you recall when the book that you - that was written by Mark Huband came out? Do you recall when that was published?

  • I would not know from the top of my head, but I would think it would be 2000/2001. It took him quite some time after the events in Liberia to bring it out, but he did extensive research also in the United States and met former Assistant Secretary of state, Chester Crockeer. That is C-R-O-C-K-E-E-R, Chester Crockeer, and other people and so it took I would say around 2000.

  • Just to remind you again about your pace. I would appreciate if you just allow a short pause between answers.

  • Thank you. Now you mentioned some newspapers that you worked with; that is Le Monde, Libération and you mentioned Reuters which is a news agency. Apart from these, have you made any contributions to any major newspapers?

  • Yes, I've been writing - as I mentioned my mother being German, being born in the United States and living in Paris, I was often asked to contribute articles to other publications in Europe or in the United States - more in Europe. Some were also taken over by syndications, so El Pais had an agreement with Le Monde, so there's quite a variety of --

  • Now you just mentioned the name El Pais. Is that correct?

  • Yes, the major Spanish newspaper. It is El Pais, the country.

  • Do you recall any other major newspaper that you may have contributed to?

  • Yes, quite a few. Les Stampa, in Italy, El Mundo in Spain as well, the Independent in Great Britain, I think I had a piece in Der Speigel. Quite frankly it would be dozens, because sometimes stories would be picked up and the copyright board from the newspapers and I also contributed to more academic journals and reviews.

  • In the course of your career as a journalist, have you earned any awards or any grants?

  • Yes, I was given the Soweto award for what was then all of my writing as a journalist on Africa - as a specialist on Africa. I received an award for the best investigative book that was to due to a book on a former emperor of Central Africa called Bokassa B-O-K-A-S-S-A, and I also received --

  • When was this, if you would help us with a time?

  • Yes, go on please.

  • And I received in 2003 for an essay on Africa an award by the French public television service, the French equivalent of BBC, for this book.

  • Your Honour, just on spellings again. The witness mentioned an award that he won, the Soweto award, but the spelling comes out --

  • Soweto is the south western township. It's the biggest black township in South Africa and home to Nelson Mandela and so it's S-O-W-E-T-O. Soweto stands for south western township.

  • Thank you, Mr Smith. What is your fluency with languages?

  • Well, I speak English and most of my work was written in French and I also published and speak and write German. I went to a classic high school, so I did studies in ancient Greek and Latin and I have a diploma in commercial Spanish, which I don't really use, and that's about all.

  • Mr Smith, are you familiar with the country of Liberia?

  • How far does your familiarity with Liberia as a country go?

  • When I became a regional correspondent in West Africa, being based in neighbouring Ivory Coast in Abidjan, I covered regularly the surrounding states and so I went to Liberia well before the civil war under former President Samuel Doe. I did cover that story off a state that was collapsing but not getting very much attention from the international press, but working for specialised news outlets such as Reuters news agency, or RFI, For the Purpose, Radio France International, I went regularly to Liberia as I did with other neighbouring countries. So that would be specifically from '84 onwards, when I was based in the region, and even more intensively from '86 onwards when I was based in Abidjan.

  • Now you mentioned that your familiarity goes back before the war, or the civil war. When do you recall that the civil war broke out in Liberia?

  • Well, the Liberian civil war was the first of the post cold war civil conflicts in Africa. It broke out on Christmas 1989, which means shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November, and so it was the first of what some of the academics label as being destructured conflicts, escaping the cold war set up when there used to be some sort of tutelary geopolitical relationship, and you could say from January 1990 onwards this was a very hot news story for the West African - within the West African context.

  • Thank you. Can I take you back to part of the answer you've just given. It's not quite clear. Maybe if you go over what you said it might be helpful. I will read back to you much of what you said. "Well, the Liberian civil war was ..." - your Honours, I'm reading from page 13, line 2 for reference - line 5:

    "Well, the Liberian civil war was the first of the post cold war civil conflicts in Africa. It broke out on Christmas 1989, which means shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November, and it was the first of what some of the academics label as the destructured conflicts escaping the cold war set up when there used to be some sort of ...", and it's not clear exactly what came out.

  • Tutelary for tutelage, so some kind of geopolitical layer that would give at least in the eyes of the outside word a familiar rationality to conflicts.

  • Perhaps you could spell some of those not very common words, please.

  • Yes, tutelary and geopolitical came out and it's not really shown correctly spelt. Can you just help with those two, please?

  • Tutelary is from tutelage and so some sort of overriding authority. Berlin was in the sentence and it is the Berlin Wall which came down on 11 - on 9 November 1989.

  • After the outbreak of civil war in Liberia in 1989, did your connection with that country change in any way?

  • It did intensify. Journalists, not only those based in Abidjan but flocked to Ivory Coast mainly because that was the entry point through Ivory Coast. We would drive to the extreme west to a border town called Danané, and so there were more journalists coming in trying to cover the story - the unfolding story in Liberia. We would spend - I would actually spend most of 1990 in Liberia covering the story from Mr Taylor's side, because he was actually pacing the news as he was at the head of the rebel movement trying to conquer the country and the capital, but I would also go round from Ivory Coast travelling into besieged Monrovia later in the year to cover the story on the side of the then President Samuel Doe, and also meet later on when they had split - Mr Taylor and Prince Johnson they used to fight together and Prince Johnson set up a splinter rebel group and he was then in the port area of Monrovia and I would also cover the story from his side, so I was fairly busy that year doing just that, reporting the unfolding crisis in Liberia.

  • Now, you've just mentioned that you started covering the story from Mr Taylor's side. First of all, who do you - if you can give us a full name, who do you refer to as Mr Taylor?

  • I'm referring to the former President and first leader of the NPFL, the National Patriotic Liberation Front of Liberia.

  • And then you mentioned also Samuel Doe and then Prince Johnson?

  • Samuel Doe was the President of Liberia. He had seized power in 1980, thanks to a military coup. He was of a small group - ethnic group in Liberia, the Krahn, and Prince Johnson used to be - he had relative - he was a military man, a trained military man, and he had rallied Mr Taylor's faction, but fell out with him for reasons that were explained on either side by different accounts and he had then set up his own rebel group and as I mentioned had his headquarters in the port area of Monrovia.

  • Now just to be clear, when war broke out in Liberia you became much more connected with events there. How long would you say that that close contact in terms of, you know, covering what was going on there ran for? For how long did this close connection run for?

  • I think it would be useful to distinguish the two different phases. The first one, very intense one, was from very early in 1990, January 1990 to August 1990, when I left Liberia with the rest of the press corps following an incident I had with Mr Taylor and so we pulled out of Liberia for security reasons. This was after a staged mock execution and so I didn't cover the story for maybe a year not going back to Liberia, maybe a little bit less, not very precise in my recollection, but at least until '91, and from then on I continued to cover the story with maybe a little difference in the sense that once I was no longer based in Abidjan, being an Africa editor, I would also cover other stories and so it was maybe not as intense and close up as it used to be in the early stages, but this is also because interest overall in Liberia was still sustained but maybe not as intense as it was in the beginning.

  • And this level of coverage went on until what period, roughly?

  • It went on until well into the 2000s with the difference that Liberia was no longer a hot news story, but I would meet with then President Taylor when he was visiting Paris in 2000 - in November 2000 - and afterwards I kept following the Liberian story. I've met now President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, so I've been following the story ever since in a way and now no longer as a journalist since January 2005 as I'm not writing on a day-to-day basis any longer.

  • Now, if you recall in the first year or two of this conflict, do you recall what area Mr Taylor covered, or what area he had control over?

  • The first fighting force - small fighting force - headed by Mr Taylor went into Liberia from neighbouring Ivory Coast, so it would be the eastern part of - north eastern part of Liberia, and from there he moved towards the capital Monrovia and reached the capital after several months of fighting toward summer 1990. So he was fairly successful in his attempt to move forward, but then got stalled and faced difficulties in finishing off the conquest and taking over the capital.

  • Now during the times that you came to Liberia to cover the events there, where were you actually based when you were in Liberia? You mentioned different factions and you've mentioned an area that was controlled by Mr Taylor, but where were you actually based?

  • It depended on the assignment. If I were covering the events on the rebel side, rebels led by Mr Taylor, we would move along with him. I remember that for quite some time the press corps stayed in Harbel, which is the Firestone plantation, because there were houses and, even if they were partly destroyed, it was ages before we were able to kind of settle in and have a roof over the head. We would then with our cars move from there to the front line, cover the story, come back, write our pieces and file. At that time satellite phones and satellite dishes were not that common, so we had these huge valises to carry around and set them up which took some time. It's raining very often in Monrovia and so this is the setup on this side.

    Covering the story out of Monrovia the journalists could stay either in a hotel, or later on when the conflict had more or less destroyed all the hotels we would be staying at Mamba Point, which is the part of Monrovia where most embassies are located. Sometimes we would move into formerly - into flats that were formerly used by expatriates, or diplomats in particular, so that was the setup on that side. From there we could also cover the story from Prince Johnson's side, because we could move into the port area and come back before the end of the day.

  • Thank you. Now just going back to part of the answer you've given, you mentioned that, "At that time there were few satellite phones and satellite dishes. They were not common and so we had these huge ...", and whatever you mentioned, whatever word you called, is not --

  • We call it a valise. That's the expression. You may call it a suitcase. These were metallic boxes weighing 50 kilos, so it was not easy to set them up the way you do today. I just wanted to remind the Court of the different working conditions.

  • Now, you mentioned that you would sometimes be covering events on Mr Taylor's side. How was this possible?

  • Well, the usual procedure was that we would have a contact of the NPFL in Abidjan. Mr Taylor himself sometimes came to Abidjan to rest - for rest as a kind of rear basis for him. We would file in our request through whatever middleman there was. We would then have a contact in the town, the border town which I already mentioned, Danané, so we would go drive to Danané and then be taken over the border into the part of Liberia that was already under Mr Taylor's control. It was fairly straightforwardly set up. I think overall the relationship was well-established between Mr Taylor and specifically those journalists based in Abidjan who would come on a regular basis. I mentioned Mark Huband, the British journalist. He had been, as I already mentioned, captured on the train in Liberia. He was himself based in Abidjan and a good friend of mine, so quite often we moved in as a group of two, three, or four journalists and photographers.

  • Thank you. Now, do you have any familiarity with Sierra Leone as a country?

  • Yes, to the same level and for the same reason I consider myself as being familiar with Liberia. It is another of the neighbouring West African countries that I was supposed to cover, so I did cover Sierra Leone in the same sense that I covered Liberia, which meant that I already went to Sierra Leone well before the civil war on a more regular beat, as covering the normalcy before the crisis would break out, and obviously under the normalcy you do not necessarily foresee the forthcoming crisis. So, I've been in Sierra Leone ever since '86 on various trips.

  • And because you've just said that you had this contact before the civil war broke out, do you recall when the civil war broke out in Sierra Leone?

  • Yes, civil - well, it was a fairly unstable country and upheaval, but the civil - it is not that easily to be dated, but the civil war as such broke out in 1991.

  • And did you come into Sierra Leone after the civil war broke out there?

  • Yes. As well I tried to cover the story, once again trying to cover it from all sides basically out of Freetown from the government side and also trying to get into contact sometimes thanks to middlemen in Abidjan with the rebel faction, the Revolutionary United Front, and we would cover that as well. It depended a little bit how we got into - crossed over from one side to the other. I remember times when we were getting in from - through Freetown with just - with a number of colleagues driving out of Freetown and take the risk of running into a road block manned by the rebels and then talk our way through so we would be taken to a higher commander and could explain that we were journalists and wanted to cover the story. That was obviously the more perilous - the more dangerous way of doing things, or otherwise pre-establishing contact so we would be taken in and expected by someone a little bit at the higher echelons of the fighting force and not run into whatever soldier or child soldier would be on the next roadblock.

  • Now, you mentioned higher echelons of the fighting force. Did you get to meet any senior members of the fighting forces on the Sierra Leone side? I'm referring to the RUF that you've mentioned already.

  • Yes, we did. There's an obvious - obviously there is an interest in rebel leaders to get their message across as well as other officials, or - so usually it was fairly straightforward for us to meet the rebel commanders, so I met on various occasions Mr Foday Sankoh, or Mr Sam Bockarie, and for interviews or background briefings and sometimes feature stories we wanted to write on these leaders who made the headlines at the time.

  • At this period in the early stages, that is '91/'92, were you able to establish any connection between events in Liberia and events in Sierra Leone?

  • Well, I think in our mind this connection was self-evident. There were two sets of explanations. The first one you would see the conflict in Sierra Leone being spawned by the conflict in Liberia. On a very personal or almost anecdotal level you would see some of the same faces you had been - people you had been meeting in Liberia would be over - I mentioned Sam Bockarie, or Foday Sankoh. You would see the same people. Some of the Lebanese people I had seen in the entourage of Mr Taylor I would see on the Sierra Leonean side as well. You have a fairly sizable community - Lebanese community - in Liberia as in Sierra Leone and so that was on that level, but other people also saw journalists, analysts. It felt like it was a regional war. It was spreading out. Even though it didn't reach eventually Ivory Coast and Guinea, neighbouring Guinea, Conakry, there was a lot of talk about this regional kind of cancer of war, destructured conflicts as I mentioned earlier on, an understanding that the whole region was imploding. So on these two levels, the self-evident level of a conflict spilling over from Liberia into Sierra Leone and the other one having a look at the map and feeling like there was a regional war linked maybe to fundamental causes that were similar in both countries.

  • Now, you mentioned that it would appear in your minds at the time that the war in Sierra Leone was spawned from Liberia. Is that correct?

  • The word I used was to spawn and so in that sense, yes.

  • All right. And then you mentioned names of persons you would see in Liberia. On a personal note you said you would see certain faces on the Liberian side and see them also on the Sierra Leone side. Apart from seeing faces on both sides, is there any reason for you to say that the war was spawned from the Liberian side?

  • Through your question I perceive that. Obviously with the benefit of hindsight, or in hindsight, things would appear less self-evident maybe as they were for us at the time. We had been covering the Liberian civil war. Some of the people in Mr Taylor's entourage were Sierra Leoneans and the move of Mr Taylor to capture the capital was stalled. He had difficulties to conquer Monrovia, partly due to facts that must be known to the Court; the intervention of the West African peacekeeping force, ECOWAS. For all these reasons the Sierra Leoneans in Mr Taylor's entourage turned to their own country, this is the way we saw it at the time, and instead of helping Mr Taylor to power felt like they should go ahead with a similar enterprise in their country. So it seemed to us a logical consequence of the Liberian war and the way it went that the Sierra Leoneans would try on their own in their country to do what Mr Taylor was doing in his country, stage a rebellion or a revolution, that depended on your viewpoint, and so the fact to see people we had met in Liberia the Sierra Leoneans now fighting in their own country didn't come much as a surprise to us, but obviously in hindsight all these things are being looked upon a little bit against the timeline and may appear differently.

  • Thank you. Now, did you get to meet with Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I met with Mr Taylor on various occasions, usually when we went to cover the story in the part of the country he held under his control. We would meet him upon our arrival, or shortly after our arrival, for a briefing. We would - if we stayed on, and sometimes we did for weeks on end, we would do our work mostly throughout the day, which meant going to the front line, trying to cover the story, see whether there was any progress done in moving into Monrovia and we would have on a fairly regular basis briefings with Mr Taylor. Either Mr Taylor would see us on the front line and may stop his convoy, get out of his car and speak to us and answer our questions, or else he would send someone over to Harbel where we were staying. Obviously he knew where we were staying and he knew who was in the part of the country he was controlling, so he may invite us over for a briefing if he had a special issue he wanted to discuss with the journalists. So we would come over to the place, the villa he was staying in, and he would give us interviews, give us background briefings, and so very regularly you would weave his explanations, his view of the situation, into your daily report, or else you would run specific interviews on specific occasions.

  • Do you recall particularly meeting or having an encounter with Mr Taylor in August of 1990?

  • Yes, I do. In August 1990 I had made a decision to cover the story from a different angle, moving from the front line that was in Sinkor, the part of town where the Executive Mansion or the President's palace is located in Monrovia, and so there was fighting. We could see the Executive Mansion from where we were on the NPFL side and the front line was running there, so on a regular basis we covered the story from there but, as I mentioned earlier on, the advance by the NPFL gets stopped over there and so I took the decision to cover the story on a second front line where journalists had not been going at that time. It was the attempt by the NPFL to move into Monrovia in a two-pronged offensive through the swamps and I met Mr Taylor when I went there on my own. No other of my colleagues did want to go there because it was unfamiliar ground and the attempt to zero in on Monrovia from the other side turned out to be a military failure, so I just saw Mr Taylor moving out of the region - out of that area - and his fighters also fleeing and so it was not a very successful day.

    The same day, it must have been 16 or 17 August, I met Mr Taylor later at night. It was already dark on the edge of Robertsfield International Airport, officially closed down at the time under the control of Mr Taylor's forces. At that point in time, all journalists were together driving in our vehicles. We crossed - we came across Mr Taylor's convoy, stopped for the reason that I mentioned earlier on. I was thinking that Mr Taylor may provide us with some insight into what he was planning. Mr Taylor was at that point in time very angry and, as it turned out, angry against me. He asked to see me and he said that I should be taken away by his bodyguards. My colleagues from the press tried to enquire about the specific reasons of his anger and his decision. He would not explain it and he advised them to move on and let me go with his bodyguard. There was a short discussion amongst us whether this should be done or not. Some of the colleagues were frightened by the prospect of leaving me behind. Others reasoned that maybe they should let it go because there was not much to be negotiated and they had satellite telephones. It - maybe the wiser thing would be to ring for example the American authorities, given the fact that I'm an American national, and give them knowledge about the situation, rather than insist on the side of the road discussing endlessly and against someone who was decidedly firm in his stance that I should leave with his bodyguards. So, I left and I was then taken away by two of his bodyguards and subsequently --

  • Can I just pause you before we talk about events that unfolded after that. Can you give us a context of how this meeting went on, or perhaps what - how was it - how was the encounter, basically? Where was Mr Taylor?

  • From our side it was - at least from my side, because obviously I can only talk for those who travelled in the same car with me. I don't know what other colleagues may have discussed in other cars. We usually, for security reasons and convenience, moved together if we went out after dark, so we might have been five car - in five cars and it was a fortuitous encounter. It was not planned we would meet Mr Taylor so - but seeing his convoy, he stopped and we stopped and then followed the argument that I have previously described.

  • Now, when you say "his convoy", could you describe what his convoy was made up?

  • Yes, it's a sort of motorcade and so you would have his own jeep - armoured jeep - and preceded and followed by various other cars, other combatants and his personal security detail and so you could easily identify that it was him. We knew his car and there were not very many people moving around that part of Liberia in a motorcade.

  • Can you describe basically how he was dressed as well as the other people with him?

  • It depended. As far as Mr Taylor was concerned he was always well-dressed and he often, when we came closer to the front line, would wear a bulletproof jacket that would go up to the neck. Otherwise he was not in conspicuous military apparel, but rather wore civilian garb. As for his entourage, it depended. If it were councillors or advisors they would be in civilian apparel and, if it were military, they would be in fatigues.

  • On this occasion you said he had bodyguards and they would - how were they particularly dressed?

  • As I said, it was night and, quite frankly, with Mr Taylor being - which was an unprecedented incident - angry with the press and specifically with myself, I would not recollect exactly whether there was any difference to the normal appearance of his entourage. I think we should understand that in a situation such as a rebel movement, I mean a rebel movement moving towards the capital, obviously Mr Taylor never went on his own. He was always accompanied by security and that seemed at that time and even in hindsight quite normal to us. So, we met him. His convoy stopped, the headlights on, so we had that discussion, a tumultuous discussion which lasted probably only a couple of minutes, and then we proceeded as Mr Taylor had ordered it to happen.

  • Now, you mentioned his security was with him. What normally was the make up of his security, if you recall?

  • There again, to be precise, you would distinguish when Mr Taylor was on the move, or whether he was in his residence. In his residence it was a well-organised security setup which I do not know in detail. I can only describe it from my viewpoint as someone who came to visit him to interview him. So, you would have an outer ring of security. I would associate that fairly often with the Small Boys Unit, child soldiers, if I had to estimate young boys, sometimes girls, between the age from 10/11 up to 15/16. They would be the outer ring of security and then you had various inner rings of security, bodyguards, Liberian bodyguards, but also we spotted Burkinabe security people. Sometimes I had exchanges with them, because they spoke French and some of them knew me from my work over the radio. The radio gives you a sort of notoriety because your voice goes on air. And what we thought to be Libyan members of his entourage, light-skinned people who would not talk to us and usually left the room when we were gathering with Mr Taylor.

  • Just before we move from this point, you just mentioned something about being known from your voice on radio. Did you contribute to any radio broadcasts or any programme on any radio over this period?

  • Yes, I was the West African correspondent of Radio France International, as I mentioned earlier on, and at times also the BBC Focus on Africa in particular would draw on either Mark Huband, other journalists or myself for interviews, and so our voices were known and these international radio stations are being picked up in Africa and obviously in a conflict situation people would listen and follow closely these reports from the outside world.

  • Now, we were on the story about your encounter with Mr Taylor and you said he ordered his bodyguards to take you away. Do you recall?

  • Did anything happen after he had given these orders?

  • Yes, the convoy - Mr Taylor's convoy - left and so did my colleagues. I got aboard a jeep with two of his bodyguards. I later on got to know the name of one of them. His name is Boyou, B-O-Y-O-U. He was familiar on sight to me. So, they were very angry at me as well. I can't precisely recall what they said, but they more or less threw abuse at me verbally. I was not touched, in the sense of being beaten. They just took me vigorously into their car, I was sitting behind and they yelled at me. I understood at that point of time that they were angry because their leader had been angry at me. I obviously was frightened. We drove in the dark and then they stopped the car. They had me kneel down by the roadside. Mr Boyou pointed his gun, which was a silver handgun, next to my head and I thought he was about to execute me. I was kneeling down in the headlights of his car and a shot went off, but I was not hit and so I understood that this was a mock execution meant to punish me or to intimidate me. Eventually we got back into the car and they drove me to a detention centre where I was briefly interviewed, but only asked questions about my personal identity which I suppose was known already, but nevertheless so I repeated my name, the news organisation I was working for, et cetera, nothing specific - not any specific questions - and then I was locked up in a cell where other prisoners were already being locked up. I remember having to sort out a kind of negotiation over some space. Some of the prisoners thought that maybe I did not deserve them making the effort and the sacrifice to find a little bit of extra space for me. We were already very much crowded, I don't remember how many but maybe around ten prisoners in a fairly small cell, and eventually we found a compromise with me sticking my legs through the bars and having just the upper part of my body in the cell so it would be the most convenient for all of us.

  • How long were you in the cell?

  • To the best of my recollection, I was taken out two or three times again that very night under various guises and pretexts, further questions that didn't really make sense to me, and I stayed there for two or three days. It's a little bit blurred in my mind exactly how the sequence was, but after two or three days I was asked out, actually released, but wouldn't have my passport. It was said to me that Mr Taylor would hold on to the passport. I should have mentioned that I handed over my passport to Mr Taylor when we encountered at the edge of Robertsfield airport. I then was allowed to go back to meet with my fellow journalists - my colleagues - who had been waiting preoccupied. They had telephoned and given the news of my detention, or at least the fact that I was more or less abducted at the edge of Robertsfield airfield, to Paris and especially to Washington. I later on gathered that the State Department had protested against what had happened to me and I was allowed to meet my fellow journalists who had then collectively decided that on security grounds it was no longer advisable to stay behind and that all of us - not only me, but all of us - would leave. So we all pulled out in a convoy back to the Ivorian border, where I recollect that having no passport I had a little bit of difficulty to explain to the Ivorian border police that I wanted to go back to Abidjan. They rang the presidency in Abidjan, where I was as an accredited journalist sufficiently known so the presidency would give its green light to let me in, and I later on got a new passport at the American embassy in Abidjan.

  • Was there any reason given for this treatment that was meted out to you by Mr Taylor?

  • Well, in all honesty the elements that I gathered afterwards and those I had when I was living through the situation may now congregate in sense and come together. I was at the time convinced - and I am still - that I was the wrong man in the wrong place in the morning when I went on my own to the second front line where journalists had not appeared prior to my venue. Also the fact that seeing Mr Taylor's convoy retreating, or getting out of the combat zone, I left my vehicle because I thought maybe naively that Mr Taylor may stop and talk to me and explain to me the events of the day and so I was visible at the - on the roadside. That was the first reason that I saw and I think to some extent he must have associated my presence with the military set back that his forces had suffered on that day trying to get through the swamps into Monrovia.

    The second reason --

  • Just before you get on to the second reason, I understand you as giving two reasons, but this first one you are probably referring to something you had said before in your earlier testimony. Is that correct?

  • This is correct, yes.

  • Okay.

  • This is correct and this is the reason that I had in mind when in the evening we had the encounter with Mr Taylor. I could only see that reason because it's the only thing that distinguished me from the other journalists. We had always done the same things, so being specifically angry at me I thought it was linked to that incident that I was associated with that military set back, and afterwards when I was expelled and the press corps pulled out I understand that a communiqué, which I have not materially seen but it was read over the international radio set, that Stephen Smith, an American national, had been expelled from Liberia on grounds of overstepping his journalistic work and doing spy activities, if I remember. That was in at least the gist of the communiqué.

  • Who released this communiqué?

  • The NPFL. So that was one reason. The other reason is probably something that was pointed out to me once we were back in Abidjan, and collectively together with the other journalists we tried to understand what had happened to us. We learned that from sources - we could not verify the information independently, but we were told that on that very night when we encountered Mr Taylor weapons were to arrive, a consignment was to arrive at Robertsfield airport, so we may also collectively have been the wrong people in the wrong place and maybe not welcome to be around Robertsfield at that specific time, but once again I was not able to confirm that information that was given to me later on.

  • So you said you learnt that there were --

  • Madam President, I've listened to this for some time and, fascinating though the story is, it's extremely difficult to see the relevance of Mr Smith's arrest, I'll call it that in neutral terms, in August of 1990 in an incident relatively early on in the Liberian civil war to the issues that this Court has got to decide in relation to the Sierra Leone civil war in particular from the end of 1996 to the beginning of 2002. One journalist who may well have some general information to give to the Court about relevant matters during the indictment period for all we know, who had an experience involving - or claims to have had an experience involving Mr Taylor and his bodyguards in 1990, has no obvious relevance to the matters in the indictment I would submit and I would invite the Court to ask Mr Bangura to explain what the relevance of all of this is.

  • Mr Bangura, you've heard this objection. What is your response?

  • Your Honours, the Prosecution will submit that the evidence that this witness is providing to the Court is relevant. Your Honours, this Court has on many occasions and through many witnesses heard similar testimony about events in Liberia, covering the period of the start of the civil war there right through to the end, and your Honours this - the Prosecution has I believe in the case of one or two of those witnesses made similar submissions.

  • When you say "the civil war there", you mean the civil war in Liberia?

  • In Liberia, yes, your Honour. We have made similar submissions to the effect that there is a connection to be drawn between the events in Liberia and events that unfolded in Sierra Leone, and I believe there has been one witness in this Court who has testified to the fact that the Court or one could not understand properly the events in Sierra Leone in the war in Sierra Leone without properly understanding what went on in Liberia.

    Your Honours, in short the evidence which the witness is giving is in itself a background information to much more evidence that will unfold as he testifies, and I submit that this evidence is relevant to this case in a contextual nature. It talks about crimes that were committed and, as I have pointed out, your Honour, to understand the war in Sierra Leone and the crimes that were committed in Sierra Leone, as has been rightly pointed out, it is important to also understand similar crimes that were committed in Liberia during the period that the accused was the commander of the NPFL forces.

  • But Mr Munyard's pointing out that this is the personal experiences of the witness and you are talking of the more general background of the war and the correlation between the two. Mr Munyard's objection, as I understand it, is channeled towards the particularity of this evidence.

  • Your Honours, I may be missing the point, but the witness is a witness of fact and rightly the witness is testifying to events that occurred that affected him personally, notwithstanding the fact that he was acting and operating in a professional capacity as a journalist and the background for that has been given. But notwithstanding that, this is a witness of fact and this is a witness who is narrating to the Court experiences that he personally underwent in the hands of Mr Taylor and his forces in Liberia.

  • We uphold the objection. We consider that whilst there may be foundation and evidentiary matters to be brought that relate to the period of the indictment, which as you're aware is November 1996 onwards, then it's time to come into the issues that are pertinent to the indictment, Mr Bangura.

  • Madam President, can I also at this stage deal with another matter that's related to what my learned friend has just said. He's talked about as this witness's evidence will unfold, or words to that effect. We have, by way of disclosure of this witness, a small bundle. This is actually double the amount of what's in it because it's duplicated and some of it is translations of French articles. What they amount to is a short two-page explanatory note on the circumstances behind an interview with Mr Taylor in the year 2000, then two articles written in French which are translated and then one article that relates to the irrelevant material that you've just been hearing about. That is the full extent of the disclosure. Most of the contents of the articles deal with Mr Taylor in Liberia and to some extent Mr Taylor's involvement in, for example, securing the release of peacekeepers seized by the RUF in 2000, but a great deal of the evidence that the witness has already given has not been presaged in any way whatsoever in the material disclosed.

    I am therefore raising the question of whether or not there is other disclosure that we haven't yet received. In particular, whether or not there are prepping notes from this witness, who on the face of this hasn't been seen since some time in 2007, and yet the ambit of the evidence he's been giving this morning goes very considerably beyond what is enclosed in the disclosure.

    So I'd like to know, first of all, why it is we're going so far and so wide with a witness whose evidence as a witness of fact seemed to be limited to the one incident we've just heard of and then interviews with Mr Taylor in the year 2000. That's all that has been disclosed to us.

  • Your Honours, the Prosecution has no further material to disclose and has disclosed all that we have in respect of this witness. Your Honours, I should make the point that the matters that the witness has been testifying to just before the objection was raised by my learned friend are covered by one of the documents that has been disclosed to the Defence and my learned friend has pointed to it and he says that this is irrelevant.

    Your Honours have ruled on that objection, but the content of that testimony by the witness is covered by this document that I referred to, your Honour, and that has been disclosed to the Defence.

  • So you're saying that to go to the particulars mentioned by Mr Munyard there are no prepping notes, or other records of interview?

  • Does this answer your question, Mr Munyard?

  • It answers that question. It doesn't deal with the very extensive account this witness has given of, for example, his personal career and his views of the way in which the conflict started in both countries. Indeed, until he gave his evidence it was not clear for a moment from what we've got here that he'd ever been to Sierra Leone.

  • Your Honours, talking about the witness's personal career, the Defence have been provided with a resumé of the witness and that extensively describes the witness and his professional career. That document has not been listed as a document to be exhibited in court, but I have led the witness through much of what is contained in that resumé. So that is fairly why --

  • I'm sorry to interrupt, but I'd be grateful to know when that resumé, so called, was disclosed to the Defence, because all I've got here are a collection of items that were disclosed to us by email that are the journ alistic articles together with something called "Explicatory note on the circumstances and background of Charles Taylor's interview published in Le Monde on 15 November 2000". But, as I say, it is not obvious from anything in the disclosure that this witness has ever set foot for a moment in Sierra Leone.

  • Your Honours, I invite my learned friend to go back and look at the documents disclosed to the Defence on 6 November 2007. The CV was filed - I understand the CV was filed --

  • Mr Bangura, there are two parts. There is Mr Smith's personal resumé which you say was disclosed, but there is also the evidence that is now being elucidated that Mr Smith has been to Sierra Leone that Mr Munyard says they have had no notice of. What about that part?

  • Your Honours, that forms generally part of the background to the evidence that this witness is giving, and your Honours will note that I have merely asked the witness's familiarity with Sierra Leone and not dwelt in much detail with events on Sierra Leone. The evidence that the witness has given so far has been largely focused on Liberia and his experiences in Liberia. Your Honours, that was merely as a - but again, your Honours, if your Honours would be indulgent, the witness's testimony as it unfolds will point to events in Sierra Leone and my learned friend has got disclosures which clearly point to the fact that later events which the witness will be testifying do mention Sierra Leone.

  • Well, Mr Munyard, you have heard counsel for the Prosecution. If you consider you have been taken by surprise we will deal with it as it arises, but I have now upheld your first and preliminary objection on relevancy and I'm now instructing Mr Bangura to move on to the relevant evidence.

  • Thank you. Madam President, if I need to raise the matter later then I will. At the moment I'll simply leave it as a marker.

  • Thank you. Please proceed, Mr Bangura.

  • Mr Witness, you mentioned that you met Mr Taylor a number of times. Did you again meet Mr Taylor after this occasion that you've just described?

  • Yes, I did. My decision, and as I later on learned the decision taken by Mr Taylor, was that we would move on in a professional relationship, so I tried to forget about the more personal incident so as to be able to do my job as a journalist and not to become a kind of screen in between myself and the work I was doing and the reportage or coverage of Liberia. So I went back to Liberia, as I had done before, and in that capacity met Mr Taylor in 1996 when he was part of an interim constitutional setup - interim government - and interviewed him. We met at that occasion. We fairly rapidly put behind us what had happened in August 1990. I remember Mr Taylor saying jovially that he still had my passport and would at one point in time have to give it back to me and we left it with this, not going into - not delving into the past and moving on. I interviewed him then and he came to Paris in 1988 - sorry, in 1998. Then elected President, President of Liberia, it was an official visit to Paris. I met him again in 2000 when we recorded, together with a colleague from Le Monde, the interview that was just made reference to. He was then still President of Liberia, but came on a private visit to Paris.

  • Now, can we focus on the meeting in 2000 and the interview that you said you had with him during that visit. Can you recall when in 2000 that was?

  • It was in November. It was published, if my recollection is correct, on 15 November in Le Monde. There is two pieces. One is the interview and there is a second article that was written by myself and my colleague, just to put into perspective the question and answer session interview - direct interview that was published at the same time.

  • And at this time you were working with which particular newspaper?

  • I was working with Le Monde, the - probably, yeah, the biggest daily newspaper in France.

  • And how was this interview set up?

  • We had contact with Mr Taylor's delegation. You have to understand that at that time, November 2000, we were a couple of months after the British intervention in Sierra Leone, so in May 2000 British Prime Minister Tony Blair had decided to send hundreds of paratroopers into Sierra Leone in an attempt to save the face of the United Nations peacekeeping mission. Five hundred peacekeepers had been taken hostage in Sierra Leone and the whole operation was about to crumble, so the British army moved in. It was this context. We also had, prior to the interview in December 1999, the Lomé - the Togolese capital - peace agreement, so eyes were actually on Sierra Leone in an attempt to bring piece to the country. Major peacekeeping operation by the UN, if I remember correctly, 13,000 Blue Helmets in the country, the humiliation of half a thousand peacekeepers being taken hostage by the rebel movement, the RUF, and Mr Taylor being involved in securing their release and also the pressure exerted by Great Britain by moving in militarily. So, in this context Mr Taylor came on a private visit to Paris. Various news organisations tried to interview him in this context and my long-standing context with his entourage and his - overall his decision made it possible for us to have this interview with him, which was recorded in the hotel in Paris where he was staying. The hotel's name was Lutetia.

  • Did you conduct this interview alone?

  • No, I did conduct this interview with a colleague of mine from the same newspaper Le Monde, Jean-Baptiste Naudet, which is his family name is N-A-U-D-E-T. He was working in the African section of the newspaper at that time.

  • In what language was the interview conducted?

  • We spoke in English and the interview was recorded. It was a straightforward question and answer, so it was not afterwards accompanied by whatever journalistic writing that would just quote sentences of Mr Taylor, but it was a direct question and answer session.

  • Following the interview, did you publish the excerpts of this interview?

  • Yes, we did. We recorded the interview. I remember we were four of us in a room in a salon of the hotel, President Taylor, Jean-Baptiste Naudet, myself and Mr Taylor's wife, Jewel, so just the four of us. We went straight forward into the interview and we published the interview the following day. As I mentioned, you had the question and answer session and you have an accompanying piece written by the two journalists that we were about the background, so Mr Taylor's explanations were put into - would be put into context.

  • In what language was this interview originally published?

  • It was published in French, so we had to translate it and both we listened to the tape and transcribed the tape together with my colleague Jean-Baptiste Naudet.

  • Your Honours, may the witness be shown a document in the exhibit bundle in respect of this witness.

  • Perhaps give it a title so as to assist in locating it.

  • I am just coming to the title. Your Honours, tab 2. Actually this is a document that has already been admitted in evidence before. It's P-33A.

  • Mr Bangura, the document I have in tab 2 is in French. Is that the one you wanted us to see?

  • Yes, your Honour:

  • Mr Smith, do you see the document that has been shown to you?

  • Do you recognise it?

  • What do you recognise it as?

  • I recognise it as being the interview that was published on November 2000 - 15 November - in Le Monde.

  • And this is in what language?

  • You also mentioned that this interview was translated into English after the interview. Is that correct?

  • No, it's the other way round. We recorded the interview in English and then translated it with a byline that you can see on the document I'm contemplating. We translated it into French for our readership - for our audience.

  • I probably got it the other way then. When you published it after the interview, in which language did it come out originally in?

  • This seems to be a confusion. Mr Taylor and Jean-Baptiste Naudet and myself, we conducted the conversation - the interview - in English, recorded it as it was and then we transcribed the interview and translated it so it would be accessible to our readership. Being a French daily, the language of the publication was French.

  • Was it ever published in English?

  • Thank you. So do you recognise this as the article that was published in Le Monde?

  • Can the witness be shown the document in tab 3. Your Honours, that has been exhibit before the Court P-33B:

  • Do you see the document shown to you, Mr Smith?

  • Yes, I do.

  • What do you recognise it as?

  • Well, I recognise it as being the article that accompanied the publication of the interview. I think the indication at its head saying that it's comments noted by Jean-Baptiste Naudet and Stephen Smith is maybe not precisely what it is because it's a just a straightforward article. It's not supposed to be any sort of comment. It's a news article that accompanied the interview. The rule of the interview obviously is that you would transcribe literally what is said and, if there is any background or contextualisation that is missing, you would not put that into the interview because the covenant of trust between the interviewee and the journalist is that you would just put his words and nothing else.

  • It's not entirely clear what you're saying.

  • I can see on the screen that this is presented as being comments noted by Jean-Baptiste Naudet and Stephen Smith. It is not our comment to the interview. It's just an accompanying article that was published the same day side by side with the interview, so --

  • I'm not entirely sure - I'm so sorry, your Honour. You may be about to ask the same question.

  • Yes, Mr Bangura, I don't understand. The witness just said the interview was conducted in English.

  • Now is this the English interview, or is this some article that accompanied the interview?

  • This is the English interview, your Honour, but --

  • That's not what the witness said, or at least I don't think that's what the witness said. Could you please clarify is this the English interview that was later translated into French, or is this an article that accompanied the interview that was published?

  • Your Honour, I will just take a quick look again at what has been shown to the witness.

  • May I clarify from my point of view?

  • Yes, Mr Witness, that would be helpful.

  • We have two successive documents that were shown to me. The first one was the French translation of the interview, as it was published in the newspaper, and the second is the article that side by side was published the same day. So two pieces of information, the interview and an article, and both are in French exactly as they were published in the newspaper.

  • The question is what is this article?

  • The article is a clarification or a background contextualisation of the situation in Liberia and Sierra Leone. As the reader listening to Mr Charles Taylor's explanations may not be familiar with the context, the situation in Sierra Leone, all the references that are made in the interview you usually accompany an interview by an article that would set the scene for the audience so as to be able to really fully appreciate the explanations given by Mr Taylor. As you cannot do the two, meld them, you have to do it separately.

  • So then this document in front of us in English is not a record of the interview.

  • No, it isn't. You have the interview and --

  • Mr Witness, I'm just wondering what document you have been shown as the English document, because I've got an English document behind tab 3 which you probably don't have, but it appears to be a direct translation of the French interview. Is this the document you've been shown? I see. Yes, that's the document you've been shown?

  • I was shown first the document in French, the interview as it was published in Le Monde, and now I'm being presented with an English translation of the accompanying article. These are the two documents that I see.

  • But the accompanying article was originally in French, is that correct, and this English translation has not been made for publication?

  • You are fully correct, yes.

  • Thank you, your Honour.

  • Mr Bangura, so we don't have an English translation of the interview, do we?

  • What we do not have flowing from the question asked by Madam President of the witness is a publication of the English translated version of the interview, as I understand it.

  • I'm not asking about a published version. I'm just saying for the Court's own understanding this is an English speaking court. In other words, of exhibit P33-A we don't have an English translation, do we?

  • Your Honour, we do have an English translation.

  • P-33B is the English translation of P-33A, as I understand it.

  • No, this is exactly what the witness said it wasn't, if you were listening.

  • There is some confusion here. I'm on your side, Mr Bangura. This 33B to me, the English one, Mr Witness, can you show me any part of that that is comment rather than just a translation of the French interview?

  • Let me have a look at it. I see there is confusion. I was shown first a document which is the French version as it was published in Le Monde of the interview, straightforward just questions and answers. That's the first.

  • All right. Now if you get on to the English document, if you ignore the third line where it says "Comments noted by Jean-Baptiste Naudet and Stephen Smith", just ignore that and tell me what part of that document is comment not associated with the actual words used in the English interview.

  • As I pointed out, there is no comment. There is an introduction in the first paragraph just saying that Mr Taylor's back and --

  • But that's in the French version too. What I am trying to find out is --

  • -- is this just a translation of the French record of interview --

  • -- rather than a comment?

  • Well, I hope that clears that up.

  • Thank you, your Honour.

  • Perhaps I can just ask is this a full transcript of the interview between yourself, Jean-Baptiste Naudet, Mr Taylor and Mrs Taylor?

  • No, to be precise this is a translation of the interview as it was published in Le Monde. As you edit an interview you would have passages that you would not take, so this is a translation of the edited version of the interview as it was published in the newspaper.

  • Thank you, Mr Smith. I'm clear now.

  • Your Honour, I did rise some time ago and I sat down because Justice Sebutinde had also intervened at that point. All I was going to ask is whose is this translation? Whose is the English translation?

  • You mean who translated it, rather than who has the copyright?

  • Yes, I wasn't getting into legal issues. I just wanted to know was it translated by the witness.

  • No, it wasn't. It isn't my translation.

  • Your Honours, the Prosecution would respectfully move that these two documents be marked for identification.

  • They're already exhibits, you've told us.

  • Your Honour, they are exhibits, but your Honours they may be introduced as exhibits for this witness as well.

  • The witness hasn't changed anything in them, hasn't marked them in any way. He's just acknowledged them. Why do you need to tender them again in the form that they were already entered into the Court as exhibits?

  • I take the point, your Honour. Your Honours, may the witness be assisted with a document marked with tab 4. Your Honours, just before we proceed --

  • Just if I may rectify an earlier confusion, so now we are all so as to say on the same page, this is the accompanying article. So we had the interview in French, a translation that was probably done by the Court but not my translation of the interview in English and the third document is being the accompanying article that I referred to earlier on erroneously.

  • Your Honours, just before we deal with the document that the witness has just been shown, may I ask that the records reflect that the witness identifies exhibit P-33A as an article that he - as the interview as published in Le Monde in 2000, the interview that he had, he himself and Jean-Baptiste Naudet had with Mr Taylor in 2000.

  • I think the record is clear that the witness has indeed acknowledged and recognised it as an article - a publication that he co-authored.

  • As well as exhibit 33B.

  • And you wish the same application for 33B?

  • Yes, I think it's been noted that the witness has recognised 33B with a clear caveat that the words "comments by" are not appropriate and were not his.

  • That's correct.

  • Can the witness now be shown --

  • Mr Bangura, Mr Munyard asked a pertinent question, "Who translated this interview into English?" The witness's answer was he didn't. Now, what I would like to know is who did. I am sure Mr Munyard would like to know, if you're able to tell.

  • Thank you, your Honour. Your Honours, the Prosecution did an official translation of this article into English and that's the version that has been --

  • Can we have the French one back on the screen, please. No, no, the one you just took off a few minutes ago. The reason I ask for that back is because you've now told us it was translated by your office and you will notice that the heading is "By Jean-Baptiste Naudet and Stephen Smith", whereas the English translation under 33B said "comments by" and in my poor French "comments by" and "by" are two different things and so that mistranslation has led to some confusion.

  • Your Honour, in the circumstances I may wish to tender this document through this witness as --

  • The third one, the French one, Mr Bangura, is that what you're saying?

  • The English one that has got what amounts to something to --

  • 33B. Yes, that's in already. You can't start changing it at this stage. It's already an exhibit and so that's in. Are you talking - now we have got one on the screen. I do not know if that is an exhibit?

  • It is not an exhibit, your Honour. It is not.

  • The one on the screen is exhibit 33B. That's the one on the screen at the moment. 33A, I'm sorry. Exhibit 33A.

  • Your Honour, I am just scrolling up to be sure which document is being --

  • While we're on the subject of the translation, it seems to me that the person best able to assist us with the meaning of those first three French words that appear below the writing in bold is the current witness, because that may explain why somebody in the Office of the Prosecution has translated that as "Comments noted by Jean-Baptiste Naudet and Stephen Smith". I wonder if the witness could tell us what "Par propos" - and my French is appalling - "recueillis".

  • Your French is excellent. It actually means, unlike the English where you would just have an interview with the byline of the journalist, the French add that it is words that were taken or recorded by this and that journalist. So "Par propos" is the word uttered and "recueillis" means recorded and that's probably where the confusion stems from.

  • Your Honour wanted to know whether this document is already an exhibit of the Court and --

  • You told me it wasn't.

  • It is not, your Honour.

  • Your Honours, the document on the screen is P-33A.

  • Yes, it's the third one I'm looking for, Madam Court Attendant, which is the one that says "par propos". This is the one I understand is not an exhibit.

  • That's correct, your Honour.

  • They both have "par propos" et cetera.

  • No, Mr Munyard, please look at the second line.

  • Mr Munyard is right about the first article, exhibit 33A.

  • I think it's just standard from what the witness said. I'm looking at the article. It's at the interview itself in French P-33A in my bundle, not the thing that is on the screen, and that starts with "par propos" as does - your Honour, this one just starts with "par" and that now I understand the difference and I'm so sorry because I hadn't seen those other words were missing.

  • Right. I'm not sure what - are you making an application, Mr Bangura?

  • No, your Honour, unless your Honours wish me to address an issue?

  • Please proceed, Mr Bangura.

  • Thank you, your Honour:

  • Mr Smith, you have been shown another document. Do you recognise that document?

  • Now you are talking about the document I have on the screen which is the accompanying article, is this correct? The French version of it?

  • When was this article published?

  • As I said it was co-published the same day, side-by-side with the interview.

  • And what was the intention behind this article coming out with the interview?

  • In broad terms, a contextualisation. As French readers may not be familiar with the topic, we found it necessary to put into perspective the interview so everybody would understand the references made explicitly and implicitly in the interview.

  • And just for clarity this article came out in what language?

  • Thank you. Can the witness be shown the document in tab 5:

  • Mr Smith, do you see the document that's been shown to you?

  • What do you recognise it as?

  • I recognise it as a translation which was not done by myself of the article; the accompanying article we just spoke about.

  • If you like I can - with the indulgence of the Court, you could be allowed a few minutes to browse through and say whether it truly reflects the original article that was published accompanying the interview.

  • Do you wish me to go through?

  • Yes, please do so, Mr Smith.

  • Mr Bangura, whilst the witness is browsing, I'm just wondering if it wouldn't help clarify the record if we referred to all these documents by ERN number because the French wording may be difficult to put in, but at least the ERN number might help us.

  • I can authentify [sic] the English translation as being just that, the English translation of our article.

  • Thank you, Mr Smith. Your Honours, I move that the - I would respectfully move that these documents be marked for identification and I would then read the ERN page numbers as has been --

  • The last two, Mr Bangura.

  • Yes, the document in tab 4, last four digits in the ERN is 6288. The document in tab 5, which is a translation of the earlier one, is ERN last four digits 3986.

  • The first is a one-page document, a newspaper article co-authored by the witness, and it becomes MFI-1.

  • Mr Bangura, you've misnamed the ERNs. Please look again. It's got 00036288.

  • Your Honours, I have - in respect of the document in tab 4 I will read out the full ERN for the Court. That's 00036288.

  • That's what I heard and have noted, Mr Bangura.

  • Thank you, your Honour. And in respect of the second document, which are two pages actually, it runs from 00043986 to 00043987.

  • Very well. The second is a two-page document which the witness has stated is an English translation of MFI-1 and I'll call it MFI-1B. I will adjust MFI-1 to MFI-1A.

  • Thank you, your Honour:

  • Mr Smith, did you have any reaction from Mr Taylor after this interview?

  • Not from Mr Taylor directly. I remember I received a telephone call from a member of his entourage, Mr Fahwaz Abbas, who sort of congratulated us for publishing the interview, saying that it was what Mr Taylor had been looking forward to get across his point of view, and which is I think a normal courtesy or normal procedure that you would have a contact prior to the interview to set it up and you may have a reaction in one way or the other, by the way, after the publication, so I just got a courteous telephone call saying that everything was okay and that was it.

  • You have mentioned the name of - the person through whom you got this message. What's the name of this person again please?

  • It is Fahwaz Abbas, F-A-H-W-A-Z A-B-B-A-S, or at least this is the way I would spell it.

  • Who was Fahwaz Abbas?

  • He was a member of the delegation and he was most likely the person that put the question to Mr Taylor whether he would grant us the interview, so we had contact with him and we met him prior to the interview in the hotel that I mentioned in Paris and he set it all up for us. So maybe this was not his function, but he in this instance acted as a sort of press officer for Mr Taylor.

  • Mr Bangura, I hope this is a convenient spot to adjourn because we're up to our time limit on the tape.

  • Very well, your Honour.

  • Mr Smith, we normally take a mid-morning break at this time. The tape runs only for two hours. We will now adjourn until 12 o'clock. Please adjourn court until 12.

  • [Break taken at 11.30 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.00 p.m.]

  • [In the absence of the witness]

  • I see we don't have a witness in the stand. Has anybody got an explanation?

  • I do not have one, your Honour.

  • Thank you, Mr Bangura.

  • Your Honour, I was waiting for the WVS section to bring up the witness. I will check if the witness is now here.

  • Your Honour, while that's happening, can I inform the Court, I'm grateful to my learned friends opposite for the disclosure of Mr Smith's CV which was disclosed to us this morning at 11.32 a.m. for the first time.

  • I do recall Mr Bangura mentioning disclosures in November 2007.

  • 6 November 2007. Well, we have some disclosures from 29 October 2007, but they don't include the CV and my learned friends opposite have made it plain that it was an error to say that they've disclosed it before and I'm grateful to them for their frankness about that. All I would say is it's a very extensive CV, it runs to more than half a dozen pages, I think, and you can see, if I hold it up, the sort of density of type. There's an awful lot in here. I may want overnight at any rate to consider if I need to look into any of these matters on it further, but I'm simply letting the Court know that's my thinking at the moment.

  • Very well. We have noted that and we will deal with it in due course. Mr Bangura.

  • May it please your Honours, I must apologise to the Court for misinforming the Court about the disclosure. That was not - that did not actually happen. Your Honours, the position is that this is not a - he is not an expert witness and we did not consider that what we have provided, the résumé, the CV that has been provided, amounts really to a statement in itself. But however be it, I'm grateful to my learned friend for accepting this late disclosure.

  • We will accept that the statement you made to the Court was inadvertence rather than design and since Mr Munyard has accepted - well, not exactly accepted but has hold of the disclosure now and he will indicate to us if he requires to make any application based on his assessment of it overnight.

    Whilst we're waiting for the witness there is another unrelated matter; it relates to a prior witness. If my recollection is correct, it's witness TF1-189. A document was tendered into evidence by the Defence. It's D-61. That is extracts of a record of interview in relation to that witness.

    You may recall, Mr Munyard, you had intended to deal with that and then it didn't happen, but it was tendered by your colleagues. I'm raising it because when it was tendered it was tendered as an exhibit; there was no application made. It has been pointed out to us, by our legal officers, that the witness's name is mentioned and there are other identifying evidence and therefore we intend to make this a confidential exhibit.

  • Well, we're obviously perfectly content with that. Can I raise one further matter, and I don't want to take any court time up about it, I just want the Court to know, you will recall a couple of weeks ago we had a problem in that our second computer on the desk behind me wasn't working fully because the box of buttons that enabled us to view the screen, et cetera, was missing. I raised at the time that this one to my right, the box of buttons hasn't functioned for a very long time. I've raised it again, I've raised it through Court Management. Court Management informed me this morning that they've been told that a very elaborate procedure of applications in writing to all sorts of people have to be instituted before anything can be done about that.

    Now this was a piece of equipment that had been working. It wasn't that it was taken away, but it just started to malfunction and no longer functions. I'm not going to say any more about it now, but I just want the Court to know that despite me raising it a few weeks ago when I raised the other one over there, nothing has been done about it and we're told it might be a rather complicated and lengthy process to get it working again. Having said that, I'm happy to move back to the witness.

  • I can tell you now that the Court raised the issue and directions were given and we were given information that it was - things were in order, but now that you've raised it I will also follow it up.

  • I'm very grateful. I was approached this morning by the Court Management who - our Court Management who gave me that rather gloomy prognostication about the matter.

  • I will take it up again, but it has been taken up.

  • Madam Court Officer, do I understand that actually the equipment that was initially meant for the Defence was requisitioned by persons sitting to the left of the Bench at some time?

  • Your Honour, what transpired was that the controls that were supposed to be moved were supposed to be moved from the Registry desk to the legal officers' desk. However, unfortunately, they were at the time moved from the Defence bench and put at the legal officers' bench. This situation has now been rectified and the controls have now been restored to the Defence bench from the Registry bench where they were supposed to have initially been removed from.

    What Mr Munyard is referring to is the computer - the monitor and the controls to his right, which are the subject of discussions. There is a problem with - there has been an ongoing problem with the monitor. That is what counsel is referring to.

  • [In the presence of the witness]

  • As I said, we will take it up. Mr Witness, I note you are back on the stand. We have been putting our few minutes to use dealing with some other unrelated matters that have nothing to do with yourself. I will now ask Mr Bangura to proceed. Mr Bangura.

  • Mr Witness, we shall continue with your testimony. Your Honours, just before we move on, I want to make a clarification on a matter that came up to do with translation of one of the documents that has been marked for identification. Your Honour asked about the translation and the witness did say that he did not translate the document and I informed the Court that the Prosecution did provide some translation.

    The position is that this translation was done by a person employed by the Court and not actually by the Prosecution and this person is Jeffrey Murphy. He actually did the translation. He is employed by the Court, not by the Prosecution per se.

  • We will note that. Thank you, Mr Bangura. Please proceed.

  • Mr Smith, we're going back to the interview in Paris in 2000. You said that this interview was recorded. Just be clear about what form of recording you are talking about when you said that the interview was recorded?

  • We had a tape recorder that was put on the table and so it was through a magnetic band that we recorded the interview.

  • And then you further talked about a way in which you tried to, yourself and the person who was present, that is Jean-Baptiste, you tried to compare and authenticate what was recorded. Could you just briefly explain that process again?

  • The normal procedure if the target language of your audience is different from the language used in the recording, in the conversation, is that you would first transcribe all of it, so you would have a rough copy that you could work on and have the most literal translation possible, and then you would edit. You would not run the entire interview and you would edit the relevant parts and maybe try to find the exact equivalent rather than the word-to-word translation. This is exactly what we did together and when there was a case of doubt or any question raised we tried to solve that amongst us and make it the real equivalent of what had happened in English.

  • You have told this Court that after the interview and the publication you got a message back from --

  • Mr Abbas, yeah.

  • -- Mr Abbas and this message basically expressed, was an expression of satisfaction about the interview; is that correct?

  • Yes, this is correct.

  • Was there any complaint at all from anyone about any inaccuracies that may have occurred in the record or the publication that came out of that interview?

  • May the witness be shown exhibit P-33B, please:

  • Mr Smith, I'm going to direct your attention to certain areas of the documents that have been shown to you and ask you a few questions. Can we have the first page up, that's page 00043984. Can I refer you, Mr Smith, to what would be the third paragraph on that page. Actually, it would be following a question and that is the paragraph that starts with, "It's unfortunate", specifically lines 4 to 7 of that paragraph. Are we there? The sentence starts with, "Yes, I think" on line 4 of that paragraph. Are we there?

  • Yes, I am at least.

  • I will just read that, and this is part of the answer that Mr Taylor in this interviews gives to a question that comes in the paragraph before. Now I will read the question and I will just read part of the answer that I have just referred to. The question was:

    "What do you think of the peace efforts in Sierra Leone? Sometimes it seems you are treated as if you were to restore peace, other times as if you were nothing more than diamond traffickers."

    And as part of that answer we have this: "Yes, I think the war in Sierra Leone is a war for diamonds, but not because Liberia wants those diamonds. We already have diamonds. The war is taking place because British want those diamonds."

    Now, what did you understand was the issue about diamonds that related to the war at that time?

  • I understood from the answer given by Mr Taylor that he qualified the war in Sierra Leone as being essentially a resource driven war over the control of the diamond mines, first thing. And secondly, I noted that he in a way turned the tables on accusations that were levelled against him to be involved in exploiting the Sierra Leonean diamonds and affirming that British officials with companies based in Canada were involved actually in these diamond - illegal diamond dealings, and that that was the reason why the British took so keen an interest in the Sierra Leonean events and had sent over a military force into Sierra Leone, which was obviously news to me and a relevant part of the interview for the first time you get the answer, or the version by Mr Taylor, to accusations that had been levelled constantly against him over the preceding months.

  • What specifically were those allegations, to your recollection?

  • The allegations were especially levelled by British and American officials that Mr Taylor was - even though he was now an elected president - still involved in something that would be more expectable from a warlord, being involved in the illegal diamond trafficking out of Sierra Leone and through Liberia, and sanctions had been imposed on Liberia in connection with these accusations levelled against him.

  • Now, the latter part of that answer says that - and I just read from line 5 there, or line 6 rather: "We already have diamonds." I think if I just take you further down to the last three lines of that paragraph where is goes: "Liberia has been exporting diamonds for 150 years now. Suddenly the world is at war to make for peace in Sierra Leone." Now, you being somebody who was familiar with Liberia, what is your knowledge about the export of diamonds by Liberia?

  • If you compare Liberia to Sierra Leone, the idea introduced by the parallel with the Saudi Arabia and it's petroleum wealth would be that Liberia was awash with diamonds, whereas - and didn't need to import or let Sierra Leonean diamonds transit through Liberia. My knowledge was that diamond mining was more important in Sierra Leone than in Liberia and so this was Mr Taylor's statement at that time. I think when I early on pointed out that we felt that there should be an accompanying article to contextualise this was one of the reasons you would obviously - from this answer you would need as a background for a reader who is not supposed to be familiar on the day-to-day basis with events in West Africa, you would have to point out first of all that accusations were levelled against Mr Taylor, so you would understand that he's answering back to these accusations, giving his version of facts, and you also would need to probably to restate what I just did that Sierra Leone is - Sierra Leonean diamond mining is much more important than in Liberia.

  • Now you make reference of course to part of the answer where he says "accusing us of diamond trafficking is like accusing Saudi Arabia of smuggling petroleum" suggesting that Liberia I don't know - what did that suggest?

  • Well, I think the classical British reference would be to bring coals to Newcastle, so it's bringing something that is abundantly somewhere so you wouldn't have the need to bring obviously petroleum to Saudi Arabia, nor diamonds to Liberia. This is the implication. This was just once again to contextualise Mr Taylor had by then been elected for - had been President of Liberia for three years for - as a statement of fact. Monrovia was still largely without electricity except for those who could afford generators and the country was still, in terms of infrastructure and otherwise, in dire straits and, on top of that, being cut off by the European Union at the behest of Great Britain from development aid, so all that was still coming in was humanitarian aid, and the United States were putting pressure on the Security Council so as to impose sanctions on Mr Taylor's regime, so there was a ban on official travels, on the delivery of visa, and the exportation of her exports of various items such as lumber and obviously diamonds.

  • May the witness be shown page 0043985, please:

  • I draw your attention to the third paragraph on that page, the paragraph that starts with "Only the belligerents can resolve conflicts". Are we there? Mr Smith, are you --

  • Yes, I'm with you, thank you.

  • I'm at the third line of that paragraph, the sentence that starts with "The RUF committed terrible atrocities." Do you see that?

  • Now, this is part of Mr Taylor's answer to a question which is posed in the paragraph before, and that question is: "Do you think the Revolutionary United Front must be part of the peace process in Sierra Leone?" And, as part of his answer he says: "The RUF committed terrible atrocities. People will have to answer for that, but the same people who are the cause of the problem have to be part of the solution."

    Now are you aware of the atrocities that Mr Taylor refers to that he admits that the RUF committed?

  • Yes, I am. I had been covering this story on the ground, as I explained earlier on, and I think by 2000 Sierra Leone had actually become world-wide known as being the country where the civil war was associated with a specific form of terror, the short sleeves or long sleeves, the amputation of hands or arms in Sierra Leone, so Mr Taylor was referring to a reality that was known to me and to other people.

  • Now further down in that same paragraph, I believe it's from line 7 reading to line 8, he further makes the statement that the RUF aren't angels either. Basically, I will go back and read from the last part of the answer that we've dealt with, down to line 8. He goes on:

    "Great Britain has problems with the IRA but the Irish Republican Army participates in the peace process to the point that the pro-and-anti UK terrorists who were in the Maze Prison were let out. That doesn't make them angels. The RUF's people aren't angels either."

    Now what do you make of - what is your understanding of this statement that the RUF people weren't angels either?

  • Well, I really do object to this witness being asked to let the Court know what he thinks somebody else was saying when he uses an expression like that. I've let the other couple of questions go by because I can see a tenuous connection to the indictment, the question of notice, but really, we now have descended into the farcical when this witness is being asked to give his view of what Mr Taylor meant by the RUF aren't angels. Unless he'd spelt it out in the interview how could the witness know precisely what Mr Taylor meant by that? Apart from it being pretty obvious in any event.

  • Your Honours, the witness, at the start of his evidence, has given us quite a lot about his background and his profession. Granted that the witness is not here as an expert witness, the witness in the position that he was when he conducted this interview would have, in my submission, would have been in a position to be widely informed about events worldwide and part of the answer which we're dealing with draws reference to events in other parts of the world, in another part of the world, and basically I was seeking to have the witness drawing from his understanding of events in other parts of the world to --

  • But Mr Bangura, you haven't asked - you did ask the witness what the events were in a prior question, but this question is not of that nature. This question is what is your understanding of this statement, a statement that is recorded as coming from Mr Taylor. You're asking the witness to go into somebody else's mind. If you want to adduce facts or historical information, then you should be more direct.

  • I will take the point, your Honour:

  • Mr Smith, the earlier part of that answer makes reference to UK terrorists who were in the Maze Prison that were let out. Are you familiar with what Mr Taylor was referring to in that answer?

  • They weren't, with respect. They weren't UK terrorists who were in the Maze who were let out. They were pro-and-anti UK terrorists who were in the Maze Prison let out. If we really are going to get into paramilitary groups from the north of Ireland, as some of us call it, then I don't think this witness, having just seen his CV, is in a position to answer that any more than the man in the street or the woman in the street.

  • Mr Bangura, we are dealing with an indictment that deals in turn with a war in Sierra Leone. We're not going to wander into the Northern Ireland question. Please keep your questions and your evidence to what is pertinent to this trial.

  • Thank you, your Honour.

  • Particularly not in front of me, Mr Bangura.

  • Mr Witness, may I direct the witness then to the fifth paragraph, please, Madam Court Manager, of the same page. That's the paragraph that starts with the answer, "That is for the Sierra Leoneans to decide." I'm reading from the first line to line 4. Lines 1 to 4. This response is in answer to the question that appears in the paragraph before which is: "Does Foday Sankoh, the leader of the Sierra Leone rebellion, have any future other than a trial? And then the answer is here:

    "That is for the Sierra Leoneans to decide. I am not opposed to Foday Sankoh being tried, but he must not be the only one held responsible. The only one to have breached the Lomé Peace Accord, and what's more Africa is not yet in the third world. Wanting to apply first world criteria will destroy everything."

    Now "first world criteria to third world problems", what was Mr Taylor referring to in your view?

  • Mr Bangura, I have already given a ruling on this type of question.

  • Mr Bangura, perhaps you have forgotten. You told the Bench that this was a witness of fact, not opinion.

  • That's correct, your Honour:

  • Were you aware of any remedies that were being meted out to the situation in Sierra Leone at this time?

  • I can answer the question in broad terms. The peace effort that was undertaken by the United Nations with the robust peacekeeping mission on the ground, the military intervention unprecedented by Great Britain for at least a period of 30 years of non-intervention in military terms in Africa, so that was the context in which this question is to be understood. The answer by Mr Taylor in two parts was saying that if you're part of the problem you must be part of the solution, first condition. And the second is: Is it possible to apply first world solutions to African problems? This is an ongoing discussion. You may have heard about the slogan "African solutions to African problems." So the question is whether the outside world actually has remedies or recipes to solve African problems. Now, Mr Taylor had his opinion which he voiced in the interview and we reported that as it was said. I'm not here to editorialise or kind of vent my own opinion about this connection, I think.

  • Thank you very much, Mr Witness. Your Honours, that will be all for the witness.

  • Thank you, Mr Bangura. Mr Munyard, do you have questions of the witness?

  • I do, Madam President. Thank you.

  • Mr Smith, I've just been given, just under an hour ago, your CV and I want to ask you about it, please, first of all. Before I do can I just ask you a specific question: If you had worked at any time formally or informally for the CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America, you wouldn't put that on your CV in any event, would you?

  • I'm not familiar with the standard practice in an organisation of which I've never been part.

  • Thank you. Now I'm going to ask you please, and I think we have a spare copy of the CV, and it would probably assist if Madam Court Officer puts it on the screen because I'm going to be asking questions about the contents of it. The first page covers, in terms of your present position, your education and your employment matters you've already told us about and I don't propose to weary you by going over those items again. Below that there's a heading "Invited Lectures" and you've played a part in various lectures organised by various countries or institutions; is that correct?

  • This is correct.

  • The first two listed there are both last year, 2007, at the US Department of State. For the benefit of anybody who doesn't understand what the Department of State is, it's the equivalent to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is that right?

  • This is correct, yes.

  • Thank you. And the first conference set out there, although it's the second in time, 21 September 2007, a conference on the growing role of youth in Sub-Saharan Africa, it's co-sponsored by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the INR, and the National Intelligence Council. What is the INR, as far as you're aware?

  • The INR is the department of the - an internal department of the Department of State and, as such, does analytical work for the Foreign Office of the equivalent of what would be in Great Britain the Foreign Office.

  • Does the INR have a - if I can put it in this way, does it have a covert role as well as an overt role?

  • It doesn't have a covert role. I am not very familiar with the INR. It is standard practice to the difference of European practices that the intelligence community in the United States is probably much more open than the Europeans are, at least I'm most familiar with the French, and so they do co-sponsor events when they sit in and think any conference sponsored by the Department of State could be of any relevance for their members.

  • And what is the National Intelligence Council?

  • The NIC is another - this is a proper intelligence set-up. It's not covert either. It's the coordinating organ to serve as an interface with the political leadership of the country, so they would be interested in anything that would be of strategic outlook, for example on Africa.

  • Now that conference, did you present a paper or were you one of the speakers or what was your role in that conference?

  • I was one of the academics amidst maybe something like roughly 20. It was a day-long conference on the growing role of youth in Sub-Saharan Africa, a subject I have been working on. You may know that some of the demographic age structures in Africa, specifically the youthful age profile of Sub-Saharan states, is often seen as a condition and I underscore not a cause, a direct cause, but a condition, a stress factor on the societies that could stand in a correlation with instability, civil strife, civil war and so I was one of the experts over there. I gave a paper amongst something like 12 or a dozen papers and we were probably over 20 academics and other experts on the issue to be united for the day.

  • Thank you. Did that paper have anything to do specifically with Sierra Leone or Liberia?

  • Quite frankly, I don't know whether I quoted Liberia and Sierra Leone. It's very likely because obviously the correlation I invoked earlier on between a very youthful structure in both countries seems to be relevant if in academic terms the studies that we have point to the fact that over the 90s, 1990s, the likelihood of civil war in Sub-Saharan African states was three times higher in countries with the so-called youth bulge, which means that there is a portion of the adult population that is over 40 per cent, so you would have an age structure where more than 40 per cent of the population, of the adult population, not of the overall population, adult population, would be until the age of 55 would be within the age bracket of 15 to 30.

    You have, for example, from Nigeria, you would have 44 per cent of the population being less than 15 years old, so you would have overall two-thirds of the population being less than 15 years old, so some academics consider that a glut of unemployed young male pose a threat to stability and the stress factor for the governmentality of the governments of that country.

  • Yes, particularly if the governments are weak, venal and corrupt, would you agree?

  • With the - probably in an academic context one would rather speak about failed states or even more neutrally about states with lack of institutional capacity but in plain language, everyday language, I think we both state the same.

  • Right. But although it was a year ago yesterday that conference, you can't remember if you drew on Sierra Leone and Liberia specifically in your paper?

  • I think I mentioned them, but I don't think I used them as a specific example. To the best of my recollection, I used neighbouring Ivory Coast as an example less familiar to my audience where I could bring something to the table and try to point out that both the rebel leader over there, and the leader of the government militia, had been students on campus sharing the same room and ending up in adverse camps and being leaders, youth leader, and so establishing the role within a political leadership that usually is dominated by elders.

  • Right. You used the expression "where I could bring something to the table." That was part of the title of the next lecture that you participated in on this page. Again, the United States Department of State, 28 August last year, that was an ambassadorial seminar on the Ivory Coast?

  • This is correct. When American ambassadors --

  • Sorry, I don't want to --

  • Okay. Please go ahead.

  • -- have you embark on another dissertation, fascinating though it may be, I simply want to establish that was related to the Ivory Coast only, was it?

  • This is correct, yes.

  • Thank you. The next one there, and you will have to forgive my attempts at pronouncing German, "Studienstiftung des Deutschen Vokes", annual meeting in France, in fact, in April of last year, "Why care about Africa? Media images, political constraints and ethical imperatives." Did you give a paper or play a speaking part in that conference?

  • I seem to wonder why a German grant institution would assemble its students in France. This is all the students studying abroad and being sponsored by that organisation in Western Europe, so they convened in France, and as I'm a former member, this is grants being given to whatever promising students without any regard of their nationality, creed or race or whatever, and so I was asked to deliver the key note to that meeting.

  • Thank you. And did you touch on Sierra Leone or Liberia in that address?

  • Yes, I think I did because these are familiar conflicts to what was then a broader audience and I just wanted to invoke examples that would be familiar to my audience.

  • Right. And is it the paper that you presented there - is that available?

  • Yes, it is available.

  • Next conference - I'm now over the page on 00043979. The next conference was at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao on 30 January last year, an exhibition of contemporary African art under the title "Africa: A misleading or a useful concept?" Did you speak at that?

  • And did your speech there, or the paper or whatever it was that you presented there, did that touch on Sierra Leone or Liberia?

  • As you can see from the title it was basically an attempt to explain whether it is possible, given the diversity of Africa, to use Africa as is it a useful or a misleading concept, a question about exceptions and generalisations, and any example used - and Liberia and Sierra Leone could be on that - were used in passing as just to buttress the more broader attempt to explain what is useful. Should we actually put Africa as a plural given the divergence of situations and the geographic, demographic and otherwise diversity.

  • Thank you. The next one is Princeton University in the United States, December 11, 2006, which was on "Oil in post-9/11 Africa, fuel for enhanced geopolitical interest". Did that conference touch at all on Sierra Leone, or Liberia?

  • I don't think so.

  • Thank you. The next one is another United States Department of State, 6 October 2006, "The imminent danger of civil war in the Ivory Coast". Did that touch on Liberia, or Sierra Leone?

  • Very much so, because at that time we were all preoccupied about the destabilisation coming in from Liberia into the western part of Ivory Coast, the so-called cocoa buckle where Ivory Coast being the main exporter of cocoa has its economic assets, and so this conference definitely talked a lot about Liberia and maybe also the fact that Liberian combatants were spilling over because of ethnic groups straddling the border, spilling over into neighbouring Ivory Coast and actually fuelling the fighting over there.

  • And when it's stated - it's titled "The imminent danger of civil war in Ivory Coast" for a conference in October of 2006, are you talking about an imminent civil war in late 2006?

  • You would have to distinguish that the war - the civil war or something that was a latent form of civil war broke out in September 2002, but taken into account that after a pacification by deployment of French soldiers, very similar to what had happened in Sierra Leone in May 2000 you had a conflict under control in the sense that the French were manning a line, a dividing line in the centre of Ivory Coast and the imminence of the danger is the resurgence of civil war in Ivory Coast.

  • Right, so the resurgence or potential resurgence of that civil war in October 2006 fuelled by incursions from Liberia?

  • Liberia in October 2006, who was the President then?

  • The President of Liberia was then Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

  • Yes. And how long had she been President of Liberia by October 2006?

  • Something like a year.

  • Yes. And so there were still incursions from Liberia in late 2006, were there?

  • Yes, if you want me without getting once again into a dissertation to go into some detail I could explain to you that the operations also sponsored by the international community of disarming the combatants on either side of the national boundary sometimes drew Liberian combatants over to Ivory Coast because the programme in Ivory Coast gave a better rate for handing in a weapon and so you had this influx from Liberia. And also fighters out of ethic solidarity that felt that there was a possibility to earn a living in the west of Ivory Coast would come over and do exactly that, fight in Ivory Coast.

  • Right. So is this what you're saying about that: That in the Ivory Coast certainly in 2006 people from Liberia were selling their arms?

  • Yes, that was part of the reality.

  • And some others were selling their services in effect as mercenaries?

  • Next conference is the department of state again, 5 October - the day before, 5 October 2006. This is a conference on Nigeria and military rule. Did that touch on Liberia or Sierra Leone at all?

  • Very peripheral only with respect to the Nigerian peacekeeping operations being conducted under the aegis of ECOWAS.

  • Thank you. Next 1 is 6 April 2006 at the institute Institut d'Etudes Politiques, a conference on "Mother Africa, a victim of the world or of herself". Did that touch on Liberia or Sierra Leone at all?

  • Only in the respect that I tried to point out that there was a paradox to be resolved between the fact that Africa is so marginal in the process which we call globalisation, or let's say enhanced interconnectedness of the world, and at the same time we say Africa is a victim. So I tried to explain how could for example a country like Sierra Leone or Liberia be at the same time marginalised, not implicated in a process, and at the same time be a victim.

  • Mr Smith, can I make it plain I'm asking you these questions based on the premise that you have actually given us a lecture or presented a paper at all of these conferences. I assume that's a correct premise?

  • This is a correct premise, yes.

  • Thank you. The next one is Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum at the United Nations Social Science Research Council in New York, 2 March 2006, "Challenges for the peace process in Ivory Coast". Did that touch on Sierra Leone or Liberia at all?

  • Yes, it had to because, as I pointed out earlier in the morning, the destructured conflicts were seen as being a regional matter and so it was seen from the Ivorian perspective, but with regard to regional warfare and obviously Liberia and Sierra Leone would be implicated.

  • Now I'm not proposing to go through every one of the remaining lectures on that page, but I'll just give you the number that are there and I'd like you to tell us if any of them touched on Liberia or Sierra Leone at all. I think there are 13 more conferences in various places from the years March 2006 down to May 1997 and I think it's right to say, is it not, that none of them specifically refer to either Sierra Leone or Liberia. I mean in the title.

  • This is a way of presenting things. I would first of all like to point out that obviously Liberia and Sierra Leone were in the news mainly in the early 1990s and so the standard practice of speaking to an audience is very often linked to a topical issue and so I was addressing topical issues. As Liberia was the first post cold war conflict in West Africa and in Africa such of a new type, it was something that would be permanently present in the conferences that I would give, but you're entirely correct in stating that there is none that is exclusively on Liberia or Sierra Leone.

  • Thank you. I'm simply trying to save time rather than to cut you short. If you feel that any of these conferences specifically dealt at length with either of those two countries please say so.

  • For the reason that I just tried to explain which is that it was not a main issue. I'm a journalist and I am being asked to deliver conferences on questions that are linked to what is happening at the very moment and, as you can see, none of the conference is specifically directed exclusively at Sierra Leone and Liberia.

  • Thank you. I'm now going over the page to page 43980 where your books are listed. There are 13 books there and it's right to say that none of those books is specifically about Sierra Leone or Liberia.

  • This is correct. There is, by the way, only one book that is specifically on one country which would be the book on Somalia which was a major news story and just to point that out. It is fairly difficult, especially for publications in French, to address just one single country and so there is no book on Sierra Leone or Liberia. There is the preface that I wrote to Mark Huband's account.

  • I'm sorry to interrupt you, I'm coming on to that. That's a separate section in your CV. You say there's only one book there that's about a specific country, but presumably the book of Bokassa I, the emperor of the Central African Republic was about that country only?

  • No, because Bokassa is of French nationality as you may not know, and his period is also an assessment of the French-African policy and the special decolonisation of France's former colonial position. So it's, through the lens of a biography, a look at Franco-African relations.

  • Right, but neither Sierra Leone nor Liberia were French colonies?

  • And again without wanting to draw this out unnecessarily you've got a reference - you've got a book, sorry, on General Oufkir, the Moroccan general. Again if it goes beyond Morocco or presumably touches on countries either in the Maghreb or other former French colonies. Is that right?

  • So there's no book there that specifically deals with either of the two countries we're talking about. Going then to the three forewords that you have written, one is about the civil war in Ivory Coast written in 2006 when, from what you've said, that civil war was still going on or certainly still hadn't been completely resolved. Is that correct?

  • This is correct. Just as a minor point, the second stage of kind of peace process was initiated in spring 2007.

  • All right. Thank you. Then there's the book about the Congo River and then you, as you've indicated, you wrote the foreword to Mark Huband's book on the Liberian civil war published in 1998?

  • This is correct and Mark Huband's book that came out in '98 is one of the very few accounts of the Liberian civil war, so I just for - to see the whole context you should also take into account that even in the English speaking and specifically in the American context, where I think it is fair to say that Liberia is probably the country in Africa that comes closest to what would resemble an American colony, there is hardly any book publication on that country despite the dramatic events there.

  • Right. On reports, you've already told us that you wrote a report for the International Crisis Group. Can you just help us very briefly with who they are and what they do?

  • The first is on Nigeria, the second on the Central African Republic.

  • You haven't actually included the one on the Central African Republic?

  • This is a previous version of my CV when I handed it in and the report of the Central African Republic was published in December 2007.

  • Right and what is the International Crisis Group?

  • The International Crisis Group is an NGO that sees its role not in mustering any popular support for whatever causes, but to enlighten the international community, especially the diplomatic community and the United Nations, on conflict analysis and conflict resolution.

  • Then I'm not going to refer to these in any detail at all. You've also got a list on page 43981, most of that page in fact is a list of book contributions or contributions to articles appearing in journals about Africa. Would it be fair to say looking at that list globally that most of it deals with Francophone Africa?

  • And over the page, the list continues over the page but that doesn't make any difference to the general point I've just made, I think. Would you agree?

  • Well, there's publications in South African online for institutes of - an institute of international relations, et cetera. There is also publications in other European Freedom I see - Freedom House in the United States or German journalists but, overall, I think you are correct in stating that there is no publication in any journal that would specifically deal with Sierra Leone or Liberia.

  • Thank you. And for the sake of completeness, you also refer on that page that we've just turned to, to the various different newspapers that you have written for over the years, most of which I think you've already told us about?

  • I think so, yes.

  • Thank you. And finally, the awards that you have received, also appear on that page. Now, I want to turn then to the evidence that you've been giving to us this morning. You were based originally in La Cote d'Ivoire, in Abidjan, and when you first went to West Africa, is that right?

  • I started out in Cotonou Benin and then moved on to Abidjan to be based in Abidjan, yes.

  • Yes. And I am right in assuming that you spent rather more time based in Abidjan than in Benin?

  • Not entirely, because I moved from Benin where I had settled down in '84, in '86 to Ivory Coast and left Ivory Coast in '88 to become the Africa editor, so it was exactly the same time.

  • Yes. Now from '88 onwards, you were living in Paris; is that correct?

  • This is correct, yes.

  • And so you were making trips to West Africa?

  • And how often do you say that you have actually been into, first of all, Liberia?

  • Over what period of time?

  • Well, from your --

  • From '84 onwards to down to the present day or --

  • Let's deal with the period of the civil war. From the end of '89 onwards.

  • '89 onwards, and when would you see the civil war being over in Liberia?

  • Either 1995 or 1996.

  • I would say a dozen of times I went to Liberia. As I told you earlier on this morning, in 1990 I spent most of my time in Liberia so I would think, with a few travels back to Paris where I was based, I would have spent something like, over the year, something like four months in - the time period being January to August when we were expelled or left Liberia, so I would think that if you put it together on the various sides not always with Mr Taylor but also in Monrovia on President Doe's side and with Prince Johnson something like four months, if you put it together.

  • Right. And then after you were expelled when did you next go back into Liberia?

  • I think I went back in either the end of '91 or '92 and then went regularly back and met with Mr Taylor, as I stated earlier on, in '96 and did follow the story like as it was covered in all major newspapers, but less intensely than over the first period of time.

  • Right. In end of '91 or early '92 how much time did you spend in Liberia then?

  • In Liberia in '91/'92 I may have made - but this really, to the best of my recollection, two or three trips to Liberia, I would say so because in '92 events were unfolding in Somalia and I spent considerable amount of my time in Somalia prior to the UN and then US intervention there.

  • Thank you. And you say after the end of '91 or early '92 you went back regularly and you met with Mr Taylor in '96. Did you meet with him at any time between '92 and '96, apart from the occasion that you've just talked about?

  • And what is your understanding of the how the civil war in Liberia came to an end, and I'm talking about the mid-90s civil war as opposed to the civil war that erupted after he'd been democratically elected president?

  • There was an attempt, I would not draw it out at length, I would say there was a first attempt in the mid-90s to bring together the various factions and try to see whether there could be a power-sharing agreement. This failed. And the second attempt was through elections to have a more monolithical and coherent power structure in Monrovia and I think what Mr Taylor explained with regard to Sierra Leone, about who's part of a problem should be part of a solution, was very much the - and this is not my private opinion, I think that was consensus of the analysts - that the election resulted in electing someone who had brought the problem to Liberia and may be in a privileged position to put an end to the problem. So you may remember the slogan, the electoral slogan which was: "We killed your ma, we killed your pa so if you want to stay free of trouble you should vote for us." This is not word by word but that's the gist.

  • That's a slogan that we have heard before, but we haven't heard more than the fact that it was a slogan.

  • Yeah. It was widely understood in Monrovia and in Liberia as being the option that was given and that is the second attempt to pacify Liberia through a democratic process in - under the conditions that obtained and Mr Taylor was elected in, as you know, in 1997.

  • Yes. And for two years before that there had been relative peace in Liberia, hadn't there?

  • Well, relative by comparison to what had prevailed prior to that, yes. Not by comparison to any degree of normalcy in any state where there's law and order.

  • And indeed, certainly during 1996, there'd been a collective - in effect a collective presidency?

  • This is correct, yes.

  • And that went on up to August of '97 when he was installed having been elected in July?

  • Right. And then further civil war broke out during his presidency, do you agree?

  • Yes. A rebel movement was started even to unseat the elected power in Monrovia.

  • And I'm not proposing to dwell on it at length, but the fact is that at least two - well, more than two organisations then took to arms in Liberia against the elected government of President Taylor, is that right?

  • This is correct and I don't want to expand either but I just would like to state that legitimacy is not only defined by the electoral process but also by the way the so-obtained power is exerted and the reasons given, at least by the rebels at that time, were very precisely the same that Mr Doe had - that Mr Taylor had given while he was taking up arms against Mr Doe which is that actually an elected power had turned into a dictatorship.

  • Well, in the case of President Doe, when he stood for election, even the United States who backed him accepted that the elections were fraudulent and rigged, do you agree?

  • This is correct, yes.

  • There was no suggestion that the 1997 election of Mr Taylor was fraudulent and rigged, is there?

  • And do you also agree that Mr Taylor brought into his government a group of ministers or brought into his government and indeed his party a group of people who had previously been involved in either fighting him during the civil war or after that?

  • I think if we wanted to have a discussion about the inclusiveness of Mr Taylor's power it would take up some time because that would have to be examined in more detail. He associated people who had been former adversaries if not enemies.

  • Well, when you say "he associated people", he gave ministerial appointments to such people, didn't he?

  • Yes, but if you want us to discuss it I'm very comfortable with this. You have very many power structures in Africa where the official title of being minister or inclusive governments do not necessarily correspond with executive power, and I think this was one of the cases where you would have someone being associated, this is the term that I would like to use, and not necessarily being part of the real power structure, the inner circle that really takes the decisions.

  • Right. I'm going to ask you a little bit more about Liberia because the documents that you have produced touch on Liberia, and then I'm going to go to Sierra Leone and I want to start, please, with the interview and I'm going to work from the translation, which I believe is P-33B. Exhibit P-33B. Now before we look at the contents of the interview as such, and we'll look at it in just a moment, you've given us a little bit of background as to first of all how it came about and who was present and you've talked about a person called Fahwaz Abbas. Is he actually Abbas Fahwaz?

  • I refer to him in the way I recollected his name and I may be wrong.

  • Right. Thank you. And he is a French citizen, isn't he?

  • But he's certainly a French speaker, isn't he?

  • Well, are you saying that you just don't know?

  • No, I recollect speaking English with him. With all of Mr Taylor's entourage we did speak English, with the only exception that I stated earlier on, when there were Burkinabe, for Burkina Faso advisors, they would address me in French, then I would answer in French.

  • So the fair answer to my question is that you don't know whether Abbas Fahwaz speaks French, do you?

  • No, the fair answer to your question is that I spoke English with Mr Abbas and that I ignore whether he is or not a French citizen.

  • Right. You just don't know whether he speaks French, do you?

  • In any event, he was one of the people who, or the main person who set up the interview when Mr Taylor Came to France, yes?

  • And one of the things that Mr Taylor came to France to talk about was French companies investing in Liberia, do you agree?

  • This is not what he says in the interview, and it was a private visit, so this is possible but this is not stated.

  • The interview consisted of him answering your questions, didn't it?

  • This is the nature of interviews indeed, yes.

  • The interview doesn't include a question along the lines of: What have you come here for, does it?

  • No, it doesn't. The topical issue of the moment was the Sierra Leonean peace efforts, the military intervention by Great Britain and the efforts made to bring peace to Sierra Leone.

  • Right. And you made a tape recording of the interview and in accordance with ordinary journalistic practice you would keep that tape recording, wouldn't you?

  • For a period of time. I'm not running an archive so I would have preferred keeping it but we - you know, we do carry a lot of interviews and my attempt to retrieve the recording proved unsuccessful.

  • Well, do you remember telling the Prosecution "As I usually keep the tapes of important interviews I've been searching for the cassette over the spring and summer period of 2007"?

  • Yes, I was in the habit actually having my library being organised according to the countries. I would very often keep tapes and put them just on that shelf just to make sure to have them. Beyond the period where I thought that was strictly necessary, which is the period let's say two or three months after the publication, just to make sure if there's anyone contesting the accuracy of the interview I would have the evidence to prove that everything was correct.

  • Yes, but you'd normally keep tapes of important interviews for longer than just a couple of months, wouldn't you?

  • I would keep of some of them, yes, but it also depends a little bit very practical terms that sometimes you would rush out for an interview and then you would grab the next tape you could lay your hands on, so I would then go - just turn round to my library and take whatever seemed to be outdated and could be disposed of.

  • Right. Just before I turn to the interview itself, can you confirm this: Whether or not Abbas Fahwaz spoke French or was a French citizen, he was acquainted with a Franco-Lebanese lawyer in Paris called Robert Borgy [phon] who was then and still is very active as a go-between in Franco-African relations?

  • May it please your Honours. Your Honours, my learned friend seems to be going against established procedure here. He is making extensive reference to I believe some material that he's reading from and he's not provided any reference and I believe we are entitled to be referred to whatever material he's reading from, as well as the witness.

  • Well, there's no procedure I'm aware of that I'm going against. Counsel opposite is not entitled to any document that I refer to as of right, but, most important of all, let's hear first what the witness has to say in reply to a very simple factual question that I put to him.

  • May it please your Honours, my learned friend is reading - there is a previous question that came and he made mention of basically asking the witness whether he recalled making a certain statement to the Prosecution. I let that go. I'm familiar with what actually he put to the witness.

    My learned friend can say whether or not the facts that he has put in this statement are not coming from that statement or from a statement.

  • I just want to be clear what you're saying, Mr Bangura. You're saying that Mr Munyard put a question out of a record of interview with the Prosecution previously. He's now putting another question which is not out of a record of interview with the Prosecution and you're saying you should know where that record is from. Is that what you're saying?

  • Your Honour, I am saying that it may or may not have been from a record of an interview that the Prosecution had with the witness, but I am saying this amounts to a quote, unless my learned friend says it is not, but it amounts to a quote that he's trying to put to the witness.

  • For all I know it could be a privileged document that emanates from the accused that we're not entitled to look at so I --

  • Your Honours, may counsel be respectfully asked to indicate whether or not that quote is coming from material that we are privy to.

  • I will ask if it comes from a disclosed document from the Prosecution and that's as far as I'll take it. Mr Munyard, is this a disclosed document from the Prosecution?

  • Your Honour, I don't want to appear to be difficult, but the point of principle is that the Prosecution aren't entitled to ask if I am reading from a document they've disclosed, a document I've found on the internet or in the telephone book.

  • I've already more or less said that.

  • Right. For that reason, your Honour, I therefore do not propose to say where it comes from. I would like the witness to answer the question, if he can, and then it may well be that we will - in fact, I suspect we'll then be able to move on and deal with the interview.

  • Since counsel for the Defence is not volunteering this information and he's entitled to put certain facts to the witness in cross-examination I'm not going to press the point. I'm overruling your objection, Mr Bangura. Put the question again in case we've forgotten what it's all about.

  • I suspect, Mr Smith, I can shorten it. Did Abbas Fahwaz have an acquaintanceship with a Franco-Lebanese lawyer based in Paris, a Mr Robert Borgy, who was and still is actively involved in Franco-African relations?

  • Indeed to the best of my recollection there was a connection between the two men. Mr Borgy is a lawyer, he has a triple nationality; Senegalese, Lebanese and French.

  • Thank you very much. Would it surprise you therefore to hear the suggestion that one of the reasons Mr Taylor was in Paris in the year 2000 was to try to get French investment in Liberia?

  • It would not surprise me.

  • Thank you. Now, as I said, I'm going to try to deal with the interview and indeed your commentary alongside it in terms of the two countries discretely. I know there's inevitably an overlap, but if I can restrict myself at the moment to just dealing with Liberian matters. If we look at the interview, that's P-33B, and I'm looking at the first page and the last paragraph on that page. Do you have that in front of you?

  • Yes, I do. Just if I may, not to quibble at it, but as unfortunately "par propos recueillis" was translated "comments" we slip into - out of path fidelity into the idea that there was an interview and the commentary. There was not. There was an interview and there was a news article. So, just for the record.

  • I understand that although in fact the very first paragraph of this exhibit is in the form of commentary, isn't it?

  • Could you kindly show it to me?

  • Please put 33B on the screen.

  • I think the focus was lower down the page and is it now adjusted. Is it now adjusted?

  • It is, thank you. It is not meant to be a commentary. It's just an introduction for the reader to know whom we are actually interviewing. So it's a presentation.

  • All right. If we look then at the last paragraph down there, you ask the question, "What role can France and the European Union play?" And he says:

    "France has a constructive role, experience with African problems. France is fair with Liberia, even if we are not a French speaking country. We want to launch a full investigation into the accusations against Liberia. We are accused of trafficking arms and diamonds. We want an investigation because it's the only way to be cleared of these accusations."

    Now are you aware that the Liberian government did actually put out a document refuting the allegations against it?

  • Put out a document where, please?

  • A document sent to the United Nations to the Security Council. Have you ever seen any such document?

  • I have not seen the document. I know that Mr Taylor and Liberia, the Liberian government, objected to the accusations levelled against it, yes.

  • Right. Carrying on further down that particular paragraph:

    "Europe can help investigate. They may cut off aid. They may not like Charles Taylor. But there are Liberians who are dying, who need aid. The British managed to halt European aid to Liberia."

    Now that's right, isn't it, that the British played a significant part in halting European Union aid to Liberia?

  • In the interview no distinction is made between development aid and humanitarian aid. The aid that was cut off is actually the development aid, not the humanitarian aid. It is true that the outside world did not pay much attention to internal developments of Mr Taylor's regime, of his government and his governance, so the fact that democratic rules had by then been broken went more or less uncommented or at least not warranting any consequences.

    The consequences came when the incident occurred in neighbouring Sierra Leone with the hostage taking of the peacekeeping force, the blue helmets, the UN blue helmets, and then the British government indeed spearheaded a successful attempt to cut off European development aid to Liberia.

  • Are you talking about the seizing of the peacekeepers in the year 2000?

  • And are you aware that by then Mr Taylor was the lead President within ECOWAS with responsibility for trying to resolve issues in the civil war in Sierra Leone?

  • This is correct and the interview actually refers to that role in a different paragraph, because we put the question to him and I think that was quoted earlier this morning - we put the question to him whether he was not in a sort of a bind, in a dilemma. The more he played the intermediary and tried to mediate the more the outside powers, especially the United States and Great Britain, would actually say that he held sway over the rebel movement in Sierra Leone and stressed the connection he had. And if he didn't, he would be blamed for his obstructive role.

    By the fact that he knew the people, he was in this - knew the people and Sam Bockarie was actually staying in Monrovia at that time, a major player in the Sierra Leonean context, and so the idea was basically that the more he - if he refused to help he would be blamed and if he intervened and used the connections he had with Sierra Leone he would also be blamed.

  • Thank you, but it is true, isn't it, that within ECOWAS he was the President charged with taking the lead role in trying to resolve the civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone?

  • The presidency of the West African economic union, ECOWAS, is a rotating one, so it was his turn indeed and I think it's always in between two summit meetings that one of the Presidents presides over. That doesn't real make his the executive President of the community, but he has a leading role and Mr Taylor acted in this capacity.

  • Thank you. And he was also asked to play a part in resolving the UN peacekeepers hostage taking by the secretary-general, then Kofi Annan, were you aware of that?

  • Yes, I think this had already taken place at the time when the interview was recorded and published.

  • Yes, it had. Now you mentioned Sam Bockarie being in Monrovia in late 2000 at the time of your interview, the interview taking place in Paris, and that was a well known fact, wasn't it, that Sam Bockarie was there in Liberia?

  • Yes, sir. There had been a split in the rebel movement. Foday Sankoh after the Lomé Peace Agreement in December 1999, if my memory hasn't got a lapse, he decided he would go along with the peace agreement whereas Mr Sam Bockarie was unwilling to depose arms and he went into exile first into Liberia and stayed in Monrovia.

  • I think you'll find that Lomé was in - the agreement was in July of 1999, but didn't include the active involvement of the AFRC element and so there were further talks later that year and it was October when the two leaders, Foday Sankoh and Johnny Paul Koroma, finally met in Lomé and were flown back on board a Nigerian government plane to --

  • You correct. I'm referring to a process that was a little bit halting and which we encompass as being the Lomé agreement, because it was precisely dragging out over a period of time which is the second half of 1999.

  • Yes, I thought I'd made an error and I had. The two leaders met in Monrovia and a more lasting commitment involving both of those groups was drawn up to supplement the Lomé Accord. Do you remember that?

  • And Sam Bockarie would not agree to disarm and that was why President Taylor agreed to have him and his troops come to Liberia. Do you agree?

  • This is maybe a lopsided way of presenting it and in more neutral language I would say - I would state the split and the fact that the faction which still wanted to wage war came to Liberia.

  • But did not continue to wage war on Sierra Leone from Liberia?

  • This is probably - no, I think that would be an impugned statement by many analysts because precisely if you still refer to the time line you would see that after coming to Monrovia and after the split the peace process in Sierra Leone did not go smoothly. Quite to the contrary. Despite the deployment of 13,000 UN soldiers you would have heightened rebel activity and hostage taking of 500 blue helmets which prompted then the British intervention. So the least one can say is that the split over the peace agreement did actually prompt action on the ground.

  • Well, I'm going to deal if I can - and I know it's artificial to an extent, I'm going to deal with Sierra Leone in a moment and I'll come back to the issue of the peacekeepers, but the seizing of the peacekeepers was very much a one off event, wasn't it?

  • What would you understand by one off? An isolated event?

  • Yes, in the year 2000?

  • It was not perceived that way to the best of my recollection because simultaneously you also had spilling or spill over warfare starting along the border with Guinea. So the overall impression was that despite the peace agreement there was actually a resurgence in warfare and a spread out of the conflict.

  • Well, I'm going to come to a Guinea as a separate topic straight away. But, Madam President, I see the time. As I'm about to move to Guinea would you think it appropriate for me to do the whole of that subject --

  • Yes, that might be a more practical way of dealing with it, Mr Munyard, because we are just about up to our time.

    Mr Witness, we take our lunch break from 1.30 to 2.30. We are just about on 1.30, so we will take that break now and allow counsel to start into his new line of cross-examination after 2.30. So please adjourn court to 2.30.

  • [Lunch break taken at 1.27 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 2.30 p.m.]

  • Mr Bangura, do I note a change of appearance?

  • That is correct, your Honour. Your Honour, for the Prosecution this afternoon are Mr Nicholas Koumjian, myself Mohamed A Bangura and Ms Ruth Mary Hackler. Thank you, your Honours.

  • Thank you, Mr Bangura. Mr Munyard, please proceed.

  • Thank you, Madam President:

  • Mr Smith, when we broke I was just going to go on to a separate subject which is Guinea. Now, you have talked about what happened after Sam Bockarie went to Liberia at the very end of - are you able to help us when it was that he went to Liberia?

  • Right. And I think you agreed with me that once he went to Liberia there is no suggestion that he himself was involved in any kind of invasion into Sierra Leone?

  • I do not recollect saying precisely that. I have no knowledge as to that effect.

  • Right. So you can't counter that proposition?

  • Thank you. Now, as for Guinea, Lansana Conté was the President of Guinea by the year 2000, wasn't he?

  • Correct, yes.

  • The LURD rebels who were invading Liberia during President Taylor's presidency, where were they based?

  • This was a matter of contention. They definitely had a rear base in Guinea and it would be possible for journalists to contact them in Conakry, as it had been possible for us previously to contact Mr Taylor's group in Abidjan or Danané. And furthermore it was, as I stated, a matter of contention as to the LURD set being present on Liberian ground and at least in the border zone.

  • Well, let's just have a look at that. You said it would be possible for journalists to contact the LURD in Conakry. Conakry is a long way from the border with Sierra Leone, isn't it?

  • When you talk about the LURD having a rear base in Guinea, where do you say that base or those bases were?

  • I actually do not - did not go to the bases if there were, but I just draw your attention to the parallel that I made with Abidjan and Danané. I could contact Abidjan, it's fairly distant from the Liberian border as well, and I could contact and make arrangements with Mr Taylor's collaborators in Abidjan and so I did in Conakry. I have no knowledge as to where precisely the LURD would have bases in Guinea.

  • Yes, you see, my question was more about the LURD coming into Liberia from Guinea, rather than where would you contact LURD representatives if you as a journalist wanted to speak to them. You say now you have no knowledge as to where precisely the LURD had bases in Guinea, but you did know that the LURD had bases in Guinea, didn't you?

  • This was part of - yes, I had knowledge of this as being one of the allegations and as the Guinean government would allege that Guinean rebels moving into Guinea had their rear bases in Liberia, that's why I said it was a matter of contention.

  • Right. The Guinean government had help in training its own military from an outside power, didn't they?

  • This is correct at that time and the outside power would be identified as being the United States.

  • Exactly. And the particular organisation from the United States that was based in Guinea training its troops was the US marine corps, wasn't it?

  • To the best of my knowledge, yes.

  • And are you aware that it was widely reported that the US marine corps were training or giving support to the LURD rebels who were invading Liberia from Guinea?

  • It may cast a negative spell on my profession, but "widely reported" is a not very precise sourcing and there is a lot of things that are widely reported about Africa that I know to be factually incorrect. So this is - I know it was widely reported, yes, to that part of your question. And whether that would lead me to endorse the information, I would say no.

  • Well, let me summarise that. You accept that that was a matter that was spoken of very widely, but you yourself have no information directly or indirectly that confirms it?

  • This is correct. I just want to prevent myself from kind of affirming things that would be according to widespread rumours said.

  • No, well I am not asking you to confirm the rumour. I am simply asking you: (a) do you agree that there was such a rumour and; (b) do you have any direct or indirect knowledge to confirm or contradict it?

  • So it would be yes on the first account and no on the second, sir.

  • Thank you. But there is no doubt in your mind, I imagine, that the LURD were invading Liberia from Guinea?

  • I don't want to cavil at that, but you see it's a very sensitive issue because - I just give you another parallel so you would maybe understand my reticence to endorse that statement fully. There was also alleged, and there was some factual ground to it, that Mr Kagame and his rebels came from neighbouring Uganda into Rwanda and the Rwandan regime at the time which we now consider as being a genocidal regime said it was an invasion launched from outside and that, for example, the defence treaty with France should be applied to the point that French military should intervene because it was a foreign invasion. How much of a foreign invasion it was and how much was - the fighting force was present and had actually roots in the country is something that is very delicate.

    So by the same token I think presenting the LURD as an invading force from Guinea would be as correct and false as saying that Mr Taylor launched his attack on Liberia on Christmas Eve '89 as a fighting force invading from neighbouring Ivory Coast, which I think would not be an entirely correct and balanced statement.

  • So is your evidence to this Court that you can't say that the LURD invaded from Guinea ever?

  • What I would say if I had a presentation to make is that the LURD had support in the country and used neighbouring countries, specifically Guinea, as a launching pad or as a rear base. This would be the terms that I would be using.

  • Well, there is a big difference between a launching pad and a rear base, isn't there? One is somewhere you effectively move forward from and the other is somewhere you retreat back to, do you agree?

  • No, I think a rear base is something - a sanctuary that you have in a neighbouring country which you use for logistical reasons. That is at least the acceptance or the understanding that I had. And once again I draw your attention to the parallel with Mr Taylor's launch and rear facilities in Ivory Coast. The only thing I want to make crystal clear is that you should qualify both examples in the same terms then I would subscribe to them.

  • Just before you move on, Mr Munyard. Can I clarify that Mr Smith said, "I want to make it clear that the LURD had support in the country". Which country are we talking about here?

  • I understood Liberia.

  • Well, Madam President, I am grateful for that because I had understood it was Guinea that the witness was talking about:

  • You don't disagree that the LURD had support in Guinea, do you?

  • Once again not to cavil at it, but when I was talking about support I understood popular support in the country of which the fighting force originated from. And if you are talking about supporting Guinea, you would mean that people were helping the LURD to operate out of Guinea and in that sense I would say yes.

  • Thank you. Can I take you please to the interview, exhibit P-33B, and it is the second page of the translation of the interview on page 43985. I am going to ask you to look at the last two paragraphs on that page, please. Do you have those in front of you?

  • Thank you. The question that you posed that led to the answer in these two paragraphs was, "What solution do you see to the conflict with Guinea?" And the answer given by Mr Taylor, according to the translation, is as follows: "Oddly, last year we were the victims of a first attack coming from Guinea". Now, do you agree that there was an attack by the LURD in 1999 into Liberian territory from around the area bordering with Guinea?

  • I would agree to that, adding that if I interviewed the Guinean President at the time and still is Lansana Conté he would have said that the first attack came from Liberia against his country. And so I would, as a reporter, give both statements just to be balanced.

  • Sorry you say, "If I interviewed the Guinean President at the time he would have said"?

  • Does that mean you didn't interview him, but you have read reports of things that he has said?

  • I should have been more precise. I did actually meet Lansana Conté, but I didn't run an interview that was published in Le Monde in the same way this was one straightforward. I think it was an article where I just quoted him - sentences of our conversation. But what I understood is that in Lansana Conté's presentation of the facts he said that the first attacks originated out of Liberia.

  • Right. What was the article that you included that particular position of President Conté's in?

  • It was an article that was presented or that was published in Le Monde. I could not give you the precise date. You may bear in mind that I may have written two pieces a week and so it is really difficult for me to have the precise recollection, but I did cover the story from the Guinean side as I did from the Liberian and I am aware of both statements and I carried the one by Mr Taylor as I carried the one by Lansana Conté.

  • Right. I am only interested in the Lansana Conté one at the moment. Are you able to help us with what year roughly you think that you wrote that piece?

  • I think that must have been late 90s, '99 probably, but I would not want to be affirmative on that. It is really a little bit difficult to know that precisely. It is easy to find in the archives of the newspaper.

  • Thank you. I am looking at the interview again with Mr Taylor, carrying on from that first sentence:

    "We protested. There was a second attack on us. In the course of a meeting the President of Guinea Lansana Conté promised to do his utmost to prevent attacks of that kind. But to our great surprise, three months later there was a third, very serious and devastating attack."

    Now, do you agree that the LURD invaded Liberia from an area bordering with Guinea on at least three occasions starting in 1999?

  • I would agree that the LURD was doing that in a context of cross-border fighting where attacks originated from both sides and where the precise dating of who attacked first and who did precisely what was controversial.

  • Is Lansana Conté someone who came to power via a democratic election?

  • No, Lansana Conté came to power thanks to a military coup.

  • Carrying on on that paragraph:

    "I said to President Lansana Conté, 'Can you do something to show me you are making an honest effort to stop these attacks?' That wasn't done. I asked for a face to face meeting with him. The President of Nigeria Olusefun [sic] Obasanjo agreed to host such a meeting".

    Are you able to confirm or contradict what I have just read?

  • First of all, it is Olusegun, there is a misspelling but --

  • I apologise to the former President, not that it is my fault.

  • No, no problem at all. I did actually speak to President Obasanjo, former Nigerian President, about his mediating - mediation efforts and I think the presentation that I gave about the cross-border warfare and the two sides that did not live up to the expectations of the Nigerian President as a mediator in their efforts to make attempts to create a situation in which trust was restored and made it possible to properly monitor the situation would be the one that I got from Obasanjo.

  • I might have missed it in there somewhere, but did you give us the one that you got from Obasanjo?

  • No, I didn't. I didn't expect this to be raised in court.

  • Right. Well, this is cross-examination. I am entitled to pursue material that you have presented such as this interview. Next paragraph, please:

    "These incursions from Guinea into Liberia occur in a forest area. It is very hard to ascertain if and when we cross the border with Guinea."

    Now, do you agree that to a large extent the northern border of Liberia where it meets Guinea is forest and it is not necessarily easy to tell whether you are in one country or the other in many places?

  • Materially you are right. This part of Guinea is even in French called Guinea Foresterie, so it's part of the designation of the area. What is correct is that local people on the ground obviously know where the not materially notified or materialised border runs, so everybody knows where one is. But it is true that it is not a border in the understanding that we let's say in Europe have of how a border is brought to the attention of everybody.

  • And do you agree that the Government of Liberia did send forces to the north of the country around the border with Guinea to try to push back the LURD rebels?

  • Yes, I think this is correct and I am not here to be the spokesperson for the Guinean side, but I would probably say that the same sentence that "it is very hard to ascertain if and when we cross the border with Guinea" would probably be invoked by the Guineans about their forces sent to the border to stem incursions that purportedly were launched from neighbouring Liberia.

  • Right. Either country would be entitled to engage in hot pursuit of rebels crossing into their territory, wouldn't they?

  • As a person I would agree, but I am not entirely sure about the legal grounds of that, whether this is international right that you have a right of hot pursuit. It seemed to me that would be a contention.

  • Reading on on that last paragraph on the second page of the interview:

    "It is very hard to ascertain if and when we cross the border we are Guinea. Were we to do so there would be plenty of justification if a base in the forest somewhere had been used against Liberia."

    I think we have already dealt with that in those last question and answer: "We have the right to destroy such bases. Liberia is not in a position to go to war". Now, it's right, isn't it, that the Liberian government was actually fighting a losing battle from the year 2000 onwards against the rebels?

  • Well, if we read history with what we know is its outcome in summer 2003 when Mr Taylor was obliged or felt obliged to leave his capital, yes. But if you read the paragraph on where you stopped reading you would see that Mr Taylor at the time in November 2000 said, "Liberia is not in a position to go to a war", "But if we are forced to of course we will have to fight and we will come up with the means. We have the right to defend ourselves, because Liberia is not the aggressor ". So this would be the full quote and so Mr Taylor felt like Liberia was not in a position to go to war, but in the extreme case would find the means to do so.

  • Yes, Mr Smith, be assured that I am not going to leave out any of that paragraph. I was going to deal with those other elements. It's right of course that, "The United Nations maintains its arms embargo on us", that next sentence. You would agree with that?