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

  • Good morning, Mr Smith.

  • We broke off yesterday when we were looking at a passage in the Africa Confidential report and I am going to ask Madam Court Officer if she would put that before you. We were on page 4 of 9 top right-hand corner and we had just looked at the paragraphs that finish in the middle of the page. I am going to ask you please to look at the passage or the paragraph that is dated July 1996 and see if you agree with the contents of that passage. Can you see it on the screen?

  • Yes.

  • Thank you:

    "Criticism mounted at the slow pace of change under the Kabbah government. His decision to use the Kamajors as a de facto presidential guard made him very unpopular with the army which was increasingly factionalising into loyalist and pro-rebel groups. Matters were made worse by Kabbah's announcement that he was planning a dramatic reduction in the size of the forces and a retraining programme. Kabbah's critics argued that he was kept in power only by the combination of an ethnic militia, South African mercenaries and Nigerian troops".

    Now, if I can just take that in parts, please. Are you aware that he was using the Kamajors in practice as a presidential guard?

  • At least as a national army, yes, to stand in, yes.

  • Thank you. And that he was planning a dramatic reduction in the size of the official army, the Sierra Leone Army?

  • Thank you. Can I take you then - and I am not going to ask you about what his critics argued because that is a matter for them, but I don't suppose you'd disagree that that criticism was made of him. Whether it is right or not is another matter?

  • Could we go to the next box, August 1996:

    "With the Nigerian troops in 1996 Executive Outcomes took the war to the RUF fighting the RUF in its rural redoubt in the southern Kangari Hills in early 1996. Sankoh's forces were badly defeated in a series of encounters and they then proposed peace negotiations with Freetown. Sankoh offered serious negotiations and the recognition of Kabbah's government on condition that the Executive Outcome troops be withdrawn".

    Were you aware of those matters?

  • Yes. If my memory is correct I think this preceded afterwards some quarrel about the remuneration of Executive Outcome, yes.

  • And who was the quarrel between about the remuneration of Executive Outcomes?

  • I have a very scant recollection of that, but to the best of my memory it came out that the contract amounted to quite a large sum and there was some talk also about kickbacks, if I remember correctly, and then there was a renegotiation to settle on a minor amount as a remuneration for Executive Outcomes.

  • Can I stop you there for a moment because it is actually dealt with to an extent in the very next paragraph --

  • -- we are going to be looking at.

  • But I would like you to expand a little on what you said about kickbacks. There was some talk about kickbacks. Some of us may know what that expression means, but others may not. Could you explain that, please?

  • It was understood that there were under-the-table payments on top of what was officially allocated to Executive Outcomes. Does that clarify the matter?

  • Yes, and who was making the under-the-table payments and where would that money come from that was going in that way to Executive Outcomes?

  • I have no detailed recollection but it was understood at the time that the government or the presidency was paying on top of what was officially budgeted.

  • Right. And the government or the presidency was receiving, presumably, large sums in aid from, amongst others, western countries now that there was a democratically elected government in power in Sierra Leone. Is that correct?

  • Yes, this is correct that the government received money. Nothing to do with the sums that were afterwards paid, but, yes, in principle, yes.

  • And at that stage there had been some years of civil war and presumably the economy in Sierra Leone was in a very parlous state?

  • Undeniably, yes.

  • So the government would be relying to a very considerable extent on foreign aid to keep things running?

  • Yes. So if you allow me just one sentence I think overall just to understand the picture, you have got at that time a population of about five million in Sierra Leone. You would have about 30,000 Sierra Leoneans - trained Sierra Leoneans living in Great Britain and about the same amount of people in the United States so, basically, the equation that you have, and still down to the present day there now they are obviously up to a little bit more in the population, something like six million, you would have a situation where out of the country you would have whatever trained, let us call it elite, you have people who would be in a position to watch over the public good on top of earning their income and in the country actually you have a huge majority of people who try to eke out a living, have no possibility to get politically involved and pick up whatever responsibility for the society, and a small, a very small elite that lives off the development aid coming in mainly from western countries. This is the big picture that I see.

  • Just before we move on, Mr Munyard, I would like to clarify one answer.

  • The question related to sums of money coming in from western countries in aid and Mr Smith said this is correct, that the government received money, "nothing to do with the sums that were afterwards paid." Are those sums aid money, or is this a reference to the previous payments to Executive Outcomes?

  • No, it is a reference to the amount of foreign aid, the aid funds, that came in as from May 2000. They went up considerably so there was a spike afterwards and I just wanted to relativise.

  • Thank you. Yes, that is very helpful. The government was being supported to a very considerable extent from 1996 onwards by foreign aid and you say that that increased significantly in the year 2000. Did it carry on after 2000 or was there, as you call it, a spike, a sharp increase in 2000 that then fell away after that?

  • No, there was a sharp increase and just to use a metaphor, a kind of plateau, and so it stayed fairly high for the years to come. I think I mentioned already yesterday the fact that over one billion euros was actually poured into the country over a period of - that would be roughly 2000 to 2005.

  • Right. Back to the paragraph of August 1996:

    "London based International Alert positioned itself as a mediator for the RUF handing out copies of Sankoh's ideological pamphlets to puzzled journalists. International Alert tried to organise talks between the RUF and Kabbah in neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire."

    Do you know who International Alert are?

  • No, I don't. I didn't know that International Alert played a role as a mediator in the talks that were to take place in Ivory Coast.

  • Right. Next box, please:

    "September 1996: A public row erupted about the cost of the Executive Outcome contract to the Kabbah government. Executive Outcome was charging US$1.8 million a month for the services of less than 100 personnel along with two Russian" - I think that probably means MIG 17 helicopters "and logistics"?

  • You correct me, and I am happy to be corrected.

  • "Two Russian Mi-17 helicopters and logistics. Freetown politicians complained that Executive Outcomes were exacerbating the civil conflict and that there were covert elements in its fees which meant the government was paying well above the US$1.8 million monthly fee it had declared. There were growing allegations that individuals linked to Executive Outcomes were engaged in illegal diamond extraction and export. The International Monetary Fund, which was pressuring the government to cut spending, told it to reduce payments to Executive Outcomes and approve accountability in the mining sector. Kabbah renegotiated Executive Outcomes fee down to US$1.2 million, but independent sources reported that the Kabbah government still owed Executive Outcomes US$30 million in arrears."

    Now, you have already dealt with the first part of that paragraph in that you have made reference to the fact that on top of the declared monthly payment it was believed that Executive Outcomes were getting money under the table. Were you aware that individuals linked to Executive Outcomes were believed to be engaged in illegal diamond extraction and export?

  • Really, I do not have a precise recollection. There was obviously always talk about the mining sector being so central in Sierra Leone, about people trying to take advantage of that and some of them may have been linked to Executive Outcome. I do not really remember what I knew at the time.

  • Right. Do you know how well regulated mining was in 1996 - late 1996 - under the government of President Kabbah?

  • No, actually I would see it as a kind of swap. The government gave away the asset of the mining fields to Executive Outcome so as for Executive Outcome to take over the security sector, so I see that as a swap agreement. Very little regulatory power over that. Even if you look at it historically, I think it was in 1935 that the Sierra Leonean government gave away the mining rights to De Beers so there is a long tradition of giving actually away the crown jewels of the nation to outsiders to exploit them and pay a fee for that. It is kind of a situation where you would perceive a rent on natural resources.

  • Right. Next box please:

    "October 1996: Reports of its heavy fees and activities in the diamond fields turned public opinion against Executive Outcomes, Lifeguard and the mining companies it was linked to as well. Executive Outcome's arrival in Sierra Leone had preceded the rapid expansion of the Isle of Man-registered Branch Energy's activities in Sierra Leone's mining sector. Branch Energy's Managing Director, Alan Paterson, was formerly head of Sierra Leone's National Diamond Mining Company. Branch Energy (in which Kabbah's government had a 30 per cent stake) said it had invested US$12 million in exploratory mining between 1994 and 1996, a period in which almost all the other mining companies pulled out. Branch Energy was taken over by Canada's Carson Gold in August 1996; and later that year Vancouver-based Diamond Works bought 100 per cent of the Branch Energy stake".

    Now, pausing there for a moment, I know that you said yesterday that you had never heard of Branch Energy, but you would expect, would you not, that the authors of an Africa Confidential report would check their facts on matters as essentially straightforward as this, tracing a company's registration and the way in which it has been taken over and by whom it has been taken over?

  • That should be good journalistic practice, indeed.

  • Yes. And Africa Confidential is a well-regarded journal in the field, isn't it?

  • Yes, and I don't see this as a reservation or back-treading on what I said. It is and as you pointed out yesterday Le Monde also is and nevertheless it happens obviously that sometimes you get things wrong.

  • Am I right in thinking that Dr Stephen Ellis at one time was the editor of Africa Confidential?

  • This is correct. He established the good reputation of the publication.

  • Thank you. Now, you had not heard of Branch Energy and you hadn't heard of Diamond Works, but were you aware that the government had a stake in an externally registered diamond mining company that was exploiting the diamond fields during the period there referred to, 1994 to 1996?

  • At the time I had no knowledge about this fact.

  • Right. Moving on:

    "November 1996: A peace agreement was signed in Abidjan between the Kabbah government and the RUF. An important provision of the agreement was that Executive Outcomes would leave Sierra Leone by January 1997. But Executive Outcome's affiliate company, Lifeguard, which was registered in Sierra Leone, renewed its security contracts with several mining companies".

    Now, did you know anything - forget about the peace agreement, everybody knows about the Abidjan peace agreement, did you know anything about the position of Lifeguard, the affiliate company of Executive Outcomes?

  • No, I knew only that the RUF for obvious reasons had asked for the departure of Executive Outcomes.

  • Right. And would you agree that there was some popular opposition amongst the population generally to the role of this South African mercenary company in running, as you put it, the crown jewels of the Sierra Leone economy?

  • Quite frankly I think it is very difficult in the situation in which Sierra Leone was at the time to know what the popular will was. What I can tell you is that there were press reports and indignation so as to say about the fact. How deep that ran into the populace I can't tell you.

  • Thank you:

    "January 1997. Executive Outcomes formally withdraw from Sierra Leone. The Kabbah government established a power sharing multi-party cabinet. The rebel RUF was also supposed to participate indirectly in government through a series of peace, reconciliation and demobilisation commissions."

    Pausing there, what were the peace, reconciliation and demobilisation commissions called?

  • I don't know.

  • All right:

    "But Kabbah's administration was damaged by indecision and drift. Worst of all was its handling of the military. The army was due to be substantially reduced in size under a plan drawn up by British military advisors."

    Were you aware of that?

  • Thank you:

    "Junior officers were accused of a number of coup attempts in late 1996 and early 1997. Kabbah was increasingly reliant on the Kamajor militias for his security and ever more distant from the Sierra Leone Army."

    Were you aware of both accusations of coup attempts and President Kabbah becoming even more distant from the official armed forces?

  • I know you are going through this in a very detailed way, but you have to understand at the time I think it strikes me as being fairly redundant in the sense that overall we had the impression of instability - I say "we" as a kind of collective journalistic entity - and we also had the impression that obviously there was an alienation between the President and his national army and that he relied on the Kamajor. I think we stated that before.

  • Right: "The Nigerian army maintained two battalions of troops in Freetown". I don't think there is any dispute about that, is there, Mr Smith?

  • Thank you:

    "February 1997: Kabbah announced that a Nigerian-led security investigation had pinpointed members of the previous Maada Bio government as coup plotters. RUF leader Foday Sankoh flew to Nigeria, apparently on an official mission, but he was arrested soon after his arrival and held under surveillance in the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja."

    Well, the latter part of that is well established fact. Were you aware of President Kabbah suggesting that members of the government that preceded his were plotting a coup?

  • No, I can't remember.

  • Right:

    "April 1997: After a row with the main opposition party, the UNPP, the government suspended its leader, Karefa-Smart, from Parliament for a year."

    Are you aware of that?

  • I think I have a recollection of that, yes.

  • And the UNPP stands for what, please?

  • People's Party at the end. I couldn't spell it out exactly to you. Probably United National People's Party.

  • How much of your time were you in Sierra Leone in the years we are looking at at the moment, '96 and '97?

  • '96/'97 I think if I went - I would - this is really a recollection, I couldn't give you a kind of average time I spent in Sierra Leone, but I was by then Africa editor so I was in charge of all of the continent south of the Sahara. I would say I would go to the place once or twice a year, because these were years where other stories were breaking.

    I attract your attention to the fact what was happening at the time in what was becoming or moving from away from being the Zaire and becoming the Democratic Republic of Congo. So you had the fall of President Mobutu and other stories, so I think probably twice a year to Sierra Leone would be a fair assessment.

  • Is that twice a year during the period that you were Africa editor of Libération?

  • This means that at the end - the second half of the 1990s I would think that is a fair assessment of the time or the number of trips I did to Sierra Leone over that period of five years then.

  • Right. Does the same hold true for Liberia?

  • No, I think I went more often to Sierra Leone then than to Liberia. Sometimes I combined trips, but then maybe it may only be that I have been to Liberia during that period of time every second time I went to the region.

  • So roughly speaking about twice a year to Sierra Leone and maybe once a year to Liberia?

  • Yes, this is correct, sir.

  • Right. And in 2000 you went from being Africa editor of Libération to Africa editor of Le Monde?

  • This is correct as well.

  • Did the same working practice apply that were talking about now in terms of trips to Sierra Leone and Liberia?

  • That would be over the period from 2000 to 2005. I would think that probably the number of trips diminished over that period for reasons linked to what was actually happening on the ground and I think I went less often to both countries.

  • Right, thank you. Back to the Africa Confidential report. At the foot of this page, 25 May 1997, something we are all very well aware of:

    "Major Johnny Paul Koroma, 33 years old, led a successful coup d'etat against the Kabbah government. Kabbah's Nigerian and Kamajor guards appear to have been surprised and the President was airlifted out to Conakry in neighbouring Guinea."

    That is all not in dispute, is it?

  • It isn't.

  • "Major Koroma was a poorly educated soldier who had been over-promoted with the rapid army expansion of the early 1990s. Fearful that he would be dismissed when the army was downsized he had already been implicated in one coup plot. Earlier Koroma had also been involved in corrupt accumulation, including asset stripping of the Rutile mining operation."

    Were you aware of that?

  • "He put together a ramshackle military junta amidst widespread popular unrest against his intervention". Would you agree with that?

  • Yes.

  • It might not be the language that you would choose, but you would agree with what is being expressed?

  • And the next paragraph again you might not have used this language but I am going to ask you to comment on it anyway: "Dressed in a T-shirt and baseball cap, barely articulate, he made an unprepossessing Head of State." What is your view of the way that he is described there? Forget the sartorial reference.

  • Well, indeed I wouldn't use whatever the Head of State barely articulate, also because that's probably seen from a very London based view. And whether someone is an unprepossessing Head of State or not, I don't think that would be a matter of my assessment. But quite a few people that maybe seen from Paris or London are not the kind of model that we have in our mind have turned out to be good or bad Heads of State. So I think you have over the two days that we have spent together probably sounded out what my writing would be.

  • Indeed:

    "After the coup there were days of looting by soldiers who commandeered cars and persecuted members of Tejan Kabbah's party and the Ministry of Finance was torched."

    Were you aware of those two matters?

  • Quite frankly I don't know whether at the time I was aware. This is a very detailed account and detailed timeline of what was happening in Sierra Leone and as you may know there is quite a few countries south of the Sahara and I think it would be a little bit pretentious to state that I knew all that at the time I can't even remember.

  • Thank you:

    "28 May 1997: An attempt by Nigerian troops to oust the Koroma junta ended in fiasco after Nigerian troops and foreigners were trapped in the Mammy Yoko Hotel in Freetown and surrounded by junta forces. Some South African soldiers works with Lifeguard fought alongside the Nigerians to try to force back the junta soldiers. Foday Sankoh" - well, before I move on to Foday Sankoh were you aware of the attempt by Nigerians very shortly after the AFRC coup to oust the junta?

  • Very much so, because I was holed up myself in the hotel.

  • In the same hotel?

  • Now I think the United Nations headquarters in Freetown?

  • Yes, that is correct.

  • Thank you: "Some South African soldiers working with Lifeguard fought alongside the Nigerians to try to force back junta soldiers". Were you aware of the combination of Nigerians and South African mercenaries?

  • Not from my standpoint at the time I couldn't see that, but I lived through that and I was definitely aware of the Nigerians, yes.

  • Right:

    "Foday Sankoh gave interviews to the BBC from his hotel room in Abuja praising the overthrow of Kabbah. Koroma declared that Sankoh was the ideological leader of his coup."

    Were you aware of Foday Sankoh's interviews being broadcast over the BBC?

  • No, I was fairly busy to see how I would get out of the Mammy Yoko Hotel, so we weren't very much listening to the radio at the time.

  • Understandably, but since then are you aware - it's a very widely known fact, is it not, that Foday Sankoh, despite being in effect under arrest in the Sheraton Hotel in Abuja, did give interviews that were broadcast over the BBC?

  • My recollection is - maybe I'm wrong, but my recollection is that he was officially arrested for holding a gun, if I remember correctly. And I also remember that he was supposed to be in Nigerian hands and so he would have made statements out of Nigeria that we in our situation felt not being very helpful to making things any better for us.

  • I am asking you to put aside your personal circumstances for a moment which we can all no doubt sympathise with. Are you aware that Foday Sankoh, despite being under arrest in Nigeria, made at least one broadcast on the BBC in which he told the RUF to support the AFRC junta, or not?

  • All I can recollect is that he made public statements. I don't know whether that was on the BBC and I wouldn't remember it precisely what he said at the time.

  • All right, thank you: "Nigerian officials moved Sankoh from the Sheraton Hotel to a local security installation". Well, I don't imagine you necessarily know that sort of detail?

  • This is correct, yes.

  • "British High Commissioner in to Freetown, Peter Penfold, successfully escorted several hundred foreigners out of the city after negotiating with junta officials and threatening (without any likelihood of it happening) that United States troops would intervene unless the foreigners were let through."

    Were you aware of Mr Penfold's successful efforts to evacuate foreigners?

  • Were you one of them?

  • "1 June 1997: Major Koroma invited the rebel RUF to join his junta and the feared RUF fighters came to town to misrule in the name of the merged People's Army. Koroma's junta was internationally isolated, an unstable, brutal, populist regime. Its main military challenge was from the Kamajors and from the Nigerian troops who maintained their military bases north of Freetown and on Lungi Island."

    Putting aside the comment on the nature of the junta and the newly named People's Army, were you aware that the Nigerian troops and the Kamajors continued to remain close to Freetown?

  • Yes.

  • And is it right that the Nigerian troops remained on Lungi Island or thereabouts throughout the whole of the AFRC junta?

  • Yes, this is correct.

  • And how much of the country did the AFRC junta actually control during its nine months in power?

  • "July 1997: Kabbah was described as 'a rabbit caught in a car's headlights' at the time of the coup by one of his associates."

    Mr Smith, are you familiar with that very English expression, "a rabbit caught in a car's headlights"?

  • I am.

  • Meaning, in effect, paralysed at the oncoming danger - by the oncoming danger?

  • Thank you:

    "Invited to set up a government in exile in Conakry he failed to do so. Instead he was surrounded by a group of Sierra Leonean politicians of dubious credibility, Nigerian military advisers and security men. Also spending time in Conakry were a group of supportive UN and international community figures - and British High Commissioner Penfold. Nigeria moved 4,000 troops from its operations in Liberia to Freetown".

    Is it right that although he went with some other politicians to Conakry, he didn't actually set up a government in exile there?

  • This is correct.

  • Was it expected by the international community that he was going to attempt to set up a government in exile and attempt to simply transplant them back into Sierra Leone when the time was right?

  • I don't know what I realised at the time. If I remember correctly it is that he was once more - he was airlifted out of his country and seemed to disappear from the scene and the subsequent troop movement by the Nigerians is also a fact I can remember.

  • Thank you:

    "Kabbah then opened discusses with Indian-born Thai banker Rakesh Saxena who offered to provide up to $10 million in finance for a counter-coup in return for Sierra Leonean diamond concessions."

    Pausing there, were you aware of discussions with the banker from Thailand, an Indian man named Rakesh Saxena?

  • I was not, and if you permit me the comment, in general we have to bear in mind that this is reconstituting the history of Sierra Leone, a little bit like looking through the key hole and trying to enumerate the back door deals. Obviously we were at the time a little more concerned about broader issues such as the fate of the population et cetera, so this specific fact was unknown to me.

  • Right. Bear in mind of course, Mr Smith, that this report is written in April 1998 by Africa Confidential and so it is fairly contemporaneous, would you agree?

  • Yes. I was more hinting at the perspective that would be that, legitimately, of a confidential newsletter. Those who pay quite an amount of money to get these news are not obviously interested in the humanitarian news I just referred to, so it is normal for the publication to satisfy its audience.

  • Right. Saxena, this is the man who is said to have been discussing financing a counter-coup in return for Sierra Leonean diamond concession?

    "Saxena contacted Colonel Tim Spicer of Sandline International and commissioned on 3 July an intelligence assessment of the military and political situation in Sierra Leone."

    Now, Colonel Spicer is a former British army officer who runs, amongst other things, the mercenary company Sandline International. That is right, isn't it?

  • Yes, it is.

  • "Spicer claims that he has a 'very good' relationship with Kabbah and with the Nigerian-led ECOMOG force; he asked Saxena for $70,000 for the first week's work and said that further intelligence work would be charged at a rate of $10,000 a week."

    I am presuming from your answer a moment ago that you didn't - you wouldn't have known those sort of details?

  • Thank you.

    "A four-nation committee of Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Ghana was formed by the sub-regional Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, to negotiate a return to constitutional rule with the Koroma junta. The four-nation ECOWAS committee imposed an embargo on military supplies to the Koroma junta; the Nigerian navy mounted a naval blockade of Freetown and told the junta to clear any cargo ship with ECOWAS officials first".

    Were you aware of those matters?

  • Some of them, yes, namely, the naval blockade.

  • Right.

    "The UN Security Council met, condemned the coup and endorsed ECOWAS measures to resolve the crisis through diplomatic means and sanctions. In Resolution United Nations Security Council 1132 it imposed a ban on arms shipments to all parties in Sierra Leone".

    Now, pausing at that point, do you know how successful the ban on arms shipments to all parties in Sierra Leone was?

  • I would say globally unsuccessful.

  • Thank you. "August 1997", we have turned over the page now:

    "A number of businessmen approached Kabbah with offers to finance an operation to reinstate his civilian government. They included the Chief Executive of American Mineral Fields (AMF) Jean-Raymond Boule, whose company played a key role in financing the successful rebellion against Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire earlier in 1997. AMF has a majority stake in Nord resources, a major mining house in Sierra Leone."

    Now, were you aware first of all that there were a number of businessmen who were offering to finance, in effect, a counter-coup?

  • I think, yes, this is fair to say. I think there is a misspelling with Jean-Raymond Boule and also a misappreciation of his role in the fall of Mobutu. He was involved but not playing that alleged key role, but overall, yes, I was aware of the fact that businessmen were trying to reach a deal.

  • Right. Shall we get Mr Boule's name correct? Is there only one "L"?

  • Thank you. So that might just be a typographical error?

  • And you have concentrated on the rule of ex-President Mobutu in some of your writing, haven't you?

  • Yes, because various mining companies were involved in the deal that was struck then with Kabila, Joseph Kabila, Laurent Kabila, the first President Kabila.

  • The father of the current President?

  • Thank you. Among the companies offering security services to Kabbah were Defence Systems Limited and Sandline both based in London and with strong links to the foreign office and the Ministry of Defence".

    First of all, were you aware of that and can you confirm that Defence Systems Limited and Sandline have strong links to the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence?

  • I can only confirm that I had knowledge about Sandline. It was as, you know, a huge scandal, a huge public issue in the United Kingdom and I knew from the reports coming out of London, from what I read in the British press, that allegedly Sandline had strong links to the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence, so we all took Sandline as being something like an outsourced means of doing what the official policy wouldn't like to do.

  • Right. In short, and I really don't want to dwell at any length on this, but in short the British government would not have felt itself legally able to put troops in. Is that what you are saying?

  • That is their decision and we felt that people like Peter Penfold, the High Commissioner, also played a prominent role in making this deal happen, so we felt like the Central Government had said "no" to some of the solutions that were suggested to it and some very dedicated people taking stake at what was happening in Sierra Leone were trying to put a solution into place that implicated Sandline.

  • And just for the benefit of anyone who doesn't fully appreciate it, a High Commissioner is the rank of ambassador within the Commonwealth, so when we are talking about Peter Penfold, the High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, he is in effect the British ambassador?

  • This is correct, yes.

  • Thank you.

    "September 1997: With Kabbah winning increasing diplomatic support from the British government, there was an invitation to the Commonwealth Conference in Edinburgh in October 1997 - as the guest of Prime Minister Tony Blair - and British government funding for conferences on a 90-day reconstruction plan later that month. Much of this was pushed forward by High Commissioner Penfold, rather than Kabbah and his advisers. British policy was driven as much by enthusiasm to return Kabbah and a constitutional government to power in Sierra Leone as by concern that Nigeria's General Abacha was posing (bizarrely) as a guardian of democracy in Sierra Leone. Also Whitehall feared that the Abacha regime had plans for a type of pro-consul role in Sierra Leone if it was able to restore Kabbah to power".

    Now, in short, do you agree that High Commissioner Ambassador Penfold, was pushing for intervention and support by both the official British government and British-based organisations such as Sandline and Defence Systems Limited?

  • In these broad terms, yes, I think we have to put that into the context of once again a policy linked to either a big man or someone who is "perceived" as being the good guy and at the moment - at that moment the idea was that Kabbah was for the west and specifically for Great Britain the best choice amongst a limited offer.

  • And the reason that the British were concerned that General Abacha should be seen to be the guardian of democracy in Sierra Leone was that he himself had come to power in a coup; is that right?

  • Maybe not so much that he came to power in a coup, but that he prolonged, elongated the military rule after President - his predecessor Babangida, and also once again his legitimacy was questioned by the dictatorial regime that he set up that was even unprecedented under military rule in Nigeria.

  • Right: The next paragraph:

    "October 1997: Nigeria's Foreign Minister Tom Ikimi stepped up his country's diplomatic role after the Nigerian navy and air force had tightened the embargo on Freetown. The Koroma junta accused the Nigerian air force of bombing civilian targets."

    Now, pausing at that point, it is objectively correct, is it not, that the Nigerian air force had bombed civilian areas? And I am drawing a distinction between civilian targets here and civilian areas, but it's right, isn't it, that the Nigerians - it is on record that the Nigerians had bombed areas where civilians were and many civilians had been killed?

  • I don't know quite frankly how many civilians and what the kind of the number of victims was. What I know and recollect is that the Nigerian air force was bombing and that civilians in numbers that I could not specify were targeted, or at least hit.

  • "Liberian soldiers detained a plane at Spriggs Payne airport, Monrovia, which was found to be carrying several South African mercenaries working for Executive Outcomes, some Kamajor militia men and assorted arms and military equipment."

    Were you aware of that?

  • I have no recollection of that.

  • "After pressure from Nigerian troops in the ECOWAS peacekeeping operation in the country, the Liberian officials released the plane."

    You know nothing at all about that?

  • I really can't remember. Obviously I know Spriggs Payne airport, but the specific incident does not precisely ring a bell.

  • Right:

    "President Charles Taylor and most of his cabinet had remained highly sympathetic to the Koroma junta. Another round of negotiations between the Koroma junta and the ECOWAS committee on 22 to 23 October produced a peace treaty of sorts and a promise by Koroma's ministers that the junta would hand over to civilians by 22 April 1998?"

  • Mr Munyard, could I ask you to slow down. I think the transcribers are really struggling to keep up with you.

  • I am grateful for your intervention, your Honour. I didn't realise I was causing problems again. For the most part I am generally encouraged to try and speed up, but I will slow down:

  • "Nigeria lauded this as a great diplomatic breakthrough and requested an invitation to the Commonwealth Conference in Edinburgh on 24 to 27 October (Nigeria's membership of the Commonwealth was suspended in November 1995 after its military government executed Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists). Kabbah attended the Commonwealth meeting, yet his officials admitted that they had no knowledge of the Nigerian brokered deal with Koroma and were skeptical about its viability."

    Mr Smith, were you aware that the Nigerians were claiming that they had negotiated this proposed hand over in the spring of the following year?

  • No, I do not remember that fact.

  • Nor do I have any recollection of what had happened around the Commonwealth Conference. I obviously know that after the hanging of the Ogoni nine Nigeria was suspended from the Commonwealth.

  • Yes.

    "November 1997: Several plans for the ousting of the Koroma regime were floated. Efforts were made to interest South African officials in the plan and to win the Organisation For African Unity's backing. A secret mission to South Africa ended in fiasco after a Nigerian plane and its crew were impounded on landing at a military air base near Pretoria. South Africa declined a request to provide air logistical support for a Nigerian operation to oust Koroma; Pretoria's military advisors feared huge casualties in Freetown should such an operation have gone ahead."

    Were you aware of that effort to involve South Africa in a plan to overthrow the Koroma junta?

  • No, I was not and without wishing to challenge the newsletter, it's highly astounding because you probably are aware of the overall regional rivalry between Nigeria and South Africa, so this is an astounding news for me.

  • "December 1997: After discussions with Penfold a meeting is arranged between Kabbah and Sandline International. They propose a plan to Kabbah and financier Boule for the ousting of Koroma. But Boule, a commercial rival of DiamondWorks, was unconvinced. Instead Rakesh Saxena made a definitive offer to finance the overthrow of Koroma following his receipt of intelligence submitted by Tim Spicer in August. Saxena paid 1.5 million dollars to Sandline as the first instalment of the operation. His second instalment was held up after Canadian police arrested him in Vancouver on charges of being in possession of a forged Yugoslavian passport."

    Do you know anything about that, the --

  • No, this is all news to me.

  • Mr Munyard, perhaps this is a good time for me to intervene. There is a name that the witness named that appears as indiscernible on the transcript that was way up on page --

  • I think it was Babangida. I have not looked at it, but that was the only new name I think that came out:

  • And that was the President of Nigeria who preceded Abacha, am I right, Mr Smith?

  • Yes, you right. Ibrahim Babangida, B-A-B-A-N-G-I-D-A. Thank you.

  • Thank you your Honour:

  • "22 [sic] January 1998: Penfold visited Sandline's office in Kings Road, Chelsea for a briefing on the development of its military plan in Sierra Leone."

    Now, I don't imagine that you are aware of a specific meeting on that specified date between High Commissioner Penfold and Sandline. Is that correct?

  • But you would be surprised, would you not, if Africa Confidential gave that kind of very specific fact if it was completely and utterly wrong?

  • Once again I restate that I believe in the good reputation of Africa Confidential, but very many stories that are false give you the colour of the socks some people wear, so this is not the kind of hypothetical question that I would like to answer. Overall I believe in the reliability of this newsletter. It is not because a fact is specific that it becomes more trustworthy.

  • Mr Munyard, just for the sake of the accuracy of the record, you noted the last passage as dated 22 January 1998.

  • Did I say 22, your Honour?

  • Yes, you did. It should be the 28th obviously.

  • Yes. I am spared a specific date in the next paragraph:

  • "February 1998: A Nigerian backed offensive by the Kamajors began in southeast Sierra Leone". Are you aware of that?

  • Of the Kamajor offensive, yes.

  • Yes, backed by the Nigerian forces?

  • I remember it as the Kamajor offensive, but it is not something I would impugn.

  • Right: "Sandline provided intelligence and logistical support for the operation and flew an attack helicopter in the area." Did you know about that?

  • No knowledge about this.

  • But it is widely believed, is it not, that Sandline played an active role in military operations against the Koroma junta at around this time?

  • This is the time of the intervention?

  • "President Taylor accused Nigerian troops in ECOMOG of transiting South African mercenaries across his territory". Had you heard that?

  • No, I hadn't.

  • "The ECOWAS Committee of Four led by Tom Ikimi travelled to New York to brief the UN Security Council about progress on negotiations with the Koroma junta and the prospects for its handing over by 22 April."

    Now, you weren't aware of the Nigerian attempts to get the junta to hand over power, but again looking at this if there is an ECOWAS Committee of Four going to brief the UN Security Council on progress for handing over to a civilian government, you would expect that to be an objectively verifiable fact, wouldn't you?

  • I think that the news agencies would have reported that and I don't think this is a very confidential piece of information.

  • Right:

    "When questioned about reports of a Nigerian-led offensive against the Koroma junta, Ikimi denied it and dismissed the fighting as isolated skirmishes. No attempt was made to inform the Security Council about what was really going on in Sierra Leone, or to seek its endorsement. As such, the operation to oust Koroma was illegal under the terms of the UN resolution. However, within days Nigerian-led ECOMOG troops launched an assault on Freetown."

    Now, I am not going to ask you about the legality or otherwise of the fighting - the offensive that started in February 1998, but you were aware of it, as you have already indicated, and you are aware also that ECOMOG troops led by the Nigerians launched an assault on Freetown that led to the ousting of the junta?

  • Yes, just in this paragraph obviously you would not go and seek the endorsement by the UN for a breach of a UN resolution, so there is a measure of naivety.

  • Well, not necessarily naivety but simply stating the facts that they - if it was in breach of the UN resolution then clearly they wouldn't be making - they would have an interest in denying that it was happening, would you agree?

  • Well, I was told in school never state the obvious, but --

  • Possibly different schooling here:

    "15 February 1998: The Koroma junta was put to flight after less than a week of fighting in Freetown and Nigerian troops took over the government in Freetown, saying they had to stabilise the security situation before Kabbah's return. A British Foreign Office official expressed disappointment that the Nigerian forces didn't inform the UN Security Council of what they were up to as they would 'probably' have won approval for the plan."

    Now again we are dealing with essentially the same point, but bearing in mind later events in 2003 and foreign countries seeking Security Council resolutions for invasion of a third state, third country, does that sound to you as though it's perfectly possible that the British Foreign Office official thought that they probably would have been able to find a way of getting Security Council approval for the overthrow of the junta by force?

  • I don't know what the British Foreign Office official which is a very broad source or indication of the type of source - a diplomatic source at whatever level, senior or junior, would have said such a thing. The statement is such that it, as you will probably understand from my previous utterances, doesn't sound very straightforward to me.

  • "When asked at a Foreign Office reception what he thought of the Nigerian led ousting of the Koroma junta, Minister of State for Africa Tony Lloyd replied, 'Two cheers'."

    Well, I am not going to ask you to comment on that:

    "2 March: The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group met in London about the situation in Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Lloyd insisted that the Nigerian action in Freetown was illegal, but Ghanaian Foreign Minister Victor Gbeho said it was fully backed by ECOWAS and that the Commonwealth should support it."

    Now, were you aware first of all of these disagreements about the legality or otherwise of the intervention within the Commonwealth?

  • No, I was not. I knew that Ghana was backing the Nigerian effort. That's where my knowledge ended.

  • Right:

    "6 March 1998: The newsletter Africa Confidential published a report on the detailed planning between Sandline, Kabbah and Nigerian forces and on the financing of the counter-coup and it pointed to the involvement of Penfold as a key player in the plan. Africa Confidential said that the way Koroma was ousted had raised awkward questions for Foreign Secretary Robin Cook's 'ethical foreign policy' and its ban on military cooperation with Abacha's government. Later that day the Foreign Office confirmed that Penfold had met with Sandline about Sierra Leone."

    Now, did you ever read the Africa Confidential report about the planning between Sandline, Kabbah and the Nigerian forces?

  • I don't know whether I read the original Africa Confidential report. I think I did, but in any event it was widely publicised, so either I read the original report, or the summary of what was given of it in the British press, yes.

  • Thank you:

    "10 March 1998: British Customs and Excise launched an investigation into Sandline's role in Sierra Leone, in particular claims that it had illegally shipped arms there."

    12 March - I am now on the last page, and I think I can take this page really quite quickly, Mr Smith, and I will try and summarise it if I can. On 12 March in a debate in parliament the Minister of State for Africa, Tony Lloyd, made no reference to the customs investigation into legal arm shipments to Sierra Leone and condemned press reports of it as scurrilous and ill-informed. On 30 March an inspector with British customs intelligence unit requested a meeting with the director of Sandline about possible illegal arms shipments to Sierra Leone. On 3 April Sandline's premises were searched by customs, as were their management company's premises. Then on 24 April 1998 Sandline's solicitors, SJ Berwin & Co, wrote to the Foreign Secretary Robin Cook on behalf of both Mr Spicer, the managing director of Sandline, and Mr Grunberg, who is another director of Sandline, to complain of harassment by British customs about arms shipments to Sierra Leone, arguing that from the beginning its operations in Sierra Leone were known about by both Foreign Office officials in Whitehall and the High Commissioner Penfold in Freetown.

    That I think - that last point I think is one that you have in effect already covered by saying it was very widely reported and it was reported as a scandal, wasn't it?

  • Yes, I could add that I had a conversation with Robin Cook at that time. He was travelling with the French minister of foreign affairs and he was highly embarrassed by the whole thing and he - at least in his explanation he said that obviously Sandline tried to seek some official cover and that they may have taken their dealings with Peter Penfold and other people as being such an official endorsement of what they were doing.

  • But Sandline in effect were doing no more in Sierra Leone than the several previous governments of Sierra Leone had done, which was to employ outside mercenaries for a fee to engage in either military or commercial activities in that country?

  • The difference being that no-one implicated the South African government at the time, which was Nelson Mandela's government, in the doings of Executive Outcomes. Whereas Sandline was linked to the British government and that made the difference. That the Sierra Leone government hired foreign companies to that effect was not so much centre stage in the Sandline controversy.

  • Right. I want to move off that particular report and ask you just a few more questions, please. Would your Honours give me a moment while I just find the relevant pages? Yes, I am not going to refer you back again to the article that we have been looking at yesterday that you wrote in conjunction with the interview in Le Monde. MFI-1B is the reference to the article. But in that article do you remember you referred to Charles Taylor's armed insurrection in West Africa as being paid for with Libyan petrodollars. Do you remember making that reference?

  • I do remember, sir, yes.

  • In fact Liberia had a history of receiving huge amounts of foreign aid prior to Mr Taylor's intervention at the end of 1989, didn't it?

  • I do agree, but I would draw a distinction between official development aid, that is budgeted and goes out of let's say a western country to Liberia, and the hand to hand payments or otherwise done by Colonel Gaddafi. So there is an institutional difference, but in terms of monetary funds you could say this amounts to the same.

  • President Doe, who came to power in a very bloody coup in 1980, himself received huge amounts of American aid, didn't he?

  • Yes, he did.

  • And when I say himself received it, I mean he salted it away for himself and his ruling clique?

  • That is not entirely correct. As you are probably aware of the Americans were so embarrassed by the money that disappeared that they sent in something that was unprecedented in their relations with any foreign country - they sent in executive controllers who actually had to countersign each cheque that was sent out by the government in Monrovia. So they really interfered very heavily to make sure that the money would not just disappear. And it was not only Doe. Obviously he was at the helm of the state and probably syphoning off most of the money, but Doe, his encourage - as you are aware there were allegations about Mr Taylor, at the time being an official in Liberia himself, having embezzled 900,000 US dollars in his official function. So whatever the reality of the allegations, if they were one way or the other, just to be precise it is not just the Americans giving money to Mr Doe without any institutional control.

  • But nobody who is familiar with the Doe presidency would deny that Doe salted away vast amounts of aid that was meant for the population of the country?

  • I would not dispute that fact at all, yes.

  • Thank you. And I just want to quote to you something you yourself have written and I would like you to explain what you meant by it and I am looking at the foreword that you wrote to Mark Huband's book:

    "From the creation of the country" - that's Liberia - "in 1847 the United States was the big brother of a pitiful alter ego, the powerful guardian of a land which received its former slaves. On the beaches of Monrovia, American aid was handed out with no accounting as if to settle a debt with the past."

    What did you mean by that?

  • What I meant by that - I think I summarised it yesterday by saying that Liberia's probably the African country that comes closest, not in legal terms, but closest in reality to being an American colony on the African continent and that the overall oversight of dealings, and I think I referred to the kind of maligned neglect by Washington yesterday when we were a little bit arguing about how much attention was paid by Washington to Monrovia, to Liberia and how much clout someone like Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf would actually have within the beltway of Washington - so I was referring to that reality of maligned neglect and the fact that there was a lack of oversight.

    As I just pointed out, there were late hour attempts made to correct this, but to little avail and the executive accountants that were actually sent and imposed on Doe did not change the overall reality that you stated as being huge amounts of American aid money being syphoned off by the Doe regime.

  • Yes, and you went on the write in the very next sentence, "the aid increased tenfold during the grotesque decade long rule of Samuel Doe"?

  • Yes, and just to refer once again to the guilt that I invoked, we may state that in 1980 beyond the personal history of Samuel Doe is a kind of major shift or watershed in the history of Liberia as for the first time the colonised majority of the interior of the country, the natives, take over from the ruling elite that stem from the formerly enslaved people who came back from the United States and claimed Liberia as being, as the name says, their free country.

  • But it's right, isn't it, that the NPFL invasion of Liberia arose in the context of huge popular dissent towards the government?

  • This is perfectly correct as it is correct to state that usually when a government in Africa is overthrown there is huge enthusiasm that usually - and I know that I generalise - doesn't last very long and when the next government is overthrown, et cetera. I also referred to the fact that the person leading this revolution or rebellion, he himself had been part of the administration and had been accused, to the point that the American legal system went into action against him, of embezzling almost a million dollars.

  • Yes, the American legal system went into action against him at the request of its ally, President Doe, in Liberia?

  • I hoped and believed that the American legal system is not acting on grounds who is the ally of the executive power, but otherwise your statement correct, yes.

  • Yes. And to put it in context what you said in that foreword was this:

    "In the context of the Cold War the United States turned Liberia into the African country closest to an American colony with Firestone, the largest rubber plantation in the world, with Robertsfield airport modified for stop-overs by American military forces, with US military installations and a sophisticated intelligence relay station."

    That was - it was the largest CIA station in Africa, wasn't it, under Doe?

  • This is true and I probably omitted to add that there was also the relay station of the Voice of America.

  • You did that add that. I was just going on to read that, "With the Voice of America's transmitting station for the entire African continent." And then what you said was this:

    "Huband shows the ease with which a tyrant is created - the criminal negligence, the gentle caressing by a spineless guardian" - spineless guardian here meaning the United States presumably?

  • You are correct, yes.

  • "... of a useful satrap or ally as they were called during the Cold War. On this basis Samuel Doe is equal to Zaire's Mobutu. On doing the calculation, taking into account the length of their respective rules and the size of their countries one can deduce that if Mobutu had received as much foreign aid as Doe he would have accumulated 30 billion dollars and not 'merely' the five or ten billion with which he is now posthumously credited."

    So, you are saying that if Mobutu had received as much aid as Doe he would have been even more fantastically personally rich than he is generally credited with being?

  • I haven't redone the calculation, but I trust if I did it at the time that's what I meant.

  • And therefore what you were saying about Doe was that he profited enormously personally from United States aid propping up his brutal - as you put it, his grotesque regime?

  • This is correct and it also stems from the disparity of between Liberia and the United States; what is little aid money seen from Washington is obviously a huge amount of money seen from Monrovia.

  • And against that background a revolution against Doe's government was almost bound to happen, wasn't it?

  • This is a very deterministic reading of history. I expected a revolution or a rebellion to happen against Mobutu for years and turned out to be wrong. So if you mean in almost Marxist terms that the objective conditions were ripe for a revolution then probably yes, but overall I think we don't have that deterministic understanding of history.

  • Well, I am not putting forward a philosophical position, Mr Smith. I am simply suggesting that on the basis of your own descriptions of Doe's regime and America as the spineless guardian a revolution led by somebody, and it happened to be Charles Taylor, was almost bound to happen, would you agree?

  • I would agree that under the prevailing circumstances it wouldn't come as a huge surprise, yes.

  • All right. Thank you very much, Madam President, I have no other questions of the witness.

  • Thank you, Mr Munyard. Any re-examination, Mr Bangura?

  • Yes, your Honour, thank you.

  • Good morning, Mr Witness.

  • I am going to ask you a few questions flowing from questions that have been asked of you by my colleague on the other side. In the document - in the article which was published accompanying the interview that has been shown to you which has been marked as MFI-1 --

  • MFI-1B if I followed these proceedings correctly.

  • That's correct. That's right. You made mention of the fact that Charles Taylor lived in the United States for ten years and then counsel in questions in cross-examination sought to dispute that figure and suggested to you that it could have been eight years. You were not quite sure about the figure and said that could have been the case. Is that correct?

  • Yes, it is a dolorous experience for me, but overall I think when there is a dispute about facts and someone is sitting so close to the source that should know it best I was prone to concede that I might have been wrong.

  • Just to be clear, when you talk about Charles Taylor having lived in the United States for ten years, do you know whether - or are you referring to one continuous period, or would you have been referring to something else other than a continuous period of ten years?

  • In all honesty I would think of it as a continuous period and not adding up his sojourns in the United States. I say this because I just mean to be fair play and I thought yesterday obviously that I would have - given the occasion that we spoke various times to Mr Taylor I hoped that we all checked on the first accounts of his life that we took over from various sources when his voice became known over the BBC, but as I had no precise recollection as to our first meetings and whether we went into detail through the biography I didn't find it necessary nor appropriate to get into a dispute about that fact whether it be eight or ten years.

  • Thank you. I will go to the document which my learned friend has dealt with quite extensively since yesterday, the chronology of events in Sierra Leone that came from Africa Confidential. I am going to go back to some of the paragraphs that he referred to and ask you a few questions on them. Madam Court Manager, could we look at the very first page and the first paragraph on that first page, please. Counsel read fully the paragraph to you and asked you whether you were aware of the facts as reported in this chronology and you agreed. Is that correct?

  • Yes, sir.

  • Now, I will just take you through the first sentence there and then I will take you further down to the last two or three sentences in the first paragraph. Now:

    "23 March 1991: A motley group of about 100 fighters comprising Sierra Leonean dissidents (mostly former university students), Liberian fighters loyal to Charles Taylor, and a small number of mercenary fighters from Burkina Faso invaded eastern Sierra Leone at Bomaru, Kailahun District."

    Now, you have agreed quite correctly that this fact - these facts as reported are true. How widely were they reported at the time?

  • At the time being at the time of the report by Africa Confidential, or in 1991?

  • At the time of the occurrence of this event in 1991?

  • I don't think it was immediately known exactly the composition of that motley group of about a hundred fighters. If my recollection is correct - but, you know, it is very difficult to put things on a time line from hindsight, but I think we were aware of the fact that there was Mr Taylor's involvement. I am not so sure about the Burkina mercenary fighter or the Burkina helpers. I know that I learnt it fairly rapidly, but whether that meant in '91, '92, or '93 I couldn't say.

  • Mr Smith, could I ask you to slow down again. I can see the trouble that transcribers are having.

  • Thank you very much for attracting my attention to that. I apologise.

  • Just to be clear, when you said you knew about Mr Taylor's involvement, what exactly did you know about his involvement?

  • I think I stated yesterday that it seemed to all of us self-evident that there was a link between Mr Taylor's movement in Liberia and the sort of offspring of this fighting force in neighbouring Sierra Leone given the interconnectedness that we had already realised in the field between Sierra Leonean fighters and Mr Taylor's organisation.

  • Now, if I just read the last two sentences in that paragraph:

    "The RUF was unknown to most Sierra Leoneans at the time; most believed it to be a front organisation for Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia. It was the start of a civil war which has destroyed Sierra Leone's development prospects and led to an almost total dependence upon paid mercenary forces and foreign troops."

    Now, does this fit with the analysis you just gave in the early part of the answer - in your earlier answer that you gave to the Court?

  • I think we have gone through this detailed chronology and I would like to see as one of the outcomes a balanced view between what I think patent dependency of the burgeoning civil war in Sierra Leone from the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, Mr Taylor's organisation, and at the same time the authentic credentials by Mr Foday Sankoh fairly deeply rooted in the engrained history of Sierra Leone where they were, to go back to the argument which we just had or the discussion which we just had, about the objective conditions for rebellion. I would see both.

    I would definitely subscribe to the idea that RUF appeared as maybe a subsidiary rather than a front organisation of Mr Taylor's movement, that is I think factually solidly established, and at the same time Mr Foday Sankoh had his very spiritual idea about what popular resistance was and some of that mixture led by the way to the specific form of terror in Sierra Leone and I would like to stress that there were other forms of terror in Liberia, shootings of civilians, people getting terrorised, but the specific idiom in which terror was expressed in Sierra Leone took the form of amputations, short sleeves, long sleeves, and so I see this as a mixture of outside interference and manipulation and the conditions on the ground for a popular uprising as being essentially the explanation for the uprising in Sierra Leone.

  • Thank you. I will refer you to the second paragraph there and I am reading the last two sentences in that paragraph from where it reads:

    "The RUF espoused a crude idealogy of rural resentment against exploitation. They used brutal tactics to terrorise civilians, often mutilating and amputating their limbs. In their efforts to exploit the inability of the Freetown government to protect its citizens the rebellion worsened and civilian casualties mounted."

    Now, the sort of picture that is given here has to do with terror. Your experience in Liberia in the earlier part of the war there, did you experience the sort of terror that we - that is reported here in this paragraph?

  • As I just tried to explain, I just tried to explain that there may have been different - I put it - I said idioms of terror. I experienced terror in Liberia clearly.

    I will always remember, for example, the first person that was shot at a distance closer than the one that separates us here in this room, an old man who had put on his - who was in a mop up operation - mopping up operation in Sinkor actually, the part of town we referred to, the embassy part of town we referred to yesterday, by Mr Taylor's forces and he had hidden in his small house and he came out very old, skinny man and he had put one of the Médecins sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders stickers on his lapel because he thought that would protect him. And not speaking the correct language that was expected from him he was shot right in front of us journalists and photographers with obviously no reason at all. He repeated the sentences that were to prove his correct linguistic kind of origin and in a cadence that accelerated with his fear and got shot and things like this happened almost every day in Liberia, so there was outright terror.

    The idiom of terror that was used to express or to convey political messages in Sierra Leone became worldwide known as being these amputations. And I would slightly disagree, and I hope I don't come across too much as a quibbling pedant about the publication here, it so not so much a rural resentment in my understanding. What really happened is people - drop-outs, people who saw themselves as victims of the new austerity measures, the post Cold War neo-liberal reorganisation of things when handouts from the big allies became scarcer, so people dropped out of the cities and went back into the rural areas with their mindset as urban dwellers and actually resented their marginalisation and became rabble-rousers in a sense of the rural population. And then in Sierra Leone this specific uprising took the form of using the human body in a sort of biopolitics to convey political messages that were messages of terror; do not vote, you don't have the weight to change the course of the nation, et cetera. And that was really inscribed literally on human bodies. That's the way I would put it.

  • Simply if I could ask you were there common patterns that you detected between the kind of terror that you saw in Liberia and what is reported about the terror that was inflicted in Sierra Leone?

  • The terror was the common denominator between Liberia and Sierra Leone and even in very broad assessments of the regional war this commonality was stressed. And, as I said yesterday in one of my opening statements, we created in a sense a category of destructured conflicts that were distinct from what we had experienced under Cold War conditions, yes.

  • Can I move you on to page 2, 2 of 9, and I am referring to the last paragraph of that page. I am reading to about halfway through to where to the word "Nigeria" in bold, black print:

    "March 1993: As the war continued, the RUF were helped with military aid and logistics by faction leader Charles Taylor in Liberia. The RUF regrouped and infiltrated into the countryside again, waging an increasingly savage - and increasingly successful - rural revolt and exploiting rural grievances against Strasser's government. Taylor (now President Taylor of Liberia after elections in mid-1997) had interfered in Sierra Leone since 1990 in order to shore up his own position and counter the influence of the regional power - Nigeria."

    Now just focusing on the early part of that text where it says that "the RUF were helped with military aid and logistics by faction leader Charles Taylor" - now this is 1993, March 1993. What is your recollection of the fact as reported here in terms of continued support by Charles Taylor to the RUF?

  • I think it is on the record that I said yesterday that I endorsed fully this paragraph, or half of this paragraph, when I was asked and I just stated that I would see the countering of the influence of the regional power that was Nigeria as being just one amongst various other objectives, but otherwise I think this is a correct reflection of what I would see as having been or having been the reality at the time.

  • Now, as a journalist and follower of West African events, were the terror tactics of the RUF widely reported?

  • Very widely so to the extent that even nowadays when you speak about Sierra Leone some of my students or even acquaintances would remember just one fact which is precisely the terror and the form this terror - specific form this terror took in Sierra Leone.

  • Now, in your interactions with Mr Taylor would you say that he followed the international press on events that were reported?

  • Well, there is going to have to be more foundation for that question to stand, in my submission.

  • Yes, it does require more foundation, Mr Bangura.

  • Your Honours, I will go back to foundation that I believe has been laid already in the sense that the witness did meet with Mr Taylor on several occasions and had interviews with him and he reported on those interviews in the press, but I will go back and rebuild on that foundation.

  • Very well, please do so, but that question has a very wide sweep to it.

  • Mr Smith, you did in earlier testimony say that you met with Mr Taylor on numerous occasions. Is that correct?

  • I don't think he said numerous and indeed his evidence suggests they were far from numerous.

  • Excuse me, please, I think what we said yesterday was that over the first period in 1990 we would see Mr Taylor when we were in the field maybe even almost every second day so I think it was legitimate to say numerous. I would concur with you that after August 1990 our meetings were far from being numerous, so just for the clarification of the record.

  • I am grateful to the witness for that, but I would like to find out if he is drawing a distinction between seeing Mr Taylor in the field and meeting him. They are quite different things.

  • I think I did explain in detail that when we were seeing Mr Taylor we would actually stop, congregate around him and he would answer our questions and would give us the briefing of the day. So I think that is what I understand to be a meeting. So we had indeed numerous meetings over the first year, I participated in them and much less numerous encounters and interview occasions afterwards.

  • Thank you, Mr Witness. From these meetings did he strike you as somebody who was intensely interested in what went out in the press?

  • Mr Taylor was well aware of what - and was following events and its reflection, the reflection of the events in the press very closely, which is fully understandable given his position.

  • I refer you to page 3.

  • Mr Bangura, I am not sure I understand this witness. Mr Witness, what do you mean by "the reflection of the events"?

  • I just meant the reverberations or the reporting on these events, so he followed media reports on his country and neighbouring countries very closely.

  • If I may just follow up on that, Mr Smith. How were you able to tell that he followed media events in his country and outside of his country?

  • First of all when we met we would discuss them and we referred to reports that were carried for example over international radio stations and Mr Taylor was always knowledgeable about these reports and aware of them, so we had common ground and this allows me to say that he must have followed closely about what was reported about Liberia and neighbouring countries, obviously information that was vital to his endeavour.

  • Thank you.

  • And I think - just it comes as a recollection. I think he himself - I am not aware whether this was an expression he used, but very often the reference to the media reporting on Liberia was referred to by people close to him by a very - an expression that stuck in my mind that was "the propaganda war" as being the quote unquote expression that was used at the time very often to describe what was going on in the international media, BBC standing out as being the major kind of channel of information that was most important.

  • Could we have a time frame for this, please?

  • I am referring to the early in 1990s, so I would say that would be between 1990 and 1993/'94. Roughly that period of time.

  • In your subsequent meetings with Mr Taylor in later years did he continue to strike you as somebody who was still interested in the press, in what went out in the press?

  • I had no reason to correct my initial impression that Mr Taylor was following press reports closely and took them into account in the overall assessment of the situation, yes.

  • Thank you. I am sorry to have to move further. I would not pursue page 3 any more. Can I ask Madam Court Manager to move on to page 6, please, 6 of 9. The first paragraph there - actually it starts from the page before and talks about events of 25 May 1997 and I am interested in the last two sentences of the paragraph which fall on page 6:

    "After the coup there were days of looting by soldiers who commandeered cars and persecuted members of Tejan Kabbah's party. The Ministry of Finance was torched."

    You agreed to this as was earlier put to you by counsel on the other side, is that correct?

  • I did say that I had not followed event - or that I don't have the recollection of these details. Specifically this one I said I had no recollection of them at the time, or I have no recollection that I knew that at the time.

  • Mr Bangura, that is my note also. "I am not sure if I was aware at the time. I do not recall".

  • I take the point, your Honour:

  • Just on the point about the violence that followed the coup on 25 May 1997, how widely, as a journalist, do you think that this event was reported?

  • I feel uncomfortable with commenting on something that I can't remember I had knowledge of at the time. I think I pointed this out to your learned colleague at times; that I am really happy that we all have that high opinion about journalists and how much they follow things in detail, but just please remember that, you know, I was in charge of something like 35 countries and I think it would be highly pretentious to say that I have all the recollection of this detailed chronology at present on my mind. I haven't and so, as I said, I did not remember that detail. I wouldn't like to comment about how much it was reverberated in the press at the time.

  • I appreciate that. Now, I will go to the next paragraph on the same page, 28 May 1997. You agreed to some extent with counsel when he put the facts of this paragraph to you. You did not quite agree - I am particularly referring to about midway in that paragraph where the sentence reads:

    "Foday Sankoh gave interviews to the BBC from his hotel room in Abuja, praising the overthrow of Kabbah. Koroma declared that Sankoh was the ideological leader of his coup."

  • Can I just clarify whether the witness when I was asking questions about this didn't agree, or didn't remember, or didn't have knowledge of. I thought it was that Mr Smith didn't know, rather than didn't agree that these broadcasts had gone out.

  • Your Honour, I will find the reference, but he quite rightly did not remember that the broadcasts had gone out, but the witness did say that he recalled a public statement being made by Mr Sankoh and that's the point to which I intend to go actually.

  • I recall the witness having said regarding the BBC interviews in the hotel room by Sankoh that he was aware that these broadcasts were taking place, but he was not aware of the details of the interviews.

  • I think this is a correct reflection of what I said.

  • But you did make the point that you recall he made a statement?

  • Public statements, yes.

  • Public statements, sorry.

  • And I think I added that I had the impression they weren't helping us in our specific situation to which I won't refer any further.

  • Now when you say a public statement, are you also referring to the broadcasts as that public statement, or is it a different statement that was made aside from the broadcast?

  • In the situation in which I was, I could imagine that it was something like people having picked something up, a news item, and under the pressure in which we were they would come to me and say, "Listen, Sankoh just said something", but they would not say where and when and exactly and I hadn't listened to it. That's what I meant. So we were holed up and people would - all sorts of rumours and informations came to us and then someone would say, "Do you know Foday Sankoh just said" and I was just analysing that to what extent it would better or worsen our situation. That's what I meant.

  • Next paragraph:

    "1 June 1997: Major Koroma invited the rebel RUF to join his junta and the feared RUF fighters came to town to misrule in the name of the merged People's Army. Koroma's junta was internationally isolated, an unstable, brutal populist regime."

    Now, I am not sure what your position was on this, but how widely were events reported relating to the Koroma government rule, as far as you recall?

  • I have a good recollection of that instance. I had just left the country and when I was a correspondent for Reuters news agency we usually worked with local stringers which means when we are not in the country local journalists do report and feed our news organisation by their reports that maybe were written in regional centres which happened to be in that case Abidjan. So I was very good friends with our local journalist and he lives downtown and I know that that has been a very, very difficult period for him and I tried to reach him and, having just come out of the country myself, I felt like that was the minimum I should do and he was terrorised by - in this specific context you refer to.

  • And about the brutality of that regime as reported in Africa Confidential, how much of this came out in the press?

  • I think it was widely reported, but once I again I look like we do right now at a specialised press, if now we were referring to, I don't know, how intensely CNN or maybe other news agencies or networks did report is also always a question, you know, how refined your analysis - media analysis is. Was that front page coverage in major news papers I do not know. In my specific situation following African events it was widely reported.

  • Thank you. Those are all the questions I wish to ask of this document.

  • Can I just raise - it is entirely my fault. Can I just invite the Court to mark this for identification before we lose sight of it and I think it will be MFI-2, or maybe 3.

  • This is a nine page document headed "Chronology of Sierra Leone/special report/Africa Confidential". It becomes MFI-2.

  • I am sorry to interrupt, but I forgot to do that before I sat down.

  • Yes, Mr Bangura, please proceed.

  • In the document MFI-1B, that is the article that you wrote accompanying the interview with Mr Taylor in 2000, is the point about petrodollars. My learned friend took up the question with you from the article itself. I will just read exactly the part of it. The first paragraph of that article - actually it is just to recount what was put to you. I think it's the third sentence where you - the third sentence that reads: "On Christmas Eve of 1989 Taylor triggered the first armed insurrection in West Africa". And it continues, "That rebellion which was paid for with Libyan petrodollars turned into a national" - and it continues.

    The point about petrodollars which was raised by my learned friend and he put to you the view that in fact Liberia had been open and been enjoying much international aid prior to this period and you agreed but made a distinction between kinds of aid. Do you recall?

  • Yes, I made a distinction between development aid being budgeted and given to African countries and I then agreed that despite the institutional checks and balances it happens in Liberia and in other African countries. Overall we should remember that Africa is three times more aided and helped than other developing parts of world, but overall it happens that despite the checks and balances huge amounts of these aid monies are embezzled. But I still think there is a categorical distinction to be made between a suitcase of dollars that is given to a person and a budgeted aid development fund or funds that are transferred to a government - a sitting government.

  • Now, just taking you back to the point that you make here in the article itself where you said that the rebellion was paid for by Libyan petrodollars, what exactly do you mean? How was it realised, the kind of payment that you said was made by - with Libyan petrodollars? How exactly was this payment made or how did the assistance come to Charles Taylor?

  • I would not wish to overstretch a sentence. I can imagine easily the conditions under which we were writing, late at night having transcribed the interview and trying to get that into the next day's paper. So all I meant is that there was a destabilisation attempt by Libya and that Libya got its money from the exploitation of its oil wealth. So that is the two implications that I think that I tried to contain in that specific sentence.

  • Do you know of aid coming to Charles Taylor other than in the form of petrodollars as you have referred to?

  • When?

  • At the beginning of the crisis in Liberia that you actually referred to here?

  • In my mind and down to the present date the initial funding of that attempt - and you may remember how modest at the beginning it was, the fighting force was not huge, they crossed into northeastern Liberia from the Ivorian territory, this initial attempt was, at least in my understanding, entirely funded by Libyan petrodollars if I were to repeat that expression.

  • And were you aware of assistance of any other kind that came to Charles Taylor at this time through the Libyan effort?

  • No, I have no detailed knowledge of other sources of funding. One would be able to speculate whether the kind of pivotal role that Burkina Faso played --

  • Speculation --

  • I did qualify it as a speculation.

  • I only interrupt the witness because the Court has already made clear that speculation though it may be philosophically and journalistically interesting has no place in a courtroom.

  • Your Honour I fail to understand the interruption. The witness is giving an answer and is clearly making the point that he would not like to speculate.

  • The witness has quite truthfully said, "I have no detailed knowledge of other sources of funding", and that's it.

  • What I am saying, your Honour, is that the witness was in the middle of an answer and was clearly making the point that he would not wish to speculate.

  • He wouldn't say he wouldn't wish - I am so sorry, Justice Lussick has got the point.

  • That's all right. I think you were going to say the same thing as me. The witness categorically said, "I did qualify it as a speculation". Now you know very well, Mr Bangura, that speculation is not evidence. Have I misquoted you, Mr Witness?

  • Thank you. That would be all for the witness, your Honours.

  • Thank you, Mr Bangura. We do not have any questions of the witness. Mr Bangura?

  • Your Honours, may I respectfully apply to tender the documents that were marked for identification.

  • Mr Munyard, you have heard the application.

  • Yes, we agree, and I would of course invite the Court also to exhibit MFI-2.

  • Mr Bangura, have you any objection to MFI-2 being tendered as an exhibit? I will deal with them all at once.

  • Not a all, your Honour.

  • Very well. Then the first document that has been tendered as a Prosecution exhibit is a one page document headed "Le Monde" and it is a newspaper report in French. It becomes Prosecution exhibit P-177A.

  • [Exhibit P-177A admitted]

    The second document tendered by the Prosecution is a two page document headed "Le Monde, Charles Taylor the man with war, peace and indignation in his wake", a newspaper article. It becomes Prosecution exhibit P-177B.

  • [Exhibit P-177B admitted]

    Then that is followed by a nine page document MFI-2. The title is "Chronology of Sierra Leone/special report/Africa Confidential". It becomes Defence exhibit D-62.

  • [Exhibit D-62 admitted]

    If there are no other matters I will release the witness. Mr Witness, we thank you for coming to court and giving us your evidence yesterday and today. That's the end of your evidence. We wish you well and trust you have a safe journey home.

  • Thank you very much, Madam President.

  • Since it is virtually time - I think in fact the tape is just up to time, we will take the mid-morning adjournment and allow Mr Smith to leave the Court. Please adjourn court until 12.

  • [Break taken at 11.30 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.00 p.m.]

  • I note some changes of appearance on both Bars. Mr Bangura?

  • That's right, Madam President. Your Honour, for the Prosecution at this time we have Mr Nicholas Koumjian, myself Mohammed A Bangura, Ms Kathryn Howarth and Ms Maya Dimitrova. Thank you, your Honours.

  • Thank you. Mr Munyard?

  • Madam President, for the Defence we are now joined by Courtenay Griffiths QC, Morris Anyah, myself Terry Munyard and Colin Witcher, our intern.

  • Thank you, Mr Munyard. I notice there is no witness on the stand. What is the situation?

  • That's right, your Honour. That is because we did not address the issue before the break. Your Honour, the Prosecution's next witness is TF1-125.

  • What language will the witness speak, Mr Bangura?

  • This is a witness who has previously testified in the Special Court in another trial and he during that trial was covered by certain protective measures. Those measures are spelt out in the decision of Trial Chamber in the case of the Prosecutor v Sesay, Kallon and Gbao dated 5 July 2004, your Honours.

  • Is that the decision that is accompanied by a motion of 4 May 2004?

  • That is right, your Honours.

  • Just to note that something is amiss with the recording - the transcription.

  • Your Honour, I have just been informed that the stenographers are trying to rectify the situation. There is a new stenographer and the Chief of Stenography is with her.

  • Well, I am sure it will be sorted out in the final draft. Please continue, Mr Bangura.

  • Yes, your Honour. Your Honour, in our recent meetings with the witness he has expressed a desire to testify in these proceedings openly and in line with that wish we respectfully apply that those measures that were applicable to the witness when he testified before Trial Chamber I in the case of Sesay, Kallon and Gbao be rescinded for the purposes of this trial.

  • Now when you say the protective measures be rescinded, does that include use of a pseudonym? Will he give evidence in his own name?

  • He will give evidence now in his own name. In the previous trial he had testified with the use of a pseudonym and a screen as applies in the Sierra Leone court situation. He will testify completely openly without the use of any of these mechanisms.

  • I am just pausing, Mr Bangura, because I note that the transcript is not being recorded. Allow me to check what the situation is.

  • Your Honour, I will confirm.

  • Mr Munyard, you have heard the application.

  • In fact, your Honour, it is Mr Griffiths who is going to take this witness and so I will now pass the baton to him, as it were.

  • Perhaps we should pause a moment until we see that things are being recorded properly, Mr Griffiths, and it will also allow me to look at this prior decision that has been referred to by counsel for the Prosecution.

  • My screen suggests that it is being recorded, your Honour.

  • It looks as though it is being recorded now, Mr Griffiths. What is your reply?

  • [Microphone not activated].

  • Thank you.

    We have just been handed a note, which I will read. It says, "The stenographers are requesting an adjournment".

    In order to allow us to hear counsel and to consider it, are you able to give us any information as to why this request has been made?

  • Your Honour, the stenographers are unable to re-set the machine, which is apparently giving them some problems, without stopping.

  • How long is the estimate?

  • Your Honour, I presume it would not take more than ten minutes, but this is a rough estimate on my part.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • We grant the application for rescission of the protective measures. As with a prior witness, we record that in a previous decision of this Court it was considered that certain protective measures did not extend to certain witnesses in the decision of 5 July 12004. The ruling this morning is without prejudice to that decision. I recite this for elimination of doubt.

    We will now adjourn briefly to allow the recording to be sorted out and also to allow the witness to be brought in to the court. Please adjourn temporarily.

  • [Break taken at 12.07 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.15 p.m.]

  • We understand the situation has now been resolved and the stenographers have conveyed their apology through Madam Court Officer. It's unfortunate that these mechanical matters lead to delays. However, we will now proceed and we understand the witness in the stand is going to give evidence in English. Please swear the witness.