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

  • [On former affirmation]

  • Mr Taylor, yesterday when we adjourned we were looking at the panel of experts reports. Do you recall?

  • And we had reached paragraph 254 of the document on page 42, exhibit P-18. Do you have it, Mr Taylor?

  • Now, we had looked at that paragraph which provides that in summary, the RUF is able to obtain large quantities of arms, military equipment, and related material as a result of the following key factors, and the last listed factor is Liberia's interest in destabilising its neighbours. Now, Mr Taylor, help us, what interests did Liberia have in destabilising its neighbours?

  • None whatsoever.

  • Mr Taylor, what had you been doing in relation to Sierra Leone in the years 1998 and 1999?

  • I was busy struggling to help to bring peace, get ceasefires and agreements signed to bring an end to the war.

  • And when difficulties arose in another neighbouring country, Cote d'Ivoire, what did you attempt to do there?

  • I also attempted to help to stabilise the situation, working along with other members of the international community, including France and other major countries.

  • Now, help us, please, Mr Taylor, and take your time to consider this: What did Liberia stand to gain or what did you personally stand to gain from destabilising your neighbours?

  • Absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing.

  • Now, can we go back to paragraph 246, please. Under the heading "Further Research" we find this:

    "Financial assets are at the heart of all criminal enterprise. Lost workers and equipment can always be replaced if financial assets are not targeted. Because of time constraints, the panel could not look into the assets of RUF leaders, their sponsors, and the members of the organised crime groups that supply them. Further investigation is required to identify, trace, freeze, and confiscate these assets.

    Because of time constraints, the panel was unable to fully investigate the original source, that is, the producing countries, of weapons that contravened the Security Council embargoes in question. As noted below, one outstanding query involves an incident in Kazakhstan, another involves a Moldova-based company named Renan.

    On various occasions prior to the arrival of UNAMSIL in Sierra Leone, Nigerian ECOMOG troops lost weapons to the RUF when they fell victim to rebel ambushes. During the December 1998 siege of Kono, for example, the rebels captured a great number of ECOMOG weapons, including a number of armoured vehicles. In addition, however, the panel heard an overwhelming number of reports of Nigerian ECOMOG troops exchanging weapons with the RUF for cash, diamonds, food or other goods. The information was considered reliable, but in order to verify or disprove these allegations, further investigation will be required.

    During its work, the panel obtained information on connections between the RUF and rebels in Guinea-Bissau and with UNITA representatives in West Africa. The evidence, however, was not conclusive and needs more research, preferably with cooperation from law enforcement and border control authorities in the region.

    An accomplice of Victor Bout, a Russian citizen named Oleg Grigorovich Orlov, is the subject of a government investigation in Kazakhstan into the smuggling of two Mi-8T helicopters out of the country. According to the government of Kazakhstan, Orlov is active in the arms market of the Confederation of Independent States Syria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, North Korea, and certain African countries, including Eritrea. He is associated with the following companies: Dunford-Avia Progress Ltd, (Cyprus), Global Omarus Technology Ltd, lately renamed EMM Arab System Ltd (Cyprus), Euroasian Financial Industry Group (Singapore and Malaysia), Belmont Trading and Gulfstream. Further investigation of Orlov and his association with Victor Bout could shed light on an important source of illegal weapons flows into Africa.

    On 7 December 2000 the panel was informed by Ugandan authorities that Ugandan customs had recently seized a consignment of arms believed to be destined for Monrovia. Ugandan authority had been granted for air transport of the consignment from Entebbe to Conakry for the use of the Guinean Ministry of Defence. The flight plan, however, showed that the real destination of the plane was Monrovia."

    Do you know anything about that, Mr Taylor?

  • No, I don't.

  • Now, note that the paragraph reads: "... believed to be destined for Monrovia." And the final sentence is:

    "The flight plan, however, showed that the real destination of the plane was Monrovia."

    Mr Taylor, did you lose a consignment of arms due from Uganda?

  • Now, let us go now, please, to paragraph 270. No, apologies, before we get there can we have a look, please, at paragraph 262, yes?

  • Now, this comes under the heading "Recommendations on weapons, transport and air traffic control":

    "Responsibility for the flood of weapons into rest Africa lies with producing countries, as well as those that transship and use them. The Security Council must find ways of restricting the export of weapons, especially from eastern Europe, into conflict areas under regional or United Nations embargoes. 'Naming and shaming' is a first step, but consideration could be given to an embargo on weapons exports from specific producer countries, just as diamonds have been embargoed from producer countries until internationally acceptable certification schemes have been developed.

    Current Security Council arms embargo should be amended to include a clear ban on the provision of military and paramilitary training."

    Let's go to 265:

    "An analysis of the firearms recovered from rebels should be undertaken in cooperation with Interpol, and its international weapons and explosives tracking system. This would help in further identifying those involved in the RUF supply line."

    Now, pause there. Mr Taylor, bearing in mind this report is dated December 2000, have you seen any report which analyses the source of the arms recovered from former RUF combatants during the DDR programme in that country?

  • No, I have not.

  • Let's now go to paragraph 270:

    "In this report the panel has made a variety of specific recommendations that deal with diamonds, weapons and the use of aircraft for sanctions busting and the movement of illicit weapons. Many of these recommendations and the problems they address are related to the primary supporter of the RUF, Liberia- its President, its government and the individuals and companies it does business with. The panel notes with concern that Security Council resolutions on diamonds and weapons are being broken with impunity. In addition to the foregoing, the panel offers the following recommendations:

    A travel ban similar to that already imposed on senior Liberian officials and diplomats by the United States should be considered for application by all United Nations member nations until such time as Liberia's support to the RUF and its breaking of other United Nations sanctions ends conclusively."

    Mr Taylor, at this time, in December 2000, were senior Liberian officials and diplomats under a travel ban imposed by the United States?

  • Yes, the United States led. Yes.

  • Were you on that ban?

  • I am not certain, but I very well could have been placed on it.

  • And when had that plan --

  • Sorry, Mr Griffiths, before you proceed, I note your question says, diplomats and officials under a travel upon imposed by the United States and the answer is "United States led". Is it United States or United Nations ban?

  • At this stage was it the United States or the United Nations, Mr Taylor?

  • It's the United States, your Honour. The United States led off with a bilateral sanction against Liberia that we reciprocated and sanctioned their officials too, only to be followed by the United Nations later.

  • "The principals in Liberia's timber industry are involved in a variety of illicit activities and large amounts of the proceeds are used to pay for extra-budgetary activities, including the acquisition of weapons. Consideration should be given to placing a temporary embargo on Liberian timber exports, until Liberia demonstrates convincingly that it is no longer involved in the trafficking of arms to, or diamonds from, Sierra Leone."

    Was that timber export ban imposed in due course, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, and this is one of those areas that, here is the United Nations imposing a ban on commodities export from a member state from a legitimate government. They did impose - using this Sierra Leonean situation, imposed a major - this is a second economic sanction on Liberia. They did, yes.

  • "Consideration should be given to creating capacity within the United Nations secretariat for ongoing monitoring of Security Council sanctions and embargoes. This is imperative to the building of an in-house knowledge base on current issues such as conflict diamonds, but it is even more important in creating awareness and capacity on problems which are not likely to be solved in the near future, such as the illicit trade in weapons and related materiel."

    Now, before we leave this document, Mr Taylor, I want us to take a look, please, at the list of individuals from whom the panel of experts obtained evidence. Let's go to page 51, please. Now, you see here at page 51, annex 2 to the report. Do you see that, Mr Taylor?

  • Now, I am really interested in the individuals seen by the panel the experts in Liberia and Sierra Leone. So let's go to page 53. Page 53:

    "Liberia, Government: President Charles Taylor; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy; Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs; Ministry of Transport; Ministry of Revenue; Ministry of Defence; Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Finance, Bureau of Customs and Excise; Ministry of Commerce and Industry; Liberian police; Roberts International Airport."

    Pause. Mr Taylor, did you prohibit any Liberian government department from speaking to this panel of experts?

  • No, I did not.

  • Did you allow them full access to all government departments?

  • "Private sector: Mr George Haddad; Mars Diamonds."

    We can ignore the list at the top of the page, but let's go to Sierra Leone, at the bottom of the page:

    "Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Mineral Resources (in Freetown and Kenema); Ministry of Trade; Ministry of Justice; Customs and Excise; Port Authority; Airports Authority; Government Gold and Diamond Office; National Security Adviser; Sierra Leone police; Sierra Leone army; Sierra Leone air wing; Diamond Counsellor International; Mackie Diamonds; Sar-Kuma Mining Company Limited; Rex Diamonds; Sierra Leone Airports Authority; several diamond dealers in Kenema; United Nations special representative of the Secretary-General; UNAMSIL; UNV; United Kingdom; United States; Campaign For Good Governance; Human Rights Watch; Network Movement For Justice and Development; Oxfam GB; Search For Common Ground; Sierra Leone Muslim Congress; various chiefs and elders from Kono District; Civil Defence Force (Kamajor) leaders and Kenema and Daru; BBC; CBS News; NKH Japan Broadcasting Corporation."

    Before we go on let's have a look at the individuals to whom they spoke. Page 58, please, bottom of the page:

    "Andrei Bressler; John Caldwell; Roger Crooks; Omrie Golley" - Omrie Golley is the lawyer who went to Lome from Liberia. Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • "Michael Harridine; Nicolas Karras; Ya'ir Cline; Johnny Paul Koroma; Raymond Kramer; Ze'ev Morgenstern; Richard Ratcliffe; Fred Rindel; Niko Shefer."

    Now, let's go back to the Sierra Leonean list on page 55. Now, note, amongst those listed as having been spoken to are various chiefs and elders from Kono District. Do you see that?

  • And do you see, "Civil Defence Force (Kamajors) leaders in Kenema and Daru"?

  • I ask for this reason, let us go back, please, to paragraph 193:

    "Police and military intercepts, civilian accounts, the written reports of RUF commanders to Foday Sankoh and oral testimony provided to the panel by ex-combatants."

    Go back, please, to page 55 and the list of persons spoken to in Sierra Leone. Do you see any reference there to ex-combatants in Sierra Leone, Mr Taylor?

  • There is no reference. There is no reference there.

  • Now, we ought to add this caveat, when we go to the end of this annex, page 59 - do you have it? We see this caveat:

    "Given the sensitive nature of the subjects being investigated by the panel, many individuals spoke under conditions of confidentiality. Several interviews have therefore not been noted."

    But, subject to that caveat, do you see anywhere under the lists of persons spoken to in Sierra Leone, for example, an anonymous category such as RUF ex-combatants? Do you see any such reference?

  • No, I don't.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, having gone through this document at some length, help us, what do you feel about this report?

  • Well, counsel, your Honours, not to really bore the Court, but this report actually is at the heart of this entire case. And because of the very way this report is put together with the level of - what I will almost call disinformation, it puts us in a very bad position: (1), this report deals with arms; it deals here with diamonds; it talks about staging areas in Liberia that's aiding and abetting; it talks here about busting sanctions. This is really the case, that I can see this whole indictment came down to this faulty report, that is a political report, that was - up until now had never been subjected to legal scrutiny, okay.

    So we have a situation here where, if you look at - I have read this report. I have also read "The Heart of the Matter", a document that was referred to done by Ian Smillie. While I have no proof, the reason why we had taken such a strong step before this report came out - remember, there was a letter that was exhibited here that we wrote asking for it to be displayed as a Security Council document, where we, in fact, alerted the Council to the fact that we had information that efforts were being made to persuade and/or to pressure members of this particular panel. We had information at that time that, for example, Ian Smillie was not an academic. He was an intelligence analyst, and we were hinting to some of the things.

    So when you read Ian Smillie's "Heart of the Matter", that hopefully, I'm sure, can come here, you will see almost verbatim what he says in "The Heart of the Matter" published in January 2000 is almost verbatim what is recorded in the panel of experts' report as though he just picked up what was there, almost like pasting, and put it in this report. This was not a report about going out to conduct an investigation and talking to individuals, this fickle stuff about on conditions of confidentiality, these are words that are used in intelligence and in other places where you never get to the bottom of things.

    So for me, this is the real, real heart of this, and I think that a thorough look of this report will show that it is as fickle as it is and does not represent the whole truth. It does not even - now, from about 1997, when Liberia was put on the panel - I mean, on the Committee of Five, everything that I did, along with my government, '97, '98, going into - brokered in a ceasefire, the Lome Peace Accord in 1999, bringing Johnny Paul Koroma to Liberia, bringing Koroma and Sankoh from Liberia to Sierra Leone, bringing Issa Sesay, meeting Heads of State, I can almost say dozens of visits, there is not one iota of this mentioned in this report. How fair can this report - this is a United Nations document. There are letters to the Security Council. Kofi Annan comes to West Africa twice. He meets me in Nigeria with former President Abdulsalami Abubakar in 1998. He visits me in Liberia in 1999 right after the Lome Peace Agreement. They know that special representative is in Liberia. He is sending frequent and faithful representation of what is occurring in Liberia. There is not one mention of my contribution.

    So how can this be a fair report that eventually leads to, really, the heart of my being here: This indictment? So for me, this report is not fair. I think it's fickle. It does not deal with the whole truth, and, quite frankly, subjected to legal scrutiny, cannot stand. But, of course, the United Nations is not a legal organisation. So for me, I do not think that this report can validate what they are talking about here. It's just not thorough, and probably it did not have to be. So this is what I feel. It's just not fair and has caused a lot of problems and a lot of disinformation and misinformation. Probably not intentional, but it is on the records. That's how I feel.

  • Now, before we finally leave this document, Mr Taylor, there are two other aspects of it I'd like us to look at, bearing in mind, as you have submitted, that this, in effect, is at the heart of this indictment.

  • Let's look, please, at paragraph 63.

    Now, this is where the panel talks about what we in this Court would call the standard of proof:

    "Standards of verification. The panel agreed at the outset of its work to use high evidentiary standards in its investigations."

    Pause. Do you think it has, Mr Taylor?

  • "This required at least two credible and independent sources of information to substantiate a finding. Wherever possible, the panel also agreed to put allegations to those concerned in order to allow them the right of reply."

    Mr Taylor, when this panel of experts met with you, did they put any allegations to you?

  • No. They did not put any allegations to me. This was a courtesy meeting. I spoke without really being questioned, because I knew the focus of the investigation. I met them, and he is right about one thing, that it was about an hour, and really laid out some of the general areas. But I was not "questioned" and the allegations put out to me and "We request a response from you". No, it did not occur that way.

  • "Wherever possible, the panel also agreed to put allegations to those concerned in order to allow them the right of reply. In the past, allegations against various parties to the conflict in Sierra Leone have been denied with the question, 'Where is the evidence?' An example of this is the standard response to charges that weapons have been channeled to Liberia through Burkina Faso. In the report that follows, we have dealt in detail with this particular allegation. It might still be asked, 'Where is the evidence?' On this charge and others, full details of the sources will not be revealed, but the evidence is incontrovertible."

    Mr Taylor, what do you feel about being prosecuted with secret evidence?

  • I told you before in this Court, I was an accident waiting to happen. This is a typical example. I was the focus of regime change, and they did what they had to do to change it because this - for anyone to say this, you can really look through this and tell that - well, there is hidden allegation. When we are in a court of law, and I would submit if it's so hidden, then one group that it cannot and should not be hidden from, with all due respect, are these judges, even if we have to be in camera. You cannot bring me here, destroy me, and tell me there is some allegation. Then the proof must be brought, even in camera, before these judges that have to decide on my life. So I think this is a travesty of justice if we were to consider it this way.

  • "The panel examined the flight records maintained at the offices of Roberts flight information region in Conakry for all aircraft movement in West Africa during the period in question. It saw photographs of the aircraft being loaded in Burkina Faso."

    Have you ever seen those photographs, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, they were exhibited here. Some photographs were exhibited here in this Court, if this is the reference.

  • "It examined flight plans. It spoke to eyewitnesss of aircraft movements in Burkina Faso and Liberia."

    Have you seen any such eyewitness from Liberia, Mr Taylor?

  • No, I have not. May I just add, even the photos that were shown here, I have not commented on the photos as to whether those - the photos shown in this Court. I am responding to your question: Have you seen - yes, in this Court. As to the authenticity, I am not speaking as to the authenticity of those photos because there are even question as to whether those - the plane - you're showing inside a plane with weapons that could have been from Timbuktu, as far as I am concerned. So I have not - my "yes" is not saying that I'll agree that those photos were photos of arms that were being brought into Liberia.

  • Mr Taylor, my apology. In asking you about that aspect of this paragraph, "full details of the sources will not be revealed", do you recall a code cable from Downes-Thomas to the United Nations in which he said words to the effect, There have been numerous allegations, but the United Nations have seen no evidence; do you recall that?

  • So putting all of that together, we have a situation where the United Nations sets up a panel of experts who supposedly have access to evidence which the United Nations itself doesn't have. Do you understand that, Mr Taylor?

  • Oh, yes, I do.

  • And what do you say about that?

  • Well, that's the whole point. It's the whole point. Here is the United Nations that is launching the investigation. Its investigators are now even saying - saying that even the United Nations cannot see what they probably know. So if their bosses cannot see it, then who will see it? Does it exist? Does it exist? If it exists, I would want to submit that if there were any proof - and I stand corrected on this - if there were any proof to substantiate these allegations, they would be flying before this Court. It would be here. So I must assume that this is all made up; no proof exists. And if proof exists that is not brought here that is exculpatory, it should be brought because that means that there will be - it would be unjust to me if exculpatory evidence is held by the United Nations and not brought here. So I have to assume it doesn't exist; it doesn't exist; and never existed.

  • "It spoke to eyewitnesss of aircraft movements in Burkina Faso and Liberia, and it spoke to individuals who were on board the aircraft in question. In addition to its own detailed verification, the panel received corroborating information from international intelligence agencies and police sources operating at international, as well as national, levels. The assistance of Interpol specialists was also taken as and when required. This is an example of one of the more difficult issues examined by the panel. All issues have been judged and reported using the same standard."

    Now, the second matter that I want to deal with before I leave this document - can we go, please, to page 60. Annex 3 to this report sets out the key figures in the RUF:

    "Many of the RUF leaders have been given, or have given themselves, high-ranking military titles and nicknames or aliases. As many of them are known mainly by the latter, the report has occasionally used these as well as real names, where known. The following are some of the main RUF leaders:

    Foday Saybana Sankoh, chairman of the RUF, currently in prison in Sierra Leone;

    General Issa H Sesay, former brigadier, then battlefield commander, currently interim head of the RUF;

    Brigadier General Maurice Kallon, currently heading the northern axis of the RUF;

    Brigadier Dennis Mingo, alias Superman, battle group commander, latterly battle commander, Lunsar axis, currently fighting with the RUF;

    Lieutenant Colonel Gibril Massaquoi, latterly Foday Sankoh's personal assistant, currently acting as RUF spokesman behind RUF lines;

    Major General Sam Bockarie, alias Mosquito, former battle group commander and high command, currently in exile in Liberia;

    Colonel Boston Flomo, alias Rambo, killed by RUF comrades in Makeni;

    Brigadier Mike Lamin, former chief intelligence officer, Minister of Trade and Industries until May 2000, currently in prison in Freetown;

    Eldred Collins, public relations officer, RUF party, currently in prison in Freetown;

    General Ibrahim Bah, a Burkinabe, possibly of Gambian origin, senior logistics expert in the movement of weapons and diamonds between Burkina Faso, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Also known as Ibrahima Balde and Balde Ibrahima."

    Now, Mr Taylor, what was the reaction of the Liberian government to this report?

  • The government, we were furious and we did not hesitate immediately to respond to the report. Immediately, the government put a delegation together and responded.

  • Now, we know that this report was published on 20 December 2000.

  • Now, in terms of the response, let's look, please, in binder 2 of 4 for week 33, behind divider 104. Do you have it, Mr Taylor?

  • Is this the report your government prepared?

  • And we see that it is dated 10 January 2000, yes?

  • So this is published some three weeks or so after the panel of experts report?

  • The date you quoted doesn't seem to be correct, Mr Griffiths. It is 10 January 2001.

  • And their report was 20 December 2000?

  • Now, let's go, please, to page 2 of 34 at the bottom. Do you have it?

  • "Preliminary reaction of the Government of Liberia to the report of the panel of experts appointed pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 1306 (2000) paragraph 19 in relation to Sierra Leone.

    Recommendations and submissions.

    Notwithstanding the condemnatory and prejudicial tone of the report of the panel of experts appointed pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 1306 (2000) paragraph 19 in relation to Sierra Leone, the Government of Liberia recommends and submits the following:

    (i) Total and verifiable disengagement from all its involvement or connection, both unilaterally and bilaterally, in the Sierra Leonean peace process.

    (ii) With immediate effect, the total expulsion of all RUF personnel, including those permitted to remain on Liberian territory, upon appeal of the international community and those who came in of their own will or volition as refugees.

    (iii) The immediate termination of the use of Liberian territory as a forum for the resolution and reconciliation of the Sierra Leonean conflict and feuding parties and ECOWAS, OAU, UN, et cetera.

    (iv) Complete closure of the Liberian border with Sierra Leone, and other Mano River Union states forming common boundaries with Liberia, for however long it becomes necessary for the cessation of hostility within this area, and the establishment of a monitoring mechanism to ensure that no violations occur.

    (v) The immediate withdrawal of Liberia's membership from the ECOWAS committee on the Sierra Leonean conflict."

    I am going to pause there. Now, I have deliberately lumped those together, Mr Taylor. Now, what was the thinking behind those five recommendations?

  • We are doing everything that we can to promote peace. We are working hand in glove with the international community. To be even more specific, with the Mano River Union countries, with ECOWAS, the OAU, United Nations, the United States, Britain, all of these countries, and this problem just never seemed to go away.

    So, good. Since we are supposed to be the pariah state and we are supposed to be this rogue state that is doing nothing and contributing in no way, fine, we want to take a long step back and just get out of the whole process, delink with the peace process in Sierra Leone, delink with anything that has to do with the whole thing about peace with the UN, all of that. Just take a back seat. I mean, this is a full sign that we are just fed up, tired and frustrated. That nothing is going to stop these people from destroying this government, so we may as well not continue to do the best that we can to help the peace process.

  • But, Mr Taylor, you had been requested by your colleagues in ECOWAS to personally get involved in the Sierra Leonean crisis, hadn't you?

  • And you had got involved with the full sanction and approval of the United Nations, hadn't you?

  • And you had been commended for the efforts you had made for peace in Sierra Leone, had you not?

  • But, amongst others, the Government of the United States?

  • So help me, did you not think that stepping back in this way was effectively counterproductive?

  • Quite frankly, yes, we thought so, but what do you do? Imagine, we are talking about close to - let's go back four or five years of total harassment. Nothing you do is being considered. Everything is negative. Everything is negative. So what do you finally do?

    I mean, I must admit, we viewed the consequences, but I mean this was really a sign of frustration. And we were hoping that this kind of move would at least cause them to come back and say, "Well, look, okay, let's look at this from a different angle." But I guess the die was cast. They had decided on what they wanted to do and nothing was going to stop what they were doing in any way. So I'm not sure if - in fact, I would say this was probably a knee jerk reaction.

  • I was going to ask you that, Mr Taylor.

  • And often knee jerk reactions are done in anger rather than following cool and careful reflection. Now, this report comes so swiftly on the heels of the panel of experts report. Did you not think that perhaps waiting a while, allowing tempers to cool, might have been a better tactic?

  • Yeah, in a way, yes. That's why it's preliminary. It's preliminary. If you see it's a preliminary reaction because normally in the international community, when you have these accusations out, the faster you respond - this is, in general, we respond directly to the issues raised. But as far as engagement, this is a knee jerk reaction to engagement. But we do respond to the allegations placed in the report, hoping that we would move from that point. But there was nothing that we thought then, as far as engagement was concerned, that we could have done but to step back.

  • "(vi) Prepare to accept and welcome international observers at all ports of entry, including air, land and sea, for a duration of at least one year, or as long as the conflict within Sierra Leone continues.

    (vii) The comprehensive grounding and suspension of all Liberia registered aircraft that are not registered with the Ministry of Transport, pending review of the registry in question.

    (viii) That while the Security Council is not a proper forum for the regulation of commerce between member states, nor does it possess the expressed authority to intervene in matters related to commodity trading, which from time immemorial has sustained and given impetus to the economic life-blood of member states, regional communities, Liberia is hereby drawing attention to an unwholesome and potentially dangerous precedent; the probable notion that such involvement of the Security Council or the United Nations may one day impose price controls on commodities from any nation, including oil, which prices fluctuate in keeping with market forces and notwithstanding the above note of caution is a frightening thought and should be seen as troubling."

    Now, that's a bit of a mouthful, Mr Taylor, so help us. What's the core of the idea behind that?

  • Well, this is a very strange phenomenon. The thought of the Security Council of the United States sitting down in New York and saying you cannot export timber, this is unreasonable. You go from page to page of the charter of the United Nations, the Security Council of the United Nations is responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security. But when you begin to get into you can't sell this and you can't sell that, I mean this is unprecedented in United Nations history. And I would pray that it that it never happens again, that the United Nations Security Council will begin to decide that a citizen in a country where you cannot travel - that's not the function of the Security Council, according to United Nations charter.

    And we had gone extensively with international lawyers. Some were saying let's go to the International Court of Justice, but the United Nation charter, as we have read and are educated to know, does not give the Security Council the mandate to get involved in the level of activity that it got involved with in Liberia. Unprecedented and I hope it doesn't happen again, as I said.

    You are saying to a country you cannot sell timber. That's not drugs. That's not arms. How do you tell a country that its commodity cannot be sold? That's not their function. But we were paralysed, we could not do anything with it and we wrote and complained about it that this is not proper. And I don't know when they are going to stop it. I hope they do stop it but they have never done it to any other country. They've got nothing do with commodities and its pricing and the movement.

    I don't understand it. It is not a part of the United Nations charter and maybe I can be educated to that extent, but all the lawyers, international, we contacted lawyers from around the world that wanted to test this case in the International Court of Justice, we didn't have the money to come to the International Court of Justice. The Security Council, operating under the United Nation charter, is charged with the responsibility of the maintenance of international peace and security under Chapter 7 and it does not give them the right to act as they did in Liberia and I hold to that today.

  • "(ix) The UN should request member states with diamonds as principal export to continue to work together under WTO as auspices as a means to manage this vital commodity."

    Let's turn over and look at the executive summary now, Mr Taylor:

    "The panel of experts exceeded its mandate as provided for in Security Council resolution 1306 (2000) which enjoined the panel to make 'observations and recommendations on strengthening the implementation of the measures imposed by paragraph 2 of resolution 1171 (1998) and of those imposed by paragraph 1 above, no later than 31 October 2000'. The measures imposed by the council referred to include the prohibition of the direct or indirect import of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone, and the prohibition of the sale and supply of arms and related materiel to nongovernmental forces in Sierra Leone. The mandate of the panel envisioned recommendations from experts that would provide remedial measures for the strengthening of the measures already imposed by the council and not punitive measures. The extreme prejudice of the panel is demonstrated by its recommendations for the imposition of a travel ban on Liberian officials and diplomats by UN member states, a measure which would be unique and unprecedented in the history of the United Nations. Why Liberia?"

    Now, why do you say the panel of experts exceeded its mandate, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, the mandate given them was not to recommend punitive actions against Liberia. They were charged with responsibility of coming out and investigating, and this is contained in the premise laid before in the previous paragraph where they state how they proceed with their investigation. Their investigation was to come out and really report what they had found. They went beyond that and recommended a punitive action as saying: We are the accusers; we are now judge and jury; what we found out is 100 per cent; so do this. That was not the mandate.

  • Paragraph 2:

    "The panel of experts was biased and prejudiced in its investigations, allegations and conclusions. Their report is fraught with inconsistencies, misrepresentations, and selective conclusions. As a case in point, the Government of Liberia draws attention to panel member Ian Smillie who, prior to his appointment to the panel, co-authored an article in January 2000 entitled "The Heart of the Matter - Sierra Leone, Diamonds and Human Security". The article indicts the Liberian government on charges of supplying the RUF with guns and providing an outlet for the sale of illicit diamonds. Mr Smillie's conclusions were reached without local investigation, and he did not confront the Liberian government with his purported evidence, as is required under the right of reply. His presence on the panel was prejudicial from its inception. On many occasions, the panel failed to confront those accused with evidence in order to provide them an opportunity for the right of reply, although the panel claimed that this condition would constitute a standard of verification."

    Now, we looked at that paragraph in the report, did we not, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, we did.

  • We are talking about the panel - that section on verifications - standards of verification at paragraph 63 of their report?

  • Now, Mr Taylor - one moment. Now, when you say that Mr Smillie's conclusions were reached without local investigation, what do you mean?

  • Well, you had - this is supposed to be a display of academic - what you will call - strength. This is a document - I would really call it a white paper, and the organisation that Smillie is writing for at the time - Smillie represents an NGO. I don't quite remember the name, but it's contained in his report. There are several NGOs that back up these reports. Those of us - all of us that have gone through at least higher education know that when it comes to research, which - what I will call a research document, you can take a subject matter - any subject matter, and you can call five groups of research personnel, and you can tell each group what results you want, and each group will bring you a result to support the premise. I mean, this happens in academia all of the time. Smillie never went to Liberia when he was doing this white paper, "The Heart of the Matter." Never went to Liberia. Never talked to anyone over there. They sat and they wrote an academic paper. What I know from academic papers is that they are subject to questions, and even people challenge some of the theories. This is not done. You take Smillie, who has produced a white paper that is subject to challenges that is not challenged, and you have him really plant that entire report in a United Nation document.

    So we are saying that from the beginning Smillie is tainted. Smillie cannot be objective at this point when he has engaged in an academic exercise that purports to hide the truth. So he doesn't investigate. And if you look at his report, as I said before, and you look at what he writes in the United Nations panel of experts report, it is almost verbatim what he has done. So he is tainted. This is what we are talking about. So he cannot be objective.

  • "The panel of experts' report states in its premium paragraph that the RUF income from its illicit diamond trade is 'more than enough to sustain its military activities', yet, the panel recommends a temporary embargo on Liberian timber exports because it provides funds to pay for the acquisition of weapons. How does the panel reconcile these two conclusions? What is the correlation between Liberia's timber trade and illicit trade of Sierra Leonean diamonds? Is this an attempt to selectively target Liberia for punitive action? If the premise of the panel is that diamonds are fueling the war in Sierra Leone because they provide the resources to purchase weapons, then we ought to focus on dealing with the trade of diamonds and weapons."

    Just explain the point that's being made there for us, please, Mr Taylor?

  • The panel concludes that the diamonds so-called that are being produced by the RUF in Sierra Leone are more than sufficient to sustain their war; you understand me? Now - so the RUF has diamonds to sustain their war. But you come to Liberia, and you impose sanctions on Liberian timber. So are you saying that in addition to the RUF diamonds, Liberia is taking its little meagre resource of timbers to in addition to supply the RUF? Which is total nonsense, when we cannot even pay our salaries. So what is the correlation? There is no correlation then between the RUF with its sufficiency, okay, by having diamonds, and the presence of timber in Liberia. So except where you are trying to bring the government to its knees under the regime change model, there is no relationship between the two. Because you can't say John Brown has sufficient money to feed himself, but let's take the money from Peter Doe, because Peter Doe's money is also going to be used to feed John Brown when you have already said that John Brown is in himself sufficient. So it doesn't make sense.

  • "The conclusion of the panel that the bulk of RUF diamonds leave Sierra Leone through Liberia with the complicity of the Liberian government and that proceeds of the sale of illicit diamonds are used to purchase weapons, is false, unsubstantiated, and based upon fabricated and inflated data. The panel's report does not contain any documented or high-grade corroborated evidence which could possibly indicate government's complicity in the RUF diamond trade."

    Again, Mr Taylor, let's pause. What are you saying there?

  • Well, there is nothing about showing how the Liberian government - you are saying that - the complicity of the Liberian government. To show complicity of the Liberian government, you must be able to show, what? Official transaction involving government ministries and agencies or personnel. There is no such thing. And the question has never been are diamonds coming through? But, you know, if you want to put away bias, if you conclude that RUF diamonds are coming through Liberia and going out with the complicity of the Liberian government, assuming that it is true that RUF diamonds are also going through other countries, then you cannot fairly say that - then you must also conclude that it's going out with the complicity of those governments too. It just cannot be with the complicity of the Liberian government. But you are showing several other countries where you admit do not produce diamonds and could most possibly be coming from Sierra Leone, but it is not done with their complicity. It just doesn't work. So that's what I mean by it's not done with the complicity of Liberian government.

  • "The standards employed in the preparation of the report are reminiscent of long discredited Star Chamber proceedings, McCarthyism, and outright character assassination. The so-called incontrovertible evidence about Liberia is incontrovertible simply because no attempt was made to present it for possible refutation or rebuttal, and no right of reply was afforded to those accused in the report, including the Liberian government. The panel had an opportunity to present a complete, comprehensive, objective and unbiased report simply by adhering to its own standards. This would have enjoined the panel to confront those accused with the evidence, thus affording them the right of reply."

    Pause there. What do you understand by the word to "controvert", Mr Taylor?

  • Well, to - in way, you can - almost synonymous with challenge or call into question.

  • So if evidence is incontrovertible, the use of that word suggests, does it not, an opportunity to controvert it; yes?

  • Did you have such an opportunity?

  • There was no opportunity, because there was no evidence presented that was - that you had to controvert. There was no evidence.

  • "The Liberia government can neither deny nor confirm that the war in Sierra Leone is financed by the sale of conflict diamonds. What the Liberian government can confirm is that the Government of Liberia is in no way connected with it, nor is it a party to, the illicit trade of Sierra Leonean diamonds and challenges the production of any credible evidence to the contrary.

    According to the panel's report, during the period 1994 and 1999, a total of $227 million worth of illicit diamonds was traded annually between the three neighbouring countries of Guinea, Gambia and Cote d'Ivoire in addition to the alleged $217 million US value of illicit Sierra Leonean diamonds which were purportedly exported from Liberia. Significantly, these figures exclude the official export from Sierra Leone. It is absolutely stunning and incredible that the experts would attempt to have the international community believe that during this period, the value of Sierra Leone's annual production of diamonds was approximately $450 million US. Clearly, these figures are so grossly inflated and unrealistic that one could reasonably believe that they were deliberately fabricated to justify how the panel arrived at its erroneous conclusion. No one familiar with the industry would agree with the panel that the pre-conflict value of Sierra Leone's annual production was ever in the region of US 450 million."

    Explain that to us, please, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, the diamonds form one portion, I would assume, of the Sierra Leonean budget. Now, the production of diamonds in Sierra Leone during the prewar years cannot exceed the national budget of Sierra Leone. So if you are saying that the prewar level of diamond production, as far as revenues for the Sierra Leonean government was $450 million and it forms only a part of the national budget of the Sierra Leone, then you must conclude that the Sierra Leonean budget is in excess of that figure. It cannot be the reverse. Because there are many parts that form the national budget. So if you say that they were 450, that means that the Sierra Leonean budget had to be maybe 500, 600 million United States dollars, which was not the case. So that's an impossibility that one fraction of a national budget would be bigger than the entire budget. It's not possible. How can they come up with such thinking?

  • Well, let's just illustrate the point by going back to the panel of experts report, please. And let's go back to page 16 of that report. Let's just see what they are saying here about the value of Sierra Leonean diamond exports, yes. Paragraph 65:

    "Sierra Leone never produced more than 2 million carats annually. Between 1972 and 1996, average annual exports were less than 200,000 carats and the per carat value was significantly less than the countries's known run of mine average."

    Let's now look at paragraph 78 in the same document. Paragraph 78 in the same panel of experts report. Now you see that paragraph 78, Mr Taylor?

  • "The RUF holds the richest diamond areas in the country. If 1999 RUF production was one eighth of Sierra Leone's best year (i.e. 250,000 carats), the value would be upwards of 50 million."

    Now, if that's one eighth, multiply it by eight and we should get total production, shouldn't we?

  • Yeah, but you see if starts off with an "if". That's what you do when you get into if then therefore. This is not really scientific when you begin to deal with these ifs. So there is nothing here that is factual and anyone that has been to school can start on this premise and this is the proper - so when you start on a premise like this and you get stuck at the end you must end up with 250 million because been iffy and it doesn't make sense because it begins to point to what I point out, that a part of your budget cannot be bigger than the whole budget.

    So this is not a very good premise to start on. Okay, we can say if I develop wings and if I flew I would fly. You know, if I flew I would get into Liberia. But are you going to develop wings? I mean, from the academic community you don't start of with, well, if it were this. So you can just set an arbitrary number and if you are dealing scientifically with this, as far as we went, this is more like forecasting. And I will speak as an economist. When you are dealing with fluctuation and forecasting you just come up with a figure and you try to work and then you graph it out. But that's not practical for this kind of report.

    That "if" could have gone to - probably he could have started from 500,000 carats. If you are going to start with "if", then that means that there's an unlimited space you are working with.

  • Let's go back to the Liberian government response, please, at page 4, paragraph 8:

    "Assuming, as the panel's report does, that the RUF controls most, if not all, of the diamond producing areas of Sierra Leone, it logically follows then that all Sierra Leonean diamonds which are alleged to be legally exported to Guinea, Gambia, Cote d'Ivoire, as well as Liberia, must originate from RUF controlled areas. Why then is Liberia being singled out?"

    Explain that to us, Mr Taylor.

  • But, yes, I mean they have said that the diamonds are going to Guinea, they are going to Gambia and they are going to la Cote d'Ivoire and they are saying that all of the diamonds are coming from the RUF area. So if you are saying now that these diamonds are going to these four countries, then at the end of the day you just cannot conclude it's all about Liberia. Then it's about all of us. That's the whole point here.

    So you cannot just single out Liberia in one paragraph when you have already said that there is only one source and all diamonds are coming from that source, so that means that the diamonds that are going to those other countries are also coming from where? They're coming from the RUF area. So you cannot then single Liberia out, except you have some other motives.

  • But bearing in mind the hypothetical with which the panel of experts report begins, "The RUF holds the richest diamond areas in the country, if RUF production was one eighth of Sierra Leonean's best year" - so, therefore, the 450 million US dollars, do I understand this correctly, that is the value of the production coming out of RUF areas because they control all of the diamondiferous areas?

  • Yes. But there is also a little catch to that. If they say, and we start off with "if", that the RUF is controlling the largest production area, and that's about the only area in Sierra Leone that we are talking about production and that's where the RUF is controlling, if you say that that is one eighth, okay, that simply tells you that the total production then must be multiplied by eight, okay, which would be more than the 450 million that they are talking about anyway.

    So the whole premise is so wrong that they do not even come up to it. Because if this is the only area of production and it forms one eighth and you are saying that the annual production of the Sierra Leone prewar was 450, then that means that the 450 million times what? Times eight.

  • Where did the figure 450 million come from?

  • That's what I am trying to get at.

  • If 250,000 carats is valued at 50 million, then 2 million carats, that is multiplied by eight, is 400 million, not 450 million. That's my mathematics.

  • Yes, but if we go back to the beginning of paragraph 7 in this document - Mr Taylor, let's go back to paragraph 7 of the response of the Liberian government. That's page 3 of 34. Here we are talking about the figures given in the report for these individual countries.

  • As opposed to the premise with which they begin in that paragraph about RUF production. So we are talking about two different sets of figures, Mr President.

  • Yes, I see that now, Mr Griffiths.

  • Right. Let's go back to page 4, Mr Taylor, paragraph 9:

    "What should also be noted is that smuggling is endemic to the diamond industry worldwide and is not limited to Sierra Leone. Historically, Liberia itself has always faced this problem and previous governments have been unable to adequately deal with this problem. The present government finds itself less able to do so, given the fact that the country has recently emerged from a disastrous seven year civil war that completely destroyed the basic national infrastructure. The problem cannot be adequately addressed due to government's lack of adequate resources and personnel, including customs and immigration personnel, transport and communications."

    That's fairly self-evident, so we will move on:

    "Liberia's export statistics clearly illustrate that the 1987 prewar official export was 295,000 carats. This is in contrast with the official export figures of 8,500 and 8,000 carats for 1998 and 1999 respectively. The Ministry of Finance estimates that this represents only 10 per cent of the domestic production and the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy estimates this to be 20 per cent. In other words, depending on which figure is used, between 80 to 90 per cent of Liberia's domestic production is smuggled out of the country. This should completely refute and disqualify the conclusion reached in paragraph 90 of the panel's report that 'it is not conceivable that so much of Liberia's own diamond production could avoid the detection of government'."

    Mr Taylor, is that correct?

  • This is correct.

  • That as such as 80 to 90 per cent of Liberia's own production was being exported totally undetected by the government?

  • Definitely. Definitely. This is why when you asked me the question the other day, "Mr Taylor, you as an economist" - this is a problem that cannot be controlled and this whole certification process is not going to control it. It calls for education. People see the mining of gold and diamonds in our countries as just something that families do and sell it to anybody willing to buy. They do not think about going to legal sources, selling where revenues and taxes could be obtained.

    If a guy came from the bush in Lofa Bridge, or Bomi Hills and he is he has found a 10 carat diamond and he came to Monrovia, this guy comes from the interior, he doesn't know that he is supposed to take this diamond to maybe a brokerage house. This guy is walking on the streets of Monrovia, he sees somebody and says, "Oh, I just found a diamond". He says, "Where is it?" He shows it to him and he says, "Oh, I know somebody that can buy it." If there is a tourist on the street that is interested he will sell it.

    It happens with gold. You can go on the streets of Monrovia right now, just as in Freetown right now, and you will be able to buy diamonds and gold. People have gold, maybe one or two grams. It's not - sadly, it's not as the people in the west try to take it, where there is such organised movement of commodities. It doesn't work that way in our areas. We haven't developed to that point, sadly so. And the government really was losing I would say about 80 to 90 per cent because there is no control. The revenues we get from diamonds have to do with granting what we call a place to go and work. You pay for a licence to go and work. What you get from there, people are standing there from all over West Africa, in the bushes, all over West Africa to buy. The boys are washing diamonds and maybe there may be a guy from Mali standing right there and once he gets the diamond, he buys it. It is not regulated.

    You would have to educate the people and practically be physically present at maybe hundreds of locations where these mining things are going on. This is not like a consolidated mechanised mining programme with a company registered to do it. It doesn't work that way in West Africa. Families, downtrodden people may I speak, I mean not meaning any insult to them, downtrodden, ordinary people, I would say up to - in Liberia I would put it to about a half a million or more, families, the mothers, and fathers, go into the bush and dig and try to find the gold and diamonds. It is not as organised as those of us that are educated and economists would want it to be. It doesn't work this way that is being portrayed in some of these academic papers. It doesn't work that way, sadly. It should work, but it's not working that way. That's what I'm saying here.

  • "The reports claim of unequivocal or overwhelming evidence that Liberia has been actively supporting the RUF at all levels including training, weapons, related material and logistical support and the staging ground for attacks, as well as a safe haven for retreat and recuperation, was made with no unequivocal or overwhelming evidence to substantiate such claims and conclusions.

    The panel's conclusion erroneously presupposes that virtually all of RUF weapons are obtained from external sources, in this case Liberia. However, the report negates this conclusion when it recognised the following sources of weapons acquired by seized by the RUF. Namely, considerable amounts of weaponry seize from Sierra Leone armed forces, that a significant number of weapons were seized from a Guinean UNAMSIL unit in January 2000, other Guinean units serving under ECOMOG had also previously disarmed during ambushes and seizures. Also, great amounts of rifles were lost to the rebels as well as eight armoured personnel carriers and several other military vehicles when Kenyan and Zambian UNAMSIL contingents were disarmed in May 2000?

    Additional sources of weapons to the RUF also included weapons acquired directly from the Sierra Leone Army inventory when the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council headed by Johnny Paul Koroma took power in May 1997 and entered into a power sharing arrangement with the RUF. The Sierra Leone government may itself have also been a source of supply to the RUF when it requested two waivers of the provisions of the ECOWAS protocol on the moratorium on small arms on 23 June 2000 and 18 July 2000. The waivers were to permit the importation from the United Kingdom of five rounds 7.62 NATO ammunition, 4,000 rounds of 81 millimetre mortar ammunition and 5 million rounds of 7.62 NATO link ammunition for GPMGs. Given the pattern of events in Sierra Leone, it is not an unreasonable assumption that a substantial portion of these shipments also ended up in RUF's hands. And it should be noted that paragraph 83 of the panel's report also confirms that additional arms shipments are received by the RUF from neighbouring Guinea based on diamond trades made by the RUF to mid-level Guinean military officers."

    Mr Taylor, can I ask you about an aspect of this. Where you give specifics about the arms obtained by the Sierra Leonean government under the waiver of the protocol on the moratorium of small arms, where did you get those figures from?

  • Well, before Sierra Leone ordered those arms, they gave the British the authorisation to bring in those arms, they asked ECOWAS for a waiver. There should be a copy. It was circulated among ECOWAS member states, the list of arms that they wanted to bring in.

  • While we are on those figures, is this figure correct, Mr Taylor, that the waiver permitted the importation of five rounds of 7.62 NATO ammunition? That's five bullets. That wouldn't be worth drawing up the paperwork for, would it?

  • That's true, your Honour. That's true, Mr President. This is an error and that cannot be five rounds because when you look, further down we talk about five million rounds of 7.62 NATO link. So that could be five million rounds of 7.62 NATO ammunition which are different from the links. That's a typographical error, Mr President.

  • "Paragraph 249 further admits that the RUF received weapons captured from ECOMOG forces that fell victim to various ambushes. Given all these well documented non-Liberian sources of arms received by the RUF, we do not believe that the panel had any logical or rational basis for concluding that the arms received by the RUF are from Liberia.

    The Liberian government maintains a training base in Gbatala, Bong County. The government has permitted foreign observers and NGOs, including the US military attache in Monrovia, to visit the training facilities from time to time."

    Is that true, Mr Taylor?

  • Which US military attache are you talking about?

  • By this time I don't quite remember his name, but it's not the same gentleman. They changed him. I don't remember his name.

  • Not the same gentlemen as what?

  • Who are you talking about?

  • The Colonel Dempsey. Not Colonel Dempsey.

  • So at this time in January 2001, it's no longer Colonel Dempsey?

  • But whoever was the military attache was allowed access to Gbatala base?

  • "The base was established by the government to provide much needed training facilities for its internal security organisations, including members of the Special Security Services which provides executive protection and Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU) which provides protection for foreign embassies and other sensitive government installations. The government emphatically denies that anyone other than Liberian security personnel is trained there. Mr Fred Rindel, a retired South African officer, and a former South African military attache to the United States, was contracted by the Liberian government to provide professional, executive protective training for the Liberian security personnel. Mr Rindel confirmed to the panel that his contract did not provide for any combat training.

    The Liberian government concedes that many of the issues presented in the report about the non-documentation or in many cases the fraudulent misrepresentation of Liberian registered aircraft may have some factual basis."

    Pause. What do you mean by that?

  • The registry of Liberian aircrafts and their use was something that we did not have control over. I mentioned on yesterday that certain aircrafts that cannot operate maybe over the United States or Europe, people in different parts of Africa, Southern Africa, parts of Central Africa, will come and register under the Liberian lettering. These countries, for example, at that time Liberia was EL. When you look on aircrafts they have letters, followed by numbers. The first two letters will tell you the country that that aircraft is registered under. You will come in and you will pay a service fee for a registration. We would have people to inspect the aircraft and we would grant you a Liberian EL number and you go away with your aircraft and you have to renew it every year.

    But what you do with that aircraft out there, we don't - you know, it's none of our business. But we licence it and then you go away. It's like a service I think that we gave to - and this was known by the international air association. It is acceptable that countries can licence aircrafts that they do not own, yes.

  • Sorry. How can you say that you licenced aircraft, but you had no control over them?

  • I mean, in terms of what they do after they leave us we have no control. It's similar to the flagship, your Honour.

  • Yes, but why would you in the first place register or use your registry to register an aircraft that you have no control over and give them your licence plates or licence numbers as a country? I don't understand how that can be.

  • Okay. I will try to explain it, your Honour. These are services that are provided in - these are just two of the areas. Many other areas you have these types of services. You come, we inspect the aircraft. The aircraft meets standards that some other countries do not accept. But for those countries, they would not grant a licence for it. You pay a fee to that government and that government will give you the right to operate under its licence. You renew it.

    Now, what type of cargo you carry, that's what I'm talking about, or where you go after that, the government does not require you to tell what cargo you transport at what particular time. The only thing that the government requires is that that licence is renewed and that the aircraft is airworthy and that happens with more than one country, your Honour. In fact - yes.

  • So then what do you mean in the paragraph that we are dealing with when you say, "In many cases the fraudulent misrepresentation of Liberian registered aircraft may have some factual basis"? Where would the fraud come out? What would be fraudulent, if such an aircraft were registered in Liberia?

  • Okay now, the aircraft is registered in Liberia. You go out and you probably pick up a cargo that is a contraband cargo in some country. That would be fraudulent and we don't know that that cargo is being picked up, for example. Let's say you are registered in Southern Africa and you flew into let's say South America and you picked up let's say a contraband as drugs, okay. So that's a fraudulent use of our registry. But we don't know because we don't track where you go and what you pick up. The only requirement is that you be airworthy and that you come and you renew it every year.

    And there are several countries involved in this practice, your Honour. This is not just unique to Liberia. There are many different services that are given. For example, if you look at the Liberian flag registry that we have spoken about which is one of such service, it is being done by Britain. Britain now has a registry. Panama has a registry. Liberia. So this is not unique to Liberia. It's a service that is known and acceptable.

  • "However, the council should be reminded that the Taylor government did not assume authority in Liberia until its inauguration in September 1997, following the holding of democratic elections. It was therefore unfair and improper for the panel to have attempted to attribute to the present government any illegal or irregular acts committed or commissioned prior to its incumbency. The report admits in paragraph 223 that according to the records of the Ministry of Transport, a total of only seven aircraft are registered with the ministry and that there were no documentation on more than 15 other aircraft identified by the panel as supposedly being Liberian registered. Indeed, the panel itself raised the possibility that these planes were being operated without the knowledge of the Liberian authorities.

    Though the panel unwittingly brings to the fore the possibility that some aircraft fly the Liberian flag without the knowledge or authorisation of the present or any previous Liberian administration, and that some of the planes actually registered under the Liberian flag obtained their authorisation prior to the election of the present administration, strenuous efforts are made to highlight the name and activities of dubious characters that were involved with the Liberian registry before 1997. An example of this sort of confused merging of facts with fabrication is made manifest in the mention of Victor Bout and an Ilyushin 76 aircraft in paragraphs 229 to 236.

    The ECOWAS and the Mano River Union Heads of State specifically mandated the President of Liberia to use his good offices and whatever influence he may have with the RUF leadership to try and facilitate the peace process in Sierra Leone. In this regard, the President organised several meetings in Monrovia between the RUF leadership and ECOWAS leaders, and officials of the United States and the United Nations aimed at moving the peace process forward. The President also averted a potential conflagration between Corporal Foday Sankoh and Sam Bockarie that had the potential of completely derailing the peace process in Sierra Leone by accepting the request of the UN and ECOWAS to remove Sam Bockarie from Sierra Leone to Liberia. Bockarie's continued presence in Liberia is subject to the will of ECOWAS and the United Nations. The Government of Liberia is prepared at any time to expel Mr Bockarie from Liberia should the United Nations and ECOWAS deem it necessary. Furthermore, the President of Liberia is prepared and ready to comprehensively disengage himself from the mandate begin to him with regard to the peace process in Sierra Leone.

    The Liberian government is particularly troubled by the successive waive of dissident attacks from Guinea. These attacks continue to threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Liberia. It has been shown that on five occasions between April 1999 and August 2000, Liberian insurgents, harboured and operating with the knowledge and support of the Government of Guinea, continued to launch fierce military operations against the government and people of Liberia. Massive loss of Liberian lives and destruction of properties resulted from those violations of the territorial integrity of Liberia.

    The presence of thousands of Liberian dissidents in Sierra Leone (combatants of former warring factions opposed to the government, namely ULIMO and LPC) is a major threat to the security of Liberia. The Liberian government has confirmed reports corroborated by the Government of Sierra Leone and evidence in hand of the intention and attempts of these dissidents to attack the territory of Liberia from Sierra Leone. On one occasion the Government of Sierra Leone and ECOMOG forces arrested several Liberian dissidents at the Liberian-Sierra Leonean border while attempting to carry out an attack against the territory of Liberia.

    In spite of these grave security risks, and in total disregard of the obligation of the Government of Liberia to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the United Nations Security Council has failed to lift an arms embargo which was imposed in 1992 against Liberia, but lifted by ECOWAS in 1997 in recognition of the assumption of power in Liberia of a democratically elected government. The continued imposition of an arms embargo diminishes Liberia's capacity to defend itself against external armed aggression, a charter right of the Republic of Liberia. The United Nations, if it insists on maintaining the arms embargo on a member state which is subject to armed aggression, should then provide for the security and defence of Liberia.

    Liberia, as a member of the United Nations, has always expressed its willingness to cooperate with the Security Council in the implementation of its resolutions, and has already, on several occasions, made proposals to the Security Council for the strengthening of the implementation of its resolution through the deployment of UN observers at all ports of entry into Liberia, the deployment of UNAMSIL on the Liberian side of the border with Sierra Leone, the provision of technical assistance for capacity building in dealing with the monitoring of illicit diamond trading, and the putting into place of a multi-spectral aerial surveillance of the borders of the Mano River Union countries, proposals which have remained ignored by the council. However, and ironically, it appears that every proposal made by the Government of Liberia aimed at verification of allegations has been ignored. It would seem only fair that the United Nations should seek the cooperation of the Liberian government on the implementation of these proposals, some of which have also been recommended by the panel in its report. This approach would yield far greater positive results than an unjust and negative approach such as punitive engagement.

    The Government of Liberia, as a full member of the United Nations, is prepared and willing to cooperate with the Security Council, as a matter of duty, in ensuring that its resolutions are fully implemented. In view of the above, Liberia will work with the assistance of the United Nations to develop a certification regime for its diamonds which is acceptable to the international community, and in the interim for a specified period will accept to prohibit the export of its diamonds. Furthermore, Liberia is prepared to ground all aircrafts under its registry that are not known to its Ministry of Transport. Lastly, Liberia reiterates its call to the Security Council to deploy monitors at its ports of entry and to provide logistical support to ECOWAS to facilitate the deployment of military observers at the borders of the Mano River Union countries."

    Mr Taylor, tell us, were any of those proposals taken up by the Security Council?

  • "Finally, the Liberian government expresses its concern at the unintended consequence of the expansion of the Security Council's jurisdiction to now cover the regulation and prohibition of the trade of certain commodities irrespective of ongoing multilateral trade negotiations, especially in the absence of any consultations with the World Trade Organisation. The division between collective security and the regulation of trade cannot be allowed to develop without clear, identifiable demarcations that would prevent politically motivated impediments to free trade. International trade is carried out by buyers and sellers; whether one sells diamonds or buys diamonds, or whether one sells weapons or buys weapons, politically motivated decisions on controls most often times target only one group and tend to be unfair and biased to the interest of the economically strong states. Political decisions (which are most often influenced by individual interests and ulterior motive) to regulate the trade of certain commodities essential to the economies of states must be the product of consultation and negotiations carried out among the interested states and not the instrument of control under a new and evolving regime of punitive actions."

    Now, you have already dealt with that context, Mr Taylor, so I do not ask you about that any further.

  • Mr Griffiths, before you move on to the next section, at paragraph 19, the report states, "The Government of Liberia is prepared at anytime to expel Mr Bockarie from Liberia", et cetera. Was Mr Bockarie one of the persons given citizenship at the time other ATU prospective employees was given citizenship as described by Mr Taylor?

  • You've heard the question, Mr Taylor.

  • Yes. All Sierra Leoneans that came along with Mr Bockarie, including himself, were extended citizenship, yes.

  • Well, I think there is an obvious question that follows from that then. How can you expel a citizen?

  • Well, you have a situation here where they were granted the citizenship and quite frankly it's a good question here because it's an irrational thing. But the pressure is on and this is the source of international peace and security. So if you have granted citizenship that is not by reason of birth, what we would then do under the law as I was advised as President, we would withdraw the citizenship and expel him. This is the intent here.

  • I don't know if that --

  • Yes, that clarifies it. I had in mind the provisions of the United Nations declarations.

  • Mr Taylor, let's go on to page 7, please:

    "The panel of experts - background and biases. In light of the glaring inconsistencies, misrepresentations and selective conclusions, the government is constrained to conclude that the five-member panel of experts were obviously biased and prejudiced in their investigation, allegations and conclusions against the Government of Liberia."

    You then go on to list the panel members and then at 3 you say this:

    "While not challenging the expertise of the members, the Government of Liberia feels compelled to draw attention to the following facts about the majority of the panel:

    In January 2000, even prior to his appointment as a member of the panel, Mr Ian Smillie co-authored an article entitled 'The Heart of the Matter - Sierra Leone, Diamonds and Human Security", together with a Sierra Leonean, Mr Lansana Gberie and Mr Ralph Hazleton. The article unequivocally indicts the Liberian government. Mr Smillie and his co-authors assert that: 'What was different and more sinister after 1991 was the active involvement of official Liberian interests in Sierra Leone's brutal war - for the purpose of pillage rather than politics. But the end of the 1990s, Liberia had become a major centre for massive diamond-related criminal activity, with connections to guns, drugs and money laundering throughout Africa and considerably further afield. In return for weapons, it provided the RUF with an outlet for diamonds, and has done the same for other diamond producing countries, fueling war and providing a safe haven for organised crimes of all sorts'."

    Now, where does that quote come from, Mr Taylor, if you could just confirm?

  • From the publication of The Heart of the Matter.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, to deal with that allegation head on, what is being suggested is that you were running, in effect, a criminal government?

  • Involved in guns, drugs and money laundering throughout Africa?

  • Yes, that's what he's suggesting here, yes.

  • Right. Now, help us. What drug dealing were you involved in, Mr Taylor?

  • We've dealt with weapons and diamonds, but so far as drugs is concerned, yes, what do you say about Liberia's involvement in the drugs trade as per Mr Smillie?

  • Liberia has never been accused of - in fact, in that West African sub-region it's the cleanest country. It has never been accused of being involved in any drug transaction anywhere in the world, no.

  • "Mr Smillie and his co-authors concluded in the article that: 'Liberia has become a major criminal report for diamonds, guns, money laundering, terror and other forms of organised crime'."

    This document runs to 34 pages and if we go beyond the 34 pages, we see that the first document appended to the report is part of The Heart of the Matter.

  • So let's just pause for a minute and have a look at this excerpt from that document. Does everyone have it, appendix 1? We see:

    "Partnership Africa Canada, The Heart of the Matter, Sierra Leone, Diamonds and Human Security, Ian Smillie, Lansana Gberie, Ralph Hazleton.

    Partner Africa Canada is a coalition of Canadian and African organisations that work in partnership to promote sustainable human development policies that benefit African and Canadian societies.

    The Insights series seeks to deepen understanding of current issues affecting African development."

    Go to the preface:

    "The study grew from a discussion among members of an informal group in Ottawa called the Sierra Leone working group. Meeting under the auspices of Partnership Africa Canada the group concluded that diamonds were central to the conflict in Sierra Leone and that a highly criminalised war economy had developed a momentum of its own. The group believed that no peace would be sustainable until problems relating to mining and selling diamonds had been addressed, both inside Sierra Leone and internationally."

    Then the next page, this excerpt:

    "The buyers and smugglers at that time were mainly Mandingo and Lebanese traders. With the tightening of security between Kono and Freetown in the early 1950s, Lebanese smugglers began moving their goods to Liberia, Antwerp and then Israeli based diamond merchants soon noticed the booming diamond trade in Monrovia and many established offices there. De Beers itself set up a buying office in Monrovia in 1954 in order to keep as much of the trade under its control as possible.

    In 1955 the colonial authorities scrapped SLST's nationwide monopoly, confining its operations to Yengema and Tongo Field, an area of about 450 square miles. In 1956 they introduced the alluvial mining scheme under which mining and buying licences were grand to indigenous miners. Many of these licences came to be held by Lebanese traders who had begun to settle in Sierra Leone at the turn of the century.

    Siaka Stevens became Prime Minister seven years after independence in 1968. A populist, he quickly turned diamonds and the presence of SLST into a political issue, tacitly encouraging illicit mining and becoming himself involved in criminal or near criminal activity. In 1971 Stevens created the National Diamond Mining Company which effectively nationalised SLST. All important decisions were now made by the Prime Minister and his right-hand man, a Lebanese businessman named Jamil Mohammed. From a high of over 2 million carats in 1970, legitimate diamond exports dropped to 595,000 carats in 1980 and then to only 48,000 in 1988. In 1984 SLST sold its remaining shares to the Precious Metals Mining Company, a company controlled by Jamil. Stevens retired in 1985, handing over power to Joseph Momoh, who placed even greater responsibility in the hands of Jamil."

  • I think that's just about the end of the tape now, Mr Griffiths.

  • We will adjourn and resume at 12 o'clock.

  • [Break taken at 11.30 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.00 p.m.]

  • Yes, continue, please, Mr Griffiths.

  • Mr Taylor, before the short adjournment, we were looking at annex 1 to the response of the Liberian government. Can we go back to that, please. Do you have it, Mr Taylor?

  • Okay. We're at the second page of that. It's an excerpt from the Heart of the Matter, yes?

  • "From the late 1970s to the early 1990, aspects of Lebanon's civil war were played out in miniature in Sierra Leone. Various Lebanese militia sought financial assistance from their compatriots in Sierra Leone and the country's diamonds became an important informal tax base for one faction or another. This was of great interest to Israel, in part because the leader of the important Amal faction, Nabih Berri, had been born in Sierra Leone and was a boyhood friend of Jamil. Following a failed and probably phoney 1987 coup attempt in Sierra Leone, Jamil went into exile opening the way for a number of Israeli investors with close connections to Russian and American crime families and with ties to the Antwerp diamond trade.

    The Revolutionary United Front rebel war began in 1991, and soon after, Momoh was replaced by a military government, the National Provisional Ruling Council. Despite the change in government, however, RUF attacks continued. From the outset of the war, Liberia acted as banker, trainer and mentor to the RUF, although the Liberian connection was hardly new. With a negligible diamond potential of its own, Liberia's dealings in stolen Sierra Leone diamonds have been a major concern to successive Sierra Leone governments since the great diamond rush of the 1950s.

    What was different and more sinister after 1991 was the active involvement of official Liberian interests in Sierra Leone's brutal war: For the purpose of pillage rather than politics. By the end of the 1990s, Liberia had become a major centre for massive diamond-related criminal activity, with connections to guns, drugs and money laundering throughout Africa and considerably further afield.

  • Sorry to interrupt. It's about LiveNote. Mine is not functioning, and the rest of my team also is in the same situation.

  • It's not functioning. I've just noticed.

  • I think we're all in the same boat there, Mr Bangura.

  • Your Honour, LiveNote does not appear to be functional. The technicians are trying to find out what could have transpired, but the stenographer seems to be typing. There seems to be a record. Your Honour, the stenographers - the technicians are looking into it.

  • For now, can't you relay your LiveNote to us?

  • Your Honour, my LiveNote is not functional either.

  • I wonder, Madam Court Manager, if you could please see how long this delay will be. We'll stay on the Bench if it's not going to be very long.

  • Much obliged, your Honour.

  • Your Honour, I'm quite happy to continue if it's recording, but --

  • I'm pretty sure it is recording, Mr Griffiths, but I'll wait until the Court manager comes back and confirms that.

  • Your Honour, the problem appears to have been rectified and the script has now come up.

  • Thank you, Madam Court Manager.

    Yes, I think you can continue now, please, Mr Griffiths.

  • "What was different and more sinister was the active involvement of official Liberian interests in Sierra Leone's brutal war: For the purpose of pillage rather than politics. By the end of the 1990s, Liberia had become a major centre for massive diamond-related criminal activity with connections to guns, drugs and money laundering throughout Africa and considerably further afield. Other diamond producing countries fueling war and providing a safe haven for organised crime of all sorts."

  • Could I have a moment, please, Mr President?

  • Yes.

    Q. "The juniors and private security firms. President Momoh's search for new investors in the early 1990s was carried forward by the NRPC. The HRD and/or the Government of Belgium should immediately prohibit the processing of all diamonds that are said to be of Liberian and Ivory Coast origin. As a matter of urgency" --

  • There's a non sequitur there. Is that what you were going to say, Mr Bangura?

  • It does not seem to be a flow from the previous page.

  • If we look at the page numbers, we see it's 5 of 16, and it then goes to 13 of 16:

  • Mr Taylor, perhaps you can assist us. These - did you have access to the whole publication prior to this response?

  • And was the whole publication appended to your response?

  • No. We were only dealing with the section that we wanted to refer to as an exhibit, that's all.

  • I think the point Mr Bangura was making was that you read the last sentence on page 5 as though it runs into the context on page 13.

  • I think the important point, counsel, is item number 5. That's the reference that we wanted for that page.

  • Okay. Well, let's go to item 5:

    "Liberia has become a major criminal entrepot for diamonds, guns, money laundering, terror and other forms of organised crime. The astoundingly high levels of its diamond exports bear no relationship to its own limited resource base. By accepting Liberian exports as legitimate, the international diamond industry actively colludes in crimes committed or permitted by the Liberian government.

    The United Nations Security Council should place a full embargo on the purchase of any diamonds originating in, or said to originate in, Liberia until a full and objective international review can be carried out of the country's legitimate resource base and until exports fall into line with that resource base.

    The United Nations Security Council should place a full embargo on the purchase of any diamonds said to originate in Ivory Coast until a full review can be carried out of the country's legitimate resource base, and until exports fall into line with that resource base. Consideration should be given to imposing the same restrictions on Guinean diamonds."

    Now, having looked at those portions, Mr Taylor, can we go back to, please, page 7 of 34 of the response at the bottom of the page. Having made reference to that appendix, Mr Taylor, the report continues at (ii):

    "It is of interest to note that these allegations and conclusions were unilaterally and arbitrarily reached by Mr Smillie and his co-authors without any local investigation; neither did the authors confront the Liberian government with their purported evidence. It is important to note that these same methods and investigative techniques were those subsequently adopted and employed by the panel of experts. It is evident that the inclusion of Mr Ian Smillie on the panel, as its diamond expert, contaminated the panel from its inception. Given the critical role diamonds are said to play in the Sierra Leonean crisis, Mr Smillie's prejudicial views on Liberia's alleged involvement must have unduly influenced the conclusions reached by the panel of experts. Had the Liberian government been informed beforehand of the selection of the panel, it would have objected to the inclusion of members whose background could cast doubt on the objectivity of the report."

    Mr Taylor, when did you discover the identities of the experts appointed to that panel?

  • After they had been appointed, and just before they took off. The procedure before - countries have had opportunities in the past to object or raise some concerns about panels. In this case, we did not - we were not informed. They appointed the panel, and after the fact, we found out, and we are now objecting to it.

  • Now, you go on to say that:

    "The terms of reference of the panel of experts were to collect information on possible violations of the measures imposed by paragraph 2 of resolution 1171 (1998) and the link between trade in diamonds and trades trade in arms and related materiel and to consider the adequacy of air traffic control systems in the region.

    Paragraph 2 of resolution 1171 (1998) states that the Security Council '... decides, with a view to prohibiting the sale and supply of arms and related materiel to non-governmental forces in Sierra Leone, that all states shall prevent sale or supply, by their nations or from their territories, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned to Sierra Leone other than to the Government of Sierra Leone through named points of entry on a list to be supplied by the government to the Secretary-General who shall then promptly notify all member states of the United Nations of the list.'

    The panel of experts exceeded its mandate as provided for the Security Council Resolution 1306 (2000), which provided for the panel to make observations and recommendations on strengthening the implementation of the measures imposed by paragraph 2 of Resolution 1171 (1998), and of those imposed by paragraph 1 above, no later than 31 October 2000. The measures imposed by the council referred to include the prohibition of the direct or indirect import of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone and the prohibition of the sale and supply of arms and related material to non-governmental forces in Sierra Leone. The mandate of the panel envisioned recommendations from experts that would provide remedial measures for the strengthening of the measures already imposed by the council, and not punitive measures. The extreme prejudice of the panel is demonstrated by its recommendation for the imposition of a travel ban on Liberian officials and diplomats by UN member states, a measure which would be unique and unprecedented in the history of the United Nations. Why Liberia?"

    Now, let's pause for a minute. What's the import of that rhetorical question, Mr Taylor, "Why Liberia"?

  • Just the unprecedented nature of this since the inception of the United Nations realising that they are going far out of their mandate, so why now must Liberia be subjected to a process that is unusual as far as United Nations functions are concerned. Normally, these panels go out and investigate and bring a report. This panel goes out - and if we deal contextually with the pages that you just went back through, where we quote this - the real context of this here, counsel, is dealing with the direct message as contained in the white paper of Ian Smillie, how it enters and how the mission is expanded. So this is what we want to find out.

    Why should Liberia be subjected to a process that most other members of the United Nations are not subjected to, and especially the original question you asked about did Liberia know about the appointment of Smillie. We did not know, and that's not the procedure that is normally followed.

    Member countries have been given opportunity to challenge the presence of certain individuals on panels coming outside. It happened in the case of - that has not come yet before this Court of the famous Harbel massacre in Liberia during the civil war where parties were given an opportunity to challenge a member if they felt that that member could exhibit some bias. In this case, there were no contacts, and you're dealing with a member state. There's a difference in dealing with the RUF. Liberia is still a member state participating in General Assembly meetings and all. So when actions were being contemplated, the country is given an opportunity, okay, to exonerate itself. In this case, there's not the slightest opportunity and we are asking why would Liberia not be subjected to the same procedures that is normal.

  • "The panel repeatedly referred to Resolution 788, which imposed an embargo on Liberia at the height of Liberia's seven-year civil war. The intent of Resolution 788 was clearly stated to be '... for the purposes of establishing peace and stability ... (in Liberia)'. It was, therefore, improper and ultra vires for the panel to attempt to incorporate Resolution 788 within its terms of reference. Although the panel emphasised the continuing validity of the Resolution 788, they deliberately refused to also mention that the resolution was initially proposed by ECOWAS and that since the return of peace and stability to Liberia with the installation of a democratically elected government ECOWAS at its 20th session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government held in August 1997 lifted the embargo on arms and military hardware as well as other sanctions imposed against Liberia. The executive secretary of ECOWAS was also further mandated to request the Secretary-General of the United Nations to have the embargo imposed against Liberia by the Security Council lifted."

    And that report of ECOWAS is appended hereto, but we won't delay to look at that. Suffice it to say, had the panel not denied Liberia its right to have sight of the draft report before it was published, the panel's attention would have been drawn to this fact.

    "The panel makes no attempt to hide its extreme bias and lack of objectivity when it states in paragraph 47 of the report that, 'Many of these recommendations and the problems they address are related to the primary supporter of the RUF, Liberia, its President, its government and the individuals and companies it does business with'. This statement clearly manifests the bias of the panel, because not only is there no justification presented to warrant the indictment of the President of Liberia, but there is also certainly no basis to indict the entire Liberian government and people.

    Although the body of the report recognises that trading in illicit diamonds is global and also concedes that the RUF has obtained weapons from numerous non-Liberian sources, yet the panel has selectively targeted Liberia, its President, government and any individual or company which may be doing business with Liberia irrespective of whether or not such transactions are legitimate.

    In paragraph 48, the panel recommends the imposition of a travel ban on Liberian officials and diplomats by UN member states. The extreme prejudice of the panel is again clearly demonstrated when it recommends this action which falls foul of its mandate. The imposition of such a travel ban would be unique and unprecedented in the history of the United Nations."

    Now we've dealt with that so we won't return to that, Mr Taylor:

    "The bias is further manifested when the panel selectively and unfairly targets the Liberian timber industry. In paragraph 49, it recommends the imposition of a temporary embargo on Liberian timber exports because the principals in Liberia's timber industry are involved in a variety of illicit activities and large amounts of the proceeds are used to pay for extra-budgetary activities, including the acquisition of weapons. Although the report identifies only three or four companies out of the more than 50 timber companies operating in that country, the report still refers to these three or four as 'the principals in the Liberian timber industry'. Even assuming this to be true, was it in the panel's mandate to recommend the closure of the entire logging industry?

    It is important to clarify that each logging company operating in Liberia is a signatory to a standardised concession agreement. The concessionaires' obligations are detailed in the agreement and each is required by law to pay all taxes directly into the central government revenue depository maintained by the Ministry of Finance, the statutory agency empowered to assess, receive and collect taxes. The panel did not, and indeed could not, provide any documentary or other supporting evidence that these payments are instead diverted directly to the President of Liberia. If this were true, it should have been relatively easy to confirm by a review of the records of selected logging companies."

    Now, Mr Taylor, we saw that amongst those to whom the panel of experts spoke when they were in Liberia was the Ministry of Finance, yes?

  • Were they prohibited by you or anybody else from providing details of taxation received from the various logging companies operating in Liberia?

  • No, they were not prohibited.

  • "Another unsupported allegation was that roads built and maintained by timber companies are conveniently used to also transport arms.

    As has been previously stated, each logging company operates its timber concession in accordance with a standardised concession agreement. The requirement that each concessionaire must build and maintain logging and farm to market roads in its concession area has been an essential and integral part of the concession agreements since the early 1950s."

    I think it might be of assistance given the point made here, Mr Taylor, if we looked at appendix 4 just to get a flavour of the agreement. It should have at the top EM1 and you see it's headed "Republic of Liberia, class A model, forest resource utilisation agreement". Is that correct, Mr Taylor?

  • That is correct.

  • And we see the various sections. We're not going to go through all of it, but let's just skim over it to get an idea of what this entails. If we go over to the next page. Yes, we see space for the signatures of the parties to the agreement, do we not?

  • And let's go over the page and we see definition 9A, transportation and communication facilities, including roads, bridges, rail roads, airports, landing strips and landing pads for aircraft, garages, canals, aerial tramways, pipelines, radio, telephone and telegraph facilities, yes?

  • Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • Then the sections go on and if we go to page 14 which is article 7, fiscal obligations, government tax on net income accounting principles, you see that:

    "The holder/operator shall pay tax on its net income derived from its operation and activities under this agreement in accordance with the income tax law of general application provided however, the tax payable shall not exceed 50 per cent of the net income."

    Yes?

  • And amongst other things if we go to page 19 just quickly we see that there's provision in article 9 for the health and safety of employees, yes?

  • And then at page 23 we see the laws and penalties. That is, powers of the Liberian government to control and regulate the trade. Yes, Mr Taylor?

  • So let's leave that --

  • Page 24, not page 23.

  • Sorry. I'm looking at the number at the top of the page, Mr President.

  • I'm looking at the number at the bottom. If you turn back one page, the number at the bottom is 23 and I moved on assuming the next page would be 24, but the numbers of course at the top don't bear any necessary connection to the ones at the bottom.

  • With the ones at the bottom. Okay. I don't want to dwell overlong on that. I just wanted to get a flavour of what the agreement involved. So let's go back then to page 9 of 34. We're at paragraph 14:

  • "The allegation in paragraph 217 that Simon Rosenblum trucks are used to carry weapons from Robertsfield to the border with Sierra Leone is clearly without any foundation. Had the panel had any interest in arriving at the truth, an interview with Mr Rosenblum would have confirmed that Mr Rosenblum had no timber concession in the Republic of Liberia."

    Mr Rosenblum was - was he one of the individuals interviewed when we looked at individuals, Mr Taylor, in the panel of experts report?

  • I don't recall.

  • Well, if we go back quickly, Mr Rosenblum's name does not appear on page 58 of the report where the panel list those individuals to whom they spoke. And it continues:

    "Had the panel had any interest in arriving at the truth an interview with Mr Rosenblum would have confirmed that Mr Rosenblum had no timber concession in the Republic of Liberia."

    Mr Taylor, to the best of your knowledge in the year 2000 when the panel were appointed and when they reported, was Mr Rosenblum to your knowledge alive and well?

  • And to the best of your knowledge, where was he?

  • In Liberia.

  • Do you recall any request being made to you or any other government official to make Mr Rosenblum available for interview?

  • No, but they would not have had any problems finding him because Mr Rosenblum was working for at least two or three of the principal NGOs funded by foreign governments doing roadwork in Liberia, so he was readily available.

  • "It must be noted that the panel could not reconcile its conclusions on the one hand that the Liberian government allegedly receives over $200 million annually from the sale of illicit Sierra Leonean diamonds, and on the other hand that the government still need to make extra-budgetary expenditures from its limited revenue base to purchase weapons for the RUF.

    The repeated violation by the panel of its own standards of verification has been documented above. What is still equally disturbing is the assertion in paragraph 64 inter alia that we have dealt in detail with this particular allegation. It might still be asked, 'Where is the evidence?' On this charge and others, full details of the sources will not be revealed, but the evidence is incontrovertible.

    When did it become fashionable in international jurisprudence not to reveal evidence nor to have the accused confronted by its accusers? Is there simply no evidence and/or sources to be revealed? Where does the panel derive the authority to declare a piece of evidence as being incontrovertible, especially when same was and perhaps will never be presented to the accused?"

    Now, we've dealt with that point, have we not, Mr Taylor.

  • Yes, we have. That's the unprecedented - some of the unprecedented power we talk about in UN history. That's a part of the - very unprecedented. We have dealt with it before, yes.

  • "In paragraph 65 the report states '... the panel was reminded of the background to its mandate, however, during its visit to Sierra Leone. There, thousands of civilians, many of them child victims of unspeakable brutality, face a future without hands or feet. Tens of thousands of Sierra Leoneans have lost their lives, half a million have become refugees, and three or four times that number has been displaced. As the panel concluded its report, much of Sierra Leone remained in rebel hands, where people lived without access to medical assistance, education or the means to a secure livelihood. The panel remained cognisant throughout it's work of its role and its responsibility in helping to end the suffering of the people of Sierra Leone and this decade-long tragedy.'

    The Government of Liberia shares the pains, unspeakable brutality and destruction the prolongation of the conflict is reaping for the people of Sierra Leone. The memories of similar circumstances are fresh in the minds of the Liberian government and people, having just endured more than seven years of war. Not only has the people and Government of Liberia opened its arms to 120,000 Sierra Leonean refugees who fled the madness, but the government has undertaken a number of measures, along with the leadership of the sub-region, to accelerate and positively impact on the end of the tragedy across its borders. The serious humanitarian concerns described in paragraph 65, maintenance of peace and stability within its own territorial confines, and the overall peace and stability of the entire sub-region remain the basis for the government's role in Sierra Leone.

    The sympathy and concern expressed in paragraph 65 by the panel is not only reasonable but humane, and one which the Government of Liberia must confront daily, given its historical and social proximity to Sierra Leone. The report does list the beneficiaries of Sierra Leonean diamonds. The report acknowledges the concerns of Sierra Leoneans to end the destruction of their country and the retrieval of their mines from the hands of foreigners to the benefit of ordinary Sierra Leoneans. It has been historically determined which countries have benefited from Sierra Leone's immense endowments of diamonds. It would seem reasonable that the purpose of the Secretary-General would have been best served had the panel not allowed itself, moved as we all are, to derive its motivation entirely from paragraph 65 and sway in the direction of unjustifiably seeking out convenient culprits and scapegoats.

    In paragraph 154, the panel claims that 'there is reason to believe that a certain amount of diamonds have been traded by the RUF with officers of the former West African peacekeeping force, ECOMOG, in return for cash or supplies. The panel did not see this issue as part of its mandate and so did not examine it in any detail, but repeated accounts, many of them first-hand, eyewitness reports, made the stories impossible to ignore.' This is most unfortunate and inconceivable. The mandate of the panel was to collect information on the link between trade in diamonds and weapons. In view of the fact that some of the supplies mentioned in paragraph 154 are clearly military hardware, why would the panel dust off this vital piece of information as being outside its mandate? It is instructive that the panel admits that the information was obtained from first-hand eyewitness reports while those indicting the government are largely uncorroborated and unsubstantiated rumours, gossip, and hearsay with no eyewitness testimony.

    The government draws attention to the panel's attempt to malign individuals and business concerns, in direct violation of its mandated evidentiary standards. With all the references to Sam Bockarie, it would seem reasonable that the panel would have, at a minimum, found time to interview Mr Bockarie."

    As far as you're aware, Mr Taylor, was Mr Bockarie interviewed?

  • Not to my knowledge, no, they didn't.

  • Was he alive and well in Monrovia at the time they visited?

  • Had he been prohibited from speaking to the international media or, indeed, United Nations representatives?

  • No, he was not. In fact, he had spoken to the international media before. He had spoken to senior officials from the United States government. He had spoken to United Nations, but there was no prohibition. None whatsoever.

  • "In addition to correcting the numerous falsehoods, a discussion with Mr Talal El'Ndine would have at least ensured that the location of his office was properly identified. This would have also have been true of Messrs Guus Kouwenhoven and Simon Rosenblum. Above all was the callous and mischievous reference to retired Lieutenant General Robert Yerks of the United States Army. The panel's gratuitous comments, which it admits was unsubstantiated, served no useful purpose and could have been avoided. This is clearly an abrogation of its own evidentiary rule."

    With reference to Lieutenant General Robert Yerks of the United States, Mr Taylor, what were you talking about there?

  • They, in a very cynical way, tried to link him with diamond trade and all this kind of stuff, and I - from the best of my recollection, General Yerks took exception. And later on they had to withdraw that particular comment from subsequent reports that they made. But he was strong enough to get it done.

  • Because when we go back to paragraph 127 of the report, which I don't ask to be put up, let's just quickly remind ourselves. The name of retired US Army General Robert A Yerks occurs frequently in discussions about Liberian diamond transfers. He was involved with ITC and is currently a senior official in LISCR. Just to remind ourselves what was said about minimum in the report:

    "This is clearly an abrogation of its own evidentiary rule.

    It is important for it to be recalled that a few months ago, four international journalists under contract from Britain's Channel 4 television and America's CNN, visited Monrovia to film a documentary entitled 'Sorious Africa'. The documentary was pre-scripted in London prior to the arrival of the journalists in Monrovia without any regard or reference to the realities on the ground. The script intentionally and falsely portrayed the Republic of Liberia as a rogue state, the government as being comprised of a murderous band of thugs, it's people as being besieged by fear and it's President and other officials as terrorists and simple-minded criminals surviving on the spoils of the Sierra Leonean war. The journalists were arrested, charged and indicted under our penal laws and taken to Court. The government discontinued the criminal proceedings after unreserved apologies were received both from the journalists themselves as well as their employers."

    We'll come back to that at a later stage, Mr Taylor:

    "The panel seems to have unquestionably accepted at face value all of the alleged oral and written testimonies said to have been elicited from so-called ex-combatants and former commanders of the RUF. They in large part constitute the crux of the panel's conclusions. However, what the panel omitted to also state was that they were obtained in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and that the witnesses were under the control and jurisdiction of the Sierra Leonean government, its allied militia, the Kamajors, and the British troops stationed there."

    Can I pause again, Mr Taylor, for a moment to ask this: The report makes clear that it obtained oral testimonies and the like from various eyewitnesses and so on in various locations. Tell me, did the Liberian government ever ask the United Nations to have sight of that evidentiary material?

  • Yes, we did.

  • Has that evidentiary material ever been made public, to your knowledge?

  • No, it was never made public. But he says right in the report that it's not going to be made public because it's incontrovertible. So the panel does not make any reports or any statements available to the government.

  • "It should be obvious that testimonies or other purported 'evidence' received from these type of individuals under such circumstances should be viewed with a high degree of skepticism."

    What are you suggesting there?

  • Well, that if there are such statements, you know, they will have to be suspect because what are we dealing with? Maybe people in prison wanting to come out. You go and tell them we want to know this or you - you know, promise them assistance and all these type of money payments. A lot of things can go wrong, and you have to really watch these type of statements and view them with a degree of skepticism.

  • "Testimonies gathered from former supporters of a group who are now resident or imprisoned under the jurisdiction of a rival group should be expected to be condemnatory and indicative of one's desire to vindicate one's self from one's former colleagues and simultaneously exhibit ones's loyalty for the controlling party. For one to do otherwise would obviously be putting one's life in danger. It was therefore expected that the panel should have taken these obvious factors into account and should have subjected the evidence to further and independent verification and corroboration. Unfortunately, this was not done."

    And then the next topic the document goes on to deal with:

    "Allegations that the bulk of RUF's diamonds are smuggled through and exported from Liberia.

    From the onset, it should be emphasised that it is inconceivable how the panel of experts could conclude that:

    1. The bulk of RUF diamonds leaves Sierra Leone through Liberia;

    2. That the smuggling is carried out with the complicity of the Liberian government; and

    3. That the proceeds from the sale of illicit Sierra Leone diamonds are used to purchase weapons for the RUF.

    The above conclusions by the panel are at variance with the panel's own statistics.

    According to paragraph 79 of the report, RUF's estimated earnings from the sale of diamonds ranges from between a low of $25 million US to a high of $125 million US per annum. De Beers estimates the figure to be approximately $70 million US.

    Gambia. Paragraph 80 of the report states that imports in Belgium of Gambian rough averaged over $100 million per annum between 1996 and 1999. Gambia mines no diamonds of its own and knowledgeable diamantaires believes that a very high proportion of the diamonds being exported from The Gambia originate in Sierra Leone.

    Guinea. Paragraph 135 of the report states that the official average Guinean export of diamonds to Belgium in the 1990s was 380,000 carats per annum at $96 per carat. However, official Belgium figures indicate imports from Guinea in the same period averaged 687,000 carats per annum with an average value of $167 per carat. This is almost double the volume which is officially exported from Guinea and the per carat value is almost 75 per cent higher.

    Paragraph 137 rejects any likelihood of Guinea being used as a country of provenance as an explanation for the difference in statistical presentations. It should also be noted that the report also states that most of the diamonds mined in Sierra Leone are of gemstone quality which explains the higher per carat value exported from Guinea in this period. The only logical and inescapable conclusion must be that the difference, in excess of $42 million exported annually, is the result of smuggled Sierra Leonean diamonds.

    La Cote d'Ivoire. Between 1994 and 1999, the report indicates that Belgium imported 6 million carats out of Cote d'Ivoire, about 13 times more than was apparently produced in the country, at $92 a carat. This shows an average increase from $7 million US to $85 million US per annum over the period.

    According to the report, during this period a total of $227 million US worth of illicit diamonds was traded annually between the three neighbouring countries of Guinea, Gambia and Cote d'Ivoire in addition to the alleged $217 million US value of illicit Sierra Leone diamonds which were purportedly exported from Liberia. Significantly, these figures exclude the official exports from Sierra Leone. It is absolutely stunning and incredible that the so-called panel of experts would attempt to have the international community believe that during this period the value of Sierra Leone's annual production of diamond was approximately $450 million US. Clearly these figures are so grossly inflated and unrealistic that one could reasonably believe that they were deliberately fabricated to justify how the panel arrived at its erroneous conclusion. No one familiar with the industry would agree with the panel that the pre-conflict value of Sierra Leone's annual production was ever in the region of $450 million US.

    Assuming as the report does, that the RUF controls most, if not all, of the diamond producing areas of Sierra Leone, it logically follows then that all Sierra Leone diamonds which are allegedly illegally exported to Guinea, Gambia, Cote d'Ivoire, as well as Liberia, must originate from RUF-controlled areas. Why then is Liberia being singled out? It is strange that the panel ignores the fact that the Government of Sierra Leone, through its allied militias, control a vast section of the diamond producing areas of the eastern and southern provinces. Almost the length of Sewa River, reported to be the richest flowing river in the world, along with most of its tributaries, is exploited by the Government of Sierra Leone, its militias and agents. Kenema and Bo have become marketing centres where both the RUF and agents of the Government of Sierra Leone are known to interact and trade freely."

    Where did you get that from?

  • This is from our own officials in Sierra Leone. We still maintained an embassy down there.

  • Over the page:

    "What should also be noted is that smuggling is endemic to the diamond industry worldwide and is not limited to Sierra Leone. Historically, Liberia itself has always faced this problem and previous governments have been unable to adequately deal with this problem. The present government finds itself less able to do so given the fact that the country has recently emerged from a disastrous seven-year civil war which completely destroyed the basic national infrastructure. The problem cannot be adequately addressed due to the government's lack of adequate resources and personnel, including customs and immigration personnel, transport and communications.

    Liberia's export statistics clearly illustrate this. For example, our 1987 prewar official exports was 295,000 carats. Compare this with our official export figures of 8,500 and 8,000 carats for 1998 and 1999 respectively. In paragraph 89 the Ministry of Finance estimates that this represents only 10 per cent of the domestic production and the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy estimates this to be 20 per cent. In other words, depending on which figure is used, between 80 to 90 per cent of Liberia's domestic diamond production is smuggled out of the country. This should completely refute and disqualify the conclusion reached in paragraph 90 that it is not conceivable that so much of Liberia's own diamond production could avoid the detection of government.

    Although the report recognises the ongoing problem of the impossibility of distinguishing between a country of origin and a country of provenance, this issue is irrelevant and inapplicable to the accusations being levied against Liberia. Paragraph 131 of the report admits that a large proportion of the diamonds entering Belgium under the Liberian label represent neither country of origin or country of provenance. Most are illicit diamond from other countries. Having conceded the obvious, the panel nevertheless and inexplicably proceeds to attribute this to Liberia's own involvement in the illicit diamond trade, its inability or unwillingness to monitor the use of its name internationally, and finally and bizarrely, to the improper use of its maritime registry.

    Paragraph 25 states that Liberia has lax maritime laws with minimum regulatory interference and implies that this in some way facilitates Liberia's trading in illicit diamonds. This statement on its face should be most embarrassing to the panel because it clearly and further confirms that the panel did not do even a minimum amount of research. Anyone with the slightest connection with the maritime industry knows that Liberia has the oldest open registry in the world and this has been in existence since 1948. It is also a well-known and generally accepted fact that the Liberian registry is the premier registry in the world and its regulations and inspection procedures are the model for all other open registries. It has also been impossible for the Liberian government to draw any obvious or rational connection between the Liberian shipping registry and illicit diamond trading. It would be most interesting and instructive were the panel to demonstrate this connection."

    What connection are you talking about there, Mr Taylor?

  • I don't see how they can associate a registry with - a big ship with a small diamond stone. And if they had done their research, the Liberian shipping registry is registered and operates in the United States under American laws. It is managed by Americans. Not even Liberians manage our registry. So even if there is something going wrong even under American laws it would not suffice. The registry is not run out of Monrovia. This registry that we're talking about, and it goes back to the question asked by the Honourable Justice Sebutinde, just like the aircraft registry. You get the flag. You use it. You pay a fee for that use. But companies outside manage the programme. The manager of the registry programme, even Liberians have to be employed by the Americans under American laws in the United States. In fact we are now stationed in Virginia under the laws.

    So how do you tie a huge ship with a little diamond stone? It's impossible. If you're talking about timber, ships have to carry timber. But it doesn't take a ship to carry out a diamond stone. So I don't see the connection with the registry and diamond movement. I do not see it.

  • "The Liberian government equally fails to see any logical or rational nexus between the fraudulent and deliberate mislabeling of non-Liberian diamonds by unscrupulous businessmen and entities abroad and any involvement in these transactions by the Liberian government. It is important to emphasise that the panel does not accuse the government of aiding, abetting or participating directly or indirectly in these mislabeling schemes.

    It should be clear that the panel's conclusion that the bulk of RUF diamonds travel to and are exported from Liberia is without any factual basis."

    Now, Mr Taylor, can we just pause for a minute and deal with one aspect of this response. How many different - who prepared it?

  • All of the agencies involved. That's the Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, the Justice Department. All of the principal agencies of government. The Foreign Ministry. It's a whole panel of individuals that prepared this response.

  • Let's go over the page, please:

    "Alleged complicity of the Liberian government. The conclusion, even when arbitrarily presented, as was done in the report, about the complicity of the Liberian government in the illegal shipment of Sierra Leone conflict diamonds is equally not supported by any facts presented in the same report.

    The report confirms the well-known and documented historical facts that, for a variety of reasons, Sierra Leonean diamonds have traditionally been smuggled through Liberia primarily by Mandingo and Lebanese traders. As long ago as 1954, the profitability of the trade caused De Beers to set up a buying office in Monrovia to keep as much of the trade under its control as possible. Subsequently and following De Beers's lead, Antwerp, and Israeli based diamond merchants attracted by the booming diamond trade in Monrovia also established offices here.

    Although the report confirmed the historicity of the smuggling of Sierra Leone diamonds through Liberia, what the report neglected to state is that the trade in the region has traditionally been carried out by Mandingos, Fulas, Mauritanians and Julas, ethnic groups with overlapping family ties in neighbouring West African countries, especially Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, and la Cote d'Ivoire. These family members live and interact traditionally throughout these regions without regard to national borders.

    No previous Liberian government has ever been able to exercise the required control in prohibiting or interdicting this illegal activity due primarily to the lack of logistical resources. As has been stated and illustrated above, the Liberian government lacks the capability to prevent the smuggling and illicit trading of its own domestically mined diamonds. Given this fact, is it reasonable or feasible that the government would have the capacity to interdict diamonds allegedly being illegally imported from a neighbouring country? The report confirms that none of the more than five countries listed in the report is able to do so, yet Liberia is being singled out for special treatment because it too is unable to do so.

    It is instructive to observe that while the report admits widespread smuggling and trading in illicit diamonds, no other country except Liberia stands indicted. Indeed, no previous Liberian government has been accused of complicit in the illegal trading in diamond, although this state of affairs has existed from time immemorial. It would appear that this government is being unfairly targeted because this problem continues to exist.

    According to the report, up to mid-August 2000, 'Liberian' imports into Belgium were 340,000 carats valued at $50 million or $147 per carat. The report further confirms that while 1998 official Liberian statistics indicates diamond exports of only 8,000 carats, Belgium recorded imports allegedly from Liberia of 2.56 million carats. This was based solely on invoices submitted by 'Liberian firms'. It is important to emphasise that the panel itself conceded that none of these invoices were accompanied by any certification or export licences from the Liberian Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy. Strangely, none were apparently required or requested by Belgium, the importing country.

    The panel members also admitted that during their stay in Monrovia, they were able to personally confirm from a physical check that the so-called 'Liberian' exporters and their addresses were either fictitious or that they were not resident in Monrovia. The report itself therefore properly concluded in paragraph 127 that 'this means that if the companies in question are more than shells, they are not physically present in Liberia and none of the diamonds in question were either mined in or passed through Liberia.' Given the above statement by the panel, we find it incongruous for the panel to still conclude in the same paragraph that: 'It also means, however, that there is an intimate Liberia connection with these deceptive diamond transactions.' What is this intimate connection?

    Although the report makes no mention of this, upon the specific request of the panel members, Liberia's Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy made available the complete official listing of the 97 businesses registered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for the year 2000 which are authorised to engage in various aspects of the mineral trade, including gold and diamond brokers and exporters, as well as owners of jewellery shops. None of the entities listed in paragraphs 129 and 130 were registered either with the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy or the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

    Some of the 'Liberian' firms mentioned in paragraphs 129 and 130 are offshore or non-resident Liberian corporations which were incorporated pursuant to Section 3.1.1 of the (Liberian) Associations Law of 1976. Under the Statute, off-shore or non-resident Liberian corporations do not maintain a business presence in Liberia and the only connection each has with Liberia is that each is statutorily required to maintain a local registered agent for the purpose of receiving service of writs of summons or other legal documents on behalf of such corporations. The International Trust Company of Liberia (ITC) of 80 Broad Street, Monrovia, acted as a registered agent for all such non-resident corporations from 1948 until December 31, 1999. Since January 1, 2000, this role has been assumed by the Liberia Ship and Corporate Registry. Upon receipt of the summons, the registered agent is required under the provisions of Section 3.1.6 of the Statute to forward the same to the corporation by registered mail."

    Now, that's a bit of a mouthful, Mr Taylor, so I wonder if you can help us as to how that particular system operates.

  • Let me just start off by saying, this is not unique to Liberia. Offshore shell registered companies around the world, and there is several - I would say about a dozen plus states that operate similarly. These offshore companies are registered. They only are required to have an agent in the country.

    The activities outside the governments have nothing to do with them. Whether it is - I have said this before - Liberia, or whether we're talking about Jersey, the Islands of Jersey just off here in Europe, or whether you are talking about it was once existing in Panama, you also have people talk about the Marshall Islands, these all operate as shell companies. There is no difference from Liberia. And the panel knew this. And the ITC served as the agent for these registered offshore shell companies, okay? And in most cases, the government or the governments do not control their activities. They register. They pay a fee to the government. They have an address - and in this case, 80 Broad Street - that's the extent of government's involvement. And under our laws, as would be in the case of many other countries that operate like this, they only have to have an address and an agent to receive mails and respond to legal inquiries. This is how it works. It's been working since 1948. It's working now. Right now in Liberia, it's the same system. From ITC now, it is being done by LISCR, and this programme again is not being run by the Liberian government. It's not being run by the Liberian government. It carries the Liberian name, the Liberian flag, but we hire an American corporation to return these services because the ships are so many, and we have an agreement for the protection of those vessels. So this is the way it works.

  • Now --

  • Mr Griffiths, could I inquire what is a shell company? I know what a shelf company is, but a shell company is a terminology I'm not familiar with.

  • Okay. Where you have a shelf company is what you register; you're right, your Honour. But when we describe a shell, a shell will mean that it's nonexistent, okay?

  • In other words, fake.

  • That's what is being referred here in the report. A shell would be like a fake company, but we are talking about shelf companies. That's what the ICC operates.

  • Because you've been using shell perhaps to mean shelf.

  • In your testimony, you've been referring to shell companies.

  • No, no, shelf. Maybe it's my pronunciation. These companies that aregistered by the Liberia government are shelf companies, but in the report, they are referred to them as in unless they are shell company. That's how the word came out too. If you look at the report, he says that unless they are shell companies. In the UN panel of expert reports, they use shell companies. But we are talking about shelf companies that are operating until today.

  • So this registry would ensure, before they register a company under Liberian laws, would ensure that that company is genuine, it's not fake, or would they? In other words, would it be possible for this registry to register a company that's nonexistent --

  • -- under the Liberian registry?

  • No, it would not be possible. But if somebody came and said, "This is my company," and you register it, it's not a fake company. As far as we're concerned, as far as the agents are concerned, it is - in reality, it exists. So they would not register something knowing that it is fake. No, these are actual companies. These are actual companies. But when we talk about shelf, it simply means that the nation that they exist in don't have the full control over them as if they were registered as an entity within the country. BY MR GRIFFITHS:

  • Tell me, Mr Taylor, this registry, do they have investigatory powers?

  • The company, yes, they do have investigatory powers, yes.

  • So do they have the power, for example, to investigate whether an applicant company is a shell or not?

  • Now, those investigatory powers, are they exercised within Liberia or by, as you've told us, those at the location of the registry in the United States? Do you follow me?

  • Yes, by those at the location in the United States. Those that run the programme have the investigatory power. It is not the function - because the Liberian government contracts the service of running it to that company. They have the powers.

  • I think this is becoming quite complicated. You mean the registry was operating from the USA?

  • It is still operating from the USA. Let me - I think, let me take a minute for your Honours. The registry at this particular time - let's use ITC as an example - is a registry that uses the flag of Liberia and it is put on ships for a fee. Liberia - because the security of those ships are guaranteed by the United States military, the ships that fly those flags, American companies run the registry under contract from the Liberian government. At that particular time, Liberia steps out. Of the fees coming in, a portion goes to the company that is contracted to run it on behalf of the Liberian government and a portion of the fees come to the Liberian government. This is the way it operates.

  • And does the Liberian government retain any control whatsoever over the activities of this registry?

  • I would say - we've had difficulties with that, your Honour - very little control after the agreement is signed. Very little control. Except they break a part of the agreement with the Liberian government, there's very little control that the Liberian government has over the registry once it has contracted the service to this American firm. Very little control.

    So, in terms of pricing, in terms of number of ships that come in, in terms of violations, the only - we have a position in the agreement that we call the commissioner of maritime. He is - he's paid by those that run the programme. This is basically, your Honour - and I can see why it's getting a little confusing. It is basically a programme that develops during World War II. They carry our flag, but we really don't have control. Small countries do this to make a little bit of money.

    The Defence of that particular - of those ships are still under United States government, defend all those ships that are flying Liberian - there's not one of those ships that fly a Liberian flag out that you see docking in these ports, not one is owned by the Government of Liberia. They are all owned by individuals and companies. They fly the flag. They pay a fee to fly the flag. We get a part of that fee, an American company runs it, and that's how it works.

  • Can I ask a related question on that, then, please, Mr Taylor. What, if any, powers do the Liberian government have to impose sanctions or penalties on individual companies or ships who may act in some way illegally or illicitly?

  • The Liberian government does not have any powers to act under that agreement. If there are any violations, the company that we've contracted the services to will proceed with those violations under American law. They are registered as American companies.

  • Well, could you, for example, if a ship bearing the Liberian flag as a flag of convenience acted say in transporting contraband good, could you say to the owner of that ship you can no longer use the Liberian flag?

  • You mean on that vessel or in total again?

  • On that vessel or in total. Could you as President of Liberia dictate that?

  • Well, I'm not a lawyer but under the terms of that agreement we could say to them that we've received this information and they will have to act in making sure that that particular ship no longer carries the flag. But the action would still have to be taken by them and --

  • By the company that we've contracted to under US laws.

  • Right. And just another piece of detail. Where in the United States is this company based?

  • If I may ask a related question. These companies ITC and LISCR would be acting as agents of the Liberian government, wouldn't they?

  • They would be acting as agents of the Liberian government, yes?

  • So the government would be the principal?

  • Well, yes, the government would be the principal because they are flying the flag, yes.

  • And so the actions of these companies would bind the Government of Liberia, wouldn't they?

  • Well, I guess in a way, your Honour, you could say that but I would have to look at the agreement between the Liberian government. I don't know it line for line.

    I would have to review the agreement between the government and these groups that are acting as agents because we are operating here under two different sets of laws and I must say even for me it could be a little confusing. You have a Liberian flag, you have a Liberian company. But these companies are registered in the United States and operate the entire registry under United States laws, so all claims, all charges, are processed in United States courts under United States laws. And they are given full right to operate.

    For example, if you look here, your Honour, you'll see from 1948 it was not until the year 2000 or thereabouts before we changed the company from ITC and we got a different company called LISCR, because we were fighting even at that particular time to get some control. This is a strange situation, your Honour. Liberia as a country does not even have full control of this registry as one would expect simply because this registry was set up for a purpose of assisting or having retired officers of the United States armed forces - this is a programme that was set up in conjunction. So Liberia gets a very small part of what comes from this. But it is good for us because it is a way of income and that is why the entire programme is run under United States laws. There's not one aspect of that programme that is controlled by Liberian law, except the use of the registry and the flag.

  • If I may ask one last question on this issue. What is the significance of this Liberian flag on this vessels, the legal significance if you like of carrying the Liberian flag? There is a phrase you've used, "flag of convenience". Could you throw some light on that? What's the legal significance? Why can't these vessels carry their own flags?

  • Well, most of these vessels, your Honour, are owned by individuals and in those countries where those ships are registered the amount that would have to be paid in terms of taxes and other things with those countries would be so exorbitant. This is why you have a few countries that do it. The programme in Liberia exists, your Honour, in Panama. Panama has the second highest - largest flag of convenience fleet. It's because of costs. Some of these governments and countries and business people cannot afford to pay these large amounts and they need the protection at sea, okay. So once you have that flag - that flag of convenience automatically in the case of Liberia, you are then subjected to United States military protection.

    For example, you had a situation the other day where a Russian ship with timber coming somewhere out of Europe was hijacked and carried and then I think Russia pursued that ship. Now, if a ship on the high seas, if they are taken - the people are taken hostage or anything, it becomes automatically the duty of the armed forces of the United States to pursue that ship and find it under this agreement. This is why I'm saying that the matter of control by Liberia is even limited, okay.

    If a Liberian flagship right now it was announced that it had been hijacked the US navy would pursue that ship. Liberia wouldn't have to make a move. So there are complex arrangements between this registry programme set up from World War II.

  • Mr Taylor, can I interrupt you at that point. Was there any practical significance to the setting up of this system during World War II?

  • What was the practical significance?

  • German U-boats were taking out Allied ships that were ferrying supplies between Europe and North America and Liberia at that particular time had not taken sides in the war. So this idea came up to use a country that was neutral during the war to ply the seas without having this disastrous thing of German U-boats attacking. So this is a wartime concoction I will call it. I really want to call it a concoction. So the defence of those ships and everything fell on American hands and retired American officers are all involved to ensure the free movement of these ships. All Liberia gets from it is a fee.

  • One corollary question. The term "shell company" is not exclusively applied to shipping companies from my understanding of your previous answers. Am I correct?

  • Well, it's not exclusively applied, but I mean to correct it, I would - it is shelf companies. Shell is only used in the exception of the panel where the panel say unless they are a shell, okay. But we are talking about shelf companies. All of these companies are shelf companies, including those that register under the airline provision.

  • "Had the panel taken the time during it's short stay in Monrovia or to perform a minimum amount of research, it would have easily discovered that Liberia has had one of the largest corporate programmes since 1948, and presently there are over 40,000 non-resident Liberian corporations registered with the programme. These corporations are all private entities and have absolutely no connection with the Liberian government."

    Is that true?

  • That is true. That's what I just sought to explain here, yes.

  • "It may be of interest to give a brief summary of both LISCR and ITC. The latter changed its name a few months ago to The International Bank (Liberia) Limited. In 1948, Edward R Steettinius, former US Secretary of State under President Franklin D Roosevelt, was instrumental in the passage of legislation by the Liberian legislature incorporating ITC as a private US company. ITC was established for the sole and express purpose of organising and managing Liberia's newly created maritime and corporate programmes. Under a contract entered into between the Liberian government and ITC, the latter managed the programmes for the government from 1948 until the expiration of the contract on 31 December 1999. Since 1 January 2000, LISCR has managed the programmes for the government pursuant to a similar contract."

  • I think we've reached the lunch hour there, Mr Griffiths. We'll adjourn and resume at 2.30.

  • [Lunch break taken at 1.30 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 2.33 p.m.]

  • I have to apologise for the late start. My watch and the clock here are at two different times. My apologies.

  • Yes, please go ahead, Mr Griffiths.

  • May it please your Honours:

  • Mr Taylor, can we pick up the response at paragraph 50, please, on page 15 of 34. Do you have it?

  • "It should be emphasised that both ITC and LISCR are entirely privately owned and controlled US companies headquartered in the United States. Indeed, LISCR's contract with the government requires that all of its shareholders must be US nationals."

    Is that true, Mr Taylor?

  • That is true.

  • "The companies are neither owned, nor controlled, by the Liberian government. It may be of interest to know that during its 50-year management of Liberia's maritime and corporate programmes, ITC's expatriate staff in Monrovia consisted almost entirely of top retired US army personnel. For example, its three most recent managing directors were retired US General Robert Yerks, Charles Bauman, and Frederick Leigh. We hope this dispels the notion or insinuation that ITC or LISCR is a government entity and that as a result thereof, there is an intimate Liberian connection with these deceptive diamond transactions.

    However, the great majority of the firms listed are not even offshore Liberian corporations and are fraudulently masquerading as Liberian resident corporations engaged in the diamond business and exporting from Liberia. It should be obvious that merely because unscrupulous persons abroad print letterheads and invoices fraudulently designating their entities as being Liberian firms resident in Monrovia, or that these transactions occurred in Liberia, is certainly not ipso facto proof or confirmation that it is indeed factual. In order to show any government complicity, surely, at a minimum, the transaction must be seen to have received some form of governmental sanction or approval, either by official certification or export licences. One wonders, in the absence of this, what was the panel's basis for its conclusion. Certainly not a scintilla of evidence was presented to substantiate its conclusions."

    Can we pause. When you say, "The great majority of the firms listed are not even offshore Liberian corporations," Mr Taylor, did your government research the identities of the companies named in the expert panel's report; do you follow me?

  • Well, not quite.

  • In order to make this statement, "The great majority of the firms listed are not even offshore Liberian corporations," how did you know to make that assertion?

  • Well, we went through and we asked LISCR to present a list of registered firms that they have - you know, that they had as shell companies, and these companies were not a part of them. We asked them for the list.

  • Did you say "shell" companies again?

  • Shelf. Excuse me, your Honour. These shelf companies, we asked for the list of them and they were not - and before you move on, we're talking about US generals. The three individuals mentioned here are all retired generals. It's not just Yerks. I just wanted to - we missed that in the translation.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, can I just ask is there a particular reason for using retired US military personnel?

  • This is - this programme was set aside with the United States at that time to help and even have retired officers as a way of keeping them busy. So all of the individuals, all of the managing directors, continued to be senior retired officers.

  • Yes, you've told us that, Mr Taylor, but my question is slightly different. What's the origin of that practice? Why retired US generals, as opposed to retired Japanese generals or French generals? Why?

  • Because they protect the fleet. The United States government protects the fleet, and so this is a service that - something like a little pay back we gave to them too by having their retired officers work with the programme.

  • Okay. And how do you go about selecting these retired military personnel?

  • We do not select them. They present which officers will work with the programme at a particular time.

  • The United States government.

  • So they present you with, say, a retired General Yerks and say, "Give him a job, please." I'm being deliberately facetious because I'm trying to find out how this operates.

  • Yeah, it's not quite that way. Remember, now we are saying that this is a solely owned US company. Remember, right there. It is a solely US company, and they bring forth the directors of that company, and in all of the cases they are retired officers: Here are our directors to run the programme that we have contracted from you.

  • Okay. Paragraph 52:

    "Much emphasis was placed in the report on oral evidence allegedly received from unnamed individuals. Although the standards of verification were clearly stated in paragraph 64 of the report, 'Wherever possible, the panel also agreed to put all allegations to those concerned in order to allow them the right of reply', the panel elected not to adhere to their own standards. This obviously has the tendency to cast serious doubts both on the objectivity as well as the veracity of the report, including any conclusions reached. In the case of Liberia, the panel appears to rely in a large part on unsubstantiated rumours and hearsay as the basis for its conclusions. The Liberian government assumes that the United Nations will accept a report which has clearly not met normal and expected United Nations investigative standards, especially since it also recommends the imposition of punitive sanctions against a member state.

    The standards employed in the preparation of the report are reminiscent of long-discredited Star Chamber proceedings. McCarthyite tactics and outright character assassination. The so-called 'incontrovertible evidence' about Liberia is incontrovertible simply because no attempt was made to present it for possible refutation or rebuttal and no right of reply was afforded the government. The panel had an opportunity to present a complete, comprehensive, objective and unbiased report simply by adhering to its own standards which would have entailed the panel confronting the government with the evidence and affording the government the right of reply. All these could have thereafter been included in the report. Unfortunately, they did not do so, leaving the government with no alternative but to submit this reaction.

    The following examples clearly illustrate the failure of the panel to apply reasonable investigative standards:

    Paragraph 128 states that 'The name of retired US army general occurs frequently in discussions about diamond transactions ...' Was General Yerks confronted with this accusation and given an opportunity of reply? Certainly, elementary standards of decency required that General Yerks be confronted with this allegation before publishing this unsubstantiated and libelous statement. By this action, the panel may have well destroyed the reputation of an individual without first affording him the opportunity to defend himself.

    Paragraph 73 alleges that according to internal RUF reports, diamonds were personally delivered to the President of Liberia. Was the President of Liberia confronted with this documentary evidence and afforded an opportunity to confirm or rebut the same? Surely this was the minimum amount of courtesy which was due to the head of a member state of the United Nations.

    Paragraph 87 alleges that the President of Liberia has designated an unnamed special representative in Kono '... with a mandate to supervise RUF diamond operations.' Why was this alleged special representative not named? This is a crucial piece of evidence as it conclusively links the President of Liberia to the RUF diamond trade. Why was the President of Liberia not confronted with this evidence?

    Also in paragraph 87 is the allegation that on one occasion in 1998, Sam Bockarie confirmed that he had personally seen diamonds with the President of Liberia which had previously been sent to the latter. Was the President of Liberia confronted with this information when the panel met with him? Was this corroborated by Sam Bockarie? This should have been very easy to do as Sam Bockarie is presently in Monrovia and the panel was given unfettered access to anyone they requested.

    Paragraph 87 also alleges that '... RUF couriers travel in fear of being robbed by rogue NPFL fighters.' This is clearly a false statement for two obvious reasons:

    A. The NPFL as well as all other Liberian military factions were dissolved, disarmed and demobilised in 1996.

    B. The entire section of Liberia (Lofa, Cape Mount and Bomi counties) which borders Sierra Leone prior to the demobilisation was under the exclusive control and authority of the ULIMO faction. This military grouping was organised in Sierra Leone and operated as the principal military opponent of the NPFL during the civil war. It may be of interest to note that remnants of ULIMO and other Liberian nationals have since been trained and armed and incorporated into the national Sierra Leone Army, its allied military, the Kamajors, the latter which is headed by Hinga Norman, the Deputy Minister of Defence of Sierra Leone.

    Paragraph 86 alleges that the bulk of the diamonds are carried by 'RUF commanders and trusted Liberian couriers' to Monrovia - presumably to the President of Liberia. Why is there a need to do this when according to paragraph 87, the President of Liberia has his special representative permanently stationed in Kono? Why take the unnecessary risk of being robbed on the road en route to Monrovia?"

    Now, Mr Taylor, these observations being made here, at any time had you been given the opportunity of testing the veracity of those assertions with the panel members themselves?

  • No. These people only met me for an hour. No. We met an hour, there were no questions to me. They had done what they wanted to do. I met them and they left. There was nothing where, "Well, Mr President, we found this out. Here's the evidence. What do you have to say about it?" There was none of this kind of stuff. As he says, we only met for close to an hour and that was it.

  • "Why take the unnecessary risk of being robbed on the road en route to Monrovia?

    Paragraph 26 quotes allegedly from Foday Sankoh's correspondence to the effect that the diamonds mined in the Kono area by RUF should be airlifted directly from Kono rather than through Monrovia because they could not trust the people in Monrovia. This appears to be a direct contradiction and refutation of the theory that the President of Liberia and the RUF were partners in the diamond mining schemes, especially if paragraph 87 is to be given any credence that the RUF permitted the President of Liberia to permanently station his special representative in Kono to supervise the mining operations there. No attempt was made by the panel to reconcile these apparently conflicting and contradictory statements.

    Even if the mass of unsubstantiated hearsay evidence contained in paragraphs 73 to 87 is given any credence, the panel was unable to identify any RUF commander, including Foday Sankoh or Sam Bockarie, who claimed to have personally delivered any diamonds to the President of Liberia.

    The Liberia government again reiterates that the report does not contain any documented evidence which could possibly indicate government's complicity in the RUF diamond trade."

    Then the next subheading is:

    "The sale of diamonds is used to fuel the Sierra Leone war.

    Although the Liberian government has amply demonstrated that the conclusions reached by the panel has no basis in fact, it is nevertheless an undeniable fact that conflicts around the world, and particularly in Africa, are fueled and financed by the exploitation of natural resources in areas controlled by insurgents.

    The government can therefore neither deny nor confirm that the war in Sierra Leone is financed by the sale of conflict diamonds. What the Liberian government can confirm and has maintained is that the Government of Liberia is in no way connected with it, nor is it a party to the illicit trade of Sierra Leonean diamonds and challenges the production of any credible evidence to the contrary.

    It is important to note and the report confirms that the sale of blood diamonds, whether originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola or Sierra Leone, the great majority of these sales are transacted in Belgium with other major powers also being the beneficiaries of these transactions.

    It should be emphasised that the use of illicit diamonds to fuel conflict around the world is greatly facilitated by the lack of a transparent global certification process and the panel concedes that conflict diamonds comprise 20 per cent of global diamond trades. It recognises the need for immediate and urgent reforms in this industry."

    And then we have a section on:

    "Recommendations on diamond smuggling and export.

    The Government of Liberia remains supportive of United Nations Resolution 1306 and has already commenced taking appropriate steps to ensure compliance, one of which is the passage of legislation centralising the certification and export of precious metals from Liberia by the newly established Central Bank of Liberia.

    The Liberian government in the past repeatedly requested the assistance of the international community in providing much needed logistical help and support in establishing and maintaining a credible and internationally accepted diamond certification and monitoring system.

    Consistent with this position, the Liberian government therefore fully endorses all of the recommendations on diamonds submitted by the panel of experts (paragraphs 7 through 18 of the report) with the following provision to paragraph 9:

    That the United Nations, in particular, and individual members of the international community provide logistical and personnel assistance to the Liberian government to immediately establish an internationally acceptable certification and monitoring system regulating the movement and exportation of diamonds and other precious metals.

    That pending the establishment of the certification system, a moratorium be placed on the exportation of all diamonds from Liberia for a fixed and definite period of time consistent with the establishment of the certification mechanism not to exceed two years.

    Considering that the panel has recognised the difficulty of tracking the movements of conflict and illicit diamonds in the sub-region, the Liberian government proposes that the moratorium on the exportation of diamonds be extended to include all countries in the sub-region listed in the report pending the establishment of an internationally accepted certification and monitoring system.

    Alleged Liberian government support for the RUF.

    Paragraph 183 of the report found 'unequivocal and overwhelming evidence' that Liberia has been actively supporting the RUF at all levels including training, weapons, related materiel and logistical support and a staging ground for attacks, as well as a safe haven for retreat and recuperation.

    Notwithstanding the above statement, the Liberian government states also unequivocally that no 'unequivocal or overwhelming evidence' was presented to substantiate these conclusions. The presence in Monrovia of Sam Bockarie found in paragraph 182 is based on the request, knowledge and acquiescence of the international community, the Security Council, ECOWAS and the Clinton administration."

    Now, we've gone through that documentation, Mr Taylor, and I do not propose to waste any time going back over that point now. So let's move on then to:

    "Weapons allegedly supplied the RUF.

    The Liberian government has always denied and reiterates its denial that it provides tactical or materiel support to the RUF.

    The report confirms in paragraph 170 through 174 that the region is awash with small arms with its consequent reality of the rapidly increasing incidence of armed violence. The report acknowledges that the demand for light weapons during the past decade has increased, contending that guerilla armies receive weapons through interlinked networks of traders, criminals and insurgents moving across borders. The RUF, the report emphasises, depends almost exclusively on light weaponry, although it does have access to more sophisticated equipment. With access to a high of $125 million per annum, in a region awash with small arms and existing networks of traders, criminals and insurgents moving across borders, the panel seemed to have described a theatre within which light weapons may clearly be one of the easiest commodities to come by. More importantly, paragraph 177 concludes that with no standardised marking system for small arms and the proliferation of great amounts of weapons of this nature, the arms flow to rebel groups on the African continent remains largely uncontrolled."

    I'm going to pause, Mr Taylor, to ask this: Do you agree with the proposition that that part of the world was awash with small arms at the time?

  • Well, let's be more specific. Would you accept that Liberia was at the time awash with small arms?

  • No, no, no. My question is very specific. Would you agree with the proposition contained in the panel's report that Liberia was awash with small arms?

  • No, but that's why I answered that way. I think the report says that the region was awash.

  • Yes, I know. But I'm being more specific.

  • Well, I would not say that Liberia was awash with small arms. That's why I say Liberia had arms, but not awash. As a region in general, yes, but not Liberia specifically, no.

  • Well, let me pose a question differently, Mr Taylor. Had the process of demobilisation, disarmament in Liberia been a 100 per cent success?

  • Can you proffer any idea in percentage terms of the success of that process in Liberia?

  • Now, if we're talking about 70 per cent success rate in disarmament, Mr Taylor, we're still talking about quite a lot of arms unaccounted for, aren't we?

  • Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

  • And, Mr Taylor, this is in a fairly poor, underdeveloped part of the world, yes?

  • Now help us. Do you have any idea what, for example, an AK-47 rifle not handed in during disarmament might have fetched across the border in Sierra Leone? Have you any idea?

  • Yes, I - yes, I do. I do.

  • I would again say around - it could sell for as high as $75 to $100.

  • Now tell us something, Mr Taylor. In the hands of a resident of Lofa County, say, a farmer, in relative terms how much is $75 to $100 US?

  • And here we have a situation where, according to the panel, the RUF could have been earning as much as $125 million a year from the diamonds business, yes?

  • And we're talking about a part of the world where borders are porous. Is that right?

  • And would you accept then, Mr Taylor, that there was an interlinked network of traders, criminals and insurgents moving across borders who could have fueled such a trade in arms?

  • Well, you know, counsel, I want to be very straightforward with us. When you lump it up that way, it becomes - you talk about traders, criminals and insurgents. If you don't mind, maybe I can answer them one by one because --

  • Well, you break it down whichever you want to, Mr Taylor, but I'm still looking for an answer.

  • Traders, I would say yes. Criminals, now, that I would not be able to comment on, the criminality of the individuals. Insurgents, yes. So traders and insurgents I would say yes; criminals, I would not really know.

  • Now, the other aspect of this that I want to deal with is this: As President of Liberia, were you aware of such a cross-border intercommunity trade in that part of the world?

  • No, I was not aware of it. And I can see the period you're talking about now, counsel. What period are you talking about?

  • Well, let's talk about the period of your presidency beginning in August of 1997?

  • Okay. No, I was not aware of this trade going on across the border. No, I was not aware, because I would have stopped it. We were looking for weapons ourselves. No, I was not aware.

  • Well, the kind of enterprise being addressed in this paragraph 66 that we're looking at, Mr Taylor, where we're talking about, in effect, an area awash with small arms, saleable items, transportable items, yes?

  • Now, help us. Can you say that such a trade at that level could not have been operating from Liberia? Do you follow me?

  • I can say that emphatically. I don't even believe this figure. This figure I would say is grossly overstated. But let's contextualise this. We're talking about, what? Arms coming from Sierra Leone, supporting ULIMO into Liberia; arms coming from Guinea supporting ULIMO-K in Liberia; the NPFL having its own arms come to Liberia. So you're talking about that's the 100 per cent. And when you asked the question about how much and what percentage could I proffer and I said 70 per cent, so we're talking about 30 per cent left that is mostly in the Lofa, Cape Mount area on the Sierra Leonean border, because we have heard evidence led in this Court about ULIMO trade. So we're talking about 20 per cent of that 30 that is still in the hands of ULIMO-J and K on the Sierra Leonean border. When you look at that, I would then say that we are dealing with a very small amount. I would put this 125, I would even move the 120. If the RUF is making any money over in Sierra Leone it cannot be of this large amounts, because they are grossly overstated. So I can practically say that this level of trade, based on information that I have even heard in this Court, could not have existed, even though some level existed.

  • Right. That's what I'm trying to get at, you see, Mr Taylor.

  • Now, let me put it in more basic and direct terms them. I'm a former ULIMO combatant. War's over. I've got no job, but I've still got my AK-47 hidden somewhere in the jungle. I then decide to pick it up and tread over the border to Sierra Leone and sell it for the $75 or $100 US that I could get for it. What I'm asking you is this: Were you, as President, aware that a trade at that kind of level might have been operating from Liberia? Do you follow me now?

  • Yes, I follow you. I'll tell you, the best way I can help the Court is this, and I'm being very - you get - as President, you will hear that the combatants that are on that side are selling weapons and, you know, I want to get this knowledge and awareness without misleading the Court. You get the information, but you cannot put your teeth in it. But you get the information that there is that trade going on, but you really can't - by "putting teeth" I mean you do not know who the culprits are, but you get the information. It's coming in reports that there is information that former ULIMO people are selling arms across the border. This is now - if that is knowledge, I do not know how to define it. I would call that information, that you do get to hear about it, but you cannot get the people who are involved.

  • So just let's pause and hopefully try and put this point to bed. Are you accepting, Mr Taylor, that such information did in fact come to your notice?

  • Some of this information did come to our notice, yes.

  • Right. Question number two then: Did you have the capability or capacity to stop that low level that I'm describing - level of arms dealing over the border?

  • No, we did not have the capacity. That's what I meant by we couldn't put our teeth into it, because you just hear about it. It comes maybe in a regular bulletin: Oh, we are getting information that people are selling arms. And they don't have to go directly across the border. You're talking about a porous forest area. It's just general information that, in this case, has not even been processed as intelligence yet. It's just basic information.

    But in direct answer, we did not have the capacity to stop that kind of business and we have made no quarrels about the fact that this was going on. But we had no control over it. These were ULIMO people doing it.

  • Well, let me ask another question, then, based on the legal requirements of liability applicable in these courts. Was that level of arms dealing going on with your consent or acquiescence?

  • No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Never. No. Even if we could have found those people, we would have taken the weapons to use them for government security forces that didn't have them. These were former combatants of ULIMO. You just hear: The people are selling weapons across. If we could have found them, we would have taken the weapons and then used them ourselves. No, no. The government would never have been involved in that. We have individuals going after armed robbers in Monrovia and parts of the country unarmed, and we're going to know that weapons are going across the border and we're not going to take them if we can find them? No, that would be impossible. We are confronting criminals without arms. We would have used those arms to confront the criminals. No, the government did not have the knowledge and/or acquiescence with or - never. No, no.

  • Let's go back to paragraph 67:

    "The sole basis for the report's conclusion that the RUF receives arms shipments from Liberia is found in paragraph 199. Two theories are advanced: (1), having no access to the sea, the RUF can import weapons and related materiel only by road or air; (2), given the state of the roads, these supplies must be delivered by air.

    What the panel did not address and cannot explain away is while it concedes in paragraph 178 that the RUF needs a steady flow of arms and ammunition, it is unable to account for this needed steady flow between the period 1992 to 1997, when the entire Liberian side of the border with Sierra Leone was continuously and exclusively controlled by ULIMO."

    Now, that is a point which we've made ad nauseam, Mr Taylor.

  • Yes, that's true.

  • "... one of the former Liberian military factions and the principal opponent of the defunct NPFL. As has been previously shown, ULIMO was established in Sierra Leone under the auspices of the Sierra Leonean government and it received extensive political and logistical support from the Sierra Leone government.

    The panel's conclusion erroneously presupposes that virtually all of the RUF's weapons are obtained from external sources - in this case Liberia. But paragraphs 178 through 180 of the same report would appear to negate and nullify the panel's own thesis because they detail that an overwhelming amount of weapons were obtained by the RUF entirely from internal Sierra Leonean sources.

    For example, paragraph 180 refers to considerable amount of weaponry seized by the RUF during confrontation with the Sierra Leone Armed Forces; that 'a significant number of weapons, including hundreds of rifles, 24 machine guns, 10 mortars, 20 rocket-propelled grenades, several tons of ammunition and three armoured personnel carriers' were seized from the Guinean UNAMSIL unit in January 2000 - other Guinean units serving under ECOMOG had also previously been disarmed during ambushes and seizures. Also, 'great amounts of rifles were lost to the rebels as well as eight armoured personnel carriers and several other military vehicles' when Kenyan and Zambian UNAMSIL contingents were disarmed by the RUF in May 2000.

    Apparently, the panel also inadvertently forgot to include in the report that the RUF obtained an additional and large source of weapons directly from the Sierra Leone Army inventory when the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council headed by Johnny Paul Koroma took power in May 1997 and entered into a power sharing arrangement with the RUF.

    And the British government may have also unwittingly supplied the RUF with weapons when it brought in a massive supply of weapons in" - the month and year is omitted - "and distributed them to the Sierra Leone Army and other pro-government militias including the Kamajors and the West Side Boys. Incidentally, the latter group subsequently rebelled against the Sierra Leone government and held several British troops hostage necessitating the British having to undertake a rescue mission."

    Mr Taylor, help us. The month and year is missing. Maybe you can assist us now.

  • These weapons were brought in - we started complaining about them in '99. 1999 that the British government brought in these weapons and said that we should not be concerned, they would only be used for the new army.

  • "The Sierra Leone government of Tejan Kabbah may itself have also been a source of supply to the RUF when it requested two waivers of the provisions of the protocol on the monitoring of small arms on 23 June 2000 and 18 July 2000. The first waiver was to permit the importation from the United Kingdom of 'five rounds" - you see, that's that same - we looked at this earlier, did we not, in the executive summary?

  • "... of 7.62 NATO ammunition and 4,000 rounds of 81 millimetre mortar ammunition provided by the government of the United Kingdom', the second was a waiver to import '5,000,000 rounds of 7.62 NATO link ammunition for GPMGs' also from the United Kingdom. Given the pattern of events in Sierra Leone, it is not an unreasonable assumption that a substantial portion of these shipments also ended up in RUF's hands.

    The Liberian government for its part can confirm that a large amount of the British weapons supplied the Sierra Leone army and its allied militias were captured by Liberian government troops in Lofa County during the most recent rebel incursion into Liberia from Guinea (July-October 2000). The President of Liberia publicly presented a couple of the captured new British supplied rifles to the chairman of ECOWAS, President Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali, and President Obasanjo of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. How these weapons ended up in the hands of the invading rebels in Liberia has to be explained by the British and Sierra Leonean governments."

    Is that true, Mr Taylor.

  • Yes, we captured mortar rounds and rifles and we displayed them publicly to, in fact, British and other diplomats with the Ministry of Defence markings on it, the supplies that they brought to Sierra Leone, yes.

  • Which Ministry of Defence marking?

  • Of Britain. The UK Ministry of Defence on the cans. They were very, very - real marked in yellow that we captured from them.

  • "And it should be noted that paragraph 83 of the report also confirms that additional arms shipments are received by the RUF from neighbouring Guinea based on diamond trades made by the RUF to mid-level Guinean military officers.

    Paragraph 249 further admits that the RUF received weapons captured from ECOMOG forces who fell into various ambushes. In December 1998 'a great number of ECOMOG weapons, including armoured vehicles' were captured. The panel admits that RUF received weapons from the Nigerian ECOMOG contingent in exchange for cash, diamonds, et cetera."

    Now, Mr Taylor, you see that "In December 1998 'a great number of ECOMOG weapons including armoured vehicles' were captured." Remind us, what happened in January 1999?

  • It was the Freetown invasion.

  • "Given all these well-documented non-Liberian sources of arms received by the RUF, we do not believe that the panel had any logical or rational basis for concluding that virtually all of the arms received by the RUF are from Liberia.

    One only has to wonder, given these myriad non-Liberian sources of supplies, whether there was any need for the RUF to import weapons from Liberia. And although the panel details these sources, given their pre-set conclusions that 'virtually all of the arms must originate from Liberia', they did not think it appropriate to question or revise their original theory. This clearly demonstrated a lack of objectivity and professionalism.

    Finally, it is important that the issue of the payment for these arms should be addressed. In other words, who pays for these arms? Since the panel's underlying rationale is that the sale of the illegal diamonds finances the purchase of the weapons, it logically follows that these illicit diamonds must be delivered directly to the government who in turn sells them and uses the proceeds to purchase the arms. A necessary corollary of this must be that the panel should then have been able to confirm that these sales were made and payments were received by the President of Liberia or his agents. Since also, presumably, these would necessarily involve substantial sums of cash, it should have been easy for the panel to have been able to trace the sales and the payments, whether by cash, bank drafts, cheques or bank transfers.

    We believe that the issue of illegal diamonds being exported from Liberia allegedly with the government's complicity has been previously, extensively and exhaustively dealt with in the prior sections of this report. The government has shown the falsity of the allegations and conclusions arrived at by the panel."

    And then you go on to deal with "Liberia and international air transport systems". I think we should just briefly get a flavour of this.

    Now, you concede at the beginning of paragraph 81:

    "The Liberian government concedes that many of the issues raised in the report about the non-documentation or in many cases the fraudulent misrepresentation of Liberian registered aircraft may have some factual basis."

    Why that concession, Mr Taylor?

  • Because for the seven years of the civil war in Liberia, a lot of funny things went on with all of the interim governments and all this kind of stuff, and so there were a lot of - you have these factions in the Ministry of Transport, we got to find out when my government investigated. One guy will issue, let's say, a licence to an aircraft who was responsible for it, and another guy who felt that he was a part of the factional government could do the same. So there were many documents out that there that, you know, when my government came in, we could not even trace. And so there was something factual to that, that there was massive confusion during the years of the war with people doing exactly what they wanted to do in Monrovia before the elections.

  • And when we go back to paragraph 81 we note:

    "However, the council should be reminded that the Taylor government did not assume authority in Liberia until its inauguration in September 1997."

    Let's jump to the next paragraph, which has been misnumbered. It should be 82.

  • "The panel suggests that this state of affairs is due to Liberia's 'lax licence and tax laws'. It cites as an example the fact that a company can be incorporated in a single day with no requirement that it maintains executive offices in the country or lists its corporate officers or shareholders."

    Was that true?

  • This is - yeah. That's what they suggest.

  • No, no, no. But was that - that's the suggestion made in the report, but was it true?

  • "The panel concludes that the government's corporate programme, which, as has previously been noted, has been in existence for more than 50 years, has led to a total disregard for aviation safety and a total lack of oversight for Liberian planes operating on a global scale. There is clearly no obvious relationship between the panel's conclusion and suggestion that Liberia must therefore be involved in any illegal activities.

    What the panel did not also state is that Liberia's corporate programme is not unique but quite on the contrary is similar to and modelled on those of many other countries who operate corporate registries. These include the British administered Channel Islands, British Virgin Islands (which has the world's largest offshore corporate programme) Panama, the Cayman Islands and Bahamas.

    The panel documents the extensive and global illegal activities of one Mr Sanjivan Ruprah, alleged to be a Kenyan national. It also admits that he travelled on a Liberian diplomatic passport in false names as 'Liberia's Deputy Commissioner for Maritime Affairs', and that he was authorised in writing by the Liberian Ministry of Transport to act as its agent. Paragraph 26 also alleges that Ruprah carries additional authorisation from the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry.

    The Government of Liberia through both the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Transport denied any knowledge of or association with Sanjivan Ruprah mentioned in paragraphs 225, 226 and 227. The government also challenges that authenticity of any 'written appointment' allegedly given him by the 'Liberian Ministry of Transport to act as the global civil aviation agent'."

    Mr Taylor, do you know this man Sanjivan Ruprah.

  • No, I do not know him.

  • If this allegation that he was travelling on a Liberian diplomatic passport is true, how could such a thing come about?

  • Diplomatic passports are given from time to time.

  • As a courtesy. It's a courtesy passport to business people. Important individuals, you give them diplomatic passports.

  • And some people might know, but help us: What advantages do you get when you travel on a diplomatic passport?

  • Oh, I would say entries and exits out of countries are a little easier. You - in fact, in some areas upon entry you are given certain VIP treatment. In hotels you could be given certain also treatment rates that are given to diplomats. It's basically a courtesy.

  • What about protection from searches of property brought into a country?

  • No. No, you have to be very careful with that. There's a difference between a diplomatic passport as carried by an individual as a service, and a diplomatic passport to one that is accredited to a country. Now, the only time you can avoid searches in a particular country carrying a diplomatic passport is if you are accredited to that country.

  • Mr Griffiths, could I ask: Did I understand Mr Taylor to say that Liberian diplomatic passports are issued or could be issued to non-Liberian nationals as a courtesy?

  • Yes, that is correct. Non-Liberian nationals.

  • But they would be Liberian diplomatic passports, but given to foreigners?

  • Well, I would just add it's not unique, but it's a courtesy for - let's say if you hired a lawyer, for example, for Liberia to do some lobbying in, let's say, the United States. For a short period of time, maybe for six months to a year, you can accord him that courtesy of giving him a passport. If you had a lobbyist, let's say from anywhere in the European country, as a European citizen that was lobbying on behalf of Liberia for any specific situation in the country, you could accord him that courtesy of granting him a diplomatic passport for a short time. Most passports will run for many years. These passports are issued for very short periods, for - in most cases, for the duration of the time of that service. And it is not unique to Liberia, your Honour.

  • I really would need to ask - would have to ask: What is in it for Liberia to issue their passport to a non-national? What's the advantage?

  • Well, the advantage should be - it's just - it gets that person into - it gave them certain recognition. For example, the passport will be accompanied by a letter. There is a sealed letter from the foreign ministry that says, let's say: John Wood, a citizen of - let's say Belgium - is accorded this passport and represents the interests of the Government of Liberia in this matter, and it will specify the matter. So when that individual goes in to discuss the issues of the country, he has something to demonstrate that he's doing it with the consent and knowledge of the government in question, okay? So this is how it operates. I would almost say that - except for maybe the big countries, but I would say 95 per cent of the world do that.

  • So when you say that these diplomatic passports could be given to businessmen, could you perhaps explain in similar reasoning how that would work if someone was a businessman, a non-national of Liberia, but carrying your diplomatic passport?

  • Yes. Let's say if there is a major industrialist in Europe, for example, that went to Liberia and wanted to invest millions of dollars in Liberia. As a courtesy, you would accord him that. Liberia gets the benefit from the investment of that corporation. That could also be extended in another way - there are two ways added to that, or some people grant what you call consular service. You grant to a consular service to a country - I mean to an individual - a non-Liberian in a particular country, you grant him consular services also to assist in his work for that country.

  • What are consular services?

  • Let's say in those areas that Liberia does not have an embassy. If you do not an embassy or chancery in that country, you get the national of that country to serve as counsellor, okay? And they can grant visas for Liberia, and the fees are collected and deposited with the Government of Liberia. So the issue of having them - even having a diplomatic passport under that condition, or a diplomatic passport representing the interests of Liberia in any particular situation, be it legal or be it business, are all courtesies that are accorded for specific periods of time accompanied by a sealed document from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and after that time the passport is lifted.

  • Let's jump to paragraph 86, Mr Taylor:

    "Although the panel does not state what the additional authorisation which Ruprah allegedly received from the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry, LISCR, minimum standards or investigation required that it should have been identified and verified directly with LISCR, especially since LISCR is a US-based corporation and maintains a worldwide network of corporate offices in New York, Virginia, London, Geneva, Hong Kong, Greece as well as Monrovia."

    Is that true?

  • Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Oh, yes. These are the major areas, especially Greece, where we have the ships. Most of the Greeks register their ships with the Liberian registry. Yes, in London is the second major office. Right in London, yes.

  • "Since the panel elected not to confirm or verify this information, it was grossly improper and unprofessional for them to have listed as factual this unsubstantiated allegation."

    Let's miss the next two paragraphs and go to paragraph 91 on page 23:

    "The government is unaware of any Victor Bout."

    Now, I mention this for this reason. That is a man who has received a great deal of notoriety recently, is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • Currently in custody in Thailand, is it?

  • Did your government ever do business with him?

  • "The government is unaware of any Victor Bout and categorically denies the allegations contained in paragraphs 234 and 235. What the report shows is the country's inability to monitor the worldwide fraudulent activities of unscrupulous businessmen who continue to take advantage of the government's inability to monitor its aircraft registration.

    Recommendations.

    The Government of Liberia, recognising the seriousness of the problem, fully endorses the panel's recommendations contained in paragraphs 32, 33 and 34, with the provision that the implementation does not exceed a period of more than two years and that the recommendation to exclude aircraft which have regularised their registration with the Liberian government".

    And then we come to allegations that arms are delivered to Robertsfield and airlifted to the RUF. We need to deal with this in a little detail.

    "The panel's thesis for this conclusion is stated in paragraph 199. Although it states that because the RUF territory is landlocked, arms and material can only be received by the RUF by road or by air, the panel makes it clear that it assumes that the shipments are airlifted by helicopters, since it admits in the next sentence that the role of aircraft in the RUF supply chain is vital and later comments on the impassable conditions of the roads in the area. The scenario presented by the panel is clear. Arms are initially ferried by air from external sources to Robertsfield and thereafter airlifted by helicopters to the RUF in Sierra Leone. The obvious inconsistency and contradiction in the panel's reasoning, when it subsequently states in paragraphs 216 and 217 that logging roads and trucks are used to transport arms from Robertsfield to the Sierra Leone border, is self-evident here.

    The panel asserts in paragraph 234, and without any attempt to provide proof, that this plane, an Ilyushin 79, was used in July and August 2000 for arms deliveries from Europe to Liberia."

    Now, remind - let's remind ourselves, Mr Taylor. In July and August of 2000, remind us: What were you engaged in doing?

  • About three weeks. One was my 262. I held a meeting --

  • Our July 26, our Independence celebration. I had a meeting in Monrovia and invited at least four or five Heads of State dealing with the Sierra Leonean problem, invited Issa Sesay and held the discussions for finding a new leadership in the RUF in August. He returns, and I'm dealing with the RUF and he's appointed leader. That's what I'm doing.

  • Are you sure you weren't involved in a little arms importation at the time, Mr Taylor?

  • "The panel also states in the same paragraph that this aircraft, an Antonov, made four deliveries to Liberia three times in July and once in August 2000."

    Mr Taylor, have you ever seen any proof of that?

  • No, I haven't seen an Antonov making - no.

  • "The cargo included attack cable helicopters, spare rotors, anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems, missiles, armoured vehicles, machine guns and almost a million rounds of ammunition. The helicopters were Mi-2 and Mi-17 types."

    Now, let's just pause for a moment. Now, Mr Taylor, you accept, do you not, that there had been an armed incursion from Guinea in July of 2000?

  • Now, in warding off that attack, Mr Taylor, did you have need for anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems?

  • I mean, were these rebels who had entered Liberia from Guinea armed with tanks and aircraft?

  • So help us. This inventory of armaments which it is suggested you brought in in July of 2000, how much would have been of use to the Liberian government in terms of defending itself?

  • Of no real use. Who are we fighting, a conventional army invading from a different country? These are rebels using light arms and RPGs, rocket propelled grenades. They don't have tanks, they don't have aircrafts, they don't have armoured personnel carriers. So I don't know what these people are referring to here. No, this - there would be no need for that.

  • And what about the helicopters that were supposedly imported, Mi-2 and Mi-17 helicopters?

  • Well, we did get an Mi-2. I have said here that we had an Mi-2, which is a very small helicopter, and this guy, he jumps an Mi-17 type. An Mi-17 helicopter is a huge helicopter. We only had an Mi-2, which I don't believe you can put 10 persons on an Mi-2. It's the smallest version of the make - of those helicopters made.

  • And it goes on:

    "It is important for the reader to note that the Liberian armed forces do not have armoured vehicles in its arsenal, nor have they deployed anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems. The falsity of paragraph 234 is confirmed by the fact that there are no Mi-17 helicopters in Liberia. The government admits that it does have two Mi-2 civilian helicopters which were acquired almost a year ago and two Mi-8 civilian transport helicopters purchased locally five months ago. The helicopters were brought into Liberia aboard neither an Ilyushin 79 nor an Antonov; all were flown directly from neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire.

    The two Mi-2s were purchased initially by a private business entity to address its transport needs in the rural parts of the country. The Mi-8s were brought into the country by one of the timber companies for use in its logging operations. Mi-2s are used exclusively for civilian purposes. Government purchase of the Mi-8 was necessitated by the intensification in the fighting occasioned by the third invasion of insurgents from Guinea. They were used to transport supplies and to bring wounded and displaced civilians to Monrovia who had been caught up in the fighting. Paragraph 202 states that the RUF has been supplied with weapons by helicopter on a sporadic basis between 1997 and on a regular basis since then. It is a fact easily verifiable that until a year ago there were no government owned or operated helicopters in Liberia. The only helicopters in Liberia were operated by the United Nations. Therefore, if paragraph 2302 is to be believed, it is certain that this government could not have been supplying the RUF with weapons because it did not assume political power until September 1997 after the holding of the ECOWAS sponsored general elections.

    And it is equally important to note that although the Mi-2s were acquired about a year ago, they do not have the range or capacity to fly armaments or related material from Monrovia to the Sierra Leonean border. Only the Mi-8s have this capability, and they were only acquired a few months ago.

    Additionally, although the panel admits in paragraph 207 that the authorities of Burkina Faso informed the sanctions committee in writing that it had not re-exported any arms to Liberia and went further to display contents of the shipments to the panel, the panel nevertheless still proceeded in paragraph 210 to dismiss and ignore Burkina Faso's denial with supplying any evidence to justify this.

    In the report, the panel admitted that the Roberts FIR system in Conakry is obsolete and archaic. This being true, any information supplied the panel on the movement of aircraft must be seen as unreliable, a point which the panel has also conceded by detailing extensive recommendations for the complete upgrading of the entire system. With these imposed difficulties so apparent, how much more difficult is it to inventory the nature and contents of cargoes.

    In paragraph 64, the panel claims it saw photographs of an aircraft being loaded in Burkina Faso and that it spoke to eyewitnesses of aircraft movement in Burkina Faso and Liberia respectively, and also spoke to individuals on board of aircraft in question. The Government of Liberia is constrained in this instance to observe that a photograph depicting the loading of an aircraft in Burkina Faso is insufficient to conclude that its cargo was off-loaded in Liberia and subsequently transported to Sierra Leone.

    It must be noted that by these claims the panel attempts to draw a connection between the alleged violation of Resolution 788, the arms embargo on Liberia, and Resolution 1306, the prohibition against the supply of arms to the RUF. The government sees no possible connection between the two, unless the panel is suggesting that the helicopters purchased by the Liberian government were in turn delivered to and are being used by the RUF.

    It is crucial for the reader to note that within the last two years, Liberia has been invaded on six separate occasions by insurgents from neighbouring Guinea. Given the arms embargo against Liberia, coupled with the destruction under UN supervision of arms and ammunition retrieved from Liberian warring factions, is it reasonable that Liberia would deprive itself of weapons needed to defend itself and transfer the same to the RUF? The panel's report has previously documented how the RUF was able to acquire an overwhelming amount of supplies almost entirely from internal Sierra Leonean sources.

    But most importantly, there was no report of any significant conflagration in Sierra Leone during the period. The anomaly at this allegation presents is that, confronted as the Liberian government has been with the urgent necessity to protect its people and territorial integrity, it would prioritise the supply of weapons to the RUF which, the report concedes, is in a better position to perpetrate its own agenda in Sierra Leone.

    Every member of the United Nations recognises the prime responsibility of a nation state as being to enhance the well being of its people, safeguard its territorial integrity and protect its sovereignty. For any given nation to be in a position to adhere to international obligation, treaty or regulation, it must be able to continue to function as a state.

    Also, the two Alouette-3 helicopters mentioned in the same paragraph of the panel's report already noted above were made available to the Government of Liberia by the Libyan government when the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States prevailed on the Liberian government to intervene in securing the release of UNAMSIL officers held hostage by the RUF."

    Now, Mr Taylor, we've had reference to that provision by Libya in the past, haven't we?

  • Yes, we have.

  • So what precisely was it that the Libyans provided?

  • These helicopters, I think they are Italian made, I'm not too sure, but they are so tiny, I do not know what they were thinking about. When we were all sure that the hostages would be released, they thought they would help and informed the UN, this is with UN acquiescence, that they would send in helicopters to help with the evacuation. So, lo and behold, they offload these two toy - we called them toy helicopters. They really couldn't be used. They are very tiny. I think they could take about 5, 6 persons at a time. We told them that this was crazy, so the UN had to use its Mi-8 helicopters.

  • "The government lacked the capacity to evacuate the peacekeepers after successfully concluding negotiations with the RUF. Consequently, the government called on the international community to assist in the provision of means by which the evacuation could be made effective. Only the Libyan government was gracious to provide two Alouette-3 helicopters, which were later determined to be unfit for the operation. They were promptly returned to Libya. Had the panel allowed itself to exercise useful diligence, it would have been in the position to confirm these facts and correlate the dates of the arrival of the Alouette-3 helicopters within the period of the evacuation of the United Nations peacekeepers.

    Evidently, the panel admits the lapses and weaknesses of the air traffic control system especially in the sub-region. The Government of Liberia is in a weaker position as a result of the reasons stated throughout this report, to decisively tackle these and many of the problems they present without international support and assistance. In paragraph 311, in response to an inquiry from the panel as to what assistance the President of Liberia would prefer between a choice of military supplies and the revitalisation of the Roberts International Airport, the President informed the panel that he would prefer assistance to revitalise RIA."

    And then we come to training:

    "The Liberian government has never denied having a train base at Gbatala in Bong County. Indeed, the government has permitted foreign observes, including the US military attache in Monrovia, to visit the training facilities from time to time. The base was established by the government to provide much needed training facilities for its internal security organisations including members of the Special Security Service (SSS), which provides executive protection, and the Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU), which provides protection for foreign embassies and other sensitive government installations. The government emphatically denies that anyone other than Liberian security personnel is trained there.

    Because of the refusal of the international community to address government's repeated appeals for assistance to restructure and retrain Liberia's military and security establishment, the government was compelled to contract the professional serves of Fred Rindel, a retired South African military officer and former South African military attache to the United States, to train and provide related consultancy services to the government. Specifically, Mr Rindel was employed to train members of the Special Security Service and the Anti-Terrorist Unit.

    This was independently confirmed and corroborated by Mr Rindel when he was extensively interviewed by the panel in South Africa. Not only did he not confirm the allegations contained in paragraph 185, that Ukrainians, Burkinabes, Nigeriens, Libyans and South Africans were also present in the base for training purposes, but he stated in paragraph 192 that his services were purely of a protective nature and did not include any combat training or training of the Armed Forces of Liberia. If Mr Rindel's contract did not provide for training of Liberian combatants (i.e., members of the Armed Forces of Liberia) is it likely or feasible that Mr Rindel would have agreed to or would have trained RUF combatants?"

    Now, Mr Taylor, was it within your knowledge that Mr Rindel had been interviewed by the panel in South Africa?

  • We got to know. He informed the defence minister. After he spoke to them, he did.

  • So where you say "not only did he not confirm the allegation contained in paragraph 185", where did you get that information from, that he didn't confirm that?

  • If you look at paragraph 185, what does 185 say? It talks about training an armed force and he was not training an armed force. He was training a security force.

  • What I'm asking is: Through your defence minister, did you learn what Rindel's position on that was when interviewed by the panel of experts?

  • And what was that position?

  • He mentioned that they had alleged that he was training an army. He told them no, and he described to them what he was training. That it was a security force and not the armed forces.

  • "However, for unknown reasons the panel deliberately disregarded and ignored Mr Rindel's statements and nevertheless concluded in paragraph 187 that he trained Liberian soldiers and groups of foreigners, including citizens of Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Niger and The Gambia.

    In paragraph 184 the report alleges that the RUF has received regular training in Liberia at Gbatala near Gbarnga and elsewhere. Although uncorroborated by training officers interviewed, the panel cites oral and written testimony, hundreds of ex-combatants, and many former RUF leaders of confirming this allegation. It would seem reasonable, therefore, that the panel would have been capable of identifying the 'elsewhere' previously referred to where this military training took place. It would have been helpful to the Security Council had the panel also indicated its mode of verification of the identities of the many former RUF leaders and the hundreds of ex-combatants. Simple logic dictates that after nine years of fighting and surviving, the RUF would be in a better position to train the Liberian armed forces and not the other way around.

    Coincidentally, had the panel bothered to adhere to its own evidentiary standards, it should have listed the graduates of the Gbatala base. They could have been crosschecked the roster against names and aliases of RUF combatants and commanders, which are presumably in the panel's possession. The conclusion would have then been easily verifiable. Instead, the panel elected to rely almost continuously on hearsay, rumours and local gossip. Additionally, if the panel's claims are to be taken seriously, it would identify the 'elsewhere' in Liberia where training of RUF fighters takes place.

    Obviously, this cannot be the unequivocal and overwhelming evidence which the panel referred to in paragraph 183.

    Safe haven for the RUF in Liberia.

    Paragraphs 77, 182, 183 and 193 of the report attempt to create the impression that the presence of elements of the RUF leadership in Monrovia is further confirmation of the close ties between the President of Liberia and the RUF. This is clearly disingenuous, because the presence of these individuals in Monrovia is general public knowledge, as is also the facts and circumstances of why they are permitted to reside in the country.

    This information was, and is, readily available from a wide variety of sources, including President Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone, President Obasanjo of Nigeria, President Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali, the current Chairman of ECOWAS, as well as the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Had the panel taken the time to conduct a minimum amount of research instead of relying on rumours and unsubstantiated hearsay, they would have easily discovered this.

    Much reference was made about the presence of Sam Bockarie in Monrovia as evidence of the government's support for the RUF. It may be instructive to give a brief summary of the circumstances which led to Sam Bockarie being permitted to stay in Monrovia.

    Based on complaints received by the President of Liberia from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, ECOWAS, and President Kabbah of Sierra Leone that Sam Bockarie was not cooperating with Foday Sankoh, particularly with regards to instructions given by Foday Sankoh in respect of RUF disarmament, they requested the President of Liberia's personal intervention to resolve the matter. This lack of cooperation was viewed as impeding the implementation of the Lome agreement.

    After consultations with the UN, ECOWAS and President Kabbah, and with their prior knowledge and approval, the President of Liberia invited both Foday Sankoh and Sam Bockarie to Monrovia in an attempt to mediate and resolve whatever differences existed between the two men. After mediating between the two it was obvious that the differences between them were intractable, and after further consultations with the United Nations, ECOWAS and President Kabbah, it was agreed that the best and most practical solution was to have Sam Bockarie removed from Sierra Leone. This decision was based on the rationale that the removal of Sam Bockarie would also remove whatever impediments existed for the implementation of the Lome Peace Agreement.

    The President of Liberia was therefore requested to permit Sam Bockarie to stay in Monrovia, and the United Nations Secretary-General also promised to solicit funding for his stay from friendly governments. Unfortunately, to date none as been forthcoming."

    Pause there. Mr Taylor, did you ever receive any assistance from any other party, including the United Nations, to support Sam Bockarie after he arrived in Liberia?

  • No, none. None.

  • "The Liberian government states emphatically that if it is no longer the desire or wish of the United Nations, ECOWAS and the Sierra Leonean government that Sam Bockarie and his entourage continue to reside in Liberia, the Liberian government is prepared to expel them.

    Also, if it is their view that Liberia should disengage itself from the Sierra Leone peace process, it is prepared and willing to do so, and, as an additional precautionary measure, to completely close its borders with Sierra Leone.

    On several occasions the Liberian government was requested by the United Nations and ECOWAS to allow RUF representatives invited to attend regional conferences to transit through Liberia. That was the case when RUF representatives had to attend meetings called at the behest of ECOWAS at different times in Abidjan, Abuja and Lome. It is important to note that it was the United Nations who thereafter facilitated the travel of these RUF representatives from Liberia to their destinations outside of Liberia.

    ECOWAS Heads of State specifically mandated the President of Liberia to use his good offices and whatever influence he may have with the RUF leadership to try and facilitate the peace process in Sierra Leone. This is confirmed by various communiques issued by the Heads of State."

    Let's just pause there for a minute, Mr Taylor, and just quickly identify the documents in appendix 10 which relate to this. MFA/7 - unhelpfully these are not numbered, but if one flicks through and just looks at the top for MFA/7.

  • That's the final communique of the consultation meeting.

  • We've looked at document before, Mr Taylor, haven't we?

  • Likewise MFA/8, which is behind it. Again we've looked at that, haven't we?

  • And MFA/9. Again, we've looked at previously at that document, haven't we?

  • And we can just remind ourselves on MFA/9, at page 6, remember that passage at paragraph 21? They congratulated President Charles Ghankay Taylor on the speed and effectiveness of his actions in the execution of the mandate given to him by his colleagues; remember that?

  • Mr Griffiths, sorry to interrupt, but my MFA/7 is very strange.

  • It's the wrong way around.

  • It begins with a paragraph 14 and then has the heading "Final Communique", page 2.

  • And then it has a whole itinerary of the Heads of State, and that's it.

  • But we have encountered this document in a different guise.

  • Mr President, sorry to interrupt. I believe I have the same situation as Justice Sebutinde has explained. May I inquire whether these documents that are attached to the response are in the form in which they were presented originally, or are they now being presented in a different form with some extracts removed?

  • Well, maybe you can help us with that, Mr Taylor. Are we dealing with complete documents, or excerpts from those documents?

  • Here we would be dealing with experts. But to help the Justice, remember when this issue came up in the Court the other day some rogue pages were extracted, so there's another binder that may have the correct configuration of these MFAs, from my recollection.

  • I think what Mr Bangura is asking is we are looking at the document entitled "Response of the Liberian Government". The question he is asking is are these annexes appearing exactly as they appeared in the response, or have you now doctored the annexes to extract excerpts of the initial annexes?

  • Can you help us with that, Mr Taylor?

  • No one would doctor them, no. These would be extract pages from the document, just a portion of it just as a reminder.

  • Perhaps during the break you could address this, because these annexes are really in a bad state. At least, on my file anyway. I can't work out where MFA/7 begins. It looks incomplete. And the rest of that MFA/7 has another paragraph 14 that doesn't bear any resemblance to the original 14.

  • Your Honours, I just wish to make the point that this is about the second time in this bundle of documents that we come across an attachment or an annex that is not in a complete form, and it raises the question whether we're dealing really with a complete set of documents as was originally presented.

  • Yes, I take that point, Mr Bangura.

  • I've just given instructions, Mr President, that hopefully by tomorrow we can have the original of this document, along, hopefully, with copies of the attached appendices for the Court tomorrow or as soon thereafter as possible.

  • Thank you for that, Mr Griffiths.

  • Paragraph 124, Mr Taylor:

    "Again it is disingenuous for the panel to deliberately misconstrue the fact that Gibril Massaquoi distributed a press release in Monrovia as evidence of the Liberian's government's support for the RUF. The facts, which are easy to confirm, are that following the arrest and detention of Foday Sankoh and other RUF leaders in Freetown there was a lull in the peace process, and it was proposed by the Sierra Leonean government, ECOWAS and the United Nations, that the RUF select a new group of leaders who would continue to carry out peace negotiations with the Sierra Leonean government under ECOWAS auspices. The presence of the RUF delegation in Monrovia and the public announcement of the selection of the new RUF leadership was done with the full knowledge, approval and consent of the Sierra Leone government, ECOWAS and the United Nations."

    Again, Mr Taylor, we're not going to rehearse that because we've gone over it before, haven't we?

  • "High level meetings with the President of Liberia.

    In furtherance of his role as an ECOWAS mandated mediator in the Sierra Leonean crisis, the President of Liberia has at various times hosted Foday Sankoh, Johnny Paul Koroma, Sam Bockarie, as well as President Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone. The Liberian President has also facilitated meetings between the leaders of the RUF and ECOWAS Heads of State, including President Obasanjo of Nigeria, President Konare of Mali, President Kabbah of Sierra Leone, as well as official US delegations which included Reverend Jesse Jackson, President Clinton's special representative for Africa for the promotion of democracy in Africa and Mr Howard Jetter, US Deputy Assistant Secretary. All these meetings were held for the express purpose of fostering the Sierra Leonean peace process and occurred at the Executive Mansion in Monrovia. They were open and extensively covered by both the local and international media and were not clandestine RUF strategy meetings, as is suggested by the panel.

    An example of the President of Liberia's carrying out his ECOWAS mediation role occurred in Monrovia on 26 July 2000, when a mini ECOWAS summit was held with RUF commanders led by General Issa Sesay and some Heads of State of ECOWAS, including Presidents Gnassingbe Eyadema, Chairman of the OAU, Alpha Konare, Chairman ECOWAS, Olusegun Obasanjo, and Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia. The discussions resulted in the RUF commanders agreeing to:

    The appointment of a new leadership and interlocutor for the RUF. This was necessitated because of the prior arrest and detention of Foday Sankoh, the former leader of the RUF. Continual implementation of the Lome accords required the identification of an interim RUF interlocutor.

    A commitment was obtained from the RUF commanders to permit the deployment of ECOWAS contingents serving with UNAMSIL in RUF controlled areas.

    RUF staging bases at Camp Schefflein, Voinjama and Foya Kamara.

    Even a rudimentary knowledge of the geography of Liberia would reveal that it is utterly absurd to suggest that Camp Schefflein and Voinjama are used as staging bases by the RUF. Camp Schefflein, located within the outer suburbs of Monrovia along the Atlantic Ocean, is situated about 300 miles from the parts of Sierra Leone alleged to be controlled by the RUF.

    Voinjama is situated near the Guinean border and, because of the condition of the roads, it is virtually impossible to travel by road between Voinjama and the Sierra Leone border, even using the most rugged four wheel drive vehicle. The report's observations also confirm this. It therefore makes no obvious military sense that either Camp Schefflein or Voinjama would be used as staging areas for possible military offensives in Sierra Leone.

    And more particularly in the case of Voinjama, the area has been subject to at least three separate rebel military incursions from nearby Guinea in the last two years, with the more recent one occurring in July 2000. In each instance, Voinjama was captured by rebel forces and held for lengthy periods of time before being liberated by government forces. Commonsense obviously dictates that a staging area, especially for such clandestine activities, not be held in such a patently unsafe and insecure part of the country.

    Finally, Foya Kamara is situated in an area contiguous to the Sierra Leone border, which has been continuously occupied and controlled by the RUF for over seven years. Given this fact, why would the RUF need a launching area in this part of Liberia? Certainly not to launch military offensives in an area already controlled by them.

    RUF fighters treated in Liberian hospitals.

    Reference has already been made to three prior military incursions from Guinea into the nearby Voinjama section of Liberia. In each instance, there were serious military as well as local civilian casualties. Hundreds of civilians and military personnel were wounded. The panel claims to have received information of wounded RUF fighters being treated in Liberian hospitals. The government organised an intensive, widespread local publicity campaign to encourage the citizenry to visit the wounded and donate blood, money and other supplies to the victims. It should be emphasised that inhabitants on both sides of the Liberia-Sierra Leone borders share common languages, customs, names, and generally maintain close family relations without regard to artificial national borders. It is virtually impossible to distinguish between Liberians and Sierra Leoneans living in the Lofa and Cape Mount areas of Liberia. This is especially true of the inhabitants of Lofa counties who speak Krio, the lingua franca of Sierra Leone and Gambia, or English with a marked Sierra Leonean accent. The witnesses who volunteered this information were most likely misled by the names or accents of the wounded given the fact that most, if not all, were inhabitants of Lofa County. It is also expected that the panel would have gone to the hospital to interview some of the wounded.

    National security concerns of the Government of Liberia.

    The Government of Liberia is particularly troubled by the successive wave of dissident attacks from Guinea. These attacks continue to threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Liberia. It has been shown that on five occasions between April 1999 and August 2000, Liberian insurgents harboured by, and operating with, the knowledge and support of the Government of Guinea, continued to launch fierce military operations against the government and people of Liberia. Massive loss of Liberian lives and destruction of properties resulted from those violations of the territorial integrity of Liberia.

    The callous denial of complicity by the Guinean government, and the frightening indifference shown by the major western powers, particularly the United States and Great Britain, and also the United Nations, are a menacing source of deep concern to the Government of Liberia. On 17 August 2000, the Government of Liberia intimated to US Under-Secretary of State Mr Thomas Pickering the blatant acts of violation of Liberian territory by dissident attacks launched from Guinea and implored the United States government to condemn these attacks. Similar representation was presented to the United Nations Security Council through the Secretary-General. Neither the United Nations nor the United States government is yet to condemn the acts of aggression against Liberia by Guinea. The Liberian government also called on the United States government to facilitate the deployment of international observers to be stationed at our borders and to provide technical assistance to improve monitoring all its ports of entry. All of these invitations have gone unanswered."

    And we've seen that letter to Under-Secretary Pickering and the United Nations Secretary-General, haven't we, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, we have.

  • "The apprehensions of the Liberian government are further heightened by calls from the British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and United States Senator Mr Judd Gregg for the subversion and removal of the Government of Liberia as a means of ending the Sierra Leonean conflict."

    What are you referring to there?

  • These are statements made by Judd Gregg, who is still a United States senator, and Secretary of State Robin Cook - Foreign Secretary. In fact, Judd Gregg actually called for me to be assassinated.

  • "The training and use of Liberian dissidents in military operations in Sierra Leone.

    Hundreds of Liberian dissidents who were members of former warring factions are being trained by the British military mission in Sierra Leone and are fighting alongside the Civil Defence Force or Kamajors, the Sierra Leonean Army, the British troops and other militias in that country.

    Later, between 1990 and 1991, some of these elements were organised, trained and armed in Sierra Leone with the participation and acquiescence of the Sierra Leonean government. The armed group invaded Liberia from Sierra Leone as ULIMO. The ULIMO faction used Sierra Leone and Guinea as training and recuperation bases for their insurgencies against the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, which was then led by Mr Charles Taylor.

    Following the democratic elections of July 1997 in which the political party formed by ULIMO members lost, most of the belligerent elements returned to Sierra Leone, where they fought alongside the Sierra Leonean army and later the Kamajors in the war in that country. Later, with the deployment of British trainers in Sierra Leone, some of these elements received training from the British and have since been participating in military operations in Sierra Leone. Some of them are reported to be working as military trainers and advisers to the Civil Defence Force.

    Security risks posed by arms embargo on Liberia.

    Between April 1999 and August 2000, the territory of the Government of Liberia was attacked six times by insurgents operating out of the Republic of Guinea. The Government of Liberia, with its limited military preparedness, was eventually able to ward off the insurgents. But the threat of repeated attacks on Liberian territory remained unabated.

    In a move generated by goodwill, and in compliance and the wishes and request of the international community, the Liberian government, with the funding and supervision of the United Nations and the US military mission in Liberia, undertook the destruction of arms and ammunition surrendered by the defunct warring factions.

    However, in total disregard to the obligation of the Government of Liberia to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the United Nations continues to enforce against the democratically elected Government of Liberia an arms embargo that was imposed on warring factions in 1992. The arms embargo was imposed in a bid to quell hostilities during Liberia's civil war. But now that the war in Liberia effectively ended more than five years ago, the UN continues to enforce the embargo, thereby diminishing the government's capacity to defend itself against external aggression.

    The threat posed by the continued enforcement of the embargo is heightened by the refusal of the major western powers to acknowledge the blatant acts of aggression committed against the Republic of Liberia by Guinea or to take the steps necessary to enhance international peace and security in the region."

    Then reference to is made to the ECOWAS decision to lift the embargo on Liberia reached in Abuja on 28-29 August 1997; that - the lifting of the arms embargo placed on Liberian warring factions on 20 October 1992.

    "The rationale for the embargo had ceased to exist following the holding of elections in Liberia. Though the issue of the imposition of the arms embargo was initiated by ECOWAS, the United Nations has so far failed to heed representations made by the ECOWAS for the lifting of the said embargo. The major powers have instead elected to levy and impose a myriad of selective sanctions, negative travel advisories, massive negative public relations, and unsubstantiated allegations of gunrunning and diamond smuggling in Sierra Leone against the Liberian government.

    Massive propaganda campaign against Liberia by powerful countries.

    A massive international propaganda and smear campaign led by some officials of the Clinton administration and Her Majesty's government have been launched against Liberia. The tenets of the negative propaganda being directed at the Liberian government include false and misleading information that Liberia is not safe and by certain governments advising their nationals against visiting Liberia. The intent of the campaign is to discourage international investors from doing business in Liberia. The absence of investment would in turn retard the national economic recovery objectives of the government and increase the suffering of the people who then in turn may be psyched up against the government by the use of covert agitators. The strategies pursued by the panel of experts when they tried to link Liberia's maritime and tim ber industries to Liberia's alleged involvement in the sale of illicit Sierra Leonean diamonds and supply of arms to the RUF. The assertions contained in the paragraphs of the panel's report cited betray the intention of the panel for bringing into scrutiny two of Liberia's major export earning industries.

    Timber and maritime activities constitute the major export earning of Liberia. By demonising Liberia's timber industry and maritime registry, the unintended consequence is the strangulation of the economy and the exacerbation of the suffering of the people."

    Mr President, I hear the call. Would it be convenient for us to stop here so that we can just complete this last passage in one go tomorrow?

  • Yes. I think that's a convenient place, Mr Griffiths.

    Mr Taylor, we're going to adjourn until 9.30 tomorrow morning. Please remember that there is a court order that you are not permitted to discuss your evidence with any other person.

    We will adjourn now, thank you.

  • [Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 4.30 p.m. to be reconvened on Thursday, 27 August 2009 at 9.30 a.m.]