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 events in November late 1997. Do you recall that?

  • And do you remember we had dealt with your visits to the Republic of China, South Africa and Libya?

  • And do you recall that I then mentioned to you a nationwide address which you made on 20 November 1997 which I referred to at page 218 of the presidential papers?

  • But before we come back to that I would like a little more clarity, please, about a phase in the evidence you gave yesterday. Now, do you recall us discussing a meeting in Abuja on 10-11 October 1997?

  • And do you recall that at the conclusion of the communique which followed that meeting reference was made to a follow-up meeting in Conakry on 20 October 1997?

  • Did you attend that meeting on 20 October 1997?

  • We are still dealing with that - the meeting in question is actually a follow-up meeting of the Committee of Five. That's actually the - the meeting in Abuja is the fifth meeting and the one immediately thereafter is the sixth meeting in Conakry. No, I didn't.

  • The sixth meeting?

  • Is Mr Taylor saying he was there, or not?

  • Well, I'm coming to that:

  • Were you there, Mr Taylor?

  • Right. Now, did you thereafter receive a report from him?

  • And help us, what was the outcome of that meeting?

  • By this time, if we look at the records very clearly, things are evolving very, very fast and it's good to alert you now that decisions are being taken and some of them are not being exposed.

    Here you have the fifth meeting early in October and the sixth meeting immediately into Guinea. At this meeting in Guinea another set of decisions are as follows. A six month maximum time is given in that meeting for the return of President Kabbah. That return should actually end - by April of 1998 he must be in power. That's the decision of that particular meeting.

    And again looking at humanitarian problems, opening corridors for humanitarian agencies to work, the coming in of more NGOs and all of this, but for me the most crucial briefing that I received and read about at that particular time was it was decided that there would be a six month time cut off where Kabbah had to return to power.

  • And help us, as far as you were concerned did you have any difficulty with that timetable?

  • Oh, no, not at all. Not at all. We were all part of that decision.

  • And in addition to that decision, was any other step taken by the Liberian government at this time?

  • Yes. At this particular time what we do while that meeting is going on, we then close the borders with Sierra Leone while that meeting is going on. And let me just add you're hearing foreign ministers meetings, foreign ministers meetings. Foreign ministers don't take decisions. These decisions are while meetings are going on and I'm sure the Court - I'm not trying to tell you what you don't know, but just for the record. Foreign ministers are in constant contact with their capital. They are getting instructions from their Heads of State. Foreign ministers don't just go to meetings and decide on what they want to decide. In fact foreign policy matters - while they are foreign ministers, but foreign policy matters are decisions for Heads of State through the foreign ministers. So we are aware and we acquiesce. There is no disagreement. If there is disagreement it will come up at the meeting, but this is with full agreement. It's not that people are - you know, foreign ministers are taking decisions and wondering how the Heads of State would react. It doesn't work that way.

  • So that meeting - that decision to close the border is taken some time around about 20 October 1997, is that right?

  • And help us, for how long does that remain in place?

  • The border with Sierra Leone is closed from October until July 1999 after the Lome agreement is signed before we open that border.

  • Right. Now who was enforcing that closure, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, I will say a combination of all of us. We still have peacekeepers in the area helping. Our own few security personnel are trying to enforce it. Remember we are not armed. We do not have arms. But it is a combination of our forces and the peacekeepers that are still around.

  • And help us, do those peacekeepers include the UNOMIL contingent we'd heard about?

  • Well, the UNOMIL contingent, I want to get this clear for the records. They were more United Nations observer mission like. They were not armed. I want to clarify that. So they are not like peacekeepers. They are present, but they are not - well, they are observing the situation I can say.

  • That's the point. So in addition to having ECOMOG and others monitoring the border you also have UN forces monitoring the border, is that right?

  • That is correct.

  • And does that remain the situation until that closure is lifted after Lome?

  • To a great extent yes, but with a much reduced amount. But, yeah, there is some observation.

  • Now thereafter - well before we move on, so that's taking place round about the 20th. We know then on 24 October there is that letter that you write to President Sani Abacha, yes?

  • And why do you write to him so closely on the heels of that Conakry agreement?

  • Well, there is an ongoing discussion between Abacha and myself about a series of things and what you really have here is a situation where we - you know, I'm beginning to really try to put more pressure on Abacha to act actually. There is no real connection because we are trying to - no, I'm just basically trying to get Abacha to act. We know what's coming down. Let there be no doubt when I say what's coming down, by the time we hold this - by the time we go to that chiefs of staff meeting, coming into these two meetings --

  • Which chief of staff meeting?

  • Well, the ECOWAS chiefs of staff meeting which is attended by foreign minister Ikimi.

  • By the time we go through that meeting and come into October - well, there are two meetings in October, one in Abuja followed immediately by the meeting in Conakry - we all know now that we are dead serious that if nothing is done that there will be some military action. It is not published, but we now know what is coming down and everyone is trying to position himself in a way to make sure that there is success in this operation.

  • And the timetable for that, if I understand what you're telling us, is that the understanding is following Conakry that that military action will take place sometime round about April?

  • Well, no. No, I don't want to put it just that way. I'm trying to say to you that it is said that by April he must have been returned. That's the cut-off point. Now at what point the military action is taken, I'm not saying definitely it would be in April. It simply means that it could be any time before April, but April was the cut-off date.

  • Now help us, who was taking the lead on the need to use military force? Who was prompting that idea, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, counsel, that's a very tough question.

  • That's why I asked it.

  • I will help the Court this way, because I do not want to abrogate our responsibilities on the Committee of Five, but necessarily let me just first state that we are all in agreement but as to the specific word "lead", of course in West Africa at that particular time ECOWAS is being chaired by Nigeria and so necessarily Nigeria would be in the lead on this, but with the acquiescence, we are all together.

  • Mr Griffiths, I'm sorry to interrupt, but before we lose sight of it, I wanted to clarify. Mr Taylor had mentioned that the borders were being policed, to use a term, by our forces and peacekeepers. Is that implication that only the Liberian-Sierra Leone border, or the border of Guinea and Sierra Leone, was it also closed?

  • Can you assist us with that, Mr Taylor? Which border was closed with whom?

  • The borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone were announced closed by my government. Not on the Guinean side, your Honour.

  • There's a lot of activity going on here, your Honours. It's quite distracting.

  • That activity is distracting. If you need us to adjourn for a short time, we will. Could you tell us what's going on.

  • Your Honour, I cannot log on to my LiveNote and in event of a redaction, I would not be able to effect it.

  • Do you want us to leave the Court while you do that?

  • Your Honour, in the present situation it would seem appropriate. Because if there was anything that needed to be done, I would not be able to proceed with my computer in the present situation that it is.

  • We don't know what's involved in fixing your computer. What I'm asking you is rather than distract everyone in the hearing, would you like us to leave the Court so that the technicians can look at your computer?

  • Your Honour, I would be much obliged.

  • All right. We will take an adjournment.

  • [Break taken at 9.45 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 9.59 a.m.]

  • I'm told the problem with the Court Manager's computer has been rectified now, Mr Griffiths, so please continue.

  • Thank you, Mr President:

  • Mr Taylor, let's just retrace our steps. Which borders were closed?

  • The borders between Liberia and Sierra Leone.

  • Were the borders with Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire closed?

  • To the best of my recollection, no.

  • Now I was asking you, Mr Taylor, about who was prompting the possible use of force in Sierra Leone and you were dealing with that. Do you recall that?

  • Yes, maybe I could put this in some context. If you see the sequence of meetings it really, like I said, showed that there is tension and there are pressures on all sides. For one Nigeria, being the chairman of ECOWAS, is pressing for action. If you see the letter that I wrote to President Abacha --

  • 24 October?

  • That is correct. That comes a little after that meeting in Conakry, where with all of the movements I'm trying to - you know, to caution him to, "Listen, let's do this right", because I know force is going to be used. The British are already in the know of what is about to happen and there are strong statements coming out from his representative. I talked about Ambassador Weston a few days ago at the United Nations. I'm under diplomatic pressure on my side to be very careful, because a lot depended on it and by that I mean aid and other assistance.

    So I'm basically trying to say, "Well, look, let's try to make it a Security Council resolution. Let's make sure it's under Chapter 7. Let's make sure." But the pressure is coming from the Nigerian side very, very, very strongly on everybody, including Liberia, and I have the big countries also putting pressure on me from the other side to take precaution in what we are about to do.

    And it shows the level of frustration going on in ECOWAS at that particular time and what a lot of us believe - and I personally believe - was deliberate attempts on the part of some members of the international community, especially Britain at that particular time, in trying to stall everything that ECOWAS was trying to do. Every time we made one move they would try to come in with a counter move and it was this belief that I mentioned before in this Court of not permitting Nigerian hegemony in Sierra Leone and all this kind of stuff. So actually there was this forceful pressure coming from Nigeria, but I do not want to shun my own responsibility that we acquiesced but that lead was from Nigeria. It was a very forceful lead.

  • Right. Now we will pick up that thread of your account again when we come into 1998, but having dealt with those events you recall that after that letter to President Abacha we have the visits to China, Tripoli and South Africa in early November, yes?

  • Now, Mr Taylor, yesterday I directed your attention in the presidential papers to page 218. Do you recall that?

  • I wonder if the witness could once again be shown that document, please. Mr President, can I mention one matter at this stage?

  • This particular document, the presidential papers, has not hitherto been marked for identification, but we've made numerous references to it and I'm wondering whether it might be sensible to mark it for identification at this stage so that we have a reference point for further usage of the document. I don't know if there's any objection to that?

  • Yes, I think that's a good idea really. We'll mark the presidential papers spanning from 2 August 1997 to 31 December 1998 as MFI-28.

  • I'm grateful:

  • So MFI-28, Mr Taylor, page 218. Do you have it?

  • Now we see that this address is dated 20 November 1997. Now before we come to the details of what was said, Mr Taylor, what was the purpose of this nationwide address?

  • We are trying to put in perspective all of the situations going on; our little difficulties with the ECOMOG forces, how we want to begin building a capacity in the country. It is also in a very shrewd way setting the stage for what we know will be happening and we deal again with the Sierra Leonean problem and how we see it as a member of the Committee of Five and sharing borders with Sierra Leone. We deal with all - just preparing the legislature and the country in the way of a few things that we knew would be happening in the near future.

  • When you say "in a very shrewd way setting up the stage for what we know will be happening", what are you talking about?

  • We know that problems are going to come in Sierra Leone. We know that force is going to be used. We know that. And so - when I say "we", I as President, we know. So we are beginning to just put up what you will call yellow flags that in the future when we have to explain this to the nation we can make some references, but sometimes when you watch statements coming from nations they allude to certain things without getting into the details, but they also use that subsequently to say that, "Well, remember in our statement of this date we mentioned this", and then it becomes softer. It's a softer landing for the citizenry. So this nationwide address deals with the general security problem in Liberia, Sierra Leone and gave some hints as to where Liberia would be going regarding her own internal security.

  • Very well. Can we pick it up, please, on page 218 in the third paragraph on the left:

    "Over the last several weeks there have been various issues raised locally and internationally that if not corrected could bring questions to the minds of our citizens, probably frighten them, probably frighten investors and drive away the goodwill that is existing in the interest of the Liberian nation. I would like to inform the nation that Liberia is at peace with ECOWAS and all member states of ECOWAS. Liberia shares a very warm relationship with member states and I as President share very warm and cordial relationship with my colleagues in the sub-region where we have respect for each other."

    Now was that true, Mr Taylor?

  • I ask for this reason, you see. Remember your neighbour Guinea had been supporting ULIMO, so what was your relationship like with the President of Guinea?

  • You know, in dealing with colleagues in international community you put your country first. So two Presidents may be having some discussions maybe in the public arena, on the news or maybe releases, but it is not about them. It is about the country. So you always - relationships are - I mean for us in West Africa we always say it's good even though there may be some little underlying differences, but we don't take it to a very great extreme. Remember a country had supported ULIMO, but when I go to Monrovia in 1995 subsequently based on evidence we've seen here we visit General Conte. So it's this thing, yeah, there were differences. I would put it to good.

  • Okay, going back:

    "On the issue surrounding the presence of our West African brothers known as ECOMOG I want to allay the fears of the people of this republic by saying as follows:

    i) We have always deeply appreciated the presence of our West African brothers here and that will continue for the very, very long future.

    ii) The young men and women, officers and others that have served and continued to serve and will be serving in the future whether as ECOMOG or in some other arrangement, we want to say that we always appreciate their services and that they have dedicated their lives to duty. Liberians not being ungrateful people will always cherish this thoughtfulness and this hard work and dedication to duty as has been seen.

    This administration and its President has no problem with ECOMOG. I want to also make it very clear that Liberia is not in a position now or in the very near future to see the total removal of military personnel from the West African sub-region."

    Did you believe that, that Liberia was not in a position now or in the very near future?

  • Yes, I believed that simply because it was very certain that the Security Council had refused to lift the arms embargo from Liberia as requested by ECOWAS. It was also very clear that the Liberian armed forces would not be receiving arms until we had restructured and trained an armed force. So for me it was very clear that the present and very near future we would not be in the position to remove these securities. It was clear.

  • "Fellow citizens, it is important to note that ECOMOG, as the name is, will be ending its tour of duty in Liberia as of 2 February 1998. I want you to understand that we mean by they will remain here for the very long future, but they will be ending their tour of duty by 2 February. ECOMOG is the Economic Community of West Africa Monitoring Group. As a peacekeeping force the mission of ECOMOG must, and will, change as of 2 February. It does not mean that the personnel will all go. Peacekeeping in Liberia has ended as we know, the conflict has ended.

    Elections have been held. By maintaining a peacekeeping intervention force tells the world that Liberia is still not at peace. Therefore, we will have to change the name and the mission. We have to get this very clear that the new mission, as agreed by the authority of ECOWAS, is a capacity building mission. That mission will say: Fellow colleagues in Liberia, we are going to help you to maintain peace and security."

    So, Mr Taylor, there is, after all, something in a name, is there?

  • And what was it about the name change that you felt was significant?

  • The mission mostly I think is, in essence, what the name change will signify. If you listen, there are statements being made all of the time coming from the United Nations and other international groups. You have peacekeeping, you may have peace building, and you also have peace enforcement. These are missions, based on how they are defined, will determine what the force will do in the country.

    So peacekeeping will entail the presence of soldiers to help the environment in a military situation with a right to self-defence. Now, that entails if the peacekeepers come under fire, okay, they can defend themselves. Now, peace enforcement is when you go in and you use force at every instance to make sure that the mission is accomplished.

    So what we were saying, that we had to in fact redefine the mission from peacekeeping that was in place during war where the troops could act at will, and because we had elections in the country and you had sovereignty restored, that we had to change the name and the mission from peacekeeping to capacity building; that is, to assist us in the training of our armed forces, our security personnel, but with one authority in the country; that is, the President of the republic.

    During the crisis in Liberia, in effect the de facto leader of Liberia was whoever became chairperson of ECOWAS. I mean, this is factual. Decisions were taken and, yes, there was a Council of State, but the real decisions were being taken by ECOWAS and under the chairmanship. So as the chairmanship moved, in fact orders - orders to ECOMOG in theory meant that the chairman of ECOWAS could order the forces commander, and I'm saying in theory. But in reality, we got to realise that the large peacekeeping missions in Liberia - and the largest at that time was Nigeria - took orders from their chief of defence staff in their country. So there was this little problem on the ground, so we had to change the mission from peacekeeping to capacity building.

  • And you go on to explain that in this way:

    "If you look at Bosnia, there was one force of NATO in that country before elections. After elections it changed to ISFOR with a different mission."

    Then you go on to deal with different types of military missions, and then you go on to say this:

    "The mission of ECOMOG in Liberia was peacekeeping. Liberia does not need peacekeeping now. Liberia needs capacity building. Some of the men and women in ECOMOG will stay here to make sure that they assist me as President.

    There will not be parallel authority in this republic. No officer from any mission or any force in Liberia will share power with the President of this republic or challenge the authority of the Republic of Liberia and stay here.

    We want to separate individual actions from ECOMOG. They are still very decent people and they are mature and they are disciplined people."

    Let's miss the next two paragraphs of military history and go to the bottom paragraph:

    "Liberia needs someone to assist me with the constitutional responsibility to maintain peace and security in Liberia, and anybody who wants to help will remain, and I'm not saying ECOMOG, I'm saying that person who does not want to work with this government will leave or be expelled by this republic."

    Then you go on to deal with some of the practicalities involved and you say:

    "We want to make it very clear that Liberia, as a founding member of ECOWAS, in fact, the most senior founding member, will uphold the principles of ECOWAS. Liberia will be engaging in bilateral discussions of which my colleagues in the region have been informed, including the chairman of ECOWAS, of our desire to negotiate bilateral arrangements for military personnel to continue to assist in our capacity building exercises.

    Some of these countries have already agreed, and we will be pursuing these notions to begin in order that we may be prepared for a final pullout on 2 February.

    Another point: The Armed Forces of Liberia is not dissolved; the AFL exists."

    Did it?

  • Yes, this is really technical. This is really technical. They had played their games. I mean, I may take some time here, but I will just beg the indulgence of the Court to understand. Because I had said in the previous statement here that the Armed Forces of Liberia had splintered themselves, and now you see here I'm saying they are not dissolved. So I'm sure this question will follow: Well, you said this before; now you're saying this now. But let me clarify this.

    You must understand by now there's a lot of tap dancing here. Diplomatic tap dancing. You can see anger in - I mean, reading this, you see anger on the part of the government, dissatisfaction in how we're dealing with some of the officers. You hear me here talking about parallel authority. We feel that we're being challenged as a government. We feel that some of these officers are misbehaving, and if you remember in that letter written to President Abacha I did mention that we had agreed that we would pull some of these senior officers out that were there before my being elected as President and change some of them, which had not happened.

    So there is a picture of here of distress on the part of government trying to deal with these aggressive attitudes. So I am basically now trying to put the pieces together by saying: Okay, fine. Yes, we had this split-up of the armed forces, but now those that are prepared to help the republic have given their loyalty back to the republic, and so it is not dissolved because in fact what I'm saying here technically, the Armed Forces of Liberia is created by an act of the legislature and ECOWAS or President Taylor cannot dissolve it. It is dissolved by an Act of the legislature.

    So what I'm saying here in effect is that, look, it is not dissolved, and I'm dealing strictly with the legal interpretation of creating and dissolving an armed forces which is not - it does not fall within the powers of the President of the republic. So I'm really just trying to hint to them that: Hey, be careful. With all this stuff you're talking about, you're not the army. There exists an army and until is dissolved by an Act of the legislature, it exists as an army. This is what the picture is.

  • Mr Griffiths, could I seek a clarification. In view of what the witness has said the last 10 minutes or so, could you clarify. Did ECOMOG under its new assignment stay in Liberia as a result of a request from you, or as a result of something that ECOWAS imposed on Liberia? In other words, did you have a choice in the matter as Liberians?

  • Yes, we did have a choice, and remember we talked about a status of forces agreement. After that agreement was signed the confusion ceased, and they continue under a new mandate of capacity building.

  • Let's pick it up now at the second bullet point in the right-hand paragraph on page 220:

    "This government, over the next 30 days, will make available the first 1 million United States dollars to be put into the process of restructuring of our armed forces and security enforces. These monies will be used for the renovation of the police academy barracks in Paynesville and some renovation work at Camp Schefflein while taking care of some of the retirement benefits for officers and members of the AFL."

    Were you able to accomplish that, Mr Taylor?

  • We did start the process, yes. We were able.

  • Let's go down to the next paragraph but count about eight lines down:

    "We do not expect that any individual connected with that force will overstep his bounds, because in fact when we speak about the authority of ECOWAS, I am a member of that body and I cannot, and will not, be excluded from being called an authority of ECOWAS. It is very interesting to note that if there are any political questions or technical questions regarding statements of positions of the government of the Republic of Liberia, I expect as President that my colleague, President Sani Abacha, or other colleagues of mine in this region will raise that issue with me and nobody else.

    We want to state that there is a real threat, my fellow citizens, of the activities on the Liberian-Sierra Leone border. That threat, I may inform you, is not sufficient for our citizens to panic. I want to inform the national legislature that there is no absolute crisis."

    Mr Taylor, was that strictly correct, or were you seeking to prevent any kind of general panic in the country? What's the position?

  • Exactly. We were trying to prevent general panic. If the President had gotten up and said, "Wow, there is a big problem," you have panic. I'm basically trying to calm the country, but there are problems.

  • Did you consider those problems to be serious?

  • Yes. Yes, there were serious problems, yes.

  • And it continues:

    "There is ample evidence that we have in terms of several Kamajors being under arrest in our custody and seizure of massive documentation that proves that there is a threat. We have documents in our custody, hospital document, rosters and names and identifications of individuals that have been carrying on clandestine activities at our borders."

    Did you have such proof?

  • Did you ever take up that proof with ECOMOG, for example?

  • Well, ECOMOG is not the factor. Remember I just said here in the paragraph that you read earlier that, if there are any issues, we had to discuss this at the Heads of State level. That is what had been presented to Abacha when I said to him that I could not help along that line, that Guinea was stronger and that my government was too new and fragile. This is that whole connection.

  • And it continues:

    "We are not guessing. It is a reality and it is a fact but it is not sufficient that we can say a national crisis exists, because if there was a national crisis I would have made it very clear. Yes, Liberia is not armed yet but we will begin that process."

    When were you hoping to begin that?

  • After the armed forces was trained.

  • "If Liberia is threatened from outside there are ways that we will take the arms from those that have them and protect themselves."

    Who were you going to take them from, Mr Taylor?

  • Oh, no, my first duty as president is to protect the lives of Liberian citizens. If Liberia came under attack and the arms that - and they know that we are not armed and the arms that had been taken from our combatants during the war are there, what is the President supposed to do? If we requested them and they did not give them, of course, my first responsibility would be to take those arms and give it to people to defend the republic. That's what I'm hinting to here.

  • "Let no one be fooled that by having the guns it makes you the boss. We are trained people in this country too and if Liberia is pushed in her defence she will face up to the challenge. We must state here, my fellow citizens, that we support 100 per cent the effort of ECOWAS in resolving the crisis in Sierra Leone. We support all existing United Nations resolutions regarding Sierra Leone. We believe that armed conflict is not the way to bring final resolution to the Sierra Leonean crisis."

    You're speaking here almost at the end of 1997, Mr Taylor.

  • That is correct.

  • Had that been your position from the start of your presidency?

  • From the very start. My inaugural address, everything.

  • "We believe that all member states of ECOWAS should adhere to the protocols of ECOWAS and the final communique of the Heads of State. Liberia will not shun her full responsibility in this region, even though we are recovering from war. We are in accord with the six month plan for restoring the legitimate government of President Tejan Kabbah. Even though Liberia will not and may not be able to send military personnel as members of the peacekeeping force going to Sierra Leone, Liberia intends to be present in diplomatic and political terms on the ground in Sierra Leone as a member of ECOWAS and a member of the Committee of Five."

    Now, Mr Taylor, were you fully committed to all of that?

  • Mr Griffiths, you've just read an excerpt in which the President then was saying, "We believe that armed conflict is not the way to bring final resolution to the Sierra Leone crisis." What armed conflict is being referred to here?

  • Your Honour, remember I mentioned to this Court we see the Kamajors, I meet them on the ground in Liberia, they are being armed and they are going in and they are fighting. This war doesn't end like that. They are fighting. The Kamajors begin the penetration. Some of our own ex-combatants have been recruited. They have been armed. I see the conflict going and this is what I'm referring to. This armed conflict - this new insurgency that has been developed by ECOMOG - is not going to help the situation. That's what I'm referring to.

  • But you also told us yesterday that ECOWAS had approved the use of force to remove the illegal regime in Sierra Leone.

  • Now this conflict, is it not part of that use of force to remove the illegal regime?

  • No, no, no, your Honour. ECOWAS had agreed that by the cut-off date if the regime - the junta had not removed themselves they would resort to the use of force, but let's not forget even with that use of force it cannot take effect unless it is authorised under Chapter 7 of the United Nations. So, yes, we are stating our intent, but it cannot happen until finally we exhaust our timetable and then go to the Security Council.

    Now, ECOWAS did not authorise this insurgency. It did not authorise it. This was something that was started by the ECOMOG on the ground and it was a real covert action that I saw as posing a danger to the border, because in fact it was really outside of the mandate that had been given ECOMOG by the Economic Community. We had not authorised the use of force yet. We had threatened the use of force.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, that passage which I just read, "Even though Liberia will not and may not be able to send military personnel as members of the peacekeeping force going to Sierra Leone", can I ask you this hypothetical question. If you as President of Liberia had at that time the capacity, would you have contributed force - soldiers to an ECOMOG force to remove the junta in Freetown?

  • Definitely.

  • Because we, as a union, decisions that I take - I believed in the fact that the AFRC was an illegal regime and once a decision was taken by the community of which I'm a part of that decision I then could not come back and say, "Well, oh I'm a part of it, but I cannot do this." I would have to do whatever I can to support that decision that I was a part of making.

  • So in November 1997 you would have been willing to send Liberian soldiers to Freetown to remove the junta?

  • Yes, Liberia - yes, I would have done that. Liberia had done that before. Liberia had forces in the Congolese crisis in the early years before Mobutu came to power, so Liberia had some experience in peace keeping and we would have done that.

  • "My fellow citizens, we are on the road to restoring our dignity as a people and as a nation and as a result we're going to support and continue to support the United Nations and its resolutions and we are going to condemn all acts of terrorism around the world no matter who carries them out."

    Pause there. When you speak of restoring our dignity, first of all who is the "our"?

  • And help us, how did you see supporting and continuing to support the United Nations as helping to restore your dignity?

  • Well, let's look at the United Nations. The crisis in Liberia, our own stance as being the oldest independent African country, Liberia was one of the original signatories of the document creating the League of Nations and the United Nations. At that particular time, remember there were not too many independent African states. So for us the United Nations and all of its resolutions, we find ourselves in the position where we had to support them. So our dignity had to be for us at that time retaking our seat amongst the comity of nations. That's the dignity I'm referring to here.

  • Because when we look at the agreed facts, CMS 227, Liberia became a member of the United Nations in 1945. Do you recall that?

  • And became a member state of the Economic Organisation of West African States in 1975, yes?

  • And you became a member state of the Organisation for African Unity in 1963?

  • And remained a member of its successor organisation the African Union, yes?

  • Now, Mr Taylor, before I leave this particular passage, though, let's look at the end of the sentence: "...and its resolutions and we are going to condemn all acts of terrorism around the world no matter who carries them out." But hold on, you were a terrorist from your days in Libya and you had a design to terrorise the citizens of Sierra Leone, didn't you?

  • That's total nonsense. If I haven't stated it before, let me state it here and now. The pan-African struggle that was helped significantly by Libya during the years of the Cold War, where even some of the major democracies supported the apartheid regime in South Africa, I think it is ludicrous for us to begin to look at this. If it had not been for this very Libya, probably the apartheid regime in South Africa would still be sitting there. So it is total nonsense to use these labels of terrorism.

    I think that Gaddafi is a very great African leader who has helped in so many liberation struggles across Africa and, as a result of that, a lot of these countries now are democracies because of the assistance that he gave. So I want to get away from the Cold War rhetoric where labels are attached to individuals. Whoever wants to call him a terrorist, that's their business. I am sure - I sure am not, have not and will never be a terrorist and our pan-African actions from that time coming on now I think were justified and helped across the continent. From east, central, south, west, that movement helped.

    So this whole thing about I am supposed to be coming to quote unquote terrorise the people of Sierra Leone is just what I said, nonsense. And, you know, when these buzz words are going around the international community where you don't agree with something all of a sudden you become - you know, you become a terrorist. But we know - I'm a former President and we know these things. George Bush came with the war on terror. We don't hear that phraseology any more. These are all statements made for special times and descriptions when you want to demonise an individual or something. These things changed. I don't hear President Obama talking about war on terror. It's been changed to something that probably has a less lighter - I would say, you know, lighter maybe connotation you may want to call it. So someone trying to say that a pan-Africanist at that time is a terrorist I'd say is talking pure nonsense.

  • I mean Nelson Mandela was called a terrorist at one time, wasn't he, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I think for a long time he - even upon becoming President they still had that on certain books in America, but one would hardly want to even - I think to even associate that word with Mandela you would call maybe a taboo. Why would anybody? But it depends on the era. Liberia and Ethiopia were the only two countries that challenged in this very International Court of Justice here in this Hague the apartheid regime in South Africa. It was Liberia and Ethiopia, the late emperor Haile Selassie and William VS Tubman.

    In fact, if you read Mandela's book you find out that the last country that donated $25,000 United States to the ANC for resistance was Liberia. So when you look at these things, some of these very major western countries supported that apartheid regime to the point where South Africa was so rich that it succeeded in doing what: In building a nuclear bomb. South Africa, do you understand me? But when it comes to what they say as what they want to do at a particular time, they do it when they want to demonise you and destroy you. They begin to assign labels and titles, demonise you to a point that even if you drop dead, everyone would cheer, "Thank God this demon" - for example, like, things like saying Charles Taylor is eating human flesh and all this type of nonsense. They know that's so low. That's very, very, very low. And so --

  • Mr Taylor, the court reporter can't keep up with you. Could you please slow down.

  • I'm sorry. I'm sorry, your Honour. I will slow down. But I'll just end it here. The point I'm trying to make is that these are words that - and phrases and terminologies to demonise people and destroy them, just as what they've tried to do to me. I'm supposed to be a terrorist. I'm trying to terrorise Sierra Leone. I'm trying to take the wealth of Sierra Leone. What else are they going to say? If I were to drop dead here now, I guess it will all be finished. It's all just what they did with the apartheid regime. It was a good thing for some of the major western countries. A very good thing. Had it not been later on for, I think, if I'm not mistaken, the Sullivan Principles for South Africa, we would still be dealing with apartheid, and we had to fight. All of us that were pan-Africanists had a voice, whether it was the ANC in South Africa, or whether it was SWAPO that dealt with what was south West Africa that is now Namibia. Gaddafi helped all of them. Rightly so. I think if I had been in a position in Liberia, I would have done exactly what Gaddafi did. Look, Africa has to be free. Africa has to determine its own destiny. Yes, things are rough and yes, we are pushed around. But our actions cannot be - should not be construed as terrorism. So I resent the very statement attached to my name. It's sheer nonsense.

  • Mr Taylor, what did you mean by saying this: "I think if I had been in a position in Liberia I would have done exactly what Gaddafi did"?

  • The pan-African assistance to the ANC and to SWAPO for the liberation of South Africa and south West Africa that is now Namibia; the is the assistance to other liberation movements, that any pan-Africanist would have and should have - and if I was in that position at that time I would have also, your Honour.

  • I understand. I thought you were referring to something that Gaddafi may have done in Liberia. I understand now.

  • Let's continue:

    "It is pleasing to note that Liberia continues to object to economic sanctions, especially where food and medicines are concerned, because women and children died. These are very firm policies of this government. We are on our way, fellow citizens, to economic recovery. After the first 100 days we can see our civil servants being paid."

    Pause there. Mr Taylor, just roughly when did you pass that first 100 days stage?

  • You have to check from --

  • Very well. And you continue: "We can see our civil servants being paid." Is that true?

  • "We can see the Government of National Unity take shape, a very strong Cabinet performing as a family", is that true?

  • "For those that have tried to divide us have found it impossible." Had persons tried to divide you?

  • "Our people continue to make it clear to the world that we want peace, and Liberia has re-entered the world comity of nations. We want to say here that this process is going to continue. We want to continue to ask our people to tighten their belts. We are going to begin the process of restructuring the civil service."

    Why was that necessary?

  • We had a very, very large bureaucracy that had been created as a result of all of these people coming on the Council of State, and it was pretty - the civil service bureaucracy had grown ten-fold.

  • "We must begin to look at our foreign missions that we can be represented properly at international levels. We have passed the human rights bill."

    Had you?

  • "And we are going to be pursuing human rights in this republic. We are beginning the process of strengthening the judiciary that The Honourable, the Chief Justice and members of the Supreme Court can be seen, and serve, as an independent and credible judiciary."

    Did you consider that to be of any significance, Mr Taylor --

  • Very, very.

  • -- an independent and credible judiciary?

  • Definitely. Definitely. Definitely. That's the only way I figure we would be able to be a country of laws and not of men. The only way.

  • "We have seen that our police forces at this particular time have taken the challenge of combatting crime and acts of terrorism in Monrovia."

    Now, what are we talking about in terms of crime and acts of terrorism, Mr Taylor?

  • Immediately following the war we had armed robberies, holdups, where people would at night go at people's houses, hold them up at gunpoint, you know, take their things. And so we had to begin to stamp that out for us - well, I guess we all are using the general word "terrorism", but, I mean, for me if you went to an innocent family and held them up at gunpoint where there were women and children and old people, I think that's an act of terrorism for me.

  • And was that situation coming under control by this date?

  • Yes, we were beginning to stamp it out.

  • "We see our National Security Agencies moving around and logistics being provided. We see our armed forces personnel that have pledged their loyalty to this government and continue to show their readiness to defend this nation.

    Fellow citizens, we do not want to give ourselves a pat on the back, but we have reasons to believe that Liberia is moving forward."

    Pause there. What was the basis for that optimism, Mr Taylor?

  • There are several things. One, we had put together a cabinet, a government really of national unity. All of the factions, or most of them, were involved. Remember when we went through the cabinet list, you had two former commanders of the Armed Forces of Liberia, General Hezekiah Bowen and General Philip Kamah that had come on. You had individuals from ULIMO. In fact, some junior deputy ministers were spread across the board. All factions were involved. That was positive.

    The next thing that we had, a lot of the thousands of the former armed forces personnel that were connected with ULIMO-J and K, yes, they had fled across the border, some of them had joined - had been recruited for this Kamajor situation, but a lot of them had stayed in the country also and had pledged their loyalty to the country. We were beginning - if you see over here I talked about ambassadors. We were beginning to straighten up our diplomatic missions. We were beginning to get the attention of members of the international community in terms of what was possible.

    And so we were moving in on crime, trying to wipe out these robberies and different things that were going on. There was this whole atmosphere of anticipation of good things, and I was just trying to re-echo this for the republic.

  • Yes. Can we just pause for a moment and just go back briefly to that previous paragraph where you mention the chief justice and members of the Supreme Court serve as an independent and a credible judiciary. In light of that comment, Mr Taylor, can we just go back a few pages to page 190 in this bundle, please.

  • 190. Do you have it?

  • What do we see there?

  • These are members of the Supreme Court, the chief justice and two other members.

  • And do you see immediately below that reference to:

    "Statement by President Charles Ghankay Taylor on the occasion of the induction ceremony of the Chief Justice and members of the Honourable Supreme Court Bench of the Republic of Liberia in the parlours of the Executive Mansion."

    What's the date, Mr Taylor? What's the date that comes immediately after what I've just read?

  • That's August.

  • 22 August. So 20 days after your inauguration, yes?

  • Did you consider this a matter of priority?

  • Yes, yes. The delay was mostly, from our part, the time it took for the Senate to consent. That was the longest delay. The first part of the delay was the committee that had to go through the process of vetting these jurists. They had to be vetted within the presidency and making sure that we wanted qualified - the best that the country needed, and so we had to move immediately.

  • And just so that we can put it in context, 22 August, so a couple of days before you went off to Abuja for your first ECOWAS Heads of State meeting?

  • Can we go back to page 222, please. "As you are aware, we have just returned from the Far East", and we dealt with that yesterday, didn't we?

  • "Where we received an honorary doctorate degree. We are very thankful to God that the Republic of China, in its quest to assist us, will shortly be sending a very powerful team as part of our joint commission." What was that team to do?

  • Look at areas where there could be cooperation in terms of the economy and other capacity building measures.

  • Now help us, Mr Taylor. At this stage, beyond the Republic of China, were other countries queuing up to assist Liberia?

  • Yes, yes. Some members of the European Union. The United States was beginning to look at what we were doing, yes.

  • "As you very well know, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, all of these agencies have seen that we are ready, and we are willing, and we are committed to a process of restructuring our economy, a process of having a nation of laws and not of men; a process of knowing that we prepared to make the hard decisions, to take the hard choices whenever we have to, and we are going to work with the international community to make absolutely sure that Liberia continues to move forward.

    During this Christmas holiday we're going to be looking very, very seriously at our ex-combatants. We believe that all the former warring factions have problems. The young men and women need to be paid attention to. It is unreasonable for us to stay here and believe that we can go along our normal businesses and have thousands of our young men and women without jobs, no privileges, and no schools. We are going to launch a major programme within the next 45 days to repair our schools and hospitals. This programme will ensure our young men and women can go to work and can earn a dollar; that they do not have to walk around with their heads hung down. It will also provide facilities for educating them and giving health care. We intend to assist in this process. We also, fellow citizens, will continue our travels. We believe that Liberia has to sell herself at this particular time."

    What do you mean "we will continue our travels"?

  • Well, I have taken these trips to South Africa, Libya, Republic of China. A new President coming into office will have to go out. You are your nation's number one ambassador, trying to go out to make friends, influence people and people develop a feel for you to see, "Is this the person that we can work with?" All of these. You are really your country's number one ambassador. That's what I mean.

  • And help us, Mr Taylor. How extensive was this and serious was this problem of ex-combatants?

  • Very, very serious. The report shows some 30,000 arms that were collected and that's reflected in the records here from the ex-combatants, but in reality all combatants combined during the war I would say that some 60,000 young men and women went through this war at different stages. Now some people, like I said, will fight for two or three months and then you don't see them again and they're gone.

    But here we are after the war and something terrible happened in Liberia. There was no real demobilisation. I mentioned in my testimony before about the mobilisation in Mozambique. That was good, where ex-combatants were assisted. In the case of Liberia, demobilisation never really took place. After disarmament and election we were just left there to fight our own battles and so you have these thousands of young people doing nothing. This will contribute to so many factors. It contributed to the fact of crimes. There is no work. The young people are coming from a war with nothing to do.

    Then this second factor of non-state action - non-state actors on their part. By non-state I mean that is why we had people being encouraged to go back to combat inside Sierra Leone by the ECOMOG that had recruited some of them.

    So all of these, we were looking at them. They were becoming a very serious problem. You don't have that many young men and women in the country that you just want to keep without working. It was a major problem.

  • And continuing:

    "Some people believe that we have been thrown in the bottom of the pit. No, we are going out there. This is warfare but a different kind of war. If we do not sell ourselves nobody will buy us. We are going to travel within a fortnight. I will be travelling to the Kingdom of Morocco."

    Did you?

  • Oh, gee, I think this is somewhere in early - I think somewhere in '98 I visited the late King Hassan II.

  • "Following that to cement our relationship within the sub-region I am under immense pressure to visit more West African states."

    Were you?

  • What kind of pressure?

  • Well people were saying, you know, "Go around. Meet your brothers and see how they can help", those countries that were contributing countries to ECOMOG. Let's go at the beginning, we are talking about Gambia, we are talking about Ghana, we are talking about Nigeria, we are talking about Guinea. In fact, I did pay one visit to Guinea somewhere around this area. In fact, Tejani was still there. But I'm being encouraged to go out and meet my colleagues fully, not just from meeting them at a meeting but sitting down tete-a-tete.

  • "We've been invited for a state visit to la Cote D'Ivoire la Cote D'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Guinea and on and on. We have also been extended an invitation to visit a major western European country."

    Which one is that?

  • Eventually it becomes France.

  • "We are going to undertake these visits in the interest of our state and the welfare of our people.

    By and large, fellow citizens, we thought to say to you today that the sky is the limit. Liberians have a long history of freedom and liberty. We are too old to get worried about anyone threatening us, we are very old. Liberia has a history of fighting for the rights of people. It is based on our moral principles that decisions have been taken regarding so many actions dating back to our fight with the apartheid regime of South Africa filing a suit in the International Court of Justice, to fighting for the independence of so many western, central and eastern African nations.

    We are very small nation, but we are a great people. And we are going to retake our place and nothing will stop us from retaking our place among the world comity of nations. We are a proud nation and that tradition will continue.

    God bless you."

    Now, Mr Taylor, by this stage in your presidency how are you feeling about the prospects for Sierra Leone?

  • Well, I have great prospects. I know that for the first time in the Sierra Leonean crisis you now have the full attention of the international community. I do see by this time efforts are being made now to extend the mandate of ECOMOG into Sierra Leone. We see the acquiescence on the part of the OAU. We do see the attention of the United Nations. So I'm very, very, very hopeful that Sierra Leone will very shortly normalise again. I'm very optimistic at that point.

  • Now before we move into December of 1997, Mr Taylor, we're now towards the end of November. At this stage is Roberts International Airfield open?

  • We have put the pressure on and there is supposed to be now - by now a board meeting has been held. We are now putting together a programme. We've gotten promises from at least two European countries and some assistance to get the airport back up to snuff. Even in the case of Spriggs Payne Airport we are trying to see if we can get some extension. No, we are now in the position with a framework now to begin putting the international airport together to open it in line with international travel guidelines.

  • Which board meeting had been held?

  • The Roberts International Airport operates as an autonomous agency of the Liberian government. There's a board that governs the activities of the running of the airport.

  • And when had this board meeting --

  • Just before you leave that point, your question was, "At this stage is Roberts International Airport open?" So I take it the ultimate answer is no?

  • Was Roberts International Airport open for commercial traffic at this stage, Mr Taylor?

  • Now the board meeting, when had that taken place?

  • This board meeting is happening - because I'm very busy - somewhere around I think November. October/November the board meets to look at these issues.

  • And who is the chairman of the board?

  • If I remember it may have been I think Honourable Ernest Eastman could have at that time been the chairman of the board.

  • And as President, were you kept abreast of these board meetings?

  • Oh, definitely. Definitely. Remember I've written Abacha about this and so it's a priority for the government also.

  • So help me, did you receive a report about that board meeting?

  • I received a full report that came to me from the board that outlined everything that had to do with the restructuring, extension, putting on lights and all that kind of stuff. That was brought to me, I read it and it was a part of my archives papers that I turned over to the Defence.

  • I wonder if the witness could be shown the document behind divider 6 in bundle 1 of 3. So it's behind divider 6, bundle 1 of 3:

  • What are we looking at here, Mr Taylor?

  • This is a letter to the chairman of the board - the co-chairman of the board - by the secretary to the board.

  • And it refers to a board meeting of directors held in the cabinet room of the Executive Mansion on Wednesday 12 November 1997, yes?

  • Let us ignore the agenda which is over the page and which is duplicated. Let us also ignore the table of contents and just quickly get an idea of what the state of Roberts International Airfield was at the time and the kind of issues you were contending with as President. So have you got the page which begins "Introduction", Mr Taylor?

  • "The Republic of Liberia has been in the grip of civil war for the last seven years which has virtually destroyed all areas of its economy including the once thriving civil aviation subsection. The capital city, Monrovia, was subjected to a massive destruction, vandalism and looting and the two major airports, James Spriggs Payne Airport and Roberts International Airport, were no exceptions. The main runway at RIA was bombarded with resultant craters and potholes. The new terminal was destroyed by rocket and shell strikes and set on fire. Destruction and looting at both the airports left them devoid of the essential and basic facilities such as communication and navigational aids, fire fighting and rescue vehicles and equipment and meteorological instruments, et cetera.

    As a result of this destruction, Roberts International Airport remained closed to civil traffic since 1990, but some military flights, however, have been using the runway after the temporary repairs to - ECOMOG have been using the runway after the temporary repairs to the runway since 1994. ECOMOG have been using Roberts International Airport for their troop movements and for essential supplies of food and medicine."

    Reference is made to a layout plan of the airfield and if one just flicks through a few pages to behind page 8 there are appended a plan of the James Spriggs airfield and the Roberts International Airport. Yes, if we can just put those briefly up on the screen, please, so that we can all see. Yes? Have we seen both now?

    Then it continues:

    "James Spriggs Payne airport though damaged by the civil strife from time to time have remained generally operational for the flights to and from neighbouring countries and also for the flights bringing in humanitarian relief supplies of food and medicines. This was made possible by piecemeal patch repairs to runway and other facilities though not to ICAO safety standards."

    And there is a further reference to - well, I think it might be important for us to deal with that:

    "On request from the government, UNDP/ICAO fielded a technical team in June 1993 for site survey and assessment of facilities at both the airports. On completion of the mission at both the airports in September 1993 a comprehensive report was submitted giving recommendations for urgent rehabilitation and medium term improvement required as per ICAO standards and recommended practices. The total cost estimates for all the recommendations worked out at 54.129 million US dollars for both the airports. This included the cost of rehabilitation/reconstruction of facilities and equipment in order of priority and the project was planned to be completed in five years including training and fellowships for the staff and technicians.

    This report was accepted by the Government of Liberia in principle but could not be implemented because of sporadic incidents and non-availability of funds from the international donors who have been waiting for the democratically elected government to be put in place."

    Then we have if we skip a couple of lines, "The 6 April crisis." What are we talking about there, Mr Taylor?

  • 1996. That's the Roosevelt Johnson situation.

  • "The 6 April crisis was the last blow to the already crippling facilities at the James Spriggs Payne airport. The ACT tower was completely smashed by a bomb and the terminal building was very badly damaged. Also there were splinter damages caused to the main runway, taxiway and parking area pavements which made the operations more and more risky and dangerous.

    Because of the deteriorated condition of runway and lack at ATC facilities there has been three unfortunate accidents in the past two years. The recent one in July 1996 when Weasua airline lost their Yak-40 aircraft and the cargo on board."

    Do you recall that incident, Mr Taylor, the airplane crash?

  • "After the July 1996 air crash, the Government of Liberia requested UNDP to urgently provide the essentially Nav/Com aids to minimise the risk of operating at James Spriggs Payne Airport. UNDP/ICAO took immediate action and provided a mobile ATC tower which was airlifted from Canada and commissioned and dedicated to the Liberian people by the chairman of the Council of State Mrs Ruth Sando Perry. In addition, UNDP is committed to providing two vehicles and other equipment. In all UNDP has spent and committed to spend a total amount of 1.5 million US dollars including the cost of first mission for technical assistance in September 1993."

    And then there's provided a list of further commitments under the project and when we go over the page we see what financial assistance was expected from donors and if we just look very quickly at what was needed to be done at the two airports. At James Spriggs Payne Airport firstly reconstruction of the runway, secondly provision of fire fighting and rescue vehicles and equipment, thirdly security fencing to stop people from walking across the airfield, airfield lighting, water supply, power supply, Nav/Com/meteorological aids, ground handling equipment, maintenance back up vehicles, renovation of buildings, rehabilitation of taxiway, miscellaneous. It was in a bad way, wasn't it, Mr Taylor?

  • That is correct, yes.

  • And then when we go to Roberts International Airport there again renovation and furnishing of two buildings for use as temporary terminal and administration building, Nav/Com/meteorological aids required, fire fighting and rescue vehicles, security fencing, airfield lighting, repair, cleaning and paint marking on the runway, power and water supply, maintenance back up vehicles et cetera, et cetera, yes?

  • So a similar situation there?

  • So can you help, Mr Taylor, before we leave this document, how long did it actually take you to get these airports back operational? Can you help?

  • It took a few years and even by the time I left Liberia we still had not really brought the airport - especially Roberts International Airport, there were still some parts that had not been completed. This was a very expensive programme that we had some assistance, but did not get the promises that had been made. We did not get all of the donations that had been promised.

  • I'm going to move away from that document, but can I ask for it to be marked for identification, please, Mr President, as MFI-29. It is the report of the board meeting of Roberts International Airport dated 12 November 1997.

  • Yes, that document is marked MFI-29.

  • Can we put this bundle away now, please --

  • I'm sorry to interrupt, but is that appellation for that document strictly correct? You've said report of board meeting of Roberts International Airport.

  • You're right.

  • It's actually a briefing for a board meeting that is yet to be held.

  • Yes, it's a briefing for a board meeting. I'm sorry.

  • All right. Well, we will call that document a brief for the minister of transport, Government of Liberia, for an RIA board meeting to be held on 12 November 1997.

  • Mr Taylor, what we're going to do now is we're going to move into December and what I'd like us to do is to take up the presidential papers again, please. Now before I invite your attention to a particular page in this document, can I ask you a specific question, Mr Taylor. By the beginning of 1997, what is the state of play regarding the Conakry - the agreement made at Conakry in late October?

  • By the beginning of 1997?

  • No, by the beginning of December 1997?

  • Oh, by this time I think all systems are on at this particular time. We know exactly what is expected and all of our countries - I have, as I said before, closed my border and we are just now moving into a different I would call preparing for some other activities that follow about a month or two later. I don't want to get into that yet, but by the end of the year we're looking forward to the new year, but there is almost like a plan of action as we go forward into the new year and so we are really looking forward at that.

  • Do you recall now - and if you don't say so - whether you went on any foreign trips at the beginning of December 1997?

  • At the beginning of December 1997? There were so many trips that I don't quite recall right now.

  • Very well. I'm not going to press you on that, but can I invite your attention to page 121, please, in this document. Do you have it?

  • Can I draw your attention to the top photograph. Who is in that photograph, Mr Taylor?

  • That's President Jimmy Carter, his wife, his son to the far right of that photo and my wife at the time.

  • Yes, and what occasion does this record?

  • Oh, they're at a church service. I don't quite recollect what it was, but this had to be some programme. I don't recollect what this is. I didn't go personally.

  • Yes, but which month is this taking place in?

  • Yes, and do you recall a visit by President Carter to Liberia at or about this time?

  • And did he come as your guest, or in any other capacity?

  • Well a former President coming, yes, in a way, but President Carter had a very good liking for Liberia and so I'm sure he had to come as my guest.

  • Okay. Now let's now go, please, to page 224 in this document. Do you have it?

  • Now, this page is headed "Nationwide Statement by His Excellency Dankpannah Dr Charles Ghankay Taylor President of the Republic of Liberia on the Mysterious Abduction and Death of Former First Deputy Speaker of the Transitional Legislative Assembly, Honourable Samuel S Dokie, at the Parlours of the Executive Mansion, Thursday December 4, 1997".

    I don't want to go into the details of this statement, Mr Taylor. I'm interested in two things. Firstly, the date note 4 December. Secondly, what's this about?

  • This is about the death of Honourable Samuel Dokie, you see here of the TLA. That was before my government. But Samuel Dokie was a very - was somebody that I knew very well. This is about his death.

  • Yes, and what were the circumstances surrounding it?

  • This was more like - in fact I was out of the country at the time of his death. To be exact his death had occurred a little before this. It was during my trip while I was in South Africa that his death occurred and I'm commenting on it. This was more like an old family tribal feud that occurred between Honourable Dokie and some citizens from Nimba and he was killed, along with some others.

  • Now the next date I want to move to is this - so you notice we're in December now, yes? Let's go to page 226, please. Now what we note here is this: This is a statement by His Excellency Dankpannah Dr Charles Ghankay Taylor, President of the Republic of Liberia on his return from the fourth extraordinary ECOWAS summit held in Lome, Togo, 16 to 17 December 1997. Do you recall going to that meeting, Mr Taylor?

  • Definitely, yes. I couldn't remember it earlier, but.

  • Do we have time to embark on this, Mr President?

  • I don't think we would have. Well, we could embark on it, but you wouldn't finish it I don't think, Mr Griffiths.

  • Yes, so would that be a convenient point?

  • Yes, we will adjourn for the short morning break now and resume at 12 o'clock.

  • [Break taken at 11.28 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.00 p.m.]

  • Yes, continue, Mr Griffiths.

  • May it please your Honours:

  • Mr Taylor, just before the short break, I had invited your attention to page 226 of the presidential papers; do you recall?

  • 226, please. Now we see that this entry in the publication is headed, "Statement by His Excellency Dankpannah Dr Charles Ghankay Taylor, President of the Republic of Liberia on His Return From the Fourth Extraordinary ECOWAS Summit Held in Lome, Togo, December 16-17, 1997." Mr Taylor did you attend that meeting?

  • Yes, I did.

  • Can you first of all just give us a general overview as to what was discussed and thereafter decided at that meeting? So first of all, the discussion.

  • Let's deal with the word "extraordinary". It means that this is one of these ECOWAS meetings that are not a part of our regular schedules. So principally at this meeting we are now dealing with some of these - remember in October you had this Abuja and then you had Conakry. Decisions are evolving at this particular time. We meet at Togo as you can see.

    In fact, Abacha did not attend this meeting, but the mood in this meeting is very clear, he is represented and we get the full picture of what is about to happen in Sierra Leone. And that meeting is a very rough meeting amongst us but these things never come outside. There are agreements that force should be applied immediately. There are discussions that let's follow the route of negotiations and do the six months plan that had been agreed upon. That six months plan, I explained to the Court that extended into April of 1998.

    So it is not a very good meeting but we come out of the meeting united and I get back home and, as I recall, I begin to go through the history of Liberia, what Liberia has meant to the continent. It involved problems of other types so I really go on and begin to deal - in other words I'm just laying out how Liberia feels that she will continue to move as she used to move before - whether it had to do with even the independence of Nigeria, what we had to do, how we were instrumental in helping.

    So it's not a very clear - it's a stormy meeting and I come back and address the nation and I'm using I would say figurative language here in just trying to reassert in our little way Liberia's own historic position and it is intended not just for the Liberian consumption, it is intended for also external consumption.

  • Right. You've told us a lot there and I want you to help me with some of the detail. Decisions are resolved, you say. What decisions?

  • The whole - what should happen. Should we stick with the six months plan of negotiations and doing all this or should we apply force immediately? And apparently we left from that meeting still knowing that we would wait for the six months but everyone was not pleased and we know what happened subsequently.

  • You also say it was a rough meeting. What do you mean?

  • There were exchanges of views. Heads of State were expressing their opinions behind closed doors, I mean analysing situations. You know, little meetings that were not open to the public.

  • Was there disagreement?

  • Definitely there was disagreement. There was disagreement.

  • Was there stated opposition to the declared course of action?

  • You know, I need to be very careful with this, counsel, because I want to separate opposition in the meeting and coming out united.

  • Let's start with the meeting.

  • Okay. Inside the meeting of course there were oppositions as to how to proceed and when to proceed. We had agreed that at the end of the day by April force would be used if the junta had not turned over. That was accepted.

    Now, we are confronted in the meeting where it is now being said that, "Look, why wait? These people are never going to turn over, so let's move in and do it immediately". There's another view that, "Look, yes, even though we must do it let's wait for the Security Council resolution", but then others are arguing because I have already warned Abacha that the British would not permit that kind of force in Sierra Leone because they had interests and they would water down any Security Council resolution dealing with a Chapter 7 use of force. So people just felt, look, let's go ahead and do it and if they want us to give it back then we will ask them if they want us to give it back. So there were these kinds of behind the scene discussions.

  • Yes. I want to go back a little further still. You say it was an extraordinary meeting. So what prompted the sudden urgency?

  • I would say they stepped up military activities on the part of ECOMOG, the Nigerian ECOMOG, at that particular time prompted this extraordinary meeting.

  • And what were the stepped up activities of ECOMOG?

  • The bombings. I mean they were on a war footing. I'll put it this way, they were on a war footing. And if I remember very clearly, if we take one little minor step forward, if we go back into the final what reached to us - to me from my foreign minister at the time, the final beginning of the crisis - remember this so-called intervention starts at the beginning of February and if we look at the cause, what's the cause? That the junta was supposed to have attacked some ECOMOG facilities I think around Lome airport and then things snowballed, okay. But throughout - there was not quiet I'm trying to say. As of December there was not quiet. There were bombings, there were incursions by - there was a war atmosphere on the ground.

  • Mr Griffiths I don't want to get lost on this, but the Security Council - had the Security Council in principle approved using force to remove the junta in Sierra Leone?

  • No, your Honour. Even after the intervention the Security Council had not. I stand corrected but there was no resolution passed under Chapter 7 authorising the intervention in February of 1998. I stand corrected on that, but to the best of my knowledge that resolution was never granted.

  • Can I continue, your Honour?

  • Perhaps one more clarification. You say, Mr Witness, that the UK was opposed to ECOMOG striking in Sierra Leone.

  • Sir John Weston, the British ambassador to the Security Council, a permanent member, spoke publicly condemning Nigeria's action and saying that the Security Council at the time of the beginning of the crisis had not authorised under Chapter 7 force to remove the junta for the reinstallation of Tejan Kabbah into the presidency. That was the full official position of the British government. He made it in many speeches.

    In this Court I think there has been some squabbles about the use of the Sierra Leonean web page, that HTT, but it was done on the BBC. It is public information of the British position at that particular time in opposition.

  • So that was the nature of the meeting, Mr Taylor?

  • Let's now look at what you were saying in this address at page 226:

    "When we left the country a couple of days ago it characterised Liberia's historic role in approaching peace from a quite dynamic perspective of dialogue and exchange of idea, we're wherein the legacy of our wisdom as Africa's oldest independent nation is accorded an opportunity of communication. It so happens that our determination to add our voice towards the development of a mechanism for conflict resolution coincides with the annual spirit of Christmas. As Christ Jesus availed himself of the harbinger of goodwill, and thus the sacrificial lamb of peace to the world, so too did we engage our last mission to Lome.

    The fourth extraordinary session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States took place in Lome, Republic of Togo on the 17th. Our colleague His Excellency General Sani Abacha, Head of State and commander in chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and current chairman of ECOWAS, was expected to have presided. Most unfortunately however, due to matters of state, he instead directed his minister of foreign affairs to read a letter on his behalf."

    Who was his minister of foreign affairs, Mr Taylor?

  • Chief Tom Ikimi.

  • The same Tom Ikimi?

  • "My fellow citizens, the great question of how to create this mechanism for conflict prevention, conflict management and peacekeeping weighed heavily on the hearts of all my fellow colleagues. Against the background of global approach to conflict prevention, management and resolution, the foreign minister of Nigeria referred to various instruments drawn up regionally and globally; particular reference to the Cairo Declaration of 1992 which established the OAU summit mechanism for implementation."

    Pause there. Mr Taylor, what was the relevance of that Cairo Declaration to these issues?

  • In terms of conflict resolution and management, that's all.

  • "Noteworthy is the spirit and intent of other UN authorities that spearheaded the concretisation of conflict resolutions, economic recovery and development worldwide. Its emphasis lies on capacity building of government for successful implementation.

    As the latest formal document on conflict resolution, prevention and management is being considered the Economic Community of West African States must rely on its parent organisation the Organisation of African Unity, the depository of its legal instruments, in developing an appropriate and juridical formulated permanent structure in isolation of a continental approach.

    My fellow citizens, we in Liberia envisage that the African reality is now of utmost importance, especially with giant superorganisms such as the European Union, the Asian and Pacific States Organisation and the North-South American Trade Arrangements dominating world treads in development. Therefore special attention must be accorded to the Cairo Declaration of 1993 in updating existing ECOWAS protocols of 24 July 1993 when it comes to a collective security mechanism.

    The strength of our foreign policy and indeed the bedrock of our diplomacy are derived of our consistency over the years. The formulation of Liberia's foreign policy was erected out of the virtues of the emancipation, creation and independence of the nation which more than 150 years ago stood the test of time against colonial aggression and in the ensuing years helplessly lost close to 80 per cent of its territory.

    Liberia's participation, with the help of German gunboats, in the abolition of the slave trade by using its territory as a safe haven for the settlement of recaptured slaves from the Congo en route to North America.

    In defence of its sovereignty Liberia about 60 years ago successfully staved off an attempt by the League of Nations to subjugate the nation through the status of a protectorate over charges inability to govern itself as a result of allegations of slave trading in the Fernando Po scandal.

    Liberia's long-standing leadership role in Africa, particularly in the critical pre and post independence area, was the essential factor that helped to shape the protocols and structures of conventional and regional organisations.

    Monrovia served as the venue in 1959 for a five-day meeting of foreign ministers from nine independent states to find a solution to the end of the Algerian war. African independence was stressed, while the concept of our African solution to conflict resolution was given birth. The big three at the conference, Guinea, Ghana and Liberia, called for the recognition of the provisional Algerian government of Ferhat Abbas in Cairo. The three countries also protested against France's plan for atomic tests in the Sahara dessert because of the fallout dangers for neighbouring African countries.

    The Sanniquellie conference of 1959 served as the historic occasion for the final settlement of the modality for African unity. President William VS Tubman of Liberia prevailed over Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana when he called for a loose association of African states as opposed to Nkrumah's united states of Africa."

    Pause there. You've already spoken about that, haven't you, Mr Taylor?

  • That's correct.

  • And what President Tubman's motivation was in that regard?

  • "President Tubman's policy of diversity and unity set the basis for the Organisation of African Unity. However, he called for the delay in starting the OAU for several years to wait for the independence of Nigeria, the British colony that is bigger and more prosperous than Ghana, Guinea and Liberia together.

    While fighting for its independence Nigeria formulated a key principle of foreign policy it is stated. We have to be objective in pursuing a policy which deals with the science of what is possible. In the context of the role of a future organisation for African independent states, Nigeria joined the big three in calling for a community member's obligation appear limited to doing nothing contrary to the spirit and objective of the community. The community's main objective is described as the need to help other African territories to earn their non-independent status.

    President Tubman went further in fostering that the community will have an economic council, a cultural council and a scientific and research council. This proposal of Tubman stressed what is probably the community's principal long-term usefulness; economic cooperation, harmonisation of tariffs, and possibly a common market eventually for all or most of Africa, after the goal of all-African independence was achieved around 1970.

    The West African summit, as Sanniquellie was called, also passed resolutions on certain African affairs."

    Can I pause there Mr Taylor. Firstly, why did you feel it necessary to provide this historical narrative to the people of Liberia?

  • We are coming from this rough meeting and I'm really troubled, but I'm a part of the process and our long last goal of getting Liberia started. What I describe as being a respected member of the comity of nations, I see it under threat because as long as there is no peace in Sierra Leone quite frankly there's no real peace in Liberia.

    This is just to remind our people to give them hope to remind them of the historic role that we've played and that we must continue to play in dealing with the problems now across the border in the sisterly Republic of Sierra Leone. It is just maybe, you know, a reminder, a reawakening of the Liberian spirit, to tell us that, "Look, we are our brother's keepers. We've done great things in the past. We can still do it in the future. We need not despair."

    I would just call this that this was a need to cheerlead a little bit and then remind some of these big countries we had - you see here what Liberia had done in holding up the OAU to wait for Nigeria, so even though we were small we were great and in a way reminding some of them of what we had done for them; that when their houses were on fire we came to their rescue. This historic thing is to remind them and give our people some sense of dignity and honour, that's all.

  • So, Mr Taylor, why did you not address the Liberian people along the lines of, "Steps will be taken in our sister country of Sierra Leone which may have consequences for you, the citizens of Liberia, for whose welfare I as President have responsibility." Why not warn them along those lines?

  • That would have - that would have figuratively speaking let the cat out of the bag. I think everybody knew that there was a six months delay. Everyone new publicly that if they did not adhere to this there will be force. We were still - most of us in West Africa were of the conviction that the junta would turn over in time based on our April deadline, so by making a statement like that could have even warned the junta of possible force coming and so it would have been inappropriate.

  • Let's just complete this and then I'm going to ask you some more questions about that:

    "True to our tradition and heritage of diplomacy, this administration has remained firm and consistent to its foreign policy principles of reciprocity, strict adherence to the resolutions of the UN, OAU and ECOWAS and protection and preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of not only Liberia but all African nations. Our views and policy on conflict resolution, which embodies crisis prevention and peacekeeping, were initially spelled out in an address to the 20th ECOWAS summit in Abuja of 28 August" - we've looked at that, haven't we?

  • That is correct.

  • "...in which we linked the long term security of the sub-region to economic development and enhance regional cooperation to a high level where we should be seen as acting in concert with a firm resolution showing tolerance for our differences of opinion while respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of each member state.

    Of late, we have clearly spelled out in a policy statement on Sierra Leone our strict compliance with UN resolution 1132, and stated emphatically that Liberian territory will not be used for the destabilisation of any sister African state."

    Let us pause and take things in stages. UN resolution 1132 was to what effect?

  • A return of the government of Tejan Kabbah, the negotiations as set out by ECOWAS. That resolution was basically the ECOWAS plan at that time.

  • And still staying on that last paragraph, "...that Liberian territory will not be used for the destabilisation of any sister African state", what's that a reference to?

  • The Kamajors moving in and out outside of the agreement of the Committee of Five, ECOWAS and the OAU.

  • Now, earlier you mentioned that the reason why you were giving this in effect historical lecture to the people of Liberia was because of your fears.

  • That's correct.

  • What were those fears, Mr Taylor?

  • Like I say, I knew that there was going to be a crisis coming again. There was going to be a major war and everything that we thought about would never obtain again for some time.

  • What do you mean "everything we had thought about"?

  • Okay, I'm talking about bringing peace, stability, moving refugees back into Liberia, moving other countries' refugees back into the country.

  • Let me pose the question differently, Mr Taylor. What did you anticipate to be the consequences for Liberia of the intervention you knew was going to take place?

  • The consequences simply would have been Liberia would have found herself starting all over.

  • And did you want to be taking that step backwards?

  • That's why I'm asking you, you see? You're here making a decision which you know will have serious consequences for your country, yet you are telling them bottom of the last paragraph on the left-hand side:

    "True to our tradition and heritage of diplomacy, this administration has remained firm and consistent to its foreign policy principles of reciprocity, strict adherence to the resolutions of the UN, OAU and ECOWAS."

    It sounds as if you are willing to sacrifice the needs of Liberia to those bodies. What do you say to that?

  • Oh, I would say no. No. Let's be very clear about this. The UN is not a hawkish organisation that will just bounce in and use force and destruction. ECOWAS - I mean OAU, which is the mother organisation on the African continent, also had protocols for conflict resolution. ECOWAS followed those protocols. If you get to see a little later, you will see that at most OAU summits on the margin of those summits regional organisations also meet on the margins of those summits. And so these organisations work together and by the time the Security Council makes - takes a decision under Chapter 7, under most circumstances every avenue have been exhausted before there is a use of force. So we subscribe to that, that force is used as a last resort and that is enshrined in the agreements of all of these major organisations.

  • I think we may be at cross-purposes, Mr Taylor, so let me try my question differently. You've told me a little while ago that you appreciated that military intervention in Sierra Leone would have consequences for Liberia in terms of setting back the progress you had made. Do you follow me so far?

  • And do you agree with that proposition?

  • Well, maybe I could qualify something. Military intervention the way that it was being conducted, you know, unilaterally by the Nigerians at the time was what I'm opposed to.

  • Let me try again.

  • So the manner in which it was being conducted was having consequences for your country?

  • My question then is, if that is the case, why are you supporting a policy which is having these detrimental effects on your own country? Do you follow me?

  • Well, I need some help. That question presupposes another track of this argument, so maybe I need some help from you. I don't understand. What I am supporting - the agreement on the part of ECOWAS has not reached to the point of the use of force, so I am supporting the protocols that call for negotiations and giving a time for the junta to return.

    Now we have not authorised force, so in support I'm not supporting the force as is being used. This is why if you go back to that letter that I write to Abacha, I am telling him that his actions will lead to isolating him, that would not be proper and that he had to work within the confines of ECOWAS.

  • Yes, Mr Taylor, I appreciate you've told us that and force might not have been authorised in the sense you suggest, but help us. You knew within your heart of hearts what was going to happen, didn't you?

  • That the attack was going to take place.

  • And what consequence did you think such an attack would have for Liberia?

  • So help me. Knowing that, why were you continuing to support your big brother Mr Sani Abacha?

  • You know, for the purposes of this case I will tell you. I will just make this statement. A lot of countries get dragged yelling and screaming into issues on this planet now that really they have no control over. I can give you some examples now. Let's go back if you look at the war in Iraq, a lot of little countries got dragged in there probably doing nothing.

    Listen, this is a global community and going against Nigeria at that time by myself, trying to act big and bad, would not have been in the best interests of Liberia and I handled it as diplomatically as I could. Everyone could sense the tension, but it was smart. Nigeria could have smashed my little government within a day's time. I was not armed. They had a mechanised division in the country. Come on, let's get real here. This is the real world that you do get dragged into situations sometimes and you just have to be careful. If you're not careful, you get smashed.

  • I ask you these questions at this stage, Mr Taylor, because we have now reached towards the end of December 1997, haven't we?

  • So let's just take stock for a moment. We're one year into the indictment period, as established by the statute which sets up this Court.

  • By December 1997, had you done anything at all to support the AFRC junta in Sierra Leone?

  • And here you are in December 1997 acquiescing in the decision by ECOWAS that force might at some stage be used against the very regime this Prosecution claims you were supporting. So help us, why did you do that when it might have consequences for your own country? Do you follow me now, Mr Taylor?

  • I follow you. Because I had no interest in destabilising Sierra Leone. My interest was in a free, peaceful Sierra Leone and not as the Prosecution said.

  • So at this stage, the end of the first year of the indictment period, December 1997, had you had any contact with the AFRC junta?

  • The first contact was - and I'm calling it a contact - the letter that was sent by the chairman, Johnny Paul Koroma, that I never responded to.

  • The second was a delegation led by the gentleman whose name I wrote on that piece of paper that I refused to meet because Liberia did not recognise the junta.

  • So help me, did you respond to the letter?

  • Did you meet that delegation?

  • By the end of December 1997, had you had any direct contact with anyone to do with the junta?

  • Now by this stage, December 1997, when was the last time you had spoken to Foday Sankoh, your minion?

  • The last time I, Charles Ghankay Taylor, had spoken to Foday Sankoh was in 1992. That was the last time I spoke to Foday Sankoh.

  • Where was he, Mr Sankoh, at this time to the best of your knowledge?

  • In Gbarnga, just before the break-up.

  • No, in December 1997 where was Foday Sankoh?

  • Foday Sankoh in December 1997, he was in the custody of, I think, the Nigerians.

  • And whilst in their custody did you speak to him at any stage?

  • No, I did not speak to him at any stage.

  • And help us. By this time, December 1997, where is Dr Manneh?

  • December 1997, Dr Manneh I really don't know, but he is somewhere - I really do not know. I have not been in contact with him for a few years.

  • Mr Griffiths, perhaps I might intervene again. When the witness says that the intervention in Sierra Leone would have had destructive consequences for Liberia, could he elaborate exactly how that would translate into consequences for Liberia.

  • Could you do that, please, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes. We used the word "intervention" now as is described at the time of the attack in February. What I'm using intervention to mean is that any renewed armed conflict in Sierra Leone would be disastrous for Liberia.

  • You have fighting, refugees coming in again, we have non-state actors that we are hiring. I told you about our ex-combatants from the war that were being used in Sierra Leone recruited by the Nigerians and fighting alongside the Kamajors. All - and the possibility of them going and returning with renewed war. So for me, any military conflict at that time without preparing Liberia for it would have been detrimental to our move for peace and stability.

  • And a related question. Was Liberia the only member on the Committee of Five who was uncomfortable with what Nigeria was doing at this time?

  • No, your Honour, we were not the only ones. I beg not to be asked to call their names because we are in a big area of deniability. You will be hearing tomorrow, "Oh, no, no, no". But there were at least I would say two and a half nations that - it was almost 50/50 that were very uncomfortable with what was being proposed and forced through.

  • What about the half? What did that represent?

  • Well, when I say two and a half nations, you'll find some people waver on this particular subject they - well, you know, and they are wavering. Their whole - I would say their survival depended on one of these big nations involved that they did not want to offend, so sometimes they would play little games. It happens all the time.

  • All right. So before we move into 1998, Mr Taylor, just sum up for us, will you, where you felt Liberia had got to by the end of 1997?

  • By the end of 1997, we had reached a point where: One, internally we were on the verge of regaining our respect. We were making those structural changes. We had put together a national unity government. We were now talking to our foreign partners, Bretton Woods Institutions trying to get a feel back on what they would require for good governance. We had put together a human rights commission. In fact, by the way, that commission was headed by a retired Judge, Judge Badio. That's B-A-D-I-O. We had put in a Supreme Court. The legislature was functioning.

    We were busy alluring the international community and giving all of the appearances of a nation moving from an era of war into an era of peace. We were a part of the West African family. We had come on the Committee of Five. We were now fighting to get Sierra Leone back to track, because we realised that the survival of Liberia, our attempt to break out of this cycle of violence and step back amongst the community of nations meant that our sister the Republic of Sierra Leone had to know peace as we were beginning to know it. So we see ourselves working on that front.

    We are taking an active role at the OAU. We are taking an active role back at the United Nations. We have many visits going on. So we see ourselves as making the type of progress that a country coming out of a seven year civil war found itself. We were taking those little steps, trying to work our way forward. And we saw ourselves as being peace loving individuals that wanted to put this whole concept of war behind us. So for me, if I sum up 1997 with the brief what we say about six months, we are on track in trying to regain our strength as a nation and people.

  • And did you harbour any concerns as you entered the new year of 1998?

  • Oh, yes. The concerns were there. They were looming.

  • And what were they?

  • We saw on the horizon problems. We had not really sufficiently dealt with the issues of our own security and you know from other documents before this Court these little tensions are between ourselves and the attitude of the Nigerian security. But we also see that there's a determination to almost unilaterally solve the Sierra Leonean problem and throw it out of whack. So we are concerned about this looming - what you call these gathering problems.

  • And any cause for optimism as you entered that new year?

  • Yes, we were hopeful that reason would prevail and I was hopeful because the diplomatic pressures that were coming, yes, there were pressures from I would say Britain and to a great extent the United States about being very prudent in how - in observing what was about to obtain in Sierra Leone, because I knew that once these two big countries were looking prudently at trying to resolve this in the best possible way and we had certain promises from some of these governments, for example, we mentioned the airport - in fact the Dutch I think and Danish governments were very, very instrumental in promising monies.

    So we harboured a large degree of optimism from the international community based on our own attitude. We were convinced that based on the constructive nature - manner, may I say, in which we had approached government, that it would have helped us. So we were optimistic.

  • Very well. Let's close the page on 1997 and let's start on 1998. Can I invite your attention, please, to the presidential papers, MFI-28. Can I invite your attention to page 152. Do you have it?

  • We're just setting the stage at this point, Mr Taylor. We see in the top photograph there's you along with Dr Amos Sawyer and Cllr David Kpomakpor in Tubmanburg during a nationwide tour in early 1998, yes?

  • That's correct.

  • And we see at the bottom you and your wife, the First Lady, on a tour in Bomi and Cape Mount in early 1998, yes?

  • That is correct, yes.

  • Now help us. What was the purpose of these tours?

  • Just trying to meet the people and reconcile with them and start up a conversation with them.

  • Had you had opportunity to conduct such a tour before?

  • I think this is about my first major tour. I had been very, very busy coming into office.

  • Let's now go to page 130, please. Let's direct our gaze to the top photograph. "President Taylor confers with his close friend and brother, President Henri Konan Bedie of la Cote d'Ivoire during his visit to Abidjan, early 1998", yes?

  • Do you recall that visit?

  • And help us, Mr Taylor. When we say early 1998, can you help us with a month?

  • This must be around January, because I think I do this before - before I address the nation. This is early January. And don't forget that la Cote d'Ivoire is a member of the Committee of Five too.

  • Now help us. Was there a purpose behind that visit to the Cote d'Ivoire in early 1998?

  • Yes. We share borders with la Cote d'Ivoire, one. La Cote d'Ivoire is a member of the Committee of Five, two. And this is mostly to share notes on common concerns and common interests.

  • Yes. And can you recall now - if you can't, say so - how long you remained there?

  • These visits don't last no more than a day or two.

  • Now, at this time, Mr Taylor, how regularly would your cabinet meet?

  • I would say there were almost monthly meetings, but the beginning of the year, let's say every January, there is what we call a major meeting, because in line with the constitution we have to address the legislature on what we call the state of the nation. So I would meet them in January. This January was a major meeting in January.

  • Can you remember when in January that was?

  • Oh, this had to be - I'm not too sure of the date, counsel, but it's in the first half of January that we have to meet, because we're putting together this programme for the legislature.

  • Is there any record of that meeting available, Mr Taylor?

  • Is it a record you've seen?

  • Yes, I've seen it, I read it. It was a part of my archives too.

  • So it comes from your archives?

  • And help us, what is the nature of the record you are referring to?

  • At the end of every cabinet meeting, the director-general of the cabinet will put together the records of that meeting, decisions taken, programmes that are being planned and it is - it becomes an official document of the government.

  • Right. Let's just pause then and see what we have in terms of foundation. You've seen a document?

  • It comes from your archives?

  • It's a list of decisions made following the cabinet meeting and such a meeting took place in the first half of January 1998?

  • And that I chaired the meeting.

  • And you chaired the meeting?

  • If there is no objection, I would like the witness, please, to be shown the document behind divider 8 in bundle number 1 of 3:

  • Do you have the document, Mr Taylor?

  • "Republic of Liberia Office of the Director-General of the Cabinet. Third Regular Cabinet Meeting, Wednesday, January 14, 1998. Summary of decisions:

    Accountability: The bureau of general audit will be institutionally re-restructured, logistically reinforced and professionally staffed so that it will become a problem to the management of those public and private entities that do not understand what is meant by transparency and accountability. The bureau will be the watchdog of the government. There will be routine field and book audits conducted in keeping with rules and professional ethics, but there will be no witch-hunting."

    What's that mouthful about?

  • What do you mean the witch-hunting part, or the whole paragraph?

  • Well the transparency, the accountability, the watchdog and the witch- hunting, what's that all about?

  • All foreign aid is tied up to this good governance, accountability, transparency. We are trying to set up shop in preparation for some of the questions that will be posed to the government by donor agencies. We are just preparing the groundwork for this assistance that we are working on.

  • "Transparency: Each agency is expected to educate the public on policies, rules, guidelines and laws relating to the execution of its mandate. Professional workshops, seminars, symposiums and citizens meetings are encouraged. The public needs to know what government is doing. Good governance requires participation and joint public/private efforts. Officials of the administration, particularly members of the cabinet, are expected to familiarise themselves with the NPP platform. Every effort must be made to meet the party's promise to the Liberian people.

    Management of Presidential Time: Presidential time will be managed in such a manner that it will contribute to proficiency and efficiency in government. Officials are expected to understand their statutory mandates and, with such understanding, administer the affairs of their respective agencies with minimum need to see the President. There will be greater consultation and collaboration amongst and between the various agencies at both the policy and technical levels."

    Mr Taylor, why was it felt necessary to discuss that issue of managing your time and coming to this decision?

  • Well, most cases we had seen in the past ministers will not take decisions. Every day they want to see the President. In most countries - I don't want some of my African brothers to get angry, but I mean ministers just - you have your responsibilities to spell out and you know what the laws are, but you will not take a decision. You go and see the President every day and so the President will find himself instead of concentrating on key matters, he will be meeting ministers after ministers and after ministers and nothing gets done. So I'm trying to say here, "Look, every agency in government is created by an act of the legislature. It spells out what you're supposed to do. Go and do your work."

  • Now what had been happening, Mr Taylor, which caused this to be on the agenda for discussion?

  • Well, ministers were trying to burden me down every day with requests to see me.

  • And for how long had that been going on?

  • From the time almost I took over the presidency. It was an old historic thing that they had seen in the past.

  • Tell us was this a daily occurrence, a weekly occurrence, or what?

  • Oh, it would sometimes be daily, sometimes weekly occurrence, people would be requesting to see the President.

  • So help me, what consequences did that have for your time?

  • I would be so - I would be so tied up that before major I would say foreign policy matters that I want to concentrate, or maybe some little domestic matters that I could take care of, I was basically trying to take care of ministers instead of the ordinary Liberian that had probably a better reason to want to see the President.

  • Well, Mr Taylor, the cynic might say the reason why you didn't have any time was because you were too busy running Sierra Leone at the same time?

  • Oh, yes, well the cynic would say anything. That would be total foolishness.

  • But were you doing that?

  • So what was occupying your time which caused you to have to put this on the agenda in January 1998?

  • Trying to do Liberia's business. That was occupying my time.

  • Just help us, Mr Taylor. In that period up to this point when you felt the need to raise this matter, just give us an idea of the average Taylor presidential day? After you had been made President up to this time, what was the average day like?

  • Let's start at the beginning. What time do you get up? Let's start with the basic things.

  • You find yourself - I found myself getting up in the morning sometimes I would say at 9 a.m., sometimes at 9.30, because I will go to bed about 3/4 in the morning. I mean, you hardly get any rest.

  • Well, just take us through the day. So you get up at 9/9.30. Skip the cornflakes, we're not interested in them, but after the cornflakes what happens?

  • Try to get ready, yes, take a little breakfast and then come down to office. The presidency has been described here as an eight storey building. The President lives on top floor.

  • What location are we talking about?

  • That's my official residence and on the fourth floor of the building are the presidential offices. So the family is upstairs and so I could work in my office late at night, go up and then come down. So by not later than sometimes about 10 a.m. in the morning I am full in office, but sometimes it was earlier than that. I didn't - I mean, what kind of President comes into work at 10 o'clock in the morning? That was not an everyday situation. If we worked very late at 3/4 in the morning, I got a few hours. There were some days that by 8 a.m. I was at my desk.

  • Yes. And then?

  • I would be briefed first thing in the morning by the national security advisor. I received my minister of state. We would then begin to look at what sometimes our long-term planning programmes were and what they will be. Diplomatically what was of urgent concern. Internally, politically, regionally what were some of the actions that were necessary. If I had to take a trip, when that trip would be, or if there were any goodwill messages that had to be sent out to foreign countries, or the receipt of goodwill missions. A possible meeting with the foreign minister. Possible meetings with the - probably the national security minister. We would deal with probably seeing any of our traditional leaders, or this type of programme. You are occupied one hour to the next.

    And signing into bills. If they are available we might - my first few months pushing through major legislation. We talked about the human rights commission that we put through, yes, and my first six months I've said that we get the Supreme Court put in. We are dealing with the preparations for the receipt of foreign envoys and diplomats. That's a long, long day that you have.

  • And what kind of time would it finish?

  • The official hours would be through by 5 p.m., but like I say the President would stay in office sometimes until - good days, or good nights for me would be 9/10 at night. Bad nights would be sometimes up to 3 o'clock in the morning.

  • And would you also have to undertake other functions like opening schools, hospitals, kissing babies, that kind of stuff?

  • Of course. That's the whole presidential planning; what's to be done internally. Yes, all kinds of little things. Maybe visiting a village, opening a new project. It was so - it was a unique situation, you know, to renovate a hospital at that time. That was a unique situation, so for simple renovation you want to be there. If you renovate a little school some place, it's unique for the President. You are visible. You are very, very busy, because everything that is happening after the war is virtually unique, hospitals, schools. We're trying to put money into the barracks. Every little thing is important.

  • Now go on, Mr Taylor, tell us. Did you have time to slip to that little radio room you had in the Executive Mansion to give your mates in the RUF a little tinkle down the line? Did you?

  • No, the President does not talk on the radio ever. The President of Liberia never spoke and I challenge anyone to bring me one recorded statement that Charles Taylor spoke on an SSB radio. Total nonsense. Never.

  • Mr Taylor, you have heard witnesses called by this Prosecution say there was a special radio room in the Executive Mansion for keeping in touch with the RUF. Do you remember that?

  • Was there such a room?

  • There was no such room. And in fact it would be stupid for anyone wanting to talk on the radio to talk on an SSB. If we get this maybe one of the things we ought to do is to bring an SSB for the judges to see.

    What is an SSB? I'm not technical person and maybe they will need an expert. An SSB is not the type of radio, that truckers and all people use, that the President of a republic and this President would get in a radio room and have a dedicated room to talk about for the RUF.

  • Did anything like that go on, Mr Taylor?

  • Let's go back to the document:

    "With minimum need to see the President. There will be greater consultation and collaboration amongst and between the various agencies at both the policy and technical levels.

    '98 budget. The first post war budget outlining expenditures estimated at 1.7 billion Liberian dollars or 41.4 million US dollars for the fiscal year 1998 will be proposed to the legislature."

    Mr Taylor, 41.4 million US dollars, is that the total budget of the Liberian government for the fiscal year 1998?

  • That is correct. The first post war budget, this is it. When you compare this to what I have heard that Taylor got billions, the national budget that we proposed in January for the fiscal - that's it, $41 million.

  • And out of that you had to run schools, hospitals, armed forces, repair Roberts International Airfield, all those other things. Is that right?

  • "There will be no borrowing to finance any aspect of the budget." Why not?

  • We are already in the hole 3 point something billion dollars. We don't know where we are going to get the first cent to pay. Nobody has even - and we have already forfeited certain rights under the Bretton Woods Institute. And don't you know that throughout this war, the seven years of war, the Bretton Woods Institutions, World Bank, IMF, are still calling for Liberia to still be paying certain amounts on the interest for the loans granted. So why would we want to borrow to finance 41 million? That's only to add more burden to the little country that's got nothing. So I just said that we're not going to borrow, we're going to use what we have, and this is why we took this decision.

  • "All revenues are expected to be generated from domestic sources." Such as?

  • Which you've explained.

  • Exactly. The second source would be what we'll call a sales tax that is placed on items coming into the country and a little bit of income tax. Because businesses are all destroyed. There's virtually nothing.

  • Well, help us with this: When you say domestic sources, at this stage were you being provided any assistance from overseas?

  • Not directly, no. Except for the - and when you talk about assistance, I want to be very fair to the international community. Whatever monies are put into these humanitarian operations, that's also carried as assistance to the country. Presidents and governments never really see them, but it's also noted as assistance.

    So if we look technically at assistance I can say yes, but it does not apply to government. But NGOs, what they get, they call it assistance to Liberia. What they gave, all of these humanitarian goods, whether it is World Food Programme, whether it is Medecins Sans Frontieres, all of these kinds of assistance comes in a big figure you hear going to the country. But as if affects the budget of the country, no, there was no such assistance.

  • Now help us. Let's just look at the figures below that so that we can identify what were the priorities of the Liberian government which you headed. We see development was going to get the biggest amount, yes?

  • Then property renovation?

  • Then education, yes?

  • Why was education being made such a priority?

  • We wanted to do everything to get our young people back to school for the years lost, and we figured that the bedrock of any nation is an educated populace and so we wanted to really push this particular programme.

    And let me just remind you when you talk about development, rehabilitation, restoration, property renovation, even some of that money would apply to education because we're talking about renovating hospitals and clinics. So by education, this did not - it could be a bigger percentage when we look at what came from a development side into that figure.

  • Now, we note that after education, next comes health care?

  • That is correct.

  • And after health, the next is justice?

  • Coming in at six is defence?

  • Why is defence so far down the food chain, Mr Taylor?

  • Because we have ECOMOG, they're providing our security. We have not trained an army. So the biggest part of defence really is salary, trying to get salary. We don't have to think about equipment, armament, arms, ammunition. We don't have to think about that. So this is mostly in terms of salaries for the armed forces. That's why it's way down the line.

  • Thereafter at joint seventh we've got domestic debt servicing and external debt servicing, a total of 8 per cent of the budget was going on servicing debt. So help us, that 8 per cent of the budget, was it staying in Liberia or was it going elsewhere?

  • No, no, no, it's going - it's going elsewhere.

  • External debt servicing, that's the Bretton Woods Institutions. We had to pay amounts to the World Bank, the IMF, the African Development Bank. All the loans that had been received by previous governments, the interest on those loans are still being paid during the war.

  • So some 8 per cent of your budget was going to do that?

  • And then finally in eighth position we have agriculture?

  • Over the page, "When approved the budget will be strictly followed." Why?

  • If you don't do that people try to spend what is not appropriated to them to spend and probably go and try to credit. That is a part of the domestic debt servicing we are talking about. For example, a ministry may have let's say $10,000 to let's say buy a vehicle. They will go to the automobile garage and the vehicle may be 12 or 15,000 dollars. They will tell them, "Give me the vehicle. In my next appropriation we will pay you". So we wanted to stop this kind of thing, that they would spend only what is provided for them to spend in the budget.

  • Right. Let's skip A, B, C, D and E thereunder and go to paragraph 6:

    "In compliance with Article 58 of the constitution, the President will address a joint session of the national legislature during which time he will submit the budget for the fiscal year '98. He will deliver the state of the republic message and present the administration's legislative agenda for 1998."

    Yes?

  • And then let's go over the page and let's just get an idea of what the money was going on. "Priority programs. Restoration of civil authority". Second, "Reinforcement and expansion of the judiciary system". Thirdly, "Reinforcement and expansion of the civil security system". What's that, Mr Taylor?

  • The civil security system is dealing with - really we're talking about the police, and there's a system that was used before in Liberia where every district, every town, every village served as a lookout. If a stranger came to your village and had somebody in a village we would know. It was a way of keeping problems out of the country where you are your brother's keeper, so we wanted to know who was coming and who was going.

  • "Expansion of efforts towards good governance". What's that?

  • Good governance, we are talking about accountability. That's making sure that we will stamp out corruption, and accountability.

  • "Rapid food production initiatives". What's that?

  • Well, we're coming out of the war and Liberia had always been dependent on importation of food. I'm trying to get them to begin to grow and produce what we eat instead of having to import, because we have no money anyway.

  • "Reconstruction of hospitals, health facilities and social welfare institutions" is fairly self-explanatory. "Restoration and construction of safe drinking water facilities across the country", again self-explanatory. "Restoration of primary health care services, reconstruction of school buildings and vocational centres". You've already mentioned that, yes, Mr Taylor?

  • "Restoration of the national school system, provision of instructional material and basic school supplies".

  • "Improvement and expansion of programme for youth and recreation", yes?

  • "Restructuring of the AFL".

  • "Reconstruction of roads and bridges. Reconstruction of public buildings". Yes?

  • "Restructuring of the civil service. Restoration and construction of electricity facilities. Restoration and construction of communication facilities. Restoration of socioeconomic database facilities and systems". What's that?

  • We were beginning to put together a massive computer related system for putting together a civil service. The whole thing had broken down. We were trying to rebuild this system.

  • And then was that linked to item 20, "Automation and standardisation of government of Liberia operations"?

  • Then we see a list of the legislative agenda for 1998?

  • Now, just looking at that legislative agenda, and I don't ask you about any particular item, to what extent would you as President be involved in pushing this legislation through the legislative chamber?

  • Yes, the President would - to the extent where you are in touch with the majority leader. We had a legislative aid from the presidency if there were any hitches or if the legislators - we have a two-chamber house system in Liberia, the Senate and the House of Representatives. So the President would be involved in clearing out any hiccups that develop. You would want to clear that up and send somebody down, or maybe invite a few senators or senior representatives down. Even talking to the opposition. You'll be involved at that level.

  • And to what degree would you have to keep your eye on the passage of these bills?

  • It was important. It was important that you - no President wants to submit a bill to the legislature and get it thrown out through the window, so you do keep an eye on it.

  • Let's go over the page, shall we. Now special activities for 1998. "Closure of all displaced shelters and resettlement of IDPs". IDPs are what?

  • So what was the objective then behind this?

  • We had seen this in other countries and I wanted to stop this in Liberia. You know, the internally displaced persons, they are put up in little tarpaulin shelters. The World Food Programme - if you look on the television you'll see what is happening in Darfur. You will just see miles and miles of human mass just out there with little pieces of tarpaulin. And some of these people are under these conditions for a long time.

    Our internally displaced persons have been going through this and another little part there attached to it, you must live in that area to get the food ration. You must live in that area to get this assistance. If you leave and go home and come - no, you don't get it. So you keep our people just in a state of terribleness I will call it.

    So what I said, "No, you NGOs, if you really want to help our people, you are going to help them back in the regions from which they came", because Liberia - I mean Monrovia had become one human mass of about a million to 1.5 million people in a city historically that had about 3 or 400,000. And all around the city are little refugee internally displaced slums. So I said, "But wait a minute. Look, we want our people to return. At home let them go back to their towns and villages. They will build their little houses. Yes, they are mud houses but they are comfortable in their little homes. But you cannot continue to degrade them in these open fields covered with tarpaulin when our people can go home and build their little mud houses. So this thing about you saying they must be in these cluster environments before they can get assistance, I have had it. If you are really serious about helping our people you will have to follow them and go to where they really need the help."

    So we were encouraging our people to leave these - how can you be in your country and internally displaced at a time of peace? My God, it's not possible. Okay. And we are at peace, and they are encouraging us to be internally displaced because of their little food. So let our people go back to their towns and villages and plant their little farms. So I'm saying that we're going to close these shelters and we're going to help our people to move back home.

  • Would that be a convenient point, Mr President?

  • Yes, I think that's an appropriate spot. We'll break for lunch now and resume at 2.30.

  • [Lunch break taken at 1.28 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 2.30 p.m.]

  • Yes, continue, please, Mr Griffiths.

  • May it please your Honours:

  • Mr Taylor, we were looking before we adjourned for lunch at the document behind divider 8 in bundle 1 of 3, and can I invite your attention, please, to page 5 of that document, which is the penultimate page. Do you have it?

  • Now we considered just before lunch item number 1 under "Special activities for 1998". Item number 2 is self-explanatory. Let's go, please, to item number 3, "Hosting of a national conference on the future of Liberia (a five-day convocation of eminent and influential Liberians from the private and Public Sectors - government, political, corporate, religious, legal, social," et cetera, "proposed for March 1998)."

    Yes, what was the purpose behind that?

  • We are just coming from the war and the entire country was engulfed in this war. There were hardly any neutral parties, I can say. I was lucky to be visited by the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese in Liberia, Michael Kparkala Francis, Michael as in normal Michael, Kparkala, K-P-A-R-K-A-L-A. And it was - he had suggested that I look into this issue of bringing together all segments of the Liberian society and asking them the simple question, "Which way forward?" I liked that very much, and I must give him credit. And I consulted members of the cabinet and threw the idea around with other prominent Liberians, and they liked it, and I think he should take credit for a very good recommendation. And in fact we did plan it, and the biggest - the question was: Which way forward, Liberia? Where do we come from here? What do we do? We wanted to be united going forward.

  • Yes. Now also at item number 4 we see "Sesquicentennial celebrations (Activities to commemorate the 150th observance of Liberia's independence)"?

  • Did that fall in 1998, Mr Taylor?

  • And so there were plans to commemorate that, were there?

  • And we will come to it in due course, but what was the date scheduled for that?

  • And then we see "Economic stimulation initiatives" at 6, "Decentralisation of government of Liberia," and under "current issues" we see new fees, levies and charges being imposed by various agencies and then "Police efforts to crack down on criminals is commendable", yes?

  • And if we go over to the final page we see at (e) "Reprimand for senior officials communicating with their colleagues and on the radio", but we need not detain over that, need we, Mr Taylor? Now, Mr Taylor, so that is the cabinet meeting on Wednesday 14 January?

  • Let's put that away, shall we? And then can I ask that MFI-28, the presidential papers, be placed before the witness again please?

  • Mr Griffiths, I don't know; do you wish this to be marked for identification?

  • Oh, yes, I am grateful. Yes, the document which we have just looked at, the "Third regular cabinet meeting for 14 January 1998, summary of decisions", can I ask that to be marked for identification MFI-30, please.

  • Yes, that document is marked MFI-30.

  • I am grateful for the reminder:

  • Can we have a look at page 97 of this document, please, okay? Now, Mr Taylor, who do you see in the photograph on that page?

  • That is me and the ambassador from Egypt.

  • And this is dated 22 January 1998, yes?

  • Now, below the photograph and its label we see "Statement by the President of the Republic of Liberia on the occasion of the presentation of the letters of credence by His Excellency Farouk Ghoneim, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Republic of Liberia, January 22nd, 1998".

    Do you see that?

  • Now, the presentation of letters of credence, just for those who don't understand, what does that imply?

  • Representatives of Presidents are sent to various nations are called ambassadors. Actually, some people think that ambassadors - but they are actually the representative of the Head of State of government. This is the representative of Egypt that has been sent officially accredited near Monrovia to this government.

  • Right. I am not going to delay by taking you through what you said on that occasion, save for at page 98, please, the penultimate paragraph in the right-hand column: "Even at the height and critical period of our civil crisis in Liberia, the government and brotherly people of Egypt did not only remain with us for the most part of our hour of trouble, but also gave unflinching support to all ECOWAS-sponsored peace initiatives from Liberia brought before the OAU and the United Nations".

    Is that right?

  • That is correct.

  • Right, okay. Right. Taking matters sequentially then, please, can we next go to page 229 of this same document. Now what are we looking at at page 229, Mr Taylor?

  • That is the annual address of the - to the legislature.

  • Okay. And is there a legal requisite for such an annual address, Mr Taylor?

  • And what is the legal authority which requires this?

  • Now, let's ignore the introductory sentiments expressed on the fist page and go straight over to page 230, please, and let's start at the first complete paragraph on that page:

    "Five months and twenty five days ago, when we voiced the sacred oath of the presidency, as you will recall, I pledged to the Liberian people my honour and, indeed, my life, to bring our people and our nation towards a prosperous future of human dignity, with new challenges and new commitments, new trends and renewed excellence. Since that time distinguished, ladies and gentlemen, we have engaged in consolidating the peace and we have embarked upon a concourse of global comity among the nations. In our outreach, we have not neglected to honour the principles of reciprocity and African solidarity, of self-determination and non-interference of sovereign states".

    And then we have this subheading "Re-entering the world comity."

    "Within the context of worldwide piece formation, as in Somalia, the Republic of Congo and Bosnia, we have confidently re-entered the halls of conciliation and conflict resolution at ECOWAS, the United Nations, and the non-aligned countries movement, to speak with wisdom and humility, with firmness and felicity. The lone star was re-ignited when new diplomatic relations were restored with the Arab Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Republic of China. It was highlighted through bilateral agreements with the Kingdom of Morocco and again with the Republic of China. Furthermore, we are pleased to inform you that following the presentation of his letters of credence by his Excellency Farouk Ghoneim, Ambassador of the Republic of Egypt only four days ago, several emissaries are already scheduled to present their letters of credence, including the United Kingdom, the Republic of France, the German Republic, the Kingdom of Denmark, Canada and the Kingdom of Belgium".

    Pause there. Mr Taylor, for completeness, if one examines the other contents of the presidential papers one will find photographs of all the representatives of those countries listed, won't one?

  • Presenting their letters of credence. But let's not waste time at this stage looking at that. And of course the achievements you are listing in the bottom left-hand column, that is, restoration of relations with Libya, Morocco, China and so on, those all reflect the visits you made in November of 1997, don't they?

  • "This is an indication of the confidence which a growing number of our traditional friends have demonstrated for our thriving democracy".

    Now this: "Across our border in our sisterly Republic of Sierra Leone, where its citizens are embroiled in a civil conflict, Liberia, having just emerged from our own civil crisis, was selected to the Committee of Five and subsequently through the Conakry peace plan, played a credible role in finding a peaceful resolution in the Sierra Leonean crisis. Indeed, as a member of the Committee of Five on Sierra Leone, we shall ensure the proper peacekeeping mechanism attend the needs of Sierra Leone. This will carry the consensus approbation of the authority of Heads of State and government. Liberia has pledged its support for the ECOWAS decision to restore the elected President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to power in addition to the UN security council's resolution to impose sanctions. While in support of these sanctions, Liberia has made it clear, and wishes to insist, that ECOMOG operations in Sierra Leone, and ECOWAS capacity building activities in Liberia, be defined as distinctly separate, and must remain separate. We have also emphasised that Foday Sankoh, who is a part of the problem, be released, permitted to enlist his views, and thereby assume his role as part of the solution. We have, therefore, called for the release of Mr Sankoh. We are also resolved that Liberian territory cannot, and will not, be used for military operations, in addition to our commitment to the support of a non-military approach to solving the problems in that country".

    Pause. Let's go back over the page, please, because I want to examine this in sections. Okay, Mr Taylor?

  • Now first of all, "are embroiled in a civil conflict", the third line in that paragraph. Help us with this. By this time, 26 January 1998, what is actually happening on the ground in Sierra Leone?

  • But you also have the counterinsurgency going on and --

  • Led by the Kamajors assisted by ECOMOG, so that is ongoing also.

  • Yes. And what about ECOMOG? Are they doing anything at this stage?

  • What are they doing?

  • There are strikes - bombing strikes here and there, yes.

  • And is that remaining at a constant level, is it increasing, is it decreasing? Can you help us?

  • It is increasing. So, let's put that together then. In terms of the civil conflict you are talking about here, we are talking about increasing ECOMOG air strikes?

  • From Liberia, Roberts International Airfield?

  • And also from Lungi?

  • Striking targets within Sierra Leone?

  • On top of that there is insurgency by the Kamajors?

  • That is correct.

  • "Having just emerged from our own civil crisis, was selected to the Committee of Five". Now, that is taking us back to August of 1997, yes?

  • And subsequently through the Conakry peace plan, October 20th 1997, yes?

  • "Played a credible role in finding a peaceful solution in the Sierra Leonean crisis." Okay. Now, "Liberia has pledged its support for the ECOWAS decision to restore the elected President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to power", yes?

  • And were you committed to that?

  • Now you appreciate, don't you, Mr Taylor, that bearing in mind the terms of this indictment, for you to pledge support for the ECOWAS decision to restore Tejan Kabbah to power means that you would have to kick out of power the people you were controlling. So, help us: Which was it to be?

  • We were controlling no-one in the first place. What was to be was to restore Tejan Kabbah to power.

  • Now, help us with this. We are now at 26 January 1998?

  • Had you at any stage met with Ahmad Tejan Kabbah?

  • Somewhere - it was about the very beginning of January of 1998 I visited - and I am sure he is listening to this, and if it is not true he can come out and say so. I visited Tejani in Conakry and met him and General Lansana Conte before the intervention in Sierra Leone. I visited him in Conakry.

  • Had you met him before that?

  • No, not really. We - except, I would probably say - no, no, no. I had not met - I don't remember having met President Kabbah before that particular time. No, not really.

  • And help me, at whose request did that meeting with President Tejan Kabbah take place in Conakry?

  • Well, there are two different instances. One is with Jessie Jackson, but one is on my own --

  • No, no, no, I am interested in the one you have just told us about.

  • Why did you want to meet him?

  • Because remember now I am already on the Committee of Five.

  • So I really want to talk to him to get his views and to see what were some of his thoughts, okay, about the whole process. So I went to Conakry.

  • And of course we have heard evidence to the effect that he had fled when - after the coup on 25 May 1997. He had fled to Conakry, hadn't he?

  • Well, that is the evidence, but I met him in Conakry. As to whether that was the original place he fled, I can't say. But I met him in Conakry.

  • Okay, yes. And, Mr Taylor, what did you discuss with him?

  • Well, you know, his desire to return, the agony of being away from home in Guinea. In fact we sat outside in a little round something like - we call it something like an outside kitchen, but these are little round palaver - called palaver huts, at the presidency. And we talked about it and his desire to return home and we just shared the whole thing about being away and ECOWAS's plan and how he was anxious to get back to begin work.

  • And what kind of mood was he in towards you, Mr Taylor?

  • Oh, I mean we spoke. I mean we talked normally. There was no hostility towards me. No, not at all.

  • Are you seriously telling us that there was no hostility towards you by President Tejan Kabbah?

  • On my visit there, none whatsoever. None.

  • I mean, Mr Taylor, didn't he say to you, "Charles, look, I know you're the one supporting that AFRC in Sierra Leone. Come on, come clean, Charles". Did he not say that to you?

  • Not at all, because he knew that it would not be true. He did not and he is out there and I am sure, knowing Tejani, if we did - if I didn't see him you would hear from him.

  • Now, let's go on:

    "While in support of the enforcement of these sanctions Liberia has made it clear and wishes to insist that ECOMOG operations in Sierra Leone and ECOWAS capacity building activities in Liberia be defined as distinctly separate, and must remain separate."

    Why the emphasis on that?

  • I am trying to cut this link where ECOMOG is still involved in peacekeeping in Sierra Leone and peacekeeping in Liberia. I am trying to say, "We have peace here. It must not be peacekeeping. It must be capacity building. You are now going to Sierra Leone for peacekeeping. It is peacekeeping", because the same forces that are in Liberia are operating in Sierra Leone, so I really want to distinguish between the two operations.

  • Now, let's go back:

    "We have also emphasised that Foday Sankoh, who is a part of the problem, be released, permitted to enlist his views, and thereby assume his role as part of the solution. We have, therefore, called for the release of Mr Sankoh."

    Let's pause there. Now, do you recall in the letter to Sani Abacha dated 24 October 1997, MFI-20, you had mentioned in that a desire to meet with Sankoh?

  • Had you by the time of this address to the nation - had you spoken to Sankoh?