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

  • [On former affirmation]

  • Mr Taylor, you will recall that on Friday last when we adjourned we were dealing with the Camp Johnson incident which occurred in the late summer of 1998. Do you recall that?

  • And we were looking at the document behind divider 24. That is volume 3 of 3. Could I invite your attention, please, Mr Taylor, to page 7 of that document, please?

  • And let us just remind ourselves of the sequence of events. We see set out there:

    "On the evening of August 10, 1998 Mr Johnson was secretly brought into Monrovia via an unknown aircraft, presumably a helicopter, and conveyed to the ECOMOG base in Monrovia under heavy security escort."

    How did your government come to discover that, Mr Taylor?

  • We were told by some of our intelligence officers that were assigned in the general area.

  • "He and his escorts bypassed all immigration and security regulations. He was eventually escorted to his Camp Johnson Road enclave under heavy security cover, thereby increasing the tension in the area which had subsided during his absence from the country."

    Mr Taylor, why is it referred to as an enclave?

  • Well, I would say about - I would put it to around five city blocks had been occupied by former combatants of ULIMO-J. They had practically moved every citizen that occupied houses and apartments in the area from there and had occupied there and established - it's something like a small city state and so we described it as an enclave because of the number of blocks and the manner in which they conducted themselves as a government unto themselves.

  • Why did you allow that to happen?

  • Well, let's look at the period that we are talking about. ULIMO-J, if I may remind the Court, LPC - and that's the Liberian Peace Council - are all warring factions that are practically put together in the city of Monrovia, so they are already there, okay. And during the conflict back in '96 remember people were beginning to group up and so they used the conflict in Monrovia when we attempted to arrest Mr Johnson as a way of really consolidating certain parts of the city. I don't think we had any real control over that situation at the time.

  • But why wasn't an early attempt made to dislodge them from that position?

  • Well, remember I took the oath of office in - we are talking about a year and we are trying to avoid conflict. We are trying to avoid any action that would provoke crisis. So in some comments made before this Court in some documents read you see where people are referring to us as being cowardly. We are just trying to do everything. Remember I bring Roosevelt Johnson in the cabinet, he says he is sick, we gave him a huge amount of money, some 40,000 plus dollars to travel to Ghana, he goes on to the United States. So everything is being done by my government at this time to avoid what you say literally rocking the boat. This is what I am trying to do.

  • It continues:

    "Hundreds of ex-ULIMO J fighters, upon Johnson's return regrouped on Camp Johnson Road around his residence while prominent members of the Krahn community, including former legislator Mr George Dweh, presidential adviser Bai Gbala and former Monrovia transit authority managing director Amah Youlo, amongst others, moved into houses adjacent to Johnson's residence.

    These movements raised suspicion that something was in the making. Residents and motorists complained of harassment by Johnson's men. Businessmen and property owners with legitimate claims were prevented from resettling on Camp Johnson Road. Ordinary residents in the area abandoned their homes out of fear and intimidation by Johnson and his men.

    Many citizens groups and individuals repeatedly called on the government to take action to address the situation. President Taylor, in response, made many quiet attempts through special emissaries to interact with Mr Johnson in order to address the situation. These interactions resulted in a request by Mr Johnson for an audience with the President in order to settle the issues and erase suspicions.

    The President consented to the meeting which was set for Friday, August 28, 1998 at the Executive Mansion, to which prominent clergymen, politicians, eminent persons and the leadership of the Krahn community were invited. The meeting was to have convened at 11 a.m."

    Why did you call that meeting, Mr Taylor?

  • Here we have it Johnson had requested a discussion with me, so I said, "Well, fine. I have no problems. I want to reconcile with all parties". So we invited - the clergyman involved here, his name has been mentioned here before, Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis was one of those that we invited, and as a typical Liberian, and I think most Africans do that, when you have these kinds of disputes you call some elders, you call clergymen to come in. I just wanted them present to be sure they could come up with some ideas that would help to resolve the problem and probably they would listen to them more and would understand that there was nothing political about what actions we were proposing and that it would be, you know, an overall consensus of all of the leading individuals in the country. This was basically the reason.

  • "With the parlours of the Executive Mansion packed to capacity, the President and senior members of government waited patiently for two hours, but Mr Johnson failed to show up. In order to break the stalemate, President Taylor asked for volunteers to visit Camp Johnson Road in order to find out the cause of the delay.

    His grace, Archbishop Michael Francis of the Catholic Archdiocese and Bishop Arthur Kulah of the United Methodist Church, accompanied by the deputy force commander of ECOMOG, along with a small contingent of ECOMOG officers, headed the delegation to Camp Johnson Road. A number of elders from Grand Gedeh County politely declined to form part of the delegation. They wanted to be no part of Roosevelt Johnson. At Johnson's residence the delegation of clergymen met with hostility from some of Johnson's fighters. Their vehicles were blocked from leaving the area."

    Mr Taylor, this incident eventually led to something of a conflict with the US government, didn't it?

  • Yes, eventually it did. This continues, after several days some actions were taken by Johnson's men and then government forces had to move in, leading to some problems with the United States government.

  • And in due course you received a note from the embassy of the United States, didn't you?

  • Well, what we have here is Johnson begins certain activities in the city that begin to block off - there is firing. Our forces decide - are ordered to move in to provide protection for peaceful citizens that want to move around the area of the city that are being prevented from doing so. That involves some major exchange of gunfire between the Roosevelt Johnson forces and the Liberian government forces.

    This conflict goes on for I would say several hours. There is heavy gunfire - machine gun fire - there are explosions of rocket propelled grenades that is very, very loud. Johnson makes a run for the barracks and --

  • Which barracks?

  • The Barclay Training Centre. It is important for the Court to get a view of the general area we are talking about. There is almost something like a triangular situation, and this is what I mean. From - the Executive Mansion in Monrovia sits on top of a little hill called Capitol Hill. About a thousand metres or thereabouts along the - and the Executive Mansion sits on the Atlantic ocean. About a thousand metres, I would say, running northwards from the Executive Mansion is the Barclay Training Centre, the military barracks in Monrovia. You sit in the mansion and just practically look down at the barracks. From the very mansion on top of the hill if you look a little northeastward going down the very road, Camp Johnson Road, the Executive Mansion is practically on the upper part of Camp Johnson Road. So from the Executive Mansion toward the right-hand side you are practically looking - you can't see because of buildings - at where this enclave is.

    From that enclave moving westward to the Barclay Training Centre is another maybe 1,000 to 2,000 metres. That is why I am describing it as a triangle. You can go down this way and then go back up to the mansion. So when the fighting starts, Johnson makes a break from his enclave into the barracks, but at that position the barracks is even closer to the mansion than the position of this enclave, so that presents a problem for government. And we are listening to Roosevelt Johnson on the radio trying to get his men to push now from the barracks straight up to the mansion, and just for a little added ten seconds' note, it is this very barracks and the route used by the Samuel Doe People's Redemption Council to overthrow President Tolbert. It is a very short distance.

    We begin to attack them from that position. They cannot leave the barracks to get to the mansion. They are pushed out, and they begin moving towards the part of Monrovia called Mamba Point - that is M-A-M-B-A - Mamba Point. That is the area where you have the diplomatic enclave in Monrovia.

    Now, the fighting has been going on for several hours. There are large explosions, gunfire approaching the area. As Roosevelt Johnson approaches the area of the United States Embassy the gates of the embassy are opened, Roosevelt Johnson and several of his people go in, it is closed. There are US - not marines, which, I mean, are there on top of the building, but civilian personnel of the embassy are on the street in front of the embassy with handguns and all this kind of stuff with this massive force of gunfire moving towards them. Somebody is shot. He goes on with the group into the embassy within the walls of the embassy, because the gates are open, which they should not have been open, and he dies in there.

    The matter is concluded. The government has taken control of Roosevelt Johnson's enclave. The matter in the barracks is resolved. Now comes the diplomatic issue. Notes begin to fly between the United States government. We are now accused of violating the Geneva Convention as regards protection to diplomatic property, and there are a series of notes and disagreements and that is how the notes come into being.

  • Let's look at the first note which we will find at page 11. Yes, Mr Taylor?

  • That is correct. This is it.

  • And we see that it reads as follows:

    "The embassy of the United States of America presents its compliments to the ministry of foreign affairs of the Republic of Liberia and has the honour to address to the ministry the matter of the disposition of the mortal remains of Mr Madison Wion, a Liberian citizen who expired on the embassy's compound on September 19, 1998."

    Now pausing there for a minute, Mr Taylor, Prince Johnson had returned to Liberia on 10 August we saw earlier?

  • For the sake of the record, it is Roosevelt Johnson.

  • Roosevelt Johnson, sorry. Roosevelt Johnson returned on 10 August, yes?

  • And we see now that this incident occurs on 19 September. So had the situation been developing all throughout August and into September?

  • That is correct. Remember this meeting where the bishops and other eminent persons, that is late August. So these are developing stories and there is tension from that time.

  • All the way through?

  • "... on the embassy's compound on September 19, 1998.

    The embassy wishes to inform the ministry that Mr Wion died of a gunshot wound inflicted by members of the Liberia National Police in their attempt to apprehend the party of Mr Roosevelt Johnson in front of the embassy grounds prior to his death. The embassy wishes to emphasise that Mr Wion was neither invited to enter, nor was he assisted, entering the embassy".

    Pause there, Mr Taylor. Is that correct?

  • That is totally incorrect. The fact of the matter is as we go further we will get to find out that the United States embassy personnel violated their own rules and opened the gates of the embassy to permit the entry.

  • "The embassy wishes to emphasise that Mr Wion was neither invited, nor was he assisted, entering the embassy. Mr Wion has been temporarily interred on the embassy grounds pending final disposition of his remains.

    The embassy requests the assistance of the Ministry in preparing for the proper removal of the remains from the embassy compound in accordance with international diplomatic statutes and the laws of the Republic of Liberia.

    The embassy of the United States avail itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry the assurances of consideration.

    Embassy of the United States of America", and we see that is dated 22 September 1998, yes?

  • Now we need to note that that diplomatic note is numbered 67. Do you see that, Mr Taylor, at the top?

  • The next note then comes on the following page, page 12, and we see this is numbered 68?

  • Now this is a further note from the embassy. Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • And this note now reads as follows - and if we just flick to the end we will see that it is dated the following day, 23 September, okay?

  • "The embassy of the United States of America presents its compliments to the ministry of foreign affairs of the Republic of Liberia and has the honour to relate details of a most serious violation of the embassy's diplomatic premises on Saturday, September 19, 1998. At approximately 10.25 on that date, Ambassador Designate Roosevelt Johnson and others arrived uninvited at the main entrance to the embassy. They appealed for refuge within the embassy compound, but the charge d'affaires refused.

    At 11 a.m. a large heavy armed contingent of government security forces arrived on the scene under the command of the director of police of the Liberia national police."

    Joe Tate?

  • That is correct.

  • "The charge d'affaires immediately entered into bona fide negotiations with the police director and through the minister of state for presidential affairs, the President of the Republic of Liberia, to obtain assurances from the Government of Liberia that the ambassador designate and his party would be afforded due process under the Liberian law.

    Before these negotiations could be concluded, the police director, who until that time had maintained control over his forces, departed the scene. The undisciplined security forces advanced on to the embassy premises to a position where they could see Ambassador Designate Johnson, and upon seeing him, opened fire upon his party with automatic weapons. An embassy guard unlocked the gate to allow three American members of the embassy staff to flee the gunfire. Two of them were wounded, one seriously. In the pandemonium caused by the hail of gunfire, Ambassador Designate Johnson, two of his sons Mr George Dweh and Mr Amos Lincoln, forced their way into the embassy compound. Mr Madison Wion, who received a gunshot wound to the chest while going through the turnstile entryway, collapsed and died within the embassy compound. Mr Puna Johnson and Mr Lincoln sustained gunshot wounds and have received treatment. All five men are being held in confinement on the embassy premises.

    The embassy has been ordered by the Department of State of the United States of America not to compel Mr Roosevelt Johnson, Mr George Dweh, or Mr Amos Lincoln, to depart the premises of the American embassy. The Secretary of State has determined that a dialogue aimed at achieving a mutually acceptable departure of these individuals from the embassy premises will be conducted not by the embassy, which is preoccupied with addressing threats to its security, but by the special presidential envoy for democracy in Africa, the Reverend Jesse Jackson".

    Where was Jesse Jackson at the time, Mr Taylor?

  • Jesse - this is in September. I think Jesse is en route to the region at this particular time.

  • "The embassy wishes to emphasise to the ministry of foreign affairs of Liberia that the charge d'affaires of the American embassy barred Ambassador Designate Johnson and his party from entering the American embassy for a period of almost one hour. They only gained access to the embassy premises as a result of the confusion created by the indefensible use of lethal force by officers of the Liberian national police. Despite assurances given by the director of police that these individuals would be guaranteed safe passage to the residence of the President of the Republic of Liberia, Liberia national police officers shot and killed at least two of their associates and wounded two. The embassy further considers it a matter of grave concern that government security officers fired shots into the embassy compound, the very premises which they are obliged to protect under the terms of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. In the process two members of the embassy staff were injured, one of them seriously.

    In view of these most serious violations of the diplomatic premises of the United States of America by security forces of the Republic of Liberia, the embassy is astounded and deeply offended that the ministry failed to acknowledge and apologise for them in its note verbale of September 19, 1998. It is equally regrettable that the ministry should place the onus on the Government of the United States for resolving a problem which was brought about by members of the security forces of the Government of Liberia.

    The embassy of the United States of America avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the ministry the assurances of its highest consideration."

    So that is number 68, Mr Taylor?

  • Now, thereafter did the Government of Liberia respond?

  • Now, if we go over the page to page 14 we see set out there, do we not, the response of the Government of Liberia to the two notes we have just looked at. Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • And in fact it is headed, "Government of the Republic of Liberia response to US diplomatic notes numbers 67 and 68:

    The ministry of foreign affairs of the Republic of Liberia presents its compliments to the embassy of the United States of America and has the honour to acknowledge receipt of the latter's note 68 dated 23 September 1998 concerning details of an alleged violation of the embassy's diplomatic premises on 19 September 1998 by security forces of the Government of the Republic of Liberia, and to refer to the ministry's note of 19 September addressed to the embassy relative to the request of the Government of Liberia for the release of Mr Roosevelt Johnson and his associates, who sought asylum in the embassy's compound on 19 September.

    In view of the urgency and seriousness of this matter, which affects the peace and security of Liberia, the government is surprised that the embassy has not favoured the ministry with a response to the issues raised in its note of 19 September 1998.

    According to the embassy's note 67 of September 22, 1998, Mr Madison Wion was shot in front of the embassy but managed to enter the embassy grounds prior to his death. It is of interest to observe that in the embassy's note 68 of 23 September 1998, it is stated that Mr Wion received a gunshot wound to the chest while going through the turnstile entryway. The ministry takes careful note of the two versions provided regarding the death of Mr Madison Wion, including the accusation that a gunshot wound was inflicted by members of the Liberia national police in their attempt to apprehend the party of Mr Roosevelt Johnson.

    The Government of Liberia wishes to clarify and confirm that it did note violate the extra-territoriality of the embassy of the United States of America in contravention of the Vienna Convention and international law. Not a single member of the Liberia national police contingent entered the grounds of the embassy compound."

    Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • Oh, fully. That is correct and that's why we started having problems with the content of the note, because the street outside of an embassy property is not international property. It is the property of that republic. And the embassy for example in the United States - I mean of Liberia - I mean of the United States in Liberia, excuse me, have walls that are very, very, very high. And so our police we felt had the rights and all forces, national security forces, to move up and down on the street in front of the embassy. They were under strict instructions not to even step on the sidewalk, but the streets are the properties of the country. When it comes to territorial jurisdiction it has to do with the walls and confines of the embassy property and none of our people entered there. No shots were fired at the embassy and it was very strange to us.

    You have United States marines at the embassy compound. They know combat. They are about the best in the world. Why would the United States embassy open its gates and permit people to enter? And so we were concerned then about the two versions, one they are outside and now they are going through the turnstile. What is going on? Because we don't know actually who shot, okay, because if - with the war that is going on in the city of Monrovia, and for the judges that may not know, Mamba Point is another hilltop. It is an enclave in Monrovia. It is a hilltop. The embassy knew with the many hours of fighting, they had been informed through the foreign ministry that there was a combat going on. So even the description here of Roosevelt Johnson, the ambassador designate's party, as though they are expecting some guests of theirs, this is - you know, it was a little strange to us.

    So they knew and in fact it could have been the case, and this was our main concern, that knowing that there is combat going on in the city and this massive gunfire coming towards the embassy and people making an attempt to enter the embassy grounds, even the United States marines, which should have been their duty, could have also used force to stop these people from entering the property. So to claim now that someone has been shot by the Liberia national police is also another question for us. So that's why you see this push and pull and we are beginning to raise these issues.

  • "Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Mrs Vicky Huddleston, who earlier had in a telephone conversation with the minister of state for presidential affairs accused the Liberia national police of entry into the embassy grounds subsequently apologised that she made an error by this accusation. The firing of shots on the part of the Liberia national police had occurred outside the walls of the embassy."

  • "There has been no intention on the part of the government of Liberia after more than a century and a half in the conduct of its diplomatic duties and intercourse to conduct a dialogue through threats to the embassy personnel. The ministry welcomes the decision of the United States government to handle this matter at the highest level and it hopes the same will be amicably resolved in the common interest of the long-standing relations that have always existed between our two governments."

    And we see the normal salutation. Now, was there a response to that, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, the United States government responded with another note.

  • And we find that note, number 69, over the page at page 16. Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • That is correct.

  • And in this short note dated 27 September:

    "The embassy of the United States of America presents its compliments to the ministry of foreign affairs of the Republic of Liberia and has the honour to announce that the USS Chinook, a coastal patrol vessel, will be in Liberian territorial waters beginning at about 8 p.m. on Monday, September 28, 1998. The Chinook is a sister vessel of the USS Sirocco, which was to have paid a port call in Monrovia in February, 1998. The USS Chinook has been tasked with the mission of providing protection to the American embassy in the event of deteriorating security conditions, such as those recounted in our diplomatic note 68.

    The embassy of the United States of America" - and again the normal salutation. Mr Taylor, how do you regard the sudden arrival in Liberian territorial waters of a US warship?

  • Well, in direct answer to your question, there must be some context to follow though. By this time it is important to know that we are going through a lot of stress by this time, because there are some other things that are not detailed in these notes.

    Remember Mr Wion is shot. He is killed. His body has been interred in the embassy compound. We have been asked to come and remove the body. The Government of Liberia refused. The Government of Liberia's position is very simple. We want to call in medical experts to come in jointly with the United States government to determine cause of death. You have said that the police shot. It could very well have been that this forced entry or the rush to the embassy caused the US marines to shoot, so before we move the body we must get - I think we called for a pathologist to come in jointly between the two governments and ascertain the cause of death. They refused. So we have a stalemate. The body is still interred in the compound.

    And there are - outside of these notes it is important for the Court to know there are telephone calls from Washington, we are responding. There are some of us that I particularly because, you know, these decisions were now being taken at the highest level - I was determined that we were in the right. We did not violate international law, but the mere fact that the United States government had accused the Liberian government of violating the Geneva Convention, this is a serious matter and we were determined to making sure that we got to the bottom of this because following that who knows what else would follow.

    While this is going on - my explanation to your question then would be there is for me a typical gunboat diplomacy, where okay since the - I mean here we are. The issue of the fighting stopped the same day. The security forces have withdrawn from the city. There are no more threats in the city. We are being told that there is a US Chinook coming. We just personally - I as President interpreted this as gunboat diplomacy. We are going in there and we are going to teach Taylor that he is going to listen or else. This is my interpretation of it and I stand responsible for that.

    And we were prepared not to be pushed around and we responded to this note very strongly condemning the entry into our territorial waters. Were not asked to enter our waters. We are told here, "We are going to be in there". We protested and said that we felt that this was a hostile act and that there was no need for this kind.

    So there is a lot of tension going on at this time and I guess, you know, I take responsibility for that because I felt that we had not done what they said that we did and eventually we got to find out that we were right after their own investigation was conducted, the embassy personnel have violated their rules and the matter was subsequently dropped, but this is gunboat diplomacy.

  • Let us then look at your government's response to that note 69 and we can find that response if we go back to page 8. Do you have it, Mr Taylor?

  • And we see that it's a response from the Government of Liberia to the US diplomatic note 69 that we just looked at. Now this note in response is dated 30 September, so it is three days after you received note 69 from the embassy?

  • "The ministry of foreign affairs of the Republic of Liberia presents its compliments to the embassy of the United States of America near Monrovia, and has the honour to acknowledge receipt of the latter's note 69 of September 27, 1998, announcing the arrival of the USS Chinook, a coastal patrol vessel, in Liberian territorial waters beginning at about 8.00 p.m. on Monday, September 28, 1998, for the purpose of providing protection to the American embassy in the event of deteriorating security conditions.

    The ministry would have appreciated it had the embassy, prior to the arrival of the USS Chinook in Liberian territorial waters informed the ministry as the embassy has done in the past to enable it to advise the appropriate agencies of government.

    The ministry wishes to convey its government's concern about the abovementioned decision of the United States government which has been taken after the extraordinary efforts by our two governments at a very high level to amicably resolve the issue of Mr Roosevelt Johnson."

    What efforts are you talking about at a very high level, Mr Taylor?

  • We have Mr Johnson now and they had reported in one note some five members of what they called his party within the walls of the embassy, but our security forces have reported to us that there are between 20 to 30 individuals in there.

  • Within the walls of the embassy of the United States accredited near Monrovia. Now we can do nothing about that. Once they are in there, finish. But by this time, because of the attack that Mr Johnson had carried out against the government, killing people in the process, the ministry of justice had issued arrest warrants for Mr Johnson. So we began discussions - my foreign ministry - with the State Department for the handing over of these individuals to be prosecuted under the law for the activities that they had carried on on the streets of Monrovia and the number of people that had died as a result of that.

    The United States government rightly so was concerned that these people would not be harmed, that if a process of such were undertaken that it would be within the due process of law and, you know, we had agreed to that, but these were ongoing discussions and I think they needed some time to ascertain that the process would have been free and fair.

    While that is going on, other West African countries are involved in trying to see how they can help to resolve the issue, but finally another solution was found.

  • "With calm and peaceful atmosphere now prevailing in the country since the evacuation of Mr Johnson to a third country."

    How was that achieved, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, finally the United States government determined that the security of Mr Johnson was at stake, and it is apparent that they did not take seriously our own promises. And so a final solution that I just suggested was made that Mr Johnson would be taken to a third country outside of the three countries that had immediate borders with Liberia and that permission would be given for a helicopter to come to the United States embassy compound, pick them up, and fly them out. That was the final arrangement that was done.

  • And which third country was that?

  • We expected that they would be taken outside of Sierra Leone, Guinea and la Cote d'Ivoire. They ended up in Freetown, Sierra Leone. By this time I am in contact with President Kabbah, because our expectation was that they would have probably been taken to Ghana. And so I am very upset by this time and I called Tejani and he said, "Well, look" - I can remember exactly what he said. He said, "My brother, I understand exactly what is going on over there. We are not going to let Mr Johnson stay here. He is going to leave," and so he put additional pressure on the United States embassy accredited near Freetown to remove Mr Johnson from Freetown. President Kabbah did that, and Mr Johnson was removed from Freetown and, to the best of my understanding, went on to Accra, Ghana.

  • "With calm and peaceful atmosphere" --

  • Excuse me, could I just enquire who took Mr Johnson to Freetown; do you know?

  • The embassy of the United States accredited near Monrovia, they arranged. They made all of the arrangements for the removal of Mr Johnson.

  • "With calm and peaceful atmosphere now prevailing in the country since the evacuation of Mr Johnson to a third country, the US decision, together with the publicity it has received in the international and local media, seems to have created fear and concern among Liberians and foreigners alike of an impending calamity," and then the normal salutation. Mr Taylor, how concerned were you by this whole incident?

  • Well, of course we were very concerned. We are not armed. We are not a big country. We are a little country. The only thing we believed in and were prepared to, if it were possible, give up our lives for truth. We were right and we were not about to be pushed around, even by the great United States. And so, yes, we were scared. We were scared. The Americans are dispatching gunboats when we do not have a crisis. We were scared. We were scared because we didn't know, but we were prepared to stand our grounds because we had done nothing wrong. And in fact, if anyone had done something wrong, they had done something wrong by encouraging this, okay? After Mr Johnson returned from the United States is when he started all this hostility. All of the hand-held radios, walkie-talkies, that he was using in Monrovia had been provided by them. If anybody had offended anybody, they had offended the Liberian state. And so this threat that we saw coming did frighten us, but we were prepared to stand our ground in the face of overwhelming force because truth, in our opinion, should prevail.

  • Now there was a response to that note, wasn't there, Mr Taylor, your response?

  • And if we go now to page 18, what we see at page 18 is the next note in this sequence of events, isn't it?

  • Because if you will recall, the last note we saw from the United States embassy was numbered 69?

  • "The Government of the United States of America presents its compliments to the Government of the Republic of Liberia and refers to the recent events at the United States embassy in Monrovia, in particular, the shooting of two Americans and the indiscriminate firing into the embassy by Liberian government forces.

    On September 19, two Americans, one a diplomat accredited to Liberia, were wounded in the fusillade and an unknown number of rounds entered the embassy grounds. The details are spelled out in United States embassy Monrovia diplomatic note number 68. This incident was followed by a period of a week, when the embassy was probed and threatened by government forces".

    Is that right?

  • No. How do you - that is totally false.

  • Mr Taylor, just tell us. You were, what, just over a year into your presidency at this stage, weren't you?

  • And you had received there an inspection panel from the United States earlier that year, hadn't you? We looked at that on Friday?

  • Tell us, by September had you made a conscious decision to pick a fight with the mighty United States of America?

  • No. We are fighting hard to do everything within our powers to get the attention to help our country. We are not trying to - how do you - how does an ant pick a fight with an elephant? It is not possible. You don't. And we are shocked, we are caught off guard about all of these things and surprised, really, by what we see as real hostilities coming, and we are beginning to now wonder what is next.

  • "The hostile intent of the government forces required the deployment of ECOMOG forces around the compound to ensure the safety of our diplomatic mission".

    Were ECOMOG forces deployed around the compound?

  • ECOMOG forces were deployed within the entire diplomatic enclave. And let me explain this because the answer is, yes, but you need some clarification. The United States embassy is not the only embassy in the Mamba point area. It is described as a diplomatic enclave because there are several embassies, including the French. Most of the major embassies are within the Mamba Point area. So before the crisis - before the crisis - we had ECOMOG. Remember, ECOMOG is still involved in some capacity building activities in the country. Their deployment within - at certain points in the city and around the country is still okay with the government. So this is before - even long before this crisis.

  • "As the Government of Liberia knows, governments are required to protect - not threaten - diplomatic missions and personnel. The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is unambiguous in providing in pertinent part:

    Article 22

    1. The premises of the mission shall be inviolable;

    2. The receiving state is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.

    Article 29

    The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable ... the receiving state shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity.

    The 1973 Convention on the Prevention of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons, including diplomatic agents, provides in Article 2, in part, that the intentional commission of an attack upon the person or liberty of an internationally protected person, or a violent attack upon the official premises of an internationally protected person likely to endanger his person shall be made, by each state party, a crime under its internal law.

    Significantly, paragraph three provides that paragraphs one and two of the article 'in no way derogate from the obligations of the states parties under international law to take all appropriate measures to prevent other attacks on the person, freedom or dignity of the internationally protected persons.' Liberia and the United States are party to both the aforementioned conventions."

    Tell us, Mr Taylor, prior to this note was your government aware of these international obligations?

  • Very much so, and we took them seriously.

  • "In firing on the two Americans and our embassy compound, the Government of Liberia did not act in a manner consistent with its obligations under international law. The Government of the United States expects an apology, an investigation into the incident that leads to a public report and announcements of steps taken to discipline the persons responsible, and assurances that effective measures have been taken to prevent a recurrence".

    So far as the preparation of a public report, Mr Taylor, did the Government of Liberia do that?

  • And is this the report that were looking at now?

  • "The Government of the United States anticipates that with these actions, our normally good relations and strong traditional ties can be re-established."

    Now, let's pause there and we see the normal salutation thereafter. Mr Taylor, were you ready to apologise?

  • No, we were not ready and we did not.

  • Because of two reasons: Number 1, we had not done what they had charged. An investigation had not been conducted by the two countries to ascertain that these charges were right; and to apologise would suggest, what? That we had in fact violated the convention and could have resulted into what? Additional actions against us. So we were not prepared to apologise, okay? We wanted to make sure that the investigation was conducted by the two governments, that blame was apportioned, and after that the side guilty would then submit an apology. You don't ask for an apology - and there was a word used or statement used here about Liberian government forces were probing the embassy. These are very serious statements. How do you describe security forces of a country providing the very protection that you are talking about being within the vicinity of the compound, which we are entitled to do, as probing? So we were suspect by all of these types of languages that were really languages that our own diplomats and legal people were advising us were trapping-type language for entrapment, where descriptions of security forces providing the protection under the Geneva Convention that you are requesting and having those security forces in the area long after a conflict, as probing an embassy. This was - I mean, for us it was just total foolishness and we were not prepared to just bounce up and say, "We are sorry." Sorry for what? You say sorry when you have done something wrong and you expect somebody to accept the apology, but we were not prepared to do that because of those reasons I just gave you.

  • Now, so you received that note?

  • And when we go over the page to page 20, do we see there - do we see there the response of your government to that diplomatic note, Mr Taylor?

  • "The Government of Liberia presents its compliments to the Government of the United States of America and has the honour to acknowledge receipt of the latter's note number 70 of October 5, 1998."

    So just pausing there, Mr Taylor. We have this situation developing from 10 August?

  • So it has been going on for a little while now?

  • "Referring inter alia to the recent events at the United States embassy near Monrovia, with specific reference to the allegations that on September 19th, two Americans were wounded and that an unknown number of rounds entered the embassy grounds.

    The Government of Liberia wishes to inform the Government of the United States that it has already conducted a preliminary investigation into the entire matter. However, in light of the very grave accusations contained in the aforementioned note, the Government of Liberia wishes to, and hereby invites the government of the United States, to join in an investigation".

    Did they ever do that?

  • They turned it down, but they did conduct their own investigation, but not jointly with the Liberian government.

  • "The Government of Liberia wishes to note that regrettably there was a period of pandemonium within the vicinity of the US embassy during which shooting erupted emanating from the Johnson forces, the US embassy guards and government security forces. However the Government of Liberia emphatically states that at no time did it willfully or intentionally fire upon or sanctioned any firing at the US embassy or at American citizens. It is unfortunate that the US charge d'affaires and other embassy personnel unnecessarily and knowingly exposed themselves to imminent danger when they left the protective walls of the embassy compound and went outside on to the public street into a potentially unsafe environment in which sporadic gunfire had ensued from the previous night.

    The Liberian government, nevertheless, regrets any injury which may have been suffered under these conditions by persons protected under international law, and it considers the safety of these persons to be of paramount importance and indispensable to the conduct of international relations.

    The Government of Liberia is fully aware of its obligations and responsibilities under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1973 Convention on the Prevention of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons, and shall continue to provide maximum security and protection to all diplomatic missions near Monrovia and their personnel, including the United States embassy.

    The Government of Liberia wishes to also inform the Government of the United States that President Taylor, on the night of Friday, the 18th instant did order ECOMOG to deploy in Mamba Point and to provide enhanced protection to that area."

    Had you done that?

  • Yes. Remember they are there, but this is and enhanced - and by enhanced we are talking about in addition to.

  • "The government therefore did take precautionary measures to enhance the protection of the diplomatic enclave in Mamba Point where the US embassy merely constitutes the continuing implementation of the Liberian government's policy in respect of a receiving state's obligation and responsibilities under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. In keeping with international convention, the Government of Liberia takes this opportunity to renew its protest over the illegal entry of the USS Chinook in Liberian territorial waters without its explicit permission, as contained in its note of September 30, 1998.

    The Government of the Republic of Liberia is perplexed to have learned that contrary to US embassy note 68 that only five persons were at the embassy, we have learnt that instead 23 of Roosevelt's Johnson's supporters were claimed to have been discovered on the embassy premises as per President Clinton's letter of October 2, 1998, to the speaker of the US congress. We are particularly concerned why this information was withheld and remains withheld from the Liberian government. The Government of Liberia expects that the US government will provide a timely explanation as to:

    (a) how and when these Johnson supporters entered the heavily restricted US embassy compound;

    (b) why were these persons permitted to remain there, and;

    (c) why was the Liberian government not informed?

    The Government of Liberia is also concerned about Mr Roosevelt Johnson's presence in the neighbouring Republic of Sierra Leone."

    You told us about that earlier, didn't you, Mr Taylor?

  • "And is profoundly disappointed that the Government of the United States of America did not honour the agreement between the two governments to convey him to a third party state within ECOWAS which specifically excluded him from being conveyed to any of the contiguous state of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire."

    And then we see the normal salutation. Now you make reference to President Clinton's letter. Now if we go over the page to page 22, do we see that letter there?

  • Yes, we do.

  • And the letter reads as follows. It is dated 2 October 1998 and it is a letter written by the President of the United States to the House and Senate on Liberia:

    "Dear Mr Speaker, Liberia is just emerging from a seven year civil war. Since democratic elections were held in July 1997 there have been moments of instability in that country. In the past 10 days, conflict erupted between Liberian security forces and supporters of another former faction leader, Roosevelt Johnson.

    On the morning of September 19, Liberian government security forces fired on a small group of Liberians led by former ULIMO Krahn faction leader Roosevelt Johnson, who was speaking with US embassy officials outside the embassy compound, after Johnson and his group were initially refused refuge.

    When Liberian government security forces opened fire on the group, the embassy officials fled into the US embassy, and in the chaos were joined by the Johnson party. Two Americans were wounded in the melee and four members of the Johnson party were killed. The US personnel injured in the gunfire was a government contractor and an embassy staff member.

    Responding to a US request for enhanced security, forces of the Economic Community of West Africa observer group subsequently positioned themselves in a defensive perimeter around the embassy. Later, a group of 23 supporters of Mr Johnson was discovered hiding on the embassy premises."

    Now in all of the notes that we have looked at hitherto, Mr Taylor, did you see any information suggesting that there were 23 members of Johnson's group in the embassy?

  • No, but how do you have 23 people being discovered on the grounds of a United States embassy? How? How? The United States embassies are the best protected around the world. How would 23 people just be discovered on the embassy compound?

    In fact, just from a personal observation, and these are some of the things that Presidents too can be misled, even the President's account here as you are reading are a little different from some of the notes that are coming through. Here is the President talking about a small group of Johnson people, you know, came near the embassy and in the chaos, the firing, the embassy people are trying to go in and in that chaos the - it doesn't work this way. Even I can see the President here himself is misled because the notes don't account for this. The notes first of all talk about, what, going through a turnstile and all this kind of stuff. So he too, he is misled in a way.

    And they never tell us these people are there. We are told there are about five. So all of a sudden there are 23 found - discovered. Now in today's world if you discover 23 people in an embassy compound they must be terrorists. If you are discovered, if you - if there is anybody - you open your embassy gate or somewhere on the compound and discover 23 people that the US marines don't know, all the officials don't know. Impossible.

  • "After extensive negotiations between President Taylor and representatives of the US government and West African states, permission was obtained to airlift Mr Johnson and his party to Freetown, Sierra Leone."

    Pause there. Did you agree for him to be taken to Sierra Leone?

  • No, we agreed for them to be taken from Liberia. It was very clear - very clear - that they would be taken outside of those countries that had contiguous borders with Liberia. Very clear.

  • "This was accomplished without incident on September 25, 1998. The situation in Monrovia continues to be uncertain and could deteriorate. Although ECOMOG forces remain in the vicinity of the embassy compound their numbers have been reduced. Our embassy believes that security could deteriorate rapidly during President Taylor's absence for an official visit to France."

    Pause there. You had - had you been on an official visit to France?

  • No, I was preparing for an official visit to France in late September.

  • We will come to that in a moment:

    "The embassy does, however, project that barring further incidents security should significantly improve over the course of the next several weeks as factional tensions ease in the wake of Mr Johnson's departure. There are approximately 230 non-official American citizens in Liberia and 29 official Americans at the embassy.

    On September 27, 1998, due to the tenuous security situation and the potential threat to American citizens and the embassy in Monrovia, a stand-by response and evacuation force of approximately 30 US military personnel from the United States European command deployed to Freetown, Sierra Leone."

    Mr Taylor, were you informed of that in advance?

  • No, no, not at all.

  • "About half of this unit has moved on to the navy's coastal patrol craft, USS Chinook, which is operating in the waters off Monrovia equipped for combat. This action is being undertaken solely for the purpose of preparing to protect American citizens and property. The US forces will deploy as soon as it is determined that the threat to the embassy compound has intended or, if an evacuation is necessary, it is completed.

    I have taken this action pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct US foreign relations and as commander-in-chief and chief executive.

    I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the congress fully informed, consistent with the war powers resolution. I appreciate the support of the congress in this action to assist in embassy security and the security of American citizens overseas."

    Now, Mr Taylor, did the Government of Liberia thereafter make a statement about this?

  • There were several others, yes. I am not sure if it is contained here, but we did follow up with statements and that really never got anywhere.

  • Let's go over the page to page 24. Bearing in mind the date of President Clinton's letter, when we go over the page we see at page 24, do we not, a statement issued by the Government of the Republic of Liberia on 5 October, yes?

  • "The Government of Liberia recalling events relating to the announcement of the arrival of the USS Chinook in Liberian territorial waters views this action of the United States government as a violation of Liberia's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

    The Government of Liberia made representations to the US authorities both in Washington DC, and Monrovia, about the presence of the USS Chinook without the permission of the Government of Liberia, and accordingly requested the withdrawal of the vessel from its territorial waters.

    The Government of Liberia cherishes its long-standing relations with the United States government and, in the spirit of this traditional relationship, would welcome a call at the Monrovia Freeport by the USS Chinook as demonstration of its friendship and non-hostile intent.

    The Government of Liberia, a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and a peace loving and respected member of the international community, respects the extra-territoriality of diplomatic missions accredited near its capital and would view seriously and indeed investigate any violation of this principle by any Liberian functionary. However, except for the pronouncements on BBC allegedly made by the charge d'affaires AI of the US Embassy that the said embassy remain closed until the Government of Liberia apologised for the violation of the embassy by Liberian security forces, the Government of Liberia has not received any official communication from the United States raising the issue attributed to the US charge d'affaires on the BBC.

    The Government of Liberia regrets that instead of pursuing such matters through normal diplomatic channels, as is practiced in most civilised countries, efforts have been made by the US charge d'affaires" - what does AI stand for, Mr Taylor?

  • What, ad interim? I think it is - I don't know what you call it. Is it - I think ad interim. I think this is ad interim to the best of my knowledge.

  • "... to publicly embarrass and attempt to force the Government of Liberia into taking a decision before it had determined the veracity of the allegation made. In this connection the Government of Liberia, representing a sovereign country, will not countenance such an unfriendly action by any country. The Government of Liberia cherishes its relations with all peace-loving countries, particularly the United States of America, with which it has had a long-standing relationship. It is the view of the Government of Liberia that all matters that concern the two countries can be resolved by dialogue and through normal diplomatic channels. In this context, the Government of Liberia stands ready and will continue to employ its best efforts for the realisation of these important objectives".

    Now, Mr Taylor, at this point in time did the United Nations Secretary-General have a representative in Liberia?

  • How did he come to be in Liberia?

  • When we first got the report all the way back - let me remind the Court - in June, in evidence presented before this Court we see from our minister counselor in New York a meeting that is held with the President of the Security Council. As things begin to hot up in Liberia with accusations here and accusations there, and the United Nations Secretary-General has sent a special representative into Sierra Leone, we ask for a special representative in Liberia to also monitor to have a balanced approach so the United Nations could have a very clear view. That process is already ongoing, but we intensify another angle of it. We then at this particular time call in the special representative, and we agree that the protection of the state was important to the United Nations and that the agreement was we would have all diplomatic or other United Nations messages sent by the special representative that are non-secret that pertained to discussions with the Government of Liberia or any meetings or conferences that he was present in that those reports are submitted to New York, the Government of Liberia should be provided copies.

  • And were you?

  • Yes. So as of that particular time, all the way back from about June, the special representative of the Secretary-General would provide copies of those memos to government. They were official documents. I read all of them, because it was for us a little rider, maybe an insurance package, to help to protect the government that when there were several views, that the special representative of the Secretary-General, we gave him a very clear view of that. And I kept those copies over the years in my archives. In fact, the Government of Liberia has copies also.

  • And what was the name of the special representative?

  • Now this Camp Johnson Road incident, did you discuss that with Mr Downes-Thomas?

  • He was very seriously involved in the negotiations with us, and the United States embassy was also trying to lower the temperature, and so he was used significantly by the government as a diplomat in Liberia at the time to help to carry messages between the two sides because of the tension.

  • And have you had sight of any report prepared by him on this Camp Johnson Road incident?

  • Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Oh, yes. He prepared a report for his boss, the Secretary-General, and he reported constantly. The main one that I saw was during the first few hot hours of the conflict a few days later. Yes, I have seen that report.

  • Now, before we move on and take a look at this document, can I, ask please, that this document that we have been looking at, Official Report of the Government of Liberia on the Camp Johnson Road Conspiracy, can I ask that this be marked for identification, please. MFI-50 I think, Mr President?

  • Yes, that is correct. This document will be marked for identification MFI-50.

  • Can I please now invite attention --

  • Excuse me, Mr President, I apologise for interrupting, but it appears this document is not complete. For example, if we look at page 7 of the document, at the last paragraph on page 7, and then we turn to page 8, it is not a continuation of that paragraph. So there seem to be pages that are missing, and we would ask that the entire document at least be made available to the Prosecution. If we look again at page 17, it doesn't seem to follow from page 16. It says, "Executive Mansion confirming the meeting we all laughed". That doesn't seem to follow from the preceding page.

  • It doesn't seem as though the whole document is in this particular --

  • I note that the pagination appears to be in order, Mr President. If one looks at the pagination of the pages, there doesn't appear to be any missing pages. Although I do accept that so far as the two pages referred to by my learned friend, what follows appears to be a non-sequitur when you look at what is on the previous page. I accept that, and I will investigate. I will cause this matter to be investigated to see if there are indeed missing pages. But as I say, as one scrolls through, the pagination is continuous.

  • Mr Griffiths, I cannot find a note or record of who the author of this report is or who in fact did the investigation.

  • I can only assist to the extent that this document bears the appellation that it is an official report of the Government of the Republic of Liberia. I apologise, but I cannot assist any further.

  • Well, we will note the Prosecution's comments, and it certainly does seem as though there may be some missing pages or passages from the document.

  • But at this stage it is only being marked for identification, and we also note that Mr Griffiths is going to look into the matter. So, as I have said before, that document is marked for identification MFI-50.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, I wonder if I could now invite your attention, please, to a document behind divider 23 in volume 2 of 3. Do you have the document, Mr Taylor?

  • What are we looking at?

  • This is the report from the special representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Honourable Felix Downes-Thomas, RSG - that is representative of the Secretary-General - to the Secretary-General at the time.

  • Now, I am not going to bother with the first page of this document. Can we turn, please, to the second page? Yes, Mr Taylor.

  • And we see that it is addressed to a Prendergast/Miyet at the United Nations, yes?

  • From Downes-Thomas, representative of the Secretary-General, UNOL. What does that stand for?

  • United Nations - I am not too sure. Let me not mislead the Court. I don't know what I UNOL is really.

  • But it is United States mission. Could be the UN mission in Liberia.

  • Or UN office in Liberia?

  • Or office. It could be, yes.

  • We see it is dated 19 September 1998?

  • So that, given what we have just looked at would be in the middle of this period, stretching back as far as 10 August?

  • During which this whole thing had been bubbling along?

  • And it is entitled "The Camp Johnson Road Incidents of 18 September 1998 and Subsequent Developments."

    "On 18 September 1998, at approximately 6.30 p.m. sounds of gunfire were heard at the Camp Johnson Road and its immediate vicinity. Subsequent assessment of the situation indicates that there was an exchange of gunfire between the supporters of Roosevelt Johnson and members of the Special Security Services (SSS). That exchange was apparently triggered by the entry of members of the SSS into a building which had been recently leased by the Government of Liberia at the junction of Perry Street and Camp Johnson Road. The SSS took over another building, on the corner of Camp Johnson Road and Benson Street, which was the former premises of the Ministry of internal affairs.

    The situation which ensued was reminiscent of the April 6, 1996, crisis, during which Roosevelt Johnson's supporters were in direct conflict with the government forces. The sound of gunfire drove thousands of panic stricken residents of the Camp Johnson Road to the Bushrod Island and adjacent localities away from central Monrovia. The movement of trucks and other vehicles packed with heavily armed personnel gave a clear indication that we were faced with a potentially explosive situation. There was fear within the diplomatic community that Liberia was about to plunge itself into another internal conflict."

    Mr Taylor, did you share that fear?

  • Yes. In a way, yes, we were concerned.

  • Were you anxious to plunge your country back into civil war, Mr Taylor?

  • No, no, no.

  • "In the light of the above, and in an effort to assess the security situation and to contribute towards defusing tension, I met separately today with Ambassador Francis Agyemfra of Ghana, the former vice-chairman of the state council and current chairman of National Reconciliation and Reunification Commission; Ms Victoria Refell, the charge d'affaires of the US embassy; John Bauman; President Taylor; as well as jointly with Ambassador Agyemfra and the ECOMOG force commander, General Timothy Shelpidi."

    Did you meet with him?

  • We will come to a note of your meeting a little later, but it continues:

    "Prior to my meeting with the force commander of ECOMOG at 11.35 a.m. today, I telephoned the charge d'affaires of the US embassy, John Bauman, from the ECOMOG base to ascertain the prevailing situation at his end. I then informed him that I was proceeding to a meeting with the President following consultations with the force commander of ECOMOG. According to Bauman, a considerable number of Liberians of the Krahn ethnic group had sought refuge, which he could not offer without endangering the lives of embassy personnel. He therefore accommodated the refuge seekers in an area adjacent to the consular section of the embassy."

    Pause there, Mr Taylor. Were you consulted by Mr Bauman about that action?

  • And you will note the reference to "considerable number of Liberians of the Krahn ethnic group", and you will recall, of course, the various notes from the embassy, and you will recall also the letter from President Bill Clinton which mentions 23?

  • And we see here "a considerable number", yes?

  • "Since ECOMOG troops assigned to that area had withdrawn, he was left with no option but to rely on the cooperation of the director of the Liberian national police, Joe Tate, who, according to Bauman, did an admirable job in separating the Liberian security forces from the Krahns, who had converged in front of the American embassy that morning. However, Tate had to leave the scene when he received a call from the President. Thereafter, all hell broke loose. Also according to the Bauman, shooting started. It resulted in the death of Krahns and the wounding of two embassy personnel.

    I asked him if he wanted me to ask the President to send back Joe Tate and his men to the vicinity of the US Embassy. His response was that while the presence of security police in the outer parameters of the embassy would be desirable, he preferred ECOMOG to secure the inner security parameter of the US Embassy, that is, the area between the two checkpoints on Mamba Point ECOMOG. I advised the Liberian authorities and ECOMOG accordingly.

    At 11.35 a.m. I had a joint meeting with the force commander of ECOMOG, the Ghanaian ambassador, as well as with senior staff of the ECOMOG high command. I informed them that I was about to meet President Taylor and would willingly convey to him any concerns they may wish to bring to the attention of the President. It was suggested that I advise the President that: The SSS and the police should withdraw to their respective barracks so that ECOMOG could provide security to the central part of Monrovia; the police and the SSS should withdraw from the diplomatic enclave at Mamba Point, that is, the US Embassy and its immediate vicinity; and, I should emphasise to the President that the problems relating to Krahns cannot be solved militarily; peaceful methods should be pursued."

    Pause there.

  • "I should emphasise to the President that the problem relating to Krahns cannot be solved militarily". Had you not been aware of that before, Mr Taylor?

  • I had been very aware of it, and don't let's forget the two former chiefs of staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia that are ministers in my government are Krahns, so we have always known that we could not solve it militarily and we did not seek to do so. The very fact that I could bring Johnson on the cabinet, give him money to go abroad to go and seek what he termed then health assistance, showed that we could not resolve it militarily. We were always aware of this as a government and did everything to preventing this very situation on the ground.

  • "While I had no quarrel with proposals regarding the withdrawal of the Liberian security forces from the diplomatic enclave and the need to emphasise the importance of pursuing political solutions to the problems of Krahns, I expressed my uneasiness with the request for the removal of all SSS and Liberian national police from the entire central Monrovia. Such a request, I pointed out, was bound to resurrect the old and troublesome debate over sovereignty and the role of the government of Liberia in the maintenance of security. The force commander agreed with me that this issue might pose problems to the Government of Liberia. He amended his proposal by indicating he wished to see a return to the status quo at 6 p.m. on 18 September; that is, that the Liberian security forces withdraw to positions they held at that time. He also took the opportunity to elaborate on the nature of the crisis and showed me a letter addressed to him by President Taylor requesting him to withdraw the ECOMOG security detail attached to Roosevelt Johnson."

    Did you write to him in those terms?

  • Yes, he had no - he had no business providing security protection to one of the ministers of government that he had surreptitiously brought into the country. I would not object to security being provided to any individual in the country needing security, but for ECOMOG to take upon itself to determine that this minister we must protect, I think it was totally wrong and we said to him that any such request for specific security for a minister in my government should be provided by the government and not on his own accord.

  • Now it continues, and now we come to the meeting you had with him:

    "Following a 15 minute discussion with the chairman of Reconciliation and Reunification Commission, Victoria Refell, I met the President at his residence at 12.55 a.m. Also present were Mr Ernest Eastman, minister of presidential affairs; Eddington Varma, minister of justice; Thomas Woweiyu, minister of labour; Mr Francois Massaquoi, minister of sports and youth affairs; Mr Benenai Urey, commissioner of the Bureau of Maritime Affairs; Reginald Goodridge, deputy minister of public affairs and the President's press secretary. He was accompanied by Gebremedhin Hagoss."

    I conveyed the concerns which we looked at overleaf and he noted that as far as he was concerned, there was no such thing as a Krahn problem."

    Did you see the situation as being quote unquote a Krahn problem, Mr Taylor?

  • No, I did not.

  • "In his opinion, the prevailing problems were caused by certain individuals of the Krahn ethnic group who were bent on subverting the government. He indicated that his government was determined to solve the problem within a framework of its sovereign prerogatives. He pointed out that charges had already been leveled against those who had committed treason, murder, and engaged in subversive activities. The President went on to say that the nation could not continue to be held hostage to the dictates of a few individuals whose sole intent was to create instability in the country. He said he had no problems with the Krahns and that many prominent Krahns, including General Philip Kamah, continue to ply the roads of Monrovia in safety and security.

    He also informed me that he intended to reach President Abubakar of Nigeria and confer with him on the modalities of ensuring ECOMOG's compliance with the sovereign directives of the Government of Liberia. In addition, he intended to keep OAU, as well as ECOWAS, apprised of the situation. He observed that Roosevelt Johnson was brought back to the country by certain forces that wished to implement a specific agenda. Pointing out that ECOMOG high command was to have relocated in Sierra Leone and that a few ECOMOG battalions were to be left behind and led by a colonel, he wondered why so many ECOMOG troops were patrolling the streets. He also referred to his confrontational meeting with Shelpidi on 18 September."

    Tell us about that, Mr Taylor?

  • General Shelpidi had replaced General Victor Malu as forces commander in Monrovia, and this Court already knows - and I don't want to delay the point - that there were problems where these people continued to behave as though they were an occupying force. General Shelpidi on September 18 comes to my office - and, mind you, these are the same people that have brought - your Honours, you know, can you imagine your minister leaving the country and going for medical attention and disappearing, and you only find out that he is back at his residence protected by a massive armed force of people? All of his supporters are now armed and ready for combat. This general came into my office - the President's office has a desk with four chairs before it - and he is a major general at the time. This guy comes into my office after asking to see me, and he comes and he rears back in a very indisciplined way and so I said - I asked him, I said, "Well, General, you are in my office. I am a part of the authority of ECOWAS. You are a general. You are supposed to be a disciplined man. You come into my office, rear back like you are coming to visit your friend. I am not your friend. And since - you cannot disrespect your President commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia - I mean Nigeria in this way that you are performing in my office. Get out." And I threw him out of my office. I have told him to get out of my office because I would not accept any insubordination from him, and I picked up the phone and I called Abdulsalami Abubakar, the President of Nigeria, and told him to get him out of my country, which he did in very short time. So that is the confusion that happened with this Shelpidi and myself.

  • "... had admitted to me that he had to abruptly end his meeting with the force commander who, President Taylor explained, did not seem to be cooperative and appeared unaware of the understanding between President Abubakar of Nigeria and Taylor regarding the status of ECOMOG in Liberia. He emphasised that his government was duly elected and consequently responsible for the security of its citizens. That, he maintained, was something which the US must accept. He acknowledged that it was indeed the responsibility of his government to address anything untoward regarding events and activities that took place outside the premises of the embassy.

    In this connection he stated that the United States should understand that war and military confrontation have never been tidy. He stressed, however, that he would want to know not only what happened inside the embassy, but to also have a full account regarding the numbers and identity of those Liberians who were granted refuge within the US embassy."

    Mr Taylor, had you attempted to get that information from the embassy directly?

  • All along we had through discussions. Even if they are not contained in the note, yes, we made every attempt. We did not cut off the telephone communication between the parties, so my foreign minister or maybe the assistant minister for American Affairs were talking. There were discussions going on. Yes, we did try. We did.

  • "Alluding to the departure of police director Joe Tate from the vicinity of the American embassy, he made it clear that he wanted to avoid any mistakes on the part of law enforcement personnel regarding the inviolability of the premises of foreign embassies. It was that consideration, he explained, that led to his call for Joe Tate.

    President Taylor made it quite clear that he would want the United States to hand over to him or to his government any Liberian who had been granted refuge within the precincts of the embassy, so that, if necessary, the national law would take its course. He gave assurances that, once individuals were handed over to the Government of Liberia, there would be complete transparency with regard to their legal and personal situation during their custody. He similarly emphasised that the individual rights of such individuals would be safeguarded.

    In response to my query as to whether or not the government was ready to take custody of Roosevelt Johnson, he informed me that Mr Johnson suffers from a heart problem and was therefore reluctant to have an Ibiola situation in his hands."

    What does that mean?

  • Ibiola is a former presidential candidate in the Federal Republic of Nigeria that is believed to have won the elections. He was arrested and while in prison he died and it caused a major problem for the Nigerian government at the time. So because Mr Johnson was sick I am saying that I do not want to keep Mr Johnson in custody in Liberia and have him die. The first thing they will say is, "Taylor killed this man". So I was open to the fact of letting even Johnson get out of there once he was in a country that would pose no direct security problems to my government.

  • "He would, however, accept custody of Mr Johnson if arrangements were made to enable United States or United Nations doctors to attend to Mr Johnson while in government custody.

    The President made it known that he was aware that through ECOMOG, Roosevelt Johnson and his supporters were in possession of significant quantities of arms, including those that were uncovered in the cemetery of Central Monrovia."

    Tell us about that, Mr Taylor.

  • Oh, they had dug up in the cemetery tonnes of weapons.

  • ECOMOG had dug these up. Now, we are in a process where they have all the weapons.

  • ECOMOG. And now they find this large cache of weapons in the cemetery, but it belongs to the LPC and ULIMO-J. So it is apparent now that these are the weapons that they have given to the Roosevelt Johnson supporters in addition to what they already had hidden in other parts of the enclave of Monrovia.

  • How do you know that ECOMOG did that?

  • Well, we knew ECOMOG very well. We knew. We bought weapons from ECOMOG while we were fighting. ECOMOG is a different story. But while the fighting was going on, some of the people that we arrested said that ECOMOG had returned the weapons as I am speaking to him.

  • Now, help us. ECOMOG was mainly composed of Nigerian soldiers, is that right?

  • Were you on good terms with now President Abubakar?

  • So help us, Mr Taylor. Why would President Abubakar's soldiers in Liberia want to do that?

  • You have to distinguish between what is going on at the top in these countries and what is going on at the middle sector and even at the very bottom. General Abubakar, very decent man. He was chief of army staff - of defence staff under the late Abacha. He takes over as President. A very good man. No questions. No problems. He is just coming into office and he is pursuing the line, but don't forget you have senior officers in ECOMOG that do not agree or want to accept that there is a change that there is a constitutional President in Liberia and that mow the mission must change. Some of them do not accept this change. What change am I talking about? Peacekeeping versus capacity building.

    Now you hear your orders come from the President of Liberia as regards not ECOMOG's activities, but as regards what those ECOMOG troops do in Liberia. That is the - some of them do not accept it. And this is why under there I do not think for a minute General Abubakar knew what was going on, but in this the very attitude of General Shelpidi, after General Malu goes, is an indication of dissatisfaction.

    I mean, the very - and remember at one point in evidence led here my convoy is buzzed around February. Remember they fly all around the capital. Tanks are deployed throughout the city. Later on we tried to mend it by saying, "Oh, these are some new pilots that just came in and they are practising", and we say, "Okay, fine. Listen, okay, you want to practice. Tell us and we will show you where to go. Don't fly around the presidency and over the President's convoy in this way."

    So there is hostility, okay, with certain segments of the armed forces that see that Liberians are ungrateful people. "We have come out, we have helped them and now they are trying to restrict our activities." This is the general situation. I don't think the President approved it. I don't think he knew what was going on.

  • "... uncovered in the cemetery of Central Monrovia. It was this fact that enabled Roosevelt Johnson's supporters to put up a ten hour fight.

    The President also informed me about his plan to address the nation on the current state of affairs in Liberia later in the afternoon today.

    At 2 p.m. I met with the director of police at his residence to obtain firsthand information about the security situation around the environs of the US embassy. He updated me on the current situation and confirmed the information provided in paragraph 1 above.

    At 2.35 I met with Bauman, charge d'affaires US mission, Rudy Thomas, director of USAID, and other members of the US embassy. The embassy staff were all in combat gear - crash helmets, bullet proof vests. They also carried handguns. Bauman informed me that prominent Krahns, namely Roosevelt Johnson, George Dweh, the former member of the transitional assembly and a close confidante of Roosevelt Johnson, Amos Lincoln, former general of the defunct ULIMO-J and deputy minister of rural development and two sons of Roosevelt Johnson were in the custody of the embassy."

    Pause there. Tell me, Mr Taylor, when you appointed Amos Lincoln as deputy minister of rural development were you aware that he had been a general in ULIMO-J?

  • Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Yes, I even knew him personally.

  • "John Bauman also informed me about his immediate interest: the evacuation to Sierra Leone, via helicopter, of some non-essential staff. He was afraid, however, that the helicopters would be shot at on the erroneous assumption that they were ferrying abroad Roosevelt Johnson and some of his supporters. I advised that it would be useful to seek clearance and assurance directly from President Taylor. He made telephone calls accordingly."

    Do you recall those calls, Mr Taylor?

  • "At 7 minutes past 3 that afternoon at the request of Bauman and from the US embassy I telephoned the Honourable Ernest Eastman, minister of state for presidential affairs, to support Bauman's request and to provide assurances that I would ensure that only embassy personnel, not refuge seekers, board the helicopters destined for Sierra Leone. I also alerted Eastman of the need for the Government of Liberia to consider the arrangements that would have to be put in place to effect the handover of Liberians in the custody of the US embassy, since Bauman had reacted rather favourably to the prospect of handing over those particular Liberians to their government.

    I then briefed John Bauman about my meeting with President Taylor, emphasising that Taylor wished that I convey his strong determination to respect the inviolability of the embassy premises at all times. I also informed him that the President would like the US to be reassured that any individual turned over to his government would be treated fairly and in accordance with the law. In this connection, I also informed him about President Taylor's apprehensions and conditions regarding government custody of Roosevelt Johnson.

    Bauman informed me that he had just been in touch with the State Department. He specifically said that he had talked to Vicky Huddleston, assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, and ambassador Howard Jetter."

    We saw a photograph of Jetter last week, didn't we, Mr Taylor?

  • That is correct, yes.

  • "... who in turn were in touch with Madeleine Albright. They were of the view that the handover of Roosevelt Johnson to the Liberian authorities carried the possibility that he might be killed in the process. I reiterated that President Taylor had himself expressed certain reservations and conditions about accepting custody of Roosevelt Johnson."

    That is the Ibiola thing, yes?

  • "Bauman expressed a view that Taylor would be better served if ECOMOG could take charge of these individuals, take them or rather evacuate them to a faraway country to be exiled and therefore would not pose a security threat to the Government of Liberia."

    I note the time. Would that be a convenient point?

  • Yes, that is a convenient time. We will take the short adjournment and reconvene at 12 o'clock.

  • [Break taken at 11.30 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.00 p.m.]

  • Yes, go ahead, Mr Griffiths.

  • Yes. May it please your Honours:

  • Mr Taylor, before the short adjournment we were looking at this report submitted by the Secretary-General's special representative to Liberia. Do you recall that?

  • Could we go back to that document, please, just to complete the narrative. It's behind divider 23 and we had just concluded paragraph 21. Okay, Mr Taylor?

  • "I stated clearly and somewhat categorically that the United Nations could not be associated with any process or activity related to the exile of any citizen. Furthermore, UNOL was in no position to take custody of anybody. Reacting to the position I had just taken, he pointed out that the idea of exile to a far away country was a counterproposal to the one I had proffered regarding the government's desire to take custody of Liberians that were now in the hands of the embassy. To that I simply reiterated my position.

    Following another telephone call, Bauman informed me that Washington had decided that its counterproposal would be presented to President Taylor by Jesse Jackson. I advised him that I interpreted that piece of information to also mean that I should forthwith refrain from formally conveying to President Taylor any US suggestions or proposals. He confirmed that my understanding was correct. He, however, asked me whether the UN would take part, along with ECOMOG, in the predetermined evacuation of these individuals. I told Bauman that I was not in a position to undertake this responsibility, as I did not even have the opportunity to secure the directives of my headquarters on this entire delicate issue. In any case, I informed him that his government should continue to use the Jesse Jackson channel to advance whatever proposal the US government might have and that I would essentially be out of the loop once Jesse Jackson commenced his contact with President Taylor. I nevertheless assured him of my availability in the event that UNOL's good offices could be of any use to the embassy.

    John Bauman informed me that Madison Wion, a close confidant of Roosevelt Johnson, was killed just outside the gates of the embassy. He also wanted me to have a discussion with the Krahn leaders who were in the embassy. I declined that invitation; however, on my way out of the embassy I greeted them, confirming that they numbered five persons."

    So a different figure again, Mr Taylor?

  • That is correct.

  • "Second meeting with President Taylor. Around 7.30 p.m. UNOL received information to the effect that armed Liberian national enforcement officers were regrouping to storm the American embassy in an effort to secure the release therefrom of Roosevelt Johnson. I therefore met again with President Taylor at his residence at 8 p.m. He reassured me that there was no truth to that information and that he had given orders to all concerned to stay away from the American embassy.

    I also took this opportunity to inform the President about my meeting with US embassy officials and about their response to the views he had shared with me during our midday meeting concerning the envisaged role of Jesse Jackson. The President indicated that he would talk to Jesse Jackson as a friend. He was, however, not ready to engage in any protracted negotiation with Reverend Jackson on the handover of Liberians who had sought refuge in the American embassy. He went on to state that such matters remain exclusively within the purview of the attorney general, not the presidency. He was emphatic in his view that the laws and procedures of Liberia should prevail. He advised that the Government of Liberia will pursue those charged with treason, murder, and participation in subversive activities. He also stated that the Government of Liberia would insist that those individuals be tried in Liberia and under Liberian laws.

    He also observed that any attempt to evacuate Roosevelt Johnson surreptitiously would be fraught with danger. As far as he was concerned, a writ had been issued for the arrest of Roosevelt Johnson on appropriate charges. Johnson was, therefore, at this moment a fugitive from justice. He would so inform the United States of America. He was certain, however, that there was no way in which Johnson could be whisked out of Liberia on a fixed winged aircraft. It would be disastrous, he asserted, if Roosevelt Johnson were to be transferred to Sierra Leone or to any country within the sub-region."

    Now, pause there, Mr Taylor. Had you made that observation about Roosevelt Johnson being taken to Sierra Leone to the Secretary-General's representative?

  • "At this point Ernest Eastman informed President Taylor that he had received a called from Howard Jetter regarding the disposal of the remains of Madison Wion. The minister of presidential affairs also reported that Jetter proposed that the remains of Wion be handed over to the Government of Liberia. The President stated categorically that that was a non-starter. As far as he concerned, he had yet to officially learn that Madison Wion was dead. He went on to say that even if such information was provided officially, he would want to know, among other things, the circumstances surrounding Wion's death. In this connection, clear information should be provided as to whether Wion was killed inside or outside of the American embassy. In any case, the President continued, there was need for an explanation as to how Wion's body found its way into the embassy. If Wion was dead, the President asked rhetorically, who - what institution or government - would be responsible for announcing his death?

    During the early part of the evening, Monrovia remained relatively calm. Government security forces and ECOMOG troops were seen conducting joint patrols. It appears that a catastrophe of high magnitude was averted. It remains to be seen whether an early solution could be found for the complicated problem of the Krahn leaders, who are currently in the custody of the US embassy. It does not appear likely that the US will be willing to hand over Roosevelt Johnson to the Liberian authorities. In the event that an agreement is reached on the evacuation of Roosevelt Johnson, it will be useful to ensure that for the stability of the sub-region he is evacuated to a country far removed from the ECOWAS sub-region."

    Now, Mr Taylor, how seriously did you take the threat posed by this whole Camp Johnson Road situation?

  • This was - I took it very, very, very seriously. Because to get a picture of the situation at that time, explaining it here just with these notes in the courtroom, people have to get a picture of what's going on. You are involved in several weeks of conflict with the United States government. A little country and a little President sitting up there, African President, it's tough business. But during this time we are getting advice from diplomatic sources: Oh, be careful. We're hearing from American sources that they're going to get you for this. So really it's a frightening situation for me. Be careful, the Americans say they're going to get you. The Americans say they're going to get you. But I say why would the Americans want to get me? Well, this is why, if you watch how - we can consistent with these notes because if it had been found that we have violated international agreements, we would have found ourselves in the fix that we're in - that I'm in right now, okay? We have a situation here where these direct - life from that time was never the same for me. Never. Everything started going downhill, and as we go through this trial you will see after this incident, my life was changed forever. Forever. And here I am before judges now from that incident, and we will go through it.

    So for me it was a very serious thing. And we fought it and fought it. And through the grace of Almighty God they investigated themselves and found out that their embassy personnel made a mistake and that issue, we never heard about it after they investigated. They did not even provide us a copy of the report. But during that time we had ruffled sufficient feathers that everybody was upset that why we had prolonged this and taken such decision, when a simple apology would have helped. But for us, an apology would have meant the acceptance of breaking international law, and that could have caused them, with their flotilla out there, to probably come in and arrest me and government officials. So it was a very serious matter for us at this time.

  • And help us, Mr Taylor. We've seen from the various documents we've looked at that this was a situation which developed from around about 10 August 1998 when Roosevelt Johnson returned to the country surreptitiously and it continues into October. So help us, during that period - so we're talking about over two months - how much of your time and head space did this incident occupy?

  • I would say a lot of it. A lot of it. And while this is also going on - remember this starts in August - there is an incursion.

  • In August. In August. There's an inversion out of Guinea into Liberia just before this. So we are dealing with a host of problems and we are beginning to connect all of these things.

  • Now, this incursion you're telling us about, Mr Taylor, did you discuss it with anyone?

  • I think one of the good things that happened to us was that the presence of the special representative of the Secretary-General in Liberia --

  • Who are we talking about?

  • Felix Downes-Thomas. I think the presence in Liberia helped us. We did not keep him - everything - in fact, every discussion we that had, whether with any crisis situation regarding Liberia or regarding Sierra Leone, we made absolutely sure as a neutral party to have him or one of his aids present. I discussed this matter fully with him, okay? He did reports on this matter to New York about this August incursion, okay, just to be followed by this September fracas in Monrovia. I kept him in the loop.

  • Yes. Now before I move on could I ask, please, that that document we looked at behind tab 23, which is the code cable from Felix Downes-Thomas to Prendergast/Miyet, United Nations, New York, dated 20 September 1998 on the subject matter of the Camp Johnson Road incident of 18 September 1998 and subsequent development, could that be marked for identification, please, MFI-51?

  • Yes, that document is now marked MFI-51.

  • Now, in light of what you've just told me, Mr Taylor, I'd like us, please, to look at a document behind divider 22. Do you have that document before you now, Mr Taylor?

  • As we can see, the document is entitled "Lofa - Overall Situation", and its from Downes-Thomas, Representative, Secretary-General UNOL, Monrovia, to Prendergast, United Nations, New York, and it's dated 17 August 1998:

    "The incursion into Lofa County has exercised the energies of the Government of Liberia authorities. It has also been, up to now, the main focus of the local media. Yesterday President Taylor met with a group of eminent persons to brief on, and discuss with them, the situation in Lofa. Alluding to the attackers of Lofa, he assured the group that 'nobody is going to remain on one inch of Liberian soil.' Of some significance is the statement by the President that 'under international law we have a right to defend ourselves, but we can't because our hands are tied.' He went on to say, 'I can assure you Liberia will seek military assistance from our friends in terms of troops'."

    Let us pause there. Question number one, Mr Taylor: From where had this incursion come?

  • Guinea. And what had the incursion involved?

  • An attack. They attacked, came across the border. Just - this is the right time to use the word probe. You will find what these guys do, come, open suppressive fire, attack, and then you manage to overwhelm them, and then they just disappear back in the forest.

  • And so this would have been a year after you had been inaugurated as President?

  • And when you are quoted by Mr Downes-Thomas as saying, "We have a right to defend ourselves, but we can't because our hands are tied", what did you mean by that?

  • We have no weapons. Don't forget, for the Court, we are disarmed before I go for elections. The weapons are not given back to me after I'm inaugurated as President on 2 August 1997. We are - we survive because ECOMOG is supposed to be helping out with security. The Government of Liberia has no arms whatsoever, ammunition, artillery, nothing. My security forces are walking around with nothing in their hands. Nothing.

  • "He went on to say, 'I can assure you Liberia will seek military assistance from our friends in terms of troops'." From whom would you have sought such assistance?

  • Anybody that showed some sympathy to us. Yes, you have a country without arms and if they come under attack, I would have probably asked General Abubakar to help. I would have definitely probably asked la Cote d'Ivoire. I probably would have asked Burkina Faso and Ghana. But anybody that would have wanted to help us, I mean, this would have been a desperate situation.

  • "The mood in Monrovia is somber. Accounting for this is the recent tragic plane crash in which the lives of the police top brass were lost and the Lofa incursion."

    What plane crash is this, Mr Taylor?

  • This is - there was a little accident that we had with a small aircraft that involved the lives of some our people.

  • "The antiwar sentiment currently being expressed by the populace is laced with incipient jingoism. 'We are tired of fighting. We don't want war any more. We will defend our country. We will never again run away from Liberia to become refugees.' The ministry of defence informs that ex-combatants are reporting at its headquarters voluntarily and in significant numbers for recruitment as fighters in Lofa."

    Was that taking place, Mr Taylor, people volunteering to go to fight in Lofa?

  • Yes, but I think we may have to look at this - I do sense a little problem here that - I think that needs to be looked at anyway.

  • What's that? What problem is that?

  • I think there is - this - we may be looking at the wrong document here if I'm correct about this. But anyway, this - well, this looks like there are some problems here with dates as my recollection goes, but --

  • Take your time, Mr Taylor, and review the document to see if it's the document you had in mind when we first introduced the topic.

  • No, this is definitely not the document. As to the events that I'm recollecting, this is not the document that refers to that particular event. I think there is a problem here with the --

  • This situation is not occurring at - I think there's a date problem here. There's a date problem. I think there is a date problem, because this is the situation that is occurring in '99 and not 1998, and I think we ought to - I think with this transmitter here he's describing the wrong situation here, in my recollection of it, yes.

  • Mr Griffiths, if you look at page 2, paragraph C, you see they refer to August 1999, not '98.

  • Yes, this is supposed to be - this event is occurring in 1999, so he has wrongly dated this. This is my observation.

  • Okay. Right, let's leave this document then, and we'll come back to it at a later stage. And I note in passing this is the second document that we've looked at which has been misdated in this way. Do you recall we looked at one for February '98 when in fact it was February '99. Okay.

  • In any event, Mr Taylor, let's just deal with and clear up one or two aspects regarding events in 1998, the summer. Now, do you recall last week you told us about a meeting you'd been invited to by President Abubakar in Abuja to meet with the Secretary-General?

  • That is correct.

  • And also with Tejan Kabbah?

  • Help us, at the end of that meeting was any document prepared?

  • Yes. We prepared a communique that was signed by all of us, the Secretary-General, President Kabbah, President Abdulsalami Abubakar and myself that dealt with the Sierra Leonean problem and specifically non-aggression and cooperations between the Mano River Union countries.

  • Could we please look at page 298 of the presidential papers, please. Page 298. Do you have it, Mr Taylor?

  • What is this document?

  • This is the document following a letter that President Abubakar wrote me inviting me to meet in Abuja with him in the presence of Secretary-General Annan. That was late June, but the meeting occurred in July. This is that. We meet in Abuja, and this is the communique from that meeting.

  • Let's look at what it says, shall we:

    "On 1 July 1998, at the initiative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi A Annan, the chairman of ECOWAS and Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, hosted a meeting between President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone and President Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia.

    The meeting was co-chaired by the chairman of ECOWAS and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, addressed a number of regional and sub-regional issues, including ways in which security and cooperation between the neighbouring states of Liberia and Sierra Leone could be further improved, what confidence-building measures could be introduced by the two governments, and what role ECOWAS and the United Nations could play in support of these efforts.

    The Heads of State of Sierra Leone and Liberia, in the presence of the chairman of ECOWAS and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, reached agreement on the following points:

    That they strongly condemned the continuing rebel activities in Sierra Leone as well as the horrendous atrocities that had been committed there."

    Let's pause there, Mr Taylor. Remember, let us remind ourselves this is a meeting taking place after the ECOMOG intervention in February.

  • And everyone will recall that thereafter those kicked out of Freetown embarked on an orgy of violence throughout the country of Sierra Leone, yes?

  • And were you keeping abreast of that situation from your embattled position in Liberia?

  • Yes. We must remember here that following the situation in February the Committee of Five is actually seized of this matter in Sierra Leone. We are actually seized about this matter. And as a reminder to the Court, June - just at the beginning of June - just before this meeting what do we have? We have the special representative of the Secretary-General in Sierra Leone writing a letter to the Security Council informing them that Liberians are involved - that most of the people supporting the junta are Liberians.

  • That's the document we looked at last week?

  • That's the President of the Security Council speaking to your representative in New York?

  • Exactly. Now, we have a situation and in that document they've asked for an official response. That's right away. Then at the end of June here you have the Secretary-General coming to West Africa and asking for a meeting with me. So, yes, we are following the situation in Sierra Leone, okay, because of this level of accusation that is coming which is not coming from ECOWAS but it's coming directly from UN headquarters, yes.

  • "... that they strongly condemn the continued rebel activities in Sierra Leone as well as the horrendous atrocities that had been committed there.

    That they were determined to cooperate to promote an end to the fighting in Sierra Leone and to foster peace and security in the sub-region.

    That they reaffirmed the non-aggression protocol of 1986 of the Mano River Union agreement and agreed to seek ways to enhance its effectiveness. Special attention was drawn to the need to control the activities and movements of demobilised former combatants and the leaders expressly reaffirmed their commitment not to permit their territories to be used for actions aimed at destabilising the other."

    Pause there. Mr Taylor, tell us based on what is being suggested against you I'm asking you bluntly were these weasel words on your part when you were agreeing these things with President Kabbah in front of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Abuja? Were you lying?

  • Not at all. These were very, very serious statements that I was making. They were real statements with earnesty and integrity, because we had gone through this problem, we had worked together with trying to get this junta situation under control and again I don't want us to lose sight of one important point. These matters that are developing are not coming from ECOWAS. They're not coming from ECOWAS, okay? So even in these discussions, this is the communique with the Secretary-General, all of these matters are raised. President Kabbah and I discuss it, the Secretary-General, everybody we discussed this issue and as to why these matters are coming up, okay, when they should not. So these are earnest, sincere words. This is not a joke. We mean what we say and we say what we mean.

  • "That as a further confidence building measure the two leaders would exchange official visits." Did that occur?

  • Yes, President Kabbah visited with me.

  • For the 26th of that year, 26 July, he visited.

  • For the Independence Day celebrations we talked about?

  • The Independence Day celebrations, yes.

  • So Kabbah was there for that?

  • And we saw that, did we not, when we looked at the speech you made on that occasion? Do you remember that, Mr Taylor?

  • "That both leaders would welcome and support the deployment of United Nations and ECOMOG observers along the border.

    That both leaders called upon their citizens not to be involved in destabilising activities against the other state and that all those caught committing such offences should be arrested and prosecuted under the laws of the arresting state.

    That both leaders welcomed the initiative taken by the Secretary-General and the chairman of ECOWAS in facilitating their discussion and expressed their appreciation of this.

    The three regional leaders called upon the United Nations to increase its presence in Sierra Leone, in support of the efforts being undertaken by ECOWAS and the Government of Sierra Leone to promote peace and security in the country. The Secretary-General of the United Nations expressed support for the need to increase the United Nations presence in Sierra Leone and noted that the Security Council was presently considering the matter.

    The participants expressed grave concern over the situation in Guinea-Bissau and noted the ongoing consultations among ECOWAS members on this matter."

    What was that, Mr Taylor?

  • The late President Vieira and a general that - I've forgot the general's name. I don't recall it. There were problems in Guinea-Bissau and in fact we were considering sending troops - I mean ECOMOG forces - to help in Guinea-Bissau because of the conflict between President Vieira and the army general.

  • All right. And then we see that it concludes by thanking the Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for hosting the meeting and we see thereafter this is signed by yourself, President Kabbah, President Abubakar and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, yes?

  • So that was the beginning of July, Mr Taylor. We of course touched upon that last week --

  • -- and we saw the letter of invitation. We then dealt with, did we not, the Independence Day celebrations?

  • And we moved on to deal within August, among other things, that letter which had been sent from the Liberian ambassador in Guinea?

  • Now can we just pause for a moment now then, Mr Taylor, and catch up on one or two things. We spent the end of Thursday and the beginning of today looking at the Camp Johnson Road incident and its consequences. Now I want us, please, to consider against that background what else was going on. Now, remember in August it had been brought to your attention that there was this group of Sierra Leoneans in Guinea. Is that right?

  • That is correct.

  • Who wanted to make contact with you?

  • You told us that you thereafter contacted your colleagues on the Committee of Five and, as a consequence, invited Sam Bockarie to Liberia?

  • Now help us, Mr Taylor. Firstly, did Sam Bockarie come to Liberia as a result of that invitation?

  • I sent one of my generals, General Menkarzon, to the border and got messages and he accepted the invitation.

  • How was he transported to Monrovia?

  • He was driven. He was driven all the way.

  • Were ECOMOG aware - that is ECOMOG stationed in Liberia - that Bockarie was coming?

  • Oh, yes. ECOWAS - I mean ECOMOG was aware. Tejan Kabbah was aware. In fact as we go further we will get to know that the issue of some of these leaders, whether it's from the RUF or the AFRC, travelling out of Sierra Leone were an issue of discussion during that general period. So they were very well aware. There was nothing hidden about Bockarie's coming to Liberia. I informed my colleagues and they were aware.

  • Next question is when was it that Bockarie arrived? Can you help us with a month?

  • Yes, Bockarie first arrived in Liberia on my invitation in about - I would say about midway September going - I would put it that, if I am not mistaken, Bockarie came and left just before I travelled to Europe was about the first meeting.

  • To Europe for what?

  • I came on an official visit to France in late September of '98.

  • And your recollection is that Bockarie came just prior to that?

  • Just - yes. This is the best of my recollection, because I know he had come and left before I came to Europe.

  • And help us, when he came for how long did he stay?

  • Bockarie stayed in Liberia just for a few days, two or three days. The initial meeting talking about the problems and what could be done to stop the fighting, because don't let's forget the February incident did not stop the fighting in Sierra Leone. The fighting was continuous. It was ongoing. After the Freetown intervention, it didn't stop. They were fighting all over the country. The Kamajors, ECOMOG, massive fighting, and everyone was trying to find a solution. So our colleagues saw this as an opportunity when they were told that Bockarie had sent - you know, was trying to get to me they saw it was an opportunity for him to come in. So there is heavy fighting before that time.

  • And I'm anxious for us to get as much detail as possible, Mr Taylor, about this because it's a matter of importance. Help us, did Bockarie come by himself or was he accompanied by other members of the RUF?

  • Bockarie came with other individuals. I don't remember all of their names, but I do believe that the gentleman that had gone to the embassy did come.

  • Mr Eddie Kanneh. I'm sure Eddie could have come. I don't remember the other individuals, but there were several people that came along with him. In fact a lot of people came with Bockarie, not counting the official delegation. I don't know the number of security personnel, because this is supposed to be the guy on the ground. We did not disrupt the number of security personnel to say that, "Well, you cannot come into Liberia with security." So he brought a sizable delegation with him, including bodyguards and different things. I don't quite recall all of the people. Most times when you meet leaders in these meetings you know the head of delegation. You are introduced to the rest of the people, but you very rarely remember all of them. I really don't.

  • Don't worry, Mr Taylor, I'm sure we all understand. More detail, where was he kept?

  • The first meeting that Bockarie came to Liberia we kept him at a hotel and it was very cumbersome, because we did have a problem. Bockarie had come to Liberia, but we had a very good relationship with the Government of Sierra Leone. And so it was harder to provide security at the hotel, because we don't know who might go after them from the Sierra Leonean side or who they might go against, so it was a little more difficult. So by the second time we adjusted that strategy.

  • We'll come to the second time in due course, but I'm still concentrating on the first. Now help us, what did you discuss with him?

  • How to bring about first of all, the concern of all of us, a cessation of hostilities. How do we get the fighting stopped. Let me emphasise here by the time the junta have been expelled from Sierra Leone, for some strange reason all of our attention in ECOWAS focused on the RUF. There was not a moment that we - the junta business for us - and I'm saying "strangely" because - everyone started focusing on the RUF because it appeared to everyone that the Sierra Leonean armed forces that really connected with the RUF that called themselves the junta, in fact would have never been a real problem. Do you understand me? So everybody started focusing on the RUF and how we could go back to implementing the November 1996 agreement from la Cote d'Ivoire.

    This was our - in fact, as I spoke to my colleagues about Bockarie coming - and I'm saying they saw it as an opportunity - this was the opportunity to get back this November 1996 agreement, because a lot of us felt that if that agreement had been fully implemented, we probably would not have had the situation of the junta trying to take over and inviting this. So this is our preoccupation.

  • And tell me, Mr Taylor, two things before I forget them: Firstly, had you met Bockarie before?

  • Never. Never ever had I ever met Sam Bockarie. I had heard of Bockarie. Even those days that Foday Sankoh came to Liberia he never brought Sam Bockarie. I did not know Bockarie. And in fact, of maybe one or two little truths that I heard in this Court, when I met Foday Sankoh in those years of 1991 up until '92 - when leaders come to talk, they don't bring in bodyguards and all that. They don't enter. I knew Foday Sankoh came at that time, he saw me, he never - I had never known Sam Bockarie, ever, but I had heard of the name because here is Foday Sankoh now in this trouble, and Bockarie is the senior general on the ground. So we're hearing the Bockarie, Bockarie, Bockarie, Mosquito.

  • Now mentioning that fact, Bockarie comes in September. Likewise in September, Mr Taylor, do you recall Foday Sankoh had been put on trial in Sierra Leone for treason?

  • Well, that's about this time. Isn't it a little earlier, by my recollection? I'm not sure, but I think it may have come a little - if I'm not mistaken, it could be as early as July/August. I'm not too sure, but I think it's a little earlier.

  • Because it's a judicially noted fact, CMS 370, that in October 1998 Foday Sankoh was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death in the High Court of Sierra Leone?

  • I think the trial starts a little earlier, from my recollection.

  • But in any event, that being so it means that when you're meeting with Bockarie, the situation in Sierra Leone is that Sankoh is on trial and he's convicted later and at this stage, Mr Taylor, is Bockarie, in the absence of Sankoh, recognised as the leader of the RUF?

  • Don't let's forget, let me remind the Court, upon the arrest of Sam Bockarie in Nigeria, don't let's forget --

  • Excuse me. The arrest of Sankoh in Nigeria, there's evidence before this Court that Sankoh instructs the RUF to join the junta and it is - there's evidence before this Court that that was done on the radio where it was recorded, and so the most senior person that is already on board that goes to Freetown and commanding is Sam Bockarie, but that authorisation comes from Sankoh. Let's go back to his initial arrest, yes.

  • And so this meeting with Bockarie, you say that Kabbah knew about it?

  • Was Kabbah enthusiastic about the idea, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes. I must admit, everybody wanted to see how we could broker something immediately. We were trying as a group and we were trying individually with the acquiescence of everybody. An example: Remember at a meeting held in Abuja in dealing with the junta, President Conte asked if they could rush over and see if he could fix it. So right after the Abuja meeting they rushed down to Conakry. So we all see this as an opportunity: Well, since this guy is making this effort, okay, let's see what we can do. Let's look at it. So he's enthusiastic about it, yes.

  • And you saw this as an opportunity to do what?

  • To try to stop the violence, okay? The war doesn't end in February. It does not end. There are attacks all over the country. ECOMOG is moving forward, along with the Kamajors. There's fighting all over and I don't know all the towns, I've never been to Sierra Leone, I don't know the towns, villages, but there's fighting. The fighting doesn't stop. And what we are trying to do now is to get a cessation of hostilities, a ceasefire as quickly as we can so we can begin to implement that agreement that had been signed in the United States.

  • Mr Taylor, are you sure this was not a clandestine meeting you had organised in order to give orders to your underling?

  • Well, if I understand the - no, as a direct answer. But if I understand clandestine, if it had been a clandestine meeting I would not have informed my colleagues and it would not have been done with their acquiescence. And by the way, all of those meetings, at the end of every meeting they were informed again. So there's nothing clandestine that you - if you want something done clandestine, you don't put people in the loop. Every member of that committee, we work with consultations.

  • What was Bockarie's reaction to you?

  • Well, Bockarie had - by the time he reached to me, he had some respect for me. He had known of the former relationship between Sankoh and myself. He was a senior officer at the time. He didn't have the opportunity to come to Liberia, so he knew. He had some big concerns. In fact, one of the principal concerns in that meeting was the release of Sankoh. But he felt that my experience as a pan-Africanist would probably help in getting the problem resolved, getting their leader out of jail, and then moving the peace process forward. This was his general impression that I got.

  • And Mr Taylor, I'll ask you bluntly: You tell us this was the first time you were meeting Bockarie. Did he bring you a little introductory gift like, you know, a mayonnaise jar full of diamonds?

  • I'm very, very sure. And even those that came along with him, if we can get some of them here, will tell you that there was no such. In fact, it would have been silly for him to have done such nonsense, because that would not have been tolerated by me.

  • Now, you said that visit, Mr Taylor, came just prior to your departure on an official visit to France, yes?

  • Now, can we go to the presidential papers, page 140.

  • Mr Griffiths, while we're turning to that page, let me take the opportunity to seek clarification. There is a document, I think, in these papers where a date was wrongly cited as 1998 instead of '99, but the evidence on record is that there was an incursion from Guinea in 1998. That evidence remains, does it?

  • Well, let me ask Mr Taylor.

  • No, the incursion occurred, your Honour, in 1999.

  • So there was no incursion in 1998?

  • No, the incursion occurred in 1999. That's why when I saw the document I said well, there's a date problem here.

  • Okay. Just one moment before we move on. I'm helpfully reminded - it would be helpful if we deal with this, because it relates to the meeting with Bockarie.

    At that meeting, Mr Taylor, that first meeting with Bockarie - let's leave that document for the minute, please. I just want to clarify something about the meeting with Bockarie. At that meeting with Bockarie, was any witness who testified in this case present during that meeting?

  • I cannot recollect, quite frankly. The only person that I can think about, because I saw that person more than once on - I would say the second meeting - was Eddie Kanneh, who was a very close friend to him. There may have been - I would not be able to remember the faces or the names. When we met in the closed session with Bockarie, there were not too many people. Maybe two, three persons. I really don't - I don't remember any of the faces of those that came here. I remember --

  • Well, let me specific, Mr Taylor. Was Varmuyan Sherif present?

  • No, no, no. Varmuyan Sherif could never be involved in a meeting with me speaking to the leadership of the RUF. A security captain working at the SSS in Liberia, a Secret Service personnel sitting in a meeting with the President of the Republic of Liberia talking to the leader of a rebel group or another - it doesn't happen. Ever. He could have never been in such a meeting. What would a Secret Service personnel be doing in a meeting with the President talking to the leader from a different country? What would he be doing there?

  • And help us, where did that meeting take place?

  • That meeting took place at the Executive Mansion.

  • And was it just one meeting or more than one meeting with Bockarie, Mr Taylor?

  • No, give me some clarification. When you say more than one meeting, are you talking in terms of one visit, meeting several times, or at different --

  • No, one visit. I'm still just talking about that first visit. Did you meet on more than one occasion?

  • Yes, we met more than once, yes.

  • And were all those meetings at the Executive Mansion?

  • I asked you about him giving you anything. Did you give him anything?

  • On that first visit, no; but later on, yes.

  • Now I'm just dealing with the first visit, Mr Taylor. We'll come to later visits. Did you give him any cash? First visit, remember.

  • Yes, it's possible. It's possible and even probable, I may say, that I would have given him cash because this is a system that most Presidents use. Bockarie coming from the bush, it would be normal and I would be lost if I didn't do it. It would be normal to give them some money to do some shopping in town. So I can almost say it's probable that I did.

  • Do you have a firm recollection of having done it, or are you saying this would be the normal practice?

  • Well, as far as my recollection goes, I can just about say yes I did. You know, it's what I'm saying it would be out of the ordinary if I didn't do that, so I can say I did.

  • And was that money given to him to purchase arms and ammunition?

  • No, no, no, no, no, no. What we are talking about is I did it for him, even when Johnny Paul Koroma came when I sent - when we got him into Liberia, I did the same. No, when you come Presidents will - what we do is we do envelopes, maybe $1,000 or $2,000. We will give it to you for you and your boys to go out, have a good time, maybe buy some new jeans, sneakers. The boys, you know, that kind of - no, no, no.

  • And let's move on from the cash. Did you give him any radio equipment?

  • Did you give him a satellite phone?

  • Did you promote Sam Bockarie to general?

  • No, no, no, no, no, no. Why would I do that? Sam Bockarie is not my - he is not my military personnel. How could I promote him?

  • Did you give him a jeep?

  • Did you appoint him commander of the RUF?

  • Did you give any medicines?

  • Did you give him any uniforms?

  • Did you promise him a safe house in Monrovia?

  • Did you promise him any accommodation in Monrovia?

  • On this trip, yes, we discussed I mean some accommodation as far as offices and other things. Yes, we discussed that.

  • Why did you discuss that?

  • Well, Sam Bockarie comes to Liberia and we hold these discussions. As usual there are promises, "Well, okay", you know, "we will begin to work on this." The first thing that comes to mind is security, but also how do we remain in contact with them following this meeting. It is of principal concern to us and, mind you, I want to remind you while these discussions are going on there are telephone calls being made from Monrovia, to Abidjan, to Abuja. I'm talking about contacting our colleagues, "How is it going?" Everybody is anxious. "How are the talks going on?" "Well, fine."

    And then what we decided to do was to adopt the same principle another member of the Committee of Five had adopted before. We know who the members of the committee are and I'm referring to la Cote d'Ivoire that had provided - and I'm saying no to safe house, it was not a safe house, but the idea of a location that could be secured where you wanted that could remain in constant contact as a way of resolving the conflict over time that we would not always have to wonder, "How do we reach you?" So we did discuss using the method that was used by la Cote d'Ivoire in the Sankoh case to reintroduce that as a way of maintaining contact.

  • And do you recall a witness telling this Court about being located in Cote d'Ivoire, yes?

  • And do you recall other evidence about an external RUF delegation who were located in Cote d'Ivoire?

  • Indeed, can you recall some anger being expressed at the refusal of Foday Sankoh to share some of the largesse he had been provided with by the Ivorian government with the other Sierra Leoneans present in that country?

  • Do you remember all of that?

  • So when you were offering such facilities or discussing such facilities with Bockarie, did you consider that you were in effect creating a safe haven for the RUF in Liberia?

  • Well, we didn't look at it that way and I'm using that word "we" as it involves the ECOWAS. Look, I acted with the knowledge and consent of I can say ECOWAS, because we were acting as a committee, and everything that was done there was ECOWAS. So I'm not going to say "I". I'm going to say "we acted". My colleague in la Cote d'Ivoire had said that the process was very useful as had been introduced by la Cote d'Ivoire at the time in making sure that people were centralised and you know who you're dealing with. So we acted at that particular time in that manner and we did not look at it as such.

  • Could I have a moment please, Mr President?

  • Now we're still dealing with that initial meeting with Bockarie, Mr Taylor. Help me, was Benjamin Yeaten present at any of those meetings with Bockarie?

  • It is possible Benjamin could have been in the room, or maybe some other senior. It depends on who was on duty at the time and let me tell you what I'm referring to. The President meeting in a room with a delegation like that there would always be a Secret Service personnel in there, especially this is a group coming and these are military people. If the Secret Service director was not in, another senior Secret Service personnel would be not a part of the discussion, but would be in the room maybe standing in the corner, or something like that.

  • And help me, Mr Taylor. Can you assist as to whether, to your knowledge at that time, Bockarie and Yeaten knew each other?

  • I really don't know. It's possible and I want to use the word "possible", not "probable". It is possible because with combatants they could have known each other during that period '91/'92, I don't know. These soldier boys, soldiers have their own society. Military people know each other very well. I'm not - I cannot be sure. The person that I know and I have mentioned to this Court that knew Bockarie at that time, because he used to go in and inspect the people at the border area there, was General Menkarzon - Dopoe Menkarzon. I'm not sure if Benjamin knew him. I'm not sure of that.

  • And do you know whether, for example as a result of this trip, an eventual relation developed between Bockarie and Yeaten?

  • Yes, I would say yes and for the very reason that Benjamin Yeaten at this time is director of the Secret Service and he is the most senior security person that is responsible for Bockarie coming in the country, responsible for his security while he's in the country and making sure that he's out of the country safely. That's the work of the Secret Service. So it is highly probable that they could have gotten to know each other and developed a friendship.

  • And tell me, Mr Taylor, were you monitoring their relationship; that is the relationship between Yeaten and Bockarie?

  • No, I'm the President. I wouldn't even - I'm just saying to you that I am sure that because of their positions they could become friends. At my level I wouldn't even know who is friendly or who is doing what, no.

  • Now also when Bockarie returned to Sierra Leone, did you send any fighters back with him?

  • No, why would I send fighters back? No, no.

  • Did you send any arms and ammunition back with him?

  • I did not send any arms or ammunition back with him because I didn't - my own security did not have arms and ammunition. The only armed people in Liberia at this time are still ECOMOG. Remember in documents that we just read where I'm talking about if we come, you know, the security don't have any weapons. ECOMOG and the United Nations have all of the weapons - all.

  • Did you plan any operations with him whilst he was in Liberia?

  • Did you mention any particular targets for him whilst he was in Liberia?

  • No. The only thing I wanted from Sam Bockarie, that all of us wanted, cessation of hostilities in Sierra Leone that we could return to normalcy in the country. That was my preoccupation. That was our preoccupation. That's what all of our colleagues expected of me. That's what I did for ECOWAS.

  • I will be dealing with a number of specific allegations relating to the year 1998 later, but for now whilst we're on this topic let me ask you this. Did you plan a mission called Fitti-Fatta with Sam Bockarie?

  • What is Fitti-Fatta? I first heard about Fitti-Fatta here in this courtroom. How would I plan? How would anybody - anybody - believe that Charles Taylor, fighting virtually for his life now - and what do I mean by that? We already have a very strong warning from the United Nations about accusations that are not true and I'm talking about June. Here we have a situation where the President of the Security Council has invited my ambassador and has stated what was in fact not the fact and has asked for an official explanation. Here I am, the Secretary-General comes to West Africa and we go to Nigeria. There is nothing else on our agenda, but Sierra Leone. Tejani comes. We sit down. We talk. For the life of me I cannot understand how people come up with these kinds of things.

    Then here I am now, Bockarie comes to Liberia on our invitation and I'm supposed to be discussing with Sam Bockarie something called Fitti-Fatta, or Fatta-Fitti or whatever they want to call it. I mean it's total nonsense. I mean it does not make sense. It is not true. Heaven knows it's not true, you understand me?

  • Mr Taylor, are you sure you weren't taking a little time out from the Camp Johnson Road distraction to plan a few little military operations - are you sure - next door in Sierra Leone?

  • Sure is not an appropriate word to describe how certain I am.

  • What does Fitti-Fatta mean, Mr Taylor?

  • I have no idea whatsoever what Fitti-Fatta means.

  • Are you sure, Mr Taylor, you didn't say to Sam Bockarie on that occasion, "Listen, Sam, you need to retake Kono because I need a few diamonds"?

  • If I need diamonds in Liberia I would mine them and they were plentiful. We've seen maps of diamond locations as close as Monrovia as you can get. There were no such - this is all the wild imagination of I guess what prosecutors do. This is total foolishness. It doesn't make any sense.

    Maybe if we understand some of these things about precious minerals in some of our countries, it is not as complicated as the west. It's far from being complicated. Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, for some reason people just need to know. Gold, diamonds, these are not issues that people look at in these complicated ways as you will find in the west where some of these western ideas pour into our country. People don't look at it.

    Listen, we've seen evidence before this Court of diamonds being exported from The Gambia. The Gambia does not have diamonds. Mali exported diamonds. Look, we get wrapped up in this whole thing. The West African sub-region, the relationship between West African countries, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, coming on down, it is never the way you hear in this Court that it's supposed to be as though a diamond is a commodity in West Africa that Presidents have to connive to mine.

    Come on, people mine diamonds all over Sierra Leone. There are people that have their farms, or what you call tribal reserves, that go on there and dig gold and diamond. You go in West Africa, Sierra Leone, Liberia, you see young boys with gold rings and gold chains. It is not like here in the west where you can't find this stuff. It's there. It's there.

    So diamonds have been mined in Liberia for years. In the '50s De Beers is doing diamond buying in Liberia. There are no problems with that. So this whole thing that if the President of Liberia wants diamonds that he has to go and take over a country, my God, that's not oil. It's not like going to capture a country to take the oil from them. Diamonds are all over the place.

    And besides - besides - a very important thing about even this whole aspect of this is that Liberia - Liberia - uses the United States dollar - let me not say uses. Used the United States dollar as its official currency. That's a factor maybe that even attracted a lot to Liberia.

  • Why?

  • It is - because of our close relationship with the United States we used the dollar as our official currency in addition to the Liberian dollar, but the United States dollar is legal tender in Liberia. If the President of Liberia wants diamonds he will go and he will mine it at one of maybe 20/30 locations.

  • Mr Taylor, the fact that Liberia used the US dollar, did that have a consequence in terms of the transport and sale of diamonds?

  • I want to believe so. Yes, I think so.

  • Well people from Senegal, people from Mali, people from Sierra Leone, people from Guinea, they went, they bought diamonds, they came to Liberia and they sold them because of the legal tender of the United States dollar, okay? So I think one of the consequences of that dollar is the fact that a lot of commodities from neighbouring countries would flow into Liberia, yes, because of that dollar.

  • So it acted as a magnet?

  • We're still dealing with that meeting, Mr Taylor. Mr Taylor, did you not plan the Freetown invasion with Sam Bockarie at that meeting?

  • No, no. The only thing that I planned with Sam Bockarie at that meeting was, "Look, stop this nonsense. Let's get a ceasefire. Let's get back to the negotiation table." That's the only thing I was present for.

  • But, Mr Taylor, did you make arrangements to send a ten wheeler truck filled with arms and ammunition to Sierra Leone in order to facilitate military actions?

  • Well, let's look at the - no, as a direct answer, but let's look at the background. Where does a ten wheeler truck come from with arms and ammunition? I'll put it this way that, if a ten wheeler truck crossed the border from Liberia into Sierra Leone with arms and ammunition, it had to come from ECOMOG. And I say this because we must never lose sight through the documentary evidence here that Liberia had no weapons, so I don't see how a truck would come with weapons when we do not have it. Where do we get it? Our security forces are walking around with their hands swinging, with nothing. Where do we get it?

    Now, I'll tell you what happened. We get back to, you know, these phantom arms being brought to Liberia in ships and different things that I'm sure that when we look at a case here in the Netherlands that we cannot divorce from some of these lies, because remember there is a gentle man - these weapons that were supposed to be going across in trucks, there is a gentleman by the name of - well, I'm trying to get the correct Dutch pronunciation, Guus Kouwenhoven or something they call him, who is supposed to be the supplier of these weapons, sailing into ships that were never built, who was put on trial here in this Netherlands for war crimes because of weapons that he was supplying to Taylor at that time. That this government - this Dutch government - investigators and magistrates and all kinds tried him here and eventually the judges threw it out and said this was total nonsense. There were no weapons, but they made these phantom supplies of weapons in truck loads and different things that the Dutch Appeals Court said that it was nonsense and they even asked the Court.

    We need to bring these documents before this Court, because this is the period that we're talking about, your Honours, where Taylor's got weapons, sending it out, that never existed. Never ever existed. Lies, lies, lies. We have no weapons and so there can be no ten wheel trucks going anywhere.

  • Tell me, Mr Taylor, who in Liberia at this time was responsible for overall security?

  • Now help us, would it be possible for a ten wheeler truck to drive from Monrovia all the way up to Lofa and over the border into Sierra Leone and escape the attention of ECOMOG?

  • Because ECOMOG is still to a great extent deployed at major road positions and what, but even if you use your head properly and think about it, February ECOMOG has the - is the intervention. They're still fighting. They're still fighting. The intervention occurs in Freetown, but ECOMOG is still fighting upcountry. ECOMOG is going to see the Government of Liberia, their soldiers are dying in Sierra Leone. They're going to see truck loads of ammunition going across the border to rebel held territory and accept it? Is it logical? It is not logical.

  • But you were bribing the ECOMOG officers, Mr Taylor. That's why.

  • Bribing them to see their brothers in arms killed? Nonsense. It's nothing like that. No, no.

  • Help us, given what you've told us about the state of the infrastructure in Liberia how many days would it take or how much time would it take for a ten wheeler truck to make it from Monrovia to Sierra Leone?

  • Well, I would say the period that we're talking about, that is being discussed right now, that's even the rainy season, it would probably take you close to maybe five/six days on the road because this is about - the rains are in right now and it would be tough on the road.

  • Right. Rainy season is September - what time? Tell us.

  • Well, I've heard different versions. It starts to rain in Liberia somewhere around June, I think, because July is heavy rain. August is still raining. September we're talking about, that's the - you're almost at the centre of the storm at that time.

  • So about five days it would take, would it?

  • And would such a consignment require an armed escort? If you were sending a ten wheeler truck, Mr Taylor, would it require an armed escort?

  • I'm sure it would. Yes, it would require an armed escort. With that kind of materiel, yes.

  • Why would it need an armed escort?

  • Are you talking about military - you're talking about military materiel. If it's going - a ten wheeler truck, if we look at a ten wheeler, we are talking about - I'm not sure of the tonnage. That would be a pretty big truck. So with that kind of - if you were transporting military materiel, of course you would want to protect it.

  • And give us an idea, how many people would you want to send to protect such a consignment?

  • Oh, boy, you would want to send quite a few people because if you look at the region at the time we're one year into my presidency, but there is still - just to remind the Court there is still what I described in earlier testimony before this Court, we have a situation of what I called up in the Lofa region, that's the ULIMO people in that area, and so there's still what I called disquiet. So we would probably for that quantity of ammunition I could put it to maybe not less than maybe 20/30 persons to escort it.

  • So we'd be talking about a convoy of vehicles then?

  • Now, Mr Taylor, did you ever watch that movie Independence Day?

  • I'm not too sure I have seen it, counsel.

  • Because remember those alien spacecraft could cloak themselves and make themselves invisible. Did you have that ability with your trucks in Liberia at the time, to cloak them so that they could pass ECOMOG checkpoints totally undetected? Did you have that kind of ability?

  • No, no, that's the kind of the ability that you would expect from the gods.

  • Would that be a convenient point, Mr President?

  • Yes, thank you, Mr Griffiths. We'll adjourn for lunch and resume at 2.30.

  • [Lunch break taken at 1.27 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 2.30 p.m.]

  • May it please your Honours:

  • Mr Taylor, just before the luncheon adjournment we were dealing with the meeting you had - your first meeting with Sam Bockarie. Do you recall that?

  • Now, you told us also that that meeting was just before you went on an official state visit to France?

  • Yes, I said that - for the record, I said that he had come and returned before I left for France. I hope I won't be confronted with just before, I mean.

  • Now moving on then, Mr Taylor, the visit to France, when had that been arranged?

  • We had worked on that several months. It finally came into place around the last week in September.

  • And when we say an official visit, what is entailed in such a visit, Mr Taylor?

  • An official visit will be one that would involve discussions of maybe economic, social - well, not social. Political and other issues with that government where there will be formally - where you'll be formally received and formally hosted by the government, that is.

  • Now help us, Mr Taylor. Did you see any advantage in going to France on that official visit?

  • Yes, like I said we had been working on that visit for a very long time. A visit like that to a major western power and permanent member of the Security Council for us was a very, very important meeting. It would afford us an opportunity to even talk about some of the issues that were pending before the council, as it related to Liberia, and for us it was an advantage to get firsthand our views outside besides the discussions with the Secretary-General.

  • Did you see any potential economic gains from such a visit?

  • Well economically, yes. Well, gains, we're talking about more in terms of bilateral activities. Liberia at that particular time was looking very seriously at this offshore oil and natural gas potentials. French firms were interested. Total and others were beginning to advance low level discussions. So in terms of gains, it would have helped if we were able to get French companies interested in investing in Liberia.

  • Could I now invite the witness's attention, please, to page 140 of the presidential papers, which is volume 3 of 3:

  • Do you have it, Mr Taylor?

  • Now, we see that the heading is "Taylor Visits France" and then it continues, "President Taylor resurrected a 150 year old relationship between Liberia and France with two successful visits to Paris in September and November." Do you see that?

  • So it was two trips that you made?

  • Yes, but the November trip is of a little different kind though.

  • We'll come to the November trip in a moment, but I would rather we dealt with both trips in one.

  • Now, you see in the photograph there's the First Lady Mrs Jewel Howard-Taylor?

  • President Jacques Chirac, yes?

  • And the wife of the French President, yes?

  • And we see the date of 28 September 1998, yes?

  • Now pausing for a moment, Mr Taylor, you might not be in a position to be precise, but help us. How long did this trip last? Are we talking about days, weeks or what?

  • So would it be fair to say that for a few weeks at the end of September, possibly into October, you were on an official visit to France?

  • Now whilst we're looking at this, can we please go behind binder 48 please. Yes, Mr Taylor?

  • It should be a photograph, DP28?

  • Yes, Mr Taylor? Do you have that?

  • What do we see in that photograph?

  • At the airport in, I think this is Paris, I'm inspecting the honour guard at the airport with the official who was present there, the foreign minister of France, Bernard Kouchner.

  • Are you able to give us a precise date for this photograph, Mr Taylor? If not, say so.

  • This has to be 28th/29th. This is on arrival. This is the ceremony on arrival.

  • What month would that be?

  • Before we move on, Mr President, can I ask that that be marked for identification MFI-53. So photo of President Taylor's visit to France, September 1998, inspecting honour guard.

  • I think it's MFI-52, Mr Griffiths.

  • But in every other respect I'll mark it for identification MFI-52. It's the photograph that's also been labelled by the Defence as DP28.

  • Can we go behind divider 29 now, please:

  • Help us with this one, Mr Taylor.

  • Did you say 25, or 29?

  • DP29, behind divider 49.

  • Behind divider 49. It's a photograph. It's the one immediately after the photograph we just looked at.

  • What are we looking at in this photograph, Mr Taylor?

  • That's the same inspection at the airport. This is the end of the inspection. This is the salute.

  • Right. Now the gentleman standing behind you in the uniform, who is that?

  • Could you spell the first name for us.

  • M-O-M-O, Momo, and Djiba some people spell it with D-J-I-B-A. That's Momo Djiba.

  • And the gentleman in the lounge suit standing next to you to your left?

  • That's the official receiving me, the Honourable Bernard Kouchner.

  • Can I pause for some spellings. Bernard Kouchner, B-E-R-N-A-R-D K-O-U-C-H-N-E-R. Whilst we're on the topic the name Ibiola was mentioned earlier. It's Mashood M-A-S-H-O-O-D, Ibiola I-B-I-O-L-A. Next Guinea-Bissau, G-U-I-N-E-A B-I-S-S-A-U. And finally the President of Guinea-Bissau, V-I-E-I-R-A. Could I ask again, Mr President, for this photograph to be marked for identification, MFI-53.

  • Yes, that photograph labelled DP29 by the Defence is marked for identification MFI-53.

  • And can we just go over to the photograph behind the next divider, please. DP30. Yes, Mr Taylor?

  • The man behind you in the photograph in the uniform with the gold braiding, who is that?

  • Then yourself and then we have, do we not, Jacques Chirac, the President of France?

  • Now help us, and I wonder if you would mind changing places for a minute, Mr Taylor, so you can provide us with some assistance. The gentleman - the black man in the foreground to the right, who is that?

  • You want to start right up here, right?

  • All right, start there.

  • You can hardly see the face. This is the Liberian ambassador accredited near Paris. It's Honourable Molley, that's M-O-L-L-E-Y, H, that's the alphabet H, Scott, S-C-O-T-T. The gentleman here, this is Mr Dupuch. I'm calling it the best way. Dupuch was France's ambassador to la Cote d'Ivoire. He is now a very senior adviser to President Chirac on African affairs, Mr Dupuc. We'll have to fight on that one.

    The gentleman right here is - the back you can see, this is my chief of protocol, the late Musa Cisse. The second here is the second protocol also - well, let me just describe this. You have the chief of protocol at the Executive Mansion, Musa Cisse, who works with me on a daily basis. This is the chief of protocol RL for the whole republic. This is Ambassador John Adolphus During. That's D-U-R-I-N-G. And of course this is the French President's aide-de-camp, I don't know his name.

  • Thank you very much, Mr Taylor. Can we have that marked for identification, please, Mr President, MFI-54, photograph of President Taylor with Jacques Chirac of France.

  • Yes, that photograph which is also labelled DP30 by the Defence is marked for identification MFI-54.

  • And finally in this regard can we go over, Mr Taylor, to the next photograph, please. What do we see in this photograph, Mr Taylor?

  • Here we are exchanging medals of honour. I present the French President with one of the highest Liberian honour awards and he presents the French one also to me. These are just exchanges.

  • Now, again going left to right, can you help us with who else we see in this photograph?

  • Yes. Here again is the chief of protocol for the republic RL, what I just mentioned, John Adolphus During. Here is the Liberian ambassador, H Molley Scott. Of course that's me. This is the chief the protocol for the Executive Mansion, Musa Cisse. This of course is President Chirac. And standing here is the President of the Liberian Senate, Honourable Charles Brumskin. That's B-R-U-M-S-K-I-N. Brumskin, the President of the Liberian Senate who is accompanying me on this visit.

  • Following that visit, Mr Taylor, did you go straight back to Liberia?

  • No, no, no, I did not. I made a stopover to visit another colleague.

  • I stopped over to visit the President of Mauritania. Mauritania is an ECOWAS member state with some minor problems.

  • Could I have marked for identification before we move on that last photograph of President Taylor receiving a medal from the French President, MFI-55, please.

  • 55, that's correct, Mr Griffiths. I'll also note that the photo bears the Defence label DP-31.

  • Now you said Mr Taylor that having left France you stopped over in another ECOWAS country, Mauritania, yes?

  • Who were you going to see there?

  • Who was the President at that time?

  • He has since been removed. I think it's Taya if I'm not mistaken.

  • How do you spell that?

  • You know those are Arabic names. They have had two or three Presidents after him. I think it's Taya if I've got it straight. We can check on that.

  • Right. Now, how long did you spend in Mauritania?

  • Let's go behind the next divider to the next photograph, please. What do we see there, Mr Taylor?

  • This is my being received at the airport in Mauritania. I don't know any of these people. Protocol officials and everything, but that's about it. Their names I don't know.

  • You don't know anyone in the photograph?

  • No, these are all Mauritanian officials and this is - the minister that is there - Mauritania is that last part of Northern Africa that in fact until now state that they are not a part of West Africa, so it's a little confusing when it comes to Mauritania. They still say that they are not, but they are part of ECOWAS and in and out.

  • Can I ask that that photograph be marked for identification, please. President Charles Taylor visiting Mauritania, 1998, MFI-56, please. Also DP32.

  • Yes, that photograph is marked MFI-56.

  • Can I pause for a spelling? President of Mauritania is M-A-A-O-U-Y-A O-U-L-D S-I-D-'-A-H-M-E-D T-A-Y-A:

  • Now, Mr Taylor, whilst we're on the topic of France, let us conclude that episode before we go on to another topic. Can we go back to the presidential papers in volume 3 of 3, please. Do you have them?

  • Can we go, please, to page 142. I appreciate that we've gone forward in time, Mr Taylor, but I wanted to conclude the French visits in one. Are you with me?

  • Now, as we see from the heading on this page, this is a speech you gave in the French capital on 27 November 1998. Is that correct?

  • And the topic of this speech was "Strategic Imperatives for Peace and Security in Africa". Is that right?

  • Now, why were you returning so quickly to France, Mr Taylor?

  • Annually - France had established such good relationship with Africa, there was annually what we call a France Afrique summit. All Heads of State of Africa, members of the OAU, met with the French government to discuss issues of mutual concern between the continent and the Republic of France. It's called the France Afrique summit. That's an annual summit. This time it was being held in Paris and that's where we go.

  • And were you the only person giving a speech?

  • All members of the Organisation of African Unity were there. There were several other Presidents giving speeches. Not many, but strategic subjects with spoken about at that particular time and I delivered a speech at that summit.

  • Now I want us to look at this speech, Mr Taylor, in light of the allegations being made against you by this Prosecution. We see that the title of your address is "Peace and Security in Africa", yes?

  • I'd like us please to pick up the speech, column on the right, penultimate paragraph. Do you see that?

  • "The theme of this years' summit - Security in Africa - is most appropriate, because ensuring stability and security for Africa has been and constitutes one of the continent's foremost preoccupation. This has attracted global interest and concern. The absence of war does not necessarily guarantee security and although the prevalence of peace does at times assure security, peace and security are not mutually inclusive.

    Security, however, appears more encompassing than peace in the absence of war. Security ensures stability, and for a society to be stable it must be wholesomely functioning and secure in its capacity to evolve beyond the ruins of conflict.

    The phenomena affecting insecurity and instability are multi-dimensional. The concept itself can best be defined in terms of the prevalence of certain conditions, paramount among which are social harmony, mature political culture and conducive economic environment where sustainable development can be achieved.

    Social harmony in a country does not mean the absence of conflict. However, when conflicts occur, there should be some built-in mechanisms for resolving them without resorting to violence and armed confrontation. In the African setting, achieving social harmony has such bearing on the promotion of national unity, especially through an environment of inclusion and culture of tolerance without unnecessarily imposing sectionalism and tribalism upon the population, merely for self-preservation in power.

    We must therefore rely on and refer to our cultural and traditional values as a means of preventing and/or controlling whatever situations that may be emerging at any given point in time."

    Now this:

    "The belief that African countries should have to change their culture to conform to the norms of other cultures is impractical and undesirable. Europe has not lost its culture, neither has Asia or any region of our global community, and yet they continue to develop. Our African culture is unique and provides many rich opportunities for preventing and resolving crisis and providing a secure environment. Africa needs to preserve and capitalise on its culture as a means of effecting credible security and stability".

    What are you saying there, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, counsel, we got to find out on the continent - and I don't care who out there may say, "Well, maybe he is speaking for himself", but look. Everything that is happening on the African continent must be modelled after that which is either happening in Europe, or the United States, even in terms of conflict resolution. Conflict resolution - and I really want to just - I'm not talking about impunity, because I do not believe that impunity that these things should go with all - but you cannot begin to impose your own sets of values as regards how people behave culturally, how we have lived for thousands of years among ourselves, how we resolve our problems.

    For example, our people are used to getting kola nuts and sitting down and eating kola nuts and salt and talking it over, or maybe take a chicken and slaughter it, or maybe take a sheep. This whole thing where we are not given an opportunity to do anything. Everybody outside of Africa knows it better than anybody else just because they give you a little bit of money. I'm just trying to say to all of our colleagues with one of the major European powers, "Listen, guys".

    It's like, you know, when I studied economics in the United States there was a major argument at the time about funding to what is called ghettos and how people on welfare receive money and very, very well in the United States economists and social scientists and different things argue that because someone is on welfare doesn't necessarily mean you have to tell this woman not - you know, are you going to tell her, "Don't have any additional children because you're getting welfare money"?

    These kinds of things in other societies they were able to bring them under control. There is no such control in Africa. Any one country that feels that it is in the west can come and impose their values and tell you what to do. Even if it is wrong, they still try to impose it in some way.

    So what I'm trying to draw all of our colleagues' attention to the fact that, "Look, we've got to respect our cultural values. We have to respect our traditional values, you know, and see how we can begin to solve our problems without having them imposed on us by other values that really don't apply to our own thing". Again, I'm saying I'm not talking about the issue of impunity.

  • "Appropriate national infrastructure, including access roads to rural areas, safe drinking water, healthcare delivery, education and skills development, preparedness, income generating opportunities and productive livelihood systems as a means of eradicating poverty must also be developed.

    I believe that the level of development of economic and sociopolitical culture in Africa determines the level of stability and security. A high profile sociopolitical system can only function in a society where a climate of awareness and appreciation of that culture is broad based. It also presupposes a high level of acceptance by the citizenry, as well as the citizenry's active participation in the political process.

    In Africa, an overwhelming number of our people are neither adequately did not inform nor understand the political process by which they are governed. Accordingly, they cannot appreciate it, let alone approve of it, and participate validly in the process, giving rise to military adventurism and coup d'etats."

    Let's pause there again, Mr Taylor. What are you explaining there?

  • You go into Africa right now and stop into some of these countries and ask these people as to whether they understand what these people are talking about when they are talking about democracy, rule of law, all these western terminologies, our people don't understand that. They have to be educated. Our people do not understand these matters.

    You go - I remember during the Liberian election they talked about proportional representation. We had to even - what do our people know about these complex systems? We have to break it down, ballot boxes and different things. Years ago our people got in the line and stood behind the person that they wanted to vote - that they saw as their chief. They stood behind you. You count them.

    Some of these systems are just so complicated that I don't think those that are imposing them upon us understand them fully themselves, and I'm just trying to say here that we have to educate our people and we have to bring about those systems that can be explained and understood and not changing it. Most of these concepts our people on the continent, I'm not talking about just - even some educated people don't understand these complex.

    So you come to us and you say, "You are a Third World country." You bring First World ideas to us and you expect your First World ideas to benefit us down here in the Third World. It's like telling me that Liberia should be able to send a spacecraft to land on the moon that the United States just did.

    I'm just trying to say when you are looking at these systems you have to look at them in terms of different structures. You have you to look at them. You have to evaluate them differently. I'm trying to get these people to say - to understand and pass through to their European friends that when you come to us maybe you ought to sit down with us and ask us, "What will work? What will work for you if we did this?" Some of these people come out and tell us what they know must work for you. These are some of the things that I'm talking about.

    Now I mean there may be people that may disagree with what I'm saying, but I'm sure across the continent wherever they are listening to this trial there are people that are saying, "Yes, this guy knows what he is talking about", because that's the problem. That's the problem. Education and getting people to understand their complex systems outside of ours. All of a sudden our systems are no longer good.

  • "Abject poverty, ethnic hegemony and growing economic decline along with poor economic performance in many African countries continue to be a potent source of national conflicts, the effect of which contribute to instability and insecurity on the continent.

    What African leaders must realise is that ethnic hegemony is not a source of protection and security, but rather the root cause of conflict because of the privilege and divisions it creates and the confrontational attendant conditions for its preservation.

    The irony of this situation is that, even if such leaders want to surrender power, they would fear surrendering power because of possible retribution by those who have suffered suppression and repression at the hands of state security in order to perpetuate these leaders in power."

    Pause there, Mr Taylor. What do you mean by that?

  • We have a typical example in Liberia. We have a typical example of recent problems in Kenya after the elections in Kenya. You have "If I am from this tribe and I get into power, all of - in fact, I try to put my tribe of people into the army. I will try to get my tribal people into the police. Government positions are held by my tribe."

    This tribalism it is in itself a problem, because you are now forced to stay in power because you are afraid that if you were to leave power there will be retribution from those that you have suppressed and so you have this problem where people must continue to hold power.

    In Kenya we have, what? What was the problem in Kenya between now the present Prime Minister, who became Prime Minister, and the President? Well, we're talking about two different tribal groups. Most of the conflict came between two different groups.

    So that's one of the problems that we have that people are so insecure that, when you get into power, your tribal group come around you to protect you, but by so doing they benefit from the process, they suppress people and so you have to hold the power so that you do not have retribution. This is what I'm trying to explain that this tribalism must stop.

  • "This vicious cycle characterises many of Africa's present day political problems, often making their violent overthrow appear to be the only option for change. African leaders must provide windows for change that are genuine and take risks for peaceful transitions. Opportunities must be created for foes to become friends and for perceived villains to become national heroes.

    The most common conflicts occurring throughout Africa today are essentially internal. For many of us present here today, we are aware that civil crisis can be more destructive and convulsive than a war between states.

    Why? Because it sets into motion fathers against sons, mothers against daughters, tribes against tribes. In addition to all the internal destruction which it produces, it consumes it's own people. Law and order are flung afar, commonsense is evaporated from society, fair becomes foul and even foul is transformed into fair.

    Above all, external interference becomes the unwelcome interloper which compounds the general state of insecurity resulting from chaos. This was the situation in Liberia in the 1980s following the military coup d'etat that brought 17 noncommissioned soldiers to political power, setting off a cycle of violence that would consume the energy and psyche of a whole generation of my countrymen. A number of Liberian civilians including myself, recognising this violation against our nation, sought to redress this tragedy by launching a people's uprising. I have never in my life joined the Liberian army or undergone any military training. I ventured into this conflict situation in an effort to correct what the whole world saw as the aberration of state craft and the unravelling of our country politically, socially and economically.

    One of the most overlooked sources of conflict in Africa is the policy by some leaders to view their hold on state power as an end in itself. The means adopted by these leaders to achieve this end lead to the creation of conditions in which the interest of the leader is juxtaposed to be synonymous with the interest of the state. Hence, this juxtaposition is essential in legitimising and justifying the unreserved use of state power in the name of the national interest, despite the ulterior objective of the leader to entrench himself into power."

    Pause there. Sounds like you are talking about dictatorship there, Mr Taylor.

  • Definitely.

  • But, Mr Taylor, many would say that you were a dictator?

  • Well, I would - you know that's one of those arguments that people haven't really brought to me face-to-face, but sometimes they talk about it. What is - to be a dictator, if we look at - I'll speak about my presidency. I'm into office for six years. I have a multiparty system going on. There is freedom of speech, there is freedom of press, there is freedom of association. In fact, while I'm President there's some 13 political parties in office running. There is not one political party leader that was arrested or harassed. Parties are functioning.

    You know, we have to separate what - how you want to be branded at a particular time by - because of certain situations from the reality. What I'm talking about here are long entrenched rulers that do not permit opposition in the country. There is not one opposition leader in Liberia that can come forward and say, "Oh, guess what, I was arrested by President Taylor or I was stopped". None of this kind of thing. So that whole branding or wanting to brand Taylor as a dictator, that just doesn't come my way.

  • Well, Mr Taylor, I'm sorry but I have to press you a little further on this, because you will recall that the Prosecution went to great expense to call a Liberian journalist before this Court to suggest that you are precisely that; nothing but a tyrant. What do you say about the evidence of Hassan Bility?

  • I would say that when I listened to Hassan Bility, I really thought he was talking about somebody else. Because here is Hassan Bility. There were some things that he said in his statement that made some sense, but his calling me a tyrant, I will tell him to go back to Webster's dictionary and look at that meaning and look at my whole political culture at the particular time when the very Hassan Bility who served as a combatant for ULIMO-K worked for ULIMO-K as a reporter and never stopped the war. For him here is a man who visited my house, visited official functions - for him to call me a tyrant, well, I guess when you're in those positions that he's in I guess you'll say anything.

  • "The danger of this policy is inherent in the means that are adopted irrespective of the grave consequences for the security and stability of the state. Means are defined in the context of their efficacy in perpetuating a leader in power. This practice leads to the conversion of all state axillaries to instruments of those in power.

    In Africa, one of the most frequent means of achieving this end is the use of ethnic identity to create a political hegemony. This ethnic political hegemony is manifested in the army, police, security and in key institutions of governance and economic monopolies. The nation's constitution and statues are reduced to mere symbolic instruments of those in power.

    Some members of the international community to a certain extent are responsible for the successful manipulation by such leaders of the process of democratisation. In most instances the superficial adherents to democratic processes, irrespective of credibility of that process, is hailed as conformity and progress. Elections are events that these leaders have come to accept as an appeasement for donors and a means of sustaining international recognition and legitimacy.

    Leaders are human beings who survive through the process of adaptation. Their survival is determined to a great extent by the external situation, no matter how difficult and challenging it may be. The tragedy of the policy of leadership entrenchment as a means in itself is that such a policy obfuscates the potential for the management of diversity in Africa as a forceful progressivism.

    Ethnic, religious and culture diversity, if properly managed, may create a bond linked to a common destiny characterised by progressive dynamism. Such a dynamism as contributed to and characterised the transition from traditional societies to modern states.

    On the other hand, the mismanagement of such diversity has led to the polarisation of society along ethnic, religious and culture lines, thus undermining national unity and creating an environment of insecurity and tension. The conditions created by this environment, which are consciously sustained, eventually lead to the externalisation of frustration through violence.

    Fellow brothers, distinguished colleagues, the security and stability of Africa depends not on external forces, but upon the proper and efficient management of the affairs of our states. Good governance is not only a responsibility; it must also be our obligation and commitment. It must be guided by the common good and never by sectional and personal interest."

    Pause there. Let's confront that too, Mr Taylor. The popular image of you is of someone running a country and lining your pocket in the process; that you were involved in a little personal enterprise. What do you say about that?

  • I would say that is total falsehood and total nonsense. Look, we are in a court of law. I have heard these accusations before. Taylor is supposed to have robbed the Liberian treasury dry and Taylor - I can still remember I was by this time in Nigeria and the Gyude Bryant who led the transitional government, that name is on the record, was at a donors conference in Washington DC and the former secretary of state of the United States, a very good man, Colin Powell, in describing me or my activities at that time said that he has assets scattered around the world. We have since heard about Taylor with billions. How long has it been?

    The issue of money, having it or not having it, is about ten years old now. I was still President of Liberia when I was accused of amassing billions. I went on the national radio and I announced to the Liberian people - I said to them if any human on this planet earth goes to any bank anywhere in the world and brings one bank account of $100,000 belonging to Charles Taylor, I said I will resign the office of President. It's been ten years.

    I've heard the United Nations has passed asset freeze, all these things. All these asset freeze, what bank accounts have the United Nations ever come up and said oh, guess what, here is a former bank account of Charles Taylor or here is what is in it".

    You know, we're in this Court in Europe and this may be the only time I may have to really - for the world to hear from me. This situation in the world where people just get up and make up things, unsubstantiated allegations. You'll just hear it one day, boom, Mr Taylor is this. And you will be working for the rest of your life trying to straighten it up and it never gets straightened up. Nobody ever brings factual evidence, but it is repeated and repeated and repeated until people - it begins to sound like it's true.

    I have heard the Chief Prosecutor of this Court talk about monies of Taylor. I challenge him again here today in this Court that he is Chief Prosecutor, bring one bank account. Bring any evidence from any financial institution. There's none. Let the gentleman come forward and say, "Well, here is an account belonging to Charles Taylor. He had it, but even he closed it years ago". Bring anything.

    It's such a travesty of justice, you know, that people in the public eye get these statements against them. It's a big thing now, when you want to demonise African leaders you are either eating human flesh like this other person sat here and said, or you are stealing money. And they don't have to prove it. They can just say it. That's all they have to do; say it. And you are struggling the rest of your life trying to straighten it up. And they know it's a lie, but they repeat it.

    There's no such thing as me lining my pocket. I'll say again before these judges: I ask anyone on this planet if you are a banker in Europe, you are a banker in any part of the world, if you know of any account that I spoke to you about or opened, if you know anybody that represents my interests come forward and tell the world the truth. If you hold any bank account you are obliged today to lift all secrecy that you know about Charles Taylor. What is it about this Taylor that - you know, I ask the question rhetorically. Some people say but this man, everybody seemed to be lying on this man. What is going on? I don't know. But let them come. For God's sake come forward and bring whatever evidence. It's all - it's not true.

    I mean, I have been subjected to this now for years and we will never get to the bottom of this. Several months back listening to the news I heard that the - it was just concluded that the former President of Romania, Iliescu, they just realised that he didn't have any money. After years, the man is dead. I may be dead and gone before somebody can say, "No, Taylor didn't have any money. He didn't have assets scattered around the world". Bring me one house - one house anywhere outside of Liberia that Charles Taylor owns. None whatsoever.

    So, counsel, the long and short is that it's a black lie. There's no such thing as lining pockets, there is no such thing as assets all over the world, just as there is no such thing as Charles Taylor going and providing arms and ammunition for rebels in Sierra Leone and receiving diamonds. So they reduce me to a little petty thief. That's what I'm supposed to be. A little petty thug, a little thief receiving little monies in the corner and providing arms. That's what they want me to look like. I'm definitely not that. They can never --

  • "In recognition of this truism, we ran our 1997 election campaign in Liberia on the theme 'Above all else, the people'. It is my hope that this realisation can be appreciated for the inherent truth for which it speaks. And my government is a broad-based government of inclusion.

    Our own revered colleague from South Africa, President Nelson Mandela, at the OUA summit in Ouagadougou on June 8, 1998, charged us with the responsibility to lead our people and the African continent into a new world of the next century - which, he said, must be an African century - during which all our people will be freed of the bitterness borne of the marginalisation and degradation of our proud continent."

    Pause there, Mr Taylor. Did you attend that OAU summit in Ouagadougou?

  • Yes, I did.

  • "I am pleased to share with this honourable body my acceptance of that challenge and wish to use this occasion to call on this generation of African leaders (us, we, everyone) to provide the kind of effective leadership that will lead us into the new millennium.

    It is the kind of leadership that will make us our brother's keepers. The kind of leadership that will discourage tribalism, sectionalism and greed. The kind of leadership that will provide for an improved quality of life for our citizens and not our tribal groups. The kind of leadership that will inspire a country of laws and not of men. The kind of leadership which will allow dialogue, patience and forgiveness."

    And then in conclusion you said this:

    "Mr Chairman, distinguished colleagues: in my view there are several imperatives to African security which we must consider. First, in the fashion of France, we must uniquely modernise our global models on inclusion. We must federalise our friendships. A new order of human and national interaction beyond language and culture and distance must be fondly embraced.

    The second imperative to African security rests in Africa's dynamic application of the principles of fair play, cultivating its long-standing tradition of conflict resolution through consultation and consensus. Inclusion, and not marginalisation, should be the premise for political participation.

    The effective management of diversity to produce a dynamic positive national cohesion should be used to facilitate the cultivation of a common destiny and a common national identity. The new creed of good governance should be complemented by the harnessing of appropriate and efficient technology which would facilitate attainable and sustainable development, a new level of technology to enrich development. In short, the majority of our people must be moved up the economic ladder as a matter of urgent priority, thereby creating a middle class.

    The third imperative to African security consists of a concentrated focus on making available to the African people the economic possibilities for their empowerment towards achieving basic necessities. African states must be afforded the chance to grow and develop through debt relief, equitable terms of trade, investment and assistance in an environment of respect for human dignity guided by a philosophy of genuine partnership. In simple terms, Mr Chairman, a hungry man is an angry man.

    Lastly, in the short and probably the medium term, regional organisations such as ECOWAS must be strengthened and supported to train military forces in near proportionate numbers to act where necessary to maintain peace in conflict situations, where missions are clearly defined after a clear understanding of the problem. The mission cannot be one of selective engagement solely to restore small governments, but also to maintain peace and stability until democratic institutions are installed."

    Now is there a bit of a sting in the tail in that last sentence, Mr Taylor, "The mission cannot be one of selective engagement solely to restore small governments", bearing in mind this is the 27 November 1998 and a small government was restored to power by an ECOMOG intervention earlier that year? So what are you saying here?

  • Well I'm saying that is in my focus, but there is a little sting to the tail. I'm trying to say, "Well, good, installing small governments", but I was more concerned about what if bigger governments in Africa did that, what had happened in Sierra Leone, we should be prepared to have a mechanism to deal with it and specifically who can reverse a military coup in Nigeria? No-one can.

    So I'm trying to say that, yes, we should not just say we are going to restore small governments, but if there is a proper mechanism in place that will support the democratic process you won't have to worry about installing small governments, or big governments, because you have a situation in place that you can deal with. Because you cannot just be in the habit of running into small countries and saying that it was a military coup d'etat here and so it's okay when there's a military coup d'etat in a small country to restore that government which I back, but then when it is a coup d'etat in a bigger country, "Oh, they are too big. Let's leave them." No, we have to put into place a mechanism that would stop all coup d'etats whether it's in a small country, or whether it's in a big country. This is the whole point.

  • "As we continue our efforts in understanding the problems of security and searching for answers, let us not overlook the potential and wealth of our traditions and cultural heritage as guideposts. Our African leaders, kings and chiefs have always cared for their people, and such carrying is embedded in our age old adherence to respect for human rights. In essence, while we look outside for joint solutions to our many problems, let us remember that Africa has many answers within its rich culture. We need only to look inward for those answers by appreciating our rich culture.

    In closing, permit me to quote Samuel P Huntington who wrote in his book, The Third Wave, 'Economic development makes democracy possible; political leadership makes it real...History, to shift the metaphor, does not move forward in a straight line, but when skilled and determined leaders push, it does move forward."

    So that was your address, Mr Taylor. The sentiments you express there, did you mean them?

  • Oh, yes. Yes. Yes.

  • And for completeness before we move on, can we look over the page briefly, please, to page 147. That's another photograph from the November French trip, isn't it?