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

  • [On former affirmation]

  • Mr Taylor, yesterday when we adjourned we were looking at events at or about 22 December 1998 following your return from Burkina Faso, yes?

  • That is correct.

  • Now, help us with this: What was the atmosphere like in Liberia at Christmas 1998?

  • '98. Well, around the Christmas, that is, I would put it to about from about the middle of December, we are launching this major polio programme. We are also just returning from a trip to Burkina Faso to see the inauguration of the then chairman of the OAU, who is also President of Burkina Faso.

  • Pause there. So, at that time Blaise Compaore was chairman of the OAU, was he?

  • Oh, definitely. He was then serving chairman of the OAU. He had been reelected to office, but he was the chairman and so --

  • So when Sam Bockarie went to Burkina Faso in December of - or was it November of 1998, he was visiting, in effect, the chairman of the OAU, was he?

  • Definitely. That is why the level of the discussions as to the travel - that is why it was discussed at certain national levels, and a lot of people knew that they could travel because he was visiting not just the President of Burkina Faso - I don't think that was the intent of letting him travel - but he was visiting the chairman of the OAU that then had to assume also a position as part of the whole peace process at that time.

  • Right. Sorry I interrupted you, Mr Taylor. You were telling us?

  • Also internally in Liberia we have a little bit of calm. We are preparing to light a Christmas tree and all that, but there are ongoing things. Travels, we have gone to Abuja before then, gone to Conakry, come back, we have gone to Burkina Faso, I have launched the polio campaign, I am preparing a major address to the nation following the end of the Christmas holiday. So in Liberia, things are not too bad. Things are fairly normal.

  • What is the situation like on the border with Sierra Leone at this time?

  • Oh, there is heavy, heavy fighting going on. If you look at the third report of the Secretary-General, you will also see that there are all kinds of activities being reported before that time and it continues throughout December. Attacks practically all over the country as far as we can understand at that time.

  • Yes, but what about on the Liberian side of the Sierra Leonean border? What is happening, if anything?

  • We closed our border and tried to put security to the border to prevent any crossover at the border. We are on very - what we call high alert, and we closed the border to prevent any spillover of the activities in Sierra Leone in Liberia.

  • Yes. And in terms of what is being said at an international level, Mr Taylor, are there any accusations being levied against Liberia at this time?

  • There are Liberians that are fighting. Liberia is back in the war. There are armed Liberians fighting inside Sierra Leone supporting the different sides. All of these accusations are ongoing at the time. We are busy to the best of our ability writing and speaking out about denials. We are sending our foreign minister outside of Liberia to explain to the people. You know, there is a very - a terrible situation that is happening at this time and if you just take a quick look at it, it is - all of this time - and if we look back to evidence before this Court, let's just start from the intervention. Everybody - by "everybody" I mean the Sierra Leoneans know. Everybody knows that there are Liberians in Sierra Leone fighting. Everybody knows who they are. And up until that time, no-one is telling the truth or even speaking out about it. Kabbah knows who these people are. If you even read his statement where - the statement he made before the truth commission, he talks about at the time that the junta attacked Freetown he hears the chief of staff ordering them to counter these forces that are not loyal to him. He knows who they are. No-one speaks officially to say, "Oh, listen, yes, there are Liberians fighting in Sierra Leone, but we know who they are". No-one is talking about it. They hide it and hide it and hide it to the very end and keep saying "Liberian fighters. They are Liberian". Yes, we know they are Liberians. I am fighting tooth and nail in explaining every day what they already know. What they already know.

    So let's come all the way to the return of Kabbah. Kabbah returns to Sierra Leone. He knows that these people are out there up-country. He knows that the Liberians are there, okay? So the accusations continue. Come 6 January, the same problem. Of course you know who they are. You know that these are Liberians that - they are either two groups: Either they are Liberians that were brought in and recruited by the Kamajors out of Liberia, trained in Liberia by ECOMOG, right on Ricks Institute campus. If these are not some of the dead bodies you are looking at? You are looking at some of those individuals that were part of the STF that joined the Sierra Leone Army to come back into Freetown.

    I mean, why do you continue to give Liberia all of this hard time with accusations after accusations when you know who these people are, for God's sake? I don't understand it. So, yes, these accusations are out there and everybody is just tightlipped about it. We are not going to say anything. Finally, after everything, Kabbah goes the truth commission and says: Oh, yes, we knew about Liberians. But, you know, come on, let's be serious about this. If they had said this many years ago, Liberia would not have gone through all of these problems and Taylor would not be probably sitting before this Court talking about Liberians that he sent to Sierra Leone to fight, and one little feller what they talk about, he sends somebody called Senegalese. Charles Taylor wants to wage a war against a country, he is going to send two or three persons to do it? Let's be serious.

    So yes, there are accusations, in direct answer to your question, but it is about the presence of Liberians in Sierra Leone and fighting and carrying on.

  • Mr Griffiths, before you move on. In the last two answers the witness referred to "we". "We" sent our foreign ministers. "We" were explaining. "We" went to Burkina Faso. Now is that "we" the diplomatic royal "we", or is it persons other than Mr Taylor?

  • No, by "we", your Honour, I am referring to my government. We speak of it as "we". I am speaking as a government.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, just to tie up a loose end, given that you mentioned it, you mentioned again the polio immunisation campaign, yes?

  • Let's have a look, please, at the presidential papers at page 178. Do you have it, Mr Taylor?

  • What do we see in the second photograph on that page?

  • I am going through - I am helping here to immunise a young baby with the polio. It is called vaccination, but really it is not a needle. You open - they open a little vial and you put it in the baby's mouth. They were saying vaccination, but it is not a needle used here. It is a little vial. You open it and just drip it into the baby's mouth.

  • Yes, I am primarily interested in the date. We see that that is dated 28 December 1998, yes?

  • Yes, it is an ongoing process. This is one position on this date, but it is a campaign that runs several weeks.

  • Okay, so that is the 28th. Yes, now can we go, please, to page 292. Do you have it, Mr Taylor?

  • Now, this is entitled "A policy statement made by the Government of the Republic of Liberia on allegations against Liberia for involvement in the Sierra Leone crisis". Do you see that?

  • And it is dated 29 December, so the day after the photograph we have just looked at?

  • Now first of all, Mr Taylor, why was it felt necessary to make this statement?

  • There are ongoing barrages of accusations about Liberia. Because there are Liberians over there, so it has got to be Liberia. So again we come forth trying to be as open as we can and make this, yet again, public pronouncement about what the policies are, what we have been doing, what we will continue to do in order to be good neighbours and follow all agreements and treaties signed by not just the Mano River Union countries, but also by ECOWAS. We are totally, totally seized by this matter.

  • Now, let's look at this policy statement, shall we? Now, before we come to that, where was this statement published, Mr Taylor?

  • It was published in Monrovia, but it was widely circulated.

  • "The Government of Liberia views with disappointment and indignation suggestions and allegations by the Government of Sierra Leone that Liberia is supporting former junta/RUF forces in Sierra Leone".

    Just pause there. So the allegations were being made by the Government of Sierra Leone, were they, Mr Taylor?

  • So help me. Did you speak to Tejan Kabbah about it?

  • And what did you say to him?

  • "Well, you know this is not true. What is the problem?" He is saying, "Well, based on our intelligence we are seeing Liberians. Liberians are fighting. Our intelligence have verified the presence of Liberia fighting." By this time, quite frankly, I didn't really - I knew of the vast numbers of Liberians that were in Sierra Leone fighting. I did not at this time know that they had given them a title called Special Task Force. So all I kept telling him, I said, "Well, look, the AFL people are there. We know they are there. You know they are there", but I did not know that they had - actually, at this time I did not know they were actually hired by the Sierra Leonean government until sometime later. And he said, "Well, you know, this is what we have here, and so it is being reported." And for us, when it comes to government, whether it is the President or not, every time a senior official in a government, for example, if the minister of Defence, or let's say the press secretary to the President, whenever a senior official of government makes a statement, we attribute it to the government. We always leave that, and as long as the President does not follow up with a denial, it is a government position.

    So this was not like Tejani on the radio - President Kabbah saying, "We have got this information", no. But once it is coming from government sources that the senior government officials like the President is not issuing an immediate denial, it is the government.

  • Now, apart from the Government of Sierra Leone, was anybody else making these suggestions about Liberia at the time, Mr Taylor?

  • We also had - at one point in time Maxwell Khobe had made a similar suggestion when he became commander of the Sierra Leone forces.

  • Right:

    "The Government of Liberia reiterates unequivocally that it is not supporting in any form the forces of the AFRC or RUF in Sierra Leone."

    Let's pause again, please. Mr Taylor, had you ever had any dealings or relationship with members of the Sierra Leonean army during the junta period?

  • You accept, however, don't you, that there had been a relationship between you and the RUF?

  • That is correct.

  • And you date that relationship back to a few months in 1991/1992?

  • Had you had any relationship with them since?

  • "It is the policy of the Liberian government to welcome the restoration of constitutional rule in Sierra Leone under the leadership of the democratically elected government of President Tejan Kabbah."

    Pause again. Mr Taylor, throughout the year 1998, had you done anything in opposition to the ECOWAS policy to have Tejan Kabbah reinstated as the democratically elected President of Sierra Leone?

  • I had done nothing in opposition to that process. In fact, I had aided the process all along from the inception - by inception I am referring to from the movement of the intervention through the different meetings, through the different phone calls, through the exchange of information between President Kabbah and myself - I had done everything to aid and nothing to the contrary.

  • And had you done anything to aid and abet or support the junta regime before its removal?

  • Nothing whatsoever. In fact, let's be reminded that the two attempts made by the junta to contact me were rebuffed by me. And in reference I am referring what? I am referring to a letter written by Johnny Paul Koroma to me that I did not respond to and the second was a delegation led by the gentleman whose name I wrote on the confidential paper here that I refused to see. In fact, I rebuffed every attempt on the part of the junta to get to me because we did not recognise the junta. My government did not.

  • "The government categorically denies and takes exception to these unfounded allegations by the Government of Sierra Leone and the ECOMOG high command at the current Committee of Five meeting on Sierra Leone in Abidjan, la Cote d'Ivoire, and demands concrete proof of these allegations."

    Let's pause again. What meeting of the Committee of Five are we talking about there, Mr Taylor?

  • At a foreign ministers meeting in la Cote d'Ivoire, General Shelpidi was invited by the foreign ministers to that meeting and he raised this issue of the presence of Liberians fighting in Sierra Leone and the Liberians were involved in it. That's at the foreign ministers' level and we objected - my foreign minister vehemently objected to his suggestion that by virtue of Liberians being present and fighting in Sierra Leone that they had been sent by the government.

  • And this meeting of the foreign ministers in Cote d'Ivoire, when had that taken place?

  • That is a little - I didn't follow the foreign ministers meeting very well. That could have been somewhere in I think December or thereabouts, but by this time Shelpidi had left Liberia, so this had to be somewhere in December.

  • "The government wishes to inform the international community as a matter of fact and record, that successive regimes in Sierra Leone, from that of President Joseph Momoh to the elected government of President Tejan Kabbah, have used Liberian mercenaries, usually associated with former warring factions in Liberia, to augment their national security capacity. Even now, the Kamajor militia are using Liberian mercenaries to assist in their fight against the junta/RUF forces. We view the constant arming and use of these mercenaries as a threat to our national security and to the stability of the sub-region."

    Pause again.

  • Mr Taylor, what are you talking about there?

  • Well, let's go back to my coming into office in July of 1997. We find that the Kamajors are being trained just practically in Monrovia at a Baptist campus I have referred to here in my evidence called Ricks Institute. They are recruiting some of the combatants, the demobilised, disarmed combatants, from ULIMO-J and K and are using them to fight alongside the Kamajors. In fact, some of these combatants are being flown out of Roberts International Airport.

  • By whom?

  • By ECOMOG on ECOMOG military planes straight into Lungi airport and joining the combat. So they had two entry points: One from Robertsfield that Liberians were being flown in to fight and the second was from Ricks Institute driven to the Bo Waterside, okay.

    So what I am referring to here is that these are the people that's on the ECOMOG side and we have already spoken about beginning with Momoh coming all the way to Valentine Strasser and coming all the way to President Kabbah where Liberians are there in their thousands. And this is no secret. It is no secret now. Even some of those Liberians that fought during that time and trained are presently members of the Sierra Leone armed forces today. They are officers in that army today. We will at a later time come up with some of their names. Some of the same Liberians that they used. It has never been a secret. But they persisted on tying it to Taylor.

    So these are the mercenaries that I am talking about that had been recruited by ECOMOG and used to fight alongside the Kamajors and some of them that voluntarily had been in Sierra Leone for a long time that fought alongside the SLA that became part of the junta. So you have two different groups of Liberians in Sierra Leone fighting on the two different sides.

  • "The Government of Liberia considers this situation as grave and reiterates its call on the Kabbah government to enter meaningful dialogue with all parties to the conflict as a way of finding a peaceful and lasting solution to the Sierra Leonean crisis.

    The Liberian government further calls upon the United Nations to establish a commission of inquiry with immediate effect to investigate the circumstances leading to the involvement of all foreign nationals, including Liberians, in the Sierra Leonean civil war."

    Pause there again.

  • Mr Taylor, that reference to "all foreign nationals", was it only Liberians who were fighting along with Sierra Leoneans in Sierra Leone?

  • Well, for a short time there were accusations that, quote unquote, there were Burkinabes. We have never heard anything about that since. There were supposed to be Liberians, Burkinabes and others fighting. I used to hear and get reports where it was said Burkinabes were fighting in Sierra Leone. All of a sudden that just disappeared into thin air. We heard nothing about Burkinabes, because there were none.

    But what I was really trying to force to head here was a formal investigation to finally get to the bottom of these Liberians that are fighting in Sierra Leone. I know - I am positive - that I have not sent them, but they are there.

    How do - look, your Honours, you have no idea of what it's like to be telling the truth over and again and someone just ignore it and just say, "Well, listen, we hear you, but that's it". They know I am not responsible, but they keep talking about it. So I am trying to force an international investigation that we will get to the bottom of it. That never takes place because everybody I guess knows what's going on. That's what I am referring to here, to investigate so we can really find out who is in Sierra Leone, who has sent them there and for what reasons or purposes.

  • "The Liberian government recalls its decision to permit the deployment of ECOMOG forces at its border with Sierra Leone and the subsequent deployment of said forces. The government also recalls its request to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the deployment of UN observers at the Liberian-Sierra Leonean border.

    The Liberian government further recalls its invitation to the Sierra Leone government for a joint patrol of the Liberian-Sierra Leonean border together with Liberian security forces and ECOMOG forces.

    The Government of Liberia desires to note that in spite of all these efforts and overtures, no concrete response has been forthcoming.

    The government also recalls the accusation made by Colonel Bukari Musa of ECOMOG, that over 3,000 fighters of the defunct NPFL were being trained at Camp Naama in Liberia to assist remnants of the deposed AFRC junta fight ECOMOG. This allegation was proven to be false and baseless following an investigation carried out jointly by ECOMOG, the Liberian press and the US embassy near Monrovia."

    Mr Taylor, pause there again. Now, I recall a discussion we had about 5,000 Liberian soldiers being addressed by you prior to sallying forth and invading Sierra Leone. What's the story about this 3,000?

  • This is a different 3,000. This is a new accusation. Colonel, as we see here, Bukari Musa alleged that 3,000 men are being trained at Camp Naama to carry out military operations in Sierra Leone. We are again shocked and stunned by this and we go into emergency mode right away.

    So immediately I asked the special representative of the Secretary-General to get in touch with the Secretary-General and inform him that we want to conduct - since this is in Liberia, let's conduct an investigation. We get the United States government involved, okay, through the embassy near Monrovia, and we get ECOMOG involved almost immediately. So the United States embassy near Monrovia sends its military attache.

  • Who is that?

  • He is Colonel Dempsey and I am glad that even documents of that investigation have been presented by the Prosecution at a limited level, but at least it covers the substance of Colonel Dempsey's own investigation where he states in fact there is no such training going on there. But we go there with the press, Colonel Dempsey is there, the special representative of the Secretary-General is there, my defence minister. Everyone goes there on the spot, searched the entire base. There is no evidence of any action or military activities going on at that base in terms of training for years. They leave and come, hold a press conference and make a full statement that it is totally false. But we are lucky in this instance because it is in Liberia and we can press immediately to investigate and that's the end of this 3,000 situation. After that investigation it ends.

  • Can you help us with a detail in relation to that; a possible month when that occurred?

  • This accusation must be round about the middle of '98 or thereabouts. That's about in that area when everything is being whipped up about what Liberia is supposed to be doing. The 5,000 you know that comes on a little later and then there is the 3,000. So it is just about in that - you know, these accusations come in waves and you just have sleepless nights trying to straighten them out.

  • And Dempsey is spelt D-E-M-P-S-E-Y, yes?

  • Colonel Dempsey, military attache at the US embassy in Monrovia?

  • "The Liberian government wishes to draw attention to the statement of the United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State For Africa, Ambassador Vicky Huddleston, that there is no evidence that the Liberian government is involved in aiding the war in Sierra Leone."

    Pause there. When had the United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa made that statement, Mr Taylor?

  • I would say that had to be somewhere by - I would put it to the last quarter of '98. In one of her statements she had said that there is no evidence that the United States government has physically to prove that Liberia is involved in Sierra Leone.

  • Now, when you as the President of Liberia hear the phrase "no evidence", what do you as a President take that to include?

  • They don't have any proof. They don't have anything substantial to stand on. That is my interpretation.

  • Well, Mr Taylor, as the President of Liberia, what did you understand to be the evidence gathering capability of the world's then only superpower, the United States of America? What were they capable of having in terms of proof?

  • Well, let me just put it this way and remind the Court. If you remember the Roosevelt Johnson Monrovia situation, it is mentioned that the USS Chinook is off the Liberian coast. Now, I am not a military person, but from my little knowledge you would know that when - and that, according to the statement of President Clinton, was part of a sister ship in the area.

    Now, the United States has massive intelligence gathering capabilities, intercepts of radio, telephone messages and even, at that particular time from my own experience in dealing with intelligence operations - because our own people are very well trained - during the crisis in Liberia at that time it was our understanding that the United States government at that time had dedicated - this is what the intelligence community called it - had dedicated a satellite look on into that particular region. So from an intelligence perspective, wherever you have crisis going on, satellites can be directed and can be focused on particular areas for the gathering of intelligence.

    Now, this is - I don't know. I mean, this is just general intelligence information. There is nothing specific, but it is done. So Liberia, Sierra Leone, that region at that time was a point of interest, it is called. That was a point of interest, and so a satellite was dedicated - or at least a time of the day was dedicated to looking into that particular area. So I gave this explanation.

    Now to answer your question directly: If the United States with that capacity that was there - it was not coming; it was there - and the purpose there was to pick up this kind of information. Had anything, then they would have said it. Even now that I am before this Court, they would still make it available. Even if they had to declassify it, I think they should do it in the interests of justice. If they have any intercepts, I think they should bring them. Do you understand me? Because we have heard about radio. There is no way any human on this earth would believe there is radio traffic or telephone traffic in that area that the United States military presence in that area would not pick up. They would pick up.

    So when she said this, for me it is a type of vindication. In other words, she was saying that, "We do not have anything physically in hand to prove this." And we stated it here - it is factual. Because if it was not factual, if I had, as President, quoted the Assistant Secretary of State of United States as saying something that was not true, the United States government would have come out immediately and said that it was not true.

    Now, we can go and search for the statement, but the way that governments operate: If any country or anyone says something that was not stated by an official of a government, it is denied immediately. So this is factual, and what she is referring to, I am sure, is that they had no intelligence, because they had the assets in the region and they would have picked it up.

  • Now you go on to say this:

    "The government wishes to also point to the results of an independent investigation conducted by Colonel Dempsey, military attache at the US embassy in Monrovia, which found no evidence of the alleged involvement of the Liberian government in the Sierra Leonean conflict".

    Did you see such a report, Mr Taylor?

  • There was a full report that I don't have. You know, I don't know why it is not in my archives, because the government - maybe it may still be in the Executive Mansion in Monrovia. But a full report was done by the committee. Let me not lose point of this. I said to you that it was a full delegation that went, including the United Nations special representative, Colonel Dempsey, my defence minister. So it was a delegation, and they did a full report.

  • Sorry, Mr Griffiths, in an earlier answer Mr Taylor referred to the entire base and he has just now said "they" went there. Are we again referring to Camp Naama, which was raised earlier?

  • They - by "they" I mean the delegation comprising Colonel Dempsey, my defence minister, the special representative of the Secretary-General Downes-Thomas. Also present was senior officers from ECOMOG and the entire national and international press corp went to Camp Naama to view what had been alleged by Colonel Bukari Musa about the 3,000 troops. And upon return, that delegation did a full written report for the government. I do not have a copy. All we have - and we are very lucky - is that the Prosecution has provided a brief statement that they claim is not fully declassified by Colonel Dempsey, who states that there was no evidence of military activities at that particular base.

  • Now --

  • Mr Griffiths, is this a Prosecution exhibit, or not?

  • It is not a Prosecution exhibit. It is a document which we have included in our bundle which - there are still certain preliminaries to be sorted out in terms - prior to its admission into evidence.

  • But it was provided by the Prosecution.

  • Now, was - you specified Colonel Dempsey there in that paragraph, Mr Taylor. Was his investigation limited merely to the training of recruits at Camp Naama, or did it go further and deal with any other issue?

  • Colonel Dempsey dealt with other issues.




  • And you have seen this in a report provided by the Prosecution?

  • Yes, I have seen it, I have read it, I have copies of it.

  • It was my understanding that the witness had said he had seen this in an investigative report that was carried out. Now, if we are getting into issues relating to what was disclosed to the defence, the Defence has been put on full notice that we need to go into closed session, and that is based on a ruling by this Trial Chamber, of which we have recently reminded the Defence, and that ruling of the Trial Chamber was dated 2 November 2007 relating to disclosure of Rule 70 material.

  • I see. What do you say to that objection, Mr Griffiths?

  • I don't press the matter any further then in the circumstances, Mr President.

  • I think we need redactions, if indeed they are talking about that disclosure based on the protective measures order relating to the contents of that disclosure.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • Ms Hollis, perhaps you could assist us. We don't have a copy of that order in front of us, but what would you be seeking to redact from the record?

  • If I can have just a moment to look at the particular reference?

  • I know these pages are different, but there is a question from lead Defence counsel - on my record it is page 22 beginning at line 20 - where he asked about an investigation and he says, "Was his investigation limited merely to the training of recruits at Camp Naama, or did it go further and deal with any other issue?" The answer is, "Colonel Dempsey dealt with other issues. He said there was no training going on there".

    Now, he indicates - they seem to indicate that it is not coming from the investigative report, but rather from the disclosure. Based on that, the Prosecution would ask that from our line 23 on page 22 where the accused begins to deal with what was in - what information Colonel Dempsey provided - and I don't want to repeat it - but he says he dealt with other issues, and then he talks about what those other issues are, and that goes on in our LiveNote to page 23 just before the final sentence saying, "These were his comments in that report." So it would be that context that we are talking about.

  • Well, we would --

  • I will just make that clear, what area of the transcript we are talking about. What is the last line of that passage?

  • Mr President, the last for us is page 23 of our - of my transcript and it is - the redaction would go up to this sentence - this sentence would not necessarily have to be redacted: "These were his comments in that report". So it would be the information up to that point. And I know we have different pages and lines, but --

  • I see. I think you have made that very clear, but let's just put it beyond any doubt. You are seeking redaction of the testimony of the witness that begins, "He said that there was", et cetera, and ending in, "These were his comments in that report"?

  • Yes, thank you, Ms Hollis. Mr Griffiths, you wanted to say something?

  • We would object to that, Mr President, and for this reason: We have here - this arises in the context of a statement made by the witness as long ago as 29 December 1998 in which he specifically refers to an independent investigation conducted by Colonel Dempsey, military attache at the United States embassy in Monrovia. Now it seems to me that he is perfectly entitled to speak to the content of such an investigation and it seems to us that this is not dependent on any disclosure given to us by the Prosecution and one asks in the circumstances, looking at the passage which my learned friend suggests should be deleted from the public record, what is the prejudice caused to the Prosecution by the inclusion of that information? We find it difficult to see how in any sense the Prosecution can be said to be prejudiced in any way.

    Now it may well be that the United States government might be prejudiced by the disclosure of certain information we have received from the Prosecution, but in our submission the question here for your Honours is what is the prejudice caused to the Prosecution - to the parties to the litigation as opposed to a third party? In our submission there is no prejudice whatsoever to the Prosecution by that passage remaining on the record and consequently we would object to any redaction in the terms submitted by my learned friend.

  • I normally wouldn't give the objecting party a right of reply to a reply, but in view of the nature of Mr Griffiths's reply I will hear you, Ms Hollis.

  • Thank you, Mr President. I appreciate the opportunity. It is not an issue of prejudice to the Prosecution. It is an issue of Rule 70 materials and what may be provided and in what circumstances it may be provided. The order that was issued, and I do have one copy, I am sorry I don't have more than one, but I do have one copy, makes it very clear that there were very limited circumstances for the use of the material that was disclosed and that any additional use would have to be subject to permission of the United States government.

    So it is not a matter - this issue is not prejudice to the Prosecution. It is fully within Rule 70 and what is permitted to be disclosed under what circumstances and with what preceding requirements met.

  • As I say, I do have one copy of that decision. We have reminded the Defence of this decision, so they should be on notice of it, but if you would like this copy I am certainly willing to provide it to you.

  • Well, thank you, Ms Hollis. Our legal officer has solved the problem by getting us a copy on LiveNote.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • Well, I don't think this is in issue, but just to make it quite clear the order deals with certain Rule 68 material and the current dispute involves material that falls within that definition covered by the order. Is that correct?

  • That is correct, Mr President.

  • I don't accept that, Mr President. I suggest that this has nothing whatsoever to do with that order. We are dealing with the testimony of the witness concerning a speech he made in December 1998 in which he mentioned a report by Colonel Dempsey. That should be looked at separately and independently from any disclosure made by the Prosecution and covered by the ruling of this Court on 2 November.

    We cannot hide the fact that in this paragraph that we are looking at the witness himself, before any indictment was issued against him, made mention of this report by Colonel Dempsey. This is quite separate.

  • [Trial Chamber conferred]

  • We see here that the material complained about is a mixture of matters within the accused's own knowledge and also matters that are covered by an order made by this Trial Chamber on 2 November 2007 relating to Rule 70 material, so we uphold the objection and grant the request for redaction, but we think justice will be done to both parties if the passage that we order to be redacted can be repeated in closed session if the Defence wishes.

    So what we are saying is - Madam Court Manager, did you get the passage that needs to be redacted? What were saying is we will redact that passage that has been objected to by the Prosecution and then we are prepared to close the Court if Defence counsel wishes to extract the same material from this witness in closed session.

    Ms Hollis, you have made it very clear the passage you want redacted. If you go back to that passage there are three lines under that that seem to relate to the passage that you want redacted. Are you happy for those to stay on the public record?

  • And we are talking about after "these were his comments"?

  • The passage that you want redacted ends in "these were comments in that report" and then if you read the next three lines --

  • It is a question, yes.

  • Yes, that would also have to be, in our view, not in the public record.

  • Yes, we share the same view.

  • We will send this back, Madam Court Manager. If you could add to the passage that you have already highlighted, the next three lines as well starting --

  • I beg your indulgence. This is very piecemeal, I am sorry, but if we look beyond the question and then we look to the answer, "but let's add on" something else that he said would be redacted, so it would be the three line question, the two line answer and then the three line question.

  • We need to hurry otherwise the redaction won't happen.

  • The added material --

  • If we go down to the line that says, "There appeared not to be" because above that are restatements of that.

  • I see. It is an extra seven lines. Madam Court Manager, you should extend the redaction down to the answer which reads, "There appeared not to be". Is that clear? All right, thank you. I have been told by the booth that the time for the redaction is rapidly running out.

    The Trial Chamber has signed an order redacting the passage we have been discussing. Now, Mr Griffiths, at some stage do you want us to close the Court so that you can adduce that evidence again from the witness?

  • Yes, please.

  • I would prefer that we do it now whilst the matter is still fresh in mind.

  • Are we talking about a closed session or a private session?

  • Well, whichever is easiest to accomplish, Mr President.

  • I think a private session will meet the bill. What do you say?

  • Mr President, I would suggest that what has happened now is that this has been redacted from the public record. But it would still be a part of the confidential record, would it not? Or has it been --

  • Yes.

  • It has completely gone from the record?

  • It has completely gone in the same way a mistake would go off the record.

  • But that stays as part of the confidential record, does it not?

  • We can find out from Madam Court Manager.

  • Madam Court Manager, the enquiry is now that that passage has been redacted, does that appear on the confidential court record, or has it been completely expunged altogether?

  • Your Honour, it would appear on the confidential court record.

  • Given that, it would appear the information is already on the record before your Honours in a confidential matter, so perhaps you don't need to have it repeated.

  • There would be some sense in that, Mr Griffiths. After all, we are not seeking to protect any individual person's identity. It deals specifically with Rule 70 information. It is on the record anyway - on the confidential record.

  • Can I just enquire this, because I would like to be able to proceed with my examination of the witness without any risk of overstepping any boundaries. Is it the case now that I cannot ask him anything at all about this paragraph in the statement he made in December 1998?

  • In public.

  • Yes. Because, as we said, it touches on the order we have made as well.

  • So if I want to ask any further questions on this paragraph, it has to be done in closed session?

  • We will make it a private session.

  • Well, I would like to ask the witness further questions about this.

  • All right. Well, you have got no objection to going into private session for this, Ms Hollis?

  • Our position on it is quite simply if the witness is talking about his recollection of the report that was made back in - during this time period in Liberia, the report that was made and he read, we have no objection to that.

    If the witness is testifying based on what he has read that has been provided under Rule 68, we have an objection to that. The objection is twofold: First of all, it must be in closed session pursuant to the protective measures order; but secondly, he has no right to refer to that unless there is further permission given by the United States government for its use beyond the Rule 68 disclosure.

    So it is really a twofold issue: If it is based on his recollection of the report, we see that as a separate matter; if it is based on the materials that were disclosed pursuant to Rule 68, that is covered by the protective measures order. That is the Prosecution's position on that.

  • Ms Hollis, if his testimony is based on his recollection of what he read as then President, would you object to that being held in open session?

  • Well, what do you say to that, Mr Griffiths?

  • I am happy to limit my questions to the witness's knowledge at the time in December 1998 and not trespass into any area touched by the decision made by this Court in November 2007. I am happy for that - to adopt that course.

  • All right. Well, I don't see why we need to go into private session at all if you limit your questions as you have just indicated.

  • I will limit my questions to that.

  • All right. Well go ahead, Mr Griffiths.

  • Mr Taylor, you appreciate I am only interested in your knowledge in December 1998, okay?

  • In December of 1998, were you aware of a statement made by the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Ambassador Vicky Huddleston?

  • And what was that statement made by the Assistant Secretary of State?

  • The Assistant Secretary of State said that there was no evidence of Liberia's involvement in the war in Sierra Leone, and I quote her.

  • And help us, please, Mr Taylor. When was that statement made by the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, roughly?

  • Roughly I would say that is about the - I would say the third quarter. Around about the third quarter of 1998.

  • Now help us, Mr Taylor. When you made this statement on 29 December 1998, were you telling the truth when you said that such a statement had been made by the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa?

  • Yes, I was telling the truth. And if I was not telling the truth at the time, I can assure you the United States government would have spoken out immediately, stating that that was not a correct statement, as they normally do - as all governments do.

  • Now, you go on to say in this policy statement:

    "The government wishes to also point to the results of an independent investigation conducted by Colonel Dempsey, military attache at the US embassy in Monrovia."

    Now, help us. Had you seen such a report attributed to Colonel Dempsey?

  • Yes. Let me just clarify this whole thing. When this delegation of Colonel Dempsey, the special representative of the Secretary-General, at that particular time in Liberia, Ambassador Downes-Thomas, the ECOMOG officers, my defence minister, they - by "they", this delegation, went to Camp Naama. But at this particular time there are numerous accusations: One includes the training of people; one includes the movement of arms across the border; and the third includes diamonds traffic that I am supposed to be involved in.

    This particular delegation go, but they investigate the entire situation and in these reports, as was done, each person on that delegation representing the entity that he is coming from make their comments. They have individual comments, but there is a final conclusion on the report. What I am quoting here are the comments that were made by Colonel Dempsey in that report and I am adding - I say, well, I don't have a copy of that report here, and then blah, blah, blah. Before I mentioned a reference that I don't want to mention again. But the fact of the matter is I am referring to comments made in that report by Colonel Dempsey at the time of the investigation by all of the parties, just as the special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General made comments, my defence minister made comments. So each of their own observation is a part of the report. There is one report with different observations and a conclusion made. I am referring to his observations in that report.

  • And what were his observations in that report, Mr Taylor?

  • What Colonel Dempsey has said in that report was that there was no evidence of training activities at Camp Naama for several years.

  • He also said that there was some indication - he said that there are indications that small arms have been going across the border into Sierra Leone.

  • Small arms?

  • Small quantity of arms in small amounts that did not appear to be at any official level.

  • And thirdly, he said that because diamonds are so small, it is possible that there is diamond movement between Liberia and Sierra Leone and that the President of Liberia could be involved. These were the three areas of his comments.

  • And these were comments made by him when?

  • These were comments made by him upon return in 1998 on that delegation to Camp Naama.

  • Mr Griffiths, were these the findings of the whole committee, or just Colonel Dempsey's own comments?

  • You have heard the question, Mr Taylor.

  • These were Colonel Dempsey's own comments. There were other comments, your Honour. Each member of that delegation in his own assessment were contained as an attachment, and there was a full report at that particular time which mentioned - mostly they were dealing with Colonel Bukari's accusation. But each person - Downes-Thomas made his own observation; my defence minister made his own observation.

  • Did you say Colonel Bukari's accusations?

  • If we look at Colonel Bukari Musa in the second paragraph.

  • Mr Taylor, what were the conclusions reached by the other persons who conducted that investigation?

  • They also concluded that there was no evidence of any training. They concurred that there was evidence of small arms moving across the border. There was a difference of opinion on diamonds because nobody knew for real, but the general opinion was that there was no training and that there were some small arms movement across the border that appeared not to be at an official level.

  • Now, the small quantities of arms that were moving across the border, Mr Taylor, was that attributed to anyone?

  • Yes. They did recognise that it was in part caused by and through ex-combatants that were in the Lofa area at the particular time. And don't let's forget Camp Naama - Camp Naama that we have talked about, while it is right on the tip end of Bong County as we enter Lofa County, they did recognise that it had to be by and through combatants, and I think they interviewed combatants, and maybe this has slipped us.

    This is not just one snapshot. They conducted a full investigation. This whole process took about a week or two. It was not just - we jumped on the issue immediately to get it going, but they did not just run up to Naama and come back and say "finished". No, they questioned a lot of people and came up, you know, with a report.

  • And help us, Mr Taylor. Which - the ex-combatants in Lofa County, did they belong to any particular faction?

  • And we will recall, of course, that salute report mentioning a trade between Sam Bockarie and ULIMO for arms?

  • Do you recall that?

  • And so the general conclusion was small quantities going over the border originating from ex-combatants, yes?

  • Let's go back to this document, shall we:

    "The Government of Liberia has demonstrated a great deal of patience and employed the highest form of diplomacy in the face of these unwarranted accusations through the following actions and activities: (1) Maintained an open line of contact and direct dialogue with President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah aimed at building confidence between Liberia and Sierra Leone".

    Pause. Had you done that?

  • Mr Taylor, help us. Just remind us, please, how regularly were you in touch with President Kabbah of Sierra Leone during 1998?

  • I would put it - well, let's just say not just how regularly I was in contact. I think how regularly were we in contact, because Tejan Kabbah also called me on many occasions. There was a need to call type of situation of course, if there was something we would call. We did not have a regular schedule to say well, we will call each other every week or every day, but on an average if we had crisis we would intensify the number of calls. If we didn't have any crisis there would not be any real need except we just wanted to chat and say, "How are you doing?" I would put it to crisis maybe we may talk about maybe once every day, or no crisis maybe a week, after every week or two we might communicate, but it was not a regular situation. It depended on the situation at hand.

  • And just remind us, in the second half of 1998 from about July on how many occasions had you actually sat down physically in the presence of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and talked?

  • Well, we will have to look at the number of meetings, because at each of those meetings there were side bars between he and myself. So the ECOWAS meetings we would talk, the Mano River Union meetings we would talk. So depending upon the number of meetings held within that period we would be - don't forget he came to Liberia and we talked. So I would say side bar talks would be around three to four times that we actually sat face to face. That's in Monrovia, we sat in Abuja, we sat together again in Conakry. So I would say that's three, it could be as many as four times face to face discussions.

  • Secondly:

    "Dispatched at least four high level presidential delegations to Freetown to hold talks with President Kabbah and Sierra Leonean officials within the past year."

    Are you in a position to help us with those delegations, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, I will help a little bit. I will help a little bit, because these are low level delegates, security people going in and talking. I remember my minister of national security Philip Kamah went in. I sent a former foreign minister D Musuleng-Cooper I think in once. If I am not mistaken the foreign minister. But these are at the ministerial level. I can't help with the exact times, but as I am stating here I am sorry I don't have the physical record before me, but I think the last one that is referred to in recent days that we talked about was the dispatching of the minister of national security, General Philip Kamah, but there are these ongoing talks all of the time.

  • "Hosted President Kabbah in Monrovia for a one day summit with US President Bill Clinton's special envoy for Africa Reverend Jesse Jackson in attendance."

    When had that taken place, Mr Taylor?

  • That is around July. Around July '98.

  • "President Taylor visited Conakry, Guinea, twice in the past six months and on both occasions held a one day summit with President Tejan Kabbah and Lansana Conte at the second summit last November Reverend Jesse Jackson was again in attendance."

    Again, Mr Taylor, is that true?

  • Oh, yes, yes, that is true.

  • So, Mr Taylor, let us just remind ourselves. We are in 1998, a key year so far as this indictment is concerned. You appreciate that, don't you?

  • Now, Mr Taylor, during that key year were you first of all in constant contact with President Kabbah?

  • Constant contact. Constant contact.

  • Secondly, when did the accusations of Liberian involvement in Sierra Leone start?

  • That would be all the way back to 1991, if you look at it.

  • But in 1998 was there a watershed point when such accusations began in earnest?

  • Oh, '98, I would say after the - after the intervention by ECOMOG and the so-called Liberians that were captured and killed, and/or killed, I think that's when there was a massive escalation in the accusations. I would put it to that level as a high point in '98.

  • And within those overall accusations, first of all the accusation of 3,000 individuals being trained at Camp Naama, that was investigated and dismissed, is that right?

  • The accusation that there were 5,000 Liberians being addressed by you, ready to go over the border, again that was investigated and dismissed?

  • The accusation that arms were going over the border into Sierra Leone, that was investigated and some evidence was forthcoming that small quantities were indeed going over the border from ex-combatants?

  • And that investigation had been conducted in part by the United States embassy themselves?

  • Accusations were also forthcoming about diamonds, yes?

  • And it was suggested that there was some evidence that such a trade was going on?

  • So that by the back end of 1998, that particularly important year when you were making this statement, you were able to state quite categorically what the United States' position was and what steps you had taken over that year to remedy the situation. Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • Let's go on:

    "In conclusion the Government of Liberia recognises that its security and stability are inextricably bound together with those of the brotherly state of Sierra Leone. The government has accordingly been most anxious for durable peace to be restored to the Republic of Sierra Leone. Towards this goal, the following national security policy measures are being pursued:

    (1) The containment or limitation of the fighting to Sierra Leone through the non-support of belligerent forces and the stationing of Liberian security forces along the Sierra Leonean border to prevent any spill over of the conflict onto our territory."

    Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • That is right.

  • Secondly:

    "The advocacy of a peaceful approach to the resolution of the conflict and the discouragement of the use of military force against dissident forces."

    Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • And what did you mean by that?

  • Well, what we were trying to do was to make sure we did not take dialogue off the table and to discourage the view that this had to be a purely military situation as opposed to what ECOWAS had recommended.

  • "The closure of our border with Sierra Leone and the deployment of military and paramilitary forces to work with ECOMOG to prevent spill over of the conflict.

    (4) The appeal to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross to prepare for emergency humanitarian service to Sierra Leoneans who may come across the border into Liberia.

    Liberia is cognisant of the role it is called upon to play as an honest broker in the Sierra Leonean conflict and feels confident that it can effectively perform this onerous task. However, a crisis of confidence is being created by these uncorroborated allegations thereby making this task more difficult to achieve.

    As a result of this situation, Liberia may be prepared to recuse itself from the process until such time when the crisis of confidence is resolved."

    What did you mean by that, Mr Taylor?

  • By this time we are annoyed, we are frustrated and all I said was, "Well, fine". Since we are working for peace, we are on this now, it is the Committee of Six, and let me tell you what I mean. After President Eyadema takes over at the last meeting in November, Togo now becomes number six. It becomes the Committee of Six.

    I've said, "Look, I am doing my best. There are no Liberians involved in Sierra Leone that I have sent. These accusations just continue to abound, so what I'm going to do, I am going to withdraw from the committee. Liberia will have nothing else to do with this committee. We will just withdraw from it and sit down. We will try as best as we can, lock our borders and forget about it".

    Of course ECOWAS, the OAU, everybody objected and they had a special meeting and said, "No, we can't let you go, we need you", but we are just frustrated, okay. This now has occurred to us, you know, I just have to use this example, it is almost like a cruise missile when you programme it, you give all the coordinates and you launch it and it is flying 500 or a thousand miles and it's going to go and hit the target, you can't call it back and say please come back.

    Apparently the goal had been set for Liberia and Taylor and nothing mattered. We were just - I am being very honest. We were just frustrated, we were tired, we had had enough of it. No matter what we were doing we were meeting up with these difficulties. We were at every meeting, we were making proposals, we were doing our best and we just could not understand and we said we are going to recuse ourselves, we are going to withdraw and sit down and watch you. Of course they did not let us do that, but it just shows our frustration.

  • "Meanwhile the Committee of Five on Sierra Leone has mandated Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso to establish the key points of the communique. According to sources in the Abidjan, this new development came about following a closed door meeting of the committee, immediately after the joint communique was issued."

    Mr Taylor, when had that occurred?

  • Well, this is following that - I think it was a foreign ministers' meeting when they met after hearing our decision to recuse ourselves. You can say they jump right up and say, "No, no, no, you Liberia, go and do that" and started mandating us. All the members here now, for the information of the Court, la Cote d'Ivoire is a member of that Committee of Five, Burkina Faso now is on - it is not a member of the committee, but Burkina Faso is now holding the chairmanship of the OAU and so right away an official from that government is also now a part of the delegation, but not an official member of the committee.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, sometimes it is necessary to make obvious points. Now, help us. In December of 1998, did you foresee that you would be facing trial years later on these allegations?

  • So, help us. When you were saying way back then that you had been mandated to establish contact with the junta/RUF forces which you have told us about in evidence yesterday, who had mandated you to do that, Mr Taylor?

  • Again, it is ECOWAS. ECOWAS through the Committee of Five, and here we are. Here are the individuals that have been - they've said it here.

  • Yes. So, Mr Taylor, when you were meeting with Sam Bockarie and representatives of the RUF in the last quarter of 1998, why were you doing it?

  • I was doing it based on the mandate given to me by ECOWAS.

  • And, Mr Taylor, during those contacts with Bockarie, were you, as the President of Liberia, providing him with arms and ammunition or any other kind of war-like support?

  • None whatsoever. None.

  • Now, at or about this time in December 1998, Mr Taylor, did you have cause to communicate with the American President?

  • I wrote a letter to then President Clinton.

  • Again talking about the Sierra Leonean problem and the role that we had played and the role that we would continue to play, and also telling him that we would work with his special envoy, Reverend Jackson, in line with what he has sent him to the region to do.

  • Now, we have noted that the policy statement you made was dated 29 December 1998?

  • Let us now, please, look behind our divider 28? What do we see behind that divider, Mr Taylor?

  • That is the letter dated December 30 that I wrote to President Clinton.

  • Help us: Why did you write this letter?

  • Again, we are dealing with Sierra Leone. In this letter we talk about, in fact, some ideas that I have and that - some of the things that are lodged in our minds as we go through these discussions, and we speak to them about the presence of Reverend Jackson and our determination to working along with our Mano River Union colleagues.

  • Let's have a look at the letter, shall we?

    "Dear Mr President, I cannot fully emphasise the utility, role and performance of your Excellency's Special Envoy, the Reverend Jesse Lee Jackson, at our recent gathering in Conakry, Guinea, of the Heads of State of the Mano River Union" - now, we have looked at that meeting, haven't we?

  • Yes, we have.

  • "...for consideration of the Sierra Leone crisis. That meeting was characterised by frankness in our exchanges of views. I seized the opportunity to offer my fellow colleagues and the Honourable Jesse Jackson my sincere assurances that I would do all I can in furtherance of our decision. I wish to extend those assurances to you, Mr President.

    My analysis and deep instinct, as regard the continuing crisis of Sierra Leone, lead me in the direction of viewing this national problem as a struggle for our consolidation of power - its use, its emphasis, who exercises it and how that power is used - by those associated with President Kabbah."

    What do you mean by that, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, President Kabbah is in a very tight spot. You have got competing interests and, you know, Presidents have this problem all the time. You have this interest, you've got this advice and this other person telling you what is proper. Here is a man that was thrown out of the country through a coup d'etat. He has been brought back to the country. His army is in shambles. There is a part of the army that is loyal to him; there is a part of the army now that is the junta, and you wouldn't have to buy advice at this time. They come in all shapes, all sizes and all colours.

    And so I am trying to say here that there are these competing interests around President Kabbah now that have him in a position where he - it appears to be more about them and how they exercise power than what they want, I mean, as he as President. So I am just drawing this attention.

  • "Doubtless you are aware that he is considered by all his neighbouring colleagues of our sub-region as the legitimately elected leader who has been pledged their categorical support. Thus, I am of the view that President Kabbah can demonstrate sagacity by entering into a firm and constructive partnership, or, should he choose or otherwise, to negate the judgment, as they relate to certain realities, and in the process, isolate and endanger his government."

    What do you mean by that?

  • Well, there are people telling him that, "Well, we are going to have to fight it to the end". He has agreed with ECOWAS that we should negotiate. There is the committee negotiating, we are mandated to do certain things. We are on that side. The OAU supports the view. But he is also getting advice that, "No, don't worry about it. If you see some documents just pass through a couple of days ago, let's build the CDF. Let's get more people. Let's fight. Let's fight". So we are trying to get him to dialogue and trying to get together a government of national unity to unify the people, in a way, to keep his government from being destroyed. Because this fight seemed to be an ongoing fight, and using our own experience, we probably would have still been fighting in Liberia if we did not sit down and come to some agreement.

    So I am just pushing here that he needs to demonstrate this desire and ability to being able to call in these people and begin a process of talking, as we have been mandated to do. We have already been asked to begin to contact the junta and RUF forces. The committee is about to work, so we just think that he should help this particular process.

  • Now, over the page, please:

    "My worry, Mr President, is the consequences that could follow if the adopted course of action is continued: There could be substantial deflexion from his army to that of the RUF, a development that may, in part, be the unwelcome intrusion of the Nigerian army under the leadership of Mr Hinga Norman, the deputy minister of defence of Sierra Leone, who is the de facto head of that ministry."

    What does all that mean?

  • Well, President Kabbah is minister of defence and President. He holds those two portfolios. We all know that. Now you have the Nigerian army. The commander of Nigerian forces in Sierra Leone now becomes the commander of the Sierra Leone army. That is a strange mixture. Some of us in the background are calling for Khobe to sever his command of these ECOMOG forces and really stay with the Sierra Leonean government. But in the background, some heads are beginning to shake. Diplomatically - I am not sure how many governments went through this pressure, but diplomatically some of our big western friends are concerned now about a Nigerian officer commanding the Sierra Leonean army.

    So I am trying to really hint here that this strange fusing of - fusion between the armed forces of Sierra Leone and the armed forces of Nigeria under the command of General Khobe, taking instructions through the minister of defence in Sierra Leone, is just too complex and I am trying to suggest that there could be a problem coming here.

  • Why do you say there could be substantial deflexion from his army to that of the RUF?

  • Well, you are talking about people that are nationalistic and they now - remember, there has been fighting. Some of these guys have been fighting the ECOMOG Nigerian forces, and all of a sudden there is a Nigerian now coming to command them. Some of them would not take it.

  • "I am inclined to use my good offices as has been proposed, but I would advance the first suggestion: A suspension of the trials; that a solution be sought outside the reprisal of killing; and that negotiations be commenced without further delay".

    Pause. "I am inclined to use my good offices as has been proposed". What did you mean by that?

  • Well, let's go back to the Committee of Five. Remember, we have been asked specifically to contact the RUF and the junta. This is an authorisation from ECOWAS, so that is our good offices, that it had been proposed that we do that. While going about to enter these very crucial negotiations, don't forget we are at a time that - what has happened? Foday Sankoh has been found guilty and he has been sentenced to death by hanging, okay? So we are now asked to go into these very intensive negotiations with the junta and the RUF by ECOWAS and the OAU. We are beginning to make these contacts.

    Don't forget, we are lucky because Sam Bockarie has already - we have already established contact with Bockarie. We have given, okay, a residence, you know, a house in Monrovia. So that contact is a very good start for everybody to move in, and all of a sudden we look at a situation where we are about to have hangings. So I am saying that, "Look, you cannot be talking peace in the middle of the peace process where there is serious combat going on, and at the same time you are trying people and executing people. It doesn't make sense. There is a time for everything under the heavens, and my whole idea is there will be time for that. But let's get this particular process going, let's get back to the negotiation table. Let's get the disarmament going on. Let's get the demobilisation. How do you tell a guy, "Put your gun down, come to the peace table," when you are still killing them by trying and hanging? So this what I am talking about here.

  • Mr Taylor, again let me ask the obvious question. When you were writing to President Clinton at the back end of December 1998, did you know that you would be facing trial a few years later?

  • Not in my wildest dreams, no, no, no.

  • Now, had you contacted Sam Bockarie as alleged because you had your own devious intentions in Sierra Leone, or had you been proposed as someone to use his good offices to make such contact? Which is right?

  • I am already on the committee. I am already authorised. It is even extended here, so the latter is correct. It is already extended here, because first we are dealing with the - on the Committee of Five we are dealing with what? The RUF. If you look at this ECOWAS thing now, we have the junta RUF; so in other words, they have expanded the scope of this particular participation now to include the junta. So I am doing nothing outside of that which I have been asked and mandated to do. Nothing more; nothing less.

  • And is this why you are writing to the President of the United States in these terms on 30 December 1998, Mr Taylor?

  • That is perfectly correct.

  • "It will please me immensely, Mr President, if an early response from you is registered. With sentiments and my highest consideration and esteem."

    Now, did you get a response to that letter, Mr Taylor?

  • I got a response through Reverend Jackson, because he was in and out. Some of these letters, once they go in, they are seen and reviewed, and I spoke to Reverend Jackson afterward about it.

  • Now before I forget, can I ask, please, that this letter be marked for identification. Letter from President Taylor, as he then was, to President Bill Clinton dated 30 December 1998, MFI-64, please.

  • Yes, that document is marked MFI-64 for identification.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, you have told us about accusations being made about your involvement in Sierra Leone by, amongst others, the Sierra Leonean government?

  • That is correct.

  • Now, what about ECOMOG? Did ECOMOG make any such accusations about you?

  • Well, the commander - the forces commander - and we don't want to speak about it in terms of ECOMOG, because ECOMOG is a West African force and for any formal accusation to come out, it would have to be approved by the Heads of State. The forces commander who had just left Liberia, General Timothy Shelpidi, in a report to the foreign ministers' Committee of Five meeting, mentioned the presence of Liberian fighters in Sierra Leone that had been fighting alongside the junta forces.

  • And you are saying it was General Shelpidi who made such a comment, Mr Taylor?

  • Have you seen a copy of that comment?

  • Yes, General Shelpidi - there is a compilation of ECOMOG information. It is an information gathering publication that they do similar to one that was done by the embassy of Nigeria that we saw earlier, something similar to this. There was an ECOMOG publication on a quarterly basis, and this was contained in the last quarter report as they met the foreign ministers. I have seen that report. It includes not just his - all of the press releases from ECOMOG about the activities in Sierra Leone. It is a compilation, as I say, about three months' work of the last quarter of 1998.

  • Could the witness please be shown the document behind divider 30:

  • Is there the document you are talking about, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, this is the compilation, yes.

  • Let's go over to the second page and look at the contents page. Item number 1 we see is, "ECOMOG gets new chief press information Officer." Then 2, "ECOMOG force commander inspects troops in Sierra Leone." Then we see, "Force commander ends marathon appraisal tour of operation." Then 5, "Alleged airlift of over 2,100 Liberians by ECOMOG." "ECOMOG and the Camp Johnson Road incident." Going a bit further down: "14, block arms flow to restore peace; 15, enforce embargo on Liberia to block arms flow to rebels: General Shelpidi".

    Do you see that, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I do.

  • "SAJ Musa fatally wounded: May have died", yes?

  • Now, let's start, please, at page 8. Yes, Mr Taylor?

  • Now, this is a press release which goes back to October of 1998. Do you see that?

  • Let's have a look at this document, please:

    "The attention of the ECOMOG high command has been drawn to reports in some Liberia media alleging the air lift of over a hundred Liberians in a military aircraft to an unknown destination. The high command wishes to say categorically that there is no truth whatsoever in that story."

    Pause there. Do you recall this media reporting of this alleged event, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, it was reported. In fact it was true.

  • And did you have any intelligence reports to that effect?

  • Not just intelligence. This happened right out of the airport. These are Liberians that were being flown in under the Kamajor programme that were assisting the Kamajors. They were those that could not - that they wanted people in, they flew straight into Lungi airport.

  • And who knew them in?

  • Now, you see that here is a denial that that took place. What do you say about that, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, this is what you would find in military operations. Denials by military people don't mean that it never happened; they just don't want it published, that is all. So what he is saying here is a typical - this is typical military denial.

  • "Indeed, ECOMOG, being very conscious of the security and immigration requirements in respect of movements of persons to and from the country's airports, have never done anything to contravene these laws, rules and regulations. We are therefore baffled that an orchestrated campaign is being arranged to blackmail ECOMOG in the course of carrying out legitimate duties and exercise in assistance to countries in the sub-region.

    Actually, what happened at the Roberts International Airport on Wednesday, 1 October 1998, was that a military aircraft airlifted a number of military equipment and troops of ECOMOG to Sierra Leone.

    A total of 12 civilians who were confirmed to be Sierra Leonean refugees were, however, offered transportation assistance in the aircraft. This was after verifying the papers confirming that the civilians were duly cleared by the Ministry of National Defence of Liberia as well as the Sierra Leonean government. They were all subsequently referred to the airport immigration and security personnel for further clearance before being allowed into the aircraft, after they were cleared by Liberian security led by one lady known as Martina."

    Pause there. Is that true, Mr Taylor?

  • That is not true. If you look at that statement very carefully, he says here in the little paragraph, number 3, he says that "A number of military equipment and troops of ECOMOG". Well, these are troops of ECOMOG. They have recruited them. These are troops. These people are just playing games, and the security personnel he is talking about here, I know very well, is Martina Johnson, and she is the chief of security at the airport. But she is a military personnel, and this type of information, they were not authorised to publish it. This is just a press report, which is true.

    But no security personnel or security official of government would have publicly spoken about this. We raise it in private, but we would not talk about it publicly. Because don't forget, I had complained about this type of behaviour before with the late Abacha. We had talked about it, about these things stopping, and remember the letter I wrote to him telling him that I cannot assist in this thing because it would only exacerbate the problem. So this is not something we would comment on officially. The press picked it up, but it is true. They were evacuating people from Robertsfield; Liberians that they had recruited, okay, ex-combatants of ULIMO, and were flying them straight into Lungi airport to join the combat from that position.

  • "It, however, became obvious that a mischievous plot was in the making when the same woman who had cleared the civilians brought out a camera and began to take photographs of the aircraft prior to its final take-off. Indeed, such an action constitutes a gross hostile action against any force and should attract maximum action in retaliation or deterrence. But when the soldiers who spotted Martina attempted to stop her, she reacted violently. It took the intervention of officers around to prevent her from being called to order as appropriate. This was a necessary action of restraint on the part of ECOMOG to maintain peace."

    Was this incident reported to you, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I was fully aware. General Johnson was a very trained officer, and she knew exactly that something was going on wrong. And you can see here she took pictures that this particular information reached us. But from a government perspective, we did not go public with it.

  • "It is, therefore, most unfortunate that responsible organisations and respected media outlets allowed their fora to be used for a desperate campaign to discredit ECOMOG, despite our tolerance and sacrifice for the overall security of Liberia. This" - I am missing a few words.

  • "Is unfair."

  • "This is unfair. For instance, if the reporters in question had endeavoured to be sincere and professional, they would have discovered that the claim of the aircraft in question carrying over 100 civilians, in addition to vehicles, hardware, and military personnel on board, were simply impossible. It is noteworthy" --

  • I am sorry to interrupt. It may not be a good time to knock off, but we have run - completely run out of tape, Mr Griffiths.

  • So we will take the short adjournment and resume at 12 o'clock.

  • [Break taken at 11.30 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.00 p.m.]

  • Yes, continue, please, Mr Griffiths.

  • May it please your Honours:

  • Mr Taylor, before the short adjournment we were looking at a press release issued by ECOMOG headquarters in Monrovia on 2 October 1998, yes?

  • And we were at page 9 in that document, yes?

  • Let's pick it up, please, at the second paragraph on that page:

    "It is noteworthy, for instance, that the assistance to Sierra Leonean refugees is not unusual. It will be recalled that the Nigerian government under the auspices of ECOWAS had similarly financed the shipment of Liberian refugees back home on a number of occasions after the civil war. One then wonders the motive of the current blackmail if is not simply mischief.

    It will therefore be most unfortunate for organisations and media outfits otherwise well respected to allow their platform to be used for playing the Liberian authorities against ECOMOG or ECOWAS initiatives. So far we in ECOMOG have exercised due restraint and would like our Liberian brothers and sisters to be equally discerning as to shun desperate mischief makers who are opposed to peace. We are peace makers in every sense of the word.

    We will remain available for clarifications to genuine and well intentioned peace lovers in this society."

    And it's signed by Major AC Okukolade, the chief military press information officer.

    Now, Mr Taylor, was there evidence that ECOMOG were involved in airlifting Liberians into Sierra Leone?

  • So when later reports came that you had sent Liberians to Sierra Leone, how did you feel about that accusation?

  • Terrible. I knew that it was not true, but amongst the leadership we knew what was going on because as I remembered - as you remember we had already dealt with this before with the late President. So we just - we did not comment officially on what this major had said, because I figured that for the general public he was trying to deal with the reaction of the general public as opposed to trying to get a reaction from the government because we would not have responded to this because the accusation did not come from government. It came from the press.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, help us with this. Underlying this letter there appears to be some kind of animus between ECOMOG and the media and people of Liberia. Was that the case?

  • Yes, yes. During the crisis there became a point where ECOMOG had to be firm and they were firm on many occasions. The general public had grown tired with ECOMOG, quite frankly, and the behaviour of some of the personnel during the period leading into the elections. Like I said, they had to be rough and firm on so many occasions and quite frankly they did a good job, but there were some people that really, really felt that in so many instances they were heavy handed. One can say, well, they had to do that to bring about the type of stability that they brought about, but the civilians did not like it and reacted from time to time.

  • Now let us look at another document within this divider, Mr Taylor. Can we go back to page 10, please.

  • Now this is an account of ECOMOG's role in the Camp Johnson Road incident which we discussed earlier, yes?

  • And we're still looking at that tension which I just asked you about between ECOMOG and the Liberian government and community. Now, let us look at this document:

    "Gentlemen of the press, you may recall that the Liberian government security forces had a clash with some residents of Camp Johnson Road from the evening of 18 September 1998 to Sunday 19 September 1998. This incident has attracted a lot of reports, comments and analysis by various media organisations and individuals. While the episode lasted the ECOMOG high command carefully ensured that the force did not play any role that could jeopardise its credibility as a peacekeeping mission. We are satisfied that our objective of strict adherence to the principles of neutrality and non-involvement in the conflict which lasted several hours was achieved.

    It is however unfortunate that in spite of our dignified stance in the whole issue, certain officials and media reports have constantly sought to drag ECOMOG into the controversy surrounding the shooting incident. It is for this reason that we find it necessary to clear the air once and for all. We believe that this gesture will afford sincere observers of the Liberian situation an opportunity to be objectively informed. Subsequently we shall be trusting on your good sense of judgment and fairness as responsible partners in the search for peace to properly utilise this forum to ensure the best dissemination of correct information on the situation of events as it relates to ECOMOG and the Camp Johnson Road incident.

    The high command wishes to state that ECOMOG took no part whatsoever in the fighting that ensued at Camp Johnson Road on 18 September 1998 or thereafter. Actually, all the ECOMOG troops deployed at security checkpoints in Camp Johnson Road area were withdrawn immediately the fighting broke out around 6 p.m. on 18 September."

    Let's pause there, Mr Taylor. Did ECOMOG forces in Monrovia at this time have security responsibilities?

  • Yes. They had security responsibilities, yes.

  • So help us, when they withdrew immediately as suggested here, what consequence did it have?

  • Well, at the time of the withdrawal by ECOMOG, in actual consequence it just provided an avenue for the government forces to carry on their operation really. For us it didn't really mean anything negative for us.

  • "This withdrawal took place as soon as the source, purpose, and possible outcome of the clash became clear. Since then ECOMOG has restricted its operation to the traditional role of manning established checkpoints and protecting certain vital and vulnerable points known to government. Obvious as this approach by ECOMOG is, it is curious that certain officials and media representatives have ignored this noble stance. Rather they have continuously sought, in a calculated manner, to create the impression that ECOMOG was involved in the complications that greeted the whole episode. The high command would like to cite instances of this unfair campaign of calumny.

    One instance was the accusation leveled against the force in an article captioned 'The Camp Johnson Road saga, chronology of events of the Roosevelt Johnson crisis with the Constitutional Government of Liberia', written by one Jickson Jones in the September 28, 1998 issue of the Daily Times newspaper. Under the subtitle 'Government's Swift Response,' the writer gave the impression that some sort of connections existed between Roosevelt Johnson, ECOMOG and the American embassy, and that the three maintained communication during the shoot-out."

    Mr Taylor, did you have any intelligence to suggest a connection between Roosevelt Johnson, ECOMOG and the American embassy?

  • Yes, they were in contact.

  • "The writer also asserted that an ECOMOG Mowag" - I don't know what that is. Do you know what that is, Mr Taylor?

  • It's something like an armed personnel vehicle.

  • Right. "...was seen delivering a consignment of arms and ammunition to Roosevelt Johnson in exchange for four Nigerian ECOMOG bodyguards whom Johnson had disarmed and taken hostage when his forces ran out of ammunition."

    Did you learn about that, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, we learned about - look, this is a whole episode of activities. Don't forget, who brings Johnson back into the capital? The very - the United States government does not have any helicopters in Liberia, okay? ECOMOG helicopters surreptitiously flew him back into the capital. As far as communication is concerned, the walkie-talkies, these are small hand-held radios being used by Johnson at the time were also being used by embassy officials that were outside of the embassy. Remember we explained that certain embassy officials were outside and got caught up in this exchange of fire. They were in communication.

    But what ECOMOG did at this particular time, it was a carefully crafted move. The withdrawal of ECOMOG from these city points were intended to give Johnson forces a free move. And at the end of the day had he succeeded they would have said: Well, we were not a part of it, we withdrew off the streets. It was just a ploy. It was a mere ploy. They were a part of it, you understand me? And we had said at that particular time that if ECOMOG had gotten herself involved, she would have had to deal with our forces too. So let's remind the Court at this time there's a reduction of ECOMOG forces now. There is that gradual movement into Sierra Leone. So they are not in full strength in Monrovia, so they are not also prepared to take any serious chances with the rest of the government forces, because in actual fact - let's be very frank. There are arms hidden in Monrovia, we talked about, in some of these areas. Government forces have also, in line with ECOMOG in some of the cordon and search operations, found arms - you know, some caches of arms at homes. There were constant cordon and search operations in Monrovia. So in that area security forces have a few arms that they can use themselves.

  • Going back: "In the first place, Roosevelt Johnson did not have any ECOMOG bodyguards assigned to him since his return to Monrovia. The only ECOMOG troops present in Camp Johnson Road area were those deployed at security checkpoints. Liberians, and, indeed, all knowledgeable observers of the situation in Monrovia, would appreciate why such a deployment was necessary.

    Besides, it is noteworthy that the ECOMOG force in Liberia is composed of highly professional Nigerian and Ghanian military officers who appreciate the importance of decency in the maintenance of law and order. If the attempt to give a chronology of events of the night of 18/19 September had endeavoured to apply some rational reasoning in analysis, the writers would have realised that the easy picture painted of ECOMOG resupplying Roosevelt Johnson with arms and ammunition on the night of 18 September could not have gone without casualties to ECOMOG in the face of the heavy weapons used by the government security forces at Camp Johnson Road. The possibility of the claim as presented in that report is therefore clearly unthinkable. It is all false.

    Another instance of the smear campaign embarked upon in the aftermath of the Camp Johnson Road shoot-out was the report aired by a number of media organisations on 2 October 1998 accusing ECOMOG of airlifting out of the country over 100 Liberian citizens to an unknown destination. ECOMOG has already unequivocally refuted this misinformation, and it is hoped that our point is clear. There was no airlift of Liberian citizens as claimed. Only 12 Sierra Leonean refugees, duly cleared by appropriate government agencies, were offered humanitarian transportation assistance on 1 October 1998 from the Roberts International Airport to Freetown."

    Now, we've dealt with that in the previous article, Mr Taylor.

  • Yes, we have.

  • "The third issue is the calculated twist of fact on Friday, 2 October 1998, when a number of Liberian media organisations carried a story alleging the disappearance of a number of people who were taken to ECOMOG base after a joint operation to arrest some suspected loyalists of Roosevelt Johnson. Indeed, the falsehood contained in that story has stunned not only the ECOMOG high command, but also the Liberian defence ministry officials who are aware of the true situation of things.

    Having agreed with the defence ministry officials on the need to put the record straight in the interest of proper public information, the ECOMOG high command is constrained to reaffirm that the story in question is indeed not true. The explanation is deemed necessary more so as no refusal seem to be forthcoming from other official sources as agreed. Indeed, it is most unfortunate that such information was attributed to a highly placed government official, Mr Philipbert Brown, a defence spokesman."

    Mr Taylor, was there such a spokesman?

  • Yes, there was.

  • "The defence minister Mr Daniel Chea, who directed the search and the Deputy Defence Minister For Operations, Major General Austin D Clark, who coordinated the operation, are the most relevant personalities who can confirm what actually took place. To say the least, it is most unfortunate that a well intentioned and duly coordinated ECOMOG assistance in facilitating peace in Monrovia after the recent Camp Johnson Road fighting is being misrepresented. The truth therefore has to be narrated in detail."

    Before we go on to this account, Mr Taylor, what's this incident they're talking about here?

  • I'm not sure what Shelpidi is talking about really in the press reports, because there were many, and the press were thinking that in fact Philbert Johnson - Philbert I know very well. He's a journalist - Philbert Brown, I mean. He's a journalist. So I'm not too sure about this specific thing, but it has to be around this movement of people.

  • Let's read on and see:

    "On Monday, 21 September 1998, Liberian defence ministry officials informed ECOMOG that a number of armed men, alleged to be supporters of Roosevelt Johnson, were hiding in a cave behind the American embassy. They requested ECOMOG assistance to arrest the suspects or flush them out. A team of senior ECOMOG and Liberian security personnel were subsequently constituted to carry out the exercise. At the end of the operation, it was discovered that the information was false after all; no single individual was found at the location after a thorough search.

    It is therefore amazing to read in the media after a few days that some people were arrested and taken to ECOMOG base after the operation and that whatever happened to the suspects or arrested persons thereafter was unknown. Really one should wonder which operation the reporters are referring to."

    Does this ring a bell now, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, it does. They did arrest people, but they were not military people. These were just individuals that were just seeking a place to sleep and what we call the regular boys around town, and the description here of the cave behind the American embassy, that is just a general expression. But this is far away, because the American embassy is secured with fences. So there is no cave there, but some great distance.

  • "Really one should wonder which operation the reporters are referring to. Certainly it has absolutely nothing to do with ECOMOG. The force ECOMOG was not party to any arrest as claimed, neither was any suspect taken to ECOMOG base as insinuated.

    Indeed, we consider this report as another feature of the media campaign apparently intended to drag ECOMOG and its reputation as a peacekeeper into the slanted analysis or report on the unfortunate Camp Johnson Road incident and killings. We would, however, advise those who are desperate to offer explanation or seek scapegoats for the happenings during and after the incident in Monrovia to look elsewhere for their alibi and leave ECOMOG out of it all. This counsel is necessary to save them from being embarrassed by the wrong assumption that ECOMOG is ignorant of actual happenings around.

    ECOMOG high command wishes to state that as a peacekeeping force, it is well aware of, and always guided by, the need for neutrality and straightforwardness in all its dealings. ECOMOG has done everything possible over the years to carry out its role in the interest of the government and the people of Liberia and will continue to maintain peace and security in line with ECOWAS's mandate. While it is sad that despite all the careful efforts of this high command ECOMOG is becoming a target of slander and orchestrated defamation, we can still assure all peace lovers that we are undaunted. Indeed, we are not bothered because the truth is in our favour.

    The forgoing situation notwithstanding, ECOMOG wishes to reiterate our partnership with sincere peace lovers in Liberia. The media should please save this society from rumour and mischief makers in order to maintain the hard earned peace in Liberia."

    And it's signed, "Shelpidi, Major General Force Commander," and dated October 1998.

    Now, Mr Taylor, we've mentioned your relationship with this general before, haven't we?

  • This is the general who you threw out of your office?

  • And complained about to the Nigerian President?

  • And he was later moved, you told us?

  • So this is October 1998, yes?

  • Let's move on, please, to page 23. Now, on page 23 we see a further press release dated 9 December 1998, don't we, Mr Taylor?

  • And we see it's the Military Press Information Office Headquarters, ECOMOG, Cockerill North, Wilkinson Road, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, yes?

  • And it's dated 9 December 1998. Now let's look at this document:

    "The ECOMOG high command has been advised to do anything possible to block the flow of arms into the hands of rebels as a way of restoring total peace and security to Sierra Leone.

    This charge was given by an official of the United Nations Security Council, and Sweden's permanent representative in the United Nations. Ambassador Hans Dahlgren" - now remember us mentioning this visit yesterday, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I do.

  • And the Swedish ambassador came in due course to Monrovia, did he not?

  • "...when exchanging views with the ECOMOG force commander, Major General Timothy Shelpidi, during a courtesy visit to ECOMOG headquarters at Cockerill, Freetown, yesterday."

    So by December Shelpidi's in Freetown?

  • "Ambassador Dahlgren said by virtue of his experience on his assignment as chairman of the Security Council's sanctions committee on Sierra Leone, particularly while overseeing the sanctions imposed on the junta regime, he vividly recalls the efficiency of ECOMOG by the professional way it enforced the embargoes imposed on the illegal regime. He declared that the subsequent success of ECOMOG in Sierra Leone was therefore not surprising considering its high rating in competence.

    The ambassador said the United Nations was particularly anxious to see total peace restored in Sierra Leone, hence his visit to access the situation.

    Responding, General Shelpidi thanked the envoy for his interest in the activities of ECOMOG and the need for peace in Sierra Leone. He assured him that as far as ECOMOG was concerned it has done everything within its powers to block arms reaching the rebels.

    He however enjoined the envoy to ensure the international community prevails on neighbouring countries who continue to aid the rebels with weapons and logistics as has been proved by ECOMOG discoveries in several occasions. He said the borders remain the only possible channel of illegal weapons and the situation is compounded by the peculiar porous nature of African borders and ineffective enforcement of arms embargo on certain countries in the said region.

    We therefore urge the envoy to ensure that the international communities are encouraged to be more decisive in sanctioning suspected arms trafficking governments.

    ECOMOG on its part would continue to ensure that any known access of arms into Sierra Leone is effectively blocked.

    He went on to brief the envoy on the activities of ECOMOG and its constraints as well as plans for monitoring and implementing peace agreements in the sub-region.

    The United Nations's envoy who was received by officers of the ECOMOG high command also paid a courtesy call on the chief of defence staff, Brigadier General Maxwell Mitikishe Khobe. He was accompanied by UN officials in Sierra Leone".

    And we see it's signed by Major AC Okukolade, chief military press information officer, yes, Mr Taylor?

  • Now on the same date, going to the next page, we see another press release, do we not?

  • The same date on the same topic, yes?

  • Now, let's have a look at this document:

    "The United Nations have been called upon to ensure a stricter enforcement of existing arms embargo and possibly impose fresh sanctions on Liberia as a way of stopping the flow of illegal arms to the rebel forces in Sierra Leone."

    Now, Mr Taylor, pausing there, were you aware of such a request in December 1998?

  • No, not directly. If you see here, we see who is making the request. It's an ECOMOG general. This is not anything that diplomatically would be considered serious in a discussion. Shelpidi is saying this and this is a part I guess of their own propaganda machinery, but at an official level this would not be taken seriously.

  • And we see it continues:

    "This call was made in Freetown recently by the ECOMOG force commander, Major General Timothy Shelpidi, while exchanging views with an official of the Security Council and Swedish representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Hans Dahlgren, who was at the ECOMOG headquarters on a courtesy call.

    General Shelpidi wondered why it was possible, in spite of the existing United Nations arms embargo on Liberia, for President Charles Taylor's forces to possess the new weapons they now use and also supply the rebels fighting in Sierra Leone."

    Mr Taylor, pause there. Did you have access to new weapons in 1998?

  • None. Well, let's go back. Where is Shelpidi coming from? He's coming from Monrovia. Shelpidi is there as forces commander for most of 1998. Did Shelpidi, who occupied the airport, see any weapons coming in? No. Shelpidi's knows very, very well. This is why I'm saying from his level I can see where he's getting from - this Shelpidi I know he's annoyed, but where - if Shelpidi, knowing that ECOMOG is in Liberia where he was forces commander, he should have been able to say, "Well, weapons are coming into Liberia. We saw this shipment", or, "We saw that shipment."

    You know, I wouldn't pay too much attention to this press officer and what he is saying here to Ambassador Dahlgren, because if Shelpidi had any concrete information and he calls himself a trained soldier and he's the commander of ECOMOG, this information would have gone not even to the President of Nigeria.

    As ECOMOG forces commander you are directly under the command at the time of the chairman. Whoever is the chairman of ECOWAS is your commander-in-chief, not your host government, and so at this particular time the new President of ECOWAS is already President Gnassingbe Eyadema and such information would have gone to Eyadema. But if you read from the last document you just went through, where Shelpidi's own press release and the conclusion that he made, you can see that Shelpidi really doesn't understand his mission and quite frankly he doesn't stay in Sierra Leone very long either.

    This is a problem. When forces are in your country and speaking in the language that Shelpidi is speaking about, this was all improper. There was no way a forces commander, or a military general, has any authority to issue any statement against a nation, especially another nation that is a part of the authority. I really question his own discipline at the time. That's why he didn't even stay in Sierra Leone very long. He had no right to make such pronouncements that had not been sanctioned by ECOWAS.

  • But it goes on:

    "He declared that unless the international community deals decisively with President Charles Taylor, the rebels will continue to get more arms to commit mayhem and encouragement to prolong the war in Sierra Leone for some time to come."

    There he is naming you directly, Mr Taylor.

  • That's what I'm saying. This is a very indisciplined general, so to speak, and he is talking pure nonsense here because this was nothing that - what, a press release from a major saying what Shelpidi is saying. I can see why he didn't stay in either of those positions very long.

  • "General Shelpidi said it has been proved beyond all doubt in several instances that Liberia remains the only possible supply route and source of all illegal arms in Sierra Leone, urging the United Nations not to take President Charles Taylor's denials seriously. He said that it is evident that the ordinary Liberians are not pleased with the belligerent posture of their government but are helpless in checking their leaders because of the peculiar temperament they often display in dealing with any dissenting opinion."

    Mr Taylor, had you adopted a belligerent posture towards Sierra Leone?

  • No, not at all, but I think he may be referring to a belligerent posturing internally in Liberia, which is not the case in either circumstances. And he, Shelpidi, is supposed to know better, that's why in most cases a good general is almost a good politician, but I don't think he's either of them.

  • "On the possibility of deploying ECOMOG troops for direct policing of Liberia-Sierra Leone border, General Shelpidi said the human and material resources required for realistic and effective monitoring could be very enormous, more so in view of the porosity of borders in Africa. He said the international community could still do a lot to help the situation by prevailing on Liberian authorities.

    Briefing the United Nations envoy on the activities of ECOMOG generally, the force commander informed him that three of the participating country's contingents, namely Nigeria, Ghana and Guinea, are currently deployed in Liberia and Sierra Leone. He said the force is also preparing for Guinea-Bissau as they are only awaiting the outcome of the report he has already submitted to ECOWAS secretariat on the plans for operations in that country.

    The major problem now facing ECOMOG according to General Shelpidi is the issue of insufficient troops as many countries that promised contributing forces are yet to fulfil despite repeated assurances from them. This situation is being compounded by the inadequacy of logistics which is one of the problems discouraging some of the willing countries from performing.

    Although there have been encouraging promises of support from the international community, not such has been forthcoming despite repeated reminders especially within the last five months. He noted that since logistics is very crucial for any meaningful operation, the pledges made by donor countries has become indispensable and needs to be redeemed in order to enhance the performance of ECOMOG.

    Continuing, General Shelpidi said ECOMOG has been cooperating with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and occasionally contributing its ideas and experience in support of the activities of the organisation.

    He however observed that there is a need to foster better spirit of understanding between the non-government organisations, especially the International Committee of the Red Cross and ECOMOG, saying they could do better by being more transparent and removing the grounds for suspicion on activities in relation to the rebels."

    Now, Mr Taylor, what do you say about this allegation being made in December by General Shelpidi?

  • Well, I'm not even sure if this is - it sounds like an allegation. I'd just say this is pure nonsense that Shelpidi is talking about. He's just coming from Liberia. If anybody wants to make an allegation in his position as forces commander, it would not be done through a press release. What the general would do would state specifically that it may be recalled on this date and this time arms came into Liberia, or we saw it, we registered it, we did - this general, he's talking about arms going on - going across the border, which no one is prepared to say that small amount of arms did not go across that border. But the official nature of those arms is what my government is saying we didn't have the arms to even go after, I mean, the Roosevelt Johnson forces.

    In fact what happened, some of the arms we used to go after Roosevelt Johnson forces were the very arms that had been given to the security unit assigned with government after my election as President. ECOMOG gave us a certain amount of arms for some internal security purposes. We didn't even have the full means to - if Roosevelt Johnson forces had really been strong, they would have overrun the government because here is ECOMOG pulling out. So where the frustration really is is this: There are arms going across the border. ULIMO is selling arms, people that bury their arms during the disarmament process, and so on. So there is that frustration, and it sticks in everybody's mind, and I guess if I were in his position or in Kabbah's position, I probably would believe the same thing.

    The arms coming across the border, even though they know we do not have arms - and he doesn't say here that we are importing arms that he is seeing. But how are these arms getting across there? Of course people are selling little amounts that they're digging up and selling across the border. And it's frustrating for everybody, and I guess this is more like what he's referring to.

    And then again, there is another part of this that I see. There is a purpose also behind this. You have the United Nations sending Ambassador Dahlgren down. They need logistical and other support. You have to try to pep it up a little bit to talk about the problems. But let me just make it clear. These matters, if there was anything that was substantial - or that had been substantiated, I am sure that it would have been discussed at the Heads of State level and I would have been confronted. But this press release, quite frankly, I would just say this is good old Timothy Shelpidi with some of his arrogance that got him thrown out of my office, got him thrown out of Liberia, and got him out of Sierra Leone in the shortest possible time. That's all I can say about this.

  • So let's just summarise the situation then, shall we. We have you making a speech on 29 December in which you make reference to the Assistant Secretary of State Huddleston's comments and also Colonel Dempsey's comments, and you have at the beginning of the month this comment by General Shelpidi. Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • That is right.

  • Now, did any of your colleagues on ECOWAS bring you to task following this statement by General Shelpidi?

  • None whatsoever. Nobody asked me whatsoever. Remember, these had come before, and let me just remind the Court the statement that - the speech that I made on 29 December, is it, where I suggested I'm prepared to recuse myself. You have to remember that's a speech at the end of the month, but that is something that has occurred before that I'm just reporting on. If there had been any of these - these things were just going on day by day, week by week, and this is part of the frustration where - I can remember in that meeting, I think it's either in October or - late October or early November - I think late October at the last meeting at ECOWAS, actually, that's where I said, "Look, this is it, guys. I'm out of it. I don't want to have anything to do with this any more. I want to get off this committee." And everybody said, "No, we cannot let you do this." That's what I'm talking about in my speech. But what Shelpidi is talking about never reached the level of the Heads of State, no.

  • Now, there are two other documents I'd like us to look at within this tab. The next document is over the page, and it's dated 24 December 1998?

  • Yes, Mr Taylor. I think Mr Taylor wants to say something.

  • Excuse me, but I'm sorry, I made a little error. I'd like to go to the bathroom, please.

  • That's quite all right. Can Mr Taylor be escorted out of the Court, please.

  • I drank too much tea.

    I apologise for the break, your Honour.

  • That's quite all right, Mr Taylor. Go ahead, please, Mr Griffiths.

  • Mr Taylor, can we go over the page and have a look just at two more documents behind this divider, please. Just for information purposes, overleaf at page 28 we see a news flash regarding the death of SAJ Musa, don't we?

  • And we see it's dated 24 December '98, so Christmas Eve?

  • "Dependable sources have given indication that RUF commander SAJ Musa was fatally wounded yesterday and may have died in the early hours of today.

    This followed a fierce battle between ECOMOG and AFRC/RUF rebel forces under his command in the course of desperate attempt to attack Benguema military training centre near Freetown.

    It is indicated that he might have died in the early hours of today, 24 December 1998, from the head wounds he sustained in the attack.

    In another development, ECOMOG has averted an attempt by rebel forces to infiltrate Freetown with weapons.

    This was achieved yesterday night when, acting on a tip-off from some patriotic citizens, ECOMOG soldiers succeeded in intercepting that was discharging arms and ammunitions near Cape Sierra Hotel, Freetown.

    The arms have been seized by ECOMOG, and the captain of the boat is currently being interrogated."

    So in intercepting a boat that was discharging arms and ammunition near Freetown.

  • And the final document --

  • But there is something wrong with this document. You see, we have evidence led in this Court that it's also different from his account, okay, about the so-called death of SAJ Musa. Totally different from his account.

  • Now, the final document before we move on from this divider, Mr Taylor, is page 33, please. It's the penultimate page. Because we're getting closer now to the Freetown invasion, yes?

  • And we have here a press statement made by the ECOMOG force commander Major General Timothy Shelpidi on Wednesday, 22 December 1998.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, this is Major General Timothy Shelpidi, ECOMOG force commander, speaking. Over the few days there have been certain developments in the security situation of this country which have created panic among you. It is now necessary for me as ECOMOG force commander to make this statement.

    As you are by now aware, there has been rebel activity in certain parts of the country, including the outskirts of Freetown. There have been rebel attacks at Masiaka, Kono, and in the Freetown area at Waterloo. I wish to assure you that ECOMOG is in control of the situation and is presently engaged in seeking and destroying the rebels, wherever they are. We, however, need the full cooperation of you, the civilians. It is clear that the rebels thrive on creating panic amongst the civilian population, causing mass movement of people. This makes it difficult for the security forces to act decisively, and many times our forces have had cause to withdraw from an area in order to avoid civilian casualties.

    You need to be aware that the rebels are using your fear to achieve their objectives. Do not panic and abandon your homes at the sound of gunfire. This is what the rebels want. Stay in your homes. Organise yourselves into a neighbourhood watch. Report any suspicious movements or strange characters to the nearest ECOMOG or police position. Even if you have had to move from your homes, be on the alert. The rebels may have mingled among you, pretending to be displaced people. Keep a lookout for strange looking people among you and give information to the security forces.

    Once more let me assure you that the security situation is under control. We need your support to enable us to deal decisively with the rebels and end this menace once and for all. We cannot do that if you panic and flood onto the streets, thus providing cover for rebel activity. Cooperate with ECOMOG, listen to the radio for accurate information and instructions, and please stop spreading false rumours."

    Now, Mr Taylor, I bring this to your attention for this reason: Note the date, 22 December.

  • At that stage - and remember, we're talking about seven days before you made that speech that we referred to earlier?

  • Were you at this stage in December, before Christmas, aware of this rebel activity in the vicinity of Freetown?

  • Not exactly, no. We knew that they were fighting in Sierra Leone, but not to specific locations.

  • By the time you made your speech on 29 December, were you aware of an impending attack on Freetown?

  • Now could I ask, Mr Taylor, for that document to be marked collectively the media communique, a compilation of news and press releases of ECOMOG, September to December 1998, be marked for identification MFI-65.

  • Yes. That document is marked for identification MFI-65.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, I'd like us to pause now for a moment, please, to take stock. Because remember we agreed at the outset that 1998 through to just after January 1999 is a critical period in terms of the indictment you face, yes?

  • Can we just pause now at the end of 1998, please, and take stock. In summary, Mr Taylor, what is the position so far as 1998 is concerned?

  • Well, let me see if I can just give the real principal things that I think ought to be viewed here. Let's start with the intervention in February, where the junta is removed from Freetown and the succeeding - the crisis following thereafter the removal from Freetown that goes through February, March, April.

    We have different discussions going on. For me the most important period second to this February 1998 movement of the junta from Freetown is for me dealing with the meeting in June where the president of the Security Council informed our ambassador of the fact that there are reports before the Security Council that the majority of the people supporting the junta are Liberians. This for me becomes extremely significant, because we are asked again in that report to - and by report I mean the report coming from my minister counsellor to respond. We develop a response to the accusations and we outline how and why it is not possible.

    The next set of circumstances I think will be substantial will be July. I invite President Kabbah to Liberia, 1998, and also present there you have Reverend Jesse Jackson. There is a meeting and we begin to forge even additional cooperation between Sierra Leone and ourselves. We are encouraged to begin some progress with the Mano River Union. That is also put on the front agenda for our three states.

    In August it becomes even a little more serious where we receive a note from our ambassador accredited near Conakry of a visit, or a proposed visit, by Mr Bockarie and Eddie Kanneh. We consult our colleagues. We see an opportunity. The invitation is extended in September. Bockarie comes, he returns, he comes back and I've briefed my colleagues and we see the possibility of opening this channel.

    And let me state very clearly that between all of these meetings there are Heads of State meetings of ECOWAS, you also have the OAU meeting also of foreign ministers at the time, there are meetings with the Security Council and you have Mano River Union meetings. We are cooperating at all levels, giving it our best.

    But it's important to note that coming around the end of this period in question very, very sadly we do not - we are not able to get in touch with the junta side of this equation of this mandate that has been given us. While we are talking to the RUF, we do not get an opportunity to speak to the junta. I did not speak to Johnny Paul or any of his officials during this period, because we were just not able to get them.

    I asked Bockarie and what he said to me, if I recall correctly, was that there were some problems between themselves and the junta and he didn't know how we could get in contact with them because Johnny Paul was in a different location from where he was and so we could not make that contact I would say unsuccessfully. Probably if we had made that contact - by "we" I'm referring to myself - la Cote d'Ivoire that had been charged with that mandate, maybe we could have averted the 6 January situation.

    But during this particular period we have a lot of fighting and we are doing everything to - now this "we" I'm referring to my government and the committee doing everything to try to get a cessation of hostilities to get back to the peace negotiations and, of course, we see all these envoys coming and going.

    So for my part in 1998 I see the final speech that I made on the 29th and maybe one other statement that I made - I think a letter that I wrote to the Security Council through the Secretary-General as the sum total of what we were doing in 1998. Yes, there were accusations around. We had dealt with, of course, the Roosevelt Johnson situation back in September and the hairy - the very hairy situation in dealing with the United States government.

    We were appearing to be getting back on some track, because from the days I spent in university in the United States to the best of my knowledge I do not know of any instance where during this period it was anything personal. It was not personal. The fact of the matter is I made it very clear to Reverend Jackson that there was nothing personal. It's not that I dislike the United States. I went to school there, I have family members spread through the south from Georgia on down that are relatives of mine and we were also - we migrated from the United States to Liberia, my grandmother, so - but it was something that we felt very strongly about that and that truth should prevail.

    So for me it was a very tough year for Liberia and, like I said, we could not - whatever we did we could not - and I guess until now, and this is the problem this Court is going to have to deal with, okay, we could not shake off what these people had put on us about arms movement. Even though everyone was saying, "Where is the evidence?" They just kept repeating it. They were repeating it throughout '98. We were fighting, trying to say, "It's not happening." They knew that we did not have arms.

    They also got into the presence of Liberians in Sierra Leone. We are until today still trying to shake it off, "You know who they are. They are not our people."

    So these are the problems. I would just sum it up as a very tough year for me as President and the country, where I would just say I'm not sure if it's public sentiment, but sometimes this rumour mill that spread was just so unsubstantiated but it stuck. It just stuck there. You hear people talking about Liberians and Liberian fighters. "Yes, they are there." "Who sent them?" "Well Taylor didn't send them, but they are Liberians."

    So I can remember at one point - I'm not sure if this came up in the testimony here. I had threatened those - in trying to find solutions with the presidency of Sierra Leone we had threatened that, "Those that are fighting in Sierra Leone, if you don't leave there we're going to prosecute you", but that didn't work and so we had to backtrack and try to - because of the law on mercenaryism in Liberia we had threatened them. That scared them further and so we had to end up reversing the threat of prosecuting them - of prosecuting them under the mercenaryism law and grant them amnesty. Oh, they took that amnesty and said, "Oh, you are granting them amnesty because you sent them." It had nothing to do with that.

    So a frustrating year, a year that finally some officials like the official from the United States government comes on and says that, "We don't have any actual proof on this." They had an opportunity and I think if they had proof they would have brought it then. If they have proof, I'm sure it will be available now. It is still not here and I guess I'm here now, so that's as much as I can summarise it, counsel.

  • And help us, Mr Taylor, before I come to put certain specific allegations to you regarding 1998, you describe to us, please, in your own words what the extent of your contact with the RUF was in 1998.

  • As of September 1998, the extent of the contact was the invitation to Sam Bockarie which he visited twice. On the third occasion was to meet the chairman of the OAU. All of those contacts were geared toward peace with the advice, consent and authorisation of ECOWAS. I did it and to the best of my own ability. It had nothing to do with supplying arms. It had nothing to do with receiving diamonds. It was only for the purpose of peace and, while I was doing that, other members of the committee too were dealing with him. That is they were calling, they were in communication --

  • Calling who?

  • Sam Bockarie, because when Sam Bockarie came to Liberia I have heard testimony here about a satellite telephone. Sam Bockarie had a satellite telephone. When he came to Liberia he already had a satellite telephone that Sankoh apparently had given him at the time of his return on one trip from Ivory Coast. So he had a satellite telephone. So that link by getting his numbers and giving it to the other Heads of State in the region, he had access to all the members of the Committee of Six now at the end of the day.

  • So in 1998, Mr Taylor, were you the only ECOWAS leader who was in contact with Sam Bockarie?

  • And what had prompted your invitation - what had prompted you to extend an invitation to Sam Bockarie to come to Monrovia?

  • Well we get this letter, as I stated, from the ambassador of the intent of Bockarie - and in fact this is Eddie Kanneh that goes to the embassy to look into this. We get this information and it sounds good, but I then contact other members of the committee, my colleagues, and say, "Well, look, here is what's going on. We just got a message from our embassy in Guinea that the RUF leader across the border would like to come to see me. What do you think?" They think it's a good idea. We extend the invitation.

  • Now I have a number of specific allegations to put to you, Mr Taylor, so that you can have an opportunity of dealing with them directly. On 11 March 2008, to which transcript reference 5745 to 5746 relates, Isaac Mongor, TF1-352, said that in February or March of 1998 Superman came back with ammunition that he received via Daniel Tamba, Jungle, from you, Charles Taylor, for Operation Fitti-Fatta to reclaim Koidu. Did you do that?

  • No, I did not. No, I did not. How would that be possible? How would that be possible? I don't have arms in Liberia. ECOWAS is still there in the very large numbers. We are just through with an operation - and I can almost say "we" because I didn't go public about my being against the recruitment of Liberians to go and fight in Sierra Leone by ECOMOG. But how is that possible? Isaac Mongor is telling a blatant lie.

  • Mr Taylor, in February or March of 1998 had you yet made any contact with the RUF?

  • None whatsoever, no. And if you look at the ambassador's letter, you will see that there is no contact. You can just read from the language contained in the letter there is no contact.

  • Now, the second suggestion. On 4 June 2008, to which transcript page reference 11003 to 11005 relates, Albert Saidu, TF1-577, a radio operator, said that in March 1998 you promoted Sam Bockarie. Did you do that, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, it's as if I did it through remote control. I had never Bockarie in my life until September. I had never met Sam Bockarie in my life, but let's go back a little bit. Let's go back to the arrest of Foday Sankoh. Let's go to the arrest of Foday Sankoh and the instructions that Foday Sankoh sent back to his people. Let's see if that promotion is not there.

    I don't know Sam Bockarie. It is none of my business. I have never met him, like I said before. All of the time in 1991 and 1992 that we had a short cooperation with the RUF, even Sankoh never brought Sam Bockarie to Gbarnga. I didn't know the man. I was not in control of the organisation. How could I promote a person and how did I do it? I called on the radio and promoted him? Or I called on the telephone and said, "You are general" to someone that I don't know and had never met before?

  • Can I correct something. Albert Saidu was not a radio operator. A radio operator told Albert Saidu that Charles Taylor had promoted Sam Bockarie, so I correct myself.

    That same witness Albert Saidu, Mr Taylor, said on 5 June 2008, to which transcript pages 11054 to 11057 relate, he said that in October or November of 1998 at a secret meeting in Buedu and Dawa, attended by Jungle and Ibrahim Bah, Jungle said that you, Charles Taylor, recognised the relationship between the RUF and the AFRC and you, Charles Taylor, advised that they should hold Kono because that's where they would get their resources. Did you do that?

  • I did not. I did not do that. Let's look at the period involved. What are you saying, October?

  • October, November 1998.

  • Well, let's go. Let's look at October. We've already said here in evidence that Sam Bockarie has already made the first trip in September. Why should there be a secret meeting again, when I've already met Bockarie for the second time in October? So why would there have to be a secret meeting to go and tell them to hold something? If it's true, all Sam Bockarie had to do was to go back. So what was Jungle supposed to be doing? Jungle was supposed to be sent? It was simple to tell Sam Bockarie go and do this, if that's the case, and Sam Bockarie will just say, "I have my instruction, I will do it." Why there must be a Jungle and an Ibrahim Bah to do could have just been said to Sam Bockarie? Nonsense. Total nonsense, okay? And I don't know who put them up to this kind of thing, but that's total nonsense. It just did not happen.

  • That same witness on 4 June 2008, to which pages 11005 to 11006 refers, said that he read in a radio message that you advised Sam Bockarie that the AFRC and the RUF should work together and that you did that in May 1998. Did you do that, Mr Taylor?

  • I did not. I did not do that. Why would I advise that they should work together? What is it, my business? I did not do that. Now, I hear a radio operator. Maybe what - how did I advise Sam Bockarie; on the radio?

  • Well, he said he read in a radio message that you advised Sam Bockarie.

  • Well, you know, that's one of these cases where I'm sure the Court will appreciate - I would beg the - if it's possible for the - maybe through the Court administration or maybe through the Prosecutor's office, can we ask Britain and the United States to declassify some of their radio intercepts in the region during this particular time? This will clear up the whole issue. So somebody comes to this Court and says: Oh, there was a radio message. Who is silly enough to get on the radio - if there's something going on - to get on the open radio to talk this? But if there is such communication, it must be in the log of either the British or American intelligence, because that's their business. That's what they were doing off the coast: Listening. So I'm not going to keep suffering, okay, in prison because of speculation and all these kind of things. So anybody - you get up, "Oh, there was a radio call."

    Well, look, there are ways. This trial, I'm here backed by Chapter 6 United Nations resolution. Chapter 6. And in all fairness to me when it comes to justice, the United Nations should ask all its member states that have pertinent information and evidence to bring it forward. You can't hold me in jail, I mean, for years just on this type of nonsense that has come here. It's got to be - the United States has the capacity to unravel this case if they choose to - if they choose to come forward. This is not a very - what is so classified - okay, if it's classified. Let's bring it in a private session. But you cannot continue - okay, you come to Africa, you see one little African leader. Maybe at that point in time they wanted to make a point. Oh impunity. If we grab one little African leader, lock him up for the rest of his life, destroy him, then you have done something. Well, look, you want justice, bring the information. I mean, how do I defend myself against this person said that somebody said. It never happened, counsel. It never happened, and I hope in the interests of justice they will bring some of the - they've got the information if it's there. It has to be there. It has to be there. Release the radio transcript. We heard this. Here it says the US has this capture or the British military. They were out there. But, I mean, I cannot just continue to suffer in jail on this nonsense. That's all it is.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, another direct allegation that I want to give you an opportunity to deal with. On 24 April 2008, another Prosecution witness, Alimamy Bobson Sesay, TF1-334, to which pages 8515 of the transcript refers, said that you, Charles Taylor, gave $15,000 and said it was support for Johnny Paul Koroma's men whilst they wait for Foday Sankoh to arrive, and you did that in May 1998. What do you say about that?

  • I think he made a mistake. I think he made a great, great mistake. Because the incident that he's referring to, if it's anything, it must be May of 1999. If he said 1998, it's a blatant lie. He must be - maybe he made a mistake, but that's for him for correct. Because the period in question in dealing with Johnny Paul, we have already brought Johnny Paul Koroma to Liberia and he is waiting for Foday Sankoh to - no, no, no, no. May of - no, no, no, no, no. I thought that was in 1999. No. That is not true.

    But let's look at the information there. Let's look at the information. What is happening in Liberia in April of 1998 according to the evidence before this Court? 6 April or thereabouts, are we not fighting in Monrovia?

  • '98?

  • 1998? When are we involved in this fight with Johnson? That's about this time.

  • I thought that was September/October 1998, the Camp Johnson Road incident?

  • The Camp Johnson Road, yes, September. Okay.

  • What's happening in April 1998, Mr Taylor? Think about it, '98.

  • April 1998. Oh, February we have the intervention. March, April. There is just really the crisis. I think we are putting people - we're trying to get ECOMOG to work along with us on the border. That's as much as I know about April 1998.

  • But help me: Did you in May 1998 give $15,000, saying it was support for Johnny Paul Koroma's men whilst they wait for Foday Sankoh to arrive?

  • No, that's what I'm saying. That's not - he got it all mixed up. That's not true, no. He's got it mixed up.

  • Did you at some stage give money to Johnny Paul Koroma?

  • That $15,000 is in evident in August - in August/September 1999, that 15 dollars comes out in the same Bobson Sesay - that's why I'm saying, he's making the year. So that $15,000 that he's talking about refers to evidence before this Court of money that were given to Johnny Paul Koroma and his men in my office where it's described that I pulled this briefcase and gave the money. So I'm sure that he got that whole thing mixed up. And that's what you do when you're lying; you get things mixed up.

  • We'll come to August 1999 in due course. Now another specific allegation, Mr Taylor. On 8 May 2008, to which transcript pages 9394 to 9395 refers, Karmoh Kanneh, TF1-571, said that in May 1998, at a meeting at Waterworks, Sam Bockarie informed the group that you had promoted him to general. Had you done any such thing?

  • No such thing. I didn't know the man. I had no contact with him. None whatsoever. No.

  • Now note in passing that another Prosecution witness, Albert Saidu, as I put to you, said that he had been told by a radio operator in March that you had promoted Bockarie. Now we have this other witness saying in May Bockarie informs them that you had promoted him. Had you promoted Bockarie in either March or May, Mr Taylor?

  • I had not promoted Bockarie in either of those two months. That shows you how these witnesses in putting together these lies, that's why they're mixed up on it. Never happened.

  • Now another Prosecution witness on 23 January 2008, to which pages 1968 to 1972 refer, a witness called Abu Keita, TF1-276, said that he was told by Benjamin Yeaten to go to Sierra Leone to head up a new unit called the Scorpion unit under Bockarie and Yeaten told him that you had planned it and this took place in 1998 after September. Did you do any such thing, Mr Taylor?

  • Never did any such thing, but let's look at the logic of it. If I recall, I don't know how many persons were supposed to be on this major unit. One person? Abu Keita? But it's important to know who Abu Keita is. Abu Keita is one of those individuals that were released after the Roosevelt Johnson fiasco, because of our desire to building very good relationship with the Mandingos in Liberia and Musa Cisse and other Mandingo elders that were working very close with me asked for his release. He's a very close buddy of the other one, Varmuyan Sherif.

  • Who is?

  • Abu Keita is a very close - one of Varmuyan's boys, because Varmuyan was his senior commander at the time of ULIMO-K. For Abu to say that Benjamin - I don't know if he had such discussions with Benjamin, I have no knowledge of it, but if it's to the extent that Benjamin said that I said that is not true because you don't send one man - well, we have a same example. I sent one man called Isaac Mongor to go and train a whole army, who he himself had just come from training in the presence of Special Forces, and this one Isaac Mongor trained the whole army that invaded Sierra Leone. So we always have these one man armies that are being sent by Charles Taylor and I don't know how they make it up. So now I'm sending this Abu Keita now to go and head Scorpion and who does he carry? Just his hands and his feet. It never happened. It never happened.

  • Did you send a group of Liberians to Sierra Leone called the Scorpion unit?

  • Never did. Never did. Never did. Never.

  • Was there ever such a unit bearing that name in Liberia?

  • Now you had mentioned earlier in your testimony, Mr Taylor, that Abu Keita had been arrested during the Camp Johnson Road incident?

  • Were they kept in custody?

  • At the BTC. The Barclay Training Centre.

  • For how long did they remain in custody?

  • Abu Keita was not in jail very long. I would put it to no more than a couple of weeks, because we were trying to reconcile. After we had successfully brought the Johnson fiasco under control, we just wanted to reconcile it as quickly as we could internally so it just could not continue to fester.

  • Now, can you help us as to when those arrests took place?

  • During the fighting. During the fighting.

  • Now the fighting, remind us, 18/19 September?

  • Yes, about that. Yes. And it is lasted for almost - it lasted for a couple of days in actual combat, but the operation took about a week.

  • And he remains in custody for a couple of weeks after that?

  • Now I ask for this reason, because the witness says that it was some time after September 1998 that he was told this by Benjamin Yeaten.

  • But on what you're telling us he would have been in custody at the end of September, wouldn't he?

  • He would have been, but besides let's stretch it out a little more. Here is a man that was involved in combat against the government, you understand me? He's arrested.

    Now if I'm planning a covert operation in Sierra Leone to establish a unit, I'm going to send an enemy force to go and do it? Does it make any sense? He's already an enemy soldier. He's supposed to be the one to go and lead up a unit? How is that possible?

    He is an enemy soldier to the government. He's being released because we are trying to reconcile, but if you want to send someone on operation to do who would you send? You want to send an enemy soldier, because I'm looking at him at that way at this particular time, okay?

    As President I was not thinking enemy, not enemy, but I mean how do you take somebody that just fought the government out of prison, reconcile him and tell him say, "Go to another country to head up something called Scorpion." It doesn't hold. Keita is lying.

    And Keita - Abu Keita - from even additional information that we received subsequently even ended up in Ivory Coast, so Keita is a mercenary. That's what Keita is. And he's going around, digging and he ends up in the Ivorian crisis also. No.

  • Would that be a convenient point?

  • Yes, that's a convenient point. We'll adjourn for lunch and resume at 2.30.

  • [Lunch break taken at 1.30 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 2.30 p.m.]

  • Yes, please continue, Mr Griffiths.

  • May it please your Honours:

  • Mr Taylor, before we adjourned for lunch, I was dealing with certain specific allegations made against you by various Prosecution witnesses, things which you are said to have done in the year 1998. Do you recall that?

  • And the last person we dealt with was an allegation made by that witness Abu Keita, yes?

  • Now, moving on. On 11 March 2008, to which pages 5793 to 5798 of the transcript refers, Isaac Mongor, TF1-532, said that in November 1998 you and Sam Bockarie planned attacks on Kono, Makeni, Freetown and Joru. Did you do that, Mr Taylor?

  • No, I did not. Never planned any such attack with Sam Bockarie, never.

  • Another witness, TF1-362, says that in an unspecified month in 1998 the witness was asked by Issa Sesay to train 62 Sierra Leonean army personnel at the request of Charles Taylor so that the trainees could go and open the border between Sierra Leone and Gbarnga, Liberia. That was said on 28 January 2008 at pages 4895 of the transcript. Mr Taylor, did you do such a thing?

  • Now, he said that at an unspecified time?

  • Some time in 1998, but a month is not given, the witness was asked by Issa Sesay to train 62 SLAs at your request?

  • But what is happening in 1998 that somebody has to open the border with Gbarnga? What is happening in 1998? I mean, in 1998 a border between Gbarnga and Sierra Leone is being opened? What is going on in 1998? There's nothing. I mean maybe that's just a part of their whole fabrication, but what is going on? There's no problem in closing or opening a border in 1998 between Gbarnga and Liberia - and Sierra Leone, so he's got to be talking nonsense. What could be happening?

  • Now that same witness on 27 February 2008, at pages 4867 to 4868 of the transcript, said that in 1998 the witness was informed by Sam Bockarie that you had said - you had said - that a training base at Camp Lion should be set up in Bunumbu in Kailahun District. Did you do that?

  • Never did that. Never did that. Don't even know Bunumbu what? Never did that. Never. Never. Never.

  • Now another witness, TF1-516, says that at an unspecified time in 1998 Sam Bockarie said he was promoted to a general by you. Now, we've already had two people say that.

  • Did you, Mr Taylor?

  • Never promoted Sam Bockarie to anything. Never.

  • Now, that was said on 27 February 2008 at page 6854 of the transcript.

  • But if you listen to that, that's even before the other two claim that I promoted him.

  • Well, this particular witness did not give a month in 1998. Now, another allegation. This allegation was made on 8 April 2008, to which page 3163 of the transcript refers. The witness, Perry Kamara, TF1-360, said that in 1998 Sam Bockarie said that you had created a plan of how to take over Sierra Leone and told Sam Bockarie how to implement it. Did you?

  • Never did. Never did. I had planned to take over Sierra Leone and - but I thought - I thought I planned to take over Sierra Leone from the invasion in 19, what was it? 1991. I thought that was the time I actually planned to take over, terrorise the country and take all the resources. I thought it was earlier than that.

  • No, Mr Taylor, even you have got it wrong. As I understand it, you planned as far back as Libya to do that.

  • Oh, Libya to do that. So is this a new plan, or I abandoned that plan?

  • Mr Taylor, that same witness, Perry Kamara, on 21 February 2008 at page 3102 of the transcript said that at some time in 1998 you stated that as long as the RUF had Kono they would not fail to take over the rest of Sierra Leone. Did you?

  • Never said that. And in fact, I don't know the full context of that, but through what means did I say that? Was that a radio message again? Or is it - what is this? I mean, I don't know the full context. But, I mean, maybe it's another one of those radio messages. And in any case if we know the period, we probably could ask for some of these intercepted transcripts to be made available. But no such thing happened.

  • That same witness, Mr Taylor, also said on 5 February 2008 at page 3105 of the transcript that Sam Bockarie, in 1998, transmitted a radio message that he had some arrangement with you. Did you have any arrangement with Sam Bockarie?

  • Never had any arrangement with Sam Bockarie. But what could have been interesting for this, even though I know it's very difficult over these years to get periods, exact months, but we've tried to stick with periods, probably we would have untangled this lie because my meeting with Sam Bockarie in 1998 occurs all the way in September. So he could be talking about something that is impossible.

    So I mean, that type of wide open stuff that he is talking about is just - is just the nature of how, you know, they ask these questions and these boys just want to say things and just say, "Oh, in 1998 this happened". Never. Never. What arrangement? Never had any arrangement with Sam Bockarie.

    My discussions with Sam Bockarie were straight to the peace process and if I had had any inclination or any idea that Sam Bockarie and his people intended to perpetuate the conflict I would have told my colleagues in ECOWAS and we would have tried to deal with it. I never had any separate arrangements with Sam Bockarie outside of the mandates that were given to us. That was the extent of my discussions.

  • That same witness, Mr Taylor, on 5 February 2008, at page 3163 to 3167 of the transcript said that in 1998 - sorry, let me change the page reference. I'm looking at the wrong line. That same witness on 5 February 2008, at page 3159 to 3160 of the transcript, said that in 1998 Sam Bockarie was ordered to Liberia to receive a plan from you. Is that the case, Mr Taylor?

  • It was never the case he was ordered to Liberia to receive a plan from me. Never. Never happened.

  • And the same witness, on 5 February 2008, at page 3163 to 3167 of the transcript, said that in 1998 at a meeting at Sam Bockarie's house, Sam Bockarie said that you and he, Sam Bockarie, had a very big plan to take over the whole of Sierra Leone. Any truth in that, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, then he missed the plan. The plan was back in Libya from what I'm hearing. So he missed the plan, except maybe it's no - lies. Look, it never, ever happened. A plan to take over Sierra Leone? For what? What do I want in Sierra Leone that I don't have in Liberia?

    1998, I'm President of the Republic of Liberia trying to make peace. What do I want from Sierra Leone? What do I want that I don't have? Sierra Leone has diamonds. We have diamonds. We have gold. I'm sure they have gold. We have other - we have oil, we have natural gas, we have bauxite, we have uranium. What do I want from Sierra Leone?

    These little boys that have been brought here to tell these kinds of stories and just open up a wide gate. In 1998 maybe if we had been more specific maybe we would have tied up these little boys in some of the lies because they would have fallen into a period that I had not even met Bockarie.

    I, Charles Ghankay Taylor, as President of Liberia sent for Sam Bockarie in September. He came in September. October he came through again. He went to Burkina Faso in 1999. There were several trips. Every trip that I invited Sam Bockarie to Liberia I would tell this Court and the world because I did it with the consent of my colleagues and I would not hide it. So there is nothing - no other reason why I needed to be in touch with Sam Bockarie except for the peace process and through God's grace I worked hard to get that peace. As hard or harder than almost any single person in ECOWAS and I challenge any one of them that are still in office to come here and say that Mr Taylor did not work.

    So this thing about little plans here and - it's all a blatant lie, a part of this fabrication to make it look as if Taylor had some separate agenda in Sierra Leone. I had no agenda in Sierra Leone outside of what ECOWAS and our OAU colleagues decided. None whatsoever. And everything that I did in Sierra Leone they knew. I kept them informed, we worked together all the way into Lome, all the way in Issa Sesay in 2000, everything they were part of it. So all this thing here about separate, there was no separate plan. None.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, another witness, TF1-567, on 5 February 2008, at page 12913 to 12917 of the transcript, alleged that you, Charles Taylor, supplied arms and ammunition for the attack on Koidu Town on condition that nine diamond mining areas were captured. Did you?

  • I did not. Diamond mining areas in Liberia are not being worked by the government. This Court has heard evidence of the diamondiferous region even near the Sierra Leonean border in Lofa Bridge in Lofa. I'm not working diamonds in Liberia. That's not my business. I'm busy trying to bring peace first to the country. Peace first before we get into all of this. So I'm going to leave all of that and go to someplace called Koidu. And what he did he say that happened? Did he say?

  • 1998.

  • And the final allegation I want to put to you at this stage, Mr Taylor, is this: On 28 January 2008 an individual whose name you wrote on a piece of paper - do you recall?

  • He said that you gave instructions to Sam Bockarie over the phone for operation No Living Thing, including an order to capture Freetown. Did you?

  • Total foolishness. Total, total lie.

  • Let's take them one at a time. Did you order Sam Bockarie over the phone to announce and launch Operation No Living Thing?

  • When did Operation No Living Thing take place? I don't even know the Operation No Living Thing. Maybe the Court could help me, because we could then tie in - here is me ordering an operation probably with a man that I have never known or met. So I don't know if the Court can help with some time for this operation --

  • For now, Mr Taylor, let's just deal with it in broad terms. Did you give Bockarie such an order?

  • Did you order Bockarie to capture Freetown?

  • Never. Never. Never ordered Bockarie to capture any Freetown. As a matter of fact, Freetown - the attack on Freetown annoyed every one of us in ECOWAS and maybe when we get to that point we'll know all of the anger expressed and what we were trying to do when the news broke on 6 January. Total foolishness. Never happened.

  • Very well. Mr Taylor, I want to leave the year 1998 now, please, and embark on 1999, okay? Now, early January 1999, Mr Taylor, what was your knowledge of events in Sierra Leone?

  • As of late December going into that last week of the year, all of us knew that there was heavy fighting in different parts of Sierra Leone. That's as much as we knew.

  • Now, when did you first learn of the Freetown invasion?

  • When I got up on the morning of the 6th my national security adviser informed me that they were fighting in Freetown. That's the news that he had received on the radio.

  • Now Mr Taylor, by this stage, as you've told us --

  • 6 January, presumably?

  • By this stage, Mr Taylor, you've told us that you were in telephone contact with Sam Bockarie who had a satellite phone?

  • No, no, no, we'll come to that, but prior to that you told us that you and other leaders in ECOWAS --

  • -- had a telephone number for Bockarie on a satellite phone on which he was contactable?

  • Oh, yes, definitely, yes.

  • Now moving to 6 January. When you learnt this from your national security adviser, did you attempt to get in touch with Bockarie?

  • Yes, I instructed them to try to contact him immediately to find out what was really going on.

  • Was he contactable?

  • Did you speak to him?

  • No, I did not speak to him personally. The national security adviser spoke to him and his first thing was that he did not know what was going on himself in Freetown. That was his first reaction and the report brought to me on that morning; that he could not account because he didn't know what was going on.

  • Now, who was your national security adviser?

  • At that time I had - there was Lewis Brown was then national security adviser.

  • And who was it who contacted Bockarie?

  • The national security adviser, Brown.

  • And can you help us, Mr Taylor, with a time of day when this contact was made?

  • That had to be about 10 - about 10 a.m. Between 9 and 10 I'm sure in the morning, because they don't wake me up. I had come out and I got this information about 8, 8.30. So right thereafter I will put his contact to about 9, 10.

  • And how many times was he contacted on that day?

  • He was contacted twice to the best of my knowledge; that morning and then later on in the evening. I think it was that day if I'm not mistaken. One of the security personnel informed me that they had heard Sam Bockarie on the radio stating that Freetown was under attack, and I said - and that Sam Bockarie was saying that his boys - or something to that extent - were in Freetown. I said but this cannot be possible. We just contacted his boys this morning. He said that he knew nothing about it. How can he be saying something that - get back to Bockarie and find out what is going on that he could say this morning he knew nothing about it, but somebody is telling me that they hear him on I think it was the BBC saying that his boys are in Freetown. I want to know what's going on.

    So that day I would say at least twice he was contacted, in the morning hour and after this so-called - I didn't listen to the radio report, but it was reported to me that he was on the radio.

  • Now, what was the upshot of the second telephone call?

  • Really it was one of annoyance that what is going on, that in the morning you are saying that you do not know anything about this but in the evening we hear you on the radio. Are you involved in this attack on Freetown? That's what we want to find out.

  • And what did he say?

  • Again he said that oh - if I recollect what he said to the security personnel was that, "Oh, that's morale. The boys enter and it looks like they are doing well and so, you know, I'm a big man too so I'm taking some claim for it." This is what he told the security but in effect, I mean one could - our own analysis was that he was trying to get - if things had worked good he would benefit from it, but he didn't sound like he was in control of the situation.

  • All right. Now, Mr Taylor, on any occasion that day did you, Charles Taylor, speak personally to Sam Bockarie?

  • No, I did not speak to him personally on that day, no.

  • Now, on the following day were you aware of a report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to the Security Council?

  • Well, there were several things that happened on that day. While that was going on, I also got reports that were circulating on the wires that this attack on Freetown had been launched with Liberian assistance and that there were Liberians that were fighting in Sierra Leone and causing all this trouble in the city.

  • Where did you hear that from?

  • It was on the news wires. My security advisors came in to brief me and I said, "But this is impossible. These people are saying that Liberia is involved?" I convened a national security council immediately with the foreign minister, defence minister and other people to put together a document immediately, because when these things come on the wires like this - these accusations - you have to act immediately.

    I convened a national security council immediately. We drafted a letter immediately to the Secretary-General for the Security Council to explain that we knew nothing about this thing, that Liberia was not a part of it and we were as shocked as everybody else about what had happened in Freetown. And that document was sent immediately.

    Now on the 7th of January, or thereabouts, the Secretary-General did a special - a special report. Not one of the regular reports, but he did a special report for the Security Council dealing with the Sierra Leonean crisis.

  • And have you seen that report, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, it so happened that the letter - the letter that I wrote to the Security Council - is an annex to that report on 7 January.

  • Right. Now, do your Honours have disclosure for week 32? It should be two volumes. Can we have a look at the first volume, please, behind divider 1. Do we all have it? I would like us to look at this document with some care:

  • Firstly, we see it's dated 7 January 1999. Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • I'm sorry, I missed the tab number. What tab was it?

  • Behind tab 1, your Honour.

  • Thank you. Go ahead, Mr Griffiths.

  • Now we see it's dated 7 January 1999, Mr Taylor, yes?

  • And this is the document you were referring to?

  • Let's pick it up in the third sentence:

    "In view of the serious developments in the country since that time, I have decided to submit the present report which contains updated information and revised observations and recommendations.

    Military and security developments: On 17 December 1998, the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group opened an attack aimed at Kailahun District in the eastern province, an important rebel base and supply point. However, the ECOMOG attack achieved only limited progress. The south of the country, including Bo, the second largest city, remained calm.

    Starting on 18 December 1998, the military and security situation in Sierra Leone took a sharply unfavourable turn. A strong rebel attack on Koidu in the eastern province obliged ECOMOG to fall back, eventually as far as Magburaka in the centre of the country, while sustaining heavy casualties from ambushes along the route.

    On 22 December, a third group of rebels in the Western Area attacked Waterloo, about 20 miles from Freetown on the road connecting the capital with the rest of the country. The attack resulted in heavy casualties among civilians and the looting and destruction of property and sent thousands of people fleeing towards Freetown.

    In response to these developments, on 23 December 1998, United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone withdrew the seven United Nations military observers who had been deployed there since August from Makeni to Lungi along with some of their equipment. National staff of the World Food Programme were also relocated from Makeni to Freetown on the same day. Three United Nations military observers who had been sent to Daru in connection with the ECOMOG advance against Kailahun were also withdrawn to Kenema.

    Tension continued to rise in Freetown in anticipation of a possible rebel attack. A rebel leader, Sam Bockarie, threatened to launch an assault on the capital around the New Year unless the government released the leader of the Revolutionary United Front, Corporal Foday Sankoh."

    Pause there. Mr Taylor, were you aware of such an announcement by Sam Bockarie?

  • No, I was not.

  • "And rebels advancing in the countryside announced that they were fighting ECOMOG and the United Nations. On 24 December, as a precautionary measure, UNOMSIL began relocating non-essential civilian staff from Freetown and withdrew the military observer teams deployed at Bo and Kenema to Lungi. United Nations agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and international non-governmental organisations also began to withdraw their personnel from the country. Governments with diplomatic representation in Freetown began reducing their embassy staff and subsequently withdrew all their personnel. The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland also sent two aircraft to evacuate British and other nationals from Sierra Leone.

    On 27 December 1998, Makeni fell to the rebels, who seized a number of vehicles in the town, greatly enhancing their mobility and speed of movement. The fall of Makeni removed an important obstacle to the rebels' ability to combine their forces and placed them in a position to attack Freetown and the airport at Lungi. The following day, UNOMSIL withdrew most of its personnel from Freetown to Conakry, leaving a small core team led by my special representative for Sierra Leone, Francis Okelo, and comprising the chief military observer, Brigadier General Subhash Joshi, and other senior staff, as well as a few military observers.

    In the closing days of December, the rebels advanced further westward, moving into Lunsar, engaging ECOMOG at Port Loko, and attacking Waterloo and Hastings. ECOMOG continued to bring in further reinforcements, including three fresh battalions over the New Year.

    On 4 January 1999, President Kabbah paid a one-day visit to Bamako concerning the early deployment of a contingent of Malian troops to reinforce ECOMOG in Sierra Leone. The troops are being financed by a contribution from the Netherlands and their transportation to Lungi is being arranged through the logistics supply company PAE, with funding to be provided by the United Kingdom. A similar arrangement is being put in place to transport Gambian troops. The Government of the United Kingdom has also announced the provision of a further one million pounds to the government and to ECOMOG.

    In the early hours of 6 January, rebels attacking from the east of the city penetrated to the centre of Freetown, where they opened Pademba Road Prison, freeing hundreds of prisoners detained for offences relating to the period of junta rule, as well as former soldiers of the Republic of Sierra Leone military forces. The rebels also set fire to some buildings, including the Nigerian High Commission. By nightfall of that day, the city was quiet, with rebels apparently in control of the centre around the State House. On the same day, UNOMSIL completed its evacuation from Freetown."

    Then this:

    "On 20 December 1998, President Charles Taylor of Liberia announced the closure of the border between Liberia and Sierra Leone."

    We dealt with that, did we not, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, we did.

  • "And stated that he had ordered Armed Forces of Liberia personnel to deploy at the border. President Taylor informed the representative of the Secretary-General in Liberia, Felix Downes-Thomas, that he had received intelligence reports concerning an impending attack against the territory of Liberia to take place in the latter part of December."

    Again you had mentioned that in that speech, had you not, Mr Taylor?

  • "President Taylor said he believed that the attack to be mounted by elements of former Liberian warring factions based in Zimmi, southern Sierra Leone, would take place in the context of a planned offensive by ECOMOG and the Sierra Leonean Civil Defence Force against the rebels at Kailahun. President Taylor proposed that ECOMOG troops in Liberia should mount joint patrols with Liberian personnel along the border and called for an investigation into the attack reportedly planned by ECOMOG against the rebels in Sierra Leone.

    Mr Downes-Thomas and Mr Okelo have urged President Taylor and President Kabbah to discuss the situation directly and will, if requested, offer their good offices accordingly."

    Did you have such a discussion?

  • Oh, I'm not - we had talked before about joint patrols. On this particular occasion I don't think we had re-opened it, but we had discussed at some point in time - President Kabbah and myself I mean - the issue of this joint patrol, because I was expecting this attack from Sierra Leone and I'm not too - I'm not too certain if we had raised it again at this time.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, speaking of President Kabbah, when you heard news of the Freetown invasion on the morning of the 6th, did you call President Kabbah?

  • I don't recall calling him. I very much - I could have. I do remember the first person that I called was the chairman. I called the chairman of ECOWAS, President Eyadema, that morning to tell him what was going on and I'm sure I probably spoke to a couple more presidents. I'm not too sure. If I didn't talk to him early that morning I'm sure some time during the day I could have spoken to him, but I can remember very clearly talking to Eyadema and I could have also spoken to President Abdulsalami Abubakar, I could have, and probably Alpha Konare, but I spoke to three or four of the leaders in West Africa at that time and told them about what had been said to me when my government enquired in the morning what we had heard that morning and so by that afternoon they had this information.

  • "On 28 December my special representative attended an extraordinary ministerial level meeting of the ECOWAS Committee of Five on Sierra Leone in Abidjan, chaired by the minister for foreign affairs of Togo. The committee which comprises Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria, was expanded to include Togo, the current chairman of the Economic Community of West African States. A representative of Burkina Faso, the chairman of the Organisation of African Unity also attended, as well as representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

    According to the final communique issued by the committee, both the force commander of ECOMOG and the minister for foreign affairs of Sierra Leone implicated Liberia in providing military support to the rebels."


  • First of all, let's fill in some detail. The force commander of ECOMOG is who?

  • The same general whose various comments we noted in other documents this morning?

  • That is correct.

  • And do you recall now who was the minister for foreign affairs of Sierra Leone?

  • No, I don't recall. I don't recall who he - who he was, no.

  • Now, it goes on to say that:

    "The minister for foreign affairs of Liberia denied any involvement by his country in Sierra Leone and called for an international investigation. The meeting was also informed by the Government of Sierra Leone and ECOMOG that mercenaries were fighting alongside the rebels".

    Do you know anything about such mercenaries, Mr Taylor?

  • No, but I mean if ECOMOG is making this kind of accusation they should be able to say who these mercenaries are. But we know who they end up referring to. They are referring to Liberians and they are pretending that they do not know who they are.

  • "...were fighting alongside the rebels in contravention of international law. The Government of Liberia subsequently issued a statement expressing disappointment and indignation at the allegations against it, reiterating that it was not providing support to the rebels and demanding concrete proof of the allegations. The Government of Liberia further asserted that the current and former governments of Sierra Leone had employed Liberian mercenaries, which tended to destabilise the sub-region."

    And again, Mr Taylor, we know from that statement made by President Kabbah to the TRC in Sierra Leone that that was in fact the case.

  • That is correct.

  • "In a letter addressed to the president of the Security Council dated 6 January, 1999, President Taylor reiterated that the Government of Liberia was in no way supporting the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council or the Revolutionary United Front forces in Sierra Leone and that it continued to abide by all existing council resolutions and embargoes. Citing the lack of evidence or proof produced by those who had accused his government of doing so, President Taylor called on the Security Council to investigate the allegation and again proposed that the United Nations establish a mechanism to monitor the border between the two countries.

    The committee, now known as the Committee of Six on Sierra Leone, appealed to the rebels to cease fighting immediately, to lay down their arms and to recognise the government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah as the legitimate government in Sierra Leone, to participate in dialogue and to accept the government's offer of amnesty. The committee inter alia also urged the international community to leave the rebels in no doubt that they would never be accorded recognition as the legitimate government.

    The communique which has been circulated called for an expedited provision of logistical support to ECOMOG. It expressed grave concern at the aggression being perpetrated against Sierra Leone and strongly condemned the activities of the countries providing support to the rebels. The communique condemned the presence of mercenaries in Sierra Leone.

    The Committee of Six called on the chairman of ECOWAS to embark on initiatives to develop true and genuine rapprochement between the Heads of State of Sierra Leone and Liberia and resolved to deploy all measures necessary to re-establish dialogue between the government and the rebels, as prescribed in the Abidjan and Conakry Peace Agreements."

    You note that, Mr Taylor, "to re-establish dialogue between the government and the rebels as prescribed in the Abidjan and Conakry Peace Agreements", yes?

  • Yes, that's the whole point and by the Abidjan they are talking about - we are talking here about the November 1996 Abidjan Accord. That's the Abidjan referred to here, yes.

  • "On 7 January 1999, the presidency of Togo, the current chairman of ECOWAS, launched an urgent appeal to the President of Sierra Leone and the leader of the rebel forces to order a halt to the fighting. In his statement, President Gnassingbe Eyadema stressed that as the forces of the ECOWAS monitoring group were forces of peace their mission in Sierra Leone was to help the Sierra Leonean brothers put an end to the fratricidal war and find a political solution to the conflict between them.

    President Eyadema urged the President of Sierra Leone and the head of the rebel forces to order their troops to lay down their arms in order to permit the opening of a political dialogue between the Sierra Leonean brothers with a view to definitive settlement of the crisis."

    Let us pause there for a minute, Mr Taylor. Now, in that December period had your brother President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah made any direct allegation to you of complicity with the rebel attacks which were mounting in Sierra Leone?

  • No. No, he did not. He had not, no.

  • Now, we see in the passage we've read, Mr Taylor, reference to a meeting of Committee of Five foreign ministers on 28 December.

  • Prior to that meeting had you been directly accused by Sierra Leone of complicity with the rebels?

  • Directly, no. As a government, no.

  • When your foreign minister reported that such accusations had been made by General Shelpidi and the Sierra Leonean foreign minister at that meeting, what was your reaction?

  • I was very, very upset. Very upset that this could have come from Shelpidi again. I was very, very upset and just didn't, you know, know what was going on in Shelpidi's mind because at this meeting if you look at it - the picture that we have to look at here is this: Here is the ECOMOG forces commander at a meeting. And just like you see in the Secretary-General's document saying they are mercenaries, people begin to quote mercenaries, mercenaries, mercenaries. The foreign minister of Sierra Leone going at that particular meeting would not say to the forces commander, "No, you shouldn't be saying this", so I was very upset that Shelpidi had ended up at a foreign ministers' meeting and made such accusations.

    And may I say that meeting and that accusation did not even reach to the Heads of State level. It stayed right at the foreign ministers' level after we issued a very strong condemnation of what they were saying.

  • Going on:

    "Recent rebel attacks in the east and west have involved the killing of civilians, the destruction of homes and abductions. Women and children have been deliberately targeted with close-range gunfire and other civilians have been summarily executed.

    Following the withdrawal of military observers from Makeni, Bo and Kenema, it has been difficult for UNOMSIL to gather reliable information about the human rights situation in the countryside, particularly in the areas recently overrun by the rebels. However, the rebel attacks have certainly resulted in population displacements and, it is feared, the killing of civilians.

    While much of the ECOMOG activity around Freetown was militarily justified, UNOMSIL has received complaints of assault, harassment and unnecessary detention, primarily of young men. Members of the pro-government CDF have been accused of summarily killing one person during a house raid on 26 December.

    On 26 December, a number of prominent personalities organised and addressed a large rally in the city centre. Many of the speeches were highly inflammatory and called on people to take the law into their own hands regarding alleged rebels or rebel sympathisers. During the proceedings, some members of the crowd seized two men and accused them of being rebels. UNOMSIL personnel witnessed the murder of the two men by persons in the crowd, with the clear support of onlookers. When the identities of the two victims were later ascertained, there was no indication that they harboured sympathies for the rebels.

    Immediately after the incident, my special representative expressed his grave concern to the President and requested government intervention to restrain similar inflammatory statements and acts of violence. The minister for information then broadcast a message calling on people to desist from revenge attacks and to hand all suspects over to the authorities. No further such incidents were reported that day.

    The humanitarian implications of the recent developments in Sierra Leone are very troubling. Overland access to the interior has been cut and the capacity to provide humanitarian assistance has been sharply reduced as all expatriate staff of international non-governmental organisations and most United Nations agency and ICRC staff have been relocated outside of the country. While sufficient food stocks are available in country to meet the immediate needs, delivery much beyond Freetown is no longer possible. The country might soon be facing a humanitarian crisis of major proportions.

    Rebel advances have been preceded by the displacement of large numbers of civilians in an attempt to flee the violence. It is estimated that as many as 40,000 internally displaced persons were concentrated in Makeni prior to the attack on that city. Closer to Freetown, in Waterloo, rebel attacks prompted the flight of 12,000 internally displaced persons and Liberian refugees residing in a camp to Freetown. Though some may now have returned to the camp, lack of access prevents humanitarian agencies from assessing their situation and distributing assistance. The continued violence also raises the prospect of refugee flows to neighbouring countries."

    Pause there. Mr Taylor, speaking of refugee flows, did the Freetown invasion result in refugees fleeing to Liberia?

  • Oh, yes. The refugees crossed the border into Liberia, yes.

  • Let's skip over to the observations and recommendations, shall we:

    "Sierra Leone has suffered a serious setback. I deplore the recent intensification of hostilities and the rebel attacks on Freetown. Nevertheless, the international community has not abandoned Sierra Leone and should not do so.

    The ECOWAS Committee of Six on Sierra Leone has shown commendable initiative and resolve. I endorse its conclusions and urge ECOWAS to meet at the summit level as soon as possible, with the participation of all interested countries to consider ways of dealing with the current situation. The summit should consider how best to continue its support for the legitimate Government of Sierra Leone, how to achieve a political settlement of the conflict and how to relieve the humanitarian needs of the Sierra Leonean people.

    Nevertheless, ECOWAS and ECOMOG should not bear the burden alone. I commend the Governments of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States for their past and continuing efforts to ensure the provision of the necessary logistical support to ECOMOG, and encourage member states to be prepared to make further contributions to the peace process as may be required.

    I also welcome the various efforts that have been made to secure a peaceful solution to the conflict through dialogue, including those by the President of the Gambia and the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

    Military successes will not win the rebels legitimacy or recognition. I therefore call on them to open discussions with the government on any legitimate political demands and grievances they or their supporters may have.

    The future of UNOMSIL now appears much less clear than it did only a matter of weeks ago and the modest expansion of the civilian staff that I envisaged in my report of 16 December is untenable in the present circumstances."

    I don't think - unless there is anything further you want to direct our attention to, Mr Taylor, I don't know if there is anything further that assists?

  • No, not really, except to mention that we did begin the process by the - after this report, efforts were put into place immediately to renew the mandate to contact these people to see if we can get a ceasefire. So we begin working on a ceasefire proposal immediately that we do not get into place until somewhere about March/April, but we begin to intensify the activities with Ivory Coast using her contacts. We are already in contact with Bockarie in trying to begin the process of trying to get a final ceasefire, which we do get later.

  • Can I ask please, Mr President, for this document to be marked for identification, "Special Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission to Sierra Leone" dated 7 January 1999, MFI-66.

  • Yes, that document is marked MFI-66.

  • Now this report, Mr Taylor, speaks at paragraph 15 of a letter annexed to the report written by you --

  • -- to the Security Council?

  • Can we turn to behind divider 3, please. Is this the letter, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, this is the letter. We profited - because of the six hour difference in time we profited in we were lucky in getting this in the special report at the time, yes.

  • Right. Now taking matters in stages, what was it that prompted you to write the letter, Mr Taylor?

  • Within hours of that attack in Freetown there were reports coming about that there are Liberians that are involved in this attack on Freetown and that there are Liberians that are leading this operation. This is the news all over the wires and we know we have nothing to do with it and so we set out immediately not only to just write the Secretary-General, but to contact our colleagues. That is what prompted this letter immediately on that day.

  • "I am pleased to present my compliments and to refer to recent accusations made against the Government of Liberia by the force commander of the Monitoring Group of the Economic Community of West African States and the foreign minister of Sierra Leone at the recent meeting of the ECOWAS Committee of Five on Sierra Leone held in Abidjan on 28 December 1998. The Government of Liberia was accused of supporting the rebellion in Sierra Leone.

    The Government of Liberia wishes to inform the Security Council that it is in no manner or form supporting the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council or the Revolutionary United Front forces in Sierra Leone and that it continues to abide by all existing Security Council resolutions and embargoes. The failure and inability of those parties accusing Liberia to produce any evidence or proof is sufficient grounds to warrant such accusations as not credible and speculative. The Government of Liberia calls upon the Security Council to investigate freely those malicious allegations, which are purely intended to cover up the failure of the use of force as a policy to end the civil war in Sierra Leone.

    It is important to note that, whilst accusing Liberia of supporting the rebels, both ECOMOG and the Government of Sierra Leone have also accused white mercenaries and certain senior military officers of the Sierra Leonean army in Freetown."

    Pause there. Was there this accusation of white mercenaries being involved, Mr Taylor?

  • Oh, yes. Yes, they said that there were white mercenaries involved fighting alongside the rebels. Yes, they said that.

  • "In fact there has been no consistency with regard to whom is being accused. Political opposition leaders living in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America and certain non-Sierra Leonean businessmen deported by the Kabbah government have also been accused. What is quite interesting is the fact that Sierra Leone is not only bordered by Liberia, but by two countries. The other country has a border three times the length of the border with Liberia. The strength of the rebels and their activities have been confirmed to be concentrated in the northern region, which is of geographical proximity not to Liberia, but to the other neighbour. The eastern region, which is of geographical proximity to Liberia, is calm. The accused white mercenaries have been identified as Ukrainians. The only presence of Ukrainians in the sub-region is to be found in the other neighbouring country."

    Pause there. What are you talking about there?

  • Well the pilots for the helicopters being used by the Sierra Leonean government are Ukrainians, they are stationed in Guinea and, like I said, the northern part of the country is not contiguous with the borders of Liberia. Like we say, the eastern part is - no, these are people living in Guinea and so if you're talking about white mercenaries there are no Ukrainians in Liberia.

  • "The lack of proof against Liberia could very well be due to the fact that the accusing fingers are being pointed at the wrong person and that other possible sources of support for the rebels have been ruled out. Circumstantial evidence and the process of elimination are not tenable grounds upon which to make such grave accusations against a state member of the United Nations. We believe that the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone should conduct its own independent analysis of the situation, and that the international community should not be compelled to make decisions based on speculation."

    Did anyone carry out such an independent analysis of the situation, Mr Taylor?

  • No, we never got this. This is one of those investigations that has been called for many, many times before the Security Council, but just never got off. I guess nobody was interested in getting to the bottom of it. The little ones - remember, the one about the 5,000 troops, we are able to get to it right away. They go to the border, no 5,000 troops, finish. The other one about this Bukari Musa with the 3,000 troops, we're lucky to get people to go to Camp Naama immediately and look at it.

    This general problem that we've asked for, if you watch it here he will say the Government of Liberia. Again, the Secretary-General of the United Nations is admitting that we've asked more than once, "Listen, people. This is not true. Let's launch an investigation." We never get to it. From that time, going through 1999/2000, the United Nations never launches a formal investigation to ascertain the authenticity of the information that is just being put across the world press. Never do.

  • "The Government of Liberia renews its request to the United Nations to put into place a mechanism to ensure transparency in the monitoring of its border by the United Nations. Our commitment to the restoration of peace and security in Sierra Leone is evidenced by the following measures undertaken with regard to the situation in Sierra Leone:

    1. The government has publicly and unequivocally stated its support for the elected government of President Kabbah and condemned the atrocities perpetrated against the people of Sierra Leone;

    2. The government has requested, through the Secretary-General of the United Nations, that the United Nations deploy observers at the Liberian-Sierra Leonean border to monitor the implementation of the United Nations embargo;

    3. The government has requested ECOWAS, through its executive secretary, to deploy an observer unit of ECOMOG at the Liberian-Sierra Leonean border;

    4. The government has offered to conduct joint border security activities with the Government of Sierra Leone;

    5. The government has undertaken to maintain regular high-level contacts with the Government of Sierra Leone through the exchange of envoys;

    6. The government has voted for and supported sanctions and embargoes against the AFRC/RUF and all ECOWAS initiatives for Sierra Leone;

    7. The government has offered to accept undercover security personnel from Sierra Leone to operate in Liberia in assisting to ensure that no activities against Sierra Leone are carried out;

    8. The government, through its President, has proposed an initiative to assist the peace process in Sierra Leone and; the government continues to provide safe refuge for tens of thousands of Sierra Leonean refugees in Liberia."

    Had you done all of that, Mr Taylor?

  • All of that. Every one of these we had done. And even more important is the one that suggests the issue of undercover agents when you look at item (g), "The government has offered to accept undercover security personnel from Sierra Leone to operate in Liberia in assisting to ensure that no activities against Sierra Leone are carried out."

    What we proposed: Look, send plain-clothes undercover people. The government doesn't want to know who they are. Plant them across the borders. If they observe anything, they inform you, we will act on it. Plain-clothes people. I mean, we did everything for God's sake on the Sierra Leonean problem. I don't know. We did everything. Send your people.

    Because the border area we're talking about, we went through this on the map. There are Mendes, there are Temnes, there are Kissies along the entire border. So if you send a security personnel from Sierra Leone that is for example a Mende and he mixes in the population it's impossible for anyone to know that he is an agent. Send him. Send as many as you want. Plant them in these areas. Once they get information and pass it on to you over there, tell us, say on this date at this time this person did this, we will go after them.

    We couldn't even get this to happen. Even calling on them to send their undercover people into Liberia. I don't know what else I could have done. Everything mentioned here to Security Council was done by my government. Every one of them.