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

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.

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