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

"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?

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