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

Now, your Honours will see that at paragraph 405 and 406, 7 and 8, we deal with ideology training at Camp Naama. If I could just give your Honours a moment to cast your eye quickly over that, to get the import of what we are suggesting in those paragraphs. Now the points we are making, Madam President, and it's an important point from our point of view, looking at paragraph 406, and because I am there quoting the words of a protected witness, and your Honours will see from the first line who that person is, bearing in mind the role that person played at Camp Naama, and I was the person who cross-examined that witness, I would have asked him this simple question: Did you teach the recruits at Camp Naama to terrorise the civilian population? What would his answer have been? It would surely have been in the negative. In fact, there is ample evidence, from Issa Sesay, others, there is also a publication before your Honours created by a protected witness, which underlines the fact that amongst the several trainers at Camp Naama, the only person who on any occasion made any suggestion about terrorising the civilian population was Isaac Mongor. And you will recall that, both in that publication and in testimony from Issa Sesay, there is clear evidence that Mr Mongor was ridiculed for having made that suggestion, even though later he himself did put that, what he suggested, into practice. So what is quite clear then is this: Firstly, terrorising the civilian population did not form part of the founding ideology of the RUF. Neither was it being taught as a military tactic at Camp Naama, save for that aberration, Isaac Mongor.

Secondly, had we known that this was the purpose of the JCE, the stock question this Defence would have asked of every single witness was: Were you taught to terrorise the civilian population of Sierra Leone? Two, did Foday Sankoh tell you to terrorise the civilian population of Sierra Leone? Three, did any other commander, apart from various aberrations like Sam Bockarie, command you and indeed on one occasion, Foday Sankoh, Operation Stop Elections, apart from that instance, routinely order you to terrorise the civilian population?

Now, it's easy for the Prosecution to point at instances and from that seek to draw some general conclusion, well, we know that they are good at drawing such assumptions. Well, instances did occur but what we are looking for is a pattern of behaviour of some long standing, of some geographical scope, and in our submission, dating from Camp Naama, this theory of terrorism did not form one of the founding principles of the RUF. It didn't. And I say quite bluntly, we have been disadvantaged and prejudiced by not knowing from the outset that that was the supposed purpose of this JCE, as opposed to the other multiple purposes replete in the Prosecution's opening and their case summary.

Third proposition, moving on from Camp Naama, once ULIMO was formed in Sierra Leone, funded and supported by the Sierra Leonean and Guinean government to fight against the NPFL and deny them the gains of the Liberian revolution, Charles Taylor formed a strategic alliance with the RUF to protect his flank. And this alliance remained in place for just over a year, before Taylor withdrew his support. The support provided during this period was limited. And I will now seek to provide some examples of evidence to show that such support during that period was limited.

Could I invite your attention, please, to exhibit P-65, Madam Court Manager, behind our divider 4?

Yes, we have it.

Your Honour will see P-65 is a document we've seen before. It's dated the 5th of May 1992. And it's from, we see from the seal at the bottom of the page, the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone. It's from Foday Sankoh, we know, written to Charles Taylor.

"I am thanking you very much for the brotherly help you are rendering me in my liberation struggle." Now, hold on a second. Let's go back to the golden thread. What's he doing talking about this as "my liberation struggle"? It's Taylor's liberation struggle. So how do we explain the effrontery of this underling? Taylor is supposed to be the big boss. The RUF is his private army. How dare Sankoh refer to this struggle as being his?

Then it goes on, "This struggle itself has reached a crucial and something stage, where I cannot afford to give up. Moreover there is no urgent need to sit and discourse on the current developments in Sierra Leone and also on the deployment of ECOMOG at the borders. These events are crucial and we need to address ourselves to them. I am therefore requesting an audience with you before I leave. I appreciate the five boxes of AK-47 rifle ammunition and the 10 boxes of RPG gun rockets which I should receive from you today. But I've just received a radio message from General that asks - that our men have encircled the Daru Barracks and they are waiting materials to do the final assault. I believe that what you have forwarded is not enough to carry out the operation against Daru. So I'm making, I'm asking you, in the name of the Almighty God, to kindly increase the number of boxes of AK-47 ammunition up to 20 and that of the RPG rockets to 12, plus some Beretta rounds. This will sustain us for some time while awaiting the long term supply that you have promised me. Moreover, it will boost the morale of my fighters who are in top form to advance in" - well, "to advance." I'll leave it at that. The general sense is quite clear.

And then the last two lines, well, before that he goes on to talk about him not having a vehicle and begging Taylor for a vehicle, and then he concludes in this way: "While anticipating your usual consideration, I would be grateful to you for your continued support in my struggle to liberate my people."

Now, there are a number of important questions which, in our submission, your Honours should properly ask about this letter. First of all, why is Sankoh writing in such begging terms to someone with whom he made a pact as long ago as Libya to provide mutual assistance to each other? The tone of the letter belies such an agreement. He shouldn't be begging. This is part of a plan. If Taylor has got it and he's wanting to achieve this plan, why is he not providing them with adequate supplies? Because the simple question is this: Given that the joint objective of gaining political control of Sierra Leone is to exploit its abundant natural resources, why hasn't Taylor given him the wherewithal to complete the job in as quick a time as possible, and as effectively as possible? Yet, here we have him begging. Why?

But I jump forward to come back because it is our submission that consistently, at this time as reflected in the letter, and indeed at any time during the indictment period, whatever materials were going over that border from Liberia to Sierra Leone, was for the most part a trickle. Now, why do I jump forward? I jump forward to 1998, so we are talking about six years after this letter, when the military attache at the US embassy in Monrovia conducted an investigation into alleged Liberian involvement in the Sierra Leone conflict. The accused, Mr Taylor, referred to this and other matters when he made a policy statement on the 29th of December 1998.

Can I refer your Honours please to exhibit D-141? And to page 292 of that exhibit, which Madam Court Manager, we find behind divider 5. Could we go - we see first of all on the first page, policy statement by the government of the Republic of Liberia on allegations against Liberia for involvement in the Sierra Leone crisis, Monrovia, Liberia, December the 29th, 1998. Let's go to page 293 at the bottom, please. And we are looking at the two middle paragraphs on the left. Thank you, Madam Court Manager.

"The Liberian government wishes to draw attention to the statement of the United States deputy assistant Secretary of State for Africa, ambassador Vicki Huddleston, that there is no evidence that the Liberian government is involved in aiding the war in Sierra Leone. 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."

Now, it's important to bear in mind - can we go back to the first page, please? I ask your Honours to bear in mind two things: Firstly, the source of the two comments to which - referred to in this policy statement. Secondly, the timing. This is the 29th of December. So this is what, just about a week before what, the Freetown invasion. And at that time, this defendant was able to call upon evidence of this nature, from the United States deputy assistant Secretary of State for Africa, and the military attache at the US embassy in Monrovia. A week before the Freetown invasion.

Now, Mr Taylor referred to this also in his testimony. This was testimony given by Mr Taylor on the 10th of August 2009. It's page 26277 of the trial transcript. Can we pick it up, please, at line 21?

"Q. And what was the information available to your government then as to United States research regarding the supply of arms?

A. Well, we had had, at our disposal, a report that had been done jointly by the United States, represented by a situation that came before us here, Colonel Dempsey, along with the United Nations and ECOMOG, that had stated in fact that there was some evidence of a little amount of arms going across the border, but it was not - that it was not an official transaction because it was just the trickle amount of arms going across the border. To see this same arms issue festering" - I'm going over the page - "I mean, we had to raise it here because it just seemed not to go away. I thought it had gone away after a senior army officer representing the American government at the embassy had gone there and had written a report saying, 'Look we haven't seen any evidence of this. The United Nations personnel had gone there and said we see no evidence of this. ECOMOG personnel had been there and said there is no evidence.' So to see this same thing festering and festering, I'm shocked by it."

So can we pause and take stock as to where we are? 5th of May 1992. Prima facie, Sankoh's begging letter suggests only small amounts of assistance being given, even at that time. 1998, six years later, again, evidence to the same effect. June 2000, the Prendergast code cable, 19th of June 2000 to which I earlier referred, asking, in effect, that if there is the evidence, show it. So we have consistently, throughout this period, 1992, 1998, 2000, documentary evidence suggesting that whatever assistance, whatever was going over that border, wasn't up to the job. So we go back to the golden thread: Why not? That was the design they agreed to, which they became party to, way back in Libya, so why not?

And one has to, I'm helpfully reminded, compare this untainted evidence, contemporaneous, written without criminal prosecution in mind, most of it - and I leave the Sankoh letter out of it for this purpose - from untainted sources. Compare this evidence to the hearsay upon which for the most part the Prosecution relies. We say the two just do not compare, in terms of value as evidence, as proof of guilt. Because when one looks at that evidence, the same theme is consistently present. It's the same theme. Independent of who was sending it, let's just put Mr Taylor to one side for the moment, whether it was coming from him, whether it was coming from ULIMO, whatever, the same theme consistently: Small amounts.

Moving on, point number 4: In or about May or June of 1992, Charles Taylor withdrew his support for the RUF. He sent a message and withdrew his men. This is accepted by the Prosecution.

Can we go, please, to paragraph 84 of the Prosecution's final brief? It's at page 51. "Taylor's forces remained in Sierra Leone, directing and participating in the fighting and the crimes committed against civilians until around June 1992. At that time, after Sankoh had complained about the extent of the crimes being committed against civilians by Taylor's fighters and after NPFL and RUF brother fought brother, the accused became angry and withdrew most of them."

So we are - both parties appear to be ad idem on that facts. They were withdrawn in or about June of 1992.

Now, the weight of the evidence we have heard is to this effect: That after that withdrawal, the NPFL fighters, having taken the bulk of the weaponry and ammunition, the RUF were left bereft of the wherewithal to prosecute the war and were pushed almost to extinction by the NPRC government aided by the mercenary group, Executive Outcomes, who had been brought in in return for diamond concessions. Furthermore, at or about the same time, ULIMO was increasing its grip on the Sierra Leone/Liberia border until towards the end of 1992, the beginning of 1993, the border was completely in their hands and was to remain so until, we would submit, the general elections in Liberia in June 1997. Why do we submit that?

It has to be recalled that the highest ranking member of the Taylor government who came to give evidence was none other than the Vice-President, Moses Blah. Now, I'm grateful to Mr Blah for assisting us with this: Although we say in one major respect he is a liar, that he only found out about his elevation to the presidency of the country on the day, he just happens to turn up at the Executive Mansion, suited and booted, and all of a sudden Taylor has a word in his ear, guess what Moses, you're going to be made President today. What utter nonsense. But in any event, let's have a look at what he had to say about the closure of the border. It's the testimony of Moses Blah dated the 19th of May 2008. Page 10191 of the transcript, line 26 on that page, please.

"Q. Now, it is at around this time, specifically in June 1991, that a completely different player appears on the scene, ULIMO, that is right, isn't it?

A. Yes, ULIMO."

Over the page:

"Q. Standing for United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia?

A. You are correct.

Q. And they came out of Sierra Leone, didn't they?

A. You are correct.

Q. Who supported them?

A. Roosevelt Johnson.

Q. Who provided them with arms and ammunition to invade Liberia?

A. They were joined by ECOMOG.

Q. No, no, no. Which country provided the support for ULIMO?

A. Yes, I have got you now. It was Sierra Leone.

Q. So just so we understand the picture, in June 1991, while there was this uneasy truce in Liberia, the Sierra Leonean government, the neighbouring state, funded a group to invade Liberia, that is right, isn't it?

A. You are correct.

Q. Now, ULIMO immediately decided to attack the NPFL, didn't it?

A. You are correct.

Q. And there were fierce battles between ULIMO and the NPFL, particularly in Lofa County?

A. You are correct.

Q. Now that fighting with ULIMO continued for some considerable period of time, didn't it?

A. You are correct.

Q. And effectively it resulted in ULIMO gaining large portions of the western region bordering Sierra Leone?

A. You are correct."

Over the page, please.

"Q. Now the ULIMO forces former President was mostly made up of former Doe supporters and ex-army, Liberian army soldiers isn't that right?

A. You are correct.

Q. Now, one consequence of ULIMO's offensive was to effectively cut off the border between Sierra Leone and Liberia, that is right, isn't it?

A. You are correct.

Q. And the border between Sierra Leone and Liberia was effectively controlled by ULIMO from 1992 until the elections in June 1997, that is right, isn't it?

A. You are correct. You are correct."

That's Moses Blah, Vice-President of Liberia, consequently someone who was in a position to know, if ever there was an insider witness, that was him, and yet that's what that star Prosecution witness told this Court.

Now, what we do know is this. What we do know is this. I'm told that I wrongly suggested that the elections were in June 1997. They were in July 1997. I think at an earlier stage, Madam President, and I just want to correct that for the record's sake.

I don't know where the transcript reference is, but if I could just say it for the record.

Now, so, there is a lot for us to pause and digest here. There is the withdrawal of the NPFL. There is the closure of the border by ULIMO. Now, so far as the withdrawal of the NPFL, it is quite clear that Corporal Foday Sankoh was upset and bitter at Charles Taylor as a result of this. And it's possible to postulate one or two reasons why Foday Sankoh might feel that way. And we mention this in light again of that golden thread. Now, one, you could understand him being bitter. You're not giving me a great deal of support, and I'm having to beg you. You can understand him being bitter, two, look how your NPFL soldiers have behaved in my country in relation to my revolution. And then, three, you can understand him being bitter because you've withdrawn all your support, left us with insufficient means to protect ourselves, and look what's happened to us now. We've had to go into the jungle, to create those jungles. So if we look at that critical point when the NPFL withdraw on Taylor's instructions and the border is closed, if we look at it from the vantage point of a Foday Sankoh, one could easily conclude that this was not a man who was very happy with Charles Taylor.

And we would submit that there is clear evidence to the effect that Foday Sankoh remained bitter against Charles Taylor as a result.

Now, Madam President, could I give your Honours a page reference? This is evidence given by a protected witness, and so we cannot display the transcripts publicly, but I think it would be helpful to your Honours if we could - perhaps we would need to go into a private session in order to deal with this matter.

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