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

Thank you.

Well, no, I didn't mean Foday Sankoh recruited me. I mean Mr Taylor sent me there and then I had a chat with Foday Sankoh. And the Prosecution interviewers got it all wrong when they wrote down that Foday Sankoh recruited him via the good offices of John Kargbo and no mention in that interview of Charles Taylor having anything to do with it.

Now, bear in mind that he never corrected those notes of interview, he never pointed out the error of the ways of these, no doubt, experienced Prosecution interviewers, that he insisted that although there was no mention of Mr Taylor sending him there, he insisted that it was definitely him and he knew - he knew, when he was first interviewed in 2006 and onwards, that he had been asked to tell the Prosecution all he knew about Charles Taylor. So this isn't somebody who's not got his mind focused on Charles Taylor when he's being interviewed. And yet he manages to get something as fundamental as that wrongly recorded and fails to point out the error of the interviewers' ways.

Now, again, if you just pause for a moment and apply common sense and reality to the facts of the situation, the NPFL, as you know, from evidence you'd heard, had plenty of Special Forces trained at - trained in Libya. We can't - although it doesn't appear any more in the Prosecution's final brief, we can't get away from Libya at the moment, but you know that those forces, a lot of them, were there being trained systematically over a period of time. And yet, for some reason, according to him, Mr Taylor chooses this run-away, this inexperienced nobody, to head up the training in Camp Naama. And the evidence that is contained in those interviews about him being recruited by Kargbo and then Sankoh to go and join the RUF in Camp Naama, no doubt rang bells later on when you heard exactly the same kind of story from other witnesses, both Prosecution and Defence, and surely at this stage, nobody disputes the fact that Sierra Leoneans living in Liberia at the time were recruited, some with no option, people who were in prison, some voluntarily, no doubt, but Sierra Leoneans were recruited by Sankoh and Sankoh's men, and that you may feel is how Isaac Mongor ended up at Camp Naama.

What did he say about Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh, about this special relationship? Well, in his interview, when he's originally telling the Prosecution all he knows about Charles Taylor, he says, "When I saw Foday Sankoh and Charles Taylor at Gbarnga, I had no special impression of them." That's all that interview says about the two of them. Fast forward to 2008, to this day three years ago, and, suddenly, the whole situation, the whole picture, has changed. Mr Mongor, of course, is another one who benefited financially from his cooperation with the Prosecution. But as we will see in his case it goes further, because, of course, when the truth finally came out and it was like drawing teeth, pulling teeth, when it finally came out, it emerged that he was practically quaking at the fear of being prosecuted unless he gave the Prosecution all that he "knew", and I put the word "knew" in quotation marks.

I mentioned that he had benefited financially. He said, in giving evidence on the 1st of April 2008, he said that he didn't normally work on Sundays, but when we looked at the financial documents from the Prosecution's fund, we identified three separate Sundays on which he was paid for, surprise, surprise, lost wages. Lost earnings.

Well, it gets worse, because he said that Charles Taylor sent him to Camp Naama, and yet, in interview, he said he'd never spoke to Charles Taylor. He then changed it later on to say, "Well, actually, I did speak to him a couple of times when I was a frontline commander." This is in his interviews. So this trustee who has been sent by Taylor to Naama to act as his eyes and ears, no doubt, as well as to help build up Mr Taylor's surrogate organisation, the RUF, doesn't - there is no evidence even of regular reporting back to the boss in Gbarnga. It is, in short, a pathetic collection of lies to which you were treated by this witness, at every single stage of his evidence. This is just the beginning.

And what does this senior NPFL figure do in May of 1992, when the Top Final operation is on? Does he, like his brothers, the other NPFL people, does he go back into Liberia? No. He fights the Liberians and ends up with a cutlass in his head for his pains. That was the evidence he gave you. The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that it was nonsense that he was recruited by Mr Taylor, and it is obvious that he fell four-square into that class of person who was recruited by Sankoh and finally, when the Liberians withdrew, he stayed with the RUF, all the way through up to the year 2000, when the poor man finds himself arrested, falsely accused of a crime, and languishes in prison for five years or more.

This is a man whose story grew and grew as time passed. As time went on, when you look at the interviews and you come to his testimony, he becomes more and more a confidant of Mr Taylor.

Now, on one occasion, I've said where is the evidence of him communicating with his boss? On one occasion, he said in evidence that he communicated directly with Mr Taylor whilst in the field. It was pointed out to him that in his third interview with the Prosecution, and on any account the beginning of the cross-examination, the nonsense about not being bothered about the immunity letter or the end of it, on any account he's got the letter of immunity by this time, by this interview, what do the Prosecution investigators record him as telling them? "I never communicated directly with Charles Taylor whilst in the field."

Oh, well, he said, oh, well, you know, the record may be wrong because of the language barrier. Unfortunately for Mr Mongor, this was one of the five interviews out of 24 when he actually had an interpreter present. So the language barrier collapsed in front of his very eyes.

And before we move on to other elements of his evidence that demonstrate beyond any doubt whatsoever that he was simply making it up as he went along, as he got further and further into the thrall of the Prosecution, if he was so important at Camp Naama, why did he constantly go backwards and forwards between Naama and working at the Executive Mansion in Gbarnga in the year from March 1990 to March 1991, when the RUF invades Sierra Leone? That's what he told the OTP investigators in his interviews, "I went back and forth between the two". And yet when it comes to his evidence he said, oh, no, once I'd been sent to Naama in March 1990, there I stayed. No doubt to emphasise to you, the triers of fact, how important he was as the training commander in Naama. Unfortunately for him, again, in black and white, never corrected, there it was in one of his earlier interviews.

Now, I'm going to turn to a separate issue that he gave evidence about, the Magburaka air shipment.

Well, for a start, he told you it was in early 1998 that the air drop happened. He said, "It was in 1998 and not long after it we were pushed out of Freetown." That's to say the intervention occurred.

Well, I am not somebody who would criticise any individual for getting a date wrong after a period - so long a period of time when they are being asked to remember all sorts of events over a span of at least ten years. However, you have to bear in mind with Isaac Mongor that he, unlike I suspect most of us, is someone who claims that his memory improves as time passes, unlike mere mortals whose memory sadly tends to fade and become less reliable as time passes. So, although I still don't criticise him for getting a date wrong, you have to bear in mind that he claimed that his memory got better and he remembered all sorts of things later when he was later being interviewed that he'd forgotten, things of vital importance you may think, that had somehow slipped his mind when being interviewed about them.

Well, of course, in evidence, he puts the Magburaka air shipment down to Mr Taylor. He put pretty well everything down to Mr Taylor. Why? Because you know that in his interviews he didn't. He said Mr Taylor arranged that shipment from - and I'm afraid I'm going to have to mention the country again - Libya. Well, that was another story that he told you in evidence that had grown and grown as time went on.

Where did the story begin? Well, in interview in July of 2007, we saw him telling not just a Prosecution investigator, experienced investigator, but also one of the Prosecution's own counsel, he said, "Oh, well, they were expecting that shipment from Burkina Faso." And he denied in cross-examination ever telling the interviewer, and it was Mr Werner, the lawyer, he denied ever saying anything about Burkina Faso. He said this: "I talked about Libya. How can I move from that to talk about Burkina Faso?" And yet this was one of the interviews that he specifically was asked about.

"Was this interview read back to you at the end?"

"Yes," he said.

Well, what else is he recorded as saying in that interview? And bear in mind that's less than a year before he comes into this - not this, but he comes into the courtroom and gives you his testimony, all down to Mr Taylor. From Libya.

He said this in that interview, "The RUF had arranged for it to be shipped in from Burkina Faso, but when they joined the AFRC, the contract was renewed by Johnny Paul Koroma." You have to say to yourselves, "Well, have the experienced interviewer and Mr Werner got it so wrong that when someone talks about Libya, they hear the words Burkina Faso?"

No mention at that stage of Charles Taylor's involvement in any of that.

Mr Taylor comes in as time passes. And what was his excuse for that? "Oh, well, I must have just forgotten to mention Charles Taylor's involvement in it." What on earth, I ask again rhetorically, what on earth is going on with this witness? We will see in due course.

While we are mentioning the junta period, one thing he did say in his evidence to you is, "Oh, there was no mistrust between the AFRC and the RUF," a somewhat bizarre statement, you might have thought, when you heard it in his evidence, because by then it was already well established that there was mistrust from the outset between the two parties to what was described in one exhibit as this marriage of convenience.

No, no, no, he said, he insisted there was no mistrust, and then we looked at his earlier interview, where he said, "There was mistrust between the RUF and the AFRC", and he was talking then about an early stage in the junta period. Why was he at such pains in his evidence to contradict a fact that we all know to be true? Who was he trying to help? What was he trying to achieve? What were the pressures on him? And what were the inducements that came into play in his mind, consciously or not?

We move to the Freetown invasion.

At the time of the Freetown invasion - sorry, at the time that he's first interviewed, interviewed, being asked tell us everything you know, everything you can remember about Charles Taylor, he's asked about the Freetown invasion in 2006. And there is no mention of Charles Taylor. So he's specifically asked, and he says, "I didn't really know anything about Charles Taylor's role in the Freetown invasion."

Later, in 2007, there is a clarification interview, one of the 24, and he's asked specifically about the Freetown invasion, and whose idea it was, and no doubt, whether or not Mr Taylor had anything to do with it, he's asked actually about what he'd previously said, I don't know about Charles Taylor's role, and he says then in 2007, in interview, "Oh, I thought it was largely an AFRC affair." Still no mention of Charles Taylor. Then it turns out that it was Mr Taylor's idea all along after all.

What on earth are you to make of this kind of testimony? Why didn't he tell the Prosecution that when he was first interviewed? Well, he was asked about that and he said, "Well, I didn't trust the Prosecution when I was first being interviewed by them. I thought they might turn against me." Despite the fact that he's clutching the letter of immunity from very early on in his long series of interviews with the Prosecution. And bear in mind that it is in 2007 when he's asked to clarify his remark about not knowing anything about Charles Taylor's involvement in the Freetown invasion, that he says, it's an AFRC affair. Well, is he trotting along to see the Prosecution time after time after time, still not trusting them, still thinking he's going to be prosecuted? Do you think that's plausible? Do you think that's credible? Or do you think it's a lot of nonsense? And Charles Taylor, once again, by the time we are getting close to his evidence and by the time he comes into court, suddenly, everything is down to Mr Taylor, that hitherto he knew nothing of Mr Taylor's involvement in.

Put simply, it stinks. I am touching on a selection of the contradictions and inconsistencies in this witness's evidence. If I was to go through them all -- well, I won't - I don't need to finish that sentence.

He gives a wholly implausible explanation as to why, if it was Mr Taylor's idea all along, why he didn't tell the Prosecution that.

What has been going on here? Well, I'm not saying it's the full picture or the whole answer, but it is instructive in his case to look at what happened in one of his interviews that we saw in his evidence on the 7th of July - sorry, 7th of April 2008. And it starts at page 6765 and this is the only transcript that I'm going to ask if it's possible to be displayed. If it's not, I can read it. It's not a terribly long excerpt. I'm very grateful to Madam Court Officer. I think it's going to be displayed.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech