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

That's a picture of Mr Conteh and his son Karim. He testified on 30 January 2009. One of the very interesting things in his testimony is he talked about events that took place over several weeks during the Freetown invasion and he said the first group that came on his street, he identified as RUF, and he said he even talked about speaking to one boy named Kelly and that boy said - he said he was a young man and he said he had been captured eight years earlier. So who would be captured eight years earlier would be about 1991, that was clearly an RUF. There were RUF among the forces that were commanded by Gullit and other SLA officers inside the city.

P-280 is a confidential exhibit that a witness in January presented to the Court, which is the names of four child soldiers - this is the gentleman from Makeni - who this witness had worked with, who told the witness that they were inside Freetown.

Komba Sumana, child soldier, testified that he was in Makeni after that was captured and that several trucks were in front of Issa Sesay's house and they gathered groups of young fighters into the trucks and they went on and at one point, and I could be - I believe it was at Lunsar they divided and he went with the group of Superman that was attacking, I believe, Lunsar, perhaps it was Port Loko I'm not sure -- but that the other group went on towards Freetown. Among them was his group - was his friend a boy named Rubber Rubber, and Rubber Rubber later told him that he in fact, he said, had taken a bypass to enter the city which would be absolutely consistent with the other evidence of how Rambo Red Goat led RUF fighters into the city.

Exhibit P-364, page 7804 of that exhibit, is an RUF document which has a list of names of RUF personnel, it's about - I had a list of people being liberated or freed by ECOMOG, but it has a list of RUF personnel and several of the individuals named there, it indicates next to their names that they were captured in Freetown in 1999. The gentleman who I mentioned earlier who said he talked to RUF rebels was Samuel Radder John and he testified on 23 October 2008. TF1-567 talked about the RUF attempts to enter the city and he said that eventually when Gullit had to retreat, he was present when there was a conversation between Gullit and Sesay. At page 12921, he said, "I would - talking about Gullit, I was in Freetown asking for manpower.'" This is Gullit speaking. "'And you refused to send the manpower hastily. That was why I refused,'" and then he continued, "Gullit was trying to blame Issa Sesay. Issa Sesay, 'the reason I withdrew was that you failed to send manpower immediately, that was why I retreated.' So Issa Sesay too responded to Gullit saying that it was not his fault. He had sent the manpower but it was due to the enemy forces at the bridge. So later they said they should forget about the argument and try to organise in order to attack the area so that they can get back into Freetown."

If we go to - I did promise earlier to find the quote when Justice Sebutinde asked Issa Sesay why the RUF had attacked Waterloo during the Freetown invasion, it was on the 4th of August of this year, at page 45433, Issa Sesay answered, "RUF was fighting to go to Freetown also, because Freetown was the seat of power, the seat of government."

Exhibit P-149 is a document, a report, that was sent to Issa Sesay by the Black Guard adjutant, Raymond Kartewu and it's dated 21 January 1999. The evidence shows it was seized from the Kono offices of the RUF in 2001 and the witness TF1-567 recognised the signature on the report and the report itself. He said he had seen that document, P-149, and he confirmed its contents. And the report says that in the early morning hours of 7 January 1999, the RUF attacked Guinean forces at Waterloo who were rescued the next day by a thick enemy convoy from Port Loko. On the 9th of January, it says that the RUF deploying at Hastings discovered enemies at Jui and Kossoh Town and the report says, "We every day attacked these guys." So while the fight was going down and ECOMOG was trying to control the situation inside the city of the fighters that had invaded, the RUF was right there, right outside the city trying to get in and ECOMOG's forces were divided in dealing with these twin threats.

And then the document indicates that on 15 January a joint operation was planned with the men in Freetown to attack Jui and Kossoh Town.

The evidence also shows that during this invasion, the troops inside the city led by Gullit and the former SLA-AFRC were carrying out orders of Sam Bockarie. For example, one of those was the order to execute Martin Moinama known as the Cat. He was an RUF, if you recall the testimony, he was a RUF radio operator who had been with Foday Sankoh when Sankoh was in Cote d'Ivoire and he had testified against Foday Sankoh in a trial in Freetown and the RUF wanted to send a message and I think I'm afraid that sometimes that message still resonates today, that you testify against us, you go against us, this is what can happen to you. The AFRC officers made sure to execute Martin Moinama.

Sam Bockarie also told Gullit on the radio that he had no prison for ECOMOG, and in fact, the evidence shows that ECOMOG officers, prisoners of war, soldiers and officers, were executed at the cotton tree in Freetown. The radio operator evidence shows that Charles Taylor gave an order to Bockarie to take the high-level prisoners, particularly ex-President Momoh out of the city and that order was done, he was taken back to Makeni.

Bockarie, one radio operator said, ordered Gullit not to challenge the ECOMOG troops because they were too heavy for them and Bockarie in fact carried that out. There also were many witnesses, radio operators in particular, all over Sierra Leone, who testified to hearing orders from Sam Bockarie for atrocities to be committed in Freetown. And the reason was that the RUF and Charles Taylor's calculations were the greater the terror, the more likely it was that the international community would tire of this war. Already Charles Taylor knew Nigeria was tired of the war and their commitment, 1998, we know from the evidence was the year when oil prices fell, I believe, in - halved in price. There was economic strain on Nigeria, they were tired of spilling their money and blood in Sierra Leone, and the presidential candidates were vying to replace Abacha were promising to withdraw from Sierra Leone. The calculation was the more terror, the more havoc we cause, the more everyone will tire of the war, the Government of Sierra Leone, the international community, and we can get what we want, and the sad truth is largely they succeeded because this attack on Freetown led to the Lome Accord, which I'll talk about in a moment.

The orders from Sam Bockarie, radio operator Alice Pyne testified that she heard that when the fighting was going on in Bockarie [sic], Sam Bockarie was speaking to Gullit, and he said, "If the men, that is the ECOMOG, force Gullit and others out of Freetown, they should burn the fucking place and they should not spare anything." TF1-516, another radio operator, heard Bockarie tell Gullit, "If the pressure is mounting on you, burn down the fucking place and try retreating by the peninsula."

TF1-585 testified that when the tide of battle turned against the invaders, "Bockarie told Gullit as long as the troop was too heavy they should not challenge them, they should pull out of town. But before they should pull out of town they should kill many people and burn down many houses and before they leave the town, he said, if any bush shake, fire should blaze. They should leave the town."

Mohammed Kabbah heard Bockarie order Gullit, "Make the area fearful."

And DAF, another radio operator in Buedu said, "I can remember on one occasion when I left the monitoring station, I monitored a live conversation between Mosquito and Gullit, when Mosquito was giving direct instructions to Gullit for Gullit to tell the men, I mean the RUF and AFRC combatants, to cause a lot of mayhem in the city, that is like to destroy some important government buildings, and to tell the people to take their hands off the war and to cause real damage whereby the international community would show more concern about the RUF."

And how many witnesses did your Honours hear who had their hands hacked off and were told take your hand off the war. The orders of Sam Bockarie were implemented in Freetown. Foday Lansana heard Sam Bockarie say over the radio, "Gullit, if it causes you to kill all the civilians, burn all the houses where you are, just so that you will not leave Freetown, you should go ahead and make sure that you maintain where you are, burn any house, you should kill and make yourselves fearful, amputate arms, the civilians, let them go to the enemy. They will know that we are on something serious."

King Perry said Bockarie told Gullit, "Make Freetown more fearful than before."

And that's what he did.

There is no question that these forces in Freetown were acting in concert. The invading forces, Gullit and the SLAs, realised that they had no chance of governing Sierra Leone or fighting ECOMOG by themselves. They absolutely needed the RUF to have any hope of withstanding the battle and preserving themselves. All of these SLA officers, Gullit and others, were very well aware of what had happened after the intervention when several SLA officers, Victor King and others, were executed. They realised it was life or death for them and they threw in their lot with the RUF. And the absolutely clear evidence of that is the radio broadcast that's been played in this Court many times, but if we could have - we have three small portions to play today of P-279(A). Before this is played, while this is coming up, I would just remind your Honours that before we had this, this was first played in this Court in December 2008. In April 2008, AB Sesay testified that on the morning of January 6th, immediately after taking State House, a guy named FAT Sesay called the international radio. Before we had this broadcast he had already explained that he had called the international radio to take credit for the attack on State House. Now we'll listen to part of the broadcast.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech