19/03/21 [Liberia] Day 18: The Hearing of Witnesses 28, 29 and 30

The eighteenth day of public hearings resumed on 19th March 2021 in Monrovia, Liberia.

Witness 28 is Heard

Before proceeding with his testimony, the Witness asked what policies the Court has put in place for journalists in order to protect the safety of the Witnesses. The Judge assured the Witness that the video material filmed inside the Court would only be used by the Court, and that they have an agreement with the press that Witnesses will not be named in their publications. 

The Prosecution questions Witness 28

The Witness was visiting his family in Kolahun, Lofa County, when one night LURD forces attacked the village. They managed to escape to Golahun, however, there was another rebel group heading from Golahun to Viahun:they were caught and forced to carry arms and ammunition for them towards the Viahun area. After this, the Witness explained that they arrived at Kamatahun Hassala, and were faced by the government-backed resistance group consisting of Benjamin Yeaten, Colonel [Soldier 12], Zig Zag Marzah, and others. He noted that the group managed to seize an area which was occupied by the LURD forces. According to the Witness, the resistance group called for reinforcements, and another group arrived, later introduced as RUF. The Witness described how the RUF were all wearing yellow t-shirts and spoke Krio: he explained that “Krio is similar to English, but you have to pay attention to understand it’’. They were also chanting a slogan “we dey kill am all, one seh we dey lef’’, which he understood to mean “we will kill all, we won’t leave one’’. According to the Witness, RUF supported the government efforts in maintaining the areas under their control. He noted, however, that RUF never fought on the front line, but were attacking areas in Kamatahun. 

The Witness stated that he was arrested, among others, by RUF as suspected spies. According to the Witness “there is a lot of variety of torture from the RUF,” and he  described that they urinated in his mouth, used electric shocks, and they subjected him to something called “sassy-wood,” where the victim’s legs are put between wooden planks and then stood on. He later clarified that the wood pressed his flesh and muscles, but he did not lose any blood. The RUF tortured them in order to obtain confessions. As they were being tortured, the government troop commanders came back to Kamatahun and asked the RUF members why they were harming civilians. The government commander, later identified as Benjamin Yeaten, then  told the RUF to release them, and ordered both RUF and government troops to go collect the civilians who had run in the bushes to hide, and to bring them back to town. The Witness clarified that Benjamin Yeaten gave the order that nobody should harm civilians and said that “our target is our enemy’’, but Gibril Massaquoi “went [the] extra mile because he had more troops that he was controlling.’’

The Witness recalled that it was then that one of the men introduced himself as “Gebe’’ Massaquoi. The Witness identified that he was a RUF commander and the spokesperson for the RUF in Sierra Leone. He noted that they said that they were going to “pick the rotten bitterballs from among the good ones”. 

According to the Witness, while they were searching and collecting civilians from the bushes, the RUF took a man to the side of the town and butchered him for being a spy for the rebels.  The Witness stated that Gibril Massaquoi authorized the execution. He explained that the RUF soldiers took this man’s intestines and other internal organs and instructed a woman to cook pepper soup for them with his body parts. Later on in his testimony,  the Witness confirmed that Gibril Massaquoi gave the order to execute and eat the man as they suspected him of being a member of LURD. He further explained that the man was  crying in Gbandi dialect and said that he was not a rebel. 

The Witness recalled that after the RUF soldiers had eaten the pepper soup, he and other captured civilians were instructed to carry the RUF’s weapons and ammunition to a village named Yallahun near Kamatahun. He clarified later on in his testimony that it took  less than 30 minutes to carry the weapons and ammunition to Yallahun, and that it was Gibril Massaquoi who instructed them to carry the weapons from Kamatahun to Yallahun. He stated “Every atrocity that took place in my presence was commissioned; it was ordered by Gibril Massaquoi.’’ He also noted, however, that the first time he was forced to carry weapons and ammunition it was not the RUF’s, but was for the LURD forces. When they arrived in Kamahatun, government forces attacked and scattered the LURD forces back into the bush. 

The Witness explained that another massacre occurred in Yallahun. He described how a pregnant woman was walking towards them, and there was an argument between RUF soldiers. Some were guessing that she was pregnant with a boy, whereas others guessed that she was pregnant with a girl. The soldiers then, authorized by Gibril Massaquoi, decided to open the pregnant lady’s stomach and identified the sex of the child. One of the soldiers reaffirmed his bet and said “I was telling you, it is a girl child.’’ 

The Witness described how there is a route from Yallahun which leads to Sierra Leone. He further elaborated that the route goes as far as to Golahun and Foya. The Witness stated that there was also a journalist, a former BBC correspondent, who was executed in the area: a rope was tied around the journalist’s neck because “y’all mouths can run too much”. According to the Witness, before being executed the journalist said: “y’all came to liberate us. We are afraid of the rebels then you, the government forces, are treating us like this?” Moving on with his testimony, the Witness stated that there was a man named [Person A11] who suggested that they leave or they would get killed before the soldiers returned  to Sierra Leone. They escaped, and while his friend escaped to Foya, he went towards Guinea and came to Monrovia. He finished his story and stated that this is what he experienced in Lofa. 

At this point, the Prosecution proceeded to ask some clarifying questions. The Prosecution recalled that the Witness mentioned the year 2002, and asked whether it was the same year that he was captured by the RUF. The Witness confirmed this. Later in his testimony, he noted that, although he remembers that the events took place in 2002, he cannot remember the exact time of year as “when you are in a situation where they are shooting gun, you will not be able to remember.”

Furthermore, the Prosecution asked whether, at the time the RUF came to Kamatahun Hassala, they had a leader. The Witness confirmed this by stating that Gibril Massaquoi introduced himself by name and said that he was a commander and spokesperson of the RUF, and that they were there to help the government. He mentioned that Gibril Massaquoi introduced himself before Benjamin Yeaten could introduce them. According to the Witness, there were other soldiers there while Benjamin Yeaten was on the frontlines in Viahun, and that they were speaking different English than the government forces who were there. Benjamin Yeaten said that he was the one who called the RUF troops to come help, and he introduced Gibril Massaquoi to some other soldiers on the ground. The Witness recalled that he was there himself when the commander, Gibril Massaquoi, introduced himself.

The Witness specified that it was the RUF who tortured him. He reiterated what he had previously stated: that it was Gibril Massaquoi who authorized the soldiers to torture them, and Massaquoi asked the Witness to open his mouth and urinated in it. When asked if several people were executed there, or only the man he had mentioned during his testimony, the Witness said that there are many rumours in war – he had heard that Zig Zag Marzah put people in a house and burned them, but he did not have evidence of that.  

The Prosecution asked how many days it took the Witness to escape. The Witness explained that it took them three days from Kamatahun Hassala to Yallahun. According to the Witness, they spent two days in Yallahun, and on the third day they escaped from Yallahun. He explained that the person he escaped with was [Person A11], as he was the one who proposed it in the first place. 

The Prosecution asked whether the Witness sustained any injury from the torture. The Witness stated that they hit him using a knife that left a mark on his finger, which he then proceeded to show to the Court.

The Prosecution then asked about the Witness’ interview with the Finnish Police. The Witness explained that he was working when he received a phone call from [Employee 1] asking whether he was in Lofa between 2001 and 2003. The Witness was wary  and [Employee 1] told him  that [Person A11] told him part of the events, and gave him the Witness’s number. The Witness told [Employee 1] to not call him again, and  “I was not a soldier I did not hold gun.” The Witness recalled that after two days [Employee 1] called him again from a different number and apologised – he explained that he just wanted to know if the Witness had any information from that particular period, and that he would take him to speak with people who would ask him about it . The Witness informed [Employee 1] that he would have to discuss with his lawyer first. When he did, the lawyer encouraged him to talk and said “there are people all around the world fighting crime and you don’t know what they are calling you for so go and hear from them.” When [Employee 1] called again, the Witness said he would come and speak with them, but wanted transport to be arranged for him. However, [Employee 1] said that “right now, I can’t give you money to come, but if you yourself can take the initiative to do it.”The Witness was hesitant, but decided eventually to go. According to the Witness, they invited him to [Place 3], where he went inside a house and met three white men. One of them introduced himself as a police officer, and the other one said that he was a “finance person.’’ The Witness stated that the police asked him who he was and where he was from. 

The Defense questions Witness 28

The Defense began their questioning, and asked if [Employee 1] promised financial gain if the Witness would testify in this hearing, to which the Witness responded that [Employee 1] “never and ever even explain any issue concerning money I was going to receive. And if it was just money that I was going to receive, I was never going to come testify because I have a well-paying job. I have an independent mind; I make my own judgement.” He added that the police only asked him about what had happened in Lofa. The Defense then asked if somebody had promised him a scholarship if he would testify. The Witness explained that he already had a scholarship, he went to England where he studied for his master’s degree, after which he came back. The only question that was asked him was “what do you know about this period and are you prepared to testify?”

A short conversation ensued between the Prosecution and the Defense, after which it was decided that they would listen to a recording of the interview between the Witness and the Finnish police. In the recording, the police asked the Witness who had contacted him. The Witness responded that it was [Employee 1] who called him at the beginning of December 2019, while on his way to Lofa. According to [Employee 1], some of  the Witness’ friends had given him his number and told [Employee 1] to contact him. The Witness said that at first, [Employee 1] “put it in different context. He based it on a scholarship” so the Witness was suspicious. [Employee 1] then said “some people want to talk to you, just come to Monrovia so y’all can talk”. 

Following this recording, the Defense reiterated their question and asked if the Witness was promised a scholarship. The Witness stated that no one offered him a scholarship, and added that it is clear from the recording that it was a “psychological context” and that they wanted him to be present. At this point, the Judges were also asking the Witness to clarify what he meant when he said scholarship. The Witness stated that he was not promised a scholarship, and that [Employee 1] did everything just to try and get him to come talk to the Finnish police.  The Defense then decided to move forward with their questioning. The Witness stated that he remembered what he told the Finnish police, but “I am a human being if for any reason my brain is not a computer that you can store document in.” The Judge asked if the Witness remembered what date he had told the police. The Witness replied that the atrocities he experienced were in 2000-2002, and that he stated the year 2002 to the Finnish police.

The Defense pointed to the summary of the interview in which the Witness stated that the events he described happened in 2002 and 2003. The Witness explained that he was not there for most of the atrocities that took place in Lofa, some of them he heard about, and for some he had seen the aftermath, such as burned houses. But he was there when LURD forces hit Lofa. He said that the events ran into 2003, but he was not there anymore. He told the Finnish police that in 2001, 2002 and 2003 there were “inside-outside missions” going on in Lofa. 

The Defense then asked about the incident when a man was made into pepper soup, and asked how many men were killed there. The Witness could not say how many men were killed, but mentioned that there was a man who was accused of being a spy who was killed right in front of him. The Witness stated that he was not there when this man was arrested, but he was there when they brought him in, tied him up, and killed him.

The Defense then asked who killed the man who was eaten. To this, the Witness responded that he does not know who killed the man, only who authorized the killing: Gibril Massaquoi. The Witness said that he also explained this to the Finnish police, but that if he forgot to tell them about some aspects, it is because he would have emphasised what came to his mind at the time. The Defense then quoted an excerpt from the Finnish police statement: “I remember that Massaquoi brought two men from the bush and you remember that Massaquoi said I am Angel Gabriel, the last person you see before God.” The Witness responded that he had indeed said “I am the messenger for God, you come to me before you see my Papay” (God), and the Witness it was Angel Gabriel, and everywhere he went that was his slogan.

Following this, the Defense asked the Witness to clarify if the man had referred to himself as “Gibril Massaquoi”, as the Witness had stated today, or if he referred to himself as “Angel Gabriel Massaquoi”, as the Witness had stated during the interview. The Witness explained that, before Benjamin Yeaten came to introduce the man to the other soldiers who were on the ground, the man had introduced himself as “Gibril Massaquoi”, because they did not know who he was. Then, Benjamin Yeaten came and also introduced him. The Witness explained that Angel Gabriel was his dual name, his “wicked name” , and he used both himself. 

The Defense then asked if it is true that the Witness did not remember the name “Angel Gabriel” until he was reminded of it by the Defense, to which the Witness responded that he could even forgot what he said to his office yesterday; he said the statement before and he was reminded of it by the Defense, but it is true that he said it before, so he has done nothing wrong.

The Defense pointed out an inconsistency between the Witnesses statement to the Finnish police and the testimony he gave today, explaining that, to the Finnish police, the Witness had said that Massaquoi himself had killed two men who he labelled as rebels,  but today, the Witness stated that Massaquoi gave the command to someone else. The Witness explained that it is hard to have a full picture of everyhing happening in a crisis, becasue you are afraid for your life, but that every atrocity that gook place in Kamatahun Hassala was done by Massaquoi – whether he personally did it or comamnded someone to do it. The Defense pointed to a difference in the number of people he has said were executed: today he said one man, and to the Finnish police had said it was two. The Witness said that he had explained that it was one person who was executed and cooked. The Defense then quoted the police statement where the Witness said: “after the execution, Massaquoi got some of the body parts from the bodies and told the women of the village to cook him food with the parts.” The Defense pressed the point, stating that he had understood the Witness testified that Massaquoi gave the order to cut the body, not that Massaquoi had done it himself. The Witness replied that his brain is not a computer or a database, and there are plenty of things that went on in Kamatahun and he cannot remember them all.

The Defense then referred to an earlier statement by the Witness where he said that Zig Zag Marzah burned people, and asked if he was there when it happened. The Witness replied that it happened, and people had said it was Zig Zg Marzah who did it, but he could not tell them when it happened because they were doing repeated “inside-outside” missions for months.

The Defense sought clarification that the Witness was not there, not in the room, not in the house, and had heard about the burning of people as a rumour. The Witness stated that he was told, when he got there, that their “own Gbandi brother” had out people in the house and set it on fire. 

He further stated that he told the Finnish police that this was not something that he saw; adding that he considers that a recording would have been better, as something can be written down incorrectly. The Defense asked if the Witness recalled what he had told the Finish police about the incident, and the Witness replied that he said he was not there, but had been sitting nor far away and he had gone and seen the place after. The Witness also detailed the context: that they were in Golahun when the LURD forces attacked, and they were made to carry LURD ammunition. There was another advance troop going toward Kolahun. The Government troops captured Kamatahun from the rebels.When the Government forces attacked the rebels in Kamatahun  the Witness was carrying LURD ammunition to Kamatahun, and they scattered. This was when Zig Zag locked people in the house, though the Witness was not there when they did it. 

After a short break, the Judge opened the session by playing a recording. In it, the Witness recalled that: Massaquoi was “beating his chest” and saying “I am Gabriel Massaquoi, commonly known as Angel Gabriel. You have to see me before you see God.” The Finnish police had asked the Witness if he knew the two individuals that were killed, and whether they were rebels or not. The Witness had stated that they were civilians, but he could not determine their age. The Witness had explained that Gibril Massaquoi was one of the people from the RUF side that supported Zig Zag Marzah in the burning of the house. The Witness had said  that he heard Angel Gabriel say “y’all brought the rebels here, y’all were feeding and giving them sleeping place. Y’all will die”.  The Witness had repeated that he was sitting nearby and saw them bringing people into the town. When asked, he couldn’t estimate how many people were put in the house and burned, but said it was “a good number of people.”

After the recording was re-played multiple times, the Defense asked if the Witness wanted to comment on it. The Witness said that he started by explaining to the police officer that, when you are under duress, it is possible to remember things differently. He explained that him telling the Court that Zig Zag burning the house was captured “in a clear picture” was not a reference to a visual “picture”, but it was clear to him the Zig Zag did it. According to the Witness, you could see that the atrocities were associated with Gibril Massaquoi, supported by Zig Zag, and that Gibril Massaquoi’s soldiers bringing people out of the bush by their trousers and bringing them into town was an order from Benjamin Yeaten to the RUF and government troops. Everything else that happened after the burning of the house by Zig Zag was intimidation and threats that they were going to kill them. The Witness stated that he did not see them killing people at this time. The Witness added that, when the police officers asked if he saw the houses burning, then Witness had said that he was a few metres from the house.

When asked about a memorial that was placed in Kamatahun because of this incident, the Witness said that he heard about it but has not seen it, he has not been there for a long time. 

Witness 29 is Heard

The Prosecution questions Witness 29

The Witness began by describing his experiences during 2001 when soldiers entered the town of Kpokulahun. The Witness explained that soldiers- rebels who called themselves government forces – entered Kpokulahun many times. Whenever they came, the soldiers would arrest people, and so sometimes the townspeople would run away into the bush, which prompted the soldiers to hunt for people in the nearby farms and bush. On one such occasion, the soldiers captured the Witness, along with his aunt, [Victim 37], and his wife, [Victim 36]. The Witness noted that the soldiers did the same in other towns in the area: capturing people, and taking them along as they went from town to town. The Witness recalled the names of some towns, noting that they went from from Kpokulahun to Polorwu, and also to Kiatahun and nearby Kimbalahun, as well as other towns. The soldiers took all of those they captured to Kamatahun, which the Witness noted looked like a displaced camp. Once there, the soldiers began humiliating them, as well as beating, killing, torturing, and making them carry loads around. The Witness stated that there were a lot of rebels present, some calling themselves commander or general. He recalled the names of some of the men: Zig Zag Marzah, [Soldier 12], [Soldier 19], [Soldier 20], Gabriel “Angel Gabriel” Massaquoi, [Soldier 21],and [Soldier 22]. He added that these men did whatever they pleased, and that some of them were RUF from Sierra Leone. The Witness explained that, when soldiers were going to the front line, most of the Sierra Leoneans would stay behind; adding that they never went to the front line. He stated that the Sierra Leonean soldiers were the main ones that “carried out the wickedness” against them. 

The Witness recalled one night when he, his aunt [Victim 37], and some other people were sitting beside a house talking, but were fearful that the soldiers could come at and time and arrest them, as they knew the fighters believed that there was an elderly man with magical charm that protected people from being killed with bullets.  The Witness noted that men were the soldiers’ main target, and so he told his aunt that he was leaving. 

 Shortly after leaving, the Witness began hearing people speaking in the Mende dialect, saying: “Your go inside, your put them inside. Since these people say they cannot die, we are going to burn them (the Witness said he understands and speaks Mende). The Witness said that he was a little bit of a distance away, but could still hear them. He added that this was the context in which they set the house on fire, and stated that his aunt, [Victim 37], was killed in the fire, along with many other people who had been put in the house. 

The Witness recalled that it was the same night when seven young women were captured. The Witness recalled Zig Zag Marzah, Angel Gabriel, and many others (who the Witness cannot remember) being the commanders giving orders that night. The Witness added that, even before the night of this incident, whenever Gabriel Massaquoi killed he would say “go tell God I sent you”, and boasted that no one goes to God except those passing through him.  The Witness stated that he gave the order for the seven women, including the Witnesses wife [Victim 36], to be taken to the “blacksmith area”. The Witness went there to see, adding that he felt brave because his wife was there. One of the soldiers noticed him and asked what he was doing there as a civilian. The Witness was then beaten, and was injured near his eye, which the Witness still bears a mark from. The Witness stated that God was on his side that night, as one of the small soldiers present was Liberian and from his same tribe, Gbandi. After explaining to the soldier that his wife, [Victim 36], had been captured, the soldier agreed to help him, and said that if Zig Zag Marzah and the others saw him there he would be killed. The soldier nonetheless said he would help the Witness, and told him to get up from where he was sitting on the ground. The soldier walked the Witness away as if he was going to kill him, and this was how the Witness escaped into the coffee bush around the town.

The Witness stated that his wound bled for the entire night. In the morning, the Witness began hearing that the women who had been taken to the blacksmith area had been raped, but he was not sure if they had been taken to the frontline. Although the Witness was still bleeding from his injury, he wrapped his head and went to where the women had been taken, and saw that all seven women had been killed, some of them naked and others with torn clothes on. After seeing the women dead, the Witness left Kamatahun and went to Yandahun, and then Vahun, which the Witness described as a kind of headquarters for them. He explained that, because of  the wounds he had, he was hiding in Vahun, but he didn’t stay there long. He crossed the border to a refugee camp in Sierra Leone. The next day, he was picked up by a passing NGO car. The Witness was then taken from Sierra Leone through BO Waterside to Monrovia, and after receiving treatment the Witness returned home. 

After being asked if he remembered Gibril Massaquoi being amongst the commanders, the Witness replied, in a stern voice, in the affirmative, and stated that he vividly remembered Gibril Massaquoi and Zig Zag Marzah. When asked if he heard  the names “Gabriel Massaquoi” and “Angel Gabriel” himself, the Witness answered “yes, the man killed in front of me, he used his name.”

The Prosecution asked whether the Witness was there when  the house was set on fire. The Witness explained again that he had not gone far from the house when it was set on fire, and that he had heard Zig Zag Marzah and Gabriel Massaquoi give the order to light the house on fire, adding that the two of them were “very fierce parading the town”. He stated that it was Gabriel Massaquoi who had given the order for the seven women to be taken to the blacksmith area to be killed. The Witness noted that Gabriel Massaquoi behaved towards the Liberians as though they were not humans, adding that Gabriel Massaquoi was from Sierra Leone and did not have any feelings towards Liberians. 

The Prosecution asked the Witness whether his wife was among the seven women he saw dead in the blacksmith area; the Witness replied in the affirmative. The Witness was then asked whether he had seen other atrocities besides the ones he had described this far. The Witness stated that he had seen a man captured and  accused of being a LURD fighter, although the man claimed to be a civilian. The Witness stated that the man was carried to the area where they had previously burnt the house. Once there, Angel Gabriel gave an order to Zig Zag Marzah, stating that that man that LURD rebel let’s get rid of him. Let’s eat his heart”. After being given the order by Angel Gabriel, Zig Zag Marzah killed the man: opening his stomach and extracting his heart and liver, which were put in a bucket. The man’s heart and liver were then brought to a Gbandi woman, [Person A12], to cook for the soldiers to eat. She was too distraught and was unable to cut the heart and liver, which were instead given to a soldier to cut. The Witness noted that he and others were watching from  nearby, and they saw everything going on, although he did not go back to see who ate the meat. 

The Witness was then asked questions to specify the time frame and place of the incidents he had described. He explained that he could not recall the exact month, but repeated that they occurred in 2001. He went on to explain that, when entering Kamatahun from Kolahun, the house that was set on fire was on the left side of the road going towards the middle of town, and the blacksmith kitchen was on the right side. He stated that the seven women were not taken inside the blacksmith shop, but rather behind it. When asked where Massaquoi was when the Witness tried to go and see what was happening in the blacksmith area, the Witness stated that, after he gave the orders, Massaquoi said he would return later and was in the town carrying out their “clandestine activities.”

When explaining how he became involved in the trial, the Witness stated that he came into contact with the Finnish police through a man called [Employee 1]. When asked whether [Employee 1] had called him at any point, the Witness stated that [Employee 1] had not called him prior to the two meeting one another. The Witness elaborated that he was sitting in a shop talking about Charles Taylor and how Zig Zag Marzah had talked about eating people during the trial of Charles Taylor in The Hague. Someone in the shop mentioned that it was the same Zig Zag Marzah who had eaten people in Kamatahun; the Witness replied  that it was true, that he had seen Zig Zag Marzah killing and eating people in Kamatahun. Unbeknownst to him, [Employee 1] had been listening to this conversation, and he approached the Witness and asked for his name. [Employee 1] asked the Witness if he was sure that he had been present during the events he had described, and asked if the Witness would be willing to explain it if someone were to ask. After the Witness answered affirmatively, he gave his number to [Employee 1]. After around 6 months, the Witness received a call in November from [Employee 1] asking where he was, the Witness replied that he was in Bong County. [Employee 1] asked if he would come and talk to the people that [Employee 1] had previously mentioned, only clarifying that they were his “friends”. The Witness jokingly asked if [Witness 1] was going to sell him. [Employee 1] responded that the people just wanted to talk to him about the atrocities, andadded that they would not pay the Witness for this. The Witness did not go, but then [Employee 1] called him again a week later and said that the people wanted to prosecute those responsible for carrying out the atrocities, the Witness then agreed to go talk with the people. 

The Defense questions Witness 29

The Defense began by questioning the Witness about the discussion at the shop during which he had mentioned his experiences in Kamatahun. The Witness explained that they were  talking about people who had carried out atrocities in the area, including Sam Bockarie, Liberty, [Soldier 12], Gabriel, and many others. The Witness stated that he has discussed the events that took place in Kamatahun with others, and added that he had been to Kamatahun this past January. When asked whether he had been living in Kamatahun, the Witness reiterated that he was not living in Kamatahun, but rather that the rebels had captured people from all around and took them to Kamatahun. The Defense pointed out that this is inconsistent with what the Witness stated during the initial interview with the Finnish police, during which he had stated that he came from Kamatahun, Lofa County, and that his family was from Bopolahun. The Witness explained that, when he had first met with the Finnish police, he stated that he was from Lofa County, Kolahun District, Kporkulahun. 

The Defense continued to question the Witness about his original interview with the Finnish police, asking if he recalled which year he had told them regarding the war. The Witness replied that he cannot remember exactly, stating “by brain is not a computer”. The Defense pointed out that in the police interview the Witness had stated that LURD attacked Lofa in 2000 / 2001. The Witness repeated that the exact year he recalled was 2001. After this, the Witness explained that all of the names he had previously listed as having been present in Lofa were not all there at the time of the incident.

The Defense then asked the Witness about specifics regarding the incident at the blacksmith shop. The Witness reiterated that the seven women, along with his wife, [Victim 36], were carried behind the blacksmith shop, that he had gone to see what was happening, and he was subsequently captured and beaten. The Witness added that he was held by them and beaten for approximately 30 minutes, and that he was aware that other women had been raped in the town besides the seven women who were taken to the blacksmith shop. He concluded that he had been close enough to the women who were taken to the blacksmith shop that he could see them. The Defense alleged that the Witness had stated during the police interview:that he had heard about the women who were raped near the blacksmith shop. The Witness reiterated that he saw the women, and that he did not hear about it. 

The Witness was then asked about his visit to Kamatahun in January 2021. He stated that it was the first time he had gone there since the incident took place in 2001, and that when he went this year he did not spend more than an hour there. 

(A recording is played: “In Kamatahun Hassala, were you present or did you hear about the raping of women in a house behind the blacksmith shop? Yes, yes, there was lot of atrocities. Raping was common, they were just raping women. For us, we were civilian, so we could not go too close. I spent more than one month in Kamatahun.”)

(The Court replays parts of the recording multiple times)

The Witness clarified that the question asked was whether he knew about the rapes that took place behind the blacksmith shop, and that he replied that he knew about it. 

The session concluded at 16:35 GMT. 

Witness 30 is heard

The Prosecution calls upon Witness 30

Witness 30 began by describing the RUF guest house in Congo Town, Monrovia, and her experience there. The Witness said spent time  there with her friend [Person A2], however she didn’t sleep there, but would return to her home, while her friend remained there.  There were many other people staying there, and the Witness’s friend [Person A2] was friendly with many people, including Benjamin Yeaten, General Mosquito, and her fiance, Gibril, who they called “uncle Massaquoi”.Witness 30 recalled that the first time she went to the guest house was in 2000, but could not remember the exact month. She stated that she and [Person A2] would follow Massaquoi and the others whenever they went out of town. The Witness also said that Massaquoi rented a place for her friend opposite the Kiss FM radio station. She had met Massaquoi several times, because she ended up staying with her friend in the rented apartment. 

Witness 30 recalled that, besides the guesthouse, the other boys used to go to “black gate”, which was also in the city. She also stated that she did know how Massaquoi, Yeaten and Mosquito were allowed to stay in the guesthouse, as she had only met them there, and they also used to come  to her friend’s apartment. Witness 30 explained that whenever they all went out, she would follow them. She would travel with them in a convoy of three pickups. They would take the Witness and her friend to Voinjama, and leave them in a 3 bedroom house, sometimes for 5-6 days, before returning. Witness 30 and her friend were  told not to enter one of the rooms in the house. The Witness recalled that one day they came in three pickups, one covered with tarpaulins, and told the Witness and her friend to go inside. Three days later the Witness spoke with her friend about this, as she was afraid and wondered why the man had ordered them inside the house as he did.  

Witness 30 then described a day where one of the Sierra Leonean soldiers left the door of the forbidden room open. She entered the room looking for a cooking utensil, and was surprised to see a big gun “like the one you would see in the commando show”. The Witness called her friend to come and see, and when Massaquoi discovered that the boy had not locked the door, he came and caught the Witness and her friend inside the room. He beat them both, so much that it left a mark on the Witness,, and shot the boy in his leg and apparently took him to the front line. The Witness did not see the boy again. 

Witness 30 then revealed that her friend was pregnant to Massaquoi, and that he locked them in the house and left them for 2 days, before freeing them when he returned.  The Witness convinced one of Massaquoi’s drivers, a Sierra Leonean boy who she had befriended, to help them escape, and they came back to Monrovia. The Witness said that, when Massaquoi returned to Monrovia he convinced her friend to take him back because she was carrying his child. They went back to Lofa with Massaquoi, however this time they went by helicopter – landing in Kolahun, and were then taken to Voinjama. The Witness later added that there was ammunition transported in the helicopter with them, and that Massaquoi was with them. The Witness said that they had travelled by helicopter because they said there was a risk of ambush travelling by road. 

The Witness stated that one morning a boy was shot, but stated “I don’t know if that was his boss man Benjamin Yeaten, he shot one boy.” She got scared and  left her friend. The Witness did not know what her friend did after that as she didnt see her again, but she heard that her friend gave birth to a baby girl.  

The Prosecution then asked the Witness about the trips to Lofa and the details regarding them. She said that she and her friend, [Person A2] went with Massaquoi and others to Lofa three times. The first two times, in 2000, they were picked up from black gate where the men would pack things into the three pickups and cover them with black tarpaulins. Benjamin Yeaten, Mosquito, [Soldier 24], [Soldier 25], and a Sierra Leonean, Kallon were also with them on the trip in 2000. She said that, when they would get to Voinjama, the Witness and her friend would be locked up in the house, and the pickups taken for offloading. The Witness stated that her final trip was in 2001, when they went by helicopter, after that she did not go back She said she couldn’t remember, as there were so many people, whether those she previously named were all on the 2001 trip, but the ones she was close to were those she named. 

Witness 30 told the Prosecution she did not know where the men went, as they were left alone in the house, for between 3 and 7 days. Sometimes [Soldier 24] would return with wounded soldiers, especially Sierra Leoneans, from the front lines, and would take them to the hospital in Voinjama. . The Witness stated that a Sierra Leonean – “uncle Massaquoi” / Gibril Massaquoi – would come later, and would spend time with her friend while the Witness would cook outside.

In response to a question from  the Prosecutor whether she went on a trip where she and her friend returned from Lofa on a motorbike, the Witness answered in the negative – clarifying that she only took a car and helicopter. The Prosecutor then asked if she knew whether Massaquoi had any other girlfriends apart from [Person A2]. She answered that she only knew about [Person A2] because they were friends.

The questioning then shifted to her interaction with Finnish Police and how it began. Witness 30 described a time she was at the border at Bo Waterside to get goods, and ended up talking to a Sierra Leonean man who had been having issues at the border with an expired passport. She mentioned Benjamin Yeaten, and “Butt Naked”, but did not mentioned Gibril’s name. She added that she not only knew Yeaten, but also new “uncle Gibril Massaquoi, who she said her friend was in love with.  The man asked for her number, which she gave, and he then asked for a picture before leaving. 

The Witness received a call days later from the Sierra Leonean man she had spoken with at the border. He called again the next day and said he had a white friend who was interested in meeting her.  She was scared to go and meet them, and initially thought the man, who introduced himself as [Person A13], wanted to sell her to the white people, but she eventually agreed to go to a hotel to meet them, and eventually agreed to speak with them.

There was a white woman and man together, and a black man with them. They showed her pictures and asked her questions, recording her. She could not understand the white lady, but the black guy who was there interpreted. The white lady asked  if the Witness knew anyone in the photos, and the Witness pointed at Gibril. The white woman then explained that this was why they wanted to speak with her: because someone had heard her talking about Yeaten and they wanted to get details.

Witness 30 stated that [Employee 1] called her on a Monday to tell her that the people who interviewed her wanted to see her again. She was scared, and so said she was not coming. However, [Employee 1] called her again to assuage her fears and told her to give his number to her parents in case something happened to her.

The Witness stated that she has not spoken to anyone else about this, and that she met one lady, a short man, and a tall man. 

The Defense questions Witness 30

The defense began its questioning by asking Witness 30 about the person who spoke to her about Benjamin Yeaten at the border. Witness 30 stated that his name was [Person A13], and she only met him once. She also said that till this day, she has not seen him. Witness 30 also told the Defense that she has never seen [Employee 1] before, and does not know whether he is black or white. They only spoke on the phone and that was it. Before coming to testify, Witness 30 stated that she was given directions to a hotel, which she arrived at the night before. 

The Defense then asked the Witness when she met [Person A13] at the border, to which she replied: in November, which she knew because she was picking up her Christmas goods. She could not remember the exact date though. When asked how [Employee 1] got her number, she said she thought it was from the people who interviewed her. Witness 30 stated that she did know why they had wanted to interview her, and reiterated that they had shown her the pictures that same day when they interviewed here. The pictures were the first thing she was shown when the interview started. 

The Defense then referenced the police interview summary where it was written that she had known the interview was about Gibril Massaquoi before the interview started. Witness 30 disputed this, stating that she never knew it was about Massaquoi, she only knew that a white guy wanted to meet her, and that was why she came. The Defense’s questioning then moved to her relationship with [Person A2]. Witness 30 stated that she used to visit her and go back, and that they stayed together in town for 5 years. The Defense asked who [Person A14] was, and the Witness replied that she didn’t know. She said that people had names and fighter names, and she was familiar with the fighting names. The Defense raised  part of the police interview, in which  she allegedly mentioned an [Person A15] being at the guesthouse when she went there with her friend. Witness 30 denied mentioning him. She also denied saying her friend’s name was [Person A14]. Witness 30 explained that her friend’s name was [Person A2] not [Person A14]. She also said that she does not know whether the Finnish police wrote it down wrongly, because she was explaining and was not shown what they wrote. 

The next part involved the Defense playing a recording from the police interview. The Defense did this because an earlier witness had mentioned the name [Person A14]. In the first part of the recording the interviewer asked the Witness if she knew she was there about Gibril Massaquoi, to which she said, yes. The Witness explained that, when she entered the interview, they said she had mentioned Benjamin Yeaten’s name at the border, and asked whether she knew people under him, like Gibril Massaquoi. She said she knew Gibril Massaquoi, and that was how they brought the pictures and asked her to point to who she knew. The second part of the recording was played, in which the Witness mentioned a person named [Person A15], and, when asked about her friend’s name, stated the name [variation of Person A2’s name]. Witness 30 clarified that [Person A2] had three names, and that she had mentioned her first and middle names in the recording, and today mentioned her first and married names. The Witness also later clarified that [Person A15] is her deceased fiancé, who she has a child with, and whom she didn’t want to talk about.

The Defense then queried her about her first visit to the guest house. Witness 30 said that it was in November, but she couldn’t remember the exact date. She stated that she had also never mentioned a date to the police, and that she was scared that day. The Defense alleged that the police summary states that she went to the guesthouse on March 18, 2001. The Witness clarified that she had meant that that was the first time she actually entered the guesthouse. Before that, her friend would usually come out and meet her. On  March 18 2001, her friend said she should enter and both of them went into the guesthouse. 

The Defense then questioned the Witness how she remembered the exact date that she went to the guesthouse and met [Person A15] and Massaquoi. Witness 30 explained that the date is one of her cousins’ birthdays, and that her friend called her from the birthday and the Witness went to meet her. The Defense further questioned her about this, and the Witness specified her cousin’s name, and added that she was the Witnesses late aunt’s daughter. The Defense once again referenced the police interview, noting that Witness 30 mentioned that date was a friend’s birthday. Witness 30 reiterated that the friend she mentioned was her cousin. 

The Defense then asked when the first time was that she went to the Voinjama area, to which the Witness responded that it was the end of 2000, and further specified that they went twice at the end of 2000 and once at the beginning of 2001. The Defense queried whether she had gone to Voinjama before she had been in the guesthouse. She replied that she had been afraid when she used to meet her friend, so used to stay outside. The Witness said she could not remember if she had entered the guesthouse before she went on the trip to Voinjama. She also stated that she had first met Massaquoi face-to-face in 2001. The Defense questioned how this could be true when she had said to the Finnish police that she had travelled with Massaquoi in 2000 by road. The Witness clarified that she went with them in 2000, but didn’t know Massaquoi’s name then, she only knew Benjamin Yeaten and Mosquito’s names.

The Defense again referenced the police summary, noting a statement where she said that, two weeks after meeting him, she and her friend went to Lofa with him, which she said was 2002, and flagged this apparent inconsistency with her testimony that the first trip was at the end of 2000. The Witness explained that maybe the police made a mistake, because she never said 2002, as she was in Nigeria in 2002. She reiterated that she had said 2000 and 2001, and then noted that maybe she had mentioned early 2002 as she had gone to Lofa then to tell her parents that she was travelling to Nigeria, but not with Gibril and [Person A2].

The Defense turned back to the guesthouse, asking how many times she went inside, to which the Witness responded she had gone inside once. She stated that the first time she met Massaquoi was when her friend introduced them; he said his name was Massaquoi. And her friend said he was her boyfriend. The Witness said she didn’t remember his name again.

The Defense questioned the Witness about how she had come back from Lofa, pointing to an apparent inconsistency in her story, to which the Witness clarified that she went to Voinjama twice and Kolahun once. The Witness clarified that she didn’t say anything to the police about a helicopter. When asked about a motorbike trip, the Witness explained that when Gibril took them, the same pickup brought them back – the three pickups, and that she came back from her parents in Lofa by bike, as the road was bad and she had needed to return to go to Nigeria. 

The next phase of questioning was on why she did not mention her own assault in the summary. Witness 30 reiterated that Massaquoi beat her friend when she had entered the forbidden room. She said that she had stepped in between them, and Massaquoi pushed her and she hit her nose on the door. Massaquoi then knocked her friend down and started to punch her. Witness 30 had left, and a soldier came and told Massaquoi that [Person A2] was pregnant. The Witness confirmed that her friend had asked Massaquoi why he had weapons in the house, and that Massaquoi told her that she would have to come to the front line if she wanted to know, but [Person A2] never went. The Witness confirmed that this was when she decided to escape.

The Defense then put to the witness that she had said that her and her friend stole money from Massaquoi and went to Monrovia by motorbike. The Witness suggested that maybe the police didn’t hear her properly, and reiterated that she had ridden a motorbike when she went to visit her parents. She stated that, when she and her friend escaped, a driver who was a young Mende boy escaped with them. She clarified that her friend couldn’t ride a bike because she was pregnant. 

The Defense again played a recording snippet in which the Witness said: “we never carried the child. She left the baby and they carried a Yamaha bike.”

Witness 30 replied that her friend and Gibril had a child; that she was pregnant when they went, but the beating made the baby move. Witness 30 stated that she did not remember the child’s age, but that she used to go see the child when they had rented the apartment in Congo Town. The Defense stated that the Witness had been asked when the child was born, and that she had responded that her friend was pregnant after the first meeting and the child was born at the beginning of 2002. The Witness replied that maybe she forgot and that she can’t remember everything.  

Witness 30 stated that the reason she did not tell the police that she went to Lofa was because she could not explain everything entirely. They ran away twice;after the first time he came and begged, and her friend paid the Witness 300 USD towards her saving for Nigeria to go back with her, because her friend “wanted something from him.”Witness 30 explained that she never saw Massaquoi after they escaped. She only saw [Person A2], when she attended her wedding. She later went to look for [Person A2], but was told by some that she had moved, told by others that she had travelled. She had told the police during the interview that she would find her, but couldn’t see her when she went to look for her. 

The Defense then asked if Massaquoi or anyone else used a fighter name, to which the Witness responded that maybe they said it, but she didn’t hear it. She said that she only used to know him as “uncle Massaquoi”, and it was only at the interview that she found out his name was Gibril.

The Prosecution then asked the Witness how the Finnish police had shown her pictures during the interview, to which she responded that they had shown her many pictures at the start of the interview. In response to a question about whether she met [Employee 1] when she came to Monrovia and has been waiting, the Witness stated no, she only received a call, and that she doesn’t know if he is black or white, and recalled that last night she called him to pay for her food. The Defense picked up on this, asking if they had arranged her food. She replied that they gave her palm butter last night and tea and bread this morning, and noted that she is pregnant.The Defense asked if she knew the people she was staying with in Monrovia. The Witness stated that she met a woman but did know her name. She also stated that there were two men inside their own apartment, but she also didn’t know them. When asked if she looked at pictures again after the interview, the Witness first said she couldn’t remember, and then stated that she had been shown them one time.

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