05/02/21 [Finland] Day 3: Presentation of Documentary Evidence

The third day of public hearings was dedicated to the presentation of documentary evidence. 

State Prosecutor Mr. Tom Laitinen began by presenting the Prosecution’s evidence, summarized with relevant discussion as follows:

  • A list of witnesses, detailing how their interviews were conducted (Annex 1.6 to the Application of Summons, pages 763-772). 

Mr. Laitinen indicated that this evidence served to demonstrate the different ways in which witnesses were located and highlighted that the majority of the witnesses were discovered without assistance from Civitas Maxima. Mr. Laitinen specified that 20 out of these 55 independently discovered witnesses would be heard at trial.  Mr. Laitinen noted that these witnesses had not been influenced by Civitas Maxima, and stated that  the similarities between their testimonies  would prove the guilt of  the accused, Mr. Gibril Massaquoi. 

Defense Counsel for Mr. Massaquoi, Mr. Kaarle Gummerus, responded by stating that many of the witnesses in the indictment had in fact been found with the help of Civitas Maxima, and that those witnesses then helped in finding additional witnesses. Mr. Gummerus provided two examples of witnesses who came forward in such a way and drew particular attention to their credibility, noting that there was no way to know what type of information passed between them about Mr. Massaquoi. Mr. Gummerus noted that, due to the tight-knit nature of the village communities, information can move quickly between people. 

Mr. Laitinen acknowledged that, in small villages, it was impossible to isolate witnesses from one another but asserted that there was no proof that the witnesses tried to influence one another. He stated that, had someone influenced the witnesses, it should be proven, and asked whether someone should testify on that issue. 

Mr. Gummerus stated that some witnesses said that they received information from others, citing two specific examples. He noted that the testimony of these witnesses may be contaminated. District Judge Juhani Paiho (Chair) stated that testimony from the police will be heard to determine whether the witnesses were properly selected.

  • “List of perpetrators” from Vol. II of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report (Annex 1.8 to the Application of Summons, pages 776-776, rows 14-18).   

Mr. Laitinen clarified that police had acknowledged this specific list did not include the names of commanders, contrary to the Defense’s assertions. 

Mr. Gummerus argued that, while the other commanders are not found in that list, they are found elsewhere in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report. Mr. Gummerus highlighted the absence of Mr. Massaquoi’s name in the report as a whole, while stressing that the names of other commanders and foreign mercenaries (such as “John Massaquoi” and “Mosquito”) are included in the report. Mr. Gummerus emphasized that the name “Gibril Massaquoi” is absent. Mr. Laitinen then turned to present an image of the form interviewers for Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission used when interviewing witnesses (Annex 1.8 to the Application of Summons, page 776). He stated that the absence of Mr. Massaquoi’s name in the reports is due to the fact that the form did not include Mr. Massaquoi’s name, nor mention the RUF, nor of any other party which Mr. Massaquoi represented. 

Mr. Laitinen argued that the witnesses were never asked about the RUF or its soldiers. This, Mr. Laitinen suggested, could be why the RUF and its soldiers were not discussed in the hearings and reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

Mr. Gummerus noted that interviewees were asked questions about other groups and that they had spoken about matters besides those mentioned on the interview form.

  • “Secret behind the gun: Massaquoi’s report” (Annex 1.25 to the Application of Summons, starting at page 3073) with Finnish translation (Annex 1.33, starting at page 3511). 

Mr. Laitinen explained that this document details Mr. Massaquoi’s own explanations of where he was at various times during the conflict. Mr. Laitinen read an excerpt in which Mr. Massaquoi stated, “I mentioned in many interviews that I was interviewed in X and not in Y, people thought that I was in Makeni (Sierra Leone) and not in Monrovia.” This excerpt concerned the time period between late 2000 and early 2001. Mr. Laitinen stated that Mr. Massaquoi knew how to make the interviewers believe he was somewhere other than his actual location, and that it was thus entirely possible that he was not where the interviews suggest. Mr. Laitinen noted that this was important when considering the credibility of Mr. Massaquoi’s claim of being absent from Liberia. 

Mr. Gummerus replied by pointing out that the time period in question was very short, and that the report also shows that Mr. Massaquoi was ordered to move to Makeni in January 2001. Mr. Gummerus further noted that the Defense evidence showed only five interviews conducted with Mr. Massaquoi via satellite telephone from Makeni. He claimed that there were also many interviews conducted in person with Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni. Mr. Gummerus also noted that the excerpt was Mr. Massaquoi’s own writing about old times.

  • Handwritten note from a meeting organized by Mr. Massaquoi in prison, (Annex 1.26 to the Application of Summons, at page 3447). 

This exhibit shows Mr. Massaquoi’s notes from a family meeting that was organised in prison. The Prosecution claimed that prison cleaners found these notes near a toilet after the meeting, and that the notes included guidance to several of Mr. Massaquoi’s witnesses. According to the Prosecution, the note stated that all key witnesses were to be informed of certain things. The information related to where Mr. Massaquoi had been; he wanted to guide these witnesses as to what they should say on this topic. Mr. Laitinen clarified that the notes did not state that Mr. Massaquoi’s ex-wife would have contacted other witnesses, and he noted that her story might be dictated in part by Mr. Massaquoi. 

Mr. Gummerus stated that Mr. Massaquoi’s note never left the prison and that it was written before witness groups three and four were heard. He posited that Mr. Massaquoi was worried but did not ask anyone to lie. Rather, Mr. Massaquoi was merely reminding them of different things that Mr. Gummerus stated were truthful. However, the Defence conceded that the writing of the note was wrong and should not have happened.

The session then shifted to the presentation of the Defense evidence. 

Mr. Gummerus began with a PowerPoint that he said contained many dates during which Mr. Massaquoi was somewhere other than Liberia. The PowerPoint demonstrated the best pieces of evidence, but the Defence clarified that there were more. Mr. Gummerus also introduced media coverage collected from online sources such as AllAfrica, “The Sierra Leone Web”, and UN sources mainly compiled from Reliefweb.int, as well as from the Truth Commission’s reports. 

Mr. Gummerus then formally introduced the following pieces of Defense evidence, with Defense exhibit numbers indicated:

  • Exhibit D1: Volume II of the Consolidated Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia

This report related to the murder of Samuel Bockary and his family in Nimba County on 6 May 2003. The Defense agreed that 6 May 2003 was the date the murders occurred, but argued that Mr. Massaquoi was not in Nimba County on that date. Mr. Gummerus asserted that witness stories to the contrary were not truthful. He noted that this evidence was adduced to demonstrate that references to the RUF were a consistent theme in the reported violations. Mr. Gummerus reiterated, however, that the Defendant was not on the list despite the report containing many RUF commanders and mercenaries who took part in the Liberian Civil War. The Defense also mentioned the fact that several other ‘Massaquois’ had been mentioned in the report, ranging from Edward Massaquoi to Roland Massaquoi, for different crimes in the conflict.

  • Exhibit D2: Volume III Appendices of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Mr. Gummerus referenced a list of the names of those responsible and another list of names including people with the surname ‘Massaquoi’. Mr. Gummerus noted that  there was no mention of a ‘Gibril Massaquoi’ on these lists.

  • Exhibit D3: Police summary of the Truth Commission’s statements

Mr. Gummerus cited page 790, which provided information about the witness hearings in Kamatahun Hassala and Monrovia. Mr. Gummerus reiterated that there was no mention of Mr. Massaquoi by name.

The morning session ended with a dialogue between Prosecution and Defense regarding the Defense evidence. Mr. Laitinen acknowledged that Mr. Massaquoi was not on the list in the police summary but noted that these statements could not be regarded as witness hearings, nor could these witnesses be heard in the courtroom. Mr Gummerus posited that the references to people with the surname ‘Massaquoi’ have nothing to do with his client. He asserted that these individuals, and not his client, might be implicated in the events that the witnesses in the case will speak of, and proposed a discussion about the value of these witness statements with Mr. Laitinen.

Mr. Laitinen responded that the reports could only be taken for what they said on their face. It was not possible to undertake in-depth analysis or hear from the people involved in the reports. Before the morning session closed, Mr. Gummerus reiterated that Mr. Massaquoi’s name was not in the reports, despite their length and detail. Mr. Laitinen countered that not all Liberians were heard from in the reports, a point that the Defence conceded.

The morning session ended at 12:06. 


The afternoon  session  started at 13:16.

Defense Attorney Mr. Gummerus began by stating that the Defense and Prosecution had discussed the conflicting material they each had presented in the first session of the day. Mr. Gummerus clarified that neither the Defense nor the Prosecutor intended to make separate claims, rather, they both intended to demonstrate the in-depth nature of the reports.

The afternoon session continued with the Defense’s presentation of evidence as follows:

  • Exhibit D4: Liberian Newspaper Material

    Mr. Gummerus presented material from Liberian newspapers dated between 1 November 1999 and 12 December 2004. He referred to the newspapers as a demonstration of the problem they faced, noting that there was a significant amount of evidentiary material annexed to the Application of Summons that they had not been able to review.  Mr. Gummerus stated that the material does not contain any information regarding Mr. Massaquoi’s guilt, nor anything else relevant to the case. 
  • Exhibit D5: Photographs and Video

The Defense presented twelve photographs, including one photo of Mr. Massaquoi, and a video clip, which were used to identify Mr. Massaquoi in witness interviews. Mr. Gummerus alleged that some of the witnesses had only been shown the video clip.

  • Exhibit D6: Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Sierra Leone, Volume III A

The Defense referred to sections 941, 1053, 1184, 1212, 1213, 1407 and 1417 of Chapter III, Volume III A of Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. These sections refer to where Mr. Massaquoi was located at specific moments in time. Mr. Gummerus addressed each of these sections, elaborating on exactly where Mr. Massaquoi was at the relevant times.

  • Exhibit D7: News article from the Sierra Leone Web, September 1999

The Defense alleged that this article from the Sierra Leone Web News placed Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni, Sierra Leone, on 3 September 1999. The Prosecution interjected and requested the source of the report. The Defense responded that the source was unknown, and that the exhibit is a news article based on a report which is mentioned in the article itself. The Judge asked what in the article constituted proof that Mr. Massaquoi was in Makeni, to which the Defense replied that it was their understanding when reading the article. The Prosecution asked whether the reporter actually saw Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni, and the Defense admitted to not having knowledge of this fact. Mr. Laitinen expressed his disagreement that the article proved Mr. Massaquoi was in Makeni. 

  • Exhibit D8: News article from the Sierra Leone Web, December 1999

This article mentioned that Mr. Massaquoi had made a statement in Freetown on 15 December 1999. The Prosecution again interjected to say that this did not prove that Mr. Massaquoi was in fact in Freetown, while the Defense disagreed. 

  • Exhibit D9: News article from the Concord Times, 29 February 2000

This evidence contained a statement from a reporter who listened to Mr. Massaquoi speak on the radio as he stated he was in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The Prosecution responded that Massaquoi could have been anywhere.

  • Exhibit D10: News article from the Sierra Leone Web, March 2000

This article noted that Mr. Massaquoi had met members of the Sierra Leonean Government at a conference in Freetown on 15 February 2000. The Defense added that this demonstrated Mr. Massaquoi’s location and motives during this time period. 

  • Exhibit D11: News article from the Sierra Leone Web, May 2000

According to the Defense, this article placed Mr. Massaquoi in Sierra Leone on 19 May 2000. The Defense said that Mr. Massaquoi gave an interview via satellite phone from Makeni. The Prosecution responded that the satellite phone did not demonstrate with certainty that Mr. Massaquoi was really in Makeni. The Defense countered by stating that the article also provided that Mr. Massaquoi reached Makeni on 10 May 2000. The Prosecution requested the source of the article, which the Defense did not know.

  • Exhibit D12: News article from Sierra Leone Web, August 2000

This article, dated August 2000, placed Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni, according to his own statements. On 28 August 2000, Mr. Massaquoi spoke in Monrovia and shared that he was in Monrovia. 

  • Exhibit D13: Letter from Mr. Massaquoi to the President of Nigeria

The Defense presented a letter written by Mr. Massaquoi to the President of Nigeria on 11 October 2000. It was written from the headquarters of the RUF in Makeni, demonstrated by the letterhead. In the letter, Mr. Massaquoi had written that he did not yet have satellite phones. The Prosecution noted that the letter was self-serving. 

  • Exhibit D14: Official Statement from Sierra Leone in October 2000

The Defense offered an official statement made by Mr. Massaquoi on 6 October 2000 from the headquarters of the RUF in Sierra Leone. 

  • Exhibit D15: News article from the Sierra Leone Web, November 2000

For this article, Mr. Massaquoi spoke with a report in Monrovia, where he said he was on a “quick stop.” According to the Defense, Mr. Massaquoi was in Abuja on 10 November 2000, as he spoke to reporters from Abuja the following day.  The Defense posited that, on 30 November 2000, Mr. Massaquoi was probably back in Sierra Leone. 

  • Exhibit D16: Press Release from Sierra Leone, December 2000

This press release from Mr. Massaquoi was sent from Sierra Leone on 14 December 2000. The Prosecution asked if Mr. Massaquoi wrote it entirely by himself. The Defense responded that he probably did and notes that the release demonstrated what Mr. Massaquoi was doing at the time.

  • Exhibit D17: Press Release from Sierra Leone, June 2001, from ReliefWeb 

This press release, posted from Sierra Leone on 16 June 2001, stated that Mr. Massaquoi met with people in Makeni that day.

  • Exhibit D18: News article from The Progress, September 2001

This article, dated 18 September 2001, stated that there was a meeting between Mr. Massaquoi and people in Makeni. 

  • Exhibit D19: News article from ReliefWeb, February 2001

Dated 13 February 2001, this article stated that Mr. Massaquoi participated in a meeting the previous day in Makeni. Prior to the meeting, the participants visited a hospital in Makeni. Afterwards, they travelled to Magburaka. 

  • Exhibit D20: News article from the Concord Times, February 2001

This article, dated 14 February 2001, mentioned a meeting in Makeni during which Mr. Massaquoi promised not to fight ever again. The Defense claimed that this article demonstrated that Mr. Massaquoi was in Makeni at that time.

  • Exhibit D21A [unclear]: News article from The Progress, March 2001

This article from 7 March 2001 stated that someone met with Mr. Massaquoi in Lunsar.

  • Exhibit D21B [unclear]: Letter to the United Nations, May 2001

The Defense entered the next piece of evidence in two parts. The first was a letter from Liberia to the United Nations dated 18 May 2001, in which the Liberian government informed the United Nations that not a single person described on Security Council Resolution 1343 was in Liberia after the Resolution’s acceptance on 7 March 2001. The second piece was the Resolution itself, as Mr. Massaquoi was one of the individuals listed in the document. The Defense asserted that Mr. Massaquoi had thus not been in Liberia from 7 March 2001 to 18 May 2001. 

  • Exhibit D22: News article from the Concord Times, March 2001

This article, dated 20 March 2001, placed Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni’s state hospital. The Prosecution inquired as to how the article placed the Defendant there, and the Defense explained that, because the article detailed how Mr. Massaquoi had warned his men not to steal drugs from the Makeni hospital, it was reasonable to conclude he was there.

  • Exhibit D23: News article from Expo Times, April 2001

This article, dated 6 April 2001, described a RUF delegation meeting on 6 April 2001. Before the meeting, the delegation stopped in Lansar, Sierra Leone, on 31 March 2001. The Defense stated that the article included Mr. Massaquoi as part of this delegation.

  • Exhibit D24: News article from Reliefweb, April 2001

This article, dated 9 April 2001, showed officials from the RUF meeting with the UN Deputy Secretary-General in Lansar, Sierra Leone. The Defense asserted that Mr. Massaquoi was part of this meeting and that his presence demonstrated both his actions and motives during this time.

  • Exhibit D25: News article from the Washington Post, April 2001

The Defense presented an article, dated 14 April 2001, that reported Mr. Massaquoi giving a statement in Makeni either on 14 April 2001 or slightly before that. 

  • Exhibit D26: News article from Reliefweb, April 2001

The Defense used this article to demonstrate that Mr. Massaquoi was in Makeni on 20 April 2001. He reportedly had an interview in Makeni on this date, although the Defense noted it was conducted via satellite phone.

  • Exhibit D27: News article from Sierra Leone Web, April 2001

This article, dated April 2001, purportedly showed Mr. Massaquoi in a delegation that was departing to Abuja. On 3 April 2001 and 20 April 2001, he gave interviews in Makeni. The Prosecutor asked whether Mr. Massaquoi had himself reported his location. The Defense conceded that he had. 

  • Exhibit D28: Youth Symposium in Makeni, 23-25 April 2001

The participant list for this Youth Symposium in Makeni (23 to 25 April 2001) indicated that Mr. Massaquoi had attended.

  • Exhibit D29: News article from Reliefweb, May 2001

This article, dated 12 May 2001, showed Mr. Massaquoi in a meeting with the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) in Magburaka, Sierra Leone, on 11 May 2001.

  • Exhibit D30: News article from Sierra Leone Web, May 2001

This article, dated May 2001, stated that Mr. Massaquoi was in Freetown to meet with a reporter at the Mammy Yoko Hotel. However, the Defense did not know whether the reporter was in Freetown.

  • Exhibit D31: Concord Times, 28 May 2001

This article, dated 28 May 2001, included an interview with Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni. The Defense  asserted that Mr. Massaquoi was thus in Makeni from 25 to 26 May 2001.

  • Exhibit D32: Metadata from Sierra Leone Web, June 2001

The Defense described this exhibit as a ‘special piece of evidence’. The Defense acquired it by searching for “Gibril Massaquoi” on Sierra Leone Web and sifting through the metadata to find reference to an interview conducted with Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni on 2 June 2001. 

  • Exhibit D33: News article from the Concord Times, June 2001

The Defense produced this piece of evidence, an article dated 18 June 2001, to demonstrate Mr. Massaquoi’s presence in Makeni on 15 June 2001. The Prosecution inquired as to who the interviewee in the article was. The Defense admitted to being unsure, but reiterated that Mr. Massaquoi was in Makeni.

  • Exhibit D34: News article from Reliefweb, June 2001

According to this article from 18 June 2001, Mr. Massaquoi met with a United Nations Ambassador in Makeni on 16 June 2001. The Defense clarified that the source of this article was the United Nations.

  • Exhibit D35: News article from the Sierra Leone Web, June 2001

This article, dated June 2001, included a picture of Mr. Massaquoi taken in Makeni on 24 June 2001. This photograph was the same one the Central Criminal Police used to identify Mr. Massaquoi. The Prosecution questioned whether the reporter was in Makeni as well. The Defense stated its opinion that both the reporter and Mr. Massaquoi were in Makeni.

  • Exhibit D36: USAID Field Report Sierra Leone, June 2001

This USAID report indicated that Mr. Massaquoi gave a joint interview with Mr. Sesay in Kono, Sierra Leone, in June 2001. 

  • Exhibit D37: UNAMSIL Press Briefing, July 2001

This UNAMSIL press briefing, dated 6 July 2001, indicated that UNAMSIL and representatives of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission met with Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni on 4 July 2001.

  • Exhibit D38: Concord Times, July 2001

This article from the Concord Times, dated 17 July 2001, showed the Special Representative’s meeting with Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni between 4 July 2001 and 10 July 2001.

  • Exhibit D39: News article from the Sierra Leone Web, July 2001

A Sierra Leone Web article dated July 2001 indicated that Mr. Massaquoi took part in a RUF meeting in Makeni on 14 July 2001. Mr. Massaquoi also gave an interview from Makeni in late July 2001.

  • Exhibit D40: News article from the Standard Times, 25 July 2001

This final piece of evidence was an article dated 25 July 2001. It referenced a statement the police took from Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni as part of an investigation in a counterfeiting case. 

The hearing ended at 15:52 and was scheduled to  continue on Monday 8 February at 10:00.

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