31/03/21 [Liberia] Day 23: The Hearing of Witnesses 42, 43, and 44
The twenty-third day of public hearings resumed on March 31, 2021 in Monrovia, Liberia.
Witness 42 is heard
(Finnish Witness ID: Soldier 07)
The Prosecution questions Witness 42
The Witness began his testimony by explaining that Benjamin Yeaten was the Director of the Special Security Service, which is now referred to as the EPS of the Executive Mansion. He explained that when war broke out between government forces and the LURD rebels, Benjamin Yeaten was one of the commanders supervising the frontline. During the war against the LURD forces, which began in 1998, the Witness joined Charles Taylor’s government, and served under Benjamin Yeaten. The Witness explained that among the troops he was with, there were Sierra Leoneans who were from the RUF. He recalled some of the names of the RUF soldiers, including Sam Bockarie, Chuckie, Bomb Blast, Superman, Commanding Officer Mess, Commanding Officer Blood, Gabriel Massaquoi, [FNM-140], Salami, and a boy they used to call Yellow.
The Witness explained that he was in Monrovia at the same time as the RUF soldiers. While he was in Monrovia, people would meet at Elwa Junction. The Witness explained that Sam Bockarie and his men were living in four houses in the Elwa Junction area. The Witness worked with “50” (identified by the Witness as Benjamin Yeaten) for some time, and then he joined the navy division with Roland Duo. While he was in the navy division, the Witness would go to and from Foya and Monrovia with navy forces. He explained that when the group was in Foya, they used a helicopter to travel rather than a car because LURD forces had captured the area at that time. The Witness noted that the RUF soldiers did not travel with them on the helicopter and clarified that he moved with RUF soldiers while he was with Benjamin Yeaten. He explained that while he was with Benjamin Yeaten, they were in the area of Vahun coming towards Kolahun. Witness 42 confirmed that Massaquoi was with him in Vahun or Lofa Bridge, sometime around 2000 and 2001.
The Witness also explained that he saw Gabriel Massaquoi in Waterside, Monrovia, several times in what he believed was the beginning or middle of 2001. He explained that at that time, Gabriel Massaquoi was controlling the Waterside area, elaborating that different people had different areas they controlled. The Witness stated that Massaquoi killed one of the Witness’s bodyguards, Bulldog, on Water Street, opposite the 99 Steps, in 2001. The Witness clarified that Massaquoi did not kill Bulldog himself, but rather that [FNM-140] killed him and other soldiers, because he had said they were looting stores.
The Witness explained that he went to Waterside to collect Bulldog’s corpse and saw Gabriel Massaquoi carrying out an execution. He recalled six civilians and five soldiers being executed, specifying that the soldiers were no longer armed, as they were tied up with ropes. He explained that he told Gabriel Massaquoi to let the civilians go and kill the soldiers, but that Massaquoi refused and said that the civilians were the cause of the soldiers looting. They began to argue, to the point that they “almost had riot”. While they were arguing, Massaquoi became vexed and told his soldiers to shoot the tied-up soldiers and civilians. The soldiers delayed in carrying out the order, so Gabriel Massaquoi took his gun and shot the civilians. The bodies were then thrown in the river. The situation only deescalated because Benjamin Yeaten called Witness 42 and told him to “forget about it.” The Witness then directed his other bodyguards to forget it as well, and they took Bulldog’s body and left. He clarified that different groups were in control of different areas, and Waterside was Gabriel Massaquoi’s area. He also explained that this event happened in 2001.
The Prosecution asked the Witness if he saw Massaquoi in Monrovia after this incident occurred, but the Witness responded that because of what happened they were not close. He also added that he did not see Gabriel Massaquoi doing anything to civilians or soldiers while he was in Lofa.
Finally, the Prosecution asked the Witness about how the Finnish police got in contact with him. The Witness explained that [FNM-098] gave his number to [Employee 1], who then called him. He explained that he was previously interviewed by other people, but that it was on a different issue.
The Defense questions Witness 42
The Defense asked the Witness to elaborate about the interview he gave to people other than the Finnish police. The Witness explained that people came to find out how the soldiers and commanders were living after the war and whether the soldiers still respected the commanders. The Witness could not recall which organization conducted the interview but told Defense Counsel that he could bring him their card.
The Witness also testified further about his interactions with the Finnish police, explaining that he sent two other witnesses, [FNM-138] and [FNM-137], to be interviewed. Both men were his bodyguards and were on the scene when the Bulldog incident occurred. He was unsure whether the Finnish police ever actually interviewed those people and stated that he just gave their phone numbers. The Defense pointed out that the police had a list indicating that five other witnesses were referred to the police by him. The Witness responded that maybe one of the witnesses he mentioned brought additional people who were linked to him. There was a discussion between the Defense and the Witness about whether the Witness knew a man who had the same given name but a different surname than [FNM-138]. The Witness stated that he knew the man with the different surname, but when asked whether these two men were in fact the same person, the Witness’s response was unclear.
The Witness was also asked to identify several other witnesses who the Defense indicated were sent by him to the Finnish police. The Witness responded that he knew some people by their war name, and so it was hard for him to know their other names. The individuals mentioned were: [FNM-139], [FNM-140], [FNM-141], [FNM-138], and [FNM-137]. The Witness was asked whether he saw [FNM-139] when the incident occurred in Waterside. The Witness explained that he did not, as he was not one of the Witness’s bodyguards.
Defense Counsel also asked the Witness whether he recalled what he told the Finnish police in his interview, two years prior to his testimony, about the timing of the incident, and the Witness responded that he could not remember. The Defense then read a portion of the police summary, in which the Witness was placed in Monrovia at the end of the war in 2002. Witness 42 explained that he was placed in Monrovia in 2002 at the end of the war, but noted that, as he previously explained, he would go to and from Foya and Monrovia during the war. Defense Counsel asked why the Witness did not tell the police that he traveled between the regions, and the Witness explained that he simply answered the questions the police asked. He noted that “I could not leave my family in Monrovia for 3 to 5 years and be in Foya without coming to visit them”.
The Defense also read a portion of the police summary in which the Witness recalled that RUF troops were moved to Monrovia and asked whether the Witness said Gabriel Massaquoi was in Monrovia after Sam Bockarie died. The Witness responded that this was true, and elaborated that he thought that Sam Bockarie died sometime between 2002 and 2003. The Defense noted that it is generally known that Sam Bockarie died in May 2003 and asked the Witness if he recalled seeing Gabriel Massaquoi after that time. The Witness responded that he could not remember, but noted that he stopped seeing Gabriel Massaquoi, as Massaquoi was not in Monrovia from the middle of 2001 to 2002. He noted, however, that Salami, CO Blood, CO Mess, and Yellow remained in Monrovia at that time. The Defense pressed the Witness on whether he just confirmed he had seen Gabriel Massaquoi after Sam Bockarie’s death. The Witness answered that he did not see Gabriel Massaquoi after Sam Bockarie’s death, clarifying that he did not properly understand the Defense’s question. He was also asked why he told the Finnish police that Gabriel Massaquoi was in Monrovia after Sam Bockarie’s death and responded that he might have missed the year. He confirmed that after Sam Bockarie’s death, Gabriel Massaquoi was not there.
Returning to the incident regarding Bulldog’s death in Waterside, the Witness confirmed that he went to Waterside because he had heard his bodyguard had been executed, and that Bodyman was already dead when he arrived: they only went to retrieve the body. The Witness also explained that at the time, the war was going on against the LURD, who were controlling the area up to Stockton Creek Bridge.
The Defense noted that the Finnish police report said the Witness was placed in Monrovia at the end of May to July in 2003. The Witness explained that this was the end of the war, when LURD forces had captured all of Lofa and pushed them into Monrovia. He also noted that the LURD would attack Monrovia during this time, they would repel LURD, and this pattern would repeat. The Defense asked the Witness how many times LURD attacked Monrovia, with the Witness answering that they had WW 1, WW 2, and WW 3. He also explained that RUF troops were controlling Waterside and that a “lot of killing went on there.” The Defense asked the Witness if these events occurred in 2003, but the Witness could not recall the year.
More broadly, the Defense asked about the mission of the RUF and whether it was to fight together with Liberian government troops against the LURD troops. The Witness responded that the RUF had been fighting with government troops from the time they came to Liberia. He was also asked whether RUF troops killed civilians and soldiers trying to find food under the guise that they were looting. He explained that soldiers would go overnight to break into stores to get things, and if they were caught, they would be killed. The Witness noted that RUF troops were in the Waterside area until the end of the war, and were mixed with the Jungle Fire, a group controlled by “50”. The Witness was asked whether Massaquoi was there until the war ended, and the Witness stated that they had been controlling the area since 2001, but explained that, because he was not assigned to that group, he did not know if Massaquoi was still there at the end of the war.
Returning to the incident, the Defense indicated that there appeared to be a misunderstanding between the Witness and the Finnish police, because in his interview he said that Gabriel Massaquoi gave orders for the soldiers to kill civilians. The Witness clarified that he said that Gabriel Massaquoi gave orders for the soldiers to kill the civilians and at last took the gun himself and killed them.
The Defense also noted that the Witness told police that he was not present when Gabriel Massaquoi shot the people, but the Witness was confused by the Defense’s question, turning to the translator to say, “I do not understand what that man is saying”. The Witness clarified that he did not see Bulldog’s execution. He further explained that one of his men, [Soldier 01], called him and told him to come to Waterside quickly because an execution was about to take place. The Witness then went to the scene and asked Massaquoi why he killed people during the first execution, noting that Gabriel Massaquoi killed three civilians in his presence. He added that he told the police this and did not know why they did not record it. Finally, the Defense asked whether, in the Witness’s opinion, Massaquoi killed several times. The Witness said that Massaquoi and his group had power vested in them even over the other soldiers. Apart from Jungle Fire, who were Benjamin Yeaten’s bodyguards, any other soldier in Waterside would be killed by Massaquoi and his men and nothing would come of it. He noted that even his bodyguard Bulldog was killed along with ten other soldiers for looting.
The Prosecution asks additional questions
The Prosecution asked the Witness to clarify what happened when Bulldog was killed. The Witness explained that eleven people were killed in total, both civilians and soldiers including Bulldog. He also noted that [FNM-140] carried out the execution and the Witness was not present when that execution occurred. He noted that after he was told about Bulldog’s death, he went to Waterside and almost exchanged gunfire with Massaquoi and his men. While the Witness and Gabriel Massaquoi were arguing, more people were brought to Massaquoi to be executed. The Witness told Massaquoi he could not execute the people, but Massaquoi ordered his soldiers to kill anyway. Because Witness 42 was also a commander, the soldiers were afraid and did not follow Massaquoi’s orders. This led Massaquoi himself to take the gun and shoot the people. While the Witness could not remember how many civilians Massaquoi killed due to the passage of time, he noted that five soldiers tied up in ropes were killed.
The Defense asks additional questions
The Defense asked the Witness to confirm that he was ordered to go to Lofa from 1999 to 2002, where he moved around in Foya, Vahun, and Bomi Hills. The Witness noted that this was the time he worked under Benjamin Yeaten fighting against LURD. He explained that in 2002, he left Yeaten’s troops to join the navy, but that did not stop him from being around Benjamin Yeaten. The Judge then ended the testimony and the Witness was excused.
Witness 43 is heard
(Finnish Witness ID: Soldier 01)
Prosecution questions Witness 43
The Witness identified himself as a soldier with Charles Taylor’s government forces during the Second Liberian Civil War. From 2000 to 2001, he served on the frontline under the command of [Soldier 07], who testified earlier in the day. The Witness stated his war name, and offered that he held the rank of General Battle Group for his unit.
Witness 43 testified that he mainly fought on the frontlines in Lofa, but that he was diverted to Monrovia at some point between 2000 and 2001 to fight the incoming forces. He was first assigned to Stockton Bridge, but he also described a specific order from [Soldier 07|: he was sent to Waterside to stop the executions of civilians that Gabriel Massaquoi was carrying out, the Witness noted that Gabriel Massaquoi did not listen to him. He went to Waterside with three of his bodyguards; when he arrived, he attempted to get Massaquoi to stop. The Witness noted that he was courteous when he spoke with Massaquoi, as Massaquoi was the “higher-ranking officer.” He later noted he asked him, “Permit me, Sir! What is going on?” However, Massaquoi ignored him. The Witness said Gabriel Massaquoi was “very desperate, delicate.”
The Witness saw Gabriel Massaquoi take a submachine gun from another soldier and start shooting civilians and some soldiers. He recalled that Massaquoi executed civilians at a store that was being looted. The Witness placed the event as having occurred on Water Street leaving Broad Street, near the Du River. The Witness confirmed this was not far from 99 Steps and that one could see the Old Bridge and the river from the front of the store. He could not provide the number of civilians killed, saying only that there were “too many.” The Witness also noted that, because Gabriel Massaquoi had power, he would open fire on civilians who he accused of looting. During the same incident, he also saw Gabriel Massaquoi kill twelve child soldiers fighting for the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), in a group called “Nyanplan” [sic]. The Witness later said that after the shooting, he returned to his commander and gave him a report of events.
The Witness briefly discussed other incidents involving Gabriel Massaquoi. He stated that Gabriel Massaquoi carried out a massacre in Popalahun, and as well as in another village, where he killed women and children, and “opened them up and roasted them.” The Witness stated that Massaquoi killed his brother in Popalahun, and later clarified that he was in Belle Fassama when he was told “Angel Gabriel killed [his] brother.” Before the Witness could get to Popalahun, Angel Gabriel had already left for another area. When asked whether these incidents occurred before or after the killing of civilians in Waterside, the Witness appeared confused, and did not provide clarification on the timing.
The Prosecution then turned to ask about the death of a soldier called “Bulldog”. The Witness seemed to think that the Prosecution was referring to a “Bulldog” with whom the Witness went through training and knew very well. However, he did not know how and when this “Bulldog” died, as he was at JFK Hospital receiving treatment for a leg injury he received while fighting on the Old Bridge. The Prosecution asked whether [Soldier 07] did anything after Bulldog died, and the Witness stated that he was not concerned about this at the time, due to his injury.
The Witness noted that, when the RUF came to Liberia, Gabriel Massaquoi was their spokesman at the border. It was not clear whether the Witness had met Massaquoi prior to the incident in Waterside, but he indicated that he knew of him. Turning to the RUF’s locations in Monrovia, the Witness stated that they controlled the area around the new bridge. He also recalled that Gabriel Massaquoi referred to himself as Angel Gabriel when he was on the frontline, before any “performance”. He recalled that Gabriel Massaquoi, like most of the RUF, spoke Mende.
Finally, the Witness testified about his interactions with the Finnish police. He recalled that [Soldier 07] gave his contact information to [Employee 1], who called the Witness at work. The Witness referred to a piece of paper with [Employee 1]’s name during his testimony as he wrote it down to ensure he would not forget. [Employee 1| asked to meet with the Witness without providing any information on the topic. After meeting with him, he was sent to meet with police, who he described as “huge-huge white guys”.
The Defense questions Witness 43
The Defense opened by asking about the Witness’s interactions with [Employee 1] and the police. Witness 43 testified that he wrote [Employee 1]’s name on the piece of paper when he first met with him and kept it in his files, as the police told him they would be back. He stated that he did not have an in-depth conversation with [Employee 1], who only directed him to the Finnish police. He confirmed that [Soldier 07] never discussed giving his number to [Employee 1] or explained the interview, but also said that he would do whatever he asked, as he was his commander. He confirmed he did not know what the interview was about before he met with police. When he arrived, the police showed him photos and asked if he personally knew “any Gabriel.” He responded that he did. Asked by Defense whether he recalled how many people were in the photo he was shown, he responded that he did not check. The Defense also asked whether the police pointed to an individual in the photos and asked if it was Gabriel or if the Witness picked Gabriel out himself. The Witness responded that the police asked if he knew Gabriel before the interview began and then asked that he identify Gabriel in the photos. The Witness noted that the police were all white people, with one Liberian English interpreter.
The Defense then noted that in his interview, the Witness told police that [Soldier 07] told him it was going to be about the incident in Waterside and the task [Soldier 07] had sent him to do. The Witness clarified that [Soldier 07] never explained anything about the interview to him. The Defense said the Witness had also told police that [Soldier 07] told him he would be asked about Gabriel Massaquoi. The Witness confirmed [Soldier 07] told him who the interview would be about, but not what to say, and elaborated that he knew more about Gabriel Massaquoi than [Soldier 07], given that he fought with the RUF, whereas [Soldier 07] did not. He clarified that [Soldier 07] did not explain what to expect at the interview in detail but told him why he was going to see the police because the Witness was afraid.
The Court then played a recording of the Witness’s December 2019 interview with police. In the recording, the Witness told police that [Soldier 07] told him the police wanted to know about “the incident that took place in Waterside. That individual, they want to know about it. So you yourself go and relay it to them”. In the recording, the Witness confirmed to police that the individual was Gabriel Massaquoi.
Following the recording, the Witness reiterated that [Soldier 07| continued to be his general, and that, without his encouragement, he would not have come to Monrovia. He also stated that, after 2001, he did not know where Gabriel Massaquoi went, though the Witness was looking for him because he killed his brother.
The Defense shifted the questioning to the events in Monrovia. The Witness stated that while there, he was based at White Flower near Paynesville, where President Taylor was living, and was fighting for the government forces against the LURD. He confirmed that the war was ongoing in Monrovia at the time, but that it was not very hot. The Witness separated the war into WW1, WW2, and WW3. Because, as the Witness stated, soldiers “took a lot of things to keep us active on the front,” he could not recall the war in which the Waterside incident occurred, only that it happened between 2000 and 2001. However, he ruled out WW3, which he later clarified occurred in 2003, because the war had “really hit” Monrovia by that time.
The Defense then pointed to the police summary, which stated that the Witness was in Paynesville during WW3 when Gabriel Massaquoi killed Bulldog, who the Defense believed was his soldier. The Witness clarified that there had been some confusion as there were three soldiers called Bulldog in the NPFL. One guarded Charles Taylor, the second was a Marine commander, and the third was a child soldier, a member of the Small Boys Unit who was assigned with the Witness. He clarified that the Marine Bulldog was the one who died while the Witness was in the hospital. The Witness mentioned different divisions in the NPFL, including the Marine Division, Strike Force, and Jungle Fire.
The Witness then understood the Defense was asking about the third Bulldog, the child, who the Witness said Gabriel Massaquoi had killed for looting. He testified that [Soldier 07] told him to look for this Bulldog’s body. He clarified that this Bulldog was the Witness’s bodyguard, his “small soldier,” and he had taken him as a son after his parents fled. Asked whether he was [Soldier 07]’s bodyguard, the Witness noted that the Bulldog was assigned to him, but explained that, as [Soldier 07] was the Witness’s commander, anyone assigned to the Witness was also assigned to [Soldier 07].
The Witness then described the forces in Monrovia at the time of the Waterside incident. The Witness and other government forces were fighting LURD forces. The first time the LURD hit Monrovia, they were in Logan Town, and the second time, they were in Vai Town. The NPFL and the RUF created a buffer zone, with one group on either side of Vai Town so that only the bridges were between them. The Witness described shooting happening every day between the forces. One day, he drove towards LURD forces at the port and fired heavy artillery at them from a pickup truck. He used this incident as a frame of reference for the timing of the killing of Bulldog, confirming that [Soldier 07| sent him to search for Bulldog’s body before the war in which this shooting occurred. He could not recall the length of time between this shooting and searching for the body, noting that the order to find the body was not very important and that he only wanted to look for the body because they were close.
The Court then played an excerpt from the Witness’s interview with police in which he described Bulldog’s killing as having occurred in WW3. He stated he was in Gardnersville during WW3 when Angel Gabriel killed Bulldog and [Soldier 07] told him to search for the body. Later in the recording, the Witness told police he was ordered to go to Monrovia, describing that he walked from Lofa to Gbarnga before coming to Monrovia to fight in WW3.
Following the recording, Defense asked the Witness to confirm what was said in the recording, and the Witness stated it was the ending of the war.
The Defense asked whether the Witness had ever seen Gabriel Massaquoi burn people in houses. The Witness said he had never physically seen Gabriel Massaquoi and Zigzag Marzah burn people, “but it was their trademark” and they controlled the area.
The Witness also confirmed that he was injured twice, once in the north in Voinjama and once in Monrovia. Both times, he went to JFK Hospital.
Finally, Defense noted that the Witness stated at trial that Gabriel Massaquoi was the spokesman for the RUF, and asked whether he knew this information prior to this hearing. The Witness stated that the police never asked him that question, and reiterated that he recognised Massaquoi from the pictures he was shown.
The Prosecution asks additional questions
The Witness confirmed that he searched for Bulldog’s body but never found it. He stated that he heard Bulldog had died, so told [Soldier 07], who then instructed him to go look for the body. He clarified that when he went down to search for the body, he received another order to put a stop to the incident developing in Waterside with Gabriel Massaquoi. He stated that he did not approve of soldiers subduing civilians, repeating that he saw Gabriel Massaquoi at the store, where Massaquoi did not talk to him. He repeated that when he arrived at the store, the civilians were not yet killed, as that happened in front of him. He testified that [Soldier 07] was not present when the Witness was looking for Bulldog’s body. He stated he did not know if [Soldier 07] visited the site as the Witness gave him the report of the Waterside incident and left. He noted, however, that [Soldier 07] was very angry about the civilian killings and thought it likely that he did visit the scene after. The Court then played a recording in which the Witness told the police that he left the area until [Soldier 07] arrived. [Soldier 07] asked Gabriel Massaquoi “why you keep killing Liberians in our own country?” The soldiers and Gabriel Massaquoi then raised their weapons at each other and almost opened fire on one another. Following the recording, the Witness clarified that this argument took place at the E.J. Royce Building, where Benjamin Yeaten was based.
Witness 44 is heard
(Finnish Witness ID: Soldier 04)
Prosecution questions Witness 44
The Witness began by identifying himself as a soldier in the NPFL and government forces during the Second Civil War. He was under the command of [Soldier 07] and fought in Montserrado and Lofa Counties. He stated that when LURD rebels came to Lofa County in 2000 or 2001, his assignment was changed from Montserrado to Lofa County.
The Prosecution asked about the Witness’s time in Monrovia. The Witness explained that his group controlled the Gabriel Tucker Bridge down to Waterside. He stated that there were many RUF troops there as well, first under the command of Sam Bockarie and Johnny Paul, and then under the command of “Angel Gabriel”, which was the fighting name of a man, also called “Massaquoi”. The Witness met Massaquoi at the front as well as on the road to Waterside.
The Witness then described an incident at the Nimba parking area, which he referred to as “a battle”. [Soldier 07] had sent for the Witness, [Soldier 01], and a young member of the Small Boys Unit (SBU) who died on the same day. As they were going, they saw people on their knees. The Witness could not remember how many people there were, but when prompted for an estimate, he said there were more than six people. He recalled that some of them were tied, and two of them were naked and tabayed. The others were lined up near the water bank where they would fall in the water if shot.
The driver stopped the car and asked who the people were. The Witness said that they were told, “Angel Gabriel said these are enemies, we would get rid of them.” As far as the Witness was concerned, “Chief Massaquoi” gave the order to kill the people – he did not know whether Massaquoi was the one who shot them, but noted that he had a pistol in his hand. When the Prosecution asked if the people were civilians or soldiers, the Witness explained that where they were was not a place where they would usually see civilians. Nevertheless, he said that some of the people looked like civilians, not soldiers, but Massaquoi “insisted that he would kill them.” The Witness did not see them being killed as they were passing by on their way to another mission, however, he noted that “for sure he did it”. The Prosecution asked what the other mission was. The Witness explained that they were going to the front line via Somalia Drive but could not get through Clara Town, so they passed through Congo Town and Red Light on the way to the front. The Witness said that when he reached [Soldier 07], he told him what had happened with the Sierra Leoneans, whom they called the “agba boys”. [Soldier 07] asked who the commander was, and the Witness told him it was Massaquoi. The Prosecution asked how [Soldier 07] reacted, and the Witness responded, “He felt bad, but what to do.” [Soldier 07] said he was going to go there to check, but by that time they were already on the front. The Witness then said that their assignment changed and they went to Lofa County, after which point he did not see Massaquoi again.
Asked to clarify the location of the incident, the Witness noted that by the New Bridge, near a police station, there was a wide area, called the Nimba parking area. The Prosecution asked whether this was 99 Steps, and the Witness affirmed that was the main place where the incident happened. He said that from 99 Steps, they used the road to go to the Johnson Street area and climbed up to Ashmun Street. The Witness noted that it was difficult to remember details because these events happened years ago. When the Prosecution asked if he saw anything else on the way they were going, the Witness stated that he saw a few bodies because it was a no-go zone. He also stated that this area was under the control of the Sierra Leoneans, specifically Salami and “Gibril Massaquoi.”
The Witness testified that the incident he described happened around 2000 to 2001. He was unclear on the time of year but said that this was when his assignment changed, in 2000. He said that he came back when WW1 and WW2 happened in 2002, and he did not see Massaquoi again. The Witness stated that Massaquoi spoke Krio, “he didn’t speak sound English”. When asked about the war name “Angel Gabriel,” the Witness said he did not know how Massaquoi got this name and explained that many people used war names because they did not want people to identify them.
The Prosecution then asked the Witness about his interview with the Finnish police. The Witness recalled that he was interviewed the year before last, before COVID-19. He brought the Finnish police to places, including one where he got a scar. He explained that he received the scar when Massaquoi’s special aide shot between his legs to frighten him; Masssaquoi’s “focus was on the people he wanted to kill.”. This incident occurred when [Soldier 07] was calling Benjamin Yeaten to resolve a dispute between the groups, where Massaquoi’s soldiers wanted to disarm them. The Sierra Leoneans outnumbered the Witness’s group, who were only a few people in a pickup. The Prosecution resumed asking about the Witness’s contact with the Finnish police. The Witness explained that [Employee 1] called him at home and told him that [Soldier 07] had given him the Witness’s number. [Employee 1] told the Witness that he wanted information about Massaquoi and the incident on 99 Steps. The Witness stated that [Soldier 07] knew he was on the scene and could explain, but he was “a little bit scared”.
The Defense questions Witness 44
The Defense began by asking the Witness who told him about Massaquoi and the 99 Steps. The Witness explained that he was on the scene and saw Massaquoi there himself. He further explained that Soldier 07 knew he was on the scene and so gave his number, particularly because he did not have the numbers for others who were there, or they have since died.
The Defense then asked whether the Witness had discussed Massaquoi with anyone else within the last few months. The Witness swore to his god that he had not, but acknowledged, among ex-combatants, who “used to do the dirty work on the front”, it was normal that the name of a “big man” would come up. He said that he did not know where Massaquoi was currently living. The Defense brought up that the Witness discussed an individual, [FNM-142], in his interview with police. The Witness stated that he knew [FNM-142], who was also a fighter. The Defense stated that in the police summary, the Witness had said he heard from [FNM-142] that Massaquoi was in Finland. The Witness rejected this statement, and when asked to clarify if he meant he had not made that statement to the police or he had not heard it, the Witness said that the Court should play the recording of his interview. He also claimed that he did not make the statement alleged by the Defense and asserted that Massaquoi’s location did not concern him.
The recording of the Witness’s interview was played, after which the Defense asked the Witness to confirm that he heard himself say that [FNM-142] told him that Massaquoi was in Finland. Defense asked how the Witness began speaking of Massaquoi, and the Witness explained that he went to a funeral for one of their late generals, and ended up in a group conversation, the type of situation where “you just entered somewhere and people are talking and you just join in.” He said he could not remember everything that was said about Massaquoi.
The Defense then turned to the issue of names. He pointed out that the Witness never mentioned “Angel Gabriel” in his summary to the Finnish authorities. The Witness responded that “they did not ask.” He explained that during war people did not use their real names, so he just used one of the names. The Defense asked if, during the war, the name “Massaquoi” was used, and not “Angel Gabriel.” The Witness explained that people had given names and war names, citing other prominent soldiers as examples. He stated that Massaquoi also had a war name, and asked whether it was “a crime if I start calling him by the name he used?”
Following this exchange, the Defense asked when and where the Witness first saw Massaquoi. The Witness stated he first saw Massaquoi in 2000 and last saw him in 2001. He saw him in Congo Town behind Charles Taylor’s house, where all the Sierra Leoneans were.
The Defense asked whether the Witness had a base in Gardnersville. The Witness denied having a base there, and repeated that when his assignment changed, he was passing through and saw Massaquoi carry out his act. When asked why they needed more manpower there, the Witness responded that they had to secure the various entry points because they did not want the LURD to penetrate. The Defense asked if there was war going on when the incident in Waterside happened. The Witness stated that people did not need the cover of fighting to do what they wanted. He elaborated that 99 Steps was generally a calm area, and it was easy to bring captured people and do “dirty work” because it was beside the water.
The Defense asked when the Witness last saw Massaquoi, and he testified that it was when their patrol passed and Massaquoi was carrying out his act. The Defense noted that the Witness had told the police he heard the name “Massaquoi” from the Sierra Leoneans. The Witness said that he joined the revolution at 14 and remained with Taylor’s forces throughout. He explained that when the Sierra Leoneans came, they tried to introduce them to other soldiers on the ground, and that was how he learned the names of people like Sam Bockarie, Johnny Paul Koroma, or Massaquoi. The Defense sought to confirm that the Witness told the police that the first time he saw Massaquoi was at 99 Steps, but the Witness explained that he told them he heard about Massaquoi when he came to Liberia, but the Witness first saw him “perform” at 99 Steps.
The Witness reiterated that many people had their own war names, and the Defense asked the Witness about Bulldog. The Witness said he knew about one Bulldog, the president’s bodyguard, and he is still alive. The Defense then pointed out that the summary stated that the Witness left from Gardnersville to Waterside because they had killed his friend, Bulldog. The Witness replied that this was [Soldier 01]’s friend, “but the republic knows one Bulldog, that’s the president bodyguard.” He said that Bulldog was a “small boy” when he was killed.
The Defense then turned to the timing of the incident, mentioning the beginning of 2003. The Witness stated that in 2003, there was no fighting in Monrovia and Taylor left the country. The Defense maintained that the summary said it was in the beginning of 2003, and the Witness noted that it was difficult to remember everything from that year up to the present day, and that his “brain is not a computer.” The Defense repeated that the Witness had said he met [Soldier 07] in 2002 and came to Monrovia in 2003, asking when the Witness joined [Soldier 07]’s troops. The Witness explained he was coming from Lofa and [Soldier 07] saw his performance and recruited him. He asserted that the war in Lofa was in 2000, and they came to Monrovia to fight the LURD in 2001. He said the fighting was serious in Monrovia in 2001-2002, and that was when he joined the navy division. In 2003, the president left the country.
The Defense sought to clarify the year or month that the Witness joined the navy, and the Witness recalled that it was around December, although he could not remember the specific date. The Defense noted that the summary said he joined in December 2002, and that in the beginning of 2003 the navy troops were transferred to Monrovia. The Witness said he joined the navy because of his performance; they were retreating and he was needed. He described a heavy battle and explained that they had to come back to Monrovia. The Defense asked if the Witness was then in Gardnersville. The Witness told the Defense, “your questions are starting to embarrass me,” and asked what he meant by the question, explaining that they were at the front. The Defense explained that the Witness had said he went from Gardnersville to Waterside when [Soldier 01]’s friend was killed. The Witness responded that they received a phone call where they heard they killed the “little boy”, and [Soldier 07] said they should go and check. The Defense again noted that in the summary the Witness said this had happened in 2003. The Witness defended himself, saying, “I am a human being, I can forget.” The Defense played the recording, and then pointed out that the Witness had only mentioned 2003. The Witness responded, “I can’t remember everything; I was fighting to save my life. I can’t say and then come back and say something the exact same way.”
The hearing concluded and will resume on Friday, 2 April 2021.