06/04/21 [Liberia] Day 26: The Hearing of Witnesses 50, 51, and 52

The 26th day of public hearings resumed on 6 April 2021 in Monrovia, Liberia.

Witness 50 is heard 

(Finnish Witness ID: Civilian 76)

The Prosecution questions Witness 50

Witness 50 testified about events at Waterside. The Witness sold clothes in Waterside from 1998 until 2001, when her family escaped to another county after an incident that  made her feel afraid to stay. She explained that one morning when she went to sell in Waterside, fighting broke out and she and some other people started running away. While she was running, Angel Gabriel’s group arrested and tied her, while other people were killed or captured and carried away. While she was tied, she saw a man who had lived with her mother when she was young, [FNM-099]. He asked what she was doing there, and she explained that she had been captured by the commander. According to the Witness, he was also a “big man”, so he was able to appeal to the commander on her behalf and secure her release. The Witness specified that she did not know whether he had a war name.

The Witness explained that she was arrested around the West Point area and brought to the gate. She said that she first saw Angel Gabriel at the checkpoint, his base, in Waterside. She then confirmed that he was not in the West Point area where she was arrested, but that he was at the gate. She indicated that the gate was located immediately before crossing the bridge, coming from the direction of Red Light. She could not recall what the bridge was called during the war but stated that now it is called the New Bridge.

When she was at the checkpoint, she heard Angel Gabriel tell someone to tie her and lay her down, and say that, when her time came, he would “send her to God.” She heard Angel Gabriel telling people to carry the captives and tell them that “I Angel Gabriel say they should tell god I sent them”, then kill them. She was tied up, but was not carried anywhere, as he had said that they should take the others first and come for her later. The Prosecutor asked her about where the people were taken. The Witness stated that she heard them being told to carry the people to a field in West Point. She specified that those who were sent there did not return, reaffirming that she was released at the checkpoint, and not brought to the field herself. She clarified that the people who were captured and brought to the checkpoint were civilians, not soldiers. She stated that there were many people captured, but she did not know how many, as she had been tied and was confused. She also said that Angel Gabriel was speaking English, but not Liberian English.

The Prosecutor asked the Witness about the year of the incident. The Witness stated that it took place in 2001, which she could remember because that was the year her first daughter was born. She then amended this response to say that her daughter was born in March of 2000, and that it was her first birthday in March when the incident occurred.

The Prosecutor then asked about how the Witness came in contact with the Finnish police. She explained that a friend, [FNM-100], who had been with her in Waterside, called her. [FNM-100] told the Witness that a man heard [FNM-100] talking about Waterside and told her that some white people were looking for people who were there when this incident took place. Her friend gave the man, [Employee 1], the Witness’s number because she was also on the scene at Waterside, and he called her and told her the same thing. When the people came, he called her again and directed her to the area to meet with the people. The Witness said that she did not discuss anything about the Waterside incident in detail with [Employee 1].

The Defense questions Witness 50

The Defense began by asking who had given the order for the Witness to be caught. She responded that it was “his boys” who caught her and brought her to their “boss man.” She reiterated that she saw the boss man for the first time at the checkpoint. The Witness did not know why the commander was giving the order to kill people or if he gave any reason for killing the people.

The Defense asked how long, in minutes, it had taken to get from West Point to the checkpoint, but the Witness was unsure as she was not really herself at the time. She explained that she was not tied up when she was first arrested, but the soldiers pushed her to the checkpoint and tied her there. The Defense pointed out that in her testimony to the Finnish police, the Witness had said that she was tied first and then made to walk to the checkpoint. The Witness explained that it had been her first time talking to white people, so she had been afraid. Witness 50 also stated that, during her police interview, the questions were not as clear as they were in Court, because the initial interpreter did not take her time like the interpreter in the Court.

The Witness confirmed that between her interview with the Finnish police and her testimony in Court, she had not discussed the matter with anyone. The Defense pointed out that in the police summary, she had only used the name “Angel,” not “Angel Gabriel.” The Witness agreed that she had said “Angel” in the interview and explained that “after the Angel there was a name they were calling but I forgot about it.” She clarified that the name she was giving in Court was the name she now remembered, “Angel Gabriel.” The Defense asked about Angel Gabriel’s rank, and the Witness said she did not know it. The Defense then pointed out that in the police report, she had said “Chief.” The Witness explained that “that chief title is nothing for us here,” and she had used it in the interview because that was how the people working for him had referred to him, similar to how boys would address their father. The Defense later returned to this point and noted that in the police interview, they had asked if she knew him by any name other than “Angel” and she had responded “Chief Angel.” The Witness repeated that “the children” had called him that name.

The Defense then asked if people were killed along the way as they were taken from West Point to the checkpoint, which the Witness denied. She also said that there were no commanders among the people who took them to the checkpoint. The Defense then had the Finnish translator read from the police transcript, which said that “Commander Gabriel” gave the order to kill on the way from West Point to the checkpoint and walked with them on the way. The Witness responded that “the commander was giving orders and after the order they carry the people.” The Defense then played a recording of the police interview, in which the Witness said that the commander walked with them from the Waterside market to the checkpoint. After hearing the recording, the Witness clarified that she had not said that the commander caught her, she had said that his men caught her, and he walked with her after that. She then noted that “sometimes you forget.”

The Defense next addressed the question of timing, asking about the Witness’s first daughter. The Witness stated that her daughter was born in 2000 and confirmed that the incident happened around her daughter’s first birthday. The Defense asked if she remembered what age she told the police her daughter was at the time of the incident, and she repeated that her daughter was one year old. The Defense pointed out, however, that the police summary stated that her baby was born in March, and the incident happened when the baby was three to four months old. The Witness suggested that the police might not have understood her clearly, repeating that her daughter was born in March 2000 and that the incident occurred a year later in March 2001. The Defense noted if the baby was born in March and the incident happened three to four months later, then the incident must have taken place between June and July. The Witness replied that she “was not checking the months.” She did not remember telling the police that her baby was born in 2001 or that her baby was born three to four months before the incident. The Defense then played a recording of the Witness stating the incident occurred in 2001 and that her daughter was born in March. On the recording, she told the police that she believed her daughter was three or four months old because she was nursing, and that at that time she left her daughter at home when she went to the market to sell.

The Defense then asked if there was fighting in Monrovia at the time of the incident. The Witness replied that it was the first attack in that year. When the Defense tried to clarify who attacked, the Witness said only that “it was the fighters,” which included the government forces and “the other people” whose names she did not know. The Defense asked if she knew LURD, but the Witness said, “I heard their name but I do not know the differences.” The Defense pressed further, asking if she knew whether LURD was in Monrovia at the time of the incident. The Witness acknowledged that LURD and government forces were fighting but maintained that she did not know the differences or if they were in Monrovia at the time. The Defense noted that in the police summary, the Witness had said that WW1 was going on and that LURD forces were in Duport Road. In Court, she confirmed they were at 12-Houses.

Finally, the Defense turned to how the Witness came into contact with the Finnish police. The Witness repeated that she was in the bush when her friend [FNM-100] called her. The Defense asked about how she and [FNM-100] met [Employee 1]. The Witness testified that [FNM-100] told her that she and a friend were discussing the incident when [Employee 1] passed by and heard them. He sat and listened to them, then told them that there were people coming who wanted to talk to people like them. When the Defense asked how the Witness got in contact with [Employee 1], she explained that he called her. The Defense noted that the police report said that the Witness had called [Employee 1] after getting his number from [FNM-100], but the Witness again asserted that [Employee 1] had called her after getting her number from [FNM-100]. She denied calling anyone else and said, with regard to the number of times she had talked to [Employee 1] on the phone, that he had called her to direct her to the area and spoke with her on the phone until she arrived.

Witness 51 is heard
(Finnish Witness ID: Civilian 72)

The Prosecution questions Witness 51 

The Witness testified about events at Waterside, which she said took place in 2001 during WW1, though she could not clearly define WW1. Witness 51 sold goods for a living, and traveled with two friends, [FNM-163] and [FNM-164], to Waterside on the day of the incident to purchase goods to later sell. The Witness mentioned that the atmosphere at Waterside that day was fearful because the area was littered with dead bodies. While waiting for goods to become available, the Witness heard gunfire and saw uniformed soldiers shoot and kill civilians, which caused the marketplace to become chaotic. Witness 50 and her friends attempted to flee from the gunfire, but they were stopped by soldiers who threatened them at gunpoint and took them to a checkpoint near Waterside bridge. When asked whether the soldiers were shooting in the air, she noted that the soldiers were firing at civilians because their “boss” had arrived.

The Witness recalled that on the way to the checkpoint she saw corpses without intestines and  human intestines were on the gate of the checkpoint. A soldier standing at the checkpoint held a stick with a decapitated human head on top, and the Witness testified that the soldier would make people passing through the checkpoint salute the human head. Anyone who failed to comply with this soldier’s demand would be killed. The Witness and her fellow captives were then taken under the bridge.

The Witness identified the commander of the soldiers at the checkpoint as “Angel Gabriel.” She noted that Angel Gabriel spoke with a Sierra Leonean accent, and confirmed that he was the leader of the group at the checkpoint. Angel Gabriel announced himself after arguing with some of his soldiers about the potential gender of the child being carried by a captive pregnant woman. Witness 51 testified that, to prove his point about the gender of the child, Angel Gabriel “operated” on the woman by cutting her abdomen open and removing the fetus, and then stated, “I told you people it was a girl child.” The woman did not receive treatment and she and her baby both died. Angel Gabriel then sent for a slaughtering board and said, “I myself Angel Gabriel, I am coming to deal with these people.” He then called for the Witness’s friends, [FNM-163] and [FNM-164], to be brought to him. Angel Gabriel then placed their necks on the board and killed them.

After some time, Witness 51, along with everyone else who was not killed, was tied up and taken to 12-Houses via pickup truck because, as the Witness recalled, Angel Gabriel did not want the captives sleeping at the checkpoint. Upon arriving at 12-Houses, the captives were divided by gender. In this new location the Witness met other people who had arrived before her, who told her that they were not safe there because every night soldiers came and took two girls outside the building they were being held in. The Witness and the other captives began shouting for help, and eventually, someone dressed in the same uniform as the soldiers arrived and told them it was not safe there. He opened the gate and told them to leave, allowing the captives to escape and for the Witness to return home. 

Following the Witness’s explanation of the day in question, she explained to the Prosecution how she was put into contact with Finnish police. While discussing WW1, another person, [FNM-068], asked her if she remembered the Waterside incident and explained that there were some people who wanted information on that day. [FNM-068] took her phone number and gave it to [Employee 1], who later called her and asked her to meet him. 

The Defense questions Witness 51 

When asked by the Defense about details on how she met Finnish police, Witness 51 that she and [FNM-068] were discussing sports when someone else brought up WW1, at which point the Witness explained that she was part of the Waterside incident. She stated that it was not just her and [FNM-068] having this discussion, but that many people were a part of it, but that after the conversation, [FNM-068] asked for her number and told her some people might call. When asked about her phone call with [Employee 1], the Witness indicated that he told her that [FNM-068] had given him her number, and asked her to come see him. The Witness  clarified that she did not have a close relationship with [FNM-068] and was unaware of the fact that [FNM-068] had also been interviewed. The Defense, however, noted that in her pretrial recording, the Witness mentioned that a friend of hers, who had previously been interviewed, gave her number to the Finnish investigators, and played the relevant recording for the Court.

Finally, the Defense inquired as to the Witness’s age at the time of the incident and where the war was in Liberia at the time of the incident. The Witness noted that she was 14 at the time of the incident and that the war was happening in Monrovia.

Witness 52 is heard
(Finnish Witness ID: Defence Witness 14)

The Defense questions Witness 52

The Defense began by asking the Witness about his relationship with the RUF. The Witness said he met Foday Sankoh, the leader of the RUF, in Monrovia in late 1999, and that Foday Sankoh asked him to be the RUF’s chief of protocol. This meeting took place after the Lomé Peace Accords—the Witness said that neither he nor Gibril Massaquoi played a role in the Lomé negotiations. Foday Sankoh told him that he would introduce him to Gibril Massaquoi. The Witness first met Gibril Massaquoi in Segbwema, Sierra Leone, in 1999. At the time, Gibril Massaquoi was Foday Sankoh’s personal assistant. Both he and the Witness were stationed at Spur Road in Freetown, and the Witness said they saw each other every day.

According to the Witness, on 8 April 2000, demonstrators attacked RUF houses in Freetown, including the Spur Road station. The Witness stated that, following the attack, he and Gibril were with Foday Sankoh. Because Sankoh was older and could not move as quickly as the Witness and Gibril, they put him in an unfinished building to hide. They returned to search for Sankoh, but couldn’t find him. The Witness and Massaquoi, along with some other individuals, including [Civilian 60] and Superman, then decided to leave Freetown; the Witness went to Monrovia, and Massaquoi went to Makeni. The Witness stated that he knew Gibril went to Makeni because he received a radio call once he arrived in Monrovia. The Witness did not see Massaquoi again for almost two months. The Witness also learned later that Foday Sankoh left the house where he and Gibril had hid him, and was arrested. The Witness could not recall the date Sankoh was arrested, but stated that he was in Monrovia at the time of the arrest. Following Sankoh’s arrest, ECOWAS instructed the RUF to get a new leader to foster the peace process in Foday Sankoh’s absence. Issa Sesay was thus elected as leader of the RUF at a meeting in Kono in 2000. 

The Witness spoke about the state of the peace process in 2000, including several meetings and the RUF delegations to these meetings. There were a number of cease-of-hostility meetings, including those resulting in Abuja I and Abuja II Agreements. Prior to those, there was a meeting with the ECOWAS head of state in Liberia, where the participants decided to put the peace process back on track. A delegation was formed for peace negotiations, including the Witness, [FNM-165], and [FNM-166]. Gibril Massaquoi was not part of this delegation. According to the Witness, Massaquoi led the Mali delegation in 2000, which was appointed by Issa Sesay as an external delegation. The Witness explained that this meant that they were authorized to interact and meet with ECOWAS and other stakeholders in the peace process. The Witness said he joined Gibril Massaquoi in Mali in 2000, but that Massaquoi did not go to Abuja I. The Witness was also part of a delegation that met with Charles Taylor, President Obasanjo, the former Gambian President Jammeh, and the late President of Togo, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, in July 2000. The Witness stated that Gibril Massaquoi was not part of this meeting. After Abuja I, the Witness stated that he and Massaquoi traveled to Sierra Leone, because the leader of the RUF had an assignment for them in Freetown. The Witness stayed in Freetown from 2001-2002, during which he participated in a number of meetings with Massaquoi, including a tripartite meeting with the government and the RUF for nearly four months in 2002. When asked by the Defense, the Witness said the war ended in late 2000, that there was a disarmament process in two parts, and that there was a problem which held up disarmament.

The Witness stated that, when Sesay was announced as the new interim leader of the RUF in 2000, he and Massaquoi were both in Monrovia, staying with the delegation in Congo Town. They stayed at the first house in Congo Town “for a couple of months,” but then relocated to another house within the city. The Witness said the first house they stayed at was an official guest house given to Foday Sankoh. The residents of the first house included the Witness, Gibril Massaquoi, [Civilian 60], a woman named [FNM-167], and Liberian security workers. The residents of the second house included the Witness, Gibril Massaquoi, Abdul Razak Kamara, and [FNM-070], Massaquoi’s girlfriend. According to the Witness, [Civilian 60] did not stay at the second location, although he visited a few times. At the second location, Gibril Massaquoi and the Witness stayed in rooms across the hall from each other, and the Witness said they saw each other every day. The Witness said he and Massaquoi stayed at the second location for four to five months and left Monrovia together in late 2000 or 2001. While they were in Monrovia, the Witness noted that the security situation “was cool. There was no problem.” After they left Monrovia, they focused on the politics of the Revolutionary United Front Party. The Witness said that he was not a candidate for office but “the brains of the RUF,” setting up meetings and negotiations. The Witness said that when they returned to Sierra Leone, Massaquoi settled in Kissy. The Witness could not recall if Massaquoi had gone anywhere before Kissy. 

The Prosecution questions Witness 52

The Prosecution began by asking about the Witness’s relationship to Massaquoi. The Witness stated that “Masssaquoi was like a brother” to him when they met and reiterated that they became very close working in the same office, though he hadn’t seen him in a long time. He knew Massaquoi as Sankoh’s personal assistant who also took on any other role assigned to him. The Witness confirmed that Massaquoi commanded fighters in Makeni, and believed that he had a group of fighters there. By 2000, however, the Witness considered Massaquoi to be a diplomat and no longer in the military. He was unaware of any war name Massaquoi might have had but recalled his radio call sign was “Wildfire.” He did not know who gave Massaquoi the call sign or the meaning behind it.

The Witness also confirmed that he went to the meeting in Kono, which all frontline commanders were told to attend. The meeting took place sometime in 2000 after the July meeting with President Obasanjo. He added that this meeting was held in the executive mansion in Monrovia. The Witness was clear that Massaquoi also attended the Kono meeting but did not know what capacity he attended the meeting in: whether he was there as a frontline commander, or as part of some other role. The Prosecution then read from the Witness’s statement to Finnish police in which he said that Massaquoi was a commander at the time. The Witness reiterated that they were working as civilians in Freetown at the time, but acknowledged that it was possible that Massaquoi went back to be a commander.

When asked about his time in Monrovia, the Witness recalled that he had stayed there during the rainy season, possibly through July or August. He could not remember the exact months as it was so long ago. The Prosecution noted that the Witness said that he and Massaquoi left Monrovia at the end of 2000 and did not return. The Witness recalled that he told police that the events occurred between 2000 and 2001. With respect to 2001, however, the Prosecutor noted that the police notes stated that the Witness and Massaquoi stayed in Monrovia “the whole of that year” and “didn’t travel anywhere.” The Witness acknowledged that throughout 2001, he and Massaquoi stayed in Congo Town, and elaborated that they left in late 2001 after all the peace processes had met, when Issa Sesay was declared leader. He later stated that the Liberian government gave Sankoh the guesthouse after the Lomé Peace Agreement to conduct meetings. According to the Witness, after Sesay became leader, “there was nothing for us to do” in Monrovia. The Prosecutor again read from the police notes, which indicated that, when asked about 2002, the Witness stated that the peace processes were underway in Freetown, but that they were still in Monrovia. The Witness responded that he and Gibril left Monrovia “after everything was concluded” which could have been in 2002. The Witness was firm in stating that he and Gibril Massaquoi left Monrovia together, and further offered that he did not know the role of the RUF during the Second Liberian Civil War, as he “was in the political wing and not the military wing”. With respect to the alleged RUF attack on UN peacekeeping forces, the Witness said that some Kenyan UN soldiers were killed and that their helicopter was grounded, but offered no additional information.

Asked about Mr. Massaquoi’s girlfriend, [FNM-070], the Witness clarified that she was with them in the second guesthouse, not the first. In Court, he could not recall the year they stayed together, but the Prosecution noted that he told police she left in 2001 during the rainy season, and the Witness acknowledged that might have been the case. 

In Court, the Witness reaffirmed that there was no war in Monrovia in 2001 or 2002, while the Prosecutor noted that he had told the police that there was. He maintained that there was no war in Monrovia at that time, and further noted that, had there been any, they would not have stayed. 

The Witness then described how he came in contact with Finnish police. The Witness was contacted by two people: his old friend, Mike Lamin, and a Liberian who was working with the Finnish police, who the Witness agreed was possibly [Employee 1]. Mike Lamin told him that the Finnish police wanted to speak with him. When asked whether Mike Lamin knew Gibril Massaquoi, the Witness stated that “these guys were all members of the RUF”. He also stated that he had not met with anyone to discuss his testimony, but noted that he met with Mr. Massaquoi’s lawyer, because the Witness wanted to understand the procedure of the Court before testifying. He offered that [Employee 1] connected him with a lawyer from the Defense and they met before trial. 

The Defense questions Witness 52 again

The Defense asked the Witness to clarify the context of their meeting. The Witness confirmed that he met with the Defense before testifying, but that they did not discuss the content of the Witness’s testimony. The Defense referred to inconsistencies between the years the Witness stated to police and at trial, noting that the Witness appeared uncertain, and asked him whether he remembered incidents better than he remembered specific years. The Witness then clarified certain dates. He said that negotiations about the disarmament process happened in 2000 and 2001, that in 2001 they held the tripartite meeting, and that the peace process in Sierra Leone ended in 2002. 

With respect to the level of fighting in Monrovia, the Witness said that there were skirmishes in Monrovia involving LURD when he was there, but clarified that LURD was attacking Liberia from Guinea, towards the Guinean border. The Witness also said that he did not go on armed patrols, transport weapons to Lofa, or engage in fights with Gibril or Benjamin Yeaten. He specified that he was not a fighter and hadn’t fought before. He also said that, to his knowledge, Massaquoi did not go on armed patrols, and Benjamin Yeaten and Massaquoi did not bring weapons to Lofa.

The Defense also asked about individuals the Witness previously mentioned in his testimony. Defense Witness 14 said he did not know [Civilian 60]’s family name and that [FNM-070], Massaquoi’s girlfriend, was pregnant.

The Witness then clarified that Massaquoi moved to Kissy from Makeni because of the disarmament process, and that when Massaquoi was in Kissy, they used to meet each other every two days.

Finally, the Witness said that some RUF commanders had troops with them, such as those who would go to the frontline, but that some did not lead troops and were still commanders in the RUF. When asked whether Massaquoi had troops during the peace process, the Witness said that at that time, Gibril Massaquoi “relinquished his position” and was “playing a diplomatic role”.

The Prosecution questions Witness 52 again

The Prosecution sought to clarify Massaquoi’s role in the RUF at the time of the Kono meeting. The Witness reiterated that he said all frontline commanders were summoned to Kono, but was firm in stating that he did not say Gibril was a frontline commander. The Prosecution recalled that, when the police asked the Witness to specify what a frontline commander was, the Witness had said that Massaquoi was responsible for a unit. At trial, the Witness clarified that “during the war Massaquoi was in charge of men within the RUF” and offered that, in 2000, Massaquoi was still a commander in the RUF.

When asked about the term “state of emergency,” the Witness understood that it meant no one is allowed to gather outside and that people are not allowed to assemble. He stated that, for any country, the president can order a state of emergency. To the Witness’s knowledge, no state of emergency had been ordered in Liberia at any point and, as far as he knew, Charles Taylor didn’t order a state of emergency in Liberia. 

The Defense questions Witness 52 again

The Defense asked the Witness to clarify some points about the negotiation timeline. The Witness said that Massaquoi was originally in Makeni and was not present during the first meeting they had in Liberia. After the delegation went to Kono, Massaquoi was appointed to join them. In response to Defense questioning, the Witness also said that Sam Bockarie was expelled from the RUF in 1991 after the Lomé peace accords, after which he went to Kanow [sic], and then made his way toward Liberia. The Witness offered that Massaquoi was not with Sam Bockarie when he went to Liberia, and that the two were not friends.

The hearing concluded and will resume on the 7th of April in Monrovia, Liberia.

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