11/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 28: The Hearing of Witnesses 56, 57, and 58

The twenty-eighth day of public hearings resumed on 11 May 2021 in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Witness 56 is heard
(Finnish ID: Defense Witness 18)

The Defense questions Witness 56

Witness 18 began her statement by stating she is a member of Gibril Massaquoi’s family. When asked if she remembered the events between 1993 and 2001, the Witness recounted that after Foday Sankoh asked the rebels to come from the bush in 1998, Massaquoi was in Makeni. From there, the rebels came to Freetown to join the soldiers. At this time, the Witness was visiting Massaquoi every weekend at Cockerill because that is where he was staying. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, President  at that time, said that there should be “law and order” as the war had come to an end, and ordered for Chiefs to be elected where there were none. 

The Witness and Massaquoi were from a ruling house, and their Chiefdom in Blama Massaquoi was vacant at that time: the Witness was chosen as the candidate for the family and used to have meetings with the Massaquoi family and their friends. Towards the end of 1999, the Witness went with Massaquoi to Blama Massaquoi in the Pujehun District, in Southern Sierra Leone in order to campaign. They traveled by vehicle. Massaquoi used to go with them, and then returned to Freetown. He used to stay 3-4 days, sometimes a week. On 10 January 2002 she lost the election, after which she came back to Freetown. Massaquoi was also there, except for one or two days when he travelled to Bo to see his mother. 

The Defense asked if the Witness knew where Massaquoi was in 1999, she answered that he was in Freetown. He was staying both in Thunder Hill and Cockerill. When they were negotiating for peace they were given a place in Cockerill to stay upon leaving the RUF. When asked if the Witness has any knowledge about Massaquoi’s position in the RUF, she stated that she does not know too much of the RUF but she thinks he was either the Public Relation person or Spokesperson. In 2000, each time she came to Freetown she would visit him as they were holding regular meetings. He was a stakeholder in the campaign and also had rights in the Chieftaincy. He was at this time strategizing for the campaign. 

Referring back to their question about Massaquoi’s position in the RUF, the Defense asked the Witness if she knew if he was involved in any other activity. She stated that they were going to the office at Cockerill to discuss peace talks, besides this she does not know, and guessed that he might have been involved in the peace brokering. The Witness specified that Massaquoi lived in Cockerill, during the peace talks, at the military headquarters. The last time the Witness saw Massaquoi was in 2007 during the general election, before he left; at this time, she was in Pujehun. After the Paramount Chief election in 2002, she met with him at his house in Freetown in Thunder Hill and later Murray Town. During this time, he was living with his wife and children. In 2002, the Witness visited Massaquoi once in a while. She visited him more frequently in Freetown. 

When asked, the Witness confirmed remembering the Finnish police talking to her and that no one contacted her prior to that. 

The Prosecution questions Witness 56

The Prosecution started its questioning by asking where exactly her town is in Sierra Leone. The Witness described that it is in the Southern Province, and that Blama Massaquoi is a Chiefdom on its own in the Pujehun District. It is not too close to the Liberian border, however you would be able to reach  Liberia by enrouting Pujehun, although you would not enter Pujehun itself.  In 1999, people were coming back to Blama Massaquoi, as the war ended and there was peace.When asked if Gibril Massaquoi was safe with the people when he visited Blama Massaquoi, considering he was a member of the RUF, the Witness answered that he was, and it was because of that reason that he went there. People were aware that he was captured and forced to join the RUF. Almost all of the youth, both male and female, and even elderly people were forced to join. It was not possible to go to Liberia with the car because ECOMOG were deployed there.

The Prosecution then referred back to the Witness’ earlier comment about Massaquoi leaving to visit his mother, and asked where  she lived. The Witness responded that his mother lived in Bo, the second city in Sierra Leone. When asked if she knew that Massaquoi was out of Sierra Leone for a while, she answered that his wife and younger siblings would have told them and that he was very busy while they were working on the peace settlement. The Prosecution stated that in 2000, Massaquoi said that he was in South Africa, Ivory Coast and Nigeria, and that in 2001 he was in Nigeria and Monrovia multiple times. The Witness did not know.

The Prosecution then asked if, from this information, they could conclude that the Witness does not know whether Massaquoi travelled abroad. To this, she responded that she only knew of his travel to Finland, whether through the UN or another organization. Referring back to the campaign, the Prosecution asked if the campaign was important to Massaquoi. The Witness affirmed that it was, as it was a royal title. She assumes that he would have remembered the campaign. When asked if she has any thoughts on why Massaquoi did not mention the campaign while the trial was on, she replied that “it depend[ed] on the parts on which he was interviewed”. The Witness added that she did not want to lie, considering she was under oath, but then specified her surprise that Massaquoi had not mentioned the campaign.

When asked whether she knew if in 2003 Massaquoi should have been in a safe house the Witness explained that she was in Blama at that time, and came to Freetown every 2 or 3 days, and did not ask him about that; she also added that Gibril Massaquoi moved freely, did not have bodyguards, nor was he wearing a uniform because “peace was restored and paramount chiefs elected”. He did mention that he was pressured to testify against Charles Taylor, but he did not tell her who asked him to do it. When asked if this had an impact on his life, the Witness answered that she did not know, but that possibly he was afraid.

When asked what organization the RUF was, the Witness answered that she was not very familiar, and that they were “just rebels” and that she was not familiar with the group. She did not know if Gibril Massaquoi had any other role in the RUF other than spokesman or public relation person, only that she heard him on the BBC radio. According to the Witness, Gibril Massaquoi gave up his RUF membership  1997-98. He did not tell her himself, she knew because rebels used to “stay in the bush”, and then she saw him in town. She added that Massaquoi campaigned for the chiefdom as family, not as RUF nor as a military man. The last time she saw him was in 2007, during the presidential elections, in Freetown. He was dressed like an office worker. She did not know if Gibril Massaquoi moved to Makeni, maybe he had just been traveling there, and she noted that people were free to move. 

She was not aware of Massaquoi going abroad in the course of 2003, and if so “nothing could have stopped him” because peace was restored.

The Defense questions the Witness 

When asked if she was aware of the fact that Gibril Massaquoi was imprisoned in Sierra Leone, the Witness responded that she had heard about it on the BBC. She did not know what for, nor did she know what Charles Taylor was accused of. 

The Witness stated that the chiefdom campaign intensified the last week to the election in December 2001. She travelled to Blama and Massaquoi came back to Freetown, and she knew that because he traveled with people she knew. He was a strategist in the campaign, calling family members together and hiring vehicles for them. The Defense then asked the Witness if she remembers what she told the Finnish police when she was asked if Massaquoi was released from prison in 1999. The Witness responded that she does not remember, and the Defense  pointed out that she had said he was released on 6 January 1999. To this, the Witness responded that she told them that the rebels invaded Freetown in 1999. When asked if she knew that Massaquoi was in Pademba Road before this, the Witness answered that she did not know this.

Witness 57 is Heard
(Finnish Witness ID: Defense Witness 21)

The Defense questions Witness 57

Witness 57 began his testimony by noting that he remembered the period between 1999-2003 and further noted that he fled to Makeni during 1999 since he was targeted for allegedly collaborating with the RUF. He explained that he had met Gibril Massaquoi for the first time in Makeni during the same year, after Massaquoi was freed from prison and that they were friends at the time. According to the Witness, Gibril Massaquoi was a RUF commander The Witness mentioned that there were tensions between Rambo and Issa Sessay, but to his knowledge it did not have consequences on Massaquoi. The Witness proceeded to explain that in 1999 Gibril Massaquoi was called by Foday Sankoh to meet him in Lome for the peace accord, and that he traveled through Guinea. He stated that Gibril Massaquoi was a special assistant for Foday Sankoh and did administrative work. According to the Witness, before the Lome Peace Accords Gibril Massaquoi lived in Murray Town in Freetown and worked with Foday Sankoh on Spur Road, he met him there himself. The Witness stated that after the Lome Peace Accords Gibril Massaquoi went back to Lunsar, as he also met him there.

According to the Witness, a strike had occurred on May 8, 1999 and he escaped to Lunsar where he met Gibril Massaquoi. Later on in his testimony he clarified that he stayed in Lunsar for two to three years. He stated that Gibril Massaquoi had told him that his colleagues had caused problems as they had attacked peacekeepers in Freetown. Foday Sankoh was arrested and taken to prison in Freetown, the Witness stated. He noted that Foday Sankoh’s leadership ceased and it was transferred to Issa Sesay. The Witness then explained that Gibril Massaquoi stayed in Bo before he was elected to lead the peace delegation. After he was elected, Gibril Massaquoi went back to Monrovia and informed them that he was negotiating with the peacekeepers in Liberia. He further clarified that it was May 2001 when Gibril Massaquoi went to Monrovia for the first time to negotiate with peacekeepers and that he was there for more than six months. He stated that he knew that Gibril Massaquoi was there for six months because he met him in Makeni upon his return. The Witness could not recall all of the names of the comrades Gibril Massaquoi went to Monrovia with but mentioned one Bai Bureh. The Witness stated that Gibril Massaquoi lived in Makeni by the highway when he returned and that he joined the other comrades to participate in the peace process, and that he attended almost all of the meetings in 2001. The Witness stated that he knew that Massaquoi participated in these meetings because he would accompany him until he boarded the UN flight. 

According to the Witness, Gibril Massaquoi lived in Makeni until 2002 until some people alleged that he was involved with scammers who stole a golden necklace from Issa Sesay. Later in the testimony, the Witness confirmed seeing the necklace, and that it had diamonds. He was then repatriated to Freetown by a UN helicopter, and lived there with his wife and children, under government protection, and the Witness saw him almost everyday. He also added that Massaquoi also lived with [FNM-178], who was a small boy under his protection. The Witness stated that Massaquoi was still involved in the peacekeeping process with the government and additionally had partaken in a fishing project in his hometown. He clarified that this took place between 2002 and 2003. During these times, the Government feared that Massaquoi still had connections to the RUF and that he was a spy, the Witness stated. 

The Defense proceeded to ask questions about the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The Witness noted that Alan White met with Gibril Massaquoi to discuss the mandate of the Court and that Massaquoi cooperated with the Court. The Witness stated that the Court needed Massaquoi to help them with information related to the Court’s mandate. He also stated that he himself met Alan White together with Massaquoi before the Court got a hold of Issa Sesay and Samuel Hinga Norman. The Court’s cooperation with Massaquoi started in 2003, and the Court provided Massaquoi protection until he moved to Finland, the Witness stated.

The Defense asked the Witness whether he had travelled to Liberia between the years 1999 to 2003 to which the Witness responded that he went to Monrovia in 2002 to get Massaquoi’s daughter, who was living with [FNM-070] at the time. He later specified that he stayed there for two days. He then recalled that it was the year 2002 due to an incident that had happened that year. According to the Witness, Massaquoi could not travel to Monrovia as he was with the government and feared for his life as other members of the RUF, such as Superman, saw him as a threat because he was protected by the government. The Witness noted that during this time Massaquoi lived at Thunder hill.

The Prosecution questions Witness 57

The Prosecution started its line of questioning by asking clarifying questions on the role occupied by Gibril Massaquoi in the RUF. The Witness explained that in 1999 Gibril Massaquoi was a commander because he had people fighting under his instruction, and that after 2001 he did not anymore, he was rather an amministrative commander, and not taking active part in the fighting itself. He recalled that the first fight with Superman and his boys took place in Lunsar. and that Massaquoi stayed in Liberia for six months from late 2000 to 2001. 

The Prosecution proceeded to ask questions about the peace negotiations. Gibril Massaquoi went to Liberia and stayed there six months between 2000 and 2001, where he  dealt with the implementation of the peace process in Sierra Leone on behalf of the RUF. He recalled that the negotiations took place with Charles Taylor, who, according to the Witness, had a principal role in the peace process. The Witness was not aware whether the Sierra Leonean government was part of the negotiation.  The Witness added that he was not there personally, but  Massaquoi told him about his work with the government and that he had met Charles Taylor. The Witness did not answer questions regarding Charles Taylor and blood diamonds.

When asked about Benjamin Yeaten, the Witness responded that he was one of Charles Taylor’s men, and that the Witness viewed him as a killer, and did not want to talk to him. He saw him when we went to Bo to pick up one of Massaquoi’s children, but did not not meet him because he was scared of him. He had heard about the atrocities, that he was called “50” and that he had bodyguards. The Prosecution asked whether the Witness had heard of [FNM-177], or if Massaquoi had spoken about him. The Witness answered that he did not. 

The Prosecution, referring back to the period when Massaquoi was in Liberia, asked whether Massaquoi returned to Liberia after 2000. The Witness responded he did not, and only moved to Makeni and Freetown. The Prosecution told the Witness that Massaquoi had said that the last time he was in Liberia was in 2001, but the Witness was not aware of this.  When asked about Massaquoi’s vehicles, the Witness answered that he had many, and he could not tell which one was used to come back from Liberia. The Witness confirmed for the Prosecution that Massaquoi did not travel to Monrovia alone as he was working for the government and feared for his life. He also confirmed that Mosquito was part of the RUF when he was killed, and that whoever Charles Taylor distrusted, would be killed. 

The Prosecution moved on to ask questions about Issa Sesay. The Witness explained that Sesay and Massaquoi disagreed over the peace negotiations, and that the first excluded the latter from the process because he did not trust him. He further stated that this was because the government trusted Massaquoi, and that Massaquoi went to Kailahun and asked his men to disarm, whilst Sesay was threatening another war if they did not win the elections. The Witness recounted how Massaquoi was attacked for this, and had to be rescued at Shegbewma Police Station, he saw this himself.

The Witness described how his mission was to talk to Massaquoi on how to dismantle the RUF,  and convince him to disarm his men and offer “packages”.
The Prosecution asked whether the Witness saw Massaquoi before the elections. He confirmed that he had, and he met with him  often before he moved to Finland. They would meet at Massaquoi’s place for security reasons, and that he had a lot of guards because he was scared – but it was easy for the Witness to enter because he was a family friend. Sometimes Massaquoi would come to the Witness’s house, alone.

The Prosecution pointed out that the previous Witness, Witness 56, mentioned that he did not have security. Witness 57 said that that was her own version of the events – he recalled Massaquoi being heavily surrounded by security. 

The Defense questions Witness 57 further

The Defense asked about the Abuja agreements. The Witness explained that there were Abuja 1 and 2, and Lome was the last peace agreement. He added that Massaquoi went with Foday Sankoh to Abuja 1, but the Witness could not say where that was. The Witness said that Massaquoi traveled with government ministers, and that he participated in the agreements. 

When asked if Charles Taylor would have had Massaquoi killed, the Witness answered in the affirmative, and said that there had been a few assassination attempts that took place in Freetown. The Defense asked if these attempts also happened when Massaquoi was under the protection of the SCSL, and the Witness confirmed. 

The Defense asked about the “packages” that the Witness offered Massaquoi’s men, and the Witness explained that it was to give an opportunity to learn new skills and undergo training. 30 commanders of the RUF got involved in the project. 

Finally, the Witness confirmed that before his interview with the Finnish police, he did not speak to anyone about these events. 

The Prosecution questions Witness 56 further 

The Prosecution sought clarifications as to the security threat for Massaquoi in Liberia. The Witness answered that Charles Taylor would have killed Massaquoi because he would have said he betrayed him. The Prosecution finally asked the Witness the definition of administrative commander, and he responded that Massaquoi would deal with running the organization, but that he fought in 1999 when there was friction within the RUF. 

Witness 58 is heard
(Finnish Witness ID: Soldier 41)

The Defense questions Witness 58

The Witness began her statement by explaining that she knew Massaquoi when he was one of the junior commandos of the RUF trained at Pujehun in southern Sierra Leone. She was at this time also a member of the RUF, they both joined in 1999 in Pujehun, in this year she was a bodyguard to Foday Sankoh, the same year the peace accord was signed. The Witness stated that at this time, Massaquoi was in the northern part of Sierra Leone with Superman, but there was an issue with Mosquito, due to which they could not go to Boidu to start off the negotiations for the peace talks. She herself also did not go to Boidu as she was with Mosquito, who was the key commander, until the signing of the accord. According to the Witness, Massaquoi went to Togo trough Guinea in order to avoid passing through Boidu as he feared Mosquito. He went there alone because he needed to see the Sankoh  who was arrested in Abuja, Nigeria in 1997. Massaquoi returned just after the Lome Peace Accord was signed.

Following the signing of the Lome Peace Accord, Sankoh was appointed as the Strategic Minister of Mineral Resources and Vice President. Massaquoi was the Special Assistant to him. In October 1999, Massaquoi came to Freetown from Makeni. From then on, he was close to Sankoh and would work for him at his house on Spur Road, after which he would go home in the evenings. The Witness was working as a security officer which is why she saw Massaquoi at Sankoh’s house. Before the Accord, Massaquoi worked as a frontline soldier and later spokesman. 

The Witness was then asked if she knew what happened in January 1999 in Freetown. She responded that she was not in there, she was in Boidu with the RUF with Sankoh and Sergeant Musa. She did hear about an attack, and that Massaquoi was freed from Pademba Road Prison and that he went back to Makeni. The Defense asked the Witness if anything special happened in Spur Road in 2000. She responded that there was a problem between the combatants in Makeni and the RUF abducted some peace keepers. The government  arrested Sankoh and several others, including the Witness, on 8 May 2000. She spent seven years and four months in Pademba Prison. The last time she saw Massaquoi was when she was released from prison in 2006 or 2007. During the time of her arrest, she did not see Massaquoi. 

The Defense then referred back to Sam Bockarie “Mosquito”, and asked the Witness if he did anything special during  the 1999 war. To this, she responded that Mosquito was the leader of the RUF after Sankoh was arrested. Following a disagreement, Mosquito went back to Liberia around November 1999 with his bodyguards. At that moment, Massaquoi was in Freetown with Sankoh, and he did not go with Mosquito to Liberia. The Witness stated that she had been to Liberia twice with the RUF leaders, they were there for three months. Massaquoi was not with them as there was an issue between him and Mosquito. The second time she went to Liberia was in 1998 with Mosquito, before the Peace Accord was signed. When asked if the Witness knew if Massaquoi had a pseudonym then, she answered that the name they used to call him was Jaffa. She was not trained to speak on the radio, but she had done so in the past. 

The Defense asked the Witness if she knew the RUFP. She answered that she knows them, they are a political party and she is currently involved. She stated that Massaquoi did not partake in politics between 1999 and 2003, although she thinks he may have taken part in the RUFP in 2002. She does not have any knowledge on how or in which way he took part in the RUFP. Later in her testimony, the Defense asked the Witness about her telling the Finnish Police that Sesay gave money to Massaquoi for a house. The Witness answered that the police asked her about Gibril Massaquoi and the war in Liberia, and not about the internal dealings of the RUF.

She stated that nobody contacted her in respect to this hearing. 

The Prosecution questions Witness 58

The Prosecution began its questioning by asking the Witness for how long Massaquoi used the name Jaffa. She responded that he used the pseudonym from 1993 when the RUF leader left Kailahun. They came to Kenema, at this time the Witness was a bodyguard to Foday Sankoh at Kamboi Forest. Foday Sankoh moved to Liberia with his security. There was a fight there, but the Witness does not know more of what they did there, nor whether the RUF would have taken part in the Second Liberian Civil War. She does not know of any other code names Massaquoi might have used around May 2000. After the Peace Accord was signed, the Witness was living in Bongor Town. When she was in prison, she heard from various insiders at the RUF that Massaquoi went to Liberia for a peaceful settlement. She is unable to tell the exact time frame during which Massaquoi was in Liberia, but stated that there are other people right now in Sierra Leone who will know and be able to tell. 

The Prosecution then asked the Witness if she knew whether Charles Taylor had any diamonds in his possession, which she did not know. She also stated that she does not know if Massaquoi had any dealings with Charles Taylor while he was in Sierra Leone. Massaquoi was a junior to Issa Sesay and Mosquito in rank, so it is likely impossible that he had any direct dealings with Taylor. While she was in prison, the information she got was that Massaquoi was part of the delegation who would meet with Taylor at peace talks. The Prosecution asked if the Witness knew Ibrahim Bah, to which she responded that she did. She does not know whether he had any connection to the diamonds. The Prosecution elaborated that based on the trial in Finland, Massaquoi stated that he gave diamonds to Ibrahim Bah. The Witness responded that she does not know anything of this as she was in prison. 

When asked about the last time the Witness saw Massaquoi, she stated that it was in September 2007 in Freetown, where she saw him with his family. She met him only once, her brother went to see him and she went with him. He was under the protection of the Special Court so he had security with him. She could not recall exactly how many bodyguards, but she stated that they were Sierra Leonean police officers as they were assigned by the state to protect those under Special Court protection. 

The Defense questions Witness 58 further

The Defense asked the Witness if she knew when and how JP Koroma died. She responded that she did not know, that he was indicted by the Special Court like Sesay but he escaped around 2003/2004, and that his death was a rumor. She did not where he fled to, but she confirmed that he took part in the 2002 Parliamentary elections and one a seat in Parliament with the PLP. 

Finally, when asked if she had ever heard if Massaquoi was called “Angel” she replied in the negative. 

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