15/09/21 [Liberia] Day 44: Two New Witnesses are Heard
The 44th day of public hearings resumed on Wednesday, 15th September in Monrovia, Liberia.
Witness X6 is Heard
The Prosecution questions Witness X6
The Prosecution asked the Witness to share his experience of the Second Liberian Civil War, which he answered by sharing that between 2002 and 2003 he left Monrovia for Voinjama where he was recruited by a man named Glasco. He stayed there over six months. Glasco then decided to move to Foya, where they spent two months. When LURD hit Foya, they began retreating towards Gbarpolu. However, as LURD advanced to Gbarpolu, they decided to go through Kombur forest, where they stayed for more than a month, and then moved to Lofa Bridge. LURD kept on advancing, so they retreated to Bomi Hills. There, general Roland Duo called the generals together and found that they were poorly equipped and lacked ammunition. Less than two weeks after Roland Duo left for Monrovia, LURD attacked Bomi. The witness and the other soldiers fled to Clay where a week later they were attacked again by LURD. They found refuge at the Po River. Glasco became ill and the Witness and other bodyguards took him to Congo Town. There they found Benjamin Yeaten, who paid for Glasco’s treatment at St. Joseph Catholic Hospital. In the meantime, LURD attacked Duala. The Witness was told by Duo and Bull Dog they had to go to Duala and fight, and “That was WW1”.
In Duala they fought for several days in order to push LURD back to Clay. The Witness also said that President Taylor came and gave $100,000 to Duo, so that they could clear Bomi. Duo distributed the money to the soldiers to encourage them. The soldiers cleared Bomi and set up their base there. LURD returned to Clay and cut the supply route. Benjamin Yeaten and his men, accompanied by mercenaries, then liberated Clay. The Prosecution then asked who these mercenaries were, and the Witness explained that they were from Sierra Leone and called them ‘Agbah’. The Prosecution asked the Witness if there were many of them and if he could remember their names. The Witness replied that there were many of them and mentioned Yanne, Salame, MJ, Momo and Angel Gabriel who he said was their superior. He saw them during WW1 – in 2003, he said – but did not know when they came to Liberia.
When asked about Angel Gabriel, the Witness explained that he took over after Sam Bockarie left. Angel Gabriel was the name they used; he did not know any other names for him. However, he said that Angel Gabriel was also from Sierra Leone and that he spoke Krio, “their pidgin English“. The Witness also indicated that he was not in the field with Angel Gabriel, as “he had his own crew”.
When asked about what happened in Monrovia, the Witness explained that after Yeaten cleared the road for them at Clay and they came to town, they were based in Duala when the LURD attacked again. This was WW2, which lasted for about two weeks.
WW2 had taken them to Bushrod Island where they were joined by Benjamin Yeaten, the ATU and some mercenaries. They managed to repel LURD, but two weeks later LURD returned and that was WW3. According to the Witness, LURD “came with heavy force!” and drove them back to Via Town. On the orders of Benjamin Yeaten, they crossed the Old Bridge and the Gabriel Tucker Bridge and targeted the two bridges at Waterside, whilst Roland Duo was in Gardnersville. They fought hard to get to Via Town, but once they were there, “there was no way. The force was too heavy”; the Witness described how the LURD was using mortars against them, and recalled how one of the mercenaries, who was using the BZT pick up, got hit and wounded on his leg, and they took him to JFK Hospital. As a result, Benjamin Yeaten divided the troops: Angel Gabriel was in charge of Waterside, the Witness was posted on Front Street, Benjamin Yeaten to E.J. Roye,[FNM-129] at Ducor, and another general, whose name he could not recall, was on New Bridge.
The Witness then recounted that, at that time, Benjamin Yeaten introduced a law against soldiers looting. “Anything Yeaten said was what the President said”, and if anyone was caught looting, they would have been killed, “that was how we were operating”.
They used to patrol and visit posts. One morning, recounted the Witness, as they were coming from [FNM-129]’s area and going towards Waterside, they heard gunfire noise. There they found Salome and his men and saw a store that had been busted open: in front of the entrance, dead bodies. A soldier, named [FNM-258] asked Glasco if they were going to stand by and watch the Agbah soldiers kill ‘our people‘. According to the Witness, an argument ensued between them. The Witness said that Salome told Glasco that Angel Gabriel had given him the order. At the time, Angel Gabriel’s base was under the Old Bridge. Glasco decided to go there alone because of the tension. According to the Witness, Angel Gabriel explained that they were only implementing the order given. Glasco went to talk to Benjamin Yeaten, who came and told them to “leave this thing and focus”. The Witness stated that this happened around 15-20 August. Shortly after the incident, the Witness returned to Waterside where Salome and Glasco were talking: a rocket exploded, Glasco’s hand got wounded, and Salome and his bodyguard were killed. The next day all the generals (Bull Dog, Angel Gabriel, Benjamin Yeaten) attended the burial at the Mandingo Cemetery on Old Road. Then, the Witness continued, UNMIL arrived and everyone went home.
The Prosecution asked the Witness if he met Angel Gabriel in Clay. The Witness said he did, as Yeaten had mercenaries who cleared the road for them, and Angel Gabriel was the commander of the Sierra Leonean mercenaries. The Prosecution then asked if the Witness heard the discussion between Glasco and Angel Gabriel in Waterside, following the store incident. The Witness replied that he had only heard the end of the discussion when Angel Gabriel said they were just following orders. The Prosecution asked the Witness if he recalled exactly where the Old Bridge base of Angel Gabriel was: he replied that it was “right under [it]”, and it was even sheltered from rockets.
The Defense questions Witness X6
The Defense began its line of questioning by asking about the interview with the Finnish police. The Witness replied that [Employee 1] met a friend of his, and inquired if he knew anyone who was close to Agbah men. The friend gave [Employee 1] the contact of the Witness, and so [Employee 1] called him, and told him that people wanted to talk to him, but did not explain about what. The Defense asked when did the Witness speak to his friend about this, and how long it had been before his interview. The Witness responded that he lived far from there, in another county. He reiterated that it was his friend who gave his contact to [Employee 1]. After asking the Witness the name of his friend, the Defense asked if he knew [FNM-251], who shares the same first name as the Witness’ friend. The Witness said he did not know him. The Defense then asked if his friend had perhaps told him if he had been heard in court, but the Witness responded in the negative. The Defense asked if the Witness had spoken to anyone about the police interview before he had been interviewed himself, and the Witness said no.
The Court played a recording where the police asked the name of the Witness’ friend. The Witness says he only knew his friend’s first name, and that he had told him he had been interviewed, and that he gave his contact as they “were all together”. The police are heard asking the Witness if his friend had given him details about the interview, and the Witness responded that his friend “explained to me what was unfolding”.
The Defense resumed by asking the Witness that he said he had been in contact with his friend, who also told him what the interview was about. The Witness responded that his friend only told him that the police were looking for people who knew about Agbah, so because he knew that the Witness had been closer to them, he gave his number.
When asked if his friend had given the impression he had been interviewed, the Witness responded that he had. The Defense referred to the recording again, where the Witness is heard saying “yes, yes, yes” when asked if his friend had given him details about the interview. The Witness answered that his friend had not “explained everything to me”. The Defense reiterated that before they played the police recording, the Witness had stated that he did not talk to anyone about the interview. The Witness clarified that he had only spoken with the police about it.
The Defense asked how long after he had discussed the interview with someone was he then interviewed himself. The Witness answered that “by the time the guy told me about it” it was almost a week before he could come to Monrovia. The Defense wanted to know when he came to Monrovia for the current hearing, and the Witness responded that he arrived the day before. He was lodging in a hotel: [Employee 1] asked someone to pick him up from ELWA, and take him there. He knew the face of the person that took him to the hotel, but did not really know him. He specified it was a black man. The Defense asked if he met anyone at the hotel and the Witness replied he did not, as everyone was in their rooms. Later in the hearing, the Prosecution also asked if he spoke with his friend about the interview, but the Witness reiterated he had not met with him.
Going back to the prior statements, the Defense wanted to know when exactly the Witness arrived in Lofa. He could not remember the precise date, but he thought it was during the dry season. He could not recall what he had said to the police in regard to who had recruited him, but he knew that Glasco had taken him there. The Defense said that in the police summary, the Witness had disclosed that Roland Duo had recruited him in 2002. The Witness explained that Duo was the “all over boss”, and that everything happened under his administration, “but I was directly with Glasco”. He added that “they had a base, Roland was there recruiting but Glasco was under Roland.”
The Defense asked who was the Commander in the Lofa region, and the Witness reiterated that it was Roland Duo, as he was the Chief of Staff. There was also Sampson, Glasco, Bassa Boy, and many others – he could not remember all of them.
When asked why he could remember more details about the period in Monrovia compared to Lofa, the Witness explained that when in Monrovia they were allocated to a specific area, whilst in Lofa “we were all over”. During the period of the WWs, he saw Angel Gabriel in many places: at his house, at Bockarie’s house, and in the front line. The Defense asked the Witness if Angel Gabriel had left for a while, and if someone else took care of Agbah. The Witness responded that he had stopped seeing Angel Gabriel when Taylor left the country, “on August 23”. When asked about the frequency at which the Witness saw Angel Gabriel, the Witness answered that he would not see him every day, but he would see him every week, sometimes more. He did not know if anyone else was in charge of the Agbah group.
The Defense enquired about how the Witness knew that Angel Gabriel took over from Bockarie: the Witness explained that every time a new commander took over, introductions were made. Benjamin Yeaten introduced Angel Gabriel to them.
The Witness stated that Sam Bockarie had been in charge of the Agbah, and that he had been in Liberia since 2000. He had seen him himself in Monrovia, although the Witness was not part of the troops at the time. The Defense noted that the Witness did not say that Angel Gabriel took over Sam Bockarie’s leadership position during the police interview; in fact, he had not mentioned Bockarie at all. The Witness answered that during the hearings he stated Angel Gabriel had been commander at Waterside: he took over because he was the only educated man.
The Prosecution interjected and asked the Witness about his friend. The Witness reiterated that his friend might have been interviewed, but he had not shared any details. He added that the only person with whom he discussed the interview was [Employee 1]. The Defense asked him to elaborate, so the Witness explained that [Employee 1] asked him if he knew Agbah, to which the Witness answered “yes, we did it all together” – he specified that [Employee 1] did not ask him for details, but told him that “there were people who were going to ask”. Finally, the Defense asked him if the police had shown him photographs during his interview: the Witness shared that he had said no, because his eyesight was not good enough. The Defense asked the Witness if he had shared this with the police, because – according to the recording – the Witness had said “is this all the pictures?”. The Witness explained that “the paper was plain” to him, and “forget it, because of my eyesight”.
The Court listened to the police recording where the Witness is heard saying “it’s been a long, long time”. The police show pictures to the Witness, and he says “that’s all?”
The Defense asked the Witness if he had his friend’s number, to which the Witness answered in the negative. He explains that his friend has his number, but not vice versa, as the last time he saw him he had written down his number and gave it to him.
Witness X7 is Heard
The Prosecution questions Witness X7
The testimony began with the Witness sharing his experience of the Second Liberian War between 1999 and 2003. Prior to the war, his sister was living in Freetown and had a car: the Witness was a driver, so he decided to go to Freetown (Sierra Leone) and work with the vehicle. When the car broke, he was without a job. His sister’s boyfriend was a general on “that side”: the Witness’ sister spoke to her partner to ask for a job for her brother. Two weeks later, the Witness was driving a Mercedes truck for his brother-in-law’s boss; he had not known him before, but he was introduced to this man called Gabriel.
The Witness explained how he used to drive between Liberia and Sierra Leone, sometimes carrying people, other times carrying goods to Voinjama, as Gabriel had a business partner there. He also used to come to Monrovia, as he had a girlfriend, [FNM-071], living on Old Road, right behind Kiss FM radio station quarters. The Witness explained that Gabriel used to stay with Benjamin Yeaten, when he was in Liberia, and not everyone used to see him, but “only those entitled” would. The Witness described how Gabriel would sometimes order executions, but “it was not my business, we were taking orders”. After the last time they came to Liberia, the Witness decided not to go back again: he told Gabriel that the truck had an issue, so he was not able to drive him back there. Gabriel told him to park in a safe space, and since then, the Witness did not see him again. Later in the testimony, when asked when this took place, the Witness could not remember the year, but said that it was at the time the “war was going on in Sierra Leone”. The Witness recalled how one time Benjamin Yeaten asked him for the truck. The Witness told him how it was not his to give, and Yeaten threatened to execute someone if he did not give it to him. The Witness’ brother advised him to hand the keys over to Yeaten, which he did.
The Prosecution asked for the name of the Sierra Leonean general who was his sister’s partner. The Witness answered that it was [FNM-252], and his boss was Gabriel Massaquoi, who was spokesman for the RUF. When asked about how often he used to travel between Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Witness replied that sometimes they used to travel between Sierra Leone and Lofa twice a month, and to Monrovia once a month. He specified that Gabriel used to drive his own vehicle, a jeep, and that once he went to Monrovia with them, and they all stayed a week there at his girlfriend’s, in Old Road. He could not remember the year.
He saw Gabriel three times in Monrovia, but he could not tell the year. The last time he saw him was when Gabriel told him to park the vehicle in a safe space, but again, he could not say when that had happened. Later in his testimony, when asked if he knew whether Massaquoi had gone back to Sierra Leone or stayed in Liberia, the Witness answered that he did not know his whereabouts.
The Prosecution asked the Witness if he knew any other commander for the RUF: the Witness answered that besides his brother-in-law, [FNM-252], he never interacted with anyone else. He did not drive any other general because Gabriel had ordered him not to. When asked by the Prosecution if Gabriel came to Monrovia to fight, the Witness answered that “he never came to fight”, but he never used to say why he was going there as Gabriel was on “a diplomatic mission” with Benjamin Yeaten. He did not know any other names for Gabriel other than the one he gave during the hearing.
The Prosecution asked the Witness to elaborate on his statement regarding the execution orders Gabriel gave. The Witness explained that once he ordered troops to go on the front line, and when they refused, he ordered his bodyguard to kill them.
The Prosecution shifted the questioning to the war in Côte d’Ivoire: he asked what the Witness knew about it, if he remembered when it happened, and if he ever drove the truck to the border between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. The Witness had “no idea” about that war, did not know when it happened, and said that he never drove to the border. He then asked the Witness whether the war in Liberia was ongoing when he first met Gabriel Massaquoi, and he confirmed that it was ongoing for years, and the war in Sierra Leone also. When the Witness parked the truck at Yeaten’s residence, the war continued for a long time still, he estimated a year, and he added that LURD “was in town”.
The Defense questions Witness X7
The Defense began its questioning by asking about [FNM-253], who according to the Witness, was a general: the Defense never heard of his name, so asked the Witness if he was sure about it. [FNM-253] and [FNM-252] share the same surname, and during the pretrial interview, the Witness mentioned [FNM-253], whilst during the hearing he talked about [FNM-252]. The Witness explained that [FNM-253] was a friend of his brother-in-law, [FNM-252] and they were two distinct people. He added that he did not know whether [FNM-253] was alive or not.
The Defense asked the Witness if he only drove the truck he mentioned, and asked the difference between a truck and a pickup. The Witness answered that he only drove the truck in question, and that a truck is bigger than a pickup. The Defense then asked him about the locations where he used to gather the goods mentioned earlier in the testimony: the Witness answered that sometimes it would be in Konor, sometimes in Kailahun. He would reach Liberia from Koindu to Vaihun, and would only take this road “over and over, again and again”. There is a river there, and a bridge to cross. It was the Defense’s understanding that there was no bridge, and that you could only cross the river with a ferry: the Witness reiterated that there was indeed a bridge.
When asked, the Witness explained that his brother-in-law gave him the truck in Kailahun. He had transported soldiers in Sierra Leone. He added that the war was still going on in Sierra Leone at that time, and when he used to drive between the countries, the war was waging on in both. He had soldiers who acted as security, so that his truck would not be attacked. He used to unload the truck in Voinjama, and Kernel Head, an NPFL commander, used to control the area – later on in the interview he added that this person was dead now.
The Defense asked about Chris Massaquoi, who the Witnesses mentioned in his pretrial interview. He explained that Chris Massaquoi was the RUF’s spokesman. The Defense asked if Chris Massaquoi had been another name for Gabriel Massaquoi, but the Witness responded that he only knew Gabriel Massaquoi as spokesman for the RUF, not Chris – if he had stated so in his police interview it was a “slip of tongue”.
When asked about Sam Bockarie, the Witness answered that he was a fighter from Sierra Leone who had come to fight the war in Liberia, but could not remember when that had happened. The Defense asked about the statement the Witness had given to the police regarding taking soldiers from Makeni to Kenema. The Witness responded that he had taken soldiers many times, and that when he did, the Sierra Leonean war was still going on.
The Witness reiterated that since he parked the vehicle at the time described in the hearing, he did not know where Massaquoi went.
Prosecution resumes questioning
The Prosecution shifted the questioning back to the issue of dates: the Witness, throughout the hearing, insisted he could not remember any. However, the Prosecution reminded him that during the police interview, the Witness had said that he was given the truck in November 2002, although he could not remember exactly. The Witness answered that indeed it could have been around that time, but he could not say if it was accurate. The Prosecution asked him if he still thought this happened in 2002, and the Witness answered in the affirmative. Also, according to the police summary, the Witness had stated that the last time he saw the RUF’s spokesman in Monrovia was in August 2003; however, during the hearing, he said he could not remember when the last time he saw Massaquoi in Monrovia was. When the Prosecution asked him if he remembered now if he did see him in August 2003, the Witness replied in the affirmative.
Going back to what the Witness had said earlier in the hearing regarding the diplomatic nature of Massaquoi’s trips to Monrovia, the Prosecution asked if he remembered what he had told the police. The Witness answered that maybe he said a few things, but that “the main thing we used to come here for was a diplomatic mission”. The Prosecution reminded him that during the interview he had stated “Massaquoi said he did not come to Liberia to fight but to find his way to Europe”. The Witness confirmed, and said that it was the same year the truck got parked, and when the Prosecution asked if that was in 2003, the Witness answered in the affirmative.
The Defense resumes questioning
The Defense also wanted to go back to the issue of dates, and wanted to know if he could remember the years and events better now, as during the police interview, he had given definite months and years. The Witness answered that his brain is “not like a computer” and “what I remember is what I said and told them”.
When asked about being given the truck in November 2002, the Witness said it was what he remembered. He confirmed that when he was transporting soldiers and came to Liberia, the war was still going on in Liberia, and that he did indeed remember that the war was also still going on in Sierra Leone.
The Defense questioned the Witness about a statement he gave to the police regarding Mosquito: he had said that he ordered a mass killing in Makeni. The Witness confirmed that it had happened outside of Makeni, on “the out stretch”, and that it had happened a week after he got the truck. When asked if he had ever heard about Mosquito leaving his soldiers, the Witness said yes, and that in his opinion he did not come back to Sierra Leone.
The Defense stated that, as far as they knew, LURD was in control of Voinjama in November 2002, when the Witness was bringing goods there. The Witness explained that at the time Voinjama was divided in two.
The Witness confirmed the earlier statement in the hearing, when he said that after he parked the truck in August 2003 the war still went on another year. The Defense told the Witness that in August 2003 the Liberian war ended, and the Witness refuted that. The Defense went on and said that the Witness had said that he was transporting soldiers in Sierra Leone, but peace keeping troops had come to the country in 2002, eleven months before he got his truck. The Defense also declared that the Sierra Leone peace talks “started in January 2002”, so, according to the Witness, he was given the truck 10 months after that: The Witness answered “you said ‘started’, and I’m saying no, war was still going on”. Finally, the Defense asked the Witness for how long he had driven the truck, but the Witness could not remember.
The hearing ended, and it will resume on September 17.