The 54th day of public hearings resumed on Monday, 6th October in Monrovia, Liberia.
The Witness, [Employee 3], is Heard
The Prosecution questions the witness [Employee 3]
The witness began by explaining that he has been working for GJRP since its founding in 2012. Initially he worked as a researcher, or what the court would term an investigator, tasked with going into the field and collecting information to identify perpetrators from the Liberian Civil War. Sometimes, interviews were conducted in the GJRP offices. Over the years the witness was given more responsibilities.
The Prosecution asked about L4. The witness knew L4 because, in early March 2012, he and [GJRP-1] interviewed him. [GJRP-1] was friends with L4. The witness had been acquainted with L4 because during his student days at the University of Liberia he used to go attaye shops. L4 frequented attaye shops and spoke openly about his experiences in Gbarnga with Charles Taylor.
[GJRP-1] was GJRP’s executive director. He had L4’s contact and gave it to the witness. The witness decided to interview L4 because of his presence in Gbarnga during the Charles Taylor time.
The Witness called L4 and introduced himself as a co-worker of [GJRP-1] in an organization that documents war crimes. He invited L4 to come to their office to speak about his experiences during the war. They agreed on a specific date and when L4 came to the office, the witness met L4 and introduced himself. He showed L4 [GJRP-1]’s office though he was not there. Then, the witness invited L4 to the next room to proceed with the interview. It was only L4 and the witness.
The witness explained to L4 what the organization could and couldn’t do; they wouldn’t pay people aside from transport costs, and that L4 was free to leave whenever as it was a voluntary process. The witness said he would take notes on what L4 said, and L4 said that was no problem. The witness added that it was not a very formal interview. Then, the witness said that he jotted down information as L4 spoke. Then, the witness thanked L4 and told him that they might call L4 in the future, and that this was the effort they were making for the victims of the Liberian Civil War.
The witness repeated that the interview took place in 2012 but could not remember the exact date and confirmed that it was only the witness and L4 in the meeting. [GJRP-1] was not in the office but the witness informed [GJRP-1] that L4 was there and [GJRP-1] told him to go ahead and speak with him. The witness said that it was the first time that he met L4 in person. The Prosecution asked whether [GJRP-1] had talked about the same interview with L4 before, and the witness said that he didn’t know. Then, the Prosecution asked whether anybody coached L4 on what to say prior to the interview. The witness said that nobody talked to him like that before the interview because as soon as L4 entered the premises, security informed the witness, and he went to meet L4.
The Prosecution asked what the witness remembered from his interview with L4.
The witness said that L4 was living in the Gbarnga area during the civil war. L4 said that Agnes Reeves Taylor was having an affair with a man who escaped to an unnamed area after he thought Charles Taylor had learned of the affair. He also talked about someone who was killed in the Southeastern area by two people, one of whom went on to crucify a boy. The witness thought that L4 had not said anything incriminating about Agnes Reeves Taylor, only that she was having an affair. The witness said he only interviewed L4 once and was not aware of another interview by GJRP staff. However, the witness noted that Alain Werner and Civitas Maxima comes to visit the GJRP office once a year, and their team of lawyers come and do detailed interviews with potential witnesses. The witness said he was unsure, but they may have interviewed L4.
The Prosecution asked if [GJRP-1] had interviewed L4, and the witness replied that he did not know.
The Prosecution asked when the witness next saw L4. The witness said it was in 2016 when the British Police were investigating Agnes Reeves Taylor, during the “full disclosure” phase of investigations when all evidence was surrendered. In 2017, the full disclosure phase had finished, and the British Police were interested in speaking with L4. However, the British Police did not have authorization to go to Liberia for investigations, so they had to move L4 to another country to conduct the interview. They chose Ghana and the witness accompanied L4 to Ghana for the interview.
The Prosecution asked for further details of the trip. The witness said that he told L4 he would provide him with a passport. The witness explained that he would not get an award, but that GJRP would pay for his transport to Ghana and cover his lost wages. L4 did not supply the witness with the documentation he required to calculate lost wages, but the witness thought it was around Liberian $15-20,000. L4 also said he needed a US dollar component and asked for US $150-175. The witness said that this all added up to about $300 and this was the same as GJRP’s average lost wage criteria. The trip took place from the 3rd to the 9th of February. The witness also told L4 that accommodation and food would be covered by the British Police once he was on the ground in Ghana.
In Ghana, the witness explained, L4 met with the British several times. The witness was not present for those meetings and L4 did not tell the witness what was said. The Prosecution asked the witness if he or anybody else from the GJRP had promised L4 any type of reward for travelling to Ghana.
The Prosecution asked if the witness had met L4 after that trip. The witness said that he did, and that they met normally in the street and at the Capitol Building where L4 works. However, the witness said that they did not discuss the trip to Ghana or talk about any information from the interview.
The Prosecution said that he was going to display some documents provided by the GJRP. The witness said that he recognized his writing, and that the document was notes from his interview with L4. The note was from the 4th of October. The Prosecution asked if the other pages shown were additional parts of the notes, and the witness confirmed it was the case. The witness explained that the pages were notes about an unrelated individual who was a fighter, but the witness never got to meet him. The judge asked the witness to write down the date. Then, the witness was asked to read out the date on the notes displayed, and the witness responded that it was the 4th Day of the 10th Month in 2012. The witness had made these notes on the same days as his interview with L4 and they contained details of everything that L4 had told the witness. The Prosecution asked about GJRP’s method of following up with witnesses and asked the witness if GJRP had been in contact with L4 since the interview. The witness said that while they had spoken with L4, he was not an official witness of GJRP, but they had given Scotland Yard the notes as part of full disclosure. Further, L4 had not directly witnessed things so he was not classified as a witness in their system.
In 2012, when the witness had interviewed L4, the GJRP offices were located on Mechlin Street. At the time, they were investigating some cases, but the witness said that L4 was not a witness on any of them.
The Defense questions the witness
The witness said that he did not indicate that [GJRP-1] talked with L4. The witness said that during his time as a student, prior to working at GJRP, he did not personally speak to L4 but rather he was present when L4 speak to people in attaye shops.
The witness gave the notes of his interview with L4 to the British Police. He explained that it is part of GJRP’s protocol to seek witnesses’ consent to take notes prior to the interview and inform them that the notes could be shared. The Defense noted that, in the witness’ notes, it was not noted that the interview notes could be used in court, but the witness insisted that he had said that. The witness confirmed that L4 was not a witness to any incident. The witness did not know what interest the British Police had in the notes, but GJRP gave them all their notes during full disclosure. The Defense asked if L4 had met [GJRP-1] and the witness said he assumed so seeing as they were friends. The Defense asked if the witness and [GJRP-1] talked about L4 after his interview with the British. The witness responded that he was an acquaintance and not a friend of L4, but that [GJRP-1] was his friend which is how the witness was put in contact with L4. The witness said that L4 never spoke with him about what he talked about with the British Police.
The Prosecution Witness, Joshua Blahyi, is Heard
The Prosecution questions Joshua Blahyi
The Witness confirmed that he fought in the Liberian Civil War between 1990 and 1996 when he was known as General Butt Naked. He had been in Ghana as a refugee between 1998 until 2007. He never testified in a war crimes court. He asserted that he does not know [GJRP-1] and that he had not heard of GJRP.
The Defense questions Joshua Blahyi
The witness confirmed that he testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Liberia in 2008 about his participation in the war. He had not testified in any other case. In relation to his war name, the witness explained that he was not the only person known as General Butt Naked during the war.
The Prosecution questions Joshua Blahyi
The witness explained that while he fought for ULIMO J, there was another General Butt Naked who fought for LPC, the Liberian Peace Council headed by a current parliamentarian. LPC also fought in the second Liberian Civil War. LPC fought predominantly in Sinoe but the last war they fought together on April 6th was in Monrovia. ULIMO and LPC were friendly forces.
The Prosecution asked about ULIMO. The witness explained that ULIMO was a group that came from Sierra Leone, but which split into two factions along religious divides: one Muslim group under Alhaji Kromah called ULIMO-K and one Christian group under Roosevelt Johnson called ULIMO-J. The letters came from the names of the leaders. The witness did not recognize the name [FNM-294] but explained that during the war people used different names and that most people would not know him as Joshua Blahyi but rather as General Butt Naked.
The Defense questions Joshua Blahyi again
The Witness explained that he started referring to himself as General Butt Naked after journalists called him the naked general in 1996 in central Monrovia. There was only one other General Butt Naked in the first and second civil wars and the witness said he is now amputated.
The Prosecution Witness X8 is Heard
The Prosecution questions witness X8
The Witness took part in the second Liberian Civil War. He was an ATU soldier communication officer with Charles Taylor’s convoy. The head of the ATU was [FNM-217]. He had been to Lofa, Bong, Bomi and Monrovia. When he was in Monrovia he lived at the executive mansion and he went to the frontline until the rebels pushed them back to Monrovia.
The witness was also in Waterside and confirmed that there were Sierra Leoneans there in the years 2002 and 2003. They called the Sierra Leonean group “Agba”. The Witness knew most of the Sierra Leonean fighters at Waterside. Of the commanders, he remembered someone with the war name High Command, and someone called [FNM-320]. He continued to see some of the fighters and commanders through to the end of the war, but others died.
The Sierra Leoneans fighting in Monrovia at Waterside fought against LURD in 2003. The Witness confirmed that he saw and fought with the Sierra Leonean commanders during the war in Liberia but also in the Ivory Coast. He recalled that the commander of Sierra Leoneans in the Ivory Coast was Sam Bockarie. While in the Ivory Coast there were problems between groups and upon their return to Liberia, Sam Bockarie was arrested. They took him to a place called Cocoa Pah, which is a rubber plantation in Nimba county. Sam Bockarie was executed there. The Witness remembered other Sierra Leonean commanders who were in Ivory Coast including [FNM-321] – they were executed.
The Witness explained how he came to be interviewed by the Finnish police two weeks ago. He recalled listening to the radio and hearing a talk show on the 91.1 station about a Sierra Leonean, Gabriel Massaquoi, on trial by the Finnish authorities. The Witness called someone he knows at the Global Justice Research Program (GJRP) with whom he had not spoken in a long time. This person told the Witness that someone would get in touch with him and subsequently he received a call from an unknown number and was informed that the Finnish police wanted to speak with him. The Witness explained that he called his contact from GJRP because he realized that he remembered that Massaquoi belonged to the same Sierra Leonean group he encountered at Waterside in 2002-2003.
The Witness recalled that he met Massaquoi at Waterside once and in Monrovia once or twice. He met Massaquoi in 2003, towards the end of the war, in June, July and August on the police academy side. Other than that, he met him in Elwa Junction at 12 houses where Massaquoi was based. He remembered Massaquoi being the coordinator or mediator between the Sierra Leonean group and the president Charles Taylor.
The last time he saw Massaquoi was in July or August 2003 around 12 houses. The Witness testified that when he heard Massaquoi speak he spoke English with a Sierra Leonean accent.
The Defense questions witness X8
The Witness said that he joined the ATU in 2000. He went to the base in 1999 for about 8 months and came out in 2000. There he was a communication officer, owing to his pre-war job at the radio station. He did not have a war number. The Witness confirmed that he fought in Lofa which he knows very well and was in Lofa for 5-7 months in 2000. He was a front-line commander in Voinjama, Vahun, Kobolahun, and Konia. During his time in Lofa the Witness saw Massaquoi on a few occasions but never interacted with him. The witness said Massaquoi was a mediator between Sierra Leoneans and went wherever the war was fought. The Witness asserted that Massaquoi and the other Sierra Leoneans moved around Lofa with Benjamin Yeaten, the SS commander. The witness knew Massaquoi as a mediator and did not know if he fought in Lofa. The witness had seen Massaquoi in Lofa and could not remember if it was in Vahun or Voinjama but said that Massaquoi had come from Monrovia in a helicopter. The witness saw Massaquoi when he accompanied Benjamin Yeaten to the front lines in a car and sometimes in a helicopter. He clarified that his first interview with the Finnish police was unexpected but confirmed that he told the police what he considered to be correct at the time. Thereafter he had time to think while he was in the bush because he expected to testify again.
After 6-7 months in Lofa as a front-line commander, the witness spent 2001 in Liberia while the government fought LURD forces throughout the country. The witness said during his time in Lofa he went back and forth to Monrovia because he was a front-line commander. He couldn’t remember if he saw Massaquoi in Monrovia in 2000 or 2001. He went to the Ivory Coast in July or August of 2002 during the war between the rebels and the president and then returned to Liberia in January or February 2003, and the war was still ongoing.
The Witness did not know whether Massaquoi had a nickname. He explained that they called the Sierra Leoneans the Agba and individually they called them Sam. He knew that Massaquoi lived in 12 houses in 2000 that he was a spokesperson for the Sierra Leoneans, some of whom were in ATU. The Witness could not remember seeing him during their trainings.
When asked about Waterside, the Witness explained that he was not assigned there but he went to the old and the new bridge as that was the frontline. The group that controlled the bridge in 2003 was Jungle Fire, controlled by Benjamin Yeaten – 50. In 2001 or 2002 the war had not spread to Monrovia and there were thus no military bases on the bridge at the time. When he used to come to Monrovia in 2000 and 2001, before the war spread there, he was not armed because he would go to see his family.
The last time the Witness met Massaquoi was in 2003 on the new bridge frontline. When Sam Bockarie returned from the Ivory Coast, 90% of the soldiers that returned with him were executed, according to the Witness. The Sierra Leonean commanders in Monrovia assigned to Benjamin Yeaten included High Command, [FNM-109] and Salami. Following Bockarie’s death, Salami became a commander of Sierra Leoneans and was a frontline commander who took orders directly from Benjamin Yeaten. The Witness affirmed that Massaquoi came to the frontline with Salami, although he did not see him shoot or fight there. The last time the Witness saw Massaquoi with Salami on the frontlines was in 2003 before Salami died. The witness said that Salami died the day before the war ended.
The Witness clarified that the first time he saw Massaquoi was in Lofa but he could not remember when. In Monrovia, the witness saw him twice near 12 houses and the last time was before Salami died. The witness specified that Salami died near 12 houses.
The Defense asked about travelling to the Ivory Coast. The witness said that when the Sierra Leoneans went to the Ivory Coast, they went by airplane which flew from Roberts Field and landed in Burkina Faso. The witness and others travelled by road from Liberia.
After seeing Massaquoi in Monrovia, the witness heard on the radio that Massaquoi went to Finland. Although he did not know how Massaquoi left, he guessed that he must have left Liberia through a land crossing and driven through Bo Waterside. LURD was there but the UNMIL was also present so there was a ceasefire, and the roads were open.
The witness contacted [FNM-322] from the GJRP. He had [FNM-322]’s number from the time he was interviewed in relation to a different matter that has not been made public. In that interview, the witness mentioned a Sierra Leonean but not Massaquoi.
The Prosecution questions the witness X8 again
In Monrovia, Massaquoi moved with [FNM-323] who drove around in a bus and Salami who drove a land cruiser pick-up. He could not remember the color of the pick-up and explained that there were up to three pick-ups; one was gray and another green.
The Defense questions the witness X8 again
The Defense wanted to understand how X8 knew Massaquoi’s name. The witness said he could not remember whether he spoke to Massaquoi in Lofa but in Monrovia they met in a group. The witness knew him by name but they did not interact because Massaquoi was not on the frontline. The witness remembered Massaquoi used to move with Salami because Massaquoi was the “boss man and spokesperson.” A Sierra Leonean identified Massaquoi as a spokesperson to the witness when he was in Monrovia.
The Witness said the first time he saw Massaquoi was in Mah, in the Ivory Coast, when [FNM-324] and Sam Bockarie introduced him as the spokesman. When reminded that the Witness told the Finnish police that the first time he met Massaquoi was at 12 houses the Witness corrected that he was talking about the places where he had met him before.
Finally, the Witness confirmed that he had not seen Massaquoi in any pictures from the frontline.