The 59th day of public hearings resumed on Monday, 20th December in Finland.
The hearing began by Prosecution introducing some confidential documents related to Gibril Massaquoi’s marriage in a closed session.
When the hearing resumed in the open session, the defense introduced a 2008 memo from SCSL on the hearing of [GJRP-1] in which he claimed that he had been tortured by Gibril Massaquoi. Subsequently, [GJRP-1] had told Civitas Maxima that Gibril Massaquoi applied electro shocks to his genitals. Following that at the SCSL hearing [GJRP-1] testified that the electro shocks were applied by a woman in Gibril Massaquoi’s presence, which was also confirmed during his testimony before this court.
The Defense introduced this document to question the credibility of [GJRP-1]’s testimony, and specifically one relevant section, in which it was described that Taylor invited someone else to torture [GJRP-1], and then a person and their husband seriously tortured him by using electric shocks to his genitals, after which he was hit with a stick, and he was imprisoned for six months and transferred to 13 different prisons, in which he was tortured several times.
The Prosecution, in their turn, maintained that the title of the said document was “interview notes” drafted by the interrogator and that it was not evident from the document whether Bility had been given the chance to read and verify it and the document additionally has not been signed by him. Also, the “SS-men” who were the officers under the command of Benjamin Yeaten were mentioned. It could be inferred that in this period he had been interrogated and tortured more than 50 times, not only once. Then, the Prosecution quoted another section, highlighting that the sections didn’t specify who the “SS men” were who were torturing [GJRP-1]. The Prosecution emphasized that the interview notes were made in the context of Charles Taylor’s investigation, and not Gibril Massaquoi’s, so the investigator’s interest was in Taylor and not Massaquoi, which should be considered by the court.
The Prosecution added that the Defense had not introduced this document before the hearing and in case it is admitted into evidence, the Prosecution will request that the part of the Taylor judgment referring to [GJRP-1]’s testimony be included as well.
The Defense insisted that [GJRP-1]’s testimony about the incident has been inconsistent at different instances. In the 2008 report, the torturers were two men and Massaquoi was not mentioned, then [GJRP-1] told Civitas Maxima that it was Massaquoi who gave the shocks, and then in court the Defendant had said that a woman administered the electric shocks, but Massaquoi gave the order to do so.
The Prosecution maintained that the Defense did not designate these deviations in written submissions and the judge could not find them as reference materials. The Defense explained that prior inconsistent testimonies were not dismissed by Bility as mis-recorded; instead, [GJRP-1] recounted the incident differently at different instances. The Prosecution insisted that the reference materials can be admitted when the deviations are invoked and the Defense replied that they have been raised with [GJRP-1], who did not deny the truthfulness of these various accounts of the same incident, instead he just told his account differently.
The judge interjected, suggesting that this matter has already been handled in court and that these accounts cannot be admitted other than for the purpose for which they were given. The Defense insisted that in Civitas Maxima’s interrogation [GJRP-1] attested that it was Gibril Massaquoi who applied the electric shocks. The Prosecution countered that this cannot be verified now and that instead it should have been done when the person testified. It was established that the descriptions in the indictment could not be changed. The Defense contended that this issue needs to be resolved and suggested hearing [GJRP-1] over the phone again.
The Defense introduced another document containing information compiled by the Defense witness L5 or L6 which was written following the killings of people in Lofa who fled Liberia for Sierra Leone. 54 villages and towns had been burned down. There was a mention of Zigzag Marzah and the perpetrators were identified, however, without a reference to Gibril Massaquoi.
The Prosecution interjected to clarify that this document was prepared by a witness and thus it was impossible to disconnect it from his hearing and confirmed that the Prosecution questioned the witness during the hearing, pointing to the weak parts of his research. As the witness can no longer be questioned the Defense should not be allowed to introduce this document separately into evidence. The Defense stated that Finnish Immigration Authority (MIGRI) documents are also relied upon. The Judge ruled that written documents are normally submitted to determine which individuals would be invited for questioning. However, new evidence can be introduced during the trial without thwarting the procedural rights which is how the proceedings have been conducted until this point. In the criminal proceedings the court will not reject evidence “unless it is manifestly unnecessary.” The Prosecution was ordered to ask any questions without delay and, if needed, to schedule the new questioning.
The Defense continued with another portion of the document containing the names of the commanders from the Kolahu region, their responsibilities and commonly known names, still without a mention of Gibril Massaquoi. Next, page 37 of the text, dated in 2002, but with a handwritten note that the events must have happened in 2001, related to the description of events and persons in charge. On page 39 it referred to an event from 2001 in Kailahun and mentions the responsible persons, again without mention of Gibril Massaquoi.
A phone connection with the USA had been established and the discussion on the document was interrupted to hear the witness.
Witness [FNM-329] is Heard
The Prosecution questions the witness [FNM-329]
The Witness confirmed that he worked for the SCSL from August 2004 until the 30th of May, 2010 as a witness protection officer. His job involved working with various witness and required travel to villages and small towns, escorting witness to and back from hospitals and attending to other personal matters. The office also assigned him to live with the witnesses and their families in the SCSL safe houses as part of witness protection, to protect witnesses from enemies and also to monitor the activities and movement to and from the safe houses.
In the course of his work the witness went to all the safe houses with different witnesses; he was not assigned to a specific safe house. In total there were 6 witness protection officers at the SCSL who worked in 10-hour shifts. The shifts were arranged so that witness protection officers rotate among all safe houses. He did not remember that any of the witness protection officers was assigned to any one safe house.
The witness explained that there were different witness categories. The number of witness protection officers per shift depended on the level of protection the witness needed. In situations when a witness required maximum security, typically one guard and one armed police officer were assigned to the safe house with the witness. Those witnesses who did not demand maximum security had one protection officer assigned to the safe house.
The Witness affirmed that he remembers Gibril Massaquoi as a high-profile protected witness and accordingly he had one protection officer and one armed police officer assigned to his safe house. The Witness, himself, was a protection officer at Gibril Massaquoi’s safe house.
He confirmed that Gibril Massaquoi was in four safe houses and could not remember the location of the first two, but shared that the first two were not protected as well as the last safe house. The Witness added that the SCSL knew that the Kingston safe house where Gibril Massaquoi was attacked was not well protected, as there were no police officers appointed, but he was relocated to a house located between Congcross Bridge and the stadium, which had armed police officers on duty. The Witness explained that he does not know too much about the security arrangements of the first two houses as he was not working for the SCSL at the time and did not visit them after Gibril Massaquoi left. He, however, knew about the security arrangements at the first two safe houses of Gibril Massaquoi indirectly, from his colleagues and because the armed police officers were only assigned to the Kington safe house after the attack. He confirmed that the safe house where Gibril Massaquoi was relocated after the attack had assigned armed police officers.
Turning to Gibril Massaquoi’s movement in the last two safe houses, the Witness confirmed that he could leave the safe house without the knowledge of the witness protection officers in the Kington safe house, which was the third safe house. There the witness protection officer was not always present. Instead, they knew when Gibril was present either when he came downstairs or when the witness protection officer went upstairs. The house did not have the security cameras installed or other devices to monitor his movement. Massaquoi had no obligation to assure protection officers of his presence. The witness protection officers signed in a notebook when their shifts began and Gibril Massaquoi only had to notify witness protection officers before he needed to go somewhere or be picked up. The protection officers did not have a device to monitor him.
Such were the movement arrangements in third safe house in Kingston and the Witness did not know if Gibril could leave the first two houses the same way but said that it was possible because of their security level. He added that the security arrangements changed between the first two safe houses and the third one.
The Witness was not aware that the SCSL sent Gibril anywhere but said that it was possible. He also confirmed that in the Kingston and Congo-cross safe houses family and friends visited Gibril and his family. Although the Witness did not work in the first two safe houses, considering the security arrangements there, he still concluded that Gibril and his family could have had guests there. He added that the security arrangements were different in safe houses 1, 2 and 3 while the house at Congocross was better protected.
The Witness opined that the SCSL witness protection unit, headed by [FNM-243], was responsible for the security loopholes of the safe houses. The Witness remembered the names of some of his colleagues, also witness protection officers with whom he worked in the last two safe houses, including [FNM-328]. He confirmed that [FNM-328] worked as a security officer in the first two houses where Gibril and his family stayed. [FNM-238] and Gibril are friends and got along well.
Turning to the security gaps in the safe houses the Witness contended that the first safe houses did not have good security arrangements and the security guard could attest that everything was in order when in reality this was not the case. The security guard would be inclined to do so “because of conflict of interest.” The house officer was responsible for finding a good safe house for the witnesses so he could claim compensation from the landlord for saying that it was a good safe house.
The witness contended that there was a change after the attack on the third safe house in Kingston. The security officer on duty then was attacked. The attackers jumped the fence and the officers rushed upstairs to facilitate Gibril’s escape. The Witness heard about and discussed this attack with his colleagues who suspected that the attack may have been staged. The colleague who was present thought so because of the foiled attempt at the attack. The Witness was not aware of anything that happened prior to the attack that would have led him to believe that it was staged.
The Witness worked for the witness management unit of the SCSL Office of the Prosecutor responsible for contacting and taking care of the witnesses. Specifically, he worked for the witness protection unit tasked with ensuring the security of their person, their families and property as opposed to other security units at the SCSL which handled the protection of the judges, for instance. The witness management unit was in the same office as the witness. While the witness protection unit only dealt with security arrangements, the witness management unit was more involved with taking care of the witnesses by taking care of housing or other problems for the witnesses. The witness had no recollection of any matter related to Gibril Massaquoi that the witness management unit transferred to him.
The Defense questions the witness [FNM-329]
The questioning began related to the Witness’ security-related education qualifications in 2004 when he started working for the SCSL. The Witness explained that he was a security guard of the ambassador of the Ivory Coast and he attended many security trainings. He left Sierra Leone in 2007 when he was transferred to the Netherlands by the SCSL to work on the Charles Taylor trial.
At the beginning of the 2000s he was a citizen of Sierra Leone. The Witness did not know how many people were under witness protection at the SCSL between 2003 and 2004. He did not know the type of external gates the first safe house had. He worked in Gibril Massaquoi’s safe house for the first time in 2004, in a month other than August until sometime in 2007.
The Witness confirmed that in addition to being on good terms with [FNM-328], Gibril Massaquoi was very friendly with all witness protection officers. The security personnel changed daily, while the armed police officer’s shift was longer than that of witness protection officers. He, personally, had stayed overnight at Gibril Massaquoi’s safe house. The Witness affirmed that on multiple occasions Gibril was taken outside to the SCSL or to the prosecutors, and the witness had taken him out himself. The Witness confirmed that it never occurred that Gibril could not go where he was need because he was absent. The Witness conceded that while it was possible that Gibril Massaquoi could leave the safe house without notifying the guards, he, personally, never noticed it.
The Witness confirmed that protection officers signed in into the notebook when the shift changed, and they inspected the house to ensure that everything in the house was in good order. He also affirmed that every Friday an officer from the witness protection unit paid allowance to witnesses, which was recorded but he could not remember whether the witnesses signed any document. He never heard protection officers reporting Gibril Massaquoi absent.
If a witness went missing, the protocol was to report it to the witness protection unit. Overall, the Witness explained that the witness protection officers had to accompany Gibril when he went out and that he had “never seen him leaving without protection officer.”
The questioning proceeded to Witness’ contact with the Finnish police. The police reached out to him after [FNM-201], whose last name he could not remember but knew he was a lawyer at SCSL, shared his number with them. Before that, the Witness spoke to [FNM-201] who told the Witness about his work and alerted him that the Finnish police would contact him about the case. They did not speak about Gibril Massaquoi nor did [FNM-201] specify the subject matter about which the Finnish Police was interested in talking to him. [FNM-201] called the Witness and they also communicated by email if the Witness did not answer his calls. The emails were not related to the witness’ testimony; [FNM-201] asked if the police had contacted the witness and asked how the witness was.
The Witness confirmed that he had not transported Gibril Massaquoi outside of Freetown while he was in the safe house. He did not know whether Gibril Massaquoi traveled abroad while staying at the safe house.
The Prosecution questions the witness [FNM-329] again
The Witness confirmed that he and Gibril Massaquoi got along. The Witness said that Gibril was “very smart and has a brilliant mind,” but he would not attempt to deceive the security officers. The Prosecution established that the Finnish police emailed the witness some questions, and in these emails the Witness described Gibril as a very intelligent individual. The Prosecutor referred to some of the answers and asked the Witness to interpret them. Specifically, the Prosecutor referred to the phrases, “I know Gibril very well for his tricks” and “I know what he’s capable of doing.” The Witness explained that Massaquoi is clever, calling him a magician, and said that Massaquoi knew how to play games and that the Witness “knew his position in the revolution.” Concerning the part of the testimony referring to the inspection of the safe house to ensure witness’ presence at the change of the shift, the Witness explained that it was not always easy to make sure that witnesses were in the house because sometimes their family might say the witness was sleeping or studying.
The Court returns to documentary evidence
The Judge instructed the parties to resume the discussion on written evidence from earlier that day. The Defense referred to pg. 39 and concluded that there was no mention of Gibril Massaquoi in the events described. Then the Defense continued with pg.40, referring to Kamatahun where people from different villages were gathered, separated, and burnt in houses. There was a mention of Marzah. The Defense explained that this excerpt contained the description of events similar to those in the Indictment, but which Gibril Massaquoi did not commit.
Then, the Defense turned to the role of [Employee 1] in the investigations. The Defense said that [Employee 1] may have been working for GJRP at the same time he was working for the Criminal Police of Finland. The Defense said that [Employee 1] testified that he resigned from GJRP, went to work for the Finnish Central Criminal Police and then again returned to GJRP. According to the record of [Employee 1]’s employment with the police, he was with the police from 18 March to 19 April 2019 but according to [Employee 1]’s notes he was still with the police on 23 April 2019.
The Prosecution stated that [Employee 1] testified that his notes referred to his work beyond just his work for the Criminal Police of Finland. The Defense wanted to know whether the Police records of his employment records were accurate. Both the Judge and the Prosecution said that they did not understand what the Defense was putting forward, but the Judge suggested that the Prosecution question [Employee 1] again.
The Defense alerted the court that a person from GJRP was monitoring the trial in Monrovia. The Judge said that the court was not aware but clarified that the audience monitors the trial in the court room, and that it is only the Central Criminal Police of Finland that records the trial.