[10/14/2022] Day 5: the first victims are heard

This 5th day of hearings was dedicated to the hearings of the civil parties and witnesses in connection with the acts committed in Foya in 1993 to the detriment of DN.

MN hearing as civil party

Before hearing MN, the President recalled that she had been heard by the Liberian investigators and then by the French investigating judge. MN confirmed that she is DN’s widow and AN’s mother.

MN indicated that she was in Foya when she and her husband heard gunfire one evening. They decided to take refuge in the bush with their children. To feed themselves, they had to go to the village to get food. DN told her to stay with the children and went to the village alone. MN did not see her husband all day. After cooking for her children, she went to look for him.

MN said that in the village, there was a meeting with everyone as people came to get food. When she passed by, people would look at her and start whispering to each other. She then asked what was going on with her husband. She was told that people had arrived in Foya and were looking for an interpreter. These people asked who had destroyed the hospitals and clinics and her husband reportedly told them that it was ULIMO. They told her that her husband had been tortured, slaughtered, cut into pieces and that they had eaten his heart. MN stated that she was crying and that she asked people to show her how her husband was killed. People reportedly told her that MN’s arms, legs, and feet were cut off and put in a basin.

MN said she then lost her daughter AN. She went to Guinea and sought out fellow countrymen for information. She met her brother and asked him about her daughter and her husband. Her brother told her that DN had been tied up and buried and that his bonds could not be cut. MN continued to search for her daughter and went to Sierra Leone. White people presented her with pictures and she recognized her daughter. The whites then took a picture of MN to show to AN. This is how DN found her daughter after searching for her for three years and crying every day. DN ended her statement by saying that her husband loved her very much and took care of the family. She added that today she could not see her husband anymore and that it was very hard.

The Court questioned MN :

Upon questioning by the President, MN stated that her husband was a teacher in an evangelical mission and confirmed that he was educated, spoke English and could translate Kissi. She said that DN had nothing to do with the NPFL and was not skilled in handling weapons.

When asked about her husband’s personality, MN indicated that he was outspoken and loving. MN then answered about the nature of their marriage, which was a traditional, non-civil marriage, and indicated that they had six children together, including AN who was a young girl at the time. When asked about their daily life, MN said that her husband went to teach while she went to the local markets. She confirmed that she was still a farmer in Foya.

The President recalled that at her first hearing, MN had indicated that white people had come to inquire about the destruction of the Borma Mission. On questioning by the President, MN stated that she did not know if it was an NGO and that she had only seen white people. She also confirmed that at the time of the events, she was hiding in the bush and therefore did not witness the death of her husband. She also confirmed that he had gone to give food to his blind mother.

When asked about her previous statements that her husband had been in a police station for two or three days, MN confirmed that she did not know exactly what had happened and that this had been reported to her. She also confirmed that she had not seen her husband’s body, but knew that he was buried at the Foya airstrip.

Confronted with her previous statements that she could have chosen the place where her husband was buried, MN indicated that several people were buried in the same place.

When asked about the name of CO Kundi, which she had mentioned in her previous statements, MN said that she had heard people say CO Kundi’s name and had concluded that it was he who had given the order to execute her husband, but said that she had never seen him. When asked about the poor description she had given of Kunti Kamara, MN did not remember describing him but said she could not recognize him in a photo. When asked about the names of other ULIMO commanders she recalled, MN mentioned the name Saah Chuey.

MN also confirmed that she was elected president of the Association of Women Who Lost Their Husbands upon her return to Liberia and said she was living with another man. When asked about her expectations for the trial, MN said her children were in a lot of pain and needed help.

When asked about the TRC, MN said she had been heard by the TRC and had indicated her willingness to testify. She confirmed that she was approached by Liberian authorities before being interviewed by French investigators. When asked about other crimes of which she was aware, DN said that TK, RK’s father, had been killed.

The civil party questioned MN:

When asked about the place where her husband was buried, MN confirmed that she had not chosen it and indicated that he was buried where he was killed. She said that her brother told her that it had not been possible to take him anywhere else and that the Palava Hut was now located there.

When asked about her expectations for the trial, MN expressed her great pain, as well as that of her children, which she hopes the trial can ease.

Asked to recount a happy memory with her late husband, MN recalled moments of sharing when they cooked and ate together.

Prosecution questions MN:

MN confirmed that she and her husband belonged to the Kissi ethnic group and that the Kissi were the majority in Foya at the time of the events.

When asked about the distinctive signs of the ULIMO troops, MN described faces painted with chalk and a red cloth tied around their heads. She said that these men presented themselves as ULIMO members when they came to pick her up in the bush.

On questioning, MN said she did not go to the police station upon her return to Liberia to report her husband’s death because it cost money.

Defense questions MN:

The defense attorney questioned MN about the two-day period during which her husband was allegedly detained according to his statements before the investigating judge. When asked if two days had passed between the time MN learned that her husband had been arrested and the time she learned that her husband had been killed, MN replied that she did not know the time DN had died but that she thought two days had passed between his arrest and his death.

MN then confirmed the presence of another armed group in Foya prior to the arrival of ULIMO, which she could not identify as the NPFL. She indicated that the only group that presented itself to her was ULIMO.

* * *

The Chairman briefly gave the floor to Kunti Kamara, who wished to speak. The latter stated that he did not know MN or the persons to whom she referred in her statement.

Hearing of AN as a civil party

AN confirmed that she was the daughter of MN and DN. She was between 10 and 11 years old at the time of the events. She explained that a group had arrived in the neighborhood where she lived with her family and that the group called a meeting in which she participated. Nothing bad happened. She said that General Fayah was the leader and entered the city. He took animals to eat, but did not kill anyone. AN said that a second group then arrived and introduced themselves as ULIMO, causing them to flee into the bush. ULIMO called a meeting, which some people attended. She said that her father and mother used to leave her alone at home with her siblings to get food. One day, her father went out alone and did not come back. Her mother also left and AN never saw her parents again. AN also ran away.

She said she was arrested by an armed group and raped. She then took the road to the bush and reached Macenta where she did people’s hair for food. There, she heard that the Red Cross was looking for children. In 2000, she went to another town to find the Red Cross offices. They took her picture and showed her a picture of her mother, which she recognized.

AN was then taken to her mother’s house and both joined Lofa in 2001. AN also spoke emotionally about hearing about her father’s death before she found her mother. She said that she could no longer live in Foya because she thought it was better for her to live elsewhere, so she left her family.

She said that she had heard about the TRC, but did not want to talk about her father’s death because it would not bring him back to life. AN went on to say that what happened in Foya was not comparable to the atrocities in other countries. In Foya, people were cut into pieces and thrown into boiling water. Villagers were forced to watch people being beheaded. AN said that the only thing that can help the Liberian people is justice and that she does not want anyone to go through the same kind of experiences she did.

Court questions AN:

When asked about the two groups she mentioned, AN confirmed that it was ULIMO, the second group, that was responsible for her father’s death. When asked about the names of the leaders of ULIMO, AN said she remembered the names Saah Chuey or Ugly Boy and Kundi. She also confirmed that she was not an eyewitness to her father’s death and that she was raped at the age of 10 or 11. Upon questioning, she indicated that the people who raped her were, according to her, members of ULIMO.

She confirmed that it took more than three years to find her mother in Sierra Leone. When asked about her relationship with her father, she stated that DN was a present and loving father. She also confirmed that she was determined to see justice done, although it was difficult to stir up such memories.

Civil party questions AN:

When asked about the impact of her father’s death on her life, AN stated that she had many problems and that she still found it difficult to talk about them. She insisted on her need to obtain justice.

Prosecution questions AN:

At the request of the General Counsel, AN produced a photo of her father that was projected in the courtroom.

When asked why she fled into the bush when ULIMO arrived, AN explained that she fled because of the killings.

There were no questions from the defense.

Hearing of DFB as a witness called by the prosecution

DFB confirmed that he was DN’s ex-brother-in-law and AN’s uncle. He explained that on 1 August 1993, ULIMO soldiers found him in a nearby village. The next day, they brought him and others to Foya. When they arrived, others were already there, including Ugly Boy, and a meeting was called. DFB said that if anyone was named at the meeting, they would be killed. Ugly Boy searched DFB and other individuals and took them to a location where they were forced to stay. He explained that members of ULIMO identified them for killing and visited specific locations in the village, including schools, the power plant, and other places where important people were located. [The prosecutor pointed out shortcomings in the translation of the witness’s words, including mentioning the Borma Mission.]

DFB said that when the ULIMO soldiers visited these places, they captured DN and then tied him up and locked him in a house in the village. DFB said that it was impossible for him to visit DN because he could be caught and forced to walk long distances to carry heavy things. A child from the village had been given the task of regularly checking on DN and bringing him food, up to three times a day. One day, the child reported to DFB that DN had been taken to the airstrip and had been murdered.

DFB explained that he and people from the village had searched for DN’s body to bury it, but to no avail. Finally, a girl from the village went to DFB’s wife and told her that she had found the body near Ugly Boy’s house. DFB asked his wife to check if it was indeed DN’s body. DFB indicated that the body was beginning to smell and that he had requested permission to bury it.

DFB found his brother-in-law’s body “tied up and lying on his back”. He attempted to cut the wires that were restraining DN, dug a hole, and requested that DN’s clothes be brought to him. DFB reported that the person there began to threaten him. He then rushed to dress DN and bury him.

The Court questions DFB:

DFB confirmed that these were the ULIMO troops who were in Foya at the time of the events in 1993. When asked about the names of other ULIMO leaders he knew besides Ugly Boy, DFB mentioned the name Mami Wata and confirmed that he remembered C.O. Kundi.

On questioning, he said that he was taken to the old police station, which he knew as S2 during the war, and that all the police officers had fled. Each person had to go there and give their name. 

When asked about his statements that he passed food to DN through a child while DN was being held captive by ULIMO, DFB maintained that DN had been held for several days before he was killed. DFB also confirmed that the child had been able to communicate with him during his visits. He said that he trusted the child and did not question his version of events.

The President then expressed surprise that DFB had indicated that he had found DN’s body in a rotten state, although he had apparently died on the third day of his detention. DFB said that there were flies, but that the smell was not unbearable.

When asked to describe the condition of the body when it was found, DFB said that DN had wounds all over his body, including a long wound on his chest, and that his arms were tied behind his back. He said he could not see if DN’s heart was still in his chest because the flesh was swollen. He stated that he was able to unequivocally identify his brother-in-law’s body. DFB confirmed that a ULIMO soldier was present at the funeral to watch DFB and his friends. The soldier became impatient when DFB tried to re-clothe DN, so DFB had to settle for placing the clothes on DN’s body before covering it with dirt. DFB stated that the body was still buried in the same location near the Palava Hut.

When asked about his sister, DFB said he did not know if she had seen her husband’s body, since everyone hid in the bush when ULIMO troops arrived. He said he found his sister in Guinea, where he stayed until 1997.

When asked about his own abuse, DFB spoke of the fear of ULIMO in his neighborhood. He said that ULIMO soldiers would catch him and other villagers and force them to take machinery and other heavy loads to Guinea where ULIMO was trading.

When asked about other crimes he witnessed, DFB recounted the meetings organized by ULIMO, in which designated people were murdered and cut into pieces “like animals are cut. The pieces were then put in wheelbarrows to be distributed to the population. DFB said that when a meeting was called, bodies were to be expected the next day. When asked who was responsible for the atrocities, DFB mentioned Ugly Boy, whom the villagers nicknamed Saah Chuey because he always carried an axe.

When asked about the motivations of the ULIMO, DFB said that the abuses were committed in the spirit of revenge against the NPFL and that, since some people had joined the NPFL, the ULIMO considered that everyone was affected.

DFB also mentioned the checkpoints at the entrances to the village, where passers-by were forced to salute decapitated heads placed on pikes, and the forced marches during which those who said they were tired were executed. Finally, he mentioned the execution of TK, who was considered a traitor by ULIMO because he failed to convince the young men to return to town.

The civil party questions DFB:

On questioning, DFB stated that during the meetings, some inhabitants of Foya were accused of being members of the NPFL and were killed. According to DFB, Kissi ethnicity was not a factor in the killings, since some members of ULIMO were Kissi. He said that there were Kissi in both ULIMO and NPFL and that some civilians joined ULIMO voluntarily while others were forced.

When asked about the destination of the forced marches, DFB mentioned the Makona River and Guéckédou. He also confirmed that he had heard of Solomba.

Regarding the cables that were obstructing DN, he stated that they were iron electric cables and confirmed that he had not managed to cut them under the pressure of the impatient ULIMO soldier.

The Public Ministry questions DFB:

When asked about the curfew instituted by ULIMO, DFB said that the curfew started at 4pm and lasted until 10am. During the curfew, soldiers would patrol to kill any civilian who did not respect the curfew. The General Counsel then read a passage from an article published in The Inquirer newspaper about the summary executions of civilians who violated the curfew and the fact that Foya was considered a no-man’s-land by the ULIMO.

Asked to elaborate on the S2 office, DFB said that all civilians caught in the bush had to go there to be searched and questioned by ULIMO officials.

When asked about his sister’s statement that when they arrived, ULIMO troops gathered the population to reassure them that everything was going to be okay, DFB confirmed that this was what ULIMO was saying, but that in reality things were not going well. He also said that he frequently hid in the bush from ULIMO and said that everyone was afraid of people carrying weapons. He said that he did not join an armed group during the first civil war, but that he took care of his parents and went to school.

When asked about C.O. Kundi, DFB said he had heard his name but had never seen it with his own eyes at the time.

When asked about the transport of goods, he said that the forced marches were ordered by the ULIMO soldiers and that the villagers who were requisitioned were not paid to do the transport.

Defense questions DFB:

When asked about the course of events when the NPFL arrived, DFB said that NPFL soldiers asked civilians to put a red cloth around their arms, which was a sign of belonging to the Samuel Doe government. He added that he had seen two people killed after being accused of witchcraft.

When asked by the prosecutor about Kundi’s involvement in the torture of DN, DFB said that the child in charge of bringing food to DN told him that Kundi had freed DN. However, DFB understood that DN had not been released, but had been killed, since he had not returned home.

Hearing of TFT as a witness called by the prosecution

Before giving the floor to TFT, the President stated that TFT had been heard by Patrick J. Massaly on April 26, 2019 in the framework of the international rogatory commission issued by the French authorities. TFT was born on May 14, 1966 and is a farmer. He confirmed that he is the son of the former head of Foya, TT, and spokesperson for Global Justice.

TFT began by saying that for the Liberian people, human dignity and human rights had been lost, but that being able to testify in this trial was “bringing back [his] happiness. He then recounted the arrival of ULIMO troops in Foya and his escape into the bush. Some of his friends planned to go to the border with Sierra Leone, but he did not want to leave his mother alone, so he planned to move to a nearby village. Two days later, he saw people coming into the town with weapons and ordering people to go to Foya. This group was led by Ugly Boy, whose real name was Talata Sheriff. On the way, he reported seeing five dead bodies, one of which he recognized.

In Foya, meetings were held every day at the ULIMO headquarters. At the first meeting, two brothers were forced to eat soup made from human flesh. At the second meeting, TFT’s uncle was beaten to death. In two days, TFT reported losing four people he cared about. He also mentioned young women who had been killed by Chinese Killer because of their alleged links to NPFL soldiers.

He also recounted the killing of nine people, four rebels and five civilians, in front of a mosque and explained that the bodies were then put in wheelbarrows with “Meat for sale” signs. TFT said that some ULIMO soldiers were not without empathy, however, as one prevented another soldier from forcing TFT to fix a radio.

TFT then explained that in the weeks following ULIMO’s arrival, Kunti Kamara wanted to force TT to return. To do so, a group of ULIMO soldiers went looking for him with TFT, along with four other people from TT’s family. He said the group included Kunti Kamara, Thompson, Johnson, Lion and Mountain. It was during this expedition that TFT’s older brother was allegedly killed on Kunti Kamara’s orders. TFT also saw a ULIMO soldier named Rambo kill an old man along the way. He also reported seeing heads stuck on spikes at the entrance to the villages. TFT said that he was deeply affected by the atrocities he witnessed and said that it would take days to tell the story of all the crimes committed by ULIMO.

At the end of his testimony, the president pointed out that some of the acts described by TFT had not been prosecuted due to the lack of evidence to characterize them.

The Court questions TFT:

Upon questioning by the President, TFT stated that his father TT was the leader of the entire Kissi community. The President stated that TT was a member of the State Council and summarized TFT’s testimony by stating that TT fled into the bush when ULIMO arrived and that the armed group then asked his sons to go and get him to return. TFT confirmed that this was when one of his brothers was killed by Prince Thompson, on the orders of Kunti Kamara.

When asked about his previous statements that Kunti Kamara had killed an old man, TFT confirmed that an old man had been killed earlier by Kunti Kamara and that he had been an eyewitness to the killing of another old man by Rambo.

The President then asked TFT about his uncle OP who was allegedly in prison at the same time as DN. TFT said that he was not present at the time of DN’s arrest, but that he lived with his uncle and that his uncle had indeed reported to him that DN had been arrested while he had given money to the soldiers to be released.

On questioning by the President, TFT said that Kunti Kamara had between 4 and 6 bodyguards, aged between 14 and 17, one of whom called himself Saddam Hussein. He added that Kunti Kamara was about 30 years old at the time of the events, which did not correspond to his previous statements. When questioned by the President, TFT indicated that he formally recognized Kunti Kamara in the dock.

Upon questioning by the President, TFT finally confirmed that he had taken the confidences of FG regarding the murder of KT.

The prosecution questions TFT:

Upon questioning, TFT stated that the ULIMO headquarters was located in the middle of the city of Foya and mentioned the names of several ULIMO commanders that he had heard of including Deku, Kosiah, Talata Sheriff aka Ugly Boy, Prince Thompson, Fofanah, Kunti Kamara. He confirmed that he has heard of Jungle Jabbah and Mami Wata. He also confirmed that ULIMO members wore uniforms, especially those in high places, and that they also carried weapons.

When asked about a certain EP, TFT said that after TT’s escape, it was EP who took over speaking for the civilians.

Asked to describe how ULIMO treated civilians, TFT said that civilians were forced to carry loads across the border, including the generator at the Foya power plant. Asked about Kunti Kamara’s role, TFT said he was equipped in the traditional way and had a high rank because he “commanded the troops wherever he went.

Asked to address Kunti Kamara, TFT turned to the dock and said, “It is time for justice to be done for all the acts you committed in Foya so that people can be at peace.

The Public Ministry questions TFT:

Upon questioning by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, TFT repeated that the police had left Foya and that ULIMO controlled everything. He also affirmed that he had never taken up arms.

When asked about the electricity generator in the town of Foya, TFT said that the ULIMO generals were there and that civilians had to help them. He said he had witnessed the scene. He then added that Fofana forced him to carry things to the border.

When asked about the treatment of women, TFT said that women were taken from their husbands and given to soldiers.

Defense questions TFT:

Upon questioning, TFT stated that he was a battery-operated radio repairman at the time and that he continued to operate under the ULIMO occupation.

When asked about the murder of his brother, TFT said that he had not heard Kunti Kamara give the order to shoot his brother, but that he had seen him.

Questioned about his April 26, 2019 hearing by Commissioner Patrick J. Massaly, TFT confirmed that he was asked to identify Kunti Kamara on a photo board with three people. The defense attorney noted that the minutes of the hearing did not mention a photographic board. According to the defense, the first identification of the accused by the witness had therefore taken place that day in court.

When asked about the electrical generator in Foya, TFT stated that before ULIMO, there was the NPFL and that everything was fine as far as electricity was concerned. The President then addressed Kunti Kamara and asked him if he knew TFT. The accused swore on the Koran that he did not know him and that he had never met him. When questioned by the president about the expedition into the bush to search for TT, Kunti Kamara admitted that he had participated without being the leader and gave his own version of how the expedition was carried out.

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