[10/24/2022] Day 11: Tabey
LSM hearing as a civil party
LSM stated that he was born on 22 April 1972 in Monrovia and that he was a private security officer. Before giving him the floor, the President said that LSM was heard by the Swiss Federal Prosecutor on 28 January 2016 and then by the Investigating Judge Raffray on 7 January 2020 as part of the judicial information procedure. He was then confronted by SS before the investigating judge on 13 January 2020.
LSM began his spontaneous statement by thanking the Court for allowing him to be present. He recounted that because of the war, his family had been displaced to Kolahun on a Red Cross mission. Because they were short of food, his mother sent him to his aunt’s farm in Foya. They stayed there for two nights and then people came to meet them and told them not to go to Foya. As a result, ULIMO troops invaded nearby villages, including the one where they were staying, and rounded up the people and sent them to Foya. LSM explained that the ULIMO soldiers separated them into three lines, men, women and children, and examined the personal situation of each. LSM was placed on the side with six other people, including two of his cousins. They were accused by the ULIMO troops of being rebels, although they told them they were students.
The soldiers took them to the S2 office near the airstrip and the market. Once there, Alieu Kosiah ordered Kundi to perform tabé on each of them. While the soldiers were tying them up, LSM did not remain silent: he shouted that they were not rebels and that they were innocent. Alieu Kosiah then ordered Kundi to tell his soldiers to grab LSM by the legs and drag him on the ground for a long distance. LSM said that he started bleeding and his skin was tearing as he was dragged along the ground. He felt a lot of pain when he was dragged back to the original location, but continued to say that they were not rebels.
LSM then said that the soldiers took a large stone and smashed the head of one of the other six men. LSM was terrified and closed his eyes. He heard screams, then the screams stopped and there was a moment of silence. When he opened his eyes again, he saw a pool of blood on the ground, but no one was there. Deku came and told the soldiers that they should not treat people this way.
LSM showed the court and the parties his scar on his back. He explained that he had been pulled from side to side by Kundi on his right and Kosiah on his left, while he was tabbed. Suddenly his bonds came off and he was stabbed in the back. On questioning by the President, LSM indicated that he did not know who had inflicted the wound.
When Deku arrived, LSM was taken to the S2 office and questioned before being taken home to be treated by his cousin, a nurse. He said that he had to go to the S2 office every morning to clean and returned at night for treatment. After two weeks, when his wounds were beginning to heal, the S2 people requisitioned him and other civilians to carry coffee to Solomba. LSM said that he was forced to carry coffee on his head to the border and that after the soldiers finished their business, they took them back to Foya.
LSM then recounted that on the advice of his cousin, he and his fiancée left Foya to travel to Tubmanburg for safety. On the way, they got into the pick-up truck of an American company involved in the timber trade. In Tubmanburg, LSM was recruited by ULIMO and underwent three months of military training before being sent to Foya. He stated that he was assigned to a Major Krahn and that there was also another major named Jackson.
The next day, Jackson ordered LSM to escort a convoy to Solomba and went to pick up civilians in the town. According to LSM, there was coffee, cocoa, a generator and a large truck with no engine for the civilians to push. There was also another small truck belonging to TT that had to be pushed. According to LSM, the convoy was long, there were many civilians and everyone was present, including CO Kosiah, Deku and the men of S2. Kundi was also present according to him, but he did not see him.
LSM stated that he was a soldier and was not afraid of anything, whereas on his first forced march he had been afraid because he was beaten by the soldiers when he did not walk fast enough. He added that as a soldier he had made friends with the civilians, as he was a civilian himself before. He related that Kosiah had a bodyguard who executed a civilian who complained of being tired during the forced march. LSM reported this execution to Jackson and Jackson told him to keep quiet and assured him that he would report back to Foya.
In Solomba, LSM was responsible for accompanying the civilians to the place where the goods were to be dropped off and for keeping an eye on them to ensure that they remained safe as the NPFL was fighting in the bush. According to LSM, Major Jackson returned from Guinea with bread which he shared with the civilians. They then returned to Foya and escorted the civilians home.
LSM went on to say that one morning they had received information about an attack in Zorzor. Kosiah had taken men to fight in Zorzor and had informed Mami Wata that her brother had been killed at the front. They called the day “Black Friday”. LSM said Ugly Boy lived near his home and Mami Wata was at Kolahun Road. Following this news, Mami Wata killed and took human hearts. LSM went to the checkpoint where he saw his cousin’s body. He stated that Ugly Boy could kill someone, take their heart, cook it and eat it. He added that Deku was angry because he did not like that kind of thing, and that CO Jackson was also angry at Mami Wata and Ugly Boy. LSM said, “That’s the day we used to call Black Friday in Foya, ask anybody. If you hear Black Friday, that is the day they killed a lot of civilians. Every time I think of that day, I cry because they killed my aunt’s son and ate his heart.
LSM ended his spontaneous statement by saying that when Kosiah went to Zorzor, he stayed there for a long time and they were informed of the split between the Mandingo and the Krahn. Since he was assigned to a Krahn commander, LSM got scared and decided to flee to Sierra Leone to save his life. For him, the war was over.
Court questions LSM:
The Chair asked LSM for some details about his personal circumstances at the time and his capture at the farm. LSM confirmed that he was about 20 years old in 1992 and indicated that he was a student living with his parents. He stated that he went to his aunt’s farm to get food. He also confirmed that he was captured at his aunt’s farm and brought back to Foya with seven other people, including two of his cousins and four other boys from the village. He said he was the oldest of the seven. When asked about the ethnicity of the other boys, LSM said he did not know. Asked if there were any rebels in the group of people arrested by ULIMO, LSM said he did not know, but that he had not seen these people with weapons.
The President then asked LSM about the time he was brought back to Foya and in particular whether he remembered a well. LSM confirmed that all seven of them had been subjected to the tabé in the vicinity of the well. He added that all seven of them were on the ground and that one of them had been hit on the head. As for him, he was bleeding and was taken away for treatment.
The President recalled that during his hearing before the Swiss authorities, LSM indicated that he was dragged for 60m on the way out and 60m on the way back, a total distance of 120m, which LSM confirmed. On questioning, LSM said he was dragged by Kundi and another soldier on the orders of Alieu Kosiah. When asked why he was subjected to such treatment, LSM said it was because he had become the spokesperson of the group saying that they were not rebels.
The President reminded LSM that during his hearing before the Swiss authorities, he stated that he had closed his eyes, then heard screams and a gunshot. The Chairperson noted that today LSM did not mention a gunshot. He stated that he had closed his eyes when the soldiers started hitting the head of one of them and that he heard gunshots. When he opened his eyes again, he saw blood.
Asked why he was spared while the others were killed, LSM said only God could tell. The Chairman asked him if he was bigger and more muscular than the others and LSM said he only knew his two cousins and he never kept quiet.
When asked about Deku’s intervention, LSM clarified that he thought Deku was the great commander in Foya and confirmed that he was not happy with what he had seen. He added that an argument broke out between Deku, Kosiah and Kundi and that Deku took him to the S2 office.
When asked about the stab wound in his back, LSM explained that Deku was arguing with the others and ordered them to cut his bonds. It was then that he felt the stab in his back while Kundi was on his left and Kosiah on his right. The President asked LSM if the stabbing was intentional or if it was done when the bonds were cut. LSM replied, “It could be that, but they really wanted me dead”. He further confirmed that they could have killed him with the other six.
When asked about the S2 office, LSM explained that it was a liaison office between soldiers and civilians. This office was under the control of Major Commander Deku. When asked about Fine Boy, LSM stated that Fine Boy wrote the reports and was the commander of S2. Asked about the relationship between Fine Boy and his cousin, he said that Fine Boy was his cousin’s fiancé, as everyone was looking for someone to protect them. The President then asked him if he was spared because of the fact that his cousin was engaged to Fine Boy. LSM replied that Fine Boy was a non-commissioned officer and that he rather thought that it was Deku who had protected him, pointing out that the whole territory was under his authority.
The President then returned to his statements that he was cleaning the S2 office after his convalescence. In this regard, LSM clarified that since he was suspected of being a rebel, he cleaned and washed clothes every morning.
When asked about the forced marches, LSM said the soldiers asked civilians to carry goods to the border when they received orders from headquarters. According to him, these marches took place two to three times a week.
On questioning, LSM said that a period of 4 months had elapsed between the tabé incident he recounted and his recruitment into ULIMO. Asked about the forced march he escorted, LSM said he had a gun and that ULIMO looted parts of the Foya power plant, including extracting some parts of the “Blackstone” machine. According to him, the ULIMO also took bags of cocoa from a cocoa warehouse located in Foya. On questioning, he confirmed that a bodyguard of Kosiah killed a civilian who was tired. He said the bodyguard put the civilian on the side of the road and shot him in the head. Regarding the commanders present at the convoy, LSM said all the commanders were in the back and the soldiers in the front. He added that he went to the back of the convoy to warn Jackson about the execution of the civilian by Alieu Kosiah’s bodyguard and that Jackson told him he would report the incident, but he did not do so.
When asked about his statements during his previous hearings in which he saw a wheelbarrow full of human bodies, LSM said it was Black Friday and stated, “We had two mass killers in Foya: Ugly Boy and Mami Wata. They are the ones who committed this genocide. Asked if they were capable of cutting up human bodies, LSM said it was common. He added that Ugly Boy was also nicknamed Saah Chuey and that he could extract the heart. He said of Ugly Boy, “If you were on good terms with him and he invited you to his house, you didn’t know that you were eating a human heart. That was the only part of the human body he was eating.
The President then returned to the death of LSM’s cousin and asked him if he had seen his cousin’s body with his heart ripped out. LSM said that he had not seen his cousin’s death, but had been told that he had been killed. When he arrived at the scene, he found his cousin’s body lying on his back with no heart. The President asked him if he had seen any bodies with open chests. LSM said, “All the bodies lying on the ground on their backs, you could tell that their hearts had been removed.
On questioning, LSM confirmed that he had been frightened during the ULIMO split and said that he had been targeted because he had opposed the death of his cousin. He also confirmed that he had gone to Sierra Leone and had not seen the commanders he had mentioned earlier. On questioning, he said that Kundi and Kosiah behaved “very badly” when he was a ULIMO soldier.
When asked how he felt about that period, he said that he felt very bad every time he thought about it and that his aunt had not lived long. When asked why he decided to file a civil suit, LSM said he could not rest because he was dreaming about his cousin and needed justice.
An assessor judge then returned to the question of temporality, stating that LSM had spent a month in convalescence after being beaten up, and then had completed 3 months of military training. Asked whether Kundi was still there when LSM joined ULIMO as a soldier, LSM replied that Kundi was there when he was beaten up. He then explained that Kundi was based in Foya as a commander at the front and that Kosiah went back and forth. The Assessor Judge then asked him if he had seen Kundi when he was a ULIMO soldier. LSM replied that they were on the frontline towards Solomba, while he [LSM] was in Foya Tenga.
On questioning by the assessor judge, LSM said he started school late and was in grade 6ème at the time, when he was about 20 years old. He said his father worked in a hotel in Monrovia and his mother was a shopkeeper, so they had a decent standard of living. Asked why ULIMO considered him a rebel, LSM said it was because ULIMO was fighting the NPFL rebels who fled into the bush.
When asked about the type of weapons he learned to handle during his training at ULIMO, LSM said he learned to use AK47s, RPGs and other weapons. On questioning, he said the camp was in Tubmanburg. When asked about the content of the training and in particular whether the purpose of the war was explained to him, LSM replied that he was told that ULIMO was defending the people against the NPFL. On the treatment of civilians, he said that he was instructed not to kill the rebel leader if he was captured and to be friendly with the civilians, so that they would inform them of the dangers and avoid ambushes. On questioning, he said that he had been made aware of the penalties, such as imprisonment, for bad behaviour. Asked if it was common for a commander to hit his soldiers when they did not follow instructions, LSM replied that a soldier did not hit another soldier, but could imprison him. Asked how rape of civilians was punished, LSM said it was part of the code of conduct. He added that if the rapes were committed in the bush, it was not a problem. However, soldiers who committed rape in Tubmanburg were punished because they were identified. According to him, the soldiers who committed rape were imprisoned. Those who killed were put in prison for three or four months. He said that two crimes were serious: rape and shooting a soldier. In both cases, the perpetrators could be imprisoned. He added that it was during his military training that he learned this.
The President then returned to LSM’s hearing by Swiss authorities in 2016 in which he refused to be confronted by Alieu Kosiah, but saw him through a screen. LSM said investigators wanted to see if he recognized Kosiah and presented him with black and white photos. He said he described Kosiah, especially his eyes because eyes do not change, before he was shown the photos. He said that both when he was shown the pictures and when he saw Kosiah through the glass, he recognized him.
The President said that LSM had recognised Kunti Kamara in the photo board at his hearing and asked him if he recognised him today in the dock. LSM confirmed that he recognised Kundi and said that the last time he had seen him in Bellinzona he was bigger.
The prosecution questions LSM:
The prosecuting counsel asked LSM if he knew who was leading the NPFL before ULIMO arrived in Foya and LSM replied that he did not know because he was in Kolahun. On questioning, he confirmed that he had heard of General Fayah.
Asked why he thought Kundi was Alieu Kosiah’s special bodyguard the first time he met him, he said that as a civilian at the time, he could not distinguish between bodyguard and special bodyguard. Civil party counsel then asked him why he thought Kundi was assigned to Kosiah and LSM stated that when Kosiah gave orders, Kundi carried them out.
When asked about the fate of the other six civilians, LSM said he was told that all six were killed and thrown into a well, which was later closed by villagers because of the smell and flies.
When asked about the forced march he made as a soldier, LSM confirmed that it took place during the rainy season. He said the convoy was very large and crowded. He also confirmed that some civilians had to push trucks without engines and others had to carry things on their heads. On questioning, LSM admitted that it was possible that, because he was at the back of the convoy, he could not see Kundi who was at the front. He further stated that the march started at the S2 office, not at the power plant, and that the goods were transported across the border by canoe and ferry. He stated that his mission was to protect civilians and that he was not involved in moving goods across the border. When asked about the ferry he had just mentioned, LSM said that there were empty drums on the ferry and that boards were placed on top of the drums.
When asked about Kundi’s home in Foya, LSM replied that Kundi had a home in Foya, but that he did not know where it was. All he knew was that Kundi was at the front.
When asked whether ULIMO soldiers wore wigs and masks, LSM replied that soldiers wore wigs and that when they went to the front they had to dress up. He said that not everyone dressed up, but it was to avoid being identified. On questioning, he said that on the day he was subjected to the tabé, Kundi was not wearing a wig or a mask.
The civil parties’ lawyer then returned to the hearing of LSM by the French investigating judge in Monrovia, which obviously did not go well. LSM stated that he was working at night and wanted to go and rest, but the judge was asking him questions. The civil parties’ lawyer said this was likely to explain the problems of understanding, which LSM confirmed.
Asked if he had been threatened after testifying against Alieu Kosiah, LSM agreed and said he had been attacked. A tooth was broken and his phone, passport and clothes were stolen, which led him to file a complaint.
Prosecution questions LSM:
Asked to confirm his statement before the Swiss authorities that he and the other civilians were captured by ULIMO to be taken to Foya and made to work for them, LSM said that when Foya was captured, the civilians fled and the ULIMO soldiers went to look for them in the bush, because civilians are important in a war. The General Counsel read out statements from LSM that the soldiers went to the bush to get the civilians and bring them back to Foya and make them work for them, cleaning, cooking, threshing rice. LSM said that without the civilians, the military could not live and that he himself had been captured as a civilian and had become a soldier because of the abuse.
When asked about the existence of passes and a curfew, LSM said that the passes were used to identify civilians and distinguish them from rebels. Regarding the curfew, he said that no one could go out during the curfew and that if someone, other than a soldier, was out after 5-6 p.m., he was not safe.
When asked about his first encounter with Kundi, LSM said that when he was brought to Foya, he was taken to the S2 office and then to the market. It was there that he heard his name was Kundi. He confirmed that he first saw him just before he was subjected to the tabé.
On questioning, LSM said that Kundi commanded a platoon of about 36 men and that when he was not at the front, he had at least three bodyguards and RTOs aged between 10 and 16 with him. LSM added that a commander never walked alone. The General Counsel asked LSM if he remembered the names of the soldiers under Kundi’s command, including Saddam and Babylon. He replied that he had heard of Saddam and Babylon, but that he was not close to them.
When asked about his last meeting with Kundi, LSM said he last saw him in Zorzor when Alieu Kosiah had requested reinforcements from Foya.
The General Counsel then recalled LSM’s statements to the Swiss authorities that he may have been bayoneted when Kundi and Kosiah were standing behind him. Photographs were shown to him by the General Counsel and LSM identified the bayonet of an AK47 as the weapon used to stab him in the back.
When asked to confirm his statements that the vehicles pushed by civilians during the forced marches were without engines so as not to alert the NPFL soldiers, he confirmed them. On questioning, LSM indicated that he did not know the exact number of civilians and ULIMO soldiers present during these marches. When asked about the chants and threats made during the marches, LSM stated that the only phrase he heard was “Till go” and that the chants were intended to motivate the soldiers.
The General Counsel returned to the execution of a civilian at a march mentioned by LSM and asked him whether he had told Deku about it and whether the perpetrator had been sanctioned. LSM replied that no sanction had been taken and that Foya was a front, so it was possible to kill someone without anyone knowing.
Defense questions LSM:
The defense counsel asked LSM whether Alieu Kosiah had ordered Kundi to tie him up and drag him, which LSM confirmed. The defense counsel was surprised by this answer because before the Swiss authorities, LSM had stated that he did not know who tied him up and dragged him as many soldiers were present. LSM replied that Kosiah had given the order and that when he was dragged, Kundi was there.
The President said that during his hearing in 2015, LSM had said that it was Kundi who dragged him by his legs. According to the defense counsel, LSM’s statements are contradictory as he said during his last hearing before the Swiss authorities that it was neither Kosiah nor Kundi who dragged him. The General Counsel and the Counsel for the Civil Parties disagreed with this statement, citing other passages from LSM’s hearing, in which LSM stated, inter alia, that it was Kosiah who had given the order to Kundi and that Kundi had ensured that it was carried out. As for LSM, he reiterated that he had been beaten and dragged and that the other six had been executed. He stated that the perpetrator was the commander who gave the order and that Kundi had carried out Kosiah’s order with the other soldiers. Asked why Kosiah did not give the order directly to the soldiers, LSM said Kosiah gave the order to Kundi who then gave the order to the other soldiers.
He was then questioned by defence counsel about his injuries. The defence lawyer expressed surprise that LSM did not indicate that he had sustained injuries to his arms, although such injuries should have been induced by his position (staggered) when he was dragged. His back should have been protected and his forearms should have been injured, according to the defence lawyer. LSM replied that he had been stabbed in the back and that his arms were still sore.
Defence counsel then noted that LSM had not seen the other six men being executed or where their bodies had been dumped, so he had assumed that they had been thrown into the well. LSM responded that civilians witnessed the execution and told him that the soldiers had dumped the bodies in the well.
Upon questioning, LSM confirmed that he had joined ULIMO for his safety on the advice of his cousin. The defence counsel then noted that during his hearing before the Swiss authorities, LSM stated that it was Fine Boy who had advised him to join ULIMO, whereas Fine Boy had told the Swiss authorities that he did not know LSM. He retorted that Fine Boy was part of the Strike Force battalion in Voinjama and that he would never implicate Kosiah and Kundi. He added that he could not force Fine Boy to say that they knew each other, but that they did. Defense counsel countered that Fine Boy was not under anyone’s orders when he testified in Switzerland and that LSM had tailored his testimony to Fine Boy’s statements to the Swiss authorities. LSM countered that he had said that Fine Boy and his cousin were discussing whether he should join the ULIMO.
When asked about his position in the convoy during the forced march of the generator, LSM stated that the commanders were at the rear and he patrolled between the front and the rear. He also confirmed that he took the civilians back to Foya at the end of the march. The defence counsel expressed surprise that LSM did not see Kundi when he had been walking back and forth between the front and the rear of the convoy. She said that this may have meant that Kundi was not there. LSM stated that he had not been looking for Kundi and that he had been told that Kundi was in the convoy. Upon questioning, he confirmed that he had not seen Kundi.
The defense lawyer then questioned LSM’s role in protecting civilians, when in the last two weeks of hearings, the witnesses testified that ULIMO soldiers were attacking civilians. LSM said not all soldiers behave the same way and that despite the war, he has sympathy for all Liberians and does not condone any Liberian being mistreated. He added that he shared food with civilians and that civilians gave him money to buy things for them.
The defence counsel pointed out that during the march, LSM had not helped the civilians, but had ensured that they carried the goods to the border, and that in sum he had done the same thing as Kundi. LSM countered that he had not hit the civilians with his gun and that he had allowed them to drink. He added that he had not carried out orders which he considered harmful to civilians.
On questioning, LSM confirmed that he had seen Kundi several times after he was tabbed. Defense counsel then confronted LSM with his previous statements in 2015 when he claimed he did not see Kundi again after the tabé incident in Foya. He explained that he no longer felt threatened by Kundi and did not seek to see him, but that people had told him that he was assigned to Foya.
The defence counsel then asked LSM to confirm that if a person’s body was found cut open from behind, it meant that the heart had been removed. LSM stated, “When a light-skinned person’s body was lying on its back, they had removed the heart from the back.” The President intervened and asked him how it was possible to open the back if the person was stoned. According to LSM, if a person still had his hands tied, his heart had not been removed, but if a person had his back open, his heart had been removed.
Presentation of exhibits and documents from the file.
The President presented black and white photographs of the scar on LSM’s back.
* * *
The defence counsel informed the President that she had filed incidental submissions concerning the statute of limitations for all the offences, with the exception of the offence of crimes against humanity. Counsel for the civil parties replied that these issues had already been addressed during the investigation. The defence counsel stated that the submissions on the statute of limitations could be raised in any event and the President confirmed that they were admissible in form. The President informed the defence counsel that the pleadings would be heard the following day at 9.30 a.m., in order to allow the parties to take cognizance of the incident.
Hearing of SS as a witness called by the prosecution (video conference)
Upon questioning by the President, SS stated that she could not remember her date of birth and that she was a Liberian national. She confirmed that she was domiciled in Lofa and that she knew Kunti Kamara, but was not related to him or related by marriage.
SS began her spontaneous statement by indicating that in 1993 ULIMO was in Lofa. She was taken to Kolahun with other people. She explained that the ULIMO had taken all the women in Foya as wives and that wherever they went, they took everything. On one occasion, Kundi passed by her house. She said that he tied and beat people before putting them in a well. SS added that the ULIMOs would ask young men to join the faction to fight alongside them. She then said: “While they were talking, they took other people and threw them into the well. I was hiding, but I thought it could have been me. They had heads in their hands.
The Court questions SS :
On questioning, SS confirmed that she was in the Lofa when she was captured and taken to Kolahun and then brought to Foya. Asked whether she herself had been taken as a wife, SS agreed and said that the soldier who had taken her as a wife, a man named Fan, had died during the war.
The President then stated that SS told the investigating judge on 7 January 2020 that she was Fine Boy’s housekeeper and cook, which SS confirmed. The President asked SS if LSM’s cousin was with Fine Boy and SS replied, “We weren’t with them all the time. We weren’t going anywhere. On questioning, she said that she was not paid to do the job and that they were not giving them anything. She added, “They would cut people into pieces and we would cook them. They forced us to eat them. When asked about this, SS confirmed that she had seen Fine Boy and Ugly Boy cutting people into pieces. The President indicated that this was indeed what SS had stated before the investigating judge.
When asked how many times she had seen CO Kundi bringing men back and tabing them, SS replied that they had killed several times and that she had seen people being killed and thrown into the pit. The President said that before the investigating judge, SS spoke of 8 men being tied up in tabé and dragged to the market near the Palava Hut. Upon questioning, SS confirmed that there was a well near the Palava Hut, “down the market way”. When asked how far away she was from the scene, she stated that she was not far away. She confirmed that she had been hiding in the house where she lived and said that she was with a girlfriend who has since passed away.
When asked about what she saw, SS explained that men had been pulled to the ground and were tied at the feet, legs and hands so that they could not move. She mimed the tabé position. The President asked her if these men had been killed in front of her. SS said that they were shot before they were put in the well.
She then confirmed that one of the men had been spared and indicated that he was muscular and strong. She added that one of the commanders had said that he was a good candidate to join ULIMO, but she did not know whether the man in question had joined ULIMO or not. On questioning, SS said that she did not know the man’s name and indicated that he was tall and not light-skinned.
When asked about CO Kundi, she explained that he was present and had given orders to his soldiers, which they had carried out. She confirmed that she knew Kundi and that she had seen him in Foya. The President said that a photographic plate had been presented to her and that she had identified Kunti Kamara. On questioning, SS confirmed that she had seen Kundi after the event, as they lived in the same community. She said that Kundi’s house was upstairs while hers was downstairs and that he had to pass her house to go to his house.
On questioning, SS confirmed that she recalled being heard by the investigating judge and confronted by LSM. The President stated that the investigating judge asked SS about LSM’s injury. The President asked SS if she remembered if the muscle man had been stabbed in the back. SS nodded. On questioning, she stated that it was CO Kundi who had stabbed LSM. The President asked her to confirm that she had seen Kundi do the stabbing. SS stated that she had left when they were talking and therefore she had not seen.
The President then stated that SS said that Fine Boy’s girlfriend was named Sia. SS stated that Sia was the name of a woman who lived with Fine Boy. When asked about her previous statements that Sia was now living in the United States, SS said she did not know, but had heard the name Sia.
When asked about the attire of the ULIMO commanders, including whether they wore wigs or uniforms, SS indicated that they wore khaki green uniforms.
The prosecution did not have any questions. Neither did the prosecution.
Defense questions SS:
On questioning, SS indicated that she was 40 years old. The defence lawyer asked her how she knew her age, when she did not know her date of birth. SS replied that her aunt had told her her age. When asked about her age at the time of the crime, SS estimated that she was 14 or 15 years old. The defence lawyer said that when she did the math, SS was more like 11 and asked if her recollection was clear. SS replied that she was not a little girl at the time because she had breasts.
Asked to describe Kunti Kamara, SS said he was small and cross-eyed.
When asked about the facts, she explained that the men were all tied up and that only one survived, but he was bleeding. She added that the soldiers were arguing about what to do with the survivor and that she had left at that point. The defence lawyer asked SS how she managed to understand what they were saying and SS replied that they sometimes spoke in English.
Defence counsel then noted that Fine Boy had told the Swiss authorities that he did not know SS. SS stated that she went to their house and knew him. She added that he had an afro and that he forced her to cook human body parts.
When asked about the location of the well, SS said that the well was in front of the Palava Hut and that the market was on the other side. Asked whether she had seen LSM again after the event, she said she did not know him and that he was tall and black. She said on question that she had not seen him after the war either.
Defense counsel then stated that during her confrontation with LSM, the investigating judge asked SS how she knew that Kundi did the stabbing and not Kosiah and SS stated that they were all masked and had wigs on their heads. Defense counsel then asked SS to confirm that Kundi was masked and wearing a wig at the time. SS replied that they dressed differently, but that Kundi was not wearing a mask that day. The President stated that he had previously asked SS whether the commanders wore wigs and that SS had replied in the negative. According to the President, SS may have been referring to the soldiers during his confrontation with LSM.
The lawyer for the Civil Parties intervened with regard to Fine Boy, stating that he had indeed been heard in the Swiss proceedings and that he had denied everything. The lawyer for the civil parties read out a passage from the minutes of Fine Boy’s hearing, in which he stated that he had been warned by ULIMOs to be very careful about what he said, as he had fought in the war and that it was a war crimes court.
Hearing of SB as a witness called by the prosecution at the request of the defence (video conference)
On questioning by the President, SB stated that he did not know his date of birth, was 47 years old and worked as a farmer in Lofa. Before giving the floor to SB, the President said that he had been heard by the investigating judge on 10 January 2020.
SB related that one day a “Papay” from ULIMO found them and asked them to accompany ULIMO soldiers with bags to the river. SB explained that he did not know what was in the bags, but that they carried them to the river. In exchange for the bags, they received bags of salt which they had to carry in the opposite direction. SB said that on the way, he heard cries of “Fire! A friend of SB’s called him to say that he had been hit. SB was also shot and said he did not know where the shots had come from. SB finished by saying that a man had been shot through the thigh. He said: “I want justice, that’s all I want”.
The Court questions SB :
When asked about the man he called the “Papay” of the ULIMOs, SB said he did not know his name. According to him, the man handed them over to “his children”, who were armed with guns. SB confirmed that he was wounded in the arm and chest by the gunfire and said he had scars.
The President asked him whether he thought the shots had been fired by ULIMO soldiers or by soldiers who were hiding in the bush. SB replied that he did not know and explained that he had heard the cry “Fire!” and had been taken to hospital to be treated by a military doctor.
The President then indicated that during his hearing before the investigating judge, SB had stated that the only person he had in mind among the attackers was CO Kundi, and that he was the one who gave the order to open fire. SB denied saying this and stated that he did not see who fired the shots.
The Chairman said that SB had told the investigating judge that he could not see well out of his left eye and that he could not see at all out of his right eye. SB also told the investigating judge that the people carrying the coffee with him had said that Kundi had given the order, but he had not seen anything. SB replied that he did not know Kundi. He added that he had left his village and that the next day he had been requisitioned for the transport. He said that he did not live in Foya and that he only remembered the man who had told him to take the bags.
When asked by a juror about his vision problems, SB said they were not recent and dated back to well before the war.
The prosecution did not have any questions. Neither did the prosecution.
Defense questions SB:
On questioning, SB maintained that he had not told the investigating judge that he had heard of Kundi. The defence counsel expressed surprise at this change of story, since the record expressly stated that according to SB, CO Kundi had given the order. Asked to confirm that he had never heard of CO Kundi, SB said that he had heard people say that it was CO Kundi, but he did not know him. The President indicated that SB had contradicted himself during the same hearing and the defence counsel expressed surprise that today SB does not know who CO Kundi is.
Presentation of photographs from the BBC Africa Eye documentary “The Torture Virus
Following SB’s hearing, the Chairman showed photographs from a BBC documentary on the torture of Tabé and invited LSM to comment on them.
On questioning by the President, LSM confirmed that he had been tied only by the elbows according to the authentic Tabe, his legs having remained free. He explained that his hands had been tied and that his elbows were joined together. LSM also explained that when he was pulled to the ground, the entire surface of his skin that touched the ground was torn.
He distinguished in the photos the variant of the “tofa tabé”, which he described as “harder tabé” because the legs of the tortured person were tied behind his back at the elbows and hands.
The prosecution did not have any questions. Neither did the prosecution.
Defense questions LSM:
The defence counsel asked LSM whether he had practised tabé on other people as he was a ULIMO soldier. LSM stated that he was going to fight at the front and that he did not deal with civilians. The defence counsel asked him whether the soldiers at the front therefore had no connection with the practice of tabé on civilians. LSM replied that rebels caught at the front were executed. He said that if a person from the opposing side surrendered, the ULIMO soldiers were not allowed to shoot him under the Geneva Conventions, as he had learned during his military training.
Screening of the BBC Africa Eye documentary “The Torture Virus”.
The above-mentioned documentary was viewed in its entirety by the Court.
Examination of the accused Kunti Kamara on the facts
Court questions Kunti Kamara:
When asked about the testimonies of LSM and SS, Kunti Kamara said he did not know these people and had no comment to make. The President said that this was beginning to be a lot of people whom Kunti Kamara did not know, but who did know him.
The President asked the accused what interest SS, which is not a civil party, could have in naming him. The accused stated that he was confused and felt like he was watching a movie with actors playing their roles. The accused used the example of LSM, who said he had been in the military when he did not know the front line, the number of soldiers in a platoon, or the role of an RTO. Kunti Kamara said he would not go into details, but that all these people were “story makers”.
The President asked the accused whether he maintained his assertion that all the persons accusing him in this trial were Kissis and that they belonged to the same family. The President noted in this regard that LSM belonged to the Bangui ethnic group and had been a soldier in the ULIMO. Kunti Kamara asked the President if he had seen a Mandingo testifying against him. The President recalled that people of Mandingo ethnicity had come to testify at the beginning of the trial and again asked the accused to give reasons why he thought LSM was in cahoots with the Kissis. Kunti Kamara replied that he did not know, but that there was a very strong connection between the witnesses.
The President went on to say that 7 or 8 people had described the same scene regarding the LSM facts. Kunti Kamara reiterated that he had no idea and that he did not know these people, neither today nor tomorrow.
The President asked Kunti Kamara whether, to his knowledge, ULIMO troops had enlisted civilians, or even rebels, in their ranks. The accused replied that this was not the purpose of ULIMO and that during the capture of Foya, Deku had ordered the release of 600 people, including 150 rebels. When asked whether soldiers switched from one faction to the other, the accused said that the NPFL did not come voluntarily, but were captured by ULIMO. He stated that he did not remember whether any ULIMO soldiers had joined the NPFL. When asked about Pepper & Salt, Kunti Kamara said that Pepper & Salt had staged a coup in ULIMO, but because he was defeated, he moved to Charles Taylor, who gave him all the means to fight ULIMO.
The President recalled that LSM had stated before the investigating judge and the Swiss authorities that he had been recruited by ULIMO because he was a rebel. Kunti Kamara indicated that he had no knowledge of this and repeated that they had let 160 rebels go.
When asked about his presence during the capture of the seven civilians, including LSM, Kunti Kamara said he had no idea and that he had spent 4 months in Foya on the frontline. Asked about the stabbing of LSM in the back while Alieu Kosiah and Kunti Kamara were behind him, the accused reiterated that he had no idea of these facts.
The President asked the accused if he still had any idea about the statements of SS that he had given the order to kill everyone except the big one, namely LSM. Kunti Kamara replied that he was confused and did not know them.
Asked whether LSM and SS were also lying when they both said that an argument between Kosiah, Kundi and Deku had broken out, the accused asked the President whether this argument had been discussed with Alieu Kosiah when he came to testify.
The President asked the accused about the forced marches mentioned by LSM. Kunti Kamara replied that he did not know anything about it and that the court knew the liars.
The prosecution questions Kunti Kamara:
When asked about the statements of SS, who indicated, like Abraham Towah, that Kundi had a house in Foya, the accused replied that he did not have a house in Foya and that Foya was not his base.
Counsel for the civil parties then noted that LSM was mistaken about the number of soldiers in a platoon, but that Kunti Kamara and Alieu Kosiah were fully aware of the number. She therefore asked the accused if he confirmed that he was a commander. Kunti Kamara said that a platoon had 44 men and not 36 as stated by LSM, which proved that LSM was not a soldier.
The civil party’s counsel then referred to the front, which was clearly not a fixed front since the NPFL and RUF rebels were hiding in the bush and setting up ambushes. She asked the accused whether the front was close to Solomba, as it appeared from LSM’s statements. Kunti Kamara replied that they were going to Foya and that after the capture of Mendekoma, General Fayah fled and left 160 rebels.
The civil parties’ lawyer went back to the statements made by the accused before the investigating judge, when he indicated that he had three people under his responsibility, including a former NPFL soldier. Kunti Kamara said they captured a rebel from Charles Taylor who then joined them voluntarily. The civil parties’ lawyer quoted another passage from Kunti Kamara’s hearing before the investigating judge from which she concluded that it was quite common for NPFL rebels to cross over to the ULIMO. She asked the accused why he was denying this today. Kunti Kamara said that when ULIMO captured rebels, the aim was to obtain information, not to kill them. The prosecutor asked the accused if he found it credible to imply that ULIMO left the rebels alone while the NPFL killed them. The accused replied that all the videos that had been seen were of brutalities committed by the NPFL. According to him, ULIMO had a very tough command, which strongly condemned abuses committed against civilians.
The lawyer for the civil parties returned to the statements of Kwamex Fofana, who explained that Foya was an assignment of Kundi and that everything that happened there was his responsibility, it being specified that many complaints of rape, pillaging, torture, etc. emanated from Lofa County. Kunti Kamara said that Fofana was not a commander in Foya and that he was not present during the capture of the town as he was in the diamond mines in Lofa. According to him, these were therefore rumours. The prosecutor noted that according to the accused, the hierarchy within ULIMO was very strict and did not tolerate any wrongdoing, but that it was not possible for the hierarchy to point to him as responsible. Kunti Kamara expressed confusion and said that if Deku had implicated him, he could have understood because Deku was his commander. On the other hand, it was possible that Fofana was against him because he was taken out of ULIMO.
The prosecution had no questions. Neither did the defence.