[10/27/2022] Day 14 : Kamara speaks

The President agreed with the request of some of the jurors and asked the Chief of Police to bring Kunti Kamara to the center of the courtroom for a few moments so that the jurors could appreciate her physical appearance. 

Summary examination on the merits of the case of the accused Kunti Kamara

Court questions Kunti Kamara:

First, the President asked the accused for simple confirmations of a number of statements and invited him, if necessary, to disagree.

Kunti Kamara first confirmed that he fled to Guinea in 1989 because of Charles Taylor’s massacres in his county and returned to Liberia in 1992, before joining Kromah’s ULIMO troops, in which there were Krahns and Mandingos at the time. Kunti Kamara also confirmed that ULIMO split in 1994 and that he remained in ULIMO-K with the Mandingos. He further confirmed that he left Liberia permanently in 1997 and went first to Guinea, then to the Netherlands in 2001, to Belgium in 2013, and finally to France in 2016. 

Kunti Kamara then confirmed that he was in Liberian territory between 1992 and 1997, with some temporary forays into Sierra Leone and Guinea. The President stated that ULIMO controlled Lofa and Bomi in 1993-1994 and that from 1994 onwards, ULIMO-K was in Lofa, while ULIMO-J occupied Bomi, which Kunti Kamara confirmed. When asked about the location of the fighting front against the NPFL in 1993-1994, Kunti Kamara said that the front was in Lofa and Gbarnga Counties and that there was a front at St. Paul Bridge. 

The President then went on to discuss the accused’s military career between 1992 and 1997, when he was between 18 and 23-24 years of age. Kunti Kamara confirmed that he was born in 1974 and that he was between 19 and 20 years old in 1993-1994 and about 23 years old in 1997 when he left the country. Upon questioning, Kunti Kamara indicated that he had undergone two or three months of military training in Liberia when he joined ULIMO in 1992. 

When asked about the source of the uniforms and weapons used by ULIMO, Kunti Kamara said he had no information on this, but when Lofa was captured, the supplies came from Guinea. He said that when he joined ULIMO, the war was going on and the troops were already armed. When asked about the equipment he received when he joined ULIMO, Kunti Kamara said that he was assigned to a platoon and given a uniform by the commander. 

When asked about his early days in ULIMO, Kunti Kamara stated that he started in the 45-man Iron Red platoon with the commanding officer. The President then indicated that he had stated before the investigating judge that he later became a floating officer in the Black Devil platoon, which the accused confirmed, stating that it was in Foya. When asked about the hierarchy between a floating officer and a bodyguard, Kunti Kamara indicated that it was possible to be both at the same time. On questioning, he clarified that a floating officer did not have a specific mission, but was assigned to someone to be his bodyguard

Kunti Kamara then confirmed that the “Black Devil” section had two missions, namely to protect the border between Sierra Leone and Liberia and to take the town of Foya. On questioning, he indicated that the capture of Foya had taken place in 1993 according to him. 

When asked about the assignment of battlefront commander, Kunti Kamara explained that the battlefront commander was in charge of ambushes and had a scouting role by positioning himself 200 meters in front of the troops in order to alert the soldiers in case of ambush. He added that if the commander fell into enemy hands, he was not killed because the enemy knew that his soldiers were behind. 

The President asked the accused to confirm his statements to the investigating judge that he could control up to two platoons of 44 men at the front, for a total of 88 men. Kunti Kamara first stated that he had told the investigating judge that most of the time there were two platoons at the front, before stating that he did not command a platoon at the front. He said that it was not possible for a battlefront commander to be in charge of a platoon. The President told him that he had said the opposite not only during the trial, but also before the examining magistrate, to whom he had stated that he gave orders to two sections manoeuvring on the front line. The accused then explained that he was working hand in hand with the section commander, who was in charge of the trenches. He added that he had the right to ask the section commander to provide him with men to ambush the enemy. He also said that when they captured the enemy, the most important information was where the enemy weapons were. 

Asked about his temperament as a soldier, especially whether he considered himself brave, Kunti Kamara said he joined ULIMO in order to resist the NPFL. He added that he was at the front all the time to resist Charles Taylor, whom he described as a criminal who killed his entire family, and that as a Liberian, he could not go into exile. The President said he described himself as determined, stubborn, no fool, steady and reliable, and asked him if he thought he had a natural authority to command other men. The accused confirmed that he had these qualities. Asked whether he was respected by his men, Kunti Kamara said that when a soldier was injured, he did not leave him behind. On questioning, he confirmed that he was courageous and indicated that he was not feared by his men, but rather liked and respected. 

Kunti Kamara then confirmed that he was indeed C.O. Kundi. When asked about his promotion to colonel in 1995, he explained that after the capture of Taylor’s headquarters, all the soldiers involved in that operation were promoted. Since he was on the frontline on the day of the promotion, he was informed that he had been promoted to colonel. Asked if he had been promoted above Kosiah, Kunti Kamara said he did not know. He said that sometimes soldiers were called colonels or captains to encourage them at the front, when they had not actually obtained such ranks. 

The President said the accused had also told the investigating judge that he was given the rank of colonel after the 1995 attack on Taylor and received two gallons (in the form of birds) as a commendation from headquarters.

The President then returned to the hierarchy among the senior officers of ULIMO. On questioning, Kunti Kamara confirmed that he had already met with General Kromah and stated that the Chief of Staff was General Dombuyah. When asked about Jungle Jabah, the accused indicated that he had gone to Bomi and was fighting for the position of commanding general with Pepper & Salt. On questioning, Kunti Kamara said that Dombuyah was higher than Pepper & Salt. Asked about Deku, he said he was area commander of Foya in 1993 and was later promoted to general commander

The President said that Kunti Kamara had stated before the investigating judge that the Chief of Staff gave him orders at the front and that he reported to Deku. The President then asked how Deku could give him orders while the accused was at the front. Kunti Kamara replied that Deku was below Pepper & Salt. 

When asked about the functions of Mami Wata and Ugly Boy, the accused indicated that Mami Wata was a section commander and that Ugly Boy was “nowhere”. The presiding officer countered that it was his impression that Ugly Boy was everywhere. 

When asked about his military assignments from 1992 to 1994, Kunti Kamara said he joined ULIMO as a bodyguard in the Iron Red section. On questioning, he stated that he was in Bomi and Cape Mount in 1992, then in Lofa in 1993-1994. He stated that he spent 4 months in Foya and was assigned to the bridge between Lofa County and Bong County. When asked about his stay in Voinjama, Kunti Kamara stated that he did not stay there for long and that he pushed the NPFL rebels from Zorzor through Foya to the border at Mendekoma. He added that many NPFL rebels entered Sierra Leone. On enquiry, he said that Mendekoma was 20 km from Foya. The President then asked him if his role was to prevent the NPFL rebels from returning to Lofa. Kunti Kamara replied that he and the other soldiers had no time for themselves, but only for Taylor’s rebels. 

On questioning, he indicated that he did not know whether there were any Taylor rebels in Guinea. The President indicated that there had obviously been trade in goods with Guinea and asked the accused what the situation was in Guinea, including whether there was a guerrilla war. Kunti Kamara stated that all he knew was that Taylor was a criminal and had formed the Lofa Defense Force, which entered Guinea. 

When asked about Alieu Kosiah, Kunti Kamara confirmed that Kosiah was hardly present with him at the front. Asked about his meeting with Kosiah, the accused explained that they had received orders to attack Foya and that Deku and Kosiah’s group was behind his. His group had a mission to go to the border and remained based at Mendekoma. Kunti Kamara added that he learned that Alieu Kosiah had returned to fight in Voinjama and said he went to meet him by crossing the bridge where Taylor’s rebels were. 

The President then asked the accused how he explained the fact that many people in Foya knew him, could describe him physically or were able to sing songs about him. The accused said he was extremely shocked and said that he had spent all his time on the front lines when he was in Lofa and Bong counties. He also expressed surprise that none of these people came to complain about him at that time. 

The President indicated that 12 witnesses and 8 civil parties had identified him very precisely. The defense counsel intervened and pointed out that several of them had identified Kunti Kamara only after seeing him in the dock. She also noted that some of them claimed that he was squinting when, in her opinion, this was not the case. The President qualified his remarks by saying that 20 people had identified the accused more or less precisely, which suggested that these people had obviously been in contact with him at Foya. Kunti Kamara reiterated that he did not know these people and did not know what they were talking about.

The President then returned to the testimony of Abraham Towah, who indicated that he had been the small soldier of Alieu Kosiah, whom he considered his father. The President recalled that during his hearing before the investigating judge, Abraham Towah indicated that he knew Kundi, that they were friends and had spent time together in Voinjama and Foya. He also stated that he slept in Kundi’s house in Foya. Kunti Kamara said that Kosiah was not present during the capture of Foya and expressed confusion over Abraham Towah’s statements. On questioning, he said he was not at Foya with Abraham Towah, which Deku could have attested to if he was still alive, and had no idea what Abraham Towah had said. 

An assessor judge asked the accused whether he had stayed in Foya for four months after the capture of the town, from July 1993 until November 1993. Kunti Kamara confirmed that he was in the district of Foya, not in the town of Foya. 

The prosecution questions Kunti Kamara

The prosecution referred to a previous hearing of the accused in which he had indicated that he had sometimes killed enemies on the front line. The prosecutor asked him if he knew how many people he had killed. Kunti Kamara replied that he did not know and could not give an estimate either. The prosecutor expressed surprise that the accused could not say whether he had killed many or few people. Kunti Kamara retorted: “War is war. We shoot at each other, I can’t tell you. 

Counsel for the prosecution expressed surprise at the defendant’s comments, as he now seemed to suggest that he was in perpetual danger of death, whereas he had previously indicated that he had the status of a scout on the battlefield and was not in danger of being killed. Kunti Kamara replied that he expected to die at any moment and was surprised that he was still alive today. 

The civil party lawyer then asked him how he went about interrogating captured soldiers. Kunti Kamara indicated that they were taken to the rear of the front line and that the main information extracted from them was their location and the location of their ammunition, medicine and food. When asked whether captured soldiers readily gave up this information, Kunti Kamara said he did not know, as the commanders were doing the interrogations while he was at the front. He added that if he had been captured, he would have been afraid and would have answered the questions. 

The counsel for the civil parties indicated that the accused stated during one of his interrogations that ULIMO was handing over the rebels to NGOs. The President intervened and stated that, in his opinion, the accused had made such statements during the hearing, indicating that the rebels were handed over to ECOMOG. Kunti Kamara expressed surprise and retorted that ECOMOG was not in the Lofa. 

The civil party lawyer then asked the accused how he explained the fact that Alieu Kosiah had admitted that Mami Wata had cut up NPFL soldiers and put their bodies in wheelbarrows. Kunti Kamara replied that he had no idea about this. 

When asked about his relationship with his girlfriend who was in Kolahun while he was constantly on the frontline in Mendekoma, Kunti Kamara said that the distance between Kolahun and Mendekoma was not long and could be covered in less than a day. The civil party’s lawyer pointed out that to get to Kolahun, one had to go through Foya. The accused finally confirmed that he had a car. 

Prosecution questions Kunti Kamara

Asked about the expedition to bring Chief TT back to Foya, which he said he participated in, Kunti Kamara said it lasted for one day, but the negotiations took longer. On questioning, he said TT was at the border between Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and was first brought back to Mendekoma after Pepper & Salt negotiated with the NGO. He added that he was then tasked to escort them to Foya. On questioning, Kunti Kamara confirmed that this expedition took place after the capture of Foya in 1993. 

The General Counsel then asked the accused whether tracking down a paramount chief in the bush was part of the duties of a commander at the front. Kunti Kamara replied that he was not responsible for this expedition and that TT’s location was under threat. On questioning, he confirmed that in his opinion, bringing TT back to his village was a humanitarian mission. He added that Pepper & Salt had discussed with the NGOs and given assurances that the villagers could leave the bush and return to town safely, while he had been called in to ensure their safety. 

When asked about Ugly Boy, Kunti Kamara said he had only heard his name during the war and had never fought with him. The general counsel then reminded the accused that during his interrogation before the investigating judge, he had given a lot of details about Ugly Boy for someone who barely knew him. Kunti Kamara retorted that he had been consistent in his statements and reiterated that he had not seen him in Foya. He explained that he first saw Ugly Boy at the border to Solomba when he (Kunti) left Foya in 1995-1996 to go to Lofa Bridge. The second time he had seen him was at Voinjama. 

The General Counsel asked the accused to confirm that he stayed in Foya until 1995-1996. Kunti Kamara replied that he had passed through Foya on his way to the border at Solomba and that he had seen Ugly Boy that day for the first time. He added that he never said he stayed in Foya until 1995-1996. 

When asked where Deku was based, Kunti Kamara replied Foya. General Counsel noted that before the investigating judge, the accused indicated that Deku was based in Voinjama. Kunti Kamara explained that Deku took them to Foya from Voinjama and that he travelled between Foya and Voinjama. According to him, Deku was the first commander when Foya was taken. 

The General Counsel indicated that according to his statements, the accused was no longer in Foya between 1994 and 1996, but at the border between Lofa County and Bong County. They asked him how he explained Alieu Kosiah’s statement that he saw him in Foya City in 1994. Kunti Kamara said Alieu Kosiah knew nothing about Mendekoma and the frontline. The General Counsel asked the accused why Alieu Kosiah did not know anything when he was based in Foya. Kunti Kamara replied that there were many generals in ULIMO who did not have a mission and that Kosiah was not his commander. 

The General Counsel then recalled that the accused explained that his daughter was born in Foya in 1995, which would have made it logical that he was in Foya in 1994, and that his wife used to come to see him on the frontline near the St. Paul River. The accused denied these allegations and explained that his wife had joined him in Voinjama, before he took her to Monrovia. General Counsel questioned the possibility of the accused being in Voinjama and at the same time constantly on the frontline. Kunti Kamara explained that he sometimes went to visit his wife in Kolahun, and sometimes she came to Voinjama. He added that he did not attend the birth of his daughter and that his wife went to Deku for help. 

The General Counsel pointed out that the accused had made no previous mention of Voinjama, which was disputed by Kunti Kamara and her counsel. The accused stated that he had previously stated that he came to Voinjama to rest when he was at the front. General Counsel then indicated that Alieu Kosiah had referred to Foya as a resting place for ULIMO soldiers. Kunti Kamara stated that the town of Foya was not in his direction and that he had passed through there only once after leaving Foya. This statement surprised the general counsel, since the civil counsel had only just pointed out to the accused that he had to pass through Foya to visit his wife in Kolahun. Kunti Kamara replied that when he went to see his wife, she used to prepare food for him from the things she bought at the market. The general counsel then asked the accused with what money he bought goods, since he was not paid. Kunti Kamara simply replied that his wife was helping him. 

Asked about his encounter with Papa (Abraham Towah), Kunti Kamara said he first saw him at the headquarters in Voinjama, where Pepper & Salt was based, and that at that time, he did not know that Papa was a soldier. He added that he was not a liar and was waiting to be judged before God. 

The general counsel asked him if he was the only person who had never lied, unlike Alieu Kosiah, Abraham Towah and all the witnesses and civil parties. Kunti Kamara replied that he did not deny knowing Kosiah, but that he could not say things he did not know. 

Defense questions Kunti Kamara

The defence counsel recalled that at no time during the investigation was the accused asked to distinguish between Foya City and Foya District. She added that she would have appreciated it if the contradictions between the various testimonies of the witnesses and civil parties had been highlighted. 

The defence counsel then asked Kunti Kamara to explain what life was like as a soldier on the front lines during the Liberian civil war. Kunti Kamara said that life during the war was desperate and that he expected to die at any moment. He said that before Taylor killed his mother, aunt and stepfather in cold blood, he was going to school and learning a trade. He said that life as a refugee in Guinea was too difficult and that they were considered strangers everywhere. His sister prostituted herself to support them and had five children with different men. He said that this was no life and that he could not find peace. He wanted to be buried in Liberia if he died and that was what gave him the courage to join ULIMO, even though he did not want to become a soldier. He added that he joined ULIMO for a cause and reiterated that life on the front lines was hopeless, saying that he saw friends dying next to him every day. He said, “It was not my purpose to fight. [Life on the front was not easy at all, that’s all I know”. 

*           *           *

Summary examination on the merits of the accused Kunti Kamara (continued)

Court questions Kunti Kamara: 

The President asked the accused for specific answers on the facts he was accused of, starting with those concerning DN.

Offences committed against DN

The President recalled that DN, a teacher at Borma Mission, was allegedly tortured and brutalized by ULIMO soldiers at the Foya airstrip. The main protagonist was allegedly Ugly Boy, who killed DN with an axe, cut open his chest and ripped out his heart. The heart was then allegedly cooked in Ugly Boy’s house, cut into pieces, and consumed by several ULIMO soldiers in full view of the population. The President said Kunti Kamara was accused of participating in the lynching of DN, including kicking him in the head while he was on the ground with his hands tied behind his back. The President added that a scene of jubilation was described by witnesses, who said they saw the accused eating a piece of DN’s heart. 

The President recalled that JTC and SK were heard on these facts and that SK stated that Kunti Kamara was one of the leaders with Ugly Boy and that they all behaved in the same way. SK also said that although Mami Wata had killed more people than Kunti Kamara, Kunti Kamara was nevertheless part of that group. The President added that other witnesses reported these facts, but indicated that they were not present at the scene. The President asked the accused if he was present during the murder of DN. Kunti Kamara replied that he was not present as he was on the frontline, and that he had never heard of it. 

The President said that there was a newspaper article documenting not only DN’s death, but also TKo’s death. He added that Reverend TKo’s daughter was also heard and stated that Kundi was present when her father died. Kunti Kamara continued to claim innocence. 

When asked about his presence in Foya at the time of the events, the accused replied that he was at the front and that Foya was near Mendekoma. The President then asked Kunti Kamara whether the death of DN had had a particular impact on Foya, given that he was an important person. Kunti Kamara replied that he had never heard of DN’s death before. 

Facts committed to the detriment of KT

The President then returned to the death of KT, whom Kunti Kamara allegedly accused of being a witch. The events were said to have taken place in the village of Foya Dundu, 30 minutes’ walk from Foya. The President recalled that KT’s baby had died of an illness the previous evening and was buried the same morning. According to the President, witnesses said Kunti Kamara was passing through Foya Dundu town and met with the village headman, to whom he gave L$100 for the bereaved family. Several witnesses said that after he left for Foya, Kundi returned angrily to Foya Dundu and approached FG’s house. He allegedly dragged the young woman out of the house or ordered her bodyguards to do so – this is disputed – when she was particularly vulnerable due to her illness. The President said that according to witnesses, KT could hardly speak and her skin was falling apart. Kunti Kamara is said to have killed her with a burst of machine gun fire to the head, before burning her body with straw that had been lowered from a kitchen roof. Kunti Kamara reportedly suggested that this was the only way to prevent the witch’s evil spirit from spreading.

The President recalled that the court had the testimony of FG, the victim’s brother, and NS, her husband, who unfortunately had to be repatriated to Liberia for health reasons. The President added that witnesses FP, TK, EzP and others had also referred to “the murder of the witch”. According to the President, it was said that the accused regularly passed through Foya Dundu, as he was friends with Mohammed, the local commander.

On questioning, Kunti Kamara stated that he did not know Foya Dundu and did not know whether any soldiers had been posted there. The President confronted the accused with the statements of TK, who described Kundi as unpredictable but sympathetic to him, and who confirmed that he had seen him kill KT. Kunti Kamara replied that he did not know TK and that this was the first time he had seen all the people who had come to testify. 

The President asked Kunti Kamara how it was possible that twenty people recognized him and pointed to him, while he was the only one who did not recognize them. Kunti Kamara said he was confused, repeated that he did not know anyone and compared himself to a dead elephant, of which everyone wanted a piece. 

Facts committed to the detriment of JTC and FCS

The President then addressed the issue of forced marches and enslaved persons, recalling that several witnesses had been heard in this regard, including JTC, SFC, TSKF, EB, SB and RSK, and that each of them had referred to forced marches imposed by ULIMO. The President indicated that the walks were made during the rainy season on impassable roads to the Guinean border at Solomba, a distance of approximately 23 km. The President stated that the accused was not implicated in all the forced marches. On the other hand, the witnesses point to him, personally, in relation to the march on the Foya electric generator. They also accused Kunti Kamara of having organised the carrying of foodstuffs (coffee, oil, rice), specifying that other marches had been ordered by other commanders. 

The President stated that the persons heard did not seem excessive in their statements and asked the accused whether he had knowledge of such forced marches. Kunti Kamara said that there were several borders in Foya District but that he had not heard of any forced marches, although he did not rule out the possibility that they had occurred. The President recalled that such forced marches had been documented by the TRC and were mentioned in several background documents submitted to the Court. The President asked the accused how he could not have heard of them. Kunti Kamara replied that it was not his mission at the time, as he was on the front line. 

Facts committed to the detriment of LSM

The President then returned to the facts about LSM, who spoke of forced marches and said he was beaten by Kunti Kamara and Alieu Kosiah near the old market. LSM said he was captured with six others, who were beaten and killed. The President said it was understood from LSM’s testimony that the six were thrown into a well. LSM was reportedly spared by the arrival of Deku, who was very angry. LSM indicated that it may have been because of Fine Boy’s intervention that he was spared. SS believed that LSM was saved because he pleaded with the others not to kill him and because he was tall and muscular. LSM showed the court his scar on his back which was allegedly caused by a stab wound given by Kunti Kamara or Alieu Kosiah. The President added that what was notable in LSM’s testimony was that he then joined ULIMO and led forced marches, including the march of the electric generator. The President said that LSM had also been heard by the Swiss authorities, as he had also implicated Alieu Kosiah. 

When asked about his own implication in relation to the abuse of LSM, Kunti Kamara said it was impossible to explain that someone he did not know was accusing him. 

Offences against RSK and EFNS

The President continued the examination of the accused by addressing the facts of complicity in aggravated rape committed against RSK and EFNS. The President stated that both of them were implicating Kunti Kamara for acts that did not concern him primarily, but his bodyguards, and in particular B with regard to the testimony of EFNS. The President added that RSK and EFNS were teenagers at the time of the events, noting that EFNS was slightly older than RSK and already had a child. 

According to the President, RSK stated that she was raped for several days by two soldiers whenever they felt the need. She said that she pleaded with Kundi in his capacity as commander, saying: “Tell them to stop, I am too small”. The accused allegedly just laughed and said that it was not important. RSK considered that Kunti Kamara’s attitude gave free rein to the practices of these soldiers. She reportedly went to tell her friend EFNS that she could not take it anymore and was forced to flee. 

As for EFNS, she was allegedly raped on a regular basis by Kunti Kamara’s alleged bodyguard, a man named B, who would attack her when he was smoking marijuana. According to the President, B appears somewhat of a psychopath in this case. The President recalled that it had not been possible to complete the hearing of EFNS because she had collapsed in the courtroom and did not wish to return to continue her story. She reported in her testimony that she was raped with a bayonet covered in salt that was inserted into her vagina. She reportedly suffered severe gynaecological and psychological damage as a result. 

When asked about these facts, Kunti Kamara said that nothing had shocked him so much since he was born and that he had no knowledge of these facts. He added that he did not smoke or drink alcohol. The President asked him if EFNS and RSK were lying like all the others. Kunti Kamara replied that he did not have a bodyguard in Foya. 

Background of the accused

The President then questioned Kunti Kamara on some specific points of the case. 

The President recalled that the accused went to Guinea in 1997 during a period of ceasefire and asked him whether he had been afraid of Taylor and the NPFL. Kunti Kamara said that the situation deteriorated when Charles Taylor won the elections and that former ULIMO soldiers were requisitioned to fight in Guinea. 

The President then referred to the testimony of an unnamed witness in the Taylor trial in Sierra Leone, who described an arms sale by Kundi after disarmament in 1997. The accused expressed surprise and said that ULIMO soldiers were disarmed. He wondered how he could have sold weapons if he did not have any. 

The President briefly referred to the false statements that Kunti Kamara admitted to making in order to obtain political asylum in the Netherlands. The President recalled that the accused had subsequently left the Netherlands while he had been granted asylum and subsequently citizenship and had a job. Kunti Kamara countered that he did not have a job when he left the Netherlands. The presiding judge indicated that he had referred to difficulties in speaking the language and to the fact that the Dutch authorities refused to grant family reunification, which the accused confirmed, stating that he had left the Netherlands as had many other Liberians.

The President then returned to the wiretaps put in place in the framework of the preliminary investigation and in particular to a communication of 1er September 2018 intercepted while the accused was in Bobigny. Kunti Kamara told his interlocutor: “I have a friend in prison, Alieu Kosiah. There is no one who stands up for his cause, he is detained. [You know the miscreants, they have taken him, I must free him. […] I had a Dutch passport, I am a Dutch citizen. I was there, I was working there, they took me out of there. Asked to specify the identity of those who had “taken him out” of the Netherlands, Kunti Kamara said he did not remember the conversation and that he had gone to Belgium. He added that he may have been referring to the Dutch authorities, as he had tried hard to bring his family over, but without success. 

The President stated that he was under the impression that it was the investigation of him by Civitas Maxima that caused the accused to flee. Kunti Kamara retorted that if he had fled, he would not have had an address or a work contract in Belgium. The defense lawyer added that Kunti Kamara left the Netherlands in 2013, before the opening of the investigation against Alieu Kosiah. She added that according to Alain Werner’s statement, Kunti Kamara’s name was first mentioned during the investigation against Alieu Kosiah.

The President then recalled that the accused had gone to live in Evreux where the gendarmes came to get him. He then fled to Bobigny and was arrested while planning to travel to Portugal by bus and then fly to Guinea using false Guinean papers. The president asked the accused if these elements did not reflect a winding route to escape the police. Kunti Kamara replied that he had a residence and an official address in France. He added that he had fought in the war and was not afraid, but was afraid of plots against him. 

Asked if he felt threatened when he heard about the arrest of Alieu Kosiah, Kunti Kamara said he did not. He said he had heard of a plot against former ULIMO soldiers and decided to ignore it because he felt he had nothing to hide. He explained that he learned that the police were looking for him while he was looking for work in a supermarket. He said that he was receiving many phone calls at that time, during which he was not only informed that the trial of Alieu Kosiah was not a fair trial, but also warned about the existence of a conspiracy against the former ULIMO soldiers. He was also told that HB was visiting hatay shops to listen in on conversations and look for witnesses willing to testify against Kundi. According to the accused, some witnesses were brought to Ghana to be briefed on their testimonies. He said he was also advised to leave Europe or face unfair trial. 

The President recalled that Alieu Kosiah considered his trial in Switzerland to be worse than a trial in North Korea. The President expressed surprise at the quality of Swiss trials and said he understood why the current Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, had often praised the Swiss process in his pleadings. Kunti Kamara said he was merely repeating rumors he had heard from Liberia, including that HB had paid a witness to testify. The accused added: “I was afraid and when you are afraid, you can do anything. 

The President then pointed out that HB was a Mandingo like the accused and had participated in several trials against former NPFL members. Kunti Kamara responded that as far as Liberians are concerned, money can do anything. 

When asked about his future plans, Kunti Kamara said that when he arrived in France, he planned to learn French and resume his job as an electrician. He said that since his incarceration, he has taken French classes and passed the first level. He added that he wanted to return to Liberia, stating that he had nothing to fear there. He explained that his father owned a coconut and coffee farm in Liberia and that his brothers had started growing soybeans with his help. He said that since he was in Europe, he had been exporting vehicles to Liberia and supporting his sister financially. In particular, he bought her a house in Guinea because she did not want to return to Liberia because of her experiences there. 

The judge indicated that it was her understanding that the accused had fled because he felt he was the victim of a conspiracy and feared that he would be brought before a court of law and be judged badly. The judge asked Kunti Kamara to give his impressions of his trial, and in particular whether he considered that he had received a fair and serene hearing and had been able to express himself as much as he wished. Kunti Kamara replied in the affirmative. The President joked that he was reassured that he was not in North Korea. Kunti Kamara then said that he was not accusing French justice of being unfair, but that these were rumours that had been reported to him. Finally, he said he wanted the court to understand that he was innocent and living quietly when, overnight, the NPFL massacred everyone. 

The prosecution questions Kunti Kamara:

Initially, counsel for the civil parties indicated that the Swiss authorities had located the well mentioned in LSM’s testimony.

The lawyer for the civilians then noted that the same morning the accused stated that he would have been afraid if he had been captured by the NPFL and would have given all the information requested, whereas he had just said that he was not afraid of the war. The lawyer for the civil parties stated that the accused was obviously afraid of the gendarmes, since he had fled without knowing what they wanted from him. Kunti Kamara repeated that he was not afraid of war, but afraid of plots. 

Asked why he did not join the LURD formed in 1998 to fight his nemesis Charles Taylor, Kunti Kamara explained that Alhaji Kromah, who encouraged him to join ULIMO at the time, told him that the war was over and that he should lay down his arms. 

Civil counsel then recalled that the court had heard from Alieu Kosiah and indicated that in her view the accused had blithely repeated his rhetoric. She said she felt that the accused was trying to protect Alieu Kosiah even though he had not hesitated to give Kundi’s name to serve his own interests, putting him at risk of being prosecuted. On questioning, Kunti Kamara confirmed that he was aware that it was because of Alieu Kosiah that he was before the law. He said that before Kosiah mentioned his name, nobody knew him. He explained that there were differences among the ULIMO soldiers and that many of them joined Charles Taylor for financial reasons, while he and Alieu Kosiah remained dignified. According to him, Alieu Kosiah could not find anyone to testify on his behalf and that was the reason why he had called him. He added that in his opinion, the former ULIMO generals would not have come to testify if Kosiah had called them because they were afraid. Kunti Kamara stressed that if Alieu Kosiah was lying, he would say so, and said, “They wanted me to say he was not in Foya, but I cannot say what I don’t know. 

After stating that she did not question the difficult events experienced by the accused, which motivated his course, the lawyer for the civil parties questioned Kunti Kamara on his inability to recognize the suffering of the witnesses and the civil parties, and the reasons why he kept repeating that these people were lying and that he was the victim of a plot. The accused offered an analogy between the atrocities suffered by the Mandingo people and the war between Russia and Ukraine, saying that when the war was over, the Ukrainians could not be tried because they had defended themselves. He said the Mandingo people are a minority who tried to resist the criminals and are considered foreigners in their own country. He added that he had fought with the sole aim of liberating his people, that he was unaware of what the witnesses and civil parties had come to say and that he was innocent of all the charges brought against him. 

Prosecution questions Kunti Kamara:

Asked why former ULIMO generals were afraid to come and testify when, according to his statements, they had not committed any crime against civilians, Kunti Kamara explained that some of them were living in Europe and were following what was going on with the former ULIMO. Kunti Kamara added that they knew that the people who came here were “big liars”. 

On the facts relating to KT, the General Counsel recalled that the accused stated that he was innocent and knew neither KT nor the village of Foya Dundu, although he had previously indicated that he had passed through Foya Dundu. On questioning, Kunti Kamara said he remembered passing through Foya Dundu, but had no knowledge of any killing in that village. He added that it was possible to pass through a town without knowing it.  

With respect to LSM, the General Counsel recalled that LSM had implicated the accused and Alieu Kosiah in torture, while the latter considered that LSM was lying in order to receive money or asylum. The General Counsel’s understanding is that LSM has never sought asylum, has not received financial compensation from the Swiss courts, and was physically assaulted on his way back from Liberia. The General Counsel therefore asked the accused what LSM had to gain by turning him and Alieu Kosiah in. Kunti Kamara said he did not have an answer and that it was up to the court to judge whether those who came to testify were lying or telling the truth and whether they came for financial or other reasons. He added that DN’s wife and RSK’s sister had specifically requested financial assistance from the Court. He also stated that he understood from Alain Werner’s statements that Werner had promised to pay these people, which the General Counsel disputed. 

Asked about the need for justice expressed by AN, FG, SFC and JTC, Kunti Kamara said he could not explain himself on facts he knew nothing about. 

When asked about the administration of a town taken over by ULIMO and the measures that follow, such as curfews, passes and meetings, Kunti Kamara said that he had no idea and that it was not part of his job. Asked about checkpoints, he said the only checkpoint he had seen was at the border with Guinea and was used to check Guineans entering Liberia. On questioning, Kunti Kamara confirmed that he had seen checkpoints when he was travelling in the Foya district or in Voinjama. 

Based on various hearings of Kunti Kamra and his confrontations with JTC and RSK in particular, the General Counsel returned to the systematic accusations made by the accused against the Kissi community, which was allegedly behind a plot against him. The General Counsel noted that, paradoxically, the witnesses never put forward their group membership or the alleged conflict with the Mandingoes. Kunti Kamara explained that he did not accuse all the Kissis, but only those who had come to make false accusations against him. He added that in every tribe there were good and bad people and that he was shocked that these people were making accusations against him when he had never seen them. 

General Counsel asked the accused if, after hearing these people, he still thought they were criminals. Kunti Kamara replied that he was not there to mislead the court and that he believed it was a network of Kissi witnesses, who communicated with each other. He added: “To cut a long story short, even if I have to spend a hundred years in prison, I rely on God and insist that I do not know these people, not today, not tomorrow. 

The General Counsel then indicated that the crimes alleged against Kunti Kamara were similar to abuses committed by ULIMO during the same period in other parts of Lofa County. èmeThey added that regardless of the responsibility of the accused, Lofa was the worst affected county according to the TRC report. According to the General Counsel, this fact is consistent with all the evidence heard in this trial. They asked the accused how he explained the huge discrepancy between his account of the war in Lofa and the reality of the crimes committed in that county under the ULIMO occupation. The defence counsel intervened by pointing out that the TRC report did not indicate the number of crimes committed by each faction in Lofa County. Kunti Kamara explained that it was customary for atrocities to be committed during the war and that there was a lot of “talk”, but that as far as he was concerned, he was only explaining what he had seen. He stated that he had not witnessed any massacres in Lofa because his commander was strict. 

Referring to the statements of Abraham Towah, who said he resented the ULIMO commanders for enlisting him in this war of which he considers himself a victim, the General Counsel asked the accused if he had made any progress in his thinking about his involvement in ULIMO and if he regretted it. Kunti Kamara replied that when he joined ULIMO, his concerns were peace in Liberia and future generations. He said that without peace, there was no unity, and that Mandingo property was still being looted by Taylor’s men today.  

Kunti Kamara also stated that the French authorities had not visited his county in Nimba to ask his family who Kunti Kamara was and what his personality was. The President intervened and explained that he could have called the witnesses. The defence counsel explained that she had given names, but that the persons had not been found, and that the requests had not been for members of the accused’s family.

Defense questions Kunti Kamara:

The defence counsel made two points. Firstly, she pointed out that in the newspaper article on the death of DN and Reverend TKo, quoted by the President, it is mentioned that their bodies were cut up and put in wheelbarrows. The second point concerns the medical certificate produced by EFNS. The defence counsel indicated that she deciphered that EFNS had ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids. The civil party lawyer intervened by recalling that Liberia was ranked 181ème out of 185 on the development index and that EFNS had indicated that she could not have children and that her body was rotten inside. 

The President wished to ask the accused a final question regarding his statements that his name was unknown before the Kosiah case broke. The President asked Kunti Kamara how he explained the fact that CO Kundi’s name was mentioned by people from Lofa in a documentary on the TRC before 2009, more than five years before the Swiss authorities took up the case against Alieu Kosiah. Kundi Kamara responded that the plot had been going on for a long time and that FW was working with HB.

Further reading

The President invited the parties to make additional readings if they so wished, specifying that if reference was made during the pleadings to elements that had not been brought to the attention of the jurors, the proceedings would have to be reopened. 

The General Counsel read out certain passages from the background report drawn up by the Swiss authorities, which in particular gave an overview of the operation of ULIMO (split-up, Black Friday in March 1994). The General Counsel indicated that they were not certain that Black Friday corresponded to the demerger, for want of a precise date. However, it seemed clear that the demerger had caused many massacres. The General Counsel then read out another passage from the report which referred to the lack of discipline in the Lofa. They also indicated that another part of the report was devoted to the abuses committed by the belligerents in Lofa County, including cannibalism and the disembowelling of pregnant women. The civil parties’ lawyer then read out a passage on sexual violence. According to the General Counsel, the report provides a chronology of the abuses committed by ULIMO, which complements the TRC report. The President stated that he had read in the report that 46 people had been killed in Foya City in 1993.

The General Counsel also read out an excerpt from the memorandum in the US trial concerning Mohamed Jabateh. 

The defense counsel finally submitted a table from a TRC report listing some fifty massacres in Liberia. Defense counsel pointed out that this table was not exhaustive and that Lofa was not included. She also drew the parties’ attention to a table listing the violations by armed group. Counsel for the Civil Parties clarified that this was a percentage of the two civil wars. The defence counsel indicated that the percentage of violations committed by ULIMO amounted to 13%. The lawyer for the civil parties specified that in order to be exhaustive, ULIMO-K, ULIMO-J and LURD should be added. 

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