[10/17/2022] Day 6: concluding the first incident
The President referred to the uncertainty about NS’s ability to testify, as he was hospitalized.
Hearing of SK as a witness called by the Public Prosecutor’s Office
Before giving the floor to SK, the President said that he had been heard by the investigating judge on 9 January 2020.
SK began by stating that he was born in 1973 and that he was a farmer in Foya. He then spoke about the facts concerning HN and her husband. According to SK, HN’s husband was imprisoned and then thrown into a big pot with hot water while his hands were tied. SK added that HN’s husband was then chopped with an axe and that HN was released to go home, as women were not killed.
The President stated that the facts concerning HN were not before the court and invited SK to relate the facts concerning DN. The lawyer for the civil parties indicated that HN was heard as a witness by the investigating judge in the proceedings against Kunti Kamara.
Regarding DN, SK explained that one day the United Nations came to Foya and took DN to different neighborhoods. They went to Borma with all the heads of parliament and leaders, including Kunti Kamara. There, they asked who was responsible for the destruction of the neighborhoods, but no one answered. According to SK, DN said he did not know. SK added that they then went to Palmhill and asked the same question, to which DN again replied that he did not know who had destroyed that neighborhood. After the UN left, ULIMO caught DN accusing him of reporting them. They told him that he was not going to leave and that he was going to die, and then they tied him up with wire. SK concluded by saying that he did not witness the killing of DN, nor did he see the corpse. He stated that all he knew was that DN was dead.
The Court questioned SK:
On questioning by the President, SK confirmed that officials had come to Boma to assess the damage caused in the neighborhoods. He specified that it was the Red Cross. When asked about the hospital in Borma, SK confirmed that it had been destroyed.
When asked about DN, SK said that he knew him personally but that he did not know what his job was at the time. The Chairman asked if DN had been asked to do the translation and SK replied that this was not the case as all the leaders present could speak [English].
On questioning, SK confirmed that all the ULIMO chiefs were present and said that Kunti Kamara was the leader. He then indicated that he had never seen Kunti Kamara in Foya at the time, but that he had heard of him and that he was considered dangerous. He added that men were particularly afraid of him because if they went out, they were caught carrying things near the river.
When asked about Ugly Boy, SK explained that people caught in the bush were brought to Ugly Boy to be assessed and issued a pass. SK said that he himself was taken to Ugly Boy and searched. SK then stated that Kundi took men to arrest Ugly Boy for misbehaving, but that Ugly Boy knew about it and fled with two of his men. He added that Ugly Boy had disarmed Kundi and his men with his karate skills. Kundi called for reinforcements. They overpowered Ugly Boy, tied him up and put him in a car. On questioning, SK said that this altercation had taken place after DN’s death.
The President asked SK if he recognized Kunti Kamara in the dock. SK replied that he only recognized her thinness, but that her face did not tell him anything because it had changed.
SK was asked about his previous statements to the investigating judge that he had been arrested at the time of DN’s death by a young Mandingo from ULIMO who had had problems with his brothers. SK replied that he did not remember.
When asked about DN’s death, SK repeated that he had not been present at DN’s death. When confronted with his statements to the investigating judge that he had seen DN with his chest cut open and his heart ripped out, SK refuted them. He said that he had only seen DN with his hands tied behind his back and that DN was still alive. On questioning, he stated that he had not been arrested on the same day as DN.
Civil party questions SK:
The civil party’s lawyer reminded SK that it was very important that he differentiate between what he saw and what he heard.
When asked about his age at the time of the events, SK replied that he was thirty-three years old. The lawyer for the prosecution was surprised by this answer since SK had indicated that he was born in 1973 and therefore must have been in his twenties at the time of the events. She underlined a complicated relationship with time.
Upon questioning, SK confirmed that he had been held captive by Ugly Boy and had stayed with him for a long time as a slave. He confirmed the presence of other people but denied the presence of women.
When asked about Kunti Kamara, SK said he had only heard about him but had never physically seen him at the time. When asked why he had never seen him, SK said that he was not allowed to go out and was forced to work in the kitchen.
When asked about the altercation between Kundi and Ugly Boy and the reinforcements that Kundi would have gone to Voinjama for, SK did not elaborate and said that he only heard an altercation. Upon questioning, SK stated that Kundi was the leader of ULIMO and that everyone in Foya knew about it.
The prosecution did not have any questions.
Defense questions SK:
The defense asked SK how he knew that Kunti Kamara was the leader at Foya even though he had never met him. SK replied that those who were arrested knew that Kunti Kamara was the leader.
When asked about DN’s interactions with the Red Cross, SK said that DN never said a word, but that the rebels still accused him of having denounced them.
When asked about his statement to the investigating judge that when ULIMO kills, no one is present, SK said that Ugly Boy killed people, took the bodies and took them home. He then reiterated that he had not witnessed DN’s murder, but had seen him with his hands tied behind his back crying and asking for help.
Hearing of JTC as a civil party
Before giving the floor to JTC, the President stated that JTC was heard by the investigating judge and confronted by Kunti Kamara in November 2018. JTC was also heard by other foreign jurisdictions, including the Swiss authorities in August 2016 as well as the Dutch police in the context of a European investigation in September 2016. The President also recalled that JTC was put back on the scene and confronted with MN regarding certain discrepancies in their respective testimonies.
JTC began by explaining that he had personally witnessed the capture of DN until he was put to death. He said that he could not say the exact date, but that he was in Foya and that the town had been captured by the ULIMOs. JTC explained that around noon he went to the street to get food. He said he went to the police station in the center of Foya. He then said he saw a vehicle approaching and recognized DN inside. He said that he did not see him get into the vehicle but only got out. According to JTC, the vehicle belonged to an NGO, but he was unable to specify which one. He added that ULIMO forces were in the center of Foya and said he was a short distance from them, near the Rashel store. JTC explained that the ULIMO soldiers approached DN to find out what he was doing with the NGO.
JTC mentioned the presence of Ugly Boy and Deku. He explained that Ugly Boy was a nickname given by people of the Kissi ethnic group and that sometimes they also called him Saah Chuey to avoid him noticing that he was being referred to. JTC explained the origin of this nickname by saying that one day, during a meeting organized by the ULIMOs, Ugly Boy had mentioned that he was his mother’s first born. However, in the Kissi tradition, the eldest child is given the name Saah. In addition, Ugly Boy always carried an axe, the Kissi term for which is “chuey”. Upon questioning by the President, JTC indicated that Ugly Boy did not belong to the Kissi ethnic group. JTC also mentioned the presence of Kosiah, CO Kundi, Fine Boy and Mami Wata, whom he described as the main leaders since they could act as they pleased given their status as commanders.
JTC continued his account by saying that DN was considered a traitor by the ULIMO because he said that the Borma Mission had been looted and destroyed by the ULIMO. According to JTC, this was the crime of which he was considered guilty and the situation turned abnormal. ULIMO began by mistreating him and the commanders chanted “Tabé, Tabé. They kicked him and took him to the old police station. JTC reported that they first tied him up with his hands in front and that DN could be heard screaming inside. According to JTC, DN’s screams were so loud that they were beyond comprehension. He added, about the way he was tied, that he could not believe that a human being could do such a thing to his fellow man. JTC said that DN was then tied from behind with his elbows touching each other and compared the position of the person being subjected to Tabe to that of a duck being fattened. He added that all the leaders attacked DN and called him a traitor and a spy.
JTC explained that after a while, ULIMO decided not to keep DN and “to do something with him. According to JTC, this was a warning to anyone in Foya who might be tempted to reveal anything about ULIMO’s activities in Foya. DN was taken to the airstrip, which was an open area. Civilians followed the group. The ULIMOs called DN a traitor and said, “Try ULIMO, your heart. According to JTC, the ULIMO showed their superiority by beating DN repeatedly before executing him and beating him with weapons. JTC named Kundi, CO Deku, CO Kosiah, Ugly Boy, Fine Boy and Mami Wata. He said that this lasted until the evening and that the curfew had not yet been declared, so that the execution of DN could be seen by others.
JTC said that Saah Chuey then took control of the events and hit DN’s chest with his axe. DN’s chest was cut open and his heart was placed in a metal dish. The ULIMOs were gloating and brandishing their weapons. JTC described the scene as a warning to the civilians that they would suffer the same fate if they did not submit: “If you provoke the ULIMO, your heart will be taken from you. JTC explained that DN’s heart was taken to Ugly Boy’s house and cut into pieces before being eaten raw. He added that some civilians fled into the bush. JTC said that the killing of DN that he witnessed was one of the killings that affected him the most.
Finally, JTC explained that EP had been designated as a local leader and spokesperson for the civilians to ULIMO, but that his voice was not heard because other people were killed after DN. JTC added that in Foya, civilians were condemned to live like slaves.
Court questions JTC:
Upon questioning, JTC stated that he knew DN personally, who was a teacher at the Foya Pentecostal Church, of which he was a member. JTC said that he would sometimes run into DN on his way to the high school since they lived nearby. He would also walk with DN, his wife, and daughter on Sundays on their way to church. They were part of the same congregation with the church split into two: the Swedish Pentecostal Church was the main church and the Global Free Church had been formed and DN had joined it.
Upon questioning, JTC indicated that only the Borma Mission had been destroyed during the war. When asked about the NGO that came to see the damage, JTC said that he had seen a vehicle belonging to an NGO, but did not know if it was the Red Cross, MSF, or another NGO. He confirmed that DN was an outspoken person and certainly could have told the NGO that ULIMOs were responsible for the destruction. According to JTC, this was the reason DN was killed.
When asked about the hierarchy within ULIMO, JTC said that all commanders acted as superiors and that some soldiers were self-proclaimed commanders. On the organization of ULIMO, JTC stated that it was not a regular, structured army. Instead, everyone did what they wanted. He said that certain territories were assigned to ground commanders who then had control over them. According to JTC, Kundi was a battlefield commander. He said that the title of C.O. allowed the wearer to do whatever he or she wanted, and that when a commander was planning a larger action, he or she could act in concert with other commanders.
When asked to describe Kunti Kamara physically, JTC described him as black, slim build, not very tall, with short, bowed legs. As for his demeanor, JTC described him as a mean man who spoke forcefully to show his authority. He confirmed that he was not very talkative, that he committed terrible acts and that nobody could stop him when he had an idea in mind.
When asked how far away he was from the scene of the crime committed against DN, JTC estimated that he was between 100 and 200 feet away (i.e. 30 to 60m). The President then pointed out to him that he had indicated a distance of 50 to 100m at a previous hearing. JTC stated that he could not remember the exact distance.
On questioning, JTC confirmed that all the commanders present had kicked DN and that Kundi had kicked him and stomped on him with his boots.
Contrary to the statements of MD and DFB, JTC maintained that DN was killed a few hours after being placed in the former police station, during the same day. When asked about the discrepancies in their testimonies, JTC said that he could not speak for the others and that he had only openly recounted the scene he witnessed. He stated that he had nothing to add or subtract from his statement. The President recalled that MD had not been an eyewitness to the scene since she had taken refuge in the bush and that her testimony was based partly on what she had been told.
Upon questioning, JTC confirmed that he had seen Ugly Boy rip out DN’s heart before putting it in a dish and eating it with other people. He said that Kunti Kamara was in Ugly Boy’s house when they showed the heart to people before cutting it up and eating it. According to JTC, the purpose was to terrorize and threaten civilians with the message, “If you behave badly, this is what will happen to you.
The civil party questions JTC:
Asked about the course of the civil war in Foya, JTC said that in the 1980s there was a regular army in Foya. In 1989, he was in Monrovia when rebel groups took over Nimba County. From 1990, rising tensions led him to leave Monrovia with his uncle and go to Foya. When they arrived in September 1990, the area was under NPFL control. They were questioned by the NPFL and identified as people from Foya, which he said saved them.
When asked by the President about the arrival of ULIMO, JTC said that ULIMO troops took control of Foya from July 1993 until 1994. He said that when ULIMO arrived, tensions were very high and many civilians fled to Guinea or into the bush. Some thought they would stay in the bush for a short time, but the numerous killings forced them to stay hidden. ULIMO troops formed platoons of civilians and equipped them with machetes. They used their knowledge of the area to identify resistance fighters and encouraged them to denounce other civilians who had taken refuge in the bush. Those identified as rebels were executed.
When asked about his girlfriend M, JTC explained that M was his girlfriend at the time, but that they were not married, and that they had to separate because of ULIMO. He said he lost track of her when ULIMO arrived because she was caught and used as a sex slave by Ugly Boy. According to JTC, M was tortured and beaten every time she said she had a husband, so much so that she still bears the scars all over her body. She also gave birth to a child as a result of this forced sex, but Kundi is not the father, according to JTC.
Upon questioning, JTC added that M could not return to Foya because she was traumatized and humiliated. Ugly Boy forced her to eat human flesh. However, tradition dictates that people who are guilty of such acts should be marginalized. Aware that M was not guilty of anything, JTC said he was helping her, but could not take her to Foya.
When asked about TK’s murder, JTC said that he had heard about it. He said that TK worked at the mission and that F was a Jehovah’s Witness. The two men were used to go into the bush to look for TK and convince him to return. When TK and F’s mission failed, they were considered traitors and were executed. JTC said that he did not witness the murders, but saw their bodies on the airstrip.
JTC also mentioned the murder of KT, which he heard about on his way to Foya Dundu to get food. He was told that Kundi had gone to Foya Dundu and had heard that KT was a witch. JTC said that he had not been an eyewitness to the events, but that he had been told that Kundi had killed KT. He added that the civilian spokesperson tried to intervene, but was unsuccessful, and that he was locked up when he spoke too much.
When asked about the facts about DN, JTC confirmed that DN had been locked in a small room inside the old police station, but that it was not a cell as such. Upon questioning, JTC indicated that DN was almost naked when he was subjected to the Tabé, as his shirt had been torn and he no longer had any pants. He was screaming and crying and said, “It is only by the grace of God that I will be able to survive. JTC also confirmed that a curfew had not been declared at the time of DN’s execution.
When asked about the Borma Mission, JTC said it was under Swedish protectorate and known as the Swedish Free Pentecostal Mission. The Swedes left during the war because the situation was out of control.
The Public Ministry questions JTC:
When questioned about the facts relating to DN, JTC confirmed that he had been present at the torture and murder of DN from the moment of his arrest until the consumption of his heart. He also confirmed that Kundi was present from the beginning to the end. He indicated that several people intervened to subject DN to the Tabé torture, as it took several people to do so. According to JTC, when DN was beaten, he was tied up and lost his balance. On questioning, JTC said that ULIMO members, including Kunti Kamara, were jubilant, brandishing AK47s, and that all the commanders, including Kundi, were saying the popular saying: “If anyone tries the ULIMO, we will eat your heart. When asked about the axe strike on DN’s chest by Ugly Boy, JTC said that all the commanders were present and that no one interfered.
The General Counsel then referred to the October 25, 1993, article in “The Inquirer” newspaper, which referred to DN’s murder, but spelled the name differently. Upon questioning, JTC confirmed that it was indeed DN and that his murder had had a significant impact in Liberia, as it crystallized the threat to civilians. JTC said that DN’s murder was one of the first to be committed and that DN was a known person in Foya.
Upon questioning, JTC said that he was not captured by ULIMO while hiding in the bush. He explained that he had decided to voluntarily go to town and report to Ugly Boy for fear of being killed in the bush without anyone knowing.
When asked about his first meeting with Kunti Kamara, he said that it took place after his meeting with Ugly Boy. He said that Kundi introduced himself by that name at ULIMO meetings in Foya. JTC was unable to say exactly how many soldiers Kundi had under his command or by name. He said there were varying numbers depending on the scale of the operation. According to JTC, Kundi was also surrounded by child soldiers. He also reiterated that there was no real chain of command within ULIMO.
When asked when ULIMO left Foya, JTC said it was in late 1994 or early 1995, when external forces such as ECOMOG arrived. JTC reported seeing Kundi in Foya between July 1993 and late 1994.
When asked about meetings organized by ULIMO, JTC confirmed that Kundi attended. He recalled one meeting in particular, held at the airstrip where ULIMO had gathered the people of Foya. People didn’t know if they would survive or die. Some people had been designated, but were eventually able to leave because a storm broke out. The next day, however, JTC saw human body parts that had been placed in wheelbarrows pushed by boys. Civilians were being asked to buy body parts. JTC said, “It was as if we were all dead, because the people in those wheelbarrows were our own kind. He was told that similar things had happened in other places in Foya.
When asked about the curfew in Foya at the time, he said that anyone who was out during the curfew hours was put to death by ULIMO. When asked about the role of the S2 office, JTC said that Ugly Boy was the head of this office and was responsible for verifying the identity of people brought in from the bush. JTC also explained that civilians who wished to leave the city to go to the bush had to obtain a pass issued by the S2 office. As for the G2 office, it had the distinction of providing equipment and food.
When asked about ethnic relations before the civil war, JTC explained that many ethnic groups lived in Foya, including the Kissi and the Mandingo. In particular, he mentioned a man named Old Men Fofana, a Mandingo who owned one of the largest farms in Foya, married Kissi women, and still lives in Foya. JTC said that the Mandingo who did nothing wrong remained in Foya, while those who committed crimes against humanity fled when ECOMOG arrived.
Defense questions JTC:
When asked about his encounters with the GJRP prior to testifying before the Dutch and Swiss authorities, JTC explained that he had sought out reliable interlocutors to recount what he had experienced and to express his suffering.
Upon questioning, JTC confirmed that he was asked to identify Kunti Kamara for the first time during his confrontation with the latter in the office of the investigating judge, but that he had already given a description before.
When asked about his previous statements that the Kissis were not targets because they were not involved in the war, JTC made a point of recalling the context in which he had made these statements. He explained that he had been asked if coming to testify could be a danger to him as a Kissi and that he had answered in the negative as far as he was concerned.
When confronted with his statements to the Swiss authorities that he had seen OP in the NGO vehicle with DN, JTC said that he had only seen DN getting out of the vehicle. Upon questioning, JTC indicated that DN had been approached by some people after his arrest and admitted to having denounced ULIMO. The defense lawyer expressed surprise that DN had denounced himself, given the climate of terror that prevailed at the time. JTC countered that DN had been honest and had spoken openly about these events.
When asked how long DN had been held, JTC said that DN had been held captive “for a while” before being taken to the airstrip. He went on to say that DN was tortured and beaten for “a while” in the late afternoon or early evening. The defense attorney asked JTC if he could confirm that he was approximately 50m from the scene and JTC responded that if that distance was the same as the measurement that was taken during the re-situation, then it was 50m. When asked about his ability to identify people at a distance of 50m at the end of the day, JTC replied that it was still quite light and that 50m was not such a long distance. JTC said he saw the heart pieces in the dish and the commanders eating them. According to him, the commanders were not in their normal state and appeared to be performing some kind of ritual.
The defense lawyer then noted that in the trial against Alieu Kosiah, JTC had stated that Kosiah was the main person responsible for the murder of DN, whereas in the present proceedings, he stated that there was no hierarchy established. JTC then clarified that he had stated that there was no regular, structured army and that any commander could take the lead.
When asked about the role of Alieu Kosiah, JTC confirmed that in his opinion, Alieu Kosiah could have acted to stop the torture of DN. He said that Kosiah was not permanently in Foya, and that he regularly traveled to ULIMO headquarters.
When asked about his claim that Kunti Kamara was present in Foya in 1993, JTC said that he himself was in Foya at that time and that Kundi presented himself to the head of the assembly when ULIMO troops arrived in Foya. JTC added that his bodyguards called him CO Kundi.
The defense attorney then pointed out that JTC was the only witness who said he saw Kundi next to DN and asked JTC to explain how he was able to identify him. JTC said that Kundi was dressed in a mismatched uniform, wearing boots and carrying a gun. The defense attorney then reminded JTC that he was accusing Kunti Kamara of extremely serious acts and that it was important that he be able to give an accurate description of the person he saw with Ugly Boy.
Upon questioning, JTC confirmed that the murder of DN was an important event in Foya and that according to his estimate, between 50 and 60 civilians attended. If he is now the only eyewitness who has given testimony, he said this may be because some are afraid to testify and others are not able to. Upon questioning, he indicated that he did not know if he was the only witness willing to testify.
The president informed the parties that the Swiss authorities had accepted the request for international criminal assistance regarding Alieu Kosiah and that Kosiah had consented to his transfer to be heard as a witness. With regard to Abraham Towah, the President read out a letter from his lawyer, stating that his request for asylum from the Swiss authorities had been rejected and that he wished to be heard by video conference. The President indicated that it was too late to submit a request for international criminal assistance to the Swiss authorities.
Presentation of documents and pieces from the file. JTC’s presentation of the situation.
Various photographs of the premises showing the execution of DN were shown and JTC was asked to comment on them.
The Court questioned JTC:
JTC clarified that the Borma Mission was about a 3 to 5 minute drive from Foya, depending on road conditions, and that the Borma hospital had been partially rebuilt. He also confirmed that a new church had been erected next to the foundations of the old destroyed church. He explained that the main interest in this destruction was economic, as ULIMO took all the material for resale.
JTC then located the “Rashiel Store” where he was when he saw DN getting out of a car, as well as the old gas station. He said that Kolahun Road led to the old Foya police station, but did not go through the Borma Mission. To get to the Borma Mission, one had to turn right after the mosque. He also confirmed that he was 17 meters from where DN got out of the car. The President said that the distance between the old police station and the place where DN was allegedly hit was 307.8 meters.
When asked why DN was driven from the police station to the runway, which was near Ugly Boy’s house, JTC described Ugly Boy as a particularly active person when it came to killing. JTC clarified that he saw Ugly Boy with DN’s heart in his hand and not Kundi.
The President then recalled that according to the measurements taken by the gendarmes on the spot, JTC was at a distance of approximately 50 meters from the place where DN was executed.
The civil party questioned JTC:
At the request of the civil party lawyer, a map showing a satellite view of Foya with the various GPS readings was projected and JTC was asked to locate the runway, the former police station and the road leading to the Borma Mission. JTC pointed out that many of the structures on the map did not exist at the time because it was forbidden to build near the runway.
The Public Ministry questions JTC:
When asked about the location of the S2 office, JTC explained that initially it was located inside the police station, then ULIMO used a nearby house.
Asked about the location where he allegedly saw Kundi and Ugly Boy with pieces of DN heart, JTC explained that this scene took place in front of Ugly Boy’s house.
Defense questions JTC:
When asked about the distance between Ugly Boy’s house and where he allegedly saw the ULIMO commanders with DN’s heart pieces, JTC said that he did not remember the distance but that they allegedly cut up DN’s body on the porch of the house.
The prosecuting attorney read a passage from Mohamed Jabateh’s hearing about eating a human heart. [tbc see D252-38]
Examination of Kunti Kamara on the facts
The Court questioned Kunti Kamara:
The President summarized the content of the various testimonies concerning the murder of DN and asked Kunti Kamara what he had to say in this regard. Kunti Kamara replied that he did not know the witnesses who had appeared before the Court. He added that every time he heard about acts of cannibalism, he felt like vomiting.
When asked about his knowledge of the rites of the Poro African society to extract human organs, Kunti Kamara said that these were rumors and that he had never seen anyone eat a human heart. When asked about the photographs of Patrick Robert and the abuses committed against civilians during the war, Kunti Kamara explained that he had no knowledge of them and if he were guilty of anything, he would prefer to tell the truth so as not to be guilty before God. He added that he did not care about civilians because he was at the front and that the only place where he had seen civilians killed by rebels was in Gbarnga.
When asked about the coexistence of rebels and civilians, Kunti Kamara explained that all civilians had to report to S2. He added that there was also an S1, an S3 (responsible for planning) and an S4 (responsible for ammunition). When asked about the names of different officials, he mentioned the names of Deku and Fine Boy.
He went on to explain that a squad had eleven men and a platoon had four squadrons. He said that he and Mami Wata were platoon commanders. On questioning, he indicated that he held the rank of frontline commander and that he had two platoons under his responsibility, which numbered 88 men, but that no one was in charge at the front. The President then asked him about the meaning of the term “battlefront commander. Kunti Kamara replied that he was respected as a battlefront commander, but had no orders to give since Deku gave the orders”.
The President then asked Kunti Kamara how he explained the fact that he was particularly feared by the citizens of Foya if, as he claimed, he did not give orders. Kunti Kamara said he was confused. When asked about the statements of TFT, who gave many details about his presence in Foya and the acts he allegedly committed, Kunti Kamara maintained that he did not know him and that all the witnesses were Kissis. According to him, it was a plot against him that FW was behind. He reiterated that he did not know either the witnesses or DN and claimed his innocence.
When asked about the death of DN, Kunti Kamara said that he had never heard of it, or even of the mistreatment of civilians. He said that ULIMO had a code of conduct, but that the war had caused chaos. He added that when TT was in the bush with civilians, Pepper & Salt gave orders not to go and said that ULIMO was in Foya only to resist the NPFL. When asked about the political affiliation of the Kissis, Kunti Kamara said they were all for Charles Taylor because they voted for him after disarmament.
When asked about the fighting between the NPFL and ULIMO in Foya, Kunti Kamara confirmed that he had fought the NPFL and that ULIMO had pushed the NPFL rebels to the border. He also confirmed that there was no other commander named CO Kundi in Foya.
The accused was then questioned about the assignment of ranks and the criteria on which it was based. Kunti Kamara said that the Deku had the rank of captain and assigned the duties of each commander. On questioning, he said he was promoted to colonel in 1995. On the criteria for his rank of battlefield commander, Kamara explained that the rank was given to him by his peers, as they had noticed that he was active on the front lines.
The civil party questions Kunti Kamara:
When questioned about his statements before the investigating judge regarding his treatment of his soldiers, including whipping them with his belt, Kunti Kamara stated that it was not at Foya, but at Gbarnga, that he had men under his command.
When asked about the civilians in Foya and their ability to identify him as a commander, the accused replied that he was not a commander in Foya and that he was based in Mendekoma. On questioning, he acknowledged that it was possible that he had seen TFT before but did not know him. He also said he had never heard of bodies being placed in wheelbarrows.
The lawyer for the civil parties then confronted the accused with his statements to the investigating judge that he had been able to kill an enemy on the front line, although he had just declared that he was not guilty of anything and that he would never kill a human being. Kunti Kamara retorted that he had never killed civilians, but that on the front he could kill an enemy. On questioning, he confirmed that an enemy was a human being like himself.
Asked about his altercation with Ugly Boy mentioned by SK, he said he did not remember it and had only met Ugly Boy twice, the first time in Foya and the second in Voinjama.
The Public Prosecutor questions Kunti Kamara:
Upon questioning, Kunti Kamara confirmed that to his knowledge ULIMO had never committed any crimes. When confronted with statements by Kwamex Fofana, a senior ULIMO commander, who said he had received numerous complaints from Lofa County about crimes committed by ULIMO, Kunti Kamara said he could not speak about Kwamex Fofana because he was not in Foya when the town was captured and was not aware of the complaints.
When asked about the cannibalistic practices of the armed groups as described by civilians and rebels in the Médecins Sans Frontières report and a newspaper article of the time, Kunti Kamara reiterated that he had never seen anything like that.
Confronted with JTC’s statements that those who left Foya were the ones who committed crimes, the accused replied that he had only spent four months in Foya and that he did not know what JTC was referring to.
When asked about his affinity with the Kissi when he had previously stated that the Kissi ethnic group was a big family united against its people, Kunti Kamara said the Kissi were Liberians and that there was no problem with them. He said, “This is my family, we have lived together.
When asked about the practice of Tabe by ULIMO, the accused stated that it was an NPFL rebel who explained what it was, but that he had never seen anyone subjected to Tabe. The prosecutor then pointed out inconsistencies in Kunti Kamara’s statements, as during his first interrogation before the investigating judge, he said he did not know what Tabé was, but then remembered in February 2020. The public prosecutor then read out the statements of Omaro Moussa Kele [tbc] and Kwamex Fofana regarding Tabé. Fofana stated that Tabe was a form of torture practiced by all rebel groups, including ULIMO. Kunti Kamara repeated that he had no idea.
The prosecutor then confronted the accused with his statements that he had only been in Foya for four months and did not know the town well, whereas during his interrogation in the Alieu Kosiah trial, he had been able to confirm the presence of a well and remember the day of the market. Kunti Kamara replied that he was told that the market was held on Thursday in Foya.
When asked about Ugly Boy, the accused indicated that when he arrived in Foya, Ugly Boy was not there and that he had met him twice.
Asked to comment on JTC’s statement that he held the rank of battlefield commander, the accused confirmed this. The general counsel concluded that witnesses do not lie about everything, contrary to what the accused maintains. Kunti Kamara retorted that he was innocent and that during the four months he spent in Foya, he was at the front. He added that the witnesses had an interest in testifying against him and that he did not know any of them.
Defense questions Kunti Kamara:
Upon questioning, Kunti Kamara confirmed that ULIMO was fighting the NPFL and that the front line was at Mendekoma. He also confirmed that it was necessary to stay on the front line to prevent the enemy from returning to Foya and that he therefore had no contact with civilians.
When asked about the event mentioned by JTC, where several of the ULIMO commanders, including Mami Wata, Kosiah, Ugly Boy, Fine Boy and himself, were reportedly present, Kunti Kamara confirmed that it was impossible to get all these top commanders together at the same place at the same time, when there was a front line to hold.
Hearing of Massa Washington, journalist and member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as a witness called by the Public Prosecutor at the request of the civil parties
Before giving the floor to Massa Washington, the President recalled that she had not yet been heard in this case.
Massa Washington said that she was born in Liberia and lived through the first civil war. At the beginning of the war, she lived in Monrovia with her family and worked as a journalist. She explained that under the Samuel Doe government, there were killings and rapes, which created difficulties within the country and prevented her from going to work. At the age of 16, she joined the Red Cross as a volunteer and worked at two sites hosting refugees (IDPs) fleeing Samuel Doe’s army: the Lutheran Church and JJ Roberts School.
Massa Washington recounted that on the night of July 29, 1990, while at JJ Roberts School, she heard gunfire and screaming. She prayed with the other volunteers and refugees until the curfew was lifted at 6:00 a.m., thinking that Charles Taylor’s rebels had entered the town. When she went outside to see what was going on, she saw people screaming and running away saying that a massacre had occurred at the Lutheran church. Massa Washington put on her Red Cross uniform and went to the church, which was located near the school. There, she saw bodies and soldiers on the street who accused the Red Cross members of harboring rebels. Nearly 600 people were killed that night. Massa Washington said she and her colleagues tried to give first aid to the wounded, took them to a Red Cross center and took care of a woman with a thigh wound. The soldiers came to the center and threatened everyone with death. Massa Washington decided to run away with two refugees and took them into her family home. This was her first experience with mass murder.
She later recounted that thanks to the arrival of the peacekeeping forces, she was able to resume her profession as a journalist. In this capacity, she had the exclusive right to report on the Carter Camp massacre. Assisted by a photographer, she went to the site and ECOMOG forces were preventing people from entering. She asked the ECOMOG commander for permission to enter and he told her that more than 600 people had been killed and that if she wanted to enter, she did so at her own risk. She insisted on entering.
Massa Washington gave an emotional account of the scene of chaos she witnessed. She said that there were bodies everywhere, including a little boy with his stomach cut open. More than 600 people had been massacred, women, children, men, and the elderly. She interviewed the survivors and ECOMOG soldiers while the photographer took pictures, then returned to the office to write her article.
She explained that she continued to work in the war zones to understand what was happening. By early 1994, ULIMO had moved into the western part of the country. Their headquarters were in Tubmanburg in Bomi County. Massa Washington explained that ULIMO was composed primarily of Krahns and Mandingos and that tensions had arisen between the two groups. ECOMOG requested and received a cease-fire after two weeks of fighting, which allowed the U.N. to put together a team of journalists to go and investigate the situation. Massa Washington was approached by the head of UN communications to join this team, which was taken to the scene of the fighting. When they arrived in ULIMO territory, the rebels asked them to get out of their vehicles and search them. Massa Washington reported that the ULIMO soldiers were wearing wigs, hats, ammunition and all sorts of weapons on their bodies, including AK47s and knives. She also observed a rope at the checkpoint that looked strange to her because it smelled bad and had a soft texture. She remembered hearing that people were running away from armed forces that made ropes out of human intestines and realized that this was what she had just touched.
She went on to say that the rebels had let them in and that they had been received by General Mohammed Dombuyah. In the courtyard, there were bodies everywhere. He and his fellow journalists thought it was a slaughterhouse. They asked to visit the camp and saw a mass grave that had just been dug behind the house. According to Massa Washington, there were mass graves everywhere. The news team then asked to visit the hospital. While there, Massa Washington met a nurse who quietly told him that ULIMO soldiers were killing the sick.
Back in Monrovia, Massa Washington wrote an article about what she had seen at ULIMO headquarters. Two days after it was published, General Dombuyah visited her in his office and expressed his strong displeasure with the article. He invited her to return to ULIMO headquarters for another visit. Massa Washington declined. She had received a warning from one of her contacts that the general wanted to teach her a lesson. The general became angry and ordered her to return. Massa Washington told him that she knew he wanted to kill her and that if he wanted to do it, he should do it here in the newspaper office. The general left and Massa Washington never saw him again.
She said the impact of the massacres she reported on was terrible on the civilian population. When she was appointed as a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Massa Washington collected many testimonies that resonated strongly with her. In particular, she recalled the testimony of a woman who had just given birth and whose child was taken by NPFL rebels who then threw it against a wall. After the woman’s hearing, Massa Washington returned to her hotel. She dreamed that she was at Carter Camp fighting the rebels and begging them to stop the massacre. One of her TRC colleagues stayed with her and comforted her.
She then recounted with emotion the execution of her disabled half-brother by the rebels, who cut him into pieces, and the guilt she carries on a daily basis as she was charged by her mother-in-law to protect him.
Massa Washington went on to say that nothing has happened in Liberia to bring those responsible to justice except for the work of the TRC. She explained that about 700 people were interviewed and 22,000 statements were taken. This work has led to the adoption of several recommendations aimed at encouraging the government to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes. She deplored the lack of political will to implement these recommendations and denounced the culture of impunity which is explained by the fact that the politicians in power are former warlords. They threaten TRC members, witnesses and victims by saying that there will be no tribunal to try crimes committed during the civil wars. Massa Washington lamented the lack of justice for the Liberian people in Liberia and stressed the importance of trials like this one. She said these trials give hope to Liberians. She expressed her appreciation to countries such as France and the United States for making it possible for Liberians to bring the perpetrators to justice. She emphasized that in the absence of political will, these trials are the only means available to Liberians.
She said that prosecuting the perpetrators of the crimes committed in Liberia “sends a message that the human race is universal, that the world has not forgotten Liberia, and that we all share the same human dignity”.
Court questions Massa Washington:
The President asked Massa Washington about the possibility of a trial in Liberia against perpetrators of crimes committed during the civil war. She said there is no political will to prosecute these crimes, because if the government wanted to prosecute the perpetrators, it would do so first, as in Sierra Leone. She added that the U.S. has just appointed a new ambassador for war crimes, who has stated that the U.S. is willing to fund the work to punish those responsible in Liberia.
When asked about Charles Taylor, Massa Washington said that he was in prison for the crimes committed in Sierra Leone and that it would be good for the victims if he was also held accountable for the abuses committed in Liberia.
Civil party questions Massa Washington:
When asked about violence against women, Massa Washington said that within the TRC, she was in charge of women’s issues and that more than 47% of women participated in the process. Upon questioning, she confirmed that she had heard from women who were victims of sexual slavery and rape and that the violence affected women of all ages, from very young girls of 5-6 years old to grandmothers.
She said that many older women were reluctant to tell their stories because they felt stigmatized. Nevertheless, she had gone to meet them and collected their stories. One of the stories she remembered was that of an 82-year-old woman who was caught by the rebels and gang-raped repeatedly by three young men who kept her as a wife in a house. When this woman told her story, she kept her head down because she was ashamed of being raped by young men who could have been her grandchildren.
Massa Washington added that when women tried to flee, the rebels raped them in front of their husbands and forced the sons to sleep with their mothers. She also said that sometimes the rebels used instruments, such as their guns, to rape the women.
When asked about the completeness of the TRC’s list of the most notorious perpetrators, Massa Washington said the list was based on statements taken by the TRC and that for various reasons, not everyone wished to testify before the TRC.
Prosecution questions Massa Washington:
Upon questioning, Massa Washington stated that she had visited Tubmanburg twice during the ULIMO split. She also claimed to be familiar with The Inquirer and The Eye newspapers.
When asked about the abuses listed in the TRC report, Massa Washington confirmed that they were verified through witness testimony and that they were committed by all factions. When asked about the reasons for the high number of casualties and abuses in Lofa County, she explained that Lofa was a strategically important county for the fighters because it was rich in natural resources and bordered Sierra Leone and Guinea, from which ULIMO-K received support.
When asked about incidents in Foya of which she was aware, Massa Washington said she knew that Foya had been hit hard by the fighting because it was a strategic town for ULIMO-K in particular.
When asked about cannibalism, she said that many victims had told stories of cannibalism to the TRC. She said this is a common practice among all armed groups. She said that when the ULIMO-K general was captured, he was cut into pieces and his brain and heart were consumed because he was strong. Upon questioning by the President, she confirmed that these acts were a deviation from African rituals.
When asked about the number of victims of the civil war, Massa Washington said that the war had killed between 250,000 and 300,000 people and displaced 1.5 million.
Asked to confirm her statements that massive crimes were committed by all factions and whether the abuses committed fall under the definition of crimes against humanity, Massa Washington replied in the affirmative. She said that there were attempts to massacre entire tribes in a systematic way and that civilians were specifically targeted.
Defense questions Massa Washington:
Upon questioning, Massa Washington confirmed that the testimony collected by the TRC concerns crimes committed by all factions. When asked about the “Pay Yourself” policy and whether economic interest motivated the troops, she explained that several factors coexisted, including financial motivations. She added that a section dedicated to economic crimes was created within the TRC because of the large number of looting and forced marches of civilians committed during the war. She explained that the factions probably did not pay their soldiers, which encouraged them to pay themselves. The battle sites were unconventional and soldiers felt they could take anything, including women.