[10/19/2022] Day 8: forced labour
Before hearing the witnesses on the events between Foya and Solomba in 1993, to the detriment of JTC and SFC, the President asked JTC if he had anything to add about the murder of KT.
JTC first stated that he had not been an eyewitness to the scene, but that the events had been reported to him. He said that when he and his companions arrived in Foya Dundu, they were informed that a woman had been killed. According to him, the people were very sad. While he was trying to understand what had happened, he heard that a man named C.O. Kundi had killed a woman named KT after taking her out of her house. When asked by the President about the motive for the murder, JTC said that he had heard that KT had lost a child and that Kundi had come to the scene. Kundi then left and returned. It was upon his return that Kundi had heard that KT was a witch, and it was presumably for this reason that he decided to kill her. JTC added that he was concerned about bringing food to his mother and other family members and had convinced his companions to leave.
The rest of the hearing was devoted to the facts committed in 1993 to the detriment of JTC and FCS. The president invited JTC to speak about the facts concerning him and recalled that JTC had told the investigating judge, as well as the Swiss and Dutch authorities, that he had been forced to transport goods in a context of looting.
Hearing of JTC as a civil party
JTC recounted the various forced marches he was forced to make during the first civil war. He recounted that during the second half of 1993, villagers were gathered near the Foya power plant. A man named EP was designated as the civilian representative and was asked by ULIMO to provide labor to move equipment from the plant. Soldiers were also involved in this work of gathering civilians.
JTC explained that when he arrived on site in the morning, he noticed an old vehicle without a motor near the plant. A number of components of the plant had been dismantled and assembled, so that the requisitioned people could load them piece by piece into the unpowered truck. JTC said that the electrical generator that powered the entire district also had to be moved, and that it was large and heavy, which made the task difficult. To make it easier to load onto the truck, the generator was placed on logs and moved gradually toward the truck. The civilians then managed to lift it and put it into the truck. JTC added that while some were carrying objects, others were pushing the truck forward and that the operation involved a large number of people. He related that the phrase “Till Go” marked the beginning of the march and meant that the goods had to be transported to their destination. During the march, ULIMO soldiers would threaten civilians with death by telling them that if they saw a brush move, it was death. In other words, if anyone tried to run away, they would be executed (“Any bush shake, you die” or “Any bush shake, your heart”). According to JTC, these threats were made repeatedly in order to get the civilians to move on.
JTC further explained that the civilians took turns moving the truck and noted the difficulties they encountered when the slope was uphill. They passed through Shelloe, Fassapo and Borliloe before reaching the border at Solomba and then the customs at Ma. He spoke of the terror that reigned during the journey, characterized by gunshots and the beating of several people by ULIMO members anxious to complete the operation. JTC said that several ULIMO commanders were present during the march to supervise it. He mentioned the names of Ugly Boy, CO Kundi, CO Deku and Mami Wata. According to JTC, Kundi was not the main commander of the march and did not personally force him to participate.
JTC said that this was one of the largest maneuvers he had participated in and that he had been forced to participate in other forced marches. However, he stated that he did not participate in all the forced marches because he was either able to hide or he stayed with EPs to avoid being drafted.
JTC recalled one forced march in particular that was initiated and led by Kundi. He recounted that Kundi sent his bodyguards to search for him and requisition him. JTC explained that the burden assigned to him was extremely heavy, but that ULIMO soldiers would not allow any excuse to escape the task. He explained that since the people of Foya had fled when the ULIMO soldiers arrived, ULIMO requisitioned labor from nearby villages. Most of the people requisitioned for this march were therefore from neighboring villages, not from Foya.
JTC explained that once again, civilians worked without food or water, under terror, beatings, gunfire, and the constant threat of being killed. They were constantly surrounded by soldiers who made sure that the work was not slowed down. He said he had no choice but to drink water from a polluted river to quench his thirst. Once he arrived at his destination, JTC explained that it was common for the armed group to whom the goods were delivered to hand over other goods in exchange. As a result, civilians sometimes had to carry goods on their way home, unless they managed to escape. He said that those who could go straight home were lucky.
He explained that the participation of civilians in these marches caused great concern among the relatives of those requisitioned, who feared for their lives. Indeed, many people had died during these marches, especially the weak and elderly who did not have the strength to carry the loads.
During the march led by Kundi, JTC said he did not see him kill or shoot anyone, but some people were hit with sticks to make them move.
JTC claimed to have participated in a total of eight forced marches, two led by Kosiah and three by Ugly Boy. JTC went on to say that ULIMO also looted a mill, an oil factory, a vocational training organization called “LOIC” and an agricultural cooperative where producers gathered their produce for sale or barter. Private homes were also looted. He said that the end of 1993 and 1994 had been calmer periods.
JTC then mentioned the visit of Alhaji Kromah, the ULIMO general, to the district in 1994. According to him, Kromah came to see how things were going and gathered the commanders who controlled the area, including CO Deku, CO Kundi and others, at the Free Pentecostal Church in Foya. Alhaji Kromah saw what had happened in Foya and publicly told the ULIMO members, “Soldiers, you have paid yourselves. According to JTC, the purpose of this statement was to apologize to the people of Foya. JTC believed that Alhaji Kromah’s words indicated that he sympathized with what the people had experienced. JTC then claimed that Alhaji Kromah had returned in 1995 and brought cattle to the people. According to him, this was again an apology and an attempt to compensate not for the material losses but for the human losses inflicted on the population.
Court questions JTC:
Upon questioning, JTC confirmed that the electric generator was run during the second half of 1993, during the rainy season. He also confirmed that the weather conditions made the run even more difficult since the area was like a “swamp” at that time of year.
Upon questioning, he confirmed that CO Kosiah was also present at the march, along with Mami Wata, CO Kundi and Ugly Boy. By his estimate, between 50 and 100 civilians were requisitioned. He confirmed that there were fewer on the way back because they could not wait for each other, the goal being to disperse so as not to be commandeered for another march.
When asked how the civilians were gathered, JTC said that ULIMO asked EP to gather civilians and at the same time ULIMO soldiers requisitioned people from all over to ensure the success of the operation. According to him, the civilians were selected randomly, without regard to their physical characteristics.
On questioning, he confirmed that the purpose of the operation was to sell the goods in Guinea. When asked about the intermediary named Kake, whom he mentioned to the investigating judge, JTC confirmed that Kake came to Solomba and was one of the main intermediaries between ULIMO and Guinea.
When asked about the march, he confirmed that he had not eaten or drunk and indicated that the march of the electric generator covered a distance of approximately 16 miles in the space of 6 or 7 hours without any respite. The President said that the distances had been verified and estimated to be about 22km, which was slightly less than the distance JTC had just indicated.
When asked about the violence he witnessed during the march, JTC said he had not seen anyone killed by ULIMO, but explained that he had heard several gunshots, although he did not know if they had been fired at civilians.
Upon questioning, JTC reiterated that he had conducted a total of eight forced marches. When asked about the forced march under Kundi’s command, he said that he had been forced to carry a large load of coffee. When asked to confirm his previous statements that the loads could weigh up to 70kg, JTC said that he did not know the exact weight and that civilians carried what the soldiers told them to carry.
When asked about the physical after-effects that he mentioned in another hearing, JTC emphasized the psychological impact that he still suffers from today, especially because of the high stress caused by these marches and the trauma of seeing dead bodies. On the physical level, he indicated that he had a scar on his left shoulder that had no link with the facts, since it dated back to childhood and that as far as he was concerned, the after-effects were mainly psychological.
On questioning, he confirmed that he was not involved in the forced march organized in connection with the looting of the hospital in Borma. He also confirmed that the destruction of the establishments he mentioned earlier was motivated by the collection of materials.
When asked about the organization of the flow of goods across the border, JTC said that he had observed that goods were crossed the border and picked up by people on the other side. According to him, the goods were transported across the border in large, non-motorized boats, such as canoes or dugout canoes, which were rowed or used as poles. He said it was possible to put two boats together and put boards on them to make a platform for the goods.
The civil party questions JTC:
When asked about the looted generator, JTC stated that the power supply to the power plant had been dismantled and that he had not personally witnessed the dismantling. JTC said he did not recall the make of the machine dismantled and looted from the power plant and confirmed that electricity in Foya had not been restored since that event.
On questioning, he said that it was not common for ULIMO members to travel by car and that vehicles were also looted.
When asked about the importance of the generator walk given the large number of commanders who participated, JTC explained that it was indeed a very special mission given the commercial value of the items being transported. According to him, when the objects had a consequent value, it required the gathering of the commanders. When asked about the market where the goods were sold, he indicated that it was located in Guéckédou, a border town in Guinea.
On questioning, he said that civilians could not cross the border under any circumstances, nor even touch the boats, at the risk of being killed. When asked about the type of goods the commanders brought back from Guinea, he said that food, clothing, ammunition and weapons were brought back.
Asked to comment on the statements of other witnesses that there was a market on Thursdays in Foya, and on TFT’s statement that he had a radio repair store during the war, JTC said that during the occupation there was no set market day and that the market was interrupted, but gradually resumed towards the end of 1993. He added that women were used not only as sex slaves but also to go and sell goods in the market. When asked how TFT was able to continue its activity during the war, JTC said that the radios were battery operated and that since TT was known for his skill, he was able to work and ULIMO soldiers would bring him equipment to repair.
When asked about the freedom of movement of villagers under ULIMO occupation, especially during the lulls he mentioned in his statement, JTC said that it was mandatory to get a pass from the S2 office to move around. He explained that if someone showed up at a checkpoint without a pass, they could be shot on the spot.
When asked about the operation of the checkpoints, JTC said that sometimes ULIMO soldiers would beat up villagers and rob them of the supplies they had taken from the bush. JTC then confirmed what Massa Washington had said about human body parts being displayed at checkpoints to terrorize the population. JTC recalled the atrocities suffered by his brother-in-law, whose head was cut off and placed on a stake at a checkpoint. Passers-by were forced to salute the head. As for his brother-in-law’s intestines, they were used as a barrier. He also mentioned a man who ran away after having his genitals cut off. He was shot after hitting a tree. JTC added that many other atrocities were perpetrated at that time.
The Public Prosecutor questions JTC:
When asked about Kundi’s role in the big generator march, JTC said he saw Kundi at the pre-departure rally at the site of the old power plant. Other commanders were also present and they were talking to each other. On questioning, he said he had seen the commanders throughout the march, sometimes behind, sometimes in front, including at the Solomba border and the Ma customs. According to JTC, Kundi was armed.
The general counsel then asked JTC if he had heard CO Kundi say the phrases “Till go” and “Any bush shake your heart. The witness replied that this was normal language for commanders, including CO Kundi.
When asked about the second march, JTC explained that he believed the generator march took place before the one ordered by Kundi, which he placed around October-November. He said he could not give a precise date. Upon questioning, he confirmed that Kundi was the commander and that he had soldiers under his authority. JTC was unable to specify the number but explained that it was not a large march. He estimated the number of civilians requisitioned at 20 or 30 and added that the men were beaten with weapons to make them move faster.
The general counsel read out JTC’s statements to the Dutch authorities: “Some people were punished … I myself was never punished because I was strong and could continue the march. JTC confirmed this.
Regarding the electric generator march, the general counsels reminded JTC that when asked if other commanders participated, he told Swiss authorities in 2016, “Yes, they were mixed … It was a joint force and not a one-man operation.” The witness confirmed that this was the correct description of events. Upon questioning, JTC indicated that he did not discern a hierarchy among the commanders, but said that Kosiah had made the trip and therefore felt his role was more important. He confirmed that each commander had participated equally with his soldiers and explained that they called each other “CO,” but it was difficult to know who had a higher rank.
The President intervened to ask the witness if the commanders had any distinguishing marks of their rank. JTC said they did not and explained that it was difficult to identify their rank as they did not all wear uniforms.
The general counsel asked JTC if he had seen a commander reprimand or punish a soldier for threatening a civilian. The witness replied that he had not and confirmed that the ULIMOs condoned this type of behavior because they conducted themselves in this manner.
Finally, the general counsel reminded the witness that he had explained to the Swiss authorities that he had not witnessed the dismantling of the machine, but believed that the ULIMOs had brought mechanics from Guinea to assist in the dismantling. JTC confirmed his statements and said that after the dismantling, specialized people came to reassemble the machine.
Defense questions JTC:
Defense counsel questioned the witness about his statements during his confrontation with Kunti Kamara before the investigating judge that he had indicated that the generator was originally located at Bamoro. JTC responded that the power plant was located at Kpormbu Road. The lawyer for the civil parties pointed out that there had probably been a transcription error in the minutes of the hearing.
The defense lawyer then asked the witness about the parts, which she described as very large, and how they could have been transported on a single truck. JTC reiterated that the power plant was equipped with very large Caterpillar Blackstone generators, which powered the entire district. The second power supply was used locally. He said it was the second power supply, as well as some components of the main power supply, that were looted. According to him, the second feed was placed on logs. He denied stating that the entire equipment was looted and loaded into the truck. Defense counsel expressed surprise at the witness’s statements since he had not mentioned them during the rehearsal. JTC responded that he may have been misunderstood and said he was consistent in his statements.
On questioning, JTC said Kundi was on foot.
Defense counsel then confronted the witness with his statements to the Swiss authorities, in which he was less clear about the fact that everyone was equally important. He had said that Kosiah had a leading role, that he was the most important figure and the highest ranking. JTC responded that he had heard the term “OC” many times and had never known who was most important. He pointed out that Kosiah would move outside of Foya and come back. Since he was present that day, the witness inferred that he was the person in charge. The witness then went back to his statements to the Swiss authorities and said that Kosiah’s movements gave the impression that he was the most important person, but that did not mean that the others were not.
The defense attorney expressed surprise that the civilians were able to move the truck in the middle of the rainy season, when the roads are impassable even for unloaded vehicles. JTC confirmed that it was in the rainy season and said that a lot of manpower was used.
When asked about the canoes used to transport goods across the river, the witness said that it was usual to see such canoes crossing the river to carry heavy loads and that they [i.e., ULIMO members] knew very well how to assemble them. He further stated that these canoes are still in use today. The defense attorney responded that she could not imagine the canoes floating with such a load.
When asked about Kromah’s apology to the people of Foya, the witness said he had seen it expressed publicly.
The general counsel intervened to clarify the witness’s statements to the Swiss authorities regarding Kromah, as they were allegedly truncated by the defense counsel. The defense attorney then intervened, quoting another passage from those statements.
Hearing of Dr. Hervé Boissin, general practitioner in Paris, expert for the Paris Court of Appeal and approved by the Court of Cassation, heard as an expert summoned by the public prosecutor
Dr. Hervé Boissin introduced himself by indicating that he was an expert at the Paris Court of Appeal, accredited by the Court of Cassation.
Before he began his statement, the President specified that he had been appointed by the investigating judge to carry out a forensic examination of JTC. His expert report was filed on November 27, 2018. The President added that his mission was to verify JTC’s physiological sequelae in connection with forced marches.
Dr. Hervé Boissin reported that he examined JTC on November 22, 2018, at 4:00 p.m. at his office with an interpreter present. JTC informed him that he was married with three children. He added that he had a master’s degree and worked as an auditor-accountant. His hobby was singing. The witness also told him that he had pain in his back, neck and arm, which sometimes required him to take painkillers. At the time of the examination, JTC was 50 years old.
Dr. Hervé Boissin reported a scar on the left shoulder stump from childhood and a scar on the dorsolumbar spine of ritual origin. He did not report any contracture or pain points on palpation of the cervical spine. Regarding the dorsolumbar spine, Dr. Hervé Boissin noted hyperlordosis with forward tilting of the pelvis and pain on palpation.
Dr. Hervé Boissin concluded that there was no functional limitation. He added that without radiological examination, the tilt of the pelvis could not be directly and definitely related to the facts.
Questioned by the President on his report, Dr. Hervé Boissin confirmed that the physiological sequelae could not be directly and definitely linked to the elements reported by the witness. He then specified that the examination of the dorsal-lumbar spine was almost normal and that he could not therefore give an opinion on the impact of the steps on JTC. On questioning, he indicated that heavy lifting could cause immediate traumatic injury, but that JTC was young and flexible at the time.
When questioned by an assessor judge, he confirmed that JTC’s physical condition was not at all incompatible with the forced walking he experienced.
Presentation of documents and pieces from the file. JTC’s reinstatement.
The President presented photos to the Court representing the re-situating of JTC. The first photos were plans and aerial views of the routes of the forced marches. The length of the route was 22 kilometers. The President then showed a picture of JTC in front of his sister’s house where he was when he was caught by the ULIMOs to perform the forced march of the generator. A picture of the power plant was also shown.
The President then presented a picture of the interior of the power plant to the witness and asked him where the generator was. JTC explained that the main power supply could be seen in the background, which was very heavy and powerful. He added that this was the reason why there was a secondary power supply that was smaller with less power. One of the jurors clarified that it was a converter. The witness added that components had been taken away from the main generator. On questioning by the President, JTC confirmed that parts of the main generator and the converter were taken away. He also confirmed that the main generator was not in working order at the moment.
The President then showed pictures of the location of the spare parts. He asked the witness if he confirmed his statements that Kundi was active, did not stay in place, and was moving back and forth in front of the building. JTC confirmed this.
When asked about the vehicle in which the generator parts were placed, JTC said it was a six-wheel truck. The defense attorney intervened, citing the witness’s statements in which he had described a “small pickup truck with an open back,” which is why the attorney had used the term pickup truck. The witness denied mentioning a pickup truck and said he had described a truck, which is a large truck. The president asked if there could have been a translation error in JTC’s explanation. JTC reiterated that the vehicle he had seen was not a pick-up truck and that there were different sizes of trucks.
The presiding judge went on to say that the witness had said the truck was parked on a road called Kpormbu Road. The defense attorney pointed out that in the transcript, the name of the road was spelled “Bamoro. The presiding judge asked the witness to say the name again and added that there was likely to be a transcription error.
Upon questioning by the president, JTC confirmed that it took more than an hour to load the parts into the vehicle. Once the parts were loaded, he estimated the travel time to Solomba at 6-7 hours.
When asked about the second step, the witness said that Deku was present. He said that he did not have access to the contents of the bags to be transported, but that they could contain a variety of products (oil, coffee, coconut, copper, zinc, etc.) and that they did not transport rice that day because there was little rice in Foya. He also confirmed that Kundi was present with Deku and that it was not possible to determine whether Deku was actually above Kundi.
When asked about the river crossing at the Guinean border, JTC confirmed that Kundi had stopped the people on the other side of the river to take the goods across in dugout canoes.
The prosecution did not have any questions.
The Public Prosecutor questioned JTC:
On questioning, JTC confirmed that the first photos represented the place of departure and the place of his arrest at his sister’s house with regard to the forced walk of the generator. The General Counsel clarified that the photographic plates mixed the two walks performed by JTC.
The President explained that the distance of 22 kilometers mentioned earlier was the distance from JTC’s sister’s house to the border of Solomba, but that the generator was further down. He specified that it was therefore necessary to add 1.7 kilometers, to arrive at a total of 23.7 kilometers for the operation of the generator
The defense did not have any questions.
* * *
Hearing TSKF as a witness called by the public prosecutor at the request of the defense
TSKF introduced himself by indicating that he was a farmer in Foya.
Before giving him the floor, the presiding judge indicated that TSKF Foday was previously heard by the Liberian police on April 29, 2019, in the context of the international letter rogatory.
The witness began his spontaneous statement by saying he was in Foya during the war in 1993. One morning he was sitting with other people when they saw Kundi with soldiers [editor’s note: the witness’s reference to ‘child soldiers’ was not translated]. Someone was called Kotor. According to the witness, there was a gate nearby where Kundi and his soldiers killed men and beheaded them. They then brought the severed heads to the witness and the people he was sitting with. The latter became frightened and went back to their homes crying. The witness added that “when you hear crying, it’s still trouble” and that this was when he met Kundi.
Court questions TSKF:
The presiding judge asked TSKF about forced labor, which he had mentioned in a previous interview. The witness explained that they [ULIMO soldiers] forced civilians to work for them, and when they caught civilians, they put a heavy burden on their heads. He recounted that he himself had been forced to carry heavy loads on his head several times, including more than 100 kilograms of coffee, on the road from Foya to the Guinean border. He stated that “you had to carry, even if you didn’t have the strength.” He added that he and the other civilians were hiding, but that sometimes the soldiers would look everywhere until they found them.
Upon questioning by the President, TSKF mentioned some of the names of the commanders who led these marches, including Ugly Boy, Mami Wata, and CO Blaki [tbc], but he said the name that came up most often was Kundi.
The president asked about his brother, and the witness said he had not heard from him and did not know if he was still alive. The president then noted that during his hearing, he had said people had taken his brother and then killed and beheaded him. TSKF replied that he was talking about Kotor and that he considered him as his brother because their respective mothers came from the same family. On questioning, he said that Kundi had ordered his men to catch Kotor. He said that he had not witnessed the beheading scene, but had only seen Kundi and his men with Kotor’s head.
The President then confronted TSKF with the physical description he gave of Kundi during his hearing, noting that he described the accused as someone “not very small”, wearing dreadlocks and a denim suit. The presiding judge told him that this description did not seem to fit Kundi and asked the witness if he could have mistaken Kundi for another ULIMO officer. TSKF said he knew Kundi and that he did not always wear a uniform, especially when he went to Guinea. The witness turned to the dock and confirmed that he recognized Kunti Kamara, stating that he was Mandingo. He said that he was himself of the Kissi ethnic group, but that he understood Mandingo.
On questioning, he confirmed that he had seen Kundi during the war and indicated that Kundi had caught him only once on a forced march, during which he had to carry coffee.
The civil party questions TSKF:
Upon questioning, TSKF confirmed that Kundi was accompanied by child soldiers and specified that one of them was named Saddam. He also confirmed that he was in front of the gate of a house when he saw Kundi, and not near a checkpoint. On questioning, he specified that Kotor’s head had not been placed on a stake.
When asked about the name of the river crossed during the forced marches, the witness said it was the Makona River. On questioning, he stated that he had been forced to make a forced march only by Kundi, to the exclusion of other commanders.
The Public Ministry questions TSKF:
Upon questioning, TSKF confirmed the existence of a curfew. He added that people had been forced to carry the parts of the large generator on their heads. When asked about this, he confirmed that it was the generator that supplied the town of Foya and said that he had not been involved in the transport of these parts, but had heard about it.
Upon questioning, Tamba S.K. Foday confirmed the existence of passes issued by the S2 office, which were required to leave Foya.
When asked how many soldiers usually accompanied Kundi, the witness was unable to give an exact number, but said there were many. When asked about the name of a soldier he had given during his hearing before the Liberian police, TSKF confirmed that one of them was named Saddam. The general counsel then asked him if his first name was Saddam or Saddam Hussein. TSKF replied that his name was only Saddam.
Upon questioning, he confirmed that the soldiers were moving into the homes of civilians and that the civilians had to feed them.
When asked about the forced march organized by Kundi in which he participated, the witness confirmed that the river to which they had to march was near Solomba. Asked to comment on his statement that some of those who participated in the forced marches were afraid to speak out, TSKF confirmed it. When asked, he said he had not considered filing a complaint because he was confident that the police would not do anything to arrest the perpetrators.
Defense questions TSKF:
Asked by TSKF about his ability to formally identify Kunti Kamara in the dock, when during his hearing in 2019, he had indicated that he did not recognize him on the photographic boards, citing the passage of time, the witness replied that the photographs presented to him in 2019 were not clear enough to allow him to identify the accused. The defense attorney countered that, in her opinion, the only difference between the 2019 photographs and today’s confrontation was that in 2019, TSKF had to recognize Kunti Kamara among nine other people, while today he was alone in the box. TSKF maintained that he recognized Kunti Kamara.
When asked who offered to testify against Kunti Kamara, TSKF said that he had heard that Kundi had been caught and that he had then been approached by the police to testify. The defense lawyer then questioned the veracity of TSKF’s statements, relying on his statements about his brother, about whom he said he did not know whether he was alive or dead before saying that he had been killed by Kundi, and about the generator march during which the requisitioned persons had carried the coins on their heads.
Hearing of ENB as a witness called by the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the request of the civil parties
ENB introduced himself by indicating that he was born in 1974 and was an officer in the police force. On questioning by the President, he indicated that he had never had any contact with Kunti Kamra, but that he knew some of the civil parties, notably SC and JTC, who was his teacher.
Before turning the floor over to ENB, the President said that ENB was heard by the Liberian police in April 2019 under an international letter rogatory.
The witness began his spontaneous statement by recounting the arrival of Charles Taylor’s soldiers in Foya while he was working in a swamp. He explained that Charles Taylor’s soldiers tied a red cloth around their arms to identify them and signal to other troops that identification had been made. According to him, the occupation was relatively peaceful: the soldiers simply took the animals without shooting at the civilians, who were able to continue their daily activities. He said that in 1992-1993, they experienced another war. Taylor’s rebels fled into the bush and ULIMO took control. The witness said he heard the names Deku, Kundi, and Ugly Boy.
The witness recalled a meeting held by ULIMO soldiers in which they told civilians, “Tell your family members to come back here, or we will go into the bush to kill them. Some of them then went into the bush to bring people back to town. At another meeting called by C.O. Deku, ULIMO soldiers threatened to go and kill Taylor’s rebels who had remained in the bush. According to the witness, the Taylor rebels entered the town to attack ULIMO, but they were helpless because they had no ammunition to fight with. So ULIMO drove out the NPFL rebels and the civilians became the enemy.
ENB reported that ULIMO put in place a curfew from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. Most villagers did not have the time to go to the hospital. Since most villagers have no sense of time, ULIMO set up a bell to tell people to go home. According to ENB, if someone was at a friend’s house and the bell rang, they would often get caught on their way home and their body would be found the next day. He added that many citizens had fled into the bush, but that his family had stayed in town because of the children and that they had therefore left their lives in God’s hands.
He also said that child soldiers followed civilians, especially when they went outside to wash, and forced them to follow them, in order to form groups – up to 100 people – for forced marches. Regarding the forced marches, ENB explained that the loads consisted of various goods such as machinery, zinc, engines, freezers and refrigerators of all sizes, which had to be transported to the border. When someone complained about being tired, they could be thrown to the ground, beaten or even killed. The witness specifically recalled Ugly Boy, nicknamed Saah Chuey, because he would chop people up with an axe. He said that when civilians arrived at the border with their loads, they could not leave, but had to stay put and wait for the ULIMO soldiers to do their trading.
ENB went on to recount a forced march in which Taylor’s rebels attempted to attack ULIMO in the last town before the border, but eventually had to flee because they were powerless. According to the witness, a Krahn named Prince took some men to go and look for the Taylor rebels in the bush. They came across a young schoolboy and some elderly people. Prince said he was going to kill them, and some soldiers tried in vain to dissuade him. Prince shot the schoolboy while a child soldier executed the elderly. ENB and the other civilians thought they were not safe and hid. After this incident, the ULIMO soldiers reiterated their threat and said that anyone who hid would be killed. ENB and the others presented themselves to them, and the soldiers left to trade in Guinea before taking the civilians back to Foya.
Finally, the witness said he believed this war was a tribal war. He said that in Foya, before the war, there was already a territorial conflict between the Gbandi and the Kissi, two neighboring ethnic groups.
The Court questions ENB:
Upon questioning by the President, ENB confirmed that he was in Foya in 1993 and moved to Monrovia in 1994. When asked about the ULIMO commanders, he said he had never seen Kundi, but had heard of him. He added that he did not know where Ugly Boy was, but would be able to recognize him, and that he thought Deku had been killed in Guinea.
When asked about DN’s death, which he mentioned in a previous hearing before Liberian police, ENB said he was in Foya the day DN died. He explained that he heard that three white people came and asked the traditional leader TT to take them to the hospital in Borma. ENB was there. The whites asked who was responsible for the destruction and TT replied, “I can’t say because we are the victims of the war. ENB said that to his surprise, DN was also present and said, “I am not going to hide anything. This damage was caused by ULIMO. According to the witness, Kundi and Deku controlled Foya at the time. It was when he returned to town that he learned that DN had been killed. He said he did not see either the killing or DN’s body.
When asked about the charges brought by the civilians under duress, in particular about the generator, ENB said that he did not know whether it was the generator of the town of Foya or the one of the hospital. He added that the Foya power plant was built during the Doe regime and when the NPFL took over Foya, the generator remained in place. However, when ULIMO came, they took everything. He confirmed that he had to carry the generator parts.
When asked about Fine Boy, the witness described him as an intelligent, well-trained person who treated people well. He spoke politely and did not beat people. When asked about Ugly Boy, he described him as ugly and feared by the people. When asked about Kundi and Deku’s reputation, ENB said that they had power and were always together. The population feared them.
Civil Party Questions ENB:
Civil party counsel questioned the witness about what the ULIMO said when they arrived in Foya. According to him, ULIMO said they had come to free the population from the suffering inflicted by Charles Taylor. ENB added that: “Based on their actions, we know that these were lies.
Prosecution questions ENB:
When asked about the forced marches, ENB said that people were forcibly requisitioned, beaten, and not given a cent. According to him, many people died on the way. When asked to comment on his statements that some people died on the way because of the heavy loads they were carrying, ENB confirmed them. He also confirmed that some had been executed. He said that the marches from Foya to Solomba could last a whole day because of the weight of the loads, whereas normally it would take only five hours. When asked about the behavior of the commanders who led the marches, he said that they enjoyed hitting civilians.
Asked to describe how civilians were requisitioned for these marches or other tasks, ENB recalled that there was a curfew. During the day, the soldiers would knock on the civilians’ doors and take them out. In the morning, soldiers would sometimes send child soldiers to surprise civilians when they left their homes. Sometimes the soldiers would also ask the traditional leader to provide men. In order to gather people without arousing suspicion, the traditional leader would shout “general cleaning” and only when the civilians started to work would the soldiers come and get them.
Upon questioning, ENB confirmed that he witnessed the exchange between DN and the whites, but not the arrest of DN.
When asked about the measures put in place by ULIMO, ENB confirmed the existence of a curfew and passes issued by the S2 office. He explained that the civilians who were in Foya owned farms in the bush and asked Deku for permission to go there to get food. Deku agreed, provided that the civilians had a pass.
When asked to comment on TSKF’s statement that some of the victims of forced marches did not speak out for fear of reprisals, ENB confirmed this and said that many were afraid to speak out.
The defense questions ENB:
The defense attorney pressed ENB on why he implicated Kunti Kamara in the death of DN and the forced marches, when every time he was asked, he replied that he did not know him. The witness countered that many people have heard of Kundi without ever having met him. He added that the abuses committed under Kundi’s orders were his responsibility, saying, “I did not see him, but I saw people killing in his name. He said that the soldiers said they came on the orders of Kundi and Deku.
The defense lawyer then asked ENB about his age. ENB said he was 42 or 43 years old, and the defense lawyer took offense, saying that the witness had told the Liberian police that he was born in 1972, so he must be in his 50s. Defense counsel said he did not know whether the witness was the person being heard in Liberia given these inaccuracies and that this was unacceptable. The presiding judge intervened to point out that there can be inaccuracies in birth dates that may have to be corrected in court, as there were no civil registries at the time. The witness was asked to confirm the information on the witness card and to show his business card, indicating that he was born in 1974.
Screening of a 2008 film about the hearings before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The film was added to the proceedings at the request of the civil parties’ lawyer. It shows various hearings of witnesses by the TRC, particularly in relation to forced marches and abuses committed during the civil wars. When asked about ULIMO commanders, a witness of Kissi origin mentioned the names Ugly Boy and C.O. Kundi.
At the end of the viewing, the president asked for confirmation that he had heard the name C.O. Kundi mentioned by a witness. Counsel for the civil parties stated that the witness had indeed mentioned the names of various commanders, including C.O. Kundi.
Examination of Kunti Kamara on these facts
The Court questions Kunti Karama:
When asked about the various people who mentioned the forced marches, in addition to JTC, Kunti Kamara said he did not know them, even though they claimed to know him personally and indicated that he had a command post in Foya. Asked about the witness Kissi, who mentioned the names of Ugly Boy and C.O. Kundi in the TRC video, Kunti Kamara said he was not aware of the existence of the video.
When asked about the forced marches, he said he was not aware of them either and that he had spent four months in Mendekoma, on the border with Sierra Leone. He said that he had too much work and did not have time to see this.
When asked about the looting of the Foya power plant, the accused said he could not say anything about Foya and did not know if there was a power plant, since he had been based there for one or two weeks at most.
When asked about the forced march mentioned by witness JTC, which was allegedly ordered by Kundi, he said he was shocked and confused that someone would accuse him without knowing him. Asked about Deku’s presence at the march, Kunti Kamara said Deku came to him at the front.
Asked about trade between Guinea and Liberia, particularly in Lofa, the accused said there was a market in Voinjama and that Guineans and Liberians traded goods there in 1995-1996. The president then confronted him with his statements before the investigating judge that after the capture of Voinjama, the border with Guinea was opened and all Liberians returned to Foya. He further stated before the investigating judge that there were also Guineans in Foya who bought cocoa and coffee to send to Guinea. The president noted that the witnesses heard so far have stated that when the Foya region was under ULIMO control, no one was allowed to move without a pass and no one was allowed to cross the border into Guinea. The president therefore asked the accused how it was possible to trade with the Guineans. Kunti Kamara indicated that he was confused and that he was simply trying to explain that in 1995-1996 the situation was normal. On questioning by the President, the accused confirmed that he could not comment on the trade that took place in 1993 with Guinea, as he had left Foya at that time. When asked again about the forced marches, he stated that he did not have time for civilians because he was at the front. When asked if he had heard about it, he replied that it was rumor and that if he himself had seen someone forcing civilians, he would say so.
The President then asked Kunti Kamara about the apology General Kromah had made to the people of Foya. The accused replied that General Kromah had come to Foya after the disarmament, at the time of the preparation of the elections.
When asked about the lack of remuneration for ULIMO soldiers and their means of subsistence, Kunti Kamara said that the soldiers were resistance fighters and received weapons and food from Guinea. He said he was not concerned with the food suppliers. When asked whether local people, especially the Kissi, were willing to give food to the soldiers, the accused replied that he was not involved and could not say anything about it.
The president asked Kunti Kamara if he had always remained at the front between 1989 and 1997. The accused replied that when he was in Gbarnga, he went back and forth between Voinjama and the bridge over the St. Paul River that separated ULIMO from Taylor’s forces.
Asked why Alieu Kosiah called him as a witness in his trial in Switzerland, Kunti Kamara said he did not know.
The civil party questions Kunti Kamara:
The civil party’s lawyer re-interrogated Kunti Kamara about his stay in Foya. The accused indicated that he remembered spending four months in Foya, before going to Voinjama. He also indicated that Kosiah had spent two weeks in Foya.
When confronted with his statements to the investigating judge that he knew Solomba, Kaké and the river that had to be crossed with canoes, Kunti Kamara confirmed that there was a river in Solomba. However, he stated that he did not remember mentioning either canoes or a man named Kaké. He added that in 1996, he had gone to the border to get gasoline. The lawyer for the civil parties said she was surprised that he had such precise knowledge of the place, having been there only once.
When asked to date the disarmament, the accused stated that the disarmament took place between 1996 and 1997 and preceded the establishment of a transitional government in which all factions participated. He said that the elections took place at a later stage. The lawyer for the civil parties questioned Kunti Kamara about the connection between Kromah’s visit to Foya to apologize to the population and the election campaign period. The accused replied that he had heard that Kromah had come to Foya while he was campaigning.
When asked about the plot against him, Kunti Kamara confirmed the existence of a large network against him led by HB, a Mandingo, FW, a Kissi, and the NGO GJRP. The civil party lawyer recalled that the NGO was created in 2012 and asked Kunti Kamara how he explained the fact that a witness mentioned him before the TRC in a video from 2008, even though his name was not on the list of perpetrators. The accused reiterated that these were secret plots. He explained that there were many rumors and that the interest of those who came to testify against him was to obtain asylum in Europe and to bring their families.
The Public Ministry questions Kunti Kamara:
Upon questioning, Kunti Kamara confirmed that he had stayed in Foya for four months. The general counsel then recalled that the capture of Foya was dated July 1993 and considered that the accused had therefore remained there until November 1993, the period during which the abuses reported by JTC, such as the forced marches, were committed. Kunti Kamara retorted that he had spent all his time on the front line in Mendekoma because of the fighting. He repeated that he was not based in Foya.
When asked about statements by several witnesses that he had child soldiers under his command, the accused denied having child soldiers as bodyguards in Foya. He stated that he had never heard the name Saddam Hussein. Regarding the enlistment of child soldiers by other members of ULIMO, the defendant recalled two 16-17 year old soldiers captured by Pepper & Salt. These youths were wearing uniforms, but he had never seen them on the front lines.
The defendant was then asked about the slogans “Any bush shake” and “Till go”. He indicated that he was not aware of the slogans, but that according to him, the first expression was used at the front to encourage soldiers to react when there was movement in the bush. As for “Till Go,” he said it was a military expression that told soldiers not to retreat, but to continue until they reached the objective, like the expression “No retreat.
The general counsel read statements from Kwamex Fofana, a senior ULIMO officer, about the marches and forced labor. He said the civilians were forced to transport looted goods to Guinea, such as coffee, palm oil, and engines, as part of trade between Lofa and Guinea. Kunti Kamara replied that he knew nothing about this.
Asked whether he knew the expressions “help yourself” and “pay yourself,” the accused said he had entered the war voluntarily in order to resist Charles Taylor, not to be paid.
When asked about his movements in Lofa, he said that he used a car that had been confiscated from the NPFL and that Deku provided him with gasoline. The general counsel then confronted him with his statements to the investigating judge that it was a time of war and that there was no gasoline. Kunti Kamara said the judge asked him how he got around and he replied that he went to the market in Kolahun, near where his wife lived. Under control of the parties, the general counsel indicated that this was not what the accused had stated.
Defense questions Kunti Karama:
Referring to the map of Liberia, defense counsel noted that Mendekoma and Foya were in the district of Foya and asked Kunti Kamara if he was referring to the district of Foya when he said he had spent four in Foya. The accused confirmed that he had spent four months not in the city of Foya, but in the district of Foya.