[10/21/2022] Day 10: Alieu Kosiah Testifies
Hearing of Christian Ballouard, psychologist, expert at the Paris Court of Appeal
The President recalled that the expert had been mandated to carry out three psychological assessments of FG, JTC and SFC respectively. Invited to explain the role of a psychological expertise on the civil parties, Christian Ballouard indicated that, as with the accused, the expertise focuses on the personality and life history of the civil parties. According to him, the difference lies in the questions that are asked insofar as they are sometimes oriented towards the responsibility of the perpetrator and the motivation for the act, and sometimes towards the psychological repercussions of facts – often violent – on a person.
February 26, 2019 FG Civil Party Psychological Expertise:
The expert explained that he met FG at his office on 26 February 2019 and could not give him a specific date of birth. FG is the third of five siblings and lives on a farm bequeathed by his parents. His father was orphaned at an early age and he did not attend school. He is married and has four children.
As to the facts, FG was a helpless witness to the murder of his sister. His mother died one week after his sister’s death. FG believes that there is a direct link between his mother’s death and that of his sister, as he says that his mother died of grief. He returned home two months later and his house had been destroyed. According to the expert, both mother and sister are present in FG’s house, and he finds them in his dreams.
With regard to his personality, the expert indicated that FG presented himself as a docile and conformist person who does not question authority. He has difficulties in finding his bearings in time, which are not related to a pathology, but to a traumatic impact. He also has difficulty mourning his sister and his mother and feels guilty for not having warned his sister of the danger of death and for having run away, leaving his mother alone. His account is sometimes contradictory, in that his escape may be delayed until after his mother’s death, which is not inconsistent with the guilt he feels.
The expert’s conclusions are that FG is docile and submissive to authority and that his relationship with time is disturbed, which is compatible with a traumatic impact. He does not have any mental or behavioural deficiencies or disorders that could affect his psychological balance. The person concerned is not a fantasist or a liar.
The Court questions the expert:
According to the President, the expert saw FG as a simple, uneducated person, who appeared to him to be free of any pathology or psychological disorder that would interfere with his perception of reality. The President therefore understood that FG did not have a personality trait that would invite him to present a distorted view of reality, which the expert confirmed.
The President then recalled the defendant’s argument that FG was part of a conspiracy against him, presumably for the purpose of obtaining papers in Europe. The President asked the expert whether FG’s account had seemed to him to have been wiretapped or rather straightforward. The expert replied that FG had given his account without any ulterior motive. He added that FG’s experiences were still painful and that the elements presented in his account were credible. When asked whether he had detected any obvious signs of falsity in the compelled testimony, the expert answered in the negative.
The expert then confirmed the existence of a strong feeling of guilt on the part of the person concerned, not only for not having warned his sister of a danger, but also for having fled, especially since FG was going to link his sister’s death to that of his mother. The President recalled that FG was facing armed soldiers and that it was difficult for him to intervene. Therefore, there is undoubtedly a feeling of guilt, but it is not necessarily justified under the circumstances according to the President.
On questioning by a juror, the expert indicated that FG had not mentioned his sister’s illness, which he interpreted as a desire on his part to remain as close as possible to the facts. When asked about the post-traumatic consequences of the death of a loved one, the expert replied that there were no general rules and that everyone reacted differently. According to the expert, a feeling of violence or death traditionally and classically provokes nightmares, flashbacks or significant sadness. There is a symptomatology that can be described in a general way. On questioning by the President, the expert confirmed that 30 years after the events, there could be victims who were completely overwhelmed and others who had managed to overcome the trauma.
The prosecution questions the expert:
When asked to elaborate on FG’s disturbed relationship with time, the expert indicated that the person concerned had difficulty reconstructing dates or durations in his life. According to the expert, this could be linked to his lack of education, or even a traumatic impact. The expert added that this would require further psychological exploration to examine more closely the person’s relationship with time on the basis of a history that was unique to him, and that the distance from the events did not facilitate the examination.
There were no questions from the prosecution.
The defense questions the expert:
Referring to the expert’s report in which it is stated that FG was hidden in a banana tree, the defence counsel asked the expert whether FG had specified whether he had hidden at the time of his sister’s execution or afterwards. The expert replied that he was constantly in hiding.
When asked how FG’s compliant and submissive nature was reflected, the expert explained that this was the nature of the examination, which was not only to look at the interactions, but also to cross-reference that immediate dimension with the facts reported by the person. The immediate dimension and the historical dimension are crossed to find what is at the intersection of the two.
The defence lawyer then asked the expert whether he was used to assessing people of African origin and whether the way of assessing was universal. The expert replied that an expertise was always related to a culture and that he had taken this into account, as well as the intermediation with an interpreter. He confirmed that he took into account the ethnic origin of the subjects in the context of his expertise.
When asked about the difficulties of interpreting, the expert explained that he did not have access to the original words, whereas psychologists work precisely on the word. If the exact word is missing, one has to deal with this approximation, which requires particular caution. When asked whether it was through caution that the expert was dealing with the problem of not having the exact word, he replied in the negative, specifying that he was taking into account the interpretation.
When asked how the lie could be perceived in a story, the expert explained that lying is not a pathology and belongs to everyone. As for mythomania, it was the result of very precise mechanisms that were easy to detect, according to the expert.
The defence lawyer then asked the expert if it was possible to have a memory embedded in oneself that would be one’s own reality, but which would not correspond to what actually happened. The expert replied that the memory was unique to the person and followed the vagaries of time. He added that the memory could be worked on with a professional to give it a different fate. According to him, some memories are fixed, while others can evolve over time.
When asked how to separate traumatic memories in a person who has been confronted with a war context, the expert indicated that collective trauma does not affect the person in the same way as individual trauma. According to him, the climate of war certainly leads to a feeling of insecurity, but this does not mean that what the person is experiencing is not a priority. On questioning, the expert added that traumas could accumulate and that there was no mathematics in the psyche that would allow trauma to be attributed to one event or another.
When asked whether FG had mentioned any other traumatic events, the expert answered in the negative and specified that his mission was not limited to the facts concerning the murder of KT, but covered the whole of FG’s life.
Civil Party Psychological Expertise JTC November 22, 2018:
The expert explained that he met JTC on November 22, 2018 at his office. JTC is the youngest of seven children, raised on the family farm. He was an auditor for the government of public institutions until 2015. In terms of his personal life, his first long relationship was interrupted by the onset of the armed conflict and the kidnapping of his then girlfriend by the rebels.
With regard to the facts, the person concerned gave an account of an exodus from 1990, during which he was beaten and imprisoned. He recalled a period of terror between July 1993 and Christmas 1995, during which he witnessed atrocities, and a new invasion in 1999. With regard to the impact of this war experience, he told the expert that his nightmares were intense after the conflict. The expert added that there were no ruminations or flashbacks in JTC’s traumatic experience, which was distanced from the events. His current complaints are of persistent pain in his lumbar, neck and shoulders from the loads he had to carry.
As for his personality, he is particularly grateful to the man who allowed him to go to school. He is subjected to injunctions and has been forced to witness traumatic scenes. He feels guilty for having got out of it compared to other weaker people. According to the expert, his religious conversion (Mormon) has helped contain his trauma.
In conclusion, the expert indicated that JTC was sociable and committed to a deep faith since his religious conversion. His late access to school did not prevent him from completing his education. Married and of normal intelligence, he did not show any mental disorder or signs of mythomania.
The Court questions the expert:
The President noted that JTC’s profile was somewhat different from that of FG, particularly in terms of education and professional experience, which the expert confirmed he perceived.
The Chairperson then indicated that JTC had the particularity of having witnessed the death of DN, whose heart was allegedly removed. The President recalled that JTC had stated that he was particularly affected by these events, which were inconceivable to him before they occurred. JTC was also heard to talk about the acts of which he was himself a victim, such as the forced marches. The President asked the expert whether one event seemed more traumatic than the other. The expert replied that it was a series of traumatic events that JTC had witnessed, noting that he had also mentioned rapes and that he had been very affected by cannibalism.
When asked about post-traumatic stress, which usually takes the form of ruminations and flashbacks shortly after the events, the expert pointed out that it was more difficult to perceive it because the events were so far removed in time. He added that JTC’s religious conversion had visibly helped him, even if he remained marked by a great deal of guilt for not having been able to help the weak.
When asked how his religious conversion had alleviated his state of stress, the expert indicated that the expression of faith allowed the past to fade away and put the priority on the collective, in order to evacuate what was causing him pain.
The prosecution questions the expert:
The lawyer for the civil parties returned to the subject of JTC’s former companion, from whom he had to separate because she had been taken as a sex slave. The expert confirmed this, stating that JTC had not found her, but had heard from her all the same. He added that JTC had mentioned miscarriages and that he had a detailed account of the scenes he witnessed during his exodus from Monrovia to Foya and then during the period of terror.
When asked about JTC’s missing brother, the expert explained that JTC was marked by this event insofar as his brother allegedly died of starvation. The expert stated that there was a certain independence between this death and the belligerent situation.
The prosecution questions the expert:
The General Counsel noted that JTC’s religious conversion, which reinforced the psychological impact, occurred in 2003-2004, just after the civil war. On questioning, the expert confirmed that there was a link between the religious conversion and the fading of the impact.
The defence had no questions.
February 26, 2019 SFC Civil Party Psychological Expertise:
The expert explained that he met SFC on February 26, 2019, at his office and that SFC was 50 years old at the time of the expert examination. He explained that he was the youngest of four siblings and was raised by one of his aunts. SFC was married at 19 and had seven children. The expert added that he had become a Jehovah’s Witness after the war and explained that SFC had mentioned ear pain following a rifle butt wound, as well as significant back pain.
Regarding his personality, FCS is an active and dynamic person according to the expert. He does not show any mental disorders or characteristics of mythomania.
The President said that before the Court, SFC had referred to the very traumatic forced marches and the atmosphere of terror that prevailed there. According to the President, the expert noted that the state of stress – which is the consequence of these acts – has been blurred by the passage of time and religious conversion.
The prosecution questions the expert:
When asked how the pain in the ear mentioned by FCS manifested itself, the expert indicated that it was the result of a lacrosse shot and manifested itself as discharge from the ear.
The Civil Parties’ lawyer then explained that the issue of identification of the accused by witnesses and civil parties was being discussed in the trial. She then read out a passage from the Swiss courts’ judgment in Alieu Kosiah, in which it is explained that the credibility of the witnesses and plaintiffs cannot depend predominantly on their ability to identify the accused, given the remoteness of the events and their nature. The expert’s opinion was sought in this regard, and counsel for the civil parties asked him in particular whether the credibility of the witnesses and civil parties could be called into question because of the difficulties that some of them had encountered in identifying Kunti Kamara in current photographs, it being specified that the last time they had seen him was at the time of the events, in a context of terror.
The expert explained that he had an external view and that credibility was determined by taking into account the fact that the person was hardly looked at or even fled in terror. As a rule, victims do not stare at their attacker and adopt a behaviour of flight and withdrawal.
When asked why some witnesses recognized the accused, the expert indicated that the ability to recognize an assailant depends on the circumstances and the person. He added that some people would recognize a voice or a smell.
When asked why some witnesses who had not recognized the accused on the photographic plates recognized him when they saw him physically in court, the expert said that many things are involved in recognizing a person, including non-verbal behaviour, attitudes, gestures, smells, etc.
There were no questions from the prosecution.
The defense questions the expert:
Defence counsel asked the expert whether the fact that JTC did not have post-traumatic stress disorder was an indicator of the strength of the initial trauma. The expert explained that the absence of PTSD did not mean that there was no traumatic impact. In his view, it depends on the individual and how he or she reacts. He said that very specific behaviours, such as religious conversion, may have blurred the trauma and that in this case only the physical grievances were highlighted.
The defense attorney then returned to the issue of the ability of witnesses and civil parties to recognize the accused and the expert’s explanation that it was possible not to recognize someone on a photographic plate, but to recognize them directly in a confrontation. The defence counsel noted that the accused was nevertheless the only person in the box, when the witnesses and civil parties were asked to recognise him. The expert replied that a photograph was not a living person and that a memory could become more consistent due to the size of the person or his voice or other clues.
The defence counsel asked the expert whether recognition had not been induced in the witnesses and civil parties by presenting them with a single person and questioned the level of credibility to be given to them. The expert replied that this was a problem of influence and that the multiplication of sensory channels could facilitate recognition. On questioning, he indicated that it was possible to be wrong.
Hearing of SB as a witness called by the prosecution at the request of the defence
The President called witness SB and advised the court that SB was speaking in Kissi and that the Kissi interpreter had withdrawn at the last moment. In view of this technical difficulty, the President stated that he did not feel that this witness could be heard and sought the views of the parties. All parties agreed. It was therefore agreed that SB would be heard by video conference with a Kissi interpreter from Monrovia.
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Hearing of Alieu Kosiah as a witness called by the Prosecution
Alieu Kosiah stated that he was born on 3 March 1975 in Liberia. Prior to his imprisonment, he was living in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he worked as an overhauler of tankers. When asked about his current situation, Alieu Kosiah said he had been in prison for 8 years and had lost his first trial. He added that he was awaiting his appeal, which is scheduled to take place in two and a half months. When asked about the reasons for his conviction, he only explained that he had appealed against all the decisions.
After stating that he had no connection with the civil parties or the accused, Alieu Kosiah began his spontaneous statement. He said that if he had not mentioned Kunti Kamara’s name in his trial, Kamara would not be charged with crimes today. He urged the court to verify the complaints filed by JTC and LSM, saying that if Kundi had played a significant role, he should have been included in the complaint against him. According to him, it was Alain Werner who wanted Kundi’s name on the record. Alieu Kosiah claimed to be in possession of documents from UN prosecutor Alan White, which would attest to Alain Werner’s involvement in criminal activities. Kosiah said AW went to Liberia to manipulate people to testify against the war veterans. He added: “If you are a combatant, you are automatically a criminal, not because of what you did during the war, but because of where you live.
He went on to say that the war in Liberia had been brutal and that the Mandingo people had suffered greatly, but that this was no excuse for killing. According to him, those who killed should be tried for their crimes, but one should not be prosecuted based on where one lives. He said it could not be assumed that those who fought were necessarily criminals. According to him, there are three ways to be a criminal: “You give the order, you carried out the execution yourself or you had the opportunity to stop the execution. If you fall into these categories, it is normal to be judged.
Alieu Kosiah then invited the court to contact Alan White, as well as the detectives who worked on the Agnes Taylor case. He also mentioned an NGO that would warn European prosecutors not to work with Alain Werner, as he would prepare witnesses to obtain asylum in Europe. Alieu Kosiah also mentioned the case of a certain MK who was allegedly granted asylum with the help of Alain Werner and HB, including documents signed by the latter attesting that MK was a potential victim.
The President intervened and stated that Alain Werner would be heard on Wednesday of the coming week. He asked Alieu Kosiah to focus on the facts concerning the period from 1993 to 1996.
Alieu Kosiah then compared the proceedings in Switzerland and France to China or North Korea. He said LSM’s statements to the French authorities were not taken into account by the Swiss authorities because he was deemed credible by the Swiss judge. The witness said LSM said all the investigations in France were “put in his mouth” and that there was no interpreter during the investigation. He reportedly said he did not sign the minutes of his hearings in France, and only when presented with them did he admit to signing them.
The President intervened again and stated that LSM would be heard on Monday 24 October. He added that LSM’s statements to the French and Swiss authorities were on record. Alieu Kosiah said that everything LSM said in France was a lie, as he had said the opposite before the Swiss authorities.
With regard to Kunti Kamara, Alieu Kosiah stated that it was he who caused problems for Kundi. Indeed, he called Kundi as a witness in his trial and Kundi stated that Kosiah was in Foya when the town was taken, although he was not. According to him, they fought together only once, at Benefanaye near Zorzor and Gbarnga. Alieu Kosiah said he did not know why Kundi had claimed that he [Kosiah] was in Foya when he was not. Alieu Kosiah also clarified that Kundi was neither his bodyguard nor his “special bodyguard” as claimed by LSM. He added that in the French proceedings, LSM indicated that Kundi was a front commander. However, according to Alieu Kosiah, a front commander has his own bodyguard.
The witness then went on to elaborate on the structure of ULIMO after the split, as he had been present. He explained that he had been a member of LDUF because of his Mandingo ethnicity, but that he had never been a member of MRN, contrary to what the French prosecutor had indicated. Alieu Kosiah went on to contradict the prosecutor’s version of the murder of Albert Karpeh, which he said was not the work of Alhaji Kromah. He said that Kromah was not a member of ULIMO when Karpeh was killed and that other people were imprisoned in connection with Karpeh’s death, including Cobra.
Alieu Kosiah then went back to his first meeting with Kundi in Foya. He said that he was a senior officer and that Kundi had to salute him, but that they had never spoken together. The only time they had direct contact was at Benefanaye under the command of Pyj. Alieu Kosiah said that he wanted to help Pyj and had therefore asked Kundi and others to follow him to launch an attack on the NPFL. He explained that he had seen Kundi a second time in the Netherlands and that they were communicating with each other before his arrest.
Alieu Kosiah then went on to correct two things that Kundi had challenged him about. First, he said Kundi joined ULIMO in Monrovia, while he was a founding member of the faction, which was then called LDUF. He then reiterated that Kromah played no role in the founding of ULIMO and that Fofana was the chief of staff. Contrary to Kundi’s statement, Deku was not his superior at the time, but later became so after Pepper & Salt left. He said that when he met Deku, they were both captains and Deku was in charge of Foya. Deku was giving orders and reporting to Pepper & Salt and his deputy Cobra. He also stated that, contrary to the statements of LSM and JTC, he was neither Pepper & Salt’s deputy nor HH (headquarter and headquarter commander).
Alieu Kosiah then stated that the Swiss judge had considered that he was acting as an HH, which to him did not make sense since the acronym “HH” referred to a place and not an individual. He explained that within an HH there was a commander-in-chief and his administration. In his view, the Commander-in-Chief did not manage the entire site.
The witness then stated that he had been ordered to arrest Pepper & Salt when he was a commander in Zorzor. Pepper & Salt allegedly went into the Lofa before fleeing.
He ended his spontaneous statement by affirming that Kundi had never been his bodyguard or his substitute and by specifying that he had only been to Foya three times: once to spend the night there, a second time to go to Guéckédou and the third time for the burial of his brother. He added that the last time was when he was ordered to arrest Pepper & Salt.
The Court questions Alieu Kosiah:
The President said the testimonies of some of the deceased had been read out, including that of Omaru Musa Kelleh. Alieu Kosiah expressed surprise at the death of Omaru Musa Kelleh. On question by the President, he said Omaru Musa Kelleh was his commanding officer when he was in Todi. At that time, he was a captain and Omaru Musa Kelleh was a major.
When asked about his rank in ULIMO, Alieu Kosiah explained that he started as a sergeant in a section of about 45 men. He was then promoted to lieutenant. In Todi, he became a front commander and deputy to Omaru Musa Kelleh. At Lofa, he became a captain and was later promoted to the rank of major. His last rank was Colonel in 1995 in Zorzor.
He said that at that time, he was imprisoned because of differences with Jungle Jabah, who replaced Dombuyah as Chief of Staff, and was released by Kromah. Kromah asked him to come to Monrovia and appointed him Director of the Criminal Investigation Police Division, marking the end of his activities with ULIMO.
Asked about his nickname “Physical Cash” mentioned by Omaru Musa Kelleh, Alieu Kosiah said it was Pepper & Salt that gave him that nickname. Asked about his aspirations and Omaru Musa Kelleh’s claims that Kosiah was frontline commander and expecting general during the capture of Todi, he said Omaru Musa Kelleh was his superior and was a general at the time. As for Jungle Jabah, he was the commander in chief and Dombuyah was deputy chief commander. The President intervened and proposed to leave aside the testimony of Omaru Musa Kelleh and to address the testimony of Abraham Towah. Alieu Kosiah stated that he knew Abraham Towah very well and that Towah was nicknamed Papa.
The President stated that Alieu Kosiah had called Abraham Towah as a witness in the Swiss proceedings and that Towah had stated that he was a small soldier with Alieu Kosiah, whom he considered his father. Abraham Towah also stated that when he went to Foya, he stayed with Kundi while Alieu Kosiah stayed with Deku at headquarters. The President said that Abraham Towah’s statements seemed inconsistent with those of Alieu Kosiah, as they showed that Alieu Kosiah regularly went to Foya.
Alieu Kosiah stated that Abraham Towah never claimed that he regularly visited Foya. The Chairman quoted the relevant part of Abraham Towah’s testimony, when Towah said that “Alieu Kosiah stayed at Deku’s house until he was given a place where we all stayed”. The witness replied that when they arrived at the HQ, Deku had told them that they could stay there. Alieu Kosiah also said he was not based in Foya. On questioning by the President, he said Abraham Towah was not with him all the time.
When asked about Kundi’s rank in the years 1993-1994, the witness explained that he did not remember meeting Kundi physically in 1992-1993, but said that Kundi might have known him as a commander. He said he first met him in 1994 in Foya when he was a captain. On questioning, Alieu Kosiah clarified that the term “C.O.” stood for “commanding officer”. On questioning, he also explained that Kundi had the rank of “battlefront commander” and not “battlefield commander“, and that he was under the command of Deku, as were Ugly Boy and Fine Boy.
The President then indicated that Kundi had stated that he had no particular function in Foya and that he was fighting at the front with about 80 men under his command. Alieu Kosiah replied that this may have been the case in 1995, but not in 1993, and confirmed that Kundi was in Foya. When asked how many months Kundi was in Foya, the witness replied that he did not know because he was not there.
On questioning, Alieu Kosiah confirmed that he had called Kundi as a witness in his trial to testify that he, Alieu Kosiah, was not in Foya when the town was captured. The President recalled that Kundi said he was at the frontline at the time, which was therefore contradictory to the allegations of Alieu Kosiah.
The presiding judge then asked the witness about DN’s execution, noting that the names Kundi, Kosiah, and Ugly Boy had been mentioned by some witnesses and civil parties. Alieu Kosiah assured that neither he nor Kundi killed DN. The presiding judge then indicated that no witness had claimed otherwise, as the majority implicated Ugly Boy as the main perpetrator. On the other hand, the witnesses stated that Kunti Kamara was present when DN was killed and when his heart was eaten. Alieu Kosiah stated that he did not believe that a human being could be capable of eating the heart of a goat without cooking it.
The President told the witness that photographs of decapitated people, whose heads had been placed on trays, had been presented to the Court. The court also heard testimony from a photographer who confirmed that he had seen a corpse with its chest open, as well as from other witnesses who referred to fences made from human intestines. Without implicating Alieu Kosiah or the accused, the President stated that this civil war was not without its atrocities and that he understood from the answer given by the witness that he was not present during the murder of DN.
The President reminded the witness that the Court’s job was not to judge the facts of war between the armed groups, but to find out whether civilian populations that had nothing to do with the conflict had been victims of atrocities.
The President then asked the witness about the various forced marches and looting, noting that he had been questioned by other witnesses. Alieu Kosiah replied that he wanted to see the photographs referred to earlier by the President. Regarding the murder of DN, the witness referred to a newspaper article and said that the facts in the article did not match the testimony of JTC. According to Alieu Kosiah, if JTC mentioned Kundi’s name, it was because Alain Werner told him to. He added that the article mentioned several armed groups and stated that DN had been killed because of his religious beliefs. He also said that there was no mention of the fact that DN’s heart had been cut out. The President said that the article had been read during debates and that some of the allegations made by Alieu Kosiah were not reflected in it.
When asked about the commission of cannibalism within ULIMO, Alieu Kosiah stated that he had never heard of it when he was a member of ULIMO. Upon questioning, he confirmed that he had heard that a man named Butt Naked had boasted of eating a human heart.
The President then reminded the witness of his statements about Ugly Boy and Mami Wata, who he said had special reputations and who, in retaliation for the death of his brother, killed NPFL prisoners and dismembered them. When asked whether people capable of such acts could not also be capable of eating a heart, Alieu Kosiah replied that what he was trying to say was that humanly speaking, he found it difficult to eat a raw human heart. Upon questioning, he confirmed that it was not humanly permissible to dismember one’s opponents.
When asked about the possibility of retaining soldiers who had committed such acts in a unit, the witness said that Deku had intended to execute Mami Wata and Ugly Boy, but they had fled into the bush. The president said Ugly Boy died outside Liberia and was not punished. Alieu Kosiah said that Ugly Boy had fled to Guinea to commit other crimes before he died.
When asked about the tabé, Alieu Kosiah explained that the tabé technique was created by the NPFL and used against the Mandingo. As the war progressed, all the factions, including ULIMO, took up this technique according to him. Asked whether there had been victims of tabé in Foya, Alieu Kosiah replied that he was not trying to defend Kundi, but that he did not want Kundi to pay for a crime he had not committed.
When asked about rape and the enslavement of women, Alieu Kosiah said: “In my opinion, some of the facts are complicated to be judged by white people. The president asked him if he did not think that this was a human problem that concerned everyone. The witness replied that this was not what he meant and told the story of a young girl who was raped by several soldiers in Lofa. He explained that General Dombuyah had ordered the public execution of the soldiers who had committed these acts. Alieu Kosiah said that he was against the execution of the soldiers because the testimony of the woman had not been corroborated by other testimony.
The President indicated that several witnesses and civil parties reported that rapes were frequent and that there had been no military response. Alieu Kosiah stated that he himself had been convicted of rape and what he was trying to get across to the court was that the accusations and testimony were ethnically based. In other words, people who are not Mandingos are testifying against ULIMO and Mandingos are testifying against the NPFL.
When asked about forced marches, he explained that civilians had to carry loads to the border until 1994. From 1994, General Dombuyah ordered the soldiers to stop forcing civilians.
The President returned to the relationship between Alieu Kosiah and Kunti Kamara, including statements by Abraham Towah that they were close friends. The witness replied that they had only a hierarchical relationship during the war. Then, when they met in the Netherlands, they started exchanging emails and phone calls. On questioning, Alieu Kosiah said he went to the Netherlands to visit a cousin and that was when he saw Kunti Kamara again.
Asked about Kundi’s promotion to colonel in 1995, the witness said he was not aware of it because he had gone to Monrovia in 1995, but that it was possible Kundi was promoted by Jungle Jabah. Asked about a story about Kundi selling arms in 1997, Alieu Kosiah said it was a lie.
Asked whether he was referring to Foya City or Foya District when he mentioned Kundi’s presence in Foya, Alieu Kosiah replied that he had seen Kundi in Foya City in 1994 and that, since he was not present in 1993, this was merely a guess. On questioning, he confirmed that Kundi was probably present in Foya City in 1993.
Asked to explain why he left Liberia, the witness said he left the country in 1997 after Taylor’s victory. According to him, there were two options: collaborate or flee. He decided to flee through Guinea before landing in France where he applied for asylum. He then went to the Netherlands and was sent back to France before finding a way to Switzerland.
The prosecution questions Alieu Kosiah:
When asked to confirm that he had been sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for killing civilians, raping a civilian woman, subjecting civilians to torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, ordering looting and using a child soldier, Alieu Kosiah confirmed that he had been sentenced for these offences and stated that he had filed an appeal. He added that the judge who had convicted him had also noted that he had given a false identity to the French and Dutch authorities, whereas he had given his real name.
When asked about Massa Washington’s statements, in particular about the massacres perpetrated by ULIMO and General Dombuyah’s attitude towards her following the article she published, Alieu Kosiah stated that Massa Washington had never been to the areas controlled by ULIMO.
Civil counsel then told the witness that Kunti Kamara had said he was an S1 in Foya. Alieu Kosiah responded that he did not think Kundi knew what an S1 was. He said an S1 was the person in charge of administration and that the S1 was in Voinjama, not Foya.
When confronted with Abraham Towah’s statement that “when we went to Foya, we stayed there for one or two months”, he said that he did not spend one or two months in Foya. According to him, Abraham Towah spent more time in Foya than he did. Asked to confirm that Kundi and Abraham Towah knew each other well and that Abraham Towah slept in Kundi’s house when he went to Foya, Alieu Kosiah said he did not know and that he himself had never been to Kundi’s house.
Counsel for the civil parties then asked the witness to confirm that in ULIMO, commanders were considered responsible for the actions of the soldiers under their command. The witness replied that commanders were responsible for the actions of a unit, and that each officer was accountable for his own actions. According to him, when a soldier carried out an act that he had not been ordered to do, he had to answer for it himself. On questioning, Alieu Kosiah confirmed that the commander had to take action if his subordinate behaved improperly. He mentioned the existence of an investigating officer to whom soldiers who did not behave properly were referred.
Asked about the financing of ULIMO, the witness explained that they were rebels and were not paid. When asked how they bought food and accommodation, Alieu Kosiah addressed the civil party’s lawyer, saying, “With all due respect, I think you have no idea what you are talking about. He added that it was war, civilians were fleeing and abandoning their homes. According to him, the government provided the weapons at first, then it was ECOMOG. In Lofa, it was the Guinean government that supplied arms to ULIMO.
On questioning, he confirmed that he first met Kundi on the frontline at Benefanaye. When asked about other front lines where Kundi might have fought, Alieu Kosiah said that after the capture of Foya, there were four fronts between Zorzor and Gbarnga, adding that Foya was not a front. After the split, there were only two fronts. He also confirmed that Foya was a place of relaxation for those leaving the front.
The civil party’s lawyer then asked the witness about child soldiers. The witness confirmed that at the time of his capture, Abraham Towah was about 13 years old. He added that he himself joined the AFL at the age of 15. He said that at that time it was “business as usual” to see child soldiers. He said this was due to the context of the time and the sense of revolt felt by the young boys, who had seen their fathers or mothers killed for no reason.
On questioning, Alieu Kosiah then confirmed that the border between Foya and Guéckédou in Guinea was indeed Solomba. The lawyer for the civil parties quoted a passage from the hearing of Alieu Kosiah when he indicated that during the rainy season it was not possible to reach Solomba by car. Alieu Kosiah stated that what he meant was that Solomba was difficult to reach by car. He then questioned the fact that civilians could push a truck with a heavy load and without power steering and then put it on pirogues. The lawyer for the civil parties replied that in this case there had never been any question of loading the truck onto dugouts.
On questioning, Alieu Kosiah confirmed that he had heard of a looting of the NGO Oxfam by hungry ULIMO soldiers. He added that it was his boys who were the perpetrators and that it happened in 1995, but he was not present.
Asked to confirm that he was referring to the so-called wheelbarrow episode when he spoke about the killings by Mami Wata, Alieu Kosiah said two individuals were guilty and Deku wanted to kill them.
Finally, the civil parties’ lawyer asked the witness if he had indeed met a certain Mohamed Kenneh of the Association of Liberians in France in the Netherlands with Kunti Kamara. The witness replied that he had never said he had met this person.
Prosecution questions Alieu Kosiah:
The witness was again questioned about Kunti Kamara’s presence in Foya. General Counsel returned to a statement made by Alieu Kosiah during his hearing in 2016 in which he claimed that Kundi was in Foya 80% of the time. The witness clarified that he said that when he saw Kundi, the latter was in Foya. He added that in 1994, Kundi was in Foya.
On questioning, he said that Ugly Boy, Fine Boy and Mami Wata were all in Foya under Deku.
When asked about the names Sadam Hussein and Babylon, Alieu Kosiah replied that he had never heard of them. Asked who he knew as Kundi, he said he only knew him as Kundi during the war and had heard his name was Mohamed Soumawolo. The general counsel said that during the trial, the witness said he had heard from his brother that Kundi was called Kundi.
On questioning, he confirmed that his name was Kosiah during the war and that he did not know the name Kamara, but only Kundi, which means chief in Mandinka.
The General Counsel then reminded Alieu Kosiah that he had stated that the witnesses and civil parties had been manipulated and had made false statements in order to obtain asylum. As it turned out, no witness or civil party remained in France and they all returned to Liberia. The general counsel noted that the only two people who fled Liberia and sought asylum in the room were Kunti Kamara and Alieu Kosiah. The witness countered that it was not just about getting asylum, but also about receiving money. He said, “All the witnesses you see, do you know how much money they are going to receive in Switzerland? One of them asked for 8,000 Swiss francs. How much do you earn every year in Liberia? Less than 500 dollars. If you get 2,000 dollars, that is a lot of money.
The defense questions Alieu Kosiah:
Defense counsel asked the witness to describe the situation of the Mandingo at the time of the war and the consequences for that ethnic group today. Alieu Kosiah said that because of their economic dominance, the Mandingo ethnic group was targeted by the Gio and Mano who were fighting for Charles Taylor. He added that the Mandingo owned 80% of the transportation system. He also said that the Mandingo were considered outsiders and that was why they were not wanted in power.
The defense lawyer stressed the particular situation in which Alieu Kosiah found himself in this trial, since he was called as a witness by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. According to the defense attorney, the paradox of his situation was that the Swiss prosecutor who is prosecuting him considers everything he says to be false, while the French prosecutor considers his testimony to be trustworthy. Alieu Kosiah replied that Kundi was the subject of this trial and he himself was the subject. He cited MN’s testimony that Kundi was involved in the murder of her husband DN, describing him as tall and elderly, whereas according to him, Kundi was 1.64m tall and about 20 years old at the time.
Examination on the merits of the accused Kunti Kamara
The President told the accused that he was being heard today in relation to the evidence given over the last two days of the hearing, including the statements of SFC and Abraham Towah.
Court questions Kunti Kamara:
On the issue of forced marches, the President recalled that SFC stated in court that Kundi was involved with other Foya commanders in the transportation of parts of the Foya power generator. Kunti Kamara said he did not know SFC and was innocent. The President said SFC claimed to have been abused by the accused and referred to a rifle butt on the temple. He added that the accused and other soldiers beat civilians with tree branches and kicked them. Kunti Kamara said he was shocked and innocent of the charges.
When asked about the other forced march in which SFC claimed to have participated to carry coffee, Kunti Kamara said he had no knowledge of it. The President then cited the testimonies of other witnesses and civil parties about the forced marches and asked the accused if they were all linked by a plot to accuse him specifically. Kunti Kamara confirmed that it was a conspiracy against him and continued to maintain his innocence.
When questioned about the testimony of Alieu Kosiah, the accused stated that he was only aware of some of the things Kosiah said, because he spent half of his time at the front and therefore did not know everything that was going on. He added that he did not know Kosiah well during the war, contrary to Kosiah’s claim, but that Kosiah was indeed his superior.
Asked why Alieu Kosiah called him as a witness in his trial in Switzerland, Kunti Kamara said they were not friends. The President then asked him if he thought Kosiah called him to testify that Kosiah was not in Foya at the time of the alleged offences. Kunti Kamara said that Kosiah was a person who knew how to lie and always complicated things when he spoke.
Asked about his relationship with Abraham Towah, known as Papa, Kunti Kamara said he knew him but they were not friends. Confronted with Abraham Towah’s claims that he stayed at Kundi’s house when he was in Foya because they were friends, Kunti Kamara said he recalled meeting Abraham Towah in Voinjama, but that he did not see him more than three times. He further stated that he was shocked by Abraham Towah’s statements.
When asked by an assessor judge about his alleged lack of knowledge about the dismantling of the electric generator in Foya when the entire town was without electricity and Kosiah indicated that the accused was a commander in Foya at that time, Kunti Kamara retorted that Alieu Kosiah did not say that he was a commander in Foya. The judge said that the accused was in Foya in the fall of 1993 and therefore could not be ignorant of everything. Kunti Kamara said that he was returning to Foya just for food and ammunition. Defence counsel returned to the distinction between the district of Foya and the town of Foya and indicated that Kosiah had stated that he assumed that Kunti Kamara was in Foya in 1993.
The prosecution questions Kunti Kamara:
The civil party’s lawyer went back to the statements of Alieu Kosiah and the different front lines mentioned by him, including Bomi, Tubmanburg and Gbarnga. Asked why Kosiah did not mention the Mendekoma front and that the accused was based in Foya Town, Kunti Kamara said Kosiah was not there and that Deku was the commander. According to the accused, Kosiah had no idea what was going on in Mendekoma.
The civil party lawyer then asked the accused if he continued to deny the presence of child soldiers in ULIMO, even though Alieu Kosiah had admitted that it was “business as usual. Kunti Kamara said he did not know if there were child soldiers in ULIMO. However, he said there was an SBU unit within the NPFL, made up of boys aged between 15 and 17. After the capture of Gbarnga, these young boys were rounded up by ULIMO and General Dombuyah informed all commanders not to use them as bodyguards. The youths however continued to behave as before and robbed civilians. The General rounded them up and told them that this kind of behaviour was not the behaviour of ULIMO by threatening them with death. Apart from that, Kunti Kamara said he did not see any child soldiers on the frontline.
When asked about the practice of tabé mentioned by Kosiah, Abraham Towah and Omaru Musa Kelleh, the accused said that the war was a period of anarchy and that all these rumours came from the territories controlled by Charles Taylor. He added that he had never seen a ULIMO soldier practising Tabé.
Asked about the wheelbarrow episode that everyone has obviously heard about, Kunti Kamara said he was on the frontline and had no knowledge of it.
When asked about the checkpoints at Foya where Abraham Towah claimed that there were heads on stakes and barriers made of intestines, the accused again stated that he was at the front and had no knowledge of these facts.
Prosecution questions Kunti Kamara:
The General Counsel questioned the accused on the statements of Alieu Kosiah, who said that Kundi was in Foya in 1994. The accused stated that in 1994, he was on the front line in Bomi County and the only time he remembers going to Foya was in 1995 or 1996 to get gasoline at the border.
When confronted with Alieu Kosiah’s statements that he had seen Deku, Fine Boy, Ugly Boy and Mami Wata in Foya, the accused stated that he had already given the names of those in authority in Foya and said that he did not know all the people in the administration or all the ULIMO soldiers. He added that he had spent two years at the front fighting NPFL soldiers and that he should not therefore be expected to tell everything that happened in Foya.
The General Counsel then returned to the distinction between the town of Foya and the district of Foya and noted that during his hearing before the Swiss courts, the accused mentioned the well and the market in Foya, which suggested that he was referring to the town of Foya. Kunti Kamara replied that during his hearing, he pointed to the main road from Mendekoma to Foya in the photos he had been shown. The General Counsel considered that the accused preferred to remain vague about the distinction between the town and the district.
The General Counsel then noted that the accused had only once mentioned the name of Mendekoma during his six hearings before the Swiss authorities, although he has maintained since the beginning of his trial that he was based in Mendekoma. The accused retorted that he had not always specified the city where he was based, but only the region.
Asked to confirm that the name “Kundi” means “chief” or “leader” as indicated by Alieu Kosiah, the accused explained that this name was given to him by his grandfather nicknamed “Duti” and that “Duti”, like “Kundi”, meant “chief of the town” in the Manding culture.
When asked about the birth of his child in 1995, the accused said that when he gave birth his wife was alone and went to Deku in Foya for help because she knew he was Kundi’s commander. On questioning, Kunti Kamara stated that he did not know the month his child was born.
When asked why he told the investigating judge that he did not know Papa, the accused replied that he did not remember saying that and confirmed that he knew Papa. He pointed out that the Swiss authorities had also asked him this question and he had replied that he knew Papa.
Defense questions Kunti Kamara:
The defence counsel read out a passage from the hearing of Kunti Kamara before the investigating judge, in which the accused stated that he had stayed in Mendekoma for three or four months at the end of 1993 and beginning of 1994. The defence counsel asked the accused to confirm that he was 19-20 years old in 1993-1994. Kunti Kamara stated that he was 17 or 18 years old in 1992 when he joined ULIMO. On questioning, he confirmed that he was in Mendekoma for the last three or four months of 1993.