[10/26/2022] Day 13 : Civitas Maxima
Deliberations of the Court on the procedural issue of the statute of limitations raised by the defence
The Court deliberated on the procedural issue of the statute of limitations for the prosecution raised by the defence. The President stated that the Court had ruled in an adversarial manner without the presence of the jury.
With regard to the foreclosure of the objection raised by the civil parties’ counsel, the Court noted that the foreclosure refers to objections that may be raised before the investigating judge. In the present case, the objection was rightly raised before the investigating judge and resulted in an order. According to the Court, the objection remains admissible before the Assize Court notwithstanding the decision of the investigating judge, insofar as the Court remains competent to analyse the conditions of its referral. Moreover, if the Investigating Chamber had had to rule, a decision to the contrary would not have prevented the Court from ruling on the statute of limitations for the prosecution, given that the Assize Court remains competent to assess the conditions for the possible extinction of the prosecution. It was thus for the Court to examine whether this exception could give rise to a suspension or interruption of the limitation period.
With regard to the suspension of the prosecution, the President recalled that it related solely to the acts of torture and barbarism for which the accused was accused, covering the years 1993-1994. The Court verified the conditions for a possible suspension of the statute of limitations under article 9 (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which the President recalled. After hearing the background witnesses, the Court noted that the country had suffered two successive civil wars between 1989 and 1997, and then from 1999 to 2003, which were particularly deadly. The Court noted that the provisional ceasefire and partial disarmament in 1997 did not restore the police and judicial institutions needed to track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Notwithstanding the peace agreements signed in Accra in 2003 and the establishment of UNMIL, the Court considered that the overall security situation in Liberia remained precarious. The President read out a passage from the report of the United Nations Secretary-General in this regard. The Court inferred from all these elements that the limitation period should be considered as suspended at least until 17 March 2005.
With regard to the causes of interruption of the period of limitation of public action, the Court considered the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and article 9 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which must be interpreted in the light of the case law of the Court of Cassation. In this regard, the Court noted that the Act of 12 May 2005 created the TRC and gave it the mandate to investigate the various crimes and human rights violations, identify the perpetrators, receive the grievances of the victims and finally recommend measures to be taken for the rehabilitation of the victims in a spirit of national reconciliation. The Court considered that the TRC had specific prerogatives, such as the referral of the case to an independent judge. In its final report, the TRC recommended, among other things, that certain members of ULIMO be prosecuted for the abuses committed in Lofa, among other places. According to the Court, the work of the TRC can thus be considered as an act interrupting the statute of limitations, so that the statute of limitations started to run again from 30 June 2009, the date of the last act of the TRC. The public action was therefore not time-barred at the time the prosecution was initiated in 2018.
With regard to the opening of the investigation against Alieu Kosiah by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Swiss Confederation, the Court considered that this act was also of a nature to interrupt the limitation period of the public prosecution because of the similarities with the proceedings against Kunti Kamara. The Court noted a connection between the different acts, for which Alieu Kosiah and Kunti Kamara are treated as co-perpetrators. The Court further noted that Kunti Kamara had been summoned in the trial of Alieu Kosiah, and vice versa.
The Court thus concluded that the objection raised by the accused on the grounds that the acts of torture and barbarism with which he was charged were not time-barred.
Update on the EFNS hearing
Counsel for the Prosecution informed the Court that EFNS did not wish to take the stand again, as it was too painful for her. The prosecuting counsel read out a note that EFNS wished to address to the court, which reads as follows: “I don’t want to go back to this room because every time I speak it hurts too much, I don’t want to see this man again. I did not come all the way from Foya to lie. If Kundi says he did nothing wrong in Foya, bring him to Foya today and see if people cheer him. The Bible says, “Tell the truth and the truth will set you free”. Everything that has happened, Kundi knows about it. I’m sure it’s Kundi, I recognized him. Today I still suffer from what happened then. I need to be operated on, but I don’t have the money to do it. I am asking the court for justice to be done.
The Chairman then proposed to give the full reading of the EFNS hearing by the Liberia National Police on April 30, 2019.
Reading from the EFNS hearing by the Liberia National Police on April 30, 2019.
EFNS began her statement by saying that in 1993, she was in Fassapoe in the Foya district when she heard that ULIMO soldiers had entered Foya. Most of the civilians became afraid and fled into the bush. She said she started working on a farm and heard a man say, “While you are working here, ULIMO has just taken over the town of Foya. She then fled with her son, her mother and her sister’s son. The soldiers found them and decided to take them all to Foya town.
EFNS explained that on the way, a soldier named Jigger-in-the-toe ordered the other soldiers to hand over the civilians. In Foya, there was a large group of people screaming, crying and in a state of confusion. The next day, the soldiers separated all the people, men, women and children, who were part of EFNS’s group and his family. EFNS explained that all the women were taken away to thresh rice and find food, while the men had to carry goods that had been looted in Foya on their heads to the Guinean border through Solomba.
EFNS then recounted that one day, when she had finished threshing rice, her hands started to hurt. That is when she met a soldier named AG, who offered her to come to his house. EFNS refused because she did not want to leave her mother and other family members alone. EFNS and AG became friends. One night, AG told him that he had to leave and go to his mission area near the Sierra Leonean border, because if he slept there, it could cost him his life. Later that night, a large number of Mandingo soldiers surrounded AG’s house and entered to search for him. According to EFNS, the soldiers shouted that there was a woman in the house who was “hiding that dog krahn. EFNS said that if the soldiers had found them, they would have killed them both. She added that civilians standing near her pointed at one of the soldiers and said it was Kundi. This was the first time she had seen him.
After this event, EFNS got scared and decided to go to her hometown in Fassapoe. She stayed there for about three or four days and then another group of ULIMO arrived. She said that one of the soldiers was called B. She recalled that B was one of those who came to get AG. EFNS said that B came to her and told her that he was going to take her with him to town. She added that she remembered that B and his soldiers, as well as other ULIMO fighters, used human intestines as a “checkpoint”.
EFNS also recounted that one day she and the other girls climbed a hill and saw men pushing wheelbarrows. The ULIMO soldiers behind them forced them to shout to people, “Who wants to buy beef?” to get them to come. The civilians rushed to them, only to find that they were pieces of human bodies. She explained that a soldier had forced her to take two hands that had been sliced off at the wrist, which she then put back into the wheelbarrow. She had no idea that among these bodies was that of one of her brothers.
EFNS said that later in the day, B took them back to town and separated them. EFNS’s brother, T, went in another direction with some soldiers. When T returned home, he complained of being sick and said that the ULIMO soldiers had forced him to drink a cup of human blood. EFNS stated that his brother died shortly afterwards.
EFNS went on to say that his father and mother were regularly beaten by B, resulting in the deaths of both of them.
For her part, EFNS said that one night B came to her house and tied her arms behind her back. He tied them so tightly that EFNS could hardly breathe. B then undressed her completely, took out his bayonet, put salt on it, opened her legs and forced part of the knife into her vagina, causing her to bleed. B then went to the toilet and EFNS took the opportunity to run away crying and calling for help. EFNS then met B’s younger brother and began to tell him what had happened. Other people approached, including Kundi. According to EFNS, everyone said that it was Kundi’s bodyguard who had tied her up. B arrived at the same time and said something to Kundi. According to EFNS, Kundi replied, “Oh, I thought it was for something serious that these people had called me,” after B explained to him what had happened in Mandinka. B’s brother then implored Kundi to detach EFNS and Kundi agreed.
Following this incident, EFNS was raped by B every time he smoked his drug, while she was in severe pain. She stated that she could not complain because she was afraid of dying. One night B told her that ULIMO needed him on the front and she never saw him again. EFNS finally joined her friend RSK in the bush and RSK prepared herbs for her to drink to ease her pain. EFNS ended her spontaneous statement by saying that she was still suffering from severe pain today, especially in her stomach.
On questioning, EFNS stated that she was 16 years old when ULIMO entered Foya and that she was living in Sodu with her parents. When asked about the names of the soldiers she remembered, EFNS mentioned C.O. Dagu, C.O. Pepper, Ugly Boy, Black Devil, B and C.O. Kundi. She said she was tortured by B in his house in Foya during the civil war.
When asked about other crimes she had allegedly witnessed, EFNS stated that she had not seen anyone beaten, raped or killed. She said that she had been raped and severely beaten by B on several occasions and that she had seen the body of a person killed by ULIMO soldiers, but had not witnessed the killing. On questioning, she said that she and her family had been forced to carry charges on numerous occasions. She added that her Uncle T had been killed.
When asked about the number of rapes she had suffered and their consequences, EFNS said that B had raped her “so many times” and that she suffered from severe stomach and chest pains. Upon questioning, she indicated that she was still not well and that she had never been to the hospital.
When asked about B, EFNS stated that he was taking orders from his commander C.O. Kundi. She added that when B abused her, a young man she thought was B’s brother begged Kundi on her behalf. It was at this point that Kundi arrived and asked B questions. B explained the situation to him in Mandinka and Kundi did nothing. According to EFNS, Kundi did not care about the way B had tied her up and all the horrors he was doing to her. EFNS added that, according to her, C.O. Kundi approved of what B was doing.
When asked to give a physical description of B, EFNS stated that he was young, slim, just over 20 years old, tall with large lips. She added that he had no scars and that he sometimes wore a military camouflage uniform, sometimes jeans with a T-shirt and boots. According to her, he always had pigtails.
Asked to give a physical description of Kundi, EFNS stated that Kundi was older than B and had squinty eyes. She added that he was short and had a fair complexion. At times, he wore a camouflage military uniform, jeans and a red t-shirt. EFNS stated that he was always dressed normally and that she had never seen him wearing women’s clothes. She saw him once with braids and then always with his hair cut short.
On questioning, EFNS said that she had Kundi more than six times, including when she went to thresh rice at places like New Foya. She said the last time she had seen him was when she was tied up. When asked about Kundi’s behaviour, EFNS said she had never seen him in an aggressive or violent mood in her presence. On questioning, she said she did not know whether Kundi was taking orders from anyone else. Asked to point to Kunti Kamara on the photographic board presented to her, EFNS identified two photographs, one of which was of Kunti Kamara.
When asked if she had seen soldiers killing people, EFNS replied in the affirmative and said that on the first occasion, the soldiers rounded up people and killed her uncle, Reverend TKo. The second time, the soldiers also asked people to gather and killed the mothers of several of her friends. When asked about other rape victims she knew, EFNS said a friend of Fassapoe’s was also raped by the soldiers until they had to put her in a wheelbarrow.
When asked about Kundi’s whereabouts, EFNS said she did not know where Kundi lived, as he had a lot of women and several households. She said she did not know if Kundi forced these women and added that most of them were Gbandi women.
Upon questioning, EFNS indicated that she had lived with B for over a month and that he regularly smoked marijuana. She added that he would jump on her, beat her up and rape her, but that she had never seen him drink alcohol.
Hearing of EzP as a witness called by the Public Prosecutor at the request of the civil parties
On questioning, EzP stated that he was born on 2 February 1976 and worked in security in Foya. He confirmed that this was the first time he had been heard in these proceedings and stated that EP was his elder brother.
EzP began his spontaneous statement by recounting that one morning in 1993, armed men in red shirts came to capture Foya. EzP said that his father had died in 1989 and that his older brother had become the village chief. When the soldiers arrived, they gathered everyone in the centre of the village. They told the civilians to take their things and go to Foya. According to EzP, the soldiers took two men and tied them up and decided to go to another village to arrest more people. They ordered the civilians to follow them. On the way, EzP saw about 7 people lying on the ground and recognized the body of one of the two bound men. He added that the clan leader was TT and that he had fled into the bush. His house had been taken by CO Deku. EzP then said that this group of ULIMO soldiers was called “Black Devil” and that the soldiers wore red t-shirts and headbands. Among them was a soldier named Ugly Boy, who carried an axe and was known to chop people up. EzP went on to say that the soldiers gathered the civilians at the old airstrip to avoid being spotted by Charles Taylor’s soldiers.
The next day, the ULIMO soldiers again gathered everyone together and asked a woman to point out the people she knew. The named people were put aside. According to EzP, the soldiers put people in jail, including a woman who was carrying a baby on her back. The baby died in the cell. EzP added that a man had his throat slit by Chinese Killer and that ULIMOs ordered TT to move the body while the man was not yet dead. Elders were present, including SP who wondered if they would end up killing everyone. Upon returning home, SP died from the shock of what he had seen.
EzP then recalled another meeting near the former police station. Kundi was armed with an RPG and accompanied by another soldier. According to EzP, they killed a Papay because they were afraid that information would be passed on to the NPFL.
EzP also said that he remembered a man named Mami Wata, whose sister, who was among the ULIMO soldiers, was killed at the front. When he returned, Mami Wata was angry and arrested two men he suspected of being NPFL rebels. He killed them, cut them into pieces and put them in wheelbarrows. They then took the wheelbarrows and went door to door saying, “Buy meat! According to EzP, those who did not want meat were forced to buy it. He added that Kundi was a commander and that he supervised the place. The soldiers then ordered the civilians to return to their respective villages and sent ten men to Foya Dundu.
EzP ended his spontaneous statement by saying that a woman was sick and that Kundi had heard that she was a witch. According to EzP, the sick woman was in her room with a blanket when Kundi entered and shot her. He then took her out and took things from the kitchen to bury the woman before setting the fire.
The Court questions EzP:
The President asked EzP if he had often seen Kundi in Foya and if he knew where he lived. EzP replied that he knew Kundi during the war and that in 1993 Kundi was living in New Foya. When asked where Kundi’s house was located, EzP said that there was a valley next to the mosque and that the ULIMOs were located in that area.
Upon questioning, EzP confirmed that he recognized Kundi in the dock and stated that he had bowed legs and squinted eyes. EzP added that Kundi was singing a song in praise of Ugly Boy (“Ugly Boy, Ugly Boy, ULIMO”).
On questioning, EzP said that Deku was the commander in charge at Foya and that Kundi was at the front. EzP confirmed that Kundi was going to the front and returning to Foya. He added that he was equipped with RPGs and was responsible for moving the frontline forward.
When asked about the killings he mentioned, EzP said he had witnessed the murder of the man whose throat had been cut. The President then returned to the wheelbarrow episode involving Mami Wata and asked EzP if he had witnessed it. EzP replied that he was not present during the killings but that everyone was talking about it.
When asked about the reputations of ULIMO commanders, EzP said that some were good and some were bad. He said that he had not seen CO Blacky kill anyone or heard people say that he had killed one of them. EzP added that a boy named Young Major, who was his friend, lived with CO Blacky. When asked about Deku, EzP said that he had not seen him commit any wrongdoing.
Asked to elaborate on the story of the witch killed by Kundi, EzP said it was a woman called KG or KF. He said he had attended the burial. The President asked him whether he had seen Kundi go to the burial and then leave. EzP stated that Kundi passed by, sympathised with the people and then went on his way.
The prosecution questions EzP:
When asked about his brother EP’s role during the war, EzP explained that his brother was the mayor of the town. According to EzP, EP did good for people during the war and advocated for those who were caught. EP said that he could be killed instead of those people. On questioning, EzP said that his brother had not had any problems with ULIMO. He was detained a few times since he was the leader, but was not afraid to tell the truth.
When asked about his brother’s presence in Foya Dundu on the day of KT’s death, EzP said his brother was in a nearby village. According to EzP, EP did not try to talk to the ULIMO commanders because the woman was already dead and there was nothing more to be done.
When asked about the forced marches, EzP said he was never forced to carry loads because he was friends with Young Major.
Asked whether he thought Kundi would be likely to recognize him, EzP replied that they were not from the same neighborhood and therefore it was possible that Kundi did not know him. EzP added that when someone does something wrong, everyone recognizes him.
Counsel for the prosecution asked EzP whether he had seen Kundi frequently between 1993 and 1997. EzP said that Kundi had only come between 1993 and 1994 and that he had not seen him after 1994.
Prosecution questions EzP:
On questioning, EzP confirmed that Kundi was indeed based in Foya between 1993 and 1994 and specified that he sometimes went to the front and then returned. EzP also confirmed that Kundi lived in New Foya. The general counsel asked EzP to locate New Foya in relation to the airstrip and the former police station. The witness said the airstrip was now in a different location.
General Counsel also asked EzP if he knew Kundi as battlefront or battlefield commander and the witness replied that he knew him as C.O. Kundi or “RPG man.
The defense questions EzP:
On questioning, EzP confirmed that the ‘Black Devil’ soldiers were wearing red headbands and t-shirts when they entered Foya. Asked about his first meeting with Kundi, the witness said ULIMO called a meeting and Kundi was on a stage with his RPG. Defense counsel asked EzP how he knew it was Kundi. The witness replied that he had been there for a month and had heard Kundi’s name. According to EzP, everyone was saying Kundi was there and pointing at him.
Defense counsel then returned to the KT execution and stated that the witness had given a lot of details. Asked whether he was present at the time of the execution, EzP said he had attended the funeral. On questioning, he said it was the burial of a small child. The defence counsel asked him how far away he was when KT was killed. EzP replied that K was in his room under a blanket and that Kundi came in and shot him. The defense attorney asked EzP to confirm that he was present in KT’s room when Kundi shot him. EzP replied, “If someone walks past you, enters a house and shoots, then takes the person outside and buries them with leaves, do you think it could be someone else?”.
The defence lawyer then asked EzP if he was sure he recognized Kundi in the box, since Kunti Kamara does not have crossed eyes according to the defence lawyer. EzP said he recognized him immediately and that his eyes were the same as they were at the time.
Hearing of Alain Werner, founder of the NGO Civitas Maxima, as a civil party
Alain Werner introduced himself, indicating that he was a lawyer at the Geneva Bar and that he was qualified to practice law in Switzerland, Sierra Leone, Senegal (Dakar) and Cambodia. The Chairperson stated that Alain Werner was being heard for information purposes only.
Alain Werner began his spontaneous statement by explaining that he would begin by introducing himself before explaining what had led to the creation of Civitas Maxima in 2012. He indicated that he would then talk about the partnership with the GJRP in Liberia, the role of Civitas Maxima in the case and finally the proceedings in Switzerland.
With regard to his professional background, Alain Werner said he was sworn in in 1999 in Geneva and had lived outside Switzerland for 10 years. He graduated from Columbia University, where he met Reed Brody, who played a central role in his career. Alain Werner said he lived in Freetown for five years and worked there as a prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) from 1998 to 2003. According to him, the international community no longer wanted to spend as much money as it did on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The idea was to base the tribunal on the spot and to go after the perpetrators with the highest degree of responsibility.
Alain Werner explained that Charles Taylor had been sent to Nigeria to escape his crimes, but was finally arrested in 2006 and handed over to the SCSL in Freetown. Busy with the RUF trials, the Prosecutor’s office was understaffed, but the Prosecutor said he was ready to try Taylor, which was not the case. According to Alain Werner, it had to be proven that Taylor had been steering everything from Monrovia to trade diamonds for arms, even though he had never set foot in Sierra Leone. It was on this occasion that Alain Werner was sent to Liberia to find witnesses against Taylor. Werner said that the only way to get evidence was to ‘turn’ witnesses against Taylor, and that this was particularly easy with former ULIMO soldiers who had had to fight for the NPFL, because it was an opportunity for them to prove that they were not traitors.
Alain Werner went on to say that in 2008, he spent 12 months in court in The Hague and heard from more than 100 witnesses, including “insiders”. The trial was relocated to The Hague because of rumours that Taylor’s men were planning to attack the detention centre. Charles Taylor was then exfiltrated from Sierra Leone and taken to The Hague. The prosecution case was completed in January 2009. The main witness for the defense was Charles Taylor himself, as he testified for 18 months in his own defense. Charles Taylor’s former lawyer, Karim Khan, is now a prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. Alain Werner said that Karim Khan became his friend and asked him to go to Phnom Penh in Cambodia to represent the civil parties in the Khmer Rouge trial. Alain Werner spent the whole of 2009 in Cambodia before being contacted by Reed Brody about the proceedings against Hissène Habré.
Alain Werner explained that Reed Brody and Human Rights Watch had succeeded in forcing the African Union to set up a tribunal in Dakar to try Hissène Habré, the former president of Chad who had taken refuge in Senegal with all the money from his country’s treasury. According to Alain Werner, the arrest of Pinochet in London in 1998 thanks to Judge Baltasar Garzon made these extraterritorial trials possible. He added that in the 1980s, Hissène Habré was supported by France and the United States and that there was therefore no political will to bring him to justice. It was the new president of Senegal who made it possible to set up a trial without the involvement of the UN. Alain Werner said that the conviction of Hissène Habré had given him great hope, because justice had been obtained by the will of the victims and that of the Chadian lawyers, without the intervention of the UN.
Alain Werner then specified that his field of expertise was the wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia. In this regard, he briefly returned to the testimony of Patrick Robert who stated that the war in Sierra Leone had been more terrible than that in Liberia. Alain Werner stated that he did not agree with Patrick Robert’s statement and that in his opinion, the war in Liberia was just as cruel and bloody as the war in Sierra Leone.
The next step in Alain Werner’s professional career took place in London in 2010 with the NGO Aegis Trust where he worked for two years. It was during this period that he met HB, the future director of GJRP, for the first time. HB was a prosecution witness in the Charles Taylor trial. According to Alain Werner, HB is a legend in Liberia. He was brutally tortured by Taylor in 2002 because he was a journalist, and his case was picked up by Amnesty International. Alain Werner added that HB’s hero was George W. Bush because he got Taylor to release HB. According to Alain Werner, HB has made it his mission to testify in all trials concerning crimes committed in Liberia, including testifying in Miami against Taylor’s son Chuckie, who was sentenced to 97 years in prison, as well as in the Netherlands against a businessman who was trading in timber with Taylor. Alain Werner said Liberia was just as devastated as Sierra Leone, but not a single penny had been paid out by the international community. It was also clear that the ICC would not do anything, as it has jurisdiction over acts committed from 1er July 2002. According to Alain Werner, the governments have sat on the misfortune of the victims. For example, Ellen Johnson, the first female president of Liberia, did not take the TRC report into consideration.
Convinced that there would be no justice for Liberia, Alain Werner contacted HB to document the crimes committed. They also documented the blood diamond trade and began building cases on European businessmen, including Michel Desaedeleer, who died a few months before his trial while in the custody of Belgian authorities.
Alain Werner then said that Kunti Kamara was right when he said that all the proceedings were targeting Mandingos, such as Jungle Jabah, Alieu Kosiah or himself. Alain Werner made it clear that together with HB, they are also working on former NPFL members and the crimes of Charles Taylor, but without the same success. As an example, Martina Johnson was arrested in 2014, before being released on bail by Belgian authorities due to her health condition. Her trial date has not yet been set as the courts are overloaded. As for Agnes Taylor, she spent two years in prison before being released on a very technical point. Alain Werner said that his job was to document crimes and pass on the information gathered to the prosecuting authorities. The fact that some cases are successful and others are not is not his responsibility.
Alain Werner went on to say that in 2012 he was aware that he would not be able to continue his work with the Aegis Trust due to lack of funding. However, he did not want to give up his cases and managed to convince the Pro Victimis Foundation to support his blood diamond documentation effort. With these funds, HB created the GJRP and Alain Werner founded Civitas Maxima a few months later. The documentation effort was fundamental, especially for countries like Liberia where life expectancy is lower because of the health system. Alain Werner said he understood that the only way to ensure that justice would one day be achieved was through documentation. He said that the effort to document preserves the possibility of prosecution. He explained that there is a great willingness on the part of victims to start proceedings instead of setting up a huge database.
Alain Werner said that he had always felt that it would be irresponsible to file a criminal complaint in Europe without working hand in hand with colleagues in Liberia. The aim was to create a sustainable structure and to give people on the ground the opportunity to decide what they wanted to do by giving them the necessary support. Alain Werner explained that Civitas Maxima, and in particular its director Emmanuelle Marchand, had trained the GJRP investigators in the collection of the word. He said that the GJRP has 17 investigators from different ethnic backgrounds.
In 2013-2014, Alain Werner was informed of the presence of a former ULIMO commander of Mandingo origin on Swiss territory. He contacted HB to see his reaction, as it was a case concerning his own ethnicity. Alain Werner said that HB was a hero to him because he did not hesitate for a second to take up the case, despite the threats he was receiving from his own group.
Alain Werner then declared that he had broken away from the legal tradition advocated by his family, according to which justice must be at the service of those who reside in the place where it is delivered. Indeed, in some cases, it is not possible to obtain justice in the country where the crimes were committed. This is notably the case in Liberia today according to Alain Werner.
Regarding the proceedings in Switzerland, Alain Werner said he filed a criminal complaint against Alieu Kosiah in 2014 and represented 4 or 5 complainants. Kosiah was arrested very quickly. He explained that in Switzerland, there has been no jury for almost 15 years and the prosecutor conducts the investigation for both the prosecution and the defense. The Kosiah case is complex according to Alain Werner, because at the time of Alieu Kosiah’s arrest, Ebola was raging in Liberia and the Swiss authorities did not want to go there. The prosecutor warned that he would have to release Alieu Kosiah if there was no evidence against him. Civitas Maxima therefore set up a quarantine system at the end of 2014 ensuring the isolation of three victims of Alieu Kosiah for a month. They arrived in Switzerland in January 2015 and were interviewed by the authorities. According to Alain Werner, Alieu Kosiah would have been released without the work of Civitas Maxima.
He added that he was very concerned about the fact that only one witness could be identified for the events in Zorzor and Kolahun. Other evidence was collected, including dispatches from The Inquirer and The Eye newspapers in microfilm from the US Library of Congress, which identified other victims.
In March 2019, Alieu Kosiah was remanded for trial. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the hearing was conducted in two parts. Alieu Kosiah was heard for 40 hours and then the civil parties came to Switzerland in March 2021. Alieu Kosiah was convicted and appealed. He was found guilty directly or indirectly of several crimes, including murder, rape, torture, cannibalism, etc. Alain Werner explained that the application of the lex mitior had prevented the Swiss prosecutor from requesting more than 20 years of criminal imprisonment. This conviction remains historic for Liberia and Switzerland, as it is the first conviction of a Liberian for war crimes.
Alain Werner then returned to the issue of compensation for the civil parties and confirmed that financial compensation had been requested in the amount of 6,000 to 8,000 Swiss francs. However, none of the civil parties received any compensation, as the reparation is the responsibility of the defendant, not the State, and Alieu Kosiah has no money.
Regarding Kunti Kamara, Alain Werner explained that he had heard Kundi’s name in the proceedings against Kosiah, when in 2014 Kosiah’s lawyer requested an analysis of his client’s mobile phone in order to identify defense witnesses. In 2015, the prosecutor informed the parties that Mohamed Soumawolo, aka Kundi, had been identified and that Swiss authorities would send a rogatory commission to the Netherlands. One of the civil parties’ lawyers, Raphaël Jakob, asked the Swiss authorities not to hear Kunti Kamara as a witness, but to report the facts to the Dutch authorities so that he could be prosecuted. Me Raphaël Jakob reiterated his request when the parties learned that Kundi was residing in Belgium and then in France. In 2018, Civitas Maxima filed a complaint against Kunti Kamara through Me Simon Foremann and Me Sabrina Delattre. Alain Werner said that without the relentlessness of Alieu Kosiah, there would have been no proceedings against Kunti Kamara, because everyone was unaware that he was in Europe. Kunti Kamara testified in March 2021 and said Alieu Kosiah was in Foya when the town was taken by ULIMO.
Alain Werner went on to say that Civitas Maxima was working with 9 war crimes units around the world and that the French authorities were the first to break the logjam in relation to investigations in Liberia. Prior to 2019, no one could go there to investigate, as requests for international assistance went unanswered. Only the Americans went, but without asking for permission. Werner wondered whether it was the election of George Weah, a former PSG player, or the insistence of the French investigating judge that broke the deadlock. He said he was extremely grateful to the French authorities and praised the OCLCH. According to him, the Liberians agreed to allow investigators to come to their territory because of the work of the French authorities.
Alain Werner then spoke about universal jurisdiction. He stated that this trial was both the first non-Rwandan trial for international crimes in France, but also the trial of this form of universal justice. According to Alain Werner, this type of trial is the greatest hope for justice, given that the ICC’s work has led to five convictions in 20 years. Werner said he believes in universal jurisdiction and would be grateful for justice elsewhere if his own country was under a military junta. For him, “universal jurisdiction is not a problem but a great opportunity”. He added that he was impressed by the quality of the French system, particularly the experience and diligence of the police and prosecutors. He also expressed his appreciation for the French system, which allows an organization to file a civil suit and to be represented by lawyers.
Alain Werner ended his spontaneous statement by thanking, on behalf of Civitas Maxima, the members of the association Paris Aide aux Victimes for their kindness, humility and availability.
The Court questions Alain Werner:
The president recalled the defendant’s statement that Alain Werner and his team had suggested testimony, and asked Alain Werner how he could ensure that elements of the answer were not misled to witnesses. Alain Werner replied that his team went to hatay shops, which are meeting places where men talk about football, politics, and the war, to listen to conversations. He added that the number one rule was not to give names and not to mislead witnesses. He also said his teams frequently travel to Liberia to train investigators and have established protocols for interrogation. He said that if he lost the confidence of a national prosecutor’s office, that would be the end of Civitas Maxima.
When asked by a juror about the mechanism for compensating victims under French law, Alain Werner said that he had never promised money to victims. He said he was traumatized by the trial of Hissène Habré, because the victims were supposed to receive between 20,000 and 30,000 euros, but have received nothing to date.
The President then referred to the TRC’s list of key perpetrators and asked Alain Werner for his opinion on the fact that Kunti Kamara was not on it. Alain Werner stated that more than half of his cases involved people who were not on the list. He added that Kundi’s name and others had been raised in public hearings, but had not been included in the list by the TRC because of the methodology described by John Stewart and Massa Washington. This is one of the reasons why Civitas Maxima wanted to make an effort to document the situation.
Upon questioning by an assessor judge, Alain Werner stated that he had a deep conviction that the witnesses expected nothing less than justice to be done.
When asked about possible threats against him, Alain Werner explained that Alieu Kosiah had filed a criminal complaint against him, HB and all civil parties in Switzerland. As for Agnes Taylor, she has filed a complaint in Liberia against the GJRP and HB, and Alain Werner fears a conviction.
The assessor judge then recalled Patrick Robert’s statement that the war in Liberia was not an ethnic war unlike Rwanda, and asked Alain Werner for his opinion. The latter indicated that politicians like Charles Taylor used ethnic groups against each other and instrumentalized this ethnic fragmentation. Like Alieu Kosiah and Kunti Kamara, Alain Werner considers that Taylor is at the origin of this war.
When asked about the facts of rape and in particular whether it was part of the armed groups’ plan or whether women were collateral victims, Alain Werner said that Emmanuelle Marchand would be better able to answer this question. He said that all factions, including ULIMO, considered civilians as objects. Women were used to thresh rice and forced to have sex, including by white businessmen. He added that he was touched by what had happened the previous day (referring to the testimony of EFNS) and said that Civitas Maxima was guided by the principle of “no harm” and always tried to work with people who could testify.
One juror finally asked Alain Werner why he had asked for financial compensation for the civil parties in Switzerland, when he knew that this was likely to call into question their testimony and motives. Alain Werner explained that he and the other lawyers for the civil parties had thought that no one would understand if no compensation was required. Indeed, they feared sending the wrong message by accusing Alieu Kosiah of the worst atrocities without asking for any compensation. Alain Werner added that the fact that Alieu Kosiah was indigent today did not mean that he would be so tomorrow. Finally, regarding the amount of compensation, he said it had been very complicated to quantify it and that he had had a discussion in this regard with the lawyers of the other civil parties.
The prosecution had no questions.
The Public Prosecutor questions Alain Werner:
The General Counsel sought clarification on the documentation work on Alieu Kosiah and asked Alain Werner how he explained the fact that only one witness was found in each town to tell about the crimes that had been committed there, when these crimes were committed publicly. Alain Werner explained that in Liberia, everything was complicated and that it was difficult to circulate information and access witnesses, while highlighting the work of journalist Anthony Stephens present in the room. In addition to the threats and fear of reprisals, the victims were also traumatised. In this regard, Alain Werner recalled his meeting with M, the sex slave of Ugly Boy, and indicated that he would never have asked her to testify because she was far too traumatised.
When asked about the impact of the Kunti Kamara trial in Liberia, Alain Werner said that the main channel of information in Liberia was the radio and that, according to John Stewart, the trial had a huge impact in the country.
The defense questions Alain Werner:
When asked about the funding of Civitas Maxima, Alain Werner said that he had taken the gamble of not accepting government money and had managed to convince private donors. He said that most of the budget was financed by five or six foundations and that the biggest challenge was to ensure the sustainability of funding.
When asked whether he received warrants from international courts, Alain Werner replied in the negative and specified that he was not only working on Liberia, but also on Sudan and Côte d’Ivoire, citing difficulties in cooperating with the ICC.
Defense counsel then returned to the phrase “turning over witnesses” used by Alain Werner and asked him to clarify its meaning. Alain Werner explained that when he worked at the SCSL, he initially only had the testimony of villagers and needed testimony from people who were part of Charles Taylor’s system. The term ‘turning over witnesses’ means that these witnesses agreed to speak in return for a guarantee that no prosecution would be brought against them. The defense lawyer then asked Alain Werner whether testifying against Taylor gave them immunity. Alain Werner explained that the SCSL’s mandate was in any case too narrow to prosecute them, so the question of immunity before the SCSL was theoretical. The question of immunity in Liberia, on the other hand, had arisen, but everyone also knew that nothing would be done in Liberia to prosecute the perpetrators.
* * *
The Chairman indicated that he would read out NS’s hearings as his condition had not improved. The Chairman explained that NS had been heard on three occasions. The first hearing was conducted by Civitas Maxima on 29 April 2018. NS was then heard by the Liberia National Police on April 30, 2019, and then confronted by TK and FG due to discrepancies in each other’s testimony.
Reading from the notes of the interview between NS and Civitas Maxima investigators on April 29, 2019.
NS first explained how he had come across the GJRP. He stated that one Maxwell had probably been informed that he was the husband of the deceased woman and looked for him when he visited Foya Dundu, but NS was not in town. One day Maxwell met FP in town and asked him if he remembered NS. FP replied in the affirmative and called NS. That’s how he met Maxwell and Maxwell asked him if he was willing to tell his story and come to Monrovia.
On the events in Foya Dundu, NS said he was in Foya Dundu at the time of ULIMO and that 10 soldiers were posted to the town. According to NS, it was about 6pm when the baby died. NS added that the one who caused the trouble and killed his wife was named Kundi. Kundi was not posted to Foya Dundu and was in Foya as a commander before this incident. NS said Foya Airfield and Foya Dundu were close to each other.
NS said Kundi came from Foya Airfield and passed through Foya Dundu on his way to Kornobenu. He was walking with a uniform, weapons and five bodyguards. The grave of the dead child was behind the house and some people were there to bury him. NS said that when Kundi and his bodyguards arrived, he was in front of the house and saw them coming from Foya Airfield. According to NS, Kundi was an important man who assigned missions to the soldiers. He came during the funeral ceremony, stopped and expressed his sympathy before leaving for Kornobenu.
On questioning, NS indicated that he thought Kundi was an important man because of his rank. The soldiers called him S3 of the battalion and he was the one who gave the soldiers their assignments. The investigators then questioned NS about the compassion expressed by Kundi. NS said that Kundi had given them some money. According to tradition, when someone dies, the village chief receives money and gives it to the family of the deceased at the end of the day. NS said Kundi gave money to the commander of Foya Dundu, Mohammed Saryon. NS said that when Saryon left, Mohammed Kamara became commander. NS recalled other names of soldiers such as Musa Blodu and Mohammed Jah.
According to NS, Kundi then returned to where he had left them and told the soldiers that he had information about the baby’s death, namely that the woman had performed witchcraft on the baby and that this had caused its death. Kundi sent two soldiers to the house to extract the woman. NS said that the woman had a disease that caused her to have hair loss. The soldiers entered the house and saw the woman wrapped in blankets. They were unable to take her out because of her condition and returned to Kundi to report the situation. NS said that his wife had been ill for two months.
According to NS, Kundi started talking about this witchcraft story when he returned. NS said he did not know why Kundi thought his wife was a witch, but assumed that it was one of his soldiers who told him. Kundi then shouted at his soldiers saying, “I gave you orders, you are unable to follow them, go back and get that woman out of there!”. He got angry, took the G3 from one of the soldiers and said, “Since you are unable to get her out, I will do it. This woman is practicing witchcraft, but today is the last day she will practice witchcraft. NS said Kundi was furious and went into the house and dragged the woman to the door before giving the order to dig the grave. He blew the woman’s head off with his gun on the doorstep. On questioning, NS said that Kundi shot her once and said that he had witnessed the scene, which lasted less than two minutes. According to NS, the woman was unable to stand and was lying on the ground when she was shot.
NS added that Kundi had ordered civilians to dig the grave and that the corpse was covered with palm leaves before burial. On questioning, NS clarified that the palm leaves came from FG’s kitchen. Kundi then ordered that the grave be covered with dust. According to NS, the villagers told the mother of the deceased woman to hide and she fled. Kundi said that if he saw the old woman who was the mother of the woman he had just killed, he would kill her in turn.
NS said that at the time of the murder many people panicked and left the town, but he stayed behind and helped bury the woman’s body. The woman was his wife and FG’s sister. He added that he had not witnessed any other killings, but that soldiers often beat civilians.
NS was then asked to give a description of Foya Dundu. He said that coming from Foya Airfield there was a bridge and just after the bridge was Foya Dundu. FP’s house was located after the town hall and had been turned into an office by the soldiers posted to the town. He added that his wife was in FG’s house and that he went there daily. Asked to describe FG’s house, NS said that there were four beds and a place called “palor” in front of the entrance to the house. This was where the woman had been killed. NS also said that the house was made of earth and the roof was made of zinc.
When asked about Kundi, NS said he knew his name because he had asked him. According to NS, Kundi was rather a weakling. He was short and thin and looked young because of his boyish appearance. He wore a camouflage suit and a G3. Sometimes he also wore civilian clothes and mountain boots. He had military pants, sometimes jeans. On that day he was wearing camouflage. NS added that when Kundi returned, his RTO was wearing the G3. On questioning, NS said that an RTO was a bodyguard and that he could not remember the names of the bodyguards.
When asked about the armed factions, NS said that the NPFL were the first, then there were the ULIMO. NS knew their names because that was how they presented themselves. NS said that Kundi was part of ULIMO. The first group of ULIMO that took Foya Dundu was led by C.O. Polu, then the NPFL took over the town. ULIMO came back and posted ten soldiers to Foya Dundu. According to NS, about two months passed between the posting of the ten soldiers to Foya Dundu and the murder of the woman.
When asked about other witnesses to the murder, NS said that the village chief TK was present, as were FG and FP. Other people had also been present, but NS could not remember their names.
When asked about other events he witnessed or experienced, NS said that one day, while carrying loads for the soldiers, they arrested a woman’s son. According to NS, the old woman started screaming and fled into the bush. Mohammed Jah took her back to town and shot her in the foot while he was playing with his gun.
NS also said that there were five of them carrying loads every day. All the factions asked them to do so and they could not escape. On questioning, NS said that if they escaped and were caught, the soldiers would beat them. He said that the goods to be transported were coconuts, coffee, oil or rice and that they sometimes had to carry them to Guinea to sell them. NS said that he had been to the border three times. The last time, he escaped and stayed almost two weeks at the border. On questioning, he said he remembered Ugly Boy, Fine Boy and Bangalee Kamara.
NS finally allowed investigators to tell his story to lawyers and prosecutors.
Reading of the minutes of the April 30, 2019 Liberia National Police hearing of NS.
NS began his spontaneous statement by saying that at the time ULIMO chased the NPFL and took over Foya town, he was living in Foya Dundu with his wife K. His wife had been ill for almost three months. They had been hiding in the bush, but heard that one of the ULIMO commanders, whose name was Ugly Boy, had said that all those hiding in the bush should return to their homes. NS returned to Foya Dundu. He explained that at that time his wife and son were seriously ill. One morning his son died and NS asked the people of the town to help him bury his child. As they gathered in his house, Kundi stopped by NS’s house. He offered his condolences, gave 100 Liberian dollars and left.
NS said that when Kundi returned, he stopped in the area where some soldiers were posted. A few minutes later, two ULIMO soldiers came and asked NS where the woman who was ill was. According to NS, the soldiers entered the house, saw what the woman was in and returned to C.O. Kundi. NS said that Kundi then entered the house and forced his wife out. He shot her in front of the door and then asked NS and the other villagers to bury the body. Once the body was placed in the grave, Kundi took thatch of dried palm leaves to cover it and ordered the villagers to put thatch in the grave. Kundi set fire to the grave and burnt the body. Before leaving, he ordered NS and the other villagers to put soil on the body.
On questioning, NS stated that he could not remember the year in which ULIMO took over Foya. He said his wife died during the dry season. When asked who the leader of the ULIMO soldiers was, NS said that he did not know who the leader was, but that he knew Ugly Boy, because he was very scary and evil. When asked about Kundi’s function, NS said that the ULIMO soldiers called him Battalion S-3, but that he did not know the meaning of this function. According to NS, Kundi was responsible for posting soldiers to villages.
On questioning, NS confirmed that he knew Kundi was a soldier at the time ULIMO controlled Foya. He stated that he had seen Kundi more than ten times and that he realised that he was a bad person the day he killed his wife.
On questioning, NS said that Kundi was from Foya and was going to Kundobondu on the day he stopped in front of his house. NS said he was at home but his wife was taken to her brother’s house because of her illness. She stayed there for over six months before her death. Asked whether he had stayed in his house when Kundi left, NS said he had stayed with his brother-in-law till the end. Asked why Kundi went to his brother-in-law’s house, NS explained that Kundi went there to pay his condolences after being informed by the ULIMO office in Foya Dundu. On questioning, NS said that the ULIMO office was on the main road, over the hill, and that there was a house between his and the ULIMO office.
When asked about Kundi’s return, NS stated that Kundi returned from Kundobondu between 4 and 5 pm. He confirmed that he had seen Kundi returning from Kundobondu while sitting in front of his brother-in-law’s house. On questioning, NS said that Kundi did not stop at the house on his return from Kundobondu and that it took two minutes before he sent the two soldiers to his brother-in-law’s house. When asked about the behaviour of the two soldiers, NS said they asked where the sick woman was, saying they were sent by their chief Kundi. After seeing her, the soldiers said they would inform their chief of the woman’s condition. On questioning, NS said that Kundi returned home shortly afterwards.
Asked whether Kundi had said anything when he arrived, NS said he had not said anything. He said Kundi entered the house and dragged the sick woman outside by her legs, while she was naked and her bodyguards were outside. According to NS, Kundi then shot the woman in the head without saying a word.
Asked if the woman said anything when she was shot outside, NS said she did not say anything and that people started running away when Kundi shot her. It was then that Kundi called all the men and told them to bury the body. On questioning, NS said Kundi left after setting the body on fire.
When asked about the type of weapon Kundi used, NS said he had a G3 assault rifle with a rubber grip and a long dark grey tip. Asked why Kundi had killed the woman after offering his condolences, NS said he did not know. According to him, people were repeating the accusations made by the rebels that his wife was a witch because they were having nightmares. On questioning, NS said that all the villagers were present when his wife was killed because when someone died in the village, everyone could be present.
When asked about the number of ULIMO soldiers stationed at Foya Dundu, NS said there were ten and that he recalled Mohammed Saryon, Mohammed Kamara, Musa Blodu, Mohammed Jah and Mohammed Vally. He confirmed that the soldiers were ordering the civilians to carry loads. On questioning, NS said that none of the soldiers he named were still in Foya Dundu and that most of them were Mandingos.
When asked about his wife’s illness, NS stated that he did not know what the illness was because there was no hospital that could diagnose it at the time because of the war. He said that his wife told him that her body was hurting. She was peeling, suffering from malnutrition and could not do anything on her own. According to NS, his wife was sick for nine months.
When questioned about the contradictions between his statements and those of FG and TK regarding the location of FG’s house, NS stated that he did not remember seeing the village chief TK at his wife’s funeral.
Reading of the minutes of the confrontation between NS, TK and FG before the investigating judge on 10 January 2020
On questioning, NS, TK and FG stated that they had neither photographs nor a certificate of KT’s death and that there was no register of deaths in Foya Dundu in 1993-1994.
The investigating judge then clarified that during the re-enactment, FG and NS stated that KT was in FG’s house when Kunti Kamara arrived, while TK stated that she was in her father’s house. Both NS and FG maintained that KT was in FG’s house. TK maintained that KT was in the house he had identified during the re-enactment. TK stated that it was FG’s house, but that it was different from the present one and that it had been built by KT’s father. On questioning, FG stated that TK’s statements were false, as in 1993 there was no house at the location designated by TK. FG added that he himself had built the house designated by TK after the war. NS confirmed that there was no house in 1993 on the site designated by TK.
The investigating judge then asked TK if it was possible that his memory was wrong. TK admitted that the house he had named had been built after the war, but stated that there was a house there at the time and that KT was there. The investigating judge then asked TK how he explained the fact that both FG and NS claimed that KT was in FG’s house. TK indicated that he had been called by NS and FG after the death of KT’s son. He acknowledged that he may have been mistaken because FG and NS were there, while he had been called.
Asked to comment on TK’s statements, FG said that TK was old. He added that his former house had four bedrooms. According to FG, when Kunti came, he gave L$100 as a gesture of sympathy for the death of his sister’s son. FG then called the village headman, as he was the one to go to in case of problems, and insisted that he was old.
Asked to comment on TK’s statements, NS said that he was the woman’s husband and that he maintained that she had been removed from FG’s house. He added that he visited her every day in FG’s house, as she was seriously ill, just like their son who died on the same day. NS also said that TK was elderly. On questioning, FG confirmed that NS came to visit his wife every day. When asked about TK’s age, FG and NS said that they did not know his age, but that he was the oldest in the village.
The investigating judge then questioned FG, NS and TK about the soldiers who had entered the house where KT was staying. The investigating judge reminded NS that he had stated that Kundi had taken the woman out of the house himself, as the soldiers he had sent to do so had given up in view of her state of health. The investigating judge then indicated that FG had stated that the soldiers sent by Kundi had taken charge of removing KT, adding that NS was not present when the bodyguards arrived. Asked to comment on FG’s statements, NS said he was in front of the house when Kunti sent his bodyguards and asked where the woman who was a witch was. According to NS, Kunti entered the house and took out the woman and shot her twice.
The investigating judge asked NS what he thought about the fact that FG had indicated that the soldiers, not Kunti, had taken KT out of the house. NS stated that he had seen with his own eyes Kunti forcibly take his wife and shoot her. On questioning, FG maintained that according to him, the two bodyguards entered the house and pulled KT out. He said that he had witnessed the scene.
The investigating judge then told TK that he had changed his statement and asked him about it. TK stated that Kunti did not enter the house, but was at the door when he ordered the two soldiers to take the woman out.
When asked about the manner of execution of KT, FG said that Kunti had fired a burst of bullets into his sister’s head. FG made a jerky gesture mimicking a burst shot. On questioning, NS confirmed that there had been a burst shot. The investigating judge then reminded TK that he had initially stated that he remembered two gunshots and invited him to comment on the statements of NS and FG. TK stated that he had also heard gunfire.
The investigating judge then invited NS to comment on TK’s statements that KT had begged Kunti not to kill her. NS refuted them and said that KT could not speak because of her illness. Asked whether he had heard KT begging Kunti, FG said that on that day, God had opened KT’s mouth as she told Kunti not to kill her. According to FG, KT did not speak, but that day she spoke and said in Kissi: “Do not kill me, do not kill me”. Confronted with NS’s contradictory statements, FG indicated that he was closer to KT while NS was under the tree, which NS confirmed upon questioning by the investigating judge. NS also confirmed that it was possible that he had not heard KT begging Kunti and that FG was closer to KT than he was.
Confronted with NS’s statements that he was not present at KT’s funeral, TK stated that he was present, but that NS had not seen him. When asked to comment on this, NS stated that there were many people there and that, given the circumstances, he could not know whether TK was present or not.
The investigating judge questioned FG about the time of the murder, reminding him that he had earlier stated that his sister was executed early in the morning, while NS and TK seemed to say that the murder took place late in the day. FG stated that Kunti came in the morning and gave $100. He then left and returned less than an hour later. He was angry and sent his bodyguards to shoot KT. According to FG, his sister’s execution took place in the morning, not in the afternoon. Asked to determine himself on FG’s statements, NS said that the execution did not take place in the morning as that was the time when his son was buried. According to NS, Kunti gave 100 dollars, left and then came back in the afternoon, i.e. after 12 o’clock. Asked to determine himself on NS’s statements, FG said he could not be precise on the timeline because when something like this happens, one is confused and cannot remember all the facts.
On questioning, FG confirmed that when he was informed of the death of KT’s son, Kunti handed over L$100 to the village chief, TK. When questioned about this, NS stated that the chief was the person who received all the money on behalf of the deceased’s family. On questioning, FG and NS confirmed that they saw Kunti giving the money to TK. The investigating judge then reminded NS that he had earlier stated that Kunti had given the money to one Mohammed Saryon. NS said that Kunti had given the money to Mohammend Saryon, the commander, who had then handed it over to TK. On questioning, TK said that he had received money from Mohammed Saryon.
When asked about his presence before Kunti’s arrival and after her departure, TK said he was called in the morning and stayed behind.
* * *
The President recalled that the court heard FP and FG on these facts and proceeded to read out TK’s statements. The President also referred to the testimony of EzP and stated that along with NS, five people named the accused as responsible for KT’s death. The President asked Kunti Kamara if he stood by his statements that he was not present at KT’s death and had been falsely implicated. Kunti Kamara said he was innocent and confused to be accused by people who did not know him.
The President returned to the gesture of compassion that Kunti Kamara had shown according to the witnesses, by giving 100 Liberian dollars for the burial of the child. The President asked the accused what was the point of the witnesses mentioning the fact that Kunti Kamara had shown compassion in the first place, and then accusing him of executing a sick woman. Kunti Kamara stated that he did not know these people or their culture and that this was impossible.
The President continued to question the accused on the facts of RSK and EFNS.
Interrogation of Kunti Kamara on the acts committed in Foya between 1st March 1994 and December 1994, to the detriment of RSK and EFNS
The President first questioned Kunti Kamara on RSK’s testimony, which he summarised as follows. According to the President, RSK told the Court that she was in the bush and then spent time in the AG’s house with her friend EFNS, who became her sister-in-law. RSK then recounted the episode of Black Friday in February or March 1994 and AG’s departure for fear of reprisals from ULIMO. She said she was repeatedly raped by two of the accused’s bodyguards. According to the President, the important thing about Kunti Kamara is that RSK approached him and begged him on several occasions to stop the rapes by his subordinates. She did not accuse him of raping her, but of not intervening when he knew what was going on. The President added that RSK’s statements suggested that she had been treated as a sex slave who could be used by soldiers whenever they wanted. The President asked the accused what he had to say about these statements.
Kunti Kamara said he was sorry for what happened to the women, if it really happened to them, and that he himself had a sister, a mother and a daughter. He added: “How could I watch someone rape someone else’s sister? It’s not possible.
When asked about the nickname “Black Diamond” he allegedly gave RSK and the fact that she had implored him to stop the rapes by pointing out that she was “small” and “fragile”, Kunti Kamara replied that he had no recollection of this and that he was falsely accused.
Asked about ThK’s testimony implicating him in the death of his father TKo, Kunti Kamara said he was shocked and a stranger to it all.
The President then addressed the testimony of EFNS. Kunti Kamara stated that he was hit when EFNS collapsed and that he had not slept all night, stating that the accusations against him were false. On questioning, he said he did not question the fact that EFNS was a victim of rape, but said he did not know her.
When asked about B, Kunti Kamara explained that he knew him and that B was a former AFL soldier. He added that when the rebels arrived, many Mandingo soldiers joined ULIMO-K and that he had fought with them. He then stated that B may have gone to Foya after he left.
The President then returned to EFNS’s statements that the events took place in New Foya and that B was Kundi’s bodyguard. EFNS said she complained to Kundi but Kundi said, “Oh, I thought I was called about something serious”. Kunti Kamara said he was confused and claimed that he did not live in Foya and was not its commander.
The President asked the accused if he had ever met EFNS. Kunti Kamara replied that he did not know her. The President then asked him how he explained the fact that EFNS recognized him on a photographic plate and gave a precise physical description, indicating in particular that she had once seen him with pigtails. Kunti Kamara again expressed confusion and indicated that he had never worn braids and that he had shaved his head when he arrived in Europe.
When asked about his relationship with women of the Gbandi ethnic group, Kunti Kamara stated that the mother of his child was Gbandi. The President said EFNS had specified during his hearing that the accused had Gbandi wives and asked Kunti Kamara how EFNS could be so knowledgeable if they did not know each other. Kunti Kamara expressed surprise and said it was easy to gather information.
The President then asked Kunti Kamara whether the song sung by RSK to the glory of the accused had been invented for the purpose of this trial. Kunti Kamara first indicated that no ULIMO soldier would say that there were songs. He went on to say that the only time songs could be sung was to encourage soldiers to go to the front, but they were not songs to glorify the commanders.
The President asked Kunti Kamara why the villagers were singing songs about Ugly Boy or about him. Kunti Kamara said, “You cannot be part of a society without interacting with others”. He added that the villagers must have information about ULIMO, but as far as the songs were concerned, they were imagining things. Kunti Kamara added that he was shocked that witnesses accused the ULIMO of killing human beings like chickens, while commanders such as Deku, Pepper or Dombuyah were ordering the killing of soldiers who misbehaved. He stated that it was possible that the soldiers did anything in places where there were no commanders, but not in Foya, Kolahun, Zorzor or Voinjama.
When asked about Ugly Boy, Kunti Kamara said he could not say anything about him since he had only seen him twice. He added that when Foya was taken, Ugly Boy came as backup from Guinea. The President then said that Ugly Boy and Mami Wata were repeatedly quoted and described as bloodthirsty people. According to the President, a witness stated that Ugly Boy was more violent and bloodthirsty than the accused, and TK even said he had a good relationship with the accused. Kunti Kamara replied that he did not want others to say good things about him and that he had no connection with Ugly Boy.
The President reminded him that RSK had reported seeing them together between two houses in Foya and that Kundi had slit the throat of a man held by Ugly Boy. Kunti Kamara stated that he was innocent and that he was in Mendekoma most of the time. He said that he was in great demand by his command because he was brave on the battlefield. Kunti Kamara added that if he had committed atrocities such as cutting people into pieces and putting them in wheelbarrows, information would have been circulated about his actions. The President asked him if he meant that if he had really been a killer, he would have committed murders in Europe. Kunti Kamara replied that he had been in Europe for 22 years and that he had done nothing wrong in Europe.
The President then referred to the testimony of Dr. Zagury, who explained that great war criminals could be good fathers once the war was over. Kunti Kamara stated that he was not denying the words of an expert such as Dr. Zagury, but that he was speaking from his own experience and the circumstances that led him to join the ULIMOs, when he had no intention of becoming a soldier.
The President finally referred to Alain Werner, recalling that Alieu Kosiah explained that Alain Werner and HB were part of a conspiracy. The President indicated that Alain Werner said he was very active in the trials against the NPFL with his foundation, HB and the GJRP, and considered Charles Taylor to be the worst criminal in Liberia. Alain Werner also stated that HB was of Mandingo origin. The President asked the accused why he thought there was a conspiracy against him in view of these elements. Kunti Kamara said there were a lot of rumors and asked the President how he could explain why the former ULIMO general who testified against Charles Taylor was not being investigated. The President replied that it was because of such difficulties that the trial was held in France.
The prosecution questions Kunti Kamara:
Counsel for the prosecution reiterated the statements of the accused regarding the events in Foya Dundu that it was not in his culture to give money to the family of the deceased. The civil party’s lawyer recalled Layee Bamba’s statement that his association was intended to help all Liberians, regardless of their ethnicity, for example by donating the sum of 100 euros at a birth or death. Kunti Kamara reiterated that he did not know the Kissi culture and said that when a Mandingo died, each member of the community prepared something to eat.
On questioning by the President, the lawyer for the civil parties confirmed that Layee Bamba was Mandingo and specified that his association was composed mainly of people of Mandingo origin. The accused then stated that he had been in France since 2016 and that he had no knowledge of the practices of this association. He repeated that among the Mandingo, it was customary to present condolences to the family in case of death, and specified that he had never been to the home of Kissis in France.
Counsel for the parties then noted that the accused had stated that he had spent all his time in Mendekoma, whereas he had indicated at a previous hearing that he had driven through Foya Dundu. Kunti Kamara countered that there were several towns around Foya and that passing through a town did not mean knowing it. The defence counsel intervened to say that the accused had said he was passing through Foya Dundu on his way to Sierra Leone. Asked whether he often went to the front line in Sierra Leone, Kunti Kamara replied that in Foya Dundu there were two main roads: one led to Mendekoma and the other to Foya Tenga. He said that both roads were passable. The civil party lawyer repeated her question and Kunti Kamara said that he did not regularly go to the Sierra Leonean border, but often went to Mendekoma.
The prosecutor then questioned the accused about B, indicating that he seemed to know a lot about him, even though he claimed to have seen him only once in Voinjama. Kunti Kamara clarified that he had stated that he had seen him not only once but for the first time in Voinjama. He added that he had then seen him several times.
Relying on the accused’s contention that the ULIMO occupation of Foya had gone very well, counsel for the civil parties asked Kunti Kamara whether Deku had gone to meet with the religious leaders of the town, as was the custom when occupying a town. The accused replied that the soldiers at the border had secured the town and that it was not possible to be absent from Mendekoma, even for two days, at the risk of the town being taken over by other factions. The civil parties’ lawyer asked Kunti Kamara if he had not spent even one day in Foya. He said that he did not have time and that if he was absent, even for a short time, there would be ambushes. When asked why he said he had spent four months in Foya, Kunti Kamara said he was referring to the Foya district and that Foya was not his place of work. Counsel for the civil parties then indicated that Deku was in Foya and asked the accused to confirm whether he had to go to Foya to see Deku. Kunti Kamara replied that Deku was coming to the front.
Asked about General Fayah, Kunti Kamara said he was in charge of Foya district and had 600 or 700 men under his command. According to Kunti Kamara, General Fayah entered the town to request 500 men. He asked TT to requisition people and then they went into the bush near Mendekoma. The accused added that Deku ordered that no one should go there because General Fayah used TT as a human shield. When he realised that he was about to fail, General Fayah joined the NPFL. Kunti Kamara added that 160 rebels have surrendered, while others have scattered to Guinea and Sierra Leone. According to him, an NGO picked up TT and brought him back to town. The civil party lawyer asked the accused to confirm that he had never fought against General Fayah. Kunti Kamara replied that the Kissis were aware of how General Fayah died.
Finally, the prosecutor asked the accused about the following sentence he uttered during a telephone conversation: “You know, brother, you can’t wash one part of your body and say that the whole body is clean. According to the lawyer for the civil parties, while he was trying to flee at the beginning of the proceedings, the accused seemed to indicate to his interlocutor that he had dirty hands. Kunti Kamara replied that he did not understand the question and that he did not remember that.
Prosecution questions Kunti Kamara:
The General Counsel indicated that since the beginning of the trial, many people have explained that when a town was taken by ULIMO, the soldiers would take women and girls and use them as sex slaves. When asked about this practice, Kunti Kamara said he had no knowledge of it. Asked how he explained that he was the only person in court who had never heard of it, the accused replied: “If they are telling the truth or if they are putting, you know. I consider myself an elephant today, because when you kill an elephant, everybody wants a piece”. He added that if he had committed such acts, he would not be alive, because the generals have killed many soldiers guilty of this kind of behavior. The Advocates General concluded that the accused had heard about such practices and Kunti Kamara said that he had indeed heard rumours, especially about General Varmuyan Sherif killing a soldier.
The General Counsel said that General Varmuyan Sherif, former Chief of Staff of ULIMO, had himself stated during his hearing in the Charles Taylor trial that ULIMO soldiers used 13-14 year old girls as wives. Kunti Kamara said he was not aware of this and confirmed that he knew General Varmuyan Sherif. On questioning, he said that he had seen him again in Belgium after the war when he was staying with a friend’s brother.
When asked about B, Kunti Kamara said he was probably in Monrovia. He added that he did not know whether he was alive or dead, but that there were rumours of his presence in Monrovia. On questioning, Kunti Kamara said he had no contact with B after the war.
The General Counsel asked the accused about Pepper & Salt, whom he had presented as a leader who was very strict about the discipline of his soldiers. They said that according to a 1995 MSF report, Pepper & Salt was so called because he liked to eat seasoned human flesh, which raised doubts about his ability to enforce discipline within his ranks. Kunti Kamara countered that according to him, the people who wrote the report had never seen Pepper & Salt commit such acts. He added that he himself had never seen him eat human flesh and that he knew him as someone who protected civilians.
The General Counsel noted that the report contained testimony from civilians who reported seeing Pepper & Salt commit cannibalism. They asked the accused if he really had no idea about the reputation of Pepper & Salt. Kunti Kamara replied that he did not and stated that if the Mandingos decided to take revenge for the suffering they had endured, the war in Liberia would still not be over. The accused then referred to the NPFL massacres in Lofa County and explained that ULIMO was not formed for revenge, but to fight Charles Taylor who was a criminal. The General Counsel clarified that the crimes committed by Charles Taylor were not in dispute, but that the trial was about the actions of the accused.
Finally, with regard to the conspiracy theory supported by the accused, the General Counsel asked him how he explained the fact that HB’s ethnic origin, which is Mandingo, did not prevent him from documenting the crimes committed by both the NPFL and ULIMO. Kunti Kamara said, “I don’t know all the white people, but they can do anything to get money when you talk about African issues.
Defense questions Kunti Kamara:
The defence made a point of pointing out that in the MSF report from 1995, only one witness incriminated Pepper & Salt for acts of cannibalism.
Court re-interviews Kunti Kamara:
On questioning, Kunti Kamara said he spent his childhood in Nimba County. The presiding judge asked the accused about the meaning of the song “Zo kele kele”, which Alieu Kosiah sang at the request of his lawyer during LSM’s hearing before the Swiss authorities. Alieu Kosiah had claimed that it was a song in the Gio dialect, spoken in Nimba County, which the ULIMO soldiers had taken over from the NPFL. According to Alieu Kosiah, the song meant “When you touch the big buttocks of Lofa women, it feels good. Kunti Kamara said he had heard of the song but did not know what it meant. He added that these songs were taken from Charles Taylor’s soldiers. On questioning, Kunti Kamara said he did not know whether ULIMO soldiers were particularly interested in Lofa women and reiterated that he did not know the meaning of the song although he had sung it with the other soldiers.