14/05/21 [Sierra Leone] Day 30: The Hearing of Witnesses 62 and 63
The 30th day of public hearings resumed on 14 May 2021 in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Witness 62 is heard
(Finnish Witness ID: Defense Witness 10)
The Defense questions Witness 10
The Witness had met Gibril Massaquoi whilst training in a Southern Province, and the training was overseen by Foday Sankoh and Vanguards. He explained that Foday Sankoh was the leader of the RUF, and that he had been recruited to the RUF by force. After training he was deployed to Pujehun as part of the first battalion. He went on to explain that Massaquoi was a member and a commander of the RUF, and added that they had a company by the name of Alligator Forces. In 1999 the Witness was tasked with operating Gibril Massaquoi’s radio. He explained that Gibril had a satellite phone that he was using to talk to numerous sources, including BBC, RFI, and VOA. The Witness noted that they utilized a local radio system within the battalion. He noted that in 1992 Massaquoi was in Sierra Leone, near the border of the Chiefdom of Segbwema.
The Defense asked the Witness to focus on the years between 1999 and 2002. He explained that Eldred Collins was the first person in charge of media for the RUF, but he was changed by Foday Sankoh due to misspeaking in the media, and replaced by Massaquoi. Massaquoi was the public relations officer for the RUF after Foday Sankoh had been arrested following the Abidjan Peace Accord in 1996. The Witness explained that around 1997-1998 Massaquoi was in prison, and Foday Sankoh was also in prison in Nigeria. In 1999 the RUF, under the command of Mosquito, went and freed Massaquoi from prison. After being released from prison, Massaquoi went to an RUF base in Makeni, Sierra Leone. The Witness noted that he was released before the Lomé Peace Agreement. When asked how he knew that Massaquoi had gone to Makeni after being released from prison, the Witness explained that he was among the group that received him in Freetown, and they went to Lunsar along with Superman. He explained that they went to Makeni after this, in 2000, which is when he believed the Lomé Peace Agreement was concluded. He was in Makeni with Massaquoi for a year with the second brigade, until the disarmament.
The Witness was asked to elaborate on his role as Massaquoi’s radio operator. He explained that all the brigades had a radio, and that Gibril would write the things he would say on the radio, which would then be broadcasted to the other RUF members, including daily briefings. If someone wanted to contact Massaquoi, the Witness would set up the camera and the radio, and if Massaquoi was not near the Witness would inform him about calls. He explained that the phone had been set up in a small office, which was not in the same house as Massaquoi. When someone would call, the Witness would make a note of the name of the person, their affiliation and their number and arrange a time for Massaquoi to call them. Then, Massaquoi would check the notes, and call the people back on the telephone. He noted that in addition to the media, who he talked to on appointment dates, Massaquoi only used the telephone to speak with FNM-210.
The Witness stated that the Lomé Peace Agreement had an effect on the RUF, as well as the other parties involved in the Agreement. After the Agreement, Foday Sankoh was the vice president of RUF and in charge of all minerals, whilst Massaquoi remained as the public relations officer. During this time, Foday Sankoh and Gibril Massaquoi lived in different parts of Freetown; Massaquoi at Murray Town and Sankoh at Spur Road. The Witness explained that members of the RUF, including senior ministers and officers, would meet at their office which was located at Foday Sankoh’s house. At Sankoh’s residence, they would get briefings. He stated that he did not do any work at Sankoh’s residence, although he was living in Freetown at the time. Whilst in Freetown, the Witness would meet with Gibril Massaquoi on a daily basis, as Massaquoi was his boss.
When asked whether anything special occurred at Sankoh’s residence, the Witness recalled an event during the dry season in 2000, where they were informed that some UNAMSIL senior officials and Zambian peacekeepers had been arrested. The following day he heard that Foday Sankoh had been arrested, and he later heard of the arrest of most of the RUF commanders, including Mike Lamin. The Witness explained that Foday Sankoh being arrested had dire consequences on the group, and after his arrest the group had met in Makeni, where they decided to flee to the jungle. The group fled into the jungle in a large group, including Superman and Massaquoi. The group formed a base in Lunsar, and remained there for about a year and a half until the disarmament in Makeni in 2001. The Witness explained that after Foday Sankoh had been arrested, there was a general meeting at the brigade headquarters in Makeni, after which Sam Bockarie (alias Mosquito) became the leader of RUF. Bockarie acted as the leader for approximately six to seven months, after which there was a power struggle between him and Issa Sesay. After this, Bockarie went to Liberia with his family, bodyguards, and almost a battalion of men, including Dennis “Superman” Mingo, in 2001. The Witness explained that Gibril Massaquoi did not go to Liberia with Sam Bockarie because they were not on good terms at the time. However, Gibril Massaquoi went to Liberia in 2001 to get his girlfriend, Witness 13. Upon returning from Liberia, Gibril Massaquoi settled in Makeni. When asked how he knew that Gibril Massaquoi lived in Makeni, the Witness explained that the Witness had stayed at the house in Makeni and saw Massaquoi return. He recalled an UNAMSIL commander arriving at the house and suggesting peace talks, the commander added that Sankoh would only be released if the RUF disarmed. The Witness noted that Issa Sesay was the acting commander of the RUF at the time. Following the UNAMSIL commander arriving at the house where the Witness was along with Gibril Massaquoi, they agreed to meet in Magburaka to proceed with peace negotiations. At Magburaka, the UNAMSIL commander met with RUF senior officials. The Witness explained that he was not present at the meeting, but he was in the town as he was part of the entourage.
After being asked if he could name some of the people Massaquoi stayed with in Makeni, the Witness stated that he and the Witness lived with a number of bodyguards, including: FNM-211, FNM-212, Witness 1, FNM-213, and others. Regarding Massaquoi’s family, the Witness stated that Massaquoi’s mother stayed in Bo, and he also has sisters, one of whom is a paramount chief. The Witness added that Massaquoi has had two wives and three children.
The Witness stated that he stayed in Makeni until 2002, after which the group left for Freetown, where they rented a house at Thunder Hill. The reason why Gibril Massaquoi went to Freetown was to transform the RUF into a political party. However, whilst in Makeni, Massaquoi and Issa Sesay had an issue regarding money which had been given to the RUF for paying for an office space. The tension almost escalated to an armed conflict, but the UNAMSIL intervened and the issue was de-escalated. The issue was resolved by Issa Sesay staying in Makeni, and Gibril Massaquoi moving from Makeni to Freetown to stay with a friend of his, FNM-214, who was not a member of the RUF. According to the Witness, Gibril Massaquoi participated in the peace process in Sierra Leone as an intermediary between the RUF and the government. The first meeting regarding the disarmament was a tripartite meeting between the AFRC, RUF and Kamajors at Mammy Yoko in Freetown. The second meeting was in Bo, and the Witness participated in this meeting with Massaquoi. Later, there was also a third meeting in Kono, and a fourth meeting in Makeni; the Witness participated in each of these meetings with Massaquoi. The Witness subsequently explained that the tripartite meetings took place weekly to encourage the parties to disarm side by side. He noted that Massaquoi participated in the peace process in a substantial way, by talking to other members and ensuring that they received training for a trade. When asked whether Massaquoi travelled abroad during this time, the Witness stated that Massaquoi did not go to the Lomé peace process, and only travelled in 1996 to the Yamoussoukro peace process. Between 2000 and 2001 the Witness was not aware of Gibril Massaquoi travelling outside Sierra Leone.
Regarding the intention to form a political party in 2002, the Witness stated that Gibril Massaquoi did not play a role in the party due to his issue with Issa Sesay, and instead the Witness and Gibril Massaquoi joined the SLPP with Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. The Witness was then asked if he was aware of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, to which he replied that he was aware of the Court, and that Massaquoi helped the Court to succeed. The Witness also stated that Massaquoi received protection from the Court, and he lived in a house which was guarded by Sierra Leonean police between 2007 and 2008. The Witness had met Massaquoi in the safe house, and the last time he had seen Massaquoi was in 2008, after which Massaquoi left for Finland. The Defense then asked if the Witness was aware of any nickname used by Massaquoi. He replied that Massaquoi went by “Gaffa”, and all the leaders had nicknames as radio code names in order to avoid monitoring.
The Defense asked if anyone had contacted the Witness after his interview with the Finnish police in October 2020. The Witness stated that he had received a call in August 2020 from Switzerland, from an unknown person who never disclosed their identity. The person who called him had stated that they had a court issue, and they wanted the Witness to be on their side. However, the caller didn’t identify himself so the Witness ended the call, and he noted that he does not have any relatives in Switzerland. The caller also did not mention which court issue he was referring to.
(The Witness attempted to show proof of the phone call. However, there is only an outgoing call to Switzerland, and no incoming call. The Witness reiterated that the number had called him first, and he had simply returned the call)
The Defense proceeded to question the Witness about his responsibilities in Makeni, prior to the Witness moving to Freetown. The Witness explained that he lived in Makeni prior to the conflict between Massaquoi and Issa Sesay. Whilst there, he was not responsible for Massaquoi’s satellite phone as UNAMSIL had taken it, along with the radio set, in 2000. However, when Massaquoi was working at Sankoh’s house, the Witness was responsible for Massaquoi’s satellite phone.
The Defense returned to the alleged call the Witness had received from Switzerland. He explained that he had only called the number because they had called him first, but the number he had called did not answer.
L'Accusation interroge le témoin n°10
Regarding his role in operating the satellite phone, the Witness reiterated that he would write the numbers that had called the phone into a book, and Gibril Massaquoi would then call the numbers back. However, immediately after this the Witness clarified that he was not a satellite phone operator, and he in fact operated a radio. He explained that he was trained by Foday Sankoh to use the radio, and that Foday Sankoh, Gibril Massaquoi, Issa Sesay and Sam Bockarie (alias Mosquito) all had satellite phones they moved around with. He did not know where the commanders got the satellite phones from, but he did know how the satellite phones worked because Gibril Massaquoi taught him to receive calls and make notes. Regarding whether it would be possible to use a satellite phone without the other person knowing your location, the Witness stated that he doesn’t know because his focus was on the radio. He recalled that Gibril Massaquoi would sometimes do interviews via satellite when he was not present, and Massaquoi would ask others to go outside for 20 to 30 minutes when he did so.
The Witness proceeded to describe Foday Sankoh’s role as the vice president in charge of all minerals. He explained that Foday Sankoh was only below the president regarding minerals, and that RUF had their own mining site in Kono District. At the mining site, there were government representatives who took records of all the mineral discoveries, however the Witness never went there himself. The Prosecution asked the Witness if he had received any information regarding diamonds when he was Gibril Massaquoi’s radio operator. He stated that Gibril Massaquoi was only focused on his work as the public relations officer and had no connection with diamonds. He added that Gibril Massaquoi never received any assignment regarding diamonds and noted that he entered all the information of these calls into the booklet and no diamonds were mentioned. The Prosecution noted that in his trial, Gibril Massaquoi had stated that he gave diamonds to Charles Taylor. The Witness responded by stating that he would not know, as he was not present at the trial in question.
After Sankoh was arrested, the Witness was present at a general meeting that took place in 2000 in Makeni. At the meeting the RUF decided to accept peace and disarmament, as well as “Operation: Free-The-Leader”. There were many plans to free Sankoh, some suggested fighting in order to free him, and others insisted on contacting UNAMSIL to get their view. There was also a suggestion to attack Freetown, which was proposed by the “West Side Boys”. The Prosecution then asked the Witness about a group of Zambian peacekeepers who had been arrested. He explained that at the time Augustine Gbao was the intelligence officer for the RUF, and he took the peacekeepers’ weapons and vehicles, and was later indicted. The Prosecution then asked whether Gibril Massaquoi gave a testimony against Gbao, and the Witness replied that he was not in the courtroom to witness the proceedings. The Witness had heard that the peacekeepers were taken to Liberia, where the handover was going to take place. He had no idea why it was in Liberia, as at the time Sam Bockarie, alias Mosquito, was around the Kailahun border, and the others were in Makeni.
After being prompted by the Prosecution, the Witness reiterated that Gibril Massaquoi had gone to Liberia in 2001 to collect his girlfriend, Witness 13. The Prosecution noted that the Witness had stated that Gibril Massaquoi went to Liberia in 1998 in a previous interview with the Finnish police. He stated that 2001 is the correct year, and that he was in Makeni when Gibril Massaquoi and his girlfriend arrived there. He added that Gibril Massaquoi and his girlfriend had a son with them as well, who was younger than 6 months old. He believed that their son was born in Liberia, but he could not be sure in which part of Liberia the son was born in. Regarding whether Gibril Massaquoi arrived in Makeni at the same time as his girlfriend, the Witness simply noted that he knew that Massaquoi’s girlfriend was heavily pregnant at the time, but he only saw them once they had arrived with the child.
When Gibril Massaquoi was a witness for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Witness would meet him at his house, where he was allowed to meet with visitors for an hour or two. He explained that the Court was renting a big house for him and his family, along with a security called FNM-178. FNM-178 was a member of the RUF, and he was living in the house because Gibril Massaquoi had requested for someone to help him in the house as he had young children. He explained that FNM-178 was not there for security, and in fact he was more of a servant than security, for example taking the kids to school and collecting them after, as Gibril Massaquoi already had armed security. During this time, Massaquoi could not leave the house as he pleased, and could only leave with security to get palm wine. The Witness explained that he knew Massaquoi could leave to buy the palm wine from Mile 38, about 20-30 miles away, because he accompanied him one Sunday. These strict restrictions were placed on him, because his comrades in the RUF saw him as a traitor. The Witness noted that he never spent a night at the house, and even Massaquoi’s mother was not allowed to sleep there. The Witness only met with him around once a month. When the Witness went to visit, Massaquoi would share supplies which had been given to him by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, including rice and other things, and sometimes they would receive these supplies from FNM-178. The Witness added that he and others occupied Massaquoi’s Thunder Hill residence at the time, and Massaquoi would assist them.
The Prosecution redirected the attention back to the phone call which the Witness had allegedly received from Switzerland. The Witness reiterated that he received a call about a court issue, he asked which court issue, and the caller did not reply. He did not recall the exact time when he received the call, however it occurred in 2020. After noting that the person did not call again, the Witness stated that he believed that he tried to call the number back in February 2020.
The Defense asks further questions
The Defense directed questioning towards the satellite phone and the Witness’ recollection regarding the RUF and diamonds. He explained that he could identity a call from a satellite phone when the phone would ring. When the RUF were in Kono, the commander was FNM-215. However, the Witness did not know which commander dealt with diamonds. The Witness proceeded to elaborate on meetings that took place in Kono. He mentioned one tripartite meeting involving the Malian president and President Obasanjo of Nigeria. He then referenced the RUF general meeting which took place in Kono. He explained that the meeting did not only involve RUF, but also UNAMSIL and others as well.
Regarding Gibril Massaquoi returning to Makeni with his girlfriend and their child, the Witness explained that Massaquoi’s girlfriend was pregnant whilst they were in Sierra Leone and gave birth in Liberia. He noted that they did not stay in Makeni, instead they headed straight for Freetown. The Defense asked whether he was in Liberia when the child was born, and whether he had seen Gibril Massaquoi cross the border with his girlfriend, Witness 13. The Witness replied that he was neither in Liberia, nor had he seen Gibril Massaquoi cross the border with his girlfriend.
The Witness was asked whether he had travelled with Gibril Massaquoi. He reiterated that he had been to all four of the tripartite meetings with Gibril Massaquoi, but he had not travelled with him besides those meetings. The Defense then read out a previous statement from the Witness to the Finnish police, where he said that he travelled with Gibril Massaquoi to meet colleagues to discuss disarmament. The Witness explained that they did in fact visit colleagues to discuss laying their arms down, in Pujehun, Kenema, Kailahun, Matotoka, and Sierra Rutile in Bonthe. He recalled an incident in which the government forces attacked them, as well as an incident in which their colleagues who were spearheaded by Mohamed Gassama, attacked them as well. The Witness noted that the traveling group did not use a car. People were killed during the attack, and after the attack the Witness said that he would never travel again. He recalled being tired and scared for his life, and noted that Massaquoi was also in fear for his life at the time. The Witness could not recall the year in which the attack took place.
Witness 63 is heard
(Finnish Witness ID: Defense Witness 7)
La Défense interroge le témoin n°7
The Defense began by asking Witness 7 how and where he met Gibril Massaquoi. Witness 7 replied that he had known Massaquoi since 1999 as they were both members of the RUF. From 1999 to 2003, Witness 7 was known by his code name, FNM-216, during his time in the RUF as a field commander. Witness 7 was fighting alongside the RUF until the Lomé Peace Agreement was signed. After the Lomé Peace Agreement, there was peace for a while.
During the peace, the Witness worked as a peace monitor for the United Nations CMC, starting in January 2000. According to the Witness, Gibril Massaquoi was working with Foday Sankoh in the year 2000, at Spur Road. The Witness asserted that they were all together in 1999 and were together from 1999-2000 before the Witness began his work for the CMC. The peace came to an end when the civilian populace and the military attacked the RUF, in May 2000 at Spur Road. The Witness stated that Foday Sankoh and Gibril Massaquoi fled when the attacks happened. Massaquoi fled to Lunsar, located in Sierra Leone’s Northern Province. Foday Sankoh was captured by the government. Foday Sankoh’s capture led to retaliation from RUF fighters as they went on a rampage, capturing UN workers in Kailahun. According to the Witness, Foday continued his role as RUF leader despite his capture.
The Defense then asked Witness 7 whether he knew Issa Sesay. The Witness replied that he knew Issa Sesay who was a RUF commander who became a one-time leader of the RUF. The Witness explained that this occurred during a general meeting of all commanders that happened in Kono in September 2000. According to the Witness, the commanders present at the meeting included Morris Kallon, Augustine Gbao, Massaquoi, Issa Sesay, Witness 7, FNM-217, FNM-218, and other senior officers. The Defense asked about outcome of this meeting. The Witness explained that Issa Sesay spoke about how ECOWAS was pressuring the RUF to stay in line with the Lomé Peace Agreement. Sesay also reported that ECOWAS had advised the RUF to change its structure following the arrest of Foday Sankoh. Issa Sesay was made RUF leader after the meeting. The commanders were also told at the meeting that the ECOWAS was moving to Liberia and the RUF delegation would have to go as a delegation to Liberia as well. The members of the RUF delegation sent to Liberia were Issa Sesay, Witness 5, FNM-204, and Gibril Massaquoi as head of the delegation.
After the Commanders’ meeting, the Witness stated that he went to Liberia. GM returned to his base at Lunsar while Witness 7went to Foya, Voinjama and Kolahun in Liberia. The Witness went with fighters and armed men, all members of the RUF, which tallied up to 90 men. The Defense then asked Witness 7 if he had a radio operator with him. The Witness answered yes, stating that Motiga was his codename and FNM-179 was his real name. The Witness also indicated that he went to Liberia on orders of Sesay and in the interest of peace in Sierra Leone and the sub-region. The Witness recalled this to be in 2000, around September or October. He explained that his assignment as bridge commander was to guard Liberia and Sierra Leone locations, cutting across Kenema and Kailahun districts. While on duty, ECOWAS was still pressurising for peace; the RUF leadership asked Witness 7 to clear the route from Kailahun to Voinjama, as it was the road from Kailahun to Monrovia. Witness 7 told the Defense that the mission was successful and completed in ten days.
The Defense questioned the Witness about the specific places where fighting occurred. Witness 7 named: Kolahun, LPMB (Liberian Produce Marketing Board) and Voinjama. Witness 7 stated that the RUF had a base in the area. He also explained that the RUF only captured Voinjama and then handed it over to Liberia. They withdrew under the instruction of Issa Sesay after the RUF delegation successfully passed through to Monrovia. Witness 7 confirmed that he communicated with the delegation through the radio as they went to Monrovia. He also confirmed seeing Massaquoi in Voinjama on the way to Monrovia. Massaquoi, Witness 5 and FNM-181 came to his base when they arrived at Voinjama, and they were pretty eager to see each other. However, they did not spend the night in Voinjama. Witness 7 told the Defense that he did not know how long the journey from Voinjama to Monrovia lasted; however, the RUF delegation arrived in Monrovia on the same day.
The Defense then proceeded to ask Witness 7 about his unit’s name. According to the Witness, his unit was called Cobra Unit, so that Liberian citizens would not know that Sierra Leoneans have entered the country. The Liberian government, however, was aware of their presence. RUF did not want Liberian citizens to know because of the language barrier since Liberians spoke English and the RUF was speaking Krio. The RUF also did not have uniforms while at Lofa, or any similar apparel. The questioning shifted to other RUF commanders present at the time. According to Witness 7, Sam Bockarie and other commanders were present with him; however, they were on a different assignment. Witness 7 stated that Issa Sesay made him the overall mission commander and listed the commanders under him during the mission. The list went as follows: [FNM-182], [FNM-183] and [FNM-184].
Witness 7 was asked if any other group of troops went after his group, to which he replied yes. Witness 7 added that if they did, it was not under the RUF’s command. The questioning shifted to the RUF’s battles against LURD rebels. According to Witness 63, the instructions given to them was to chase LURD rebels into Gbayoro, Guinea. President Charles Taylor’s troops were already there, so the Witness and his troops only acted as reinforcements. Taylor’s commanders also hosted them. Witness 63was also asked if he remembered the names of the commanders he met and proceeded to list them. He met Benjamin Yeaten, FNM-161, Deputy Colonel Maquan, Joseph ‘Zig-zag’ Marzah, Sam Bockarie (alias Mosquito) and the Liberian Mosquito. The Witness saw all of them fighting except for Sam Bockarie.
The focus of the questioning briefly shifted to FNM-161 and his time at the RUF. Per the Witness, FNM-161 fought at Lofa. The Witness and his men went to reinforce FNM-161 and his Liberian troops to attack Voinjama, Kolahun and the LMPC together with Liberian forces. The Witness stated that FNM-161 had many men under his control, as Charles Taylor sent the Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU). The Witness explained that his Sierra Leonean forces went there as friends. Zigzag Marzah was mentioned by the Defense, to which the Witness replied that Zigzag was also present at Lofa during the fighting. The Witness added that he met Zigzag at Foya after they had already captured Foya, and then they attacked other places together. Benjamin Yeaten, the Witness explained, was the overall Liberian commander who planned attacks and sent troops to the front, including the Witness. The Witness stated that while FNM-161 was unlikely to harm civilians, Zigzag Marzah was a notorious killer. The Witness also described Zigzag as a man who engaged in cannibalism, recalling that he saw dried human bodies at Foya and that Zigzag ate them. This was the only incident the Witness saw since he did not stay in Liberia for a long time. After his ten-day assignment finished, the Witness stayed in Foya for a while before withdrawing his troops.
The next phase of questioning concerned the Witness’ stay in Voinjama and Foya. The Witness stated that he was in Voinjama and Foya for a month. He was in between his roles as a commander in Sierra Leone and head of the troops he went with to Liberia. The Witness said that he went back and forth between Foya and Sierra Leone until the disarmament process occurred. The Witness recalled the disarmament process happening in 2001 in Kailahun. He added that they were the last to disarm in Sierra Leone. The Witness also stated that during his stay in Voinjama, there was no fighting, as there was no more enemy to fight, and he didn’t continue to fight in Liberia. He explained that his being in Liberia was due to his dual responsibility of going to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Witness stated that he had to take care of the men he went to Liberia with.
The Defense asked if the Witness had another assignment in Liberia, other than clearing the road for the RUF delegation. The Witness said he did not. The Defense then asked why the Witness went to Monrovia during that time. The Witness said that he went with Benjamin Yeaten to see President Charles Taylor in his residence in Congo Town. He explained that the mission that he accomplished in Foya had not been easy, and Charles Taylor was pleased with his work and wanted to meet with him.
The Defense then asked the Witness whether he met any members of the RUF delegation in Monrovia. The Witness answered that he only met Issa Sesay in Monrovia. He also had no idea that Gibril Massaquoi was in Monrovia since they had different missions. The RUF delegation was in Monrovia for the peace talks while the Witness visited to receive congratulations from President Charles Taylor. The Witness explained that he did not meet Gibril Massaquoi after his return to Sierra Leone for the disarmament process. He also denied meeting Massaquoi again in Liberia after they met in Voinjama, when Massaquoi was traveling with the peace delegation. The Witness held that Massaquoi did not have time to visit Liberia after they returned to Sierra Leone. He met with Massaquoi in Freetown and stated that Massaquoi did not go to Liberia to fight. The Witness recalled meeting Massaquoi multiple times at the RUFP party office in 2002. The Witness estimated it to be up to three times before and after the election. According to the Witness, Massaquoi was also known as Gaffa.
Finally, the Defense asked the Witness about the Finnish police. The Witness stated that he remembered the interview in October 2020; however, he did not speak to anyone from Finland before the interview.
The Prosecution questions Witness 7
The Prosecution began by questioning the Witness about the general meeting that occurred in Kono in September of 2000. The Witness replied that the government did not play a role in the discussion. The Witness also stated that though there was fighting in Sierra Leone involving the RUF in 2000, the fighting was not serious. The Prosecution then asked the Witness about the peace process in Sierra Leone. The Witness said the peace process was not going well, so the RUF got involved to bring peace. The Prosecution turned to the May 8ème attack on Foday Sankoh’s premises. The Witness stated that the attack was carried out by the Sierra Leonean government, including military members. The Witness disagreed with the Prosecution’s statement that some sources suggested that the attack was mainly carried out by Sierra Leonean citizens who were demonstrating against the RUF.
The Prosecution then returned to the September general meeting in Kono. According to the Witness, the RUF leadership informed them that ECOWAS was coming to Liberia, and the RUF was required to send a delegation. The Witness could not say where the RUF leadership received that information from. He reiterated that the RUF was asked to send representatives to the meeting. The Witness agreed with the Prosecution’s assertion that the source of that information could have been Charles Taylor. The Witness added that the entire world knew about it when they met Charles Taylor. The Witness confirmed that the RUF delegation went to meet with the ECOWAS body and that Taylor was part of it. The Prosecution asked the Witness how he knew all this. The Witness explained that it was disclosed at the meeting in Kono, where it was stated that the RUF were to meet with ECOWAS. He also noted that he assumed that the peace talks had taken place because after they returned to Sierra Leone there was no fighting.
The Witness restated that his mission was to clear the road ahead of the peace process. He confirmed that the RUF fought alongside Charles Taylor’s troops against the LURD rebels. The Witness explained that this was in the aim was of the RUF delegation’s safe path to Monrovia ahead of the ECOWAS meeting. The Prosecution asked how RUF troops fighting alongside Taylor’s troops against the LURD rebels helped the peace process in Sierra Leone. The Witness answered that he went as reinforcement, and that someone without his military background wouldn’t be able to understand the rationale. The Prosecution pressed the Witness to provide an example of how his mission aided the Sierra Leonean peace process. The Witness stated that RUF soldiers helping Charles Taylor’s men against LURD is the reason why Sierra Leone is enjoying peace right now. The Witness described it as “the reason why [the Prosecution lawyer] was able to land at the airport without hearing gunshots.”
The Prosecution referred to the Witness’ orders to reinforce Taylor’s troops and asked where the order came from. The Witness replied that it was Issa Sesay who gave the order. When asked if it would be correct to suggest that Taylor had requested that the RUF reinforce his troops, the Witness replied that he received the order from Issa Sesay and couldn’t say whether Sesay received it from someone else. The Witness also confirmed that his unit’s name was intended to avoid recognition from the Liberian civilian populace. However, the fighters knew who they were. The Witness also said that the RUF’s presence in Liberia was not meant for Liberia but to obtain peace for Sierra Leone. He explained it by saying that the importance of the Sierra Leonean peace process relied on his unit’s disguise. This was to prevent their plans from falling into civilian knowledge. The Witness also told the Prosecution that the RUF caused no atrocities against civilians.
The Witness reiterated to the Prosecution that the mission to clear Lofa took ten days, and he was on the frontline during the entire time of the mission. The Prosecution then questioned the Witness as to his awareness regarding the behaviour of his troops while he was on the frontline. The Witness replied that his troops did not commit a single civilian casualty. He also added that they went back and forth from Voinjama to Foya and would have been aware if something happened behind the frontline. The Prosecution asked the Witness if he ever visited Kamatahun. He replied that it was his first time in the region and did not know about that town.
The Prosecution reoriented its questioning to the LURD rebels and the state of Liberia. The Witness said that after the disarmament of the RUF in Sierra Leone, there was still war in Liberia. As a consequence of the war, President Charles Taylor was taken out of power. The LURD army also reached Monrovia after the war ended in Sierra Leone. The Witness firmly asserted that the RUF did not participate in any fighting against the LURD rebels in Monrovia. He explained that the RUF no longer existed, and it had transformed into the political party: the RUFP. The Witness said they were civilians by that time. The Prosecution, countering the Witness’ statement, alleged that they had testimonies of witnesses stating the RUF was fighting in Liberia. The Witness rejected it, calling it a lie “as the RUF was non-existent then.”
The Prosecution returned to the Witness’ relationship with Massaquoi. The Witness once again stated that he met Gibril Massaquoi at Voinjama in 2000. He added that Benjamin Yeaten received Massaquoi there; however, the Witness specified that he does not know what they discussed. The Witness explained Yeaten’s importance to the peace process, stating that Yeaten was Taylor’s primary representative, so all the guests had to go through Yeaten. When prompted by the Prosecution that he had said earlier that they were meeting ECOWAS and not Taylor, the Witness replied that that is correct; however, they had to meet Yeaten to facilitate their movement to Liberia. The Witness also stated that Massaquoi did not go to Liberia after the peace process. He estimated that Massaquoi maybe went to Monrovia when his assignment wasn’t by the border. However, from 1999 to 2003, he only met Massaquoi at Voinjama. The Witness also indicated that he didn’t see Massaquoi in Liberia between 2000 and 2001.
The Prosecution then questioned the Witness regarding Massaquoi’s delegation. The Witness answered that he did not know of the delegation having their own radio operators, and did not see them with communication officers. The Prosecution asked the Witness if he recalled what he told the Finnish Police during the interview. The Witness said he did not. The Prosecution stated that the Witness told the Finnish police that the delegation called him once they reached Liberia, and they had a radio operator called Witness 11. The Witness rebutted, saying that Witness 11 was not a radio operator. He said Witness 11 travelled with Sam Bockarie. They were both expelled from the RUF for indiscipline and their stance against the return of peace. The Prosecution then questioned the Witness about how he left Monrovia when he went there with Benjamin Yeaten. The Witness stated that he left Monrovia through a helicopter that did not have a satellite system nor supplies. He also did not remember how the delegation travelled out of Monrovia. Finally, the Witness said he did not get any arms and ammunition from Taylor since the fighting had finished.
The Defense asks additional questions.
The Defense asked the Witness about his stay in Monrovia. The Witness replied that he spent a week in Monrovia, and there was no fighting in Monrovia. He never noticed any restlessness except the fight at the Guinea border with LURD rebels. The Witness also stated that before their permanent withdrawal from Sierra Leone, they experienced attacks from LURD around the Foya axis. He also said that Massaquoi and Yeaten did not deliver ammunition while he was in Foya. The Defense once again referenced their earlier question about whether Zigzag Marzah committed atrocities against civilians. The Witness reiterated that he did not ask. He distanced himself from Zigzag after seeing the dried dead bodies and cannibalism. The Witness also confirmed that the whole delegation met with Yeaten and not just Massaquoi. In their final questions, the Defense referenced the Finnish police interview, asking the Witness if he recalled telling them when the general meeting took place. The Witness answered that he was unsure. The Defense indicated June 2000 as the date he mentioned during the interview. The Defense pressing on the issue asked the Witness if June or September 2000 was the correct date since he said September earlier in the questioning. The Witness explained that he was unsure about the months hence why he used the word ‘around’.
The Prosecution asks additional questions.
The Prosecution began the final re-examination by going back to one of its previous questions. The Prosecution asked the Witness if he received any ammunition from Taylor. The Witness replied that he did receive ammunition from Taylor through Benjamin Yeaten; however, he did not receive any ammunition set after he visited Taylor. When asked by the Prosecution, the Witness described receiving money as a moral booster. The Witness once again denied receiving any ammunition when visiting Taylor after his successful mission. The Witness told the Prosecution that he was a witness at the Special Court trial and did not recall his answer about ammunition and arms. The Prosecution read out portions of the judgement of the Special Court on Taylor’s trial that contained the Witness’s words concerning the transportation of ammunition. After reading this, the Prosecution continued its questioning. The Prosecution once again asked if the RUF received money or ammunition for their successful mission. The Witness answered negatively and explained that, by 2000, there was no war in Sierra Leone.
The session ended.