16/06/21 [Finland] Day 39: A New Witness is Heard
The 39th day public hearings resumed on 16 June 2021 in Tampere, Finland. The day’s focus was the hearing of a new witness.
Witness FNM-228 is Heard
La Défense interroge le témoin
The Defense opened by indicating to the witness that they would go over the elements discussed in the witness’s interview with the Finnish police in December 2020. The Witness began by explaining that, art the Special Court for Sierra Leone, he was Deputy Chief of Investigation for three years before becoming Chief of Investigation for another three years. He specified that he worked for the Special Court from October 2002 to 2008. The Witness declared that, shortly after arriving in Sierra Leone, he was introduced to Massaquoi by FNM-201. He further indicated that Mr. Massaquoi was a witness for the Special Court. The Witness explained that he saw Mr. Massaquoi when he was interviewed for several weeks, and a couple of times outside the interviews. He said that he and the defendant kept in touch “on and off” in this time. He clarified that they had informal conversations, and that it was always before or after the interviews, for example, while the Court reporter set up the transcript equipment, but not outside of the interviews. The Witness couldn’t remember how many times he interviewed Mr. Massaquoi, but indicated that at first, Massaquoi’s interviews took place in hotels, and later they were conducted in the downstairs office of the Special Court.
The Witness indicated that the defendant lived in a private residence but was later moved for security reasons. He stated that he would contact the Witness Victim Security (WVS) unit when he needed to communicate with him, and that he wasn’t sure whether the private residence was located in Freetown or not. The Witness confirmed that he had talked on the phone with the defendant during the whole investigation. When asked by the Defense, the Witness explained that Mr. Massaquoi was spokesperson for the RUF and later was a witness for the Special Court prosecution. He clarified that the prosecution conducted the interviews with Mr. Massaquoi, and that he himself didn’t attend the “actual” interviews. The Witness recalled one occasion when Mr. Massaquoi called him saying that he didn’t want to collaborate with the court. He complained about the treatment he was receiving from the Witness Victim Security unit. The Witness then arranged to take him to a resort outside of Freetown, specifying that the Witness Management Unit took Mr. Massaquoi back to the safehouse after lunch. He added that he was not aware of the defendant ever going outside for longer periods of time after that episode. The Witness stated that Mr. Massaquoi had called him on that specific day, and that he himself (the Witness) never contacted him.
The Defense asked whether the Witness had interviewed people in Liberia during the investigations and what he had questioned them about. The Witness replied that he did interview numerous people in Liberia and described that he questioned them about Charles Taylor, Sam Bockarie, and Benjamin Yeaten. The people he interviewed – he couldn’t remember how many they were but specified that all documents were stored in the database of the Prosecutor’s office – talked freely and he had a team of investigators from the Prosecutor’s office with him. The Witness started interviewing people in 2002, and the investigations went on until he left in 2008. The Defense then asked the Witness whether he remembered other names that were mentioned in the course of these interviews. In particular, they asked if the names of Angel Gabriel or Gibril Massaquoi came up. The Witness replied that many names were mentioned that he couldn’t recollect but never the names indicated by the Defense. The Witness also indicated that he didn’t participate in drafting the witness protection program agreement but thought that it was done by FNM-201 and FNM-229. He also said that he was not familiar with the terms of the agreement. In response to a question from the Defense, the Witness confirmed that if Mr. Massaquoi had continued to participate in the war, this would have had an impact on his participation in the witness protection program. The Witness added that there had been no evidence or intelligence of Mr. Massaquoi participating in anything going on. He reiterated that he didn’t contact Mr. Massaquoi during that time and that Mr. Massaquoi always showed up on time for the interviews.
The Defense concluded its questioning with a series of questions about Sam Bockarie and the defendant. The Witness explained that Sam Bockarie was dead and that he saw his body when it was brought to Freetown. He added that the body was taken to the mortuary and that a person from the investigation unit and a coroner conducted an autopsy. He recalled that this happened in May or June 2003. The Defense asked if Mr. Massaquoi was protected before he was placed in a safehouse. The Witness answered that the defendant collaborated with the Prosecutor’s office “from day one”, specifying that he was in the safehouse all the time.
The Prosecution questions the Witness
The Prosecution opened by questioning the Witness about the RUF. The Witness explained that RUF was short for Revolutionary United Front and that they were active in Sierra Leone. He went on to say that three rebel groups were involved in the civil war: the RUF, CDF and AFRC. He added that the war was mainly fought in Tongo, where the diamond mines were located. The Witness explained that the diamonds were sold to Burkina Faso, and somewhere else, in order to obtain weapons to continue the fighting. On the question of whether the RUF fought in Liberia, the Witness said there were many rumors suggesting this, but he said he had not seen any evidence. He noted that there was an RUF house in Liberia where diamonds were sold to Charles Taylor in exchange for weapons. Asked by the Prosecution about the verdict in the Charles Taylor case, the Witness said that he was familiar with the verdict but he could not recall whether the court had said anything about the RUF fighting in Liberia.
The Witness reiterated that he met the defendant for the first time in October 2002. He went on to explain the procedure of the interviews. At the start, he interviewed Mr. Massaquoi for about a week but the defendant “had so much information that we brought in a court reporter from ICTY to make notes. The procedure went as follows: investigator asked, court reporter wrote, we got a finished memo at the end of the day”. The Witness did not remember how long the interviews lasted, but he recalled that they were interspersed with breaks, usually of a day or two. When questioned by the Prosecution, the Witness stated that to his knowledge there were no breaks that lasted longer than a day or two, and it was impossible that there were breaks that lasted for months. The Prosecution pointed out that the interview memoranda indicated that there were breaks that lasted weeks or months, and the Witness expressed that he was surprised, and to his knowledge, there was no breaks.
The Witness didn’t remember the last time Mr. Massaquoi was interviewed, nor what happened afterwards, nor what Mr. Massaquoi did next. The Prosecution pointed out that the Witness initially stated that he did not know where the defendant was living when the interviews began, which the Witness affirmed. The Prosecution highlighted that the Witness had indicated that Mr. Massaquoi was taken to a safe house at the beginning of the interviews. The Witness acknowledged this but said that he did not know where the safe house was. He thought the year was 2002 but didn’t remember the month. He said he remembered the year because he was introduced to Mr. Massaquoi by FNM-201 shortly after he arrived in Sierra Leone. The Witness explained that the interviews continued and that, after the interviews, the defendant was placed in the safe house. Addressing the breaks between the interviews, the Prosecution pointed out that, according to the transcripts, Mr. Massaquoi was interviewed on 10 September 2002, and the next interview took place on 8 October. The Prosecution noted that there was almost a month between the two interviews. The Prosecution stated that everything available to them was provided by the Special Court. They then gave another example of the time between interviews, noting that the accused was interviewed on 5 December and again on 17 February. The Witness replied that this was due to the Christmas and New Year holidays. The Prosecution then rephrased a question that had been asked before: was it possible that there had been breaks longer than two days? They said the Witness had previously mentioned that the breaks lasted only a day or two. The Witness explained that the defendant was “brought in, interviewed, court reporter did the transcript, the defendant was taken to the safe house after, the investigation unit reviewed the transcript and planned the interview for the following day”. The Witness also indicated that he did not know if there were occasions when the breaks between interviews lasted more than two days, as they were conducted almost always day to day.
The Prosecution went on with a third example of longer break between the interviews, noting that Mr. Massaquoi was interviewed on 2 November 2002 and then on 3 December 2002. The Witness wished to ask the Prosecution a question and the Prosecution told him that he had to answer the question put to him, i.e. whether the Prosecution was missing any transcripts. The Witness replied that he didn’t know, as they didn’t let him ask his question. The Prosecution then asked the Witness what the defendant did during the breaks and where he was. He replied that outside of the interviews, he did not know where the defendant was or what he was doing. The Witness added that the defendant was under the protection of the Witness Victim Security unit. With regard to the transcripts, he explained that one copy was kept by the Evidence Unit and another by the Criminal Intelligence Unit, and that the latter analysed the transcripts and reported to the Office of the Prosecutor.
The Prosecution then focused their questioning on interviews conducted by the Witness in Liberia. The Witness stated that they did not conduct any interrogations but only questioned witnesses. When asked who conducted the interviews, the Witness replied that they were members of the investigation unit. He said that he had conducted the interviews on a few occasions and that he had been present during some of the other interviews, but that he had not conducted all of them. The Prosecution then asked how he was certain that the names of Gibril Massaquoi or Angel Gabriel had not been mentioned. The Witness replied that all of the interview transcripts were reviewed by him. He didn’t know how many interviews were conducted by the Special court but claimed to have read them all. The Witness explained that they went to Liberia as part of several fact-finding missions on Charles Taylor and the RUF. They interviewed people from the US and Canada embassy, people who lived there and knew what had happened. They developed sources and came up with informants to interview in order to identify witnesses, whom they then interviewed. The Witness reiterated that all the transcripts were in the evidence unit of the Special Court. Asked by the Prosecution, the Witness indicated that the interviews were conducted in motel rooms, restaurants, and beaches. Places where the witnesses felt comfortable. Interviews were held mainly in Monrovia, and a couple of times on the outskirts of Monrovia. The Witness didn’t know where the witnesses came from, but noted that such information was recorded in the statements. When asked about the background of the witnesses, the Witness also replied that he did not remember but again indicated that this information was part of the statements.
Referring to a question from the Defense, the Prosecution asked whether it was correct that the witness was unaware that the accused had committed crimes after being admitted to the witness protection program. The Witness stated that it was correct. He also said he was not aware of Mr. Massaquoi committing any crimes before joining the program. The Witness indicated that Mr. Massaquoi’s background was checked with the Sierra Leonean police, different organizations, and embassies. When asked whether the Special court conducted their own background check about the defendant’s possible criminal background, the Witness said they talked to people, such as the police and people from embassies, who seemed to know Mr. Massaquoi, “and that was it”. The Prosecution then asked whether the Special Court knew whether Mr. Massaquoi was involved in the diamond trade. The Witness replied that Mr. Massaquoi was the spokesman for the RUF, and that one of his tasks was to arrange for diamonds to be transported to Liberia for Charles Taylor in exchange for arms. He had no idea how many times the defendant had travelled to Liberia in connection with these activities. When asked, the Witness indicated that he had taken Mr. Massaquoi to the Town and Country Lodge resort when the defendant had complained about the Witness Victims Unit. He said that they went with the Chief of Witness Management Unit and a couple of people from the Investigation Unit. The Witness didn’t remember when this happened and stated that to his knowledge Mr. Massaquoi didn’t go to Liberia after collaborating with the Special Court. He knew that Mr. Massaquoi had travelled to Liberia as part of his activities as spokesperson for the RUF, where he met Charles Taylor at the RUF house to exchange diamonds for guns. He did not know when the defendant had visited the RUF house in Monrovia, but recalled that Charles Taylor and the RUF had a special relationship, which he described as a business relationship, pertaining to diamonds and guns.
Asked about FNM-201, the Witness described him as the Chief of Investigation for the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He indicated that he had been recruited to the Special Court by FNM-201 and FNM-230. The Witness went on to say that FNM-201 may have participated in the interviews of Mr. Massaquoi, the first one or two times. But he said he wasn’t sure about that. The Witness recalled that FNM-201 had introduced him to Mr. Massaquoi because he had to go out of town on a mission. The Witness was not told where. To the Witness’s knowledge, FNM-201 and Mr. Massaquoi did not meet after the first interviews he previously mentioned. He acknowledged that it was possible that Mr. Massaquoi had been involved in peace negotiations in Liberia, but he had no knowledge of Mr. Massaquoi attending them. When asked about GJRP 1, the Witness said he knew him very well, and knew his partner, Alain Werner. He explained that Alain Werner was one of the attorneys at the Special Court, and that he knew GJRP 1 through intelligence sources but did not collaborate with him or know him personally. The Witness didn’t remember meeting GJRP 1, but stated it was possible that they met. Asked whether he was under the impression that GJRP 1 was a member of a militarist group at some point, the Witness replied that he didn’t know.
The Witness stated that Mr. Massaquoi was very truthful during the interviews. He didn’t know why the Mr. Massaquoi was not heard in the trial against Charles Taylor, as he was no longer at the court. Asked if he was not interested to know why Mr. Massaquoi was not heard, the Witness replied that it was up to the prosecutor to decide who they wanted to hear. The Witness declared that he was not aware of the content of Mr. Massaquoi’s witness protection program agreement, and that he had not signed it. Then the Prosecution referred to written evidence that the agreement had been signed by Massaquoi and the witness on the 23rd of October 2002. The Witness reacted by saying this was news to him, and that perhaps he had forgotten because he thought FNM-201had signed the agreement. When the Judge showed him the agreement, the Witness recognized his signature and apologized to the court.
The Defense questions the Witness further
The Defense asked who negotiated the terms of the agreement. The Witness replied that he did not and asked what the date of the agreement was. The Defense informed him that the date was 23rd October. The Defense noted that it was understandable that the Witness did not recall all the dates, and asked whether, as mentioned in the transcripts, the first interview of Mr. Massaquoi took place on 7 September 2002. The Witness recalled that he arrived in Sierra Leone in October 2002 and was presented to Mr. Massaquoi a few weeks later.
When asked by the Defense, the Witness explained that every time he met Mr. Massaquoi for an interview, someone accompanied him from the safe house as protection. He said that when they went to the resort, there was also security. The Defense asked if someone would have notified the Witness in the event that the defendant left the safehouse alone, and the Witness replied, “I sure hope so.” The Witness explained that Mr. Massaquoi was under the protection of Witness Victim Security (WVS), who were responsible for security. The Witness said the Office of the Prosecutor founded the Witness Management Unit (WMU) because the “security was not sufficient” but the safehouse was still under WVS’s responsibility. The Defense wished to clarify two elements. First, they wished to know whether Mr. Massaquoi was protected by WVS before he was placed in the safe house. The Witness replied yes, or at the least, he was supposed to be, and that Mr. Massaquoi was never missing or somewhere unknown. Secondly, the Defense wished to know what the Witness meant when he mentioned the problems Mr. Massaquoi had with his security. The Witness explained that WVS did not take him out. He specified that to his knowledge there had been no problem before the safe house.
The Prosecution questions the Witness further
The Prosecution sought clarifications on when Mr. Massaquoi was taken to the safe house. The Witness replied that he did not remember. The Prosecution then asked whether it happened in the context of the arrests of other people. The Witness said he didn’t think so. They were arresting people during the investigation, and the WVS unit brought Massaquoi back and forth, which continued until the Office of the Prosecutor established their own WMU. The Prosecution sought clarifications so the Witness said that he did not know when Mr. Massaquoi was placed in the safe house, as the WVS unit brought the defendant to them.
The hearing ended and will resume on 17 June in Tampere, Finland.