Trial Monitoring: Gibril Massaquoi’s appeal proceedings

Gibril Massaquoi, former Lieutenant-Colonel and spokesman of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), was tried before the District Court of Tampere, Finland, from February 3, 2021 to January 2022. Throughout the year, hearings were held in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Finland. On April 29, 2022, the District Court dismissed all charges, and found that there was reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the offences he was charged with. After that, the Prosecution appealed the Court’s decision. The appeal proceedings will begin on January 10 2023, at the Turku Court of Appeal, Finland, and are expected to last until June. The Court will relocate to Liberia to hear witnesses.

The complete trial monitoring will be published after the appeal.

Trial monitoring of the first instance proceedings can be found ici.  

Art de Lesli Lumeh

Voiceover by: Dounard Bondo

Dounard is a Liberia-based journalist who usually covers stories on human rights, development and politics. He has reported on post-war justice in Liberia for many outlets. Dounard has a Bsc in International law and diplomacy and a masters in international maritime law. Additionally, he is currently a senior student at the Louis Arthur Grimes school of law where he is pursuing an LLB.

Suivez-nous sur les médias sociaux pour des mises à jour quotidiennes ainsi que des vidéos. 

Limitation de responsabilité

La procédure se déroule en français ; le français est donc la langue originale de ce suivi. Comme rendre l'information juridique accessible fait partie de la mission de Civitas Maxima, des traductions en anglais faites avec Deepl seront disponibles. Par conséquent, des problèmes avec la traduction anglaise peuvent s'appliquer.

Les noms de certains témoins et parties civiles ne sont pas divulgués pour des raisons de confidentialité et de sécurité.

Le suivi des débats n'est pas une transcription officielle du tribunal.

[01/10/2023] Day One

Recap Day One: The appeal proceedings begin
Listen to the recap

The President explained the history of the proceedings and the main points of the District Court’s judgment and the parties’ submissions. In April 2022, The District Court found that there was reasonable doubt that Gibril Massaquoi had committed the crimes he was accused of, and the Prosecutors later appealed this judgment.

Next, both parties took the floor for their opening statements. The Prosecution began by describing Liberia’s Second Civil War, and presented the way that the Finnish authorities had begun their investigation and gathered information on the crimes in question. They then described to the Court how the Tampere Court had misunderstood the evidence and it had to be rectified.

The Defense focused on a chronological presentation of Gibril Massaquoi’s journey with the RUF. It also presented its views about the witnesses’ statements presented by the prosecution, and how, according to the defense, the Finnish investigation was biased.

After the opening statements, the Court moved on to discuss the written evidence presented by the Prosecution for the rest of the session.

[01/12/2023] Day Two

Recap Day Two: Written Evidence: Defense
Listen to the recap

The second day was dedicated to the presentation of the Defense’s written evidence. Most of it had already been submitted during the first instance proceedings, but new additions and modifications were made.

The Defense described the context of both the Sierra Leonean and Liberian civil wars, as well as Gibril Massaquoi’s role in the RUF. In particular, it focused on Massaquoi’s location: through UN reports and newspapers, the Defense attempted to establish that between 1999 and 2001 – when the alleged crimes were committed – Massaquoi had been traveling, and despite a few trips in Liberia, the Defense stated that he had rarely been in the country. The Prosecution challenged some of the evidence presented.

[01/13/2023] Day Three

Recap Day Three: Conclusion of written evidence
Listen to the recap

The third day was dedicated to the period of 2002 to 2003 when some of the alleged crimes were committed.

The Defense presented documents related to Gibril Massaquoi’s cooperation with the Office of the Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. It also criticized how the Finnish police handled the collection of witnesses’ statements before and after the trial. According to the Defense, the Finnish police and its Liberian partner did not deal with the witnesses correctly and did not report certain issues in a timely manner.

Finally, the Defense discussed how some evidence had been fabricated against the client: in particular, it referred to a picture which had evidently been manipulated to incriminate Mr Massaquoi.

The hearings will start again on Monday January 16.

[01/17/2023] Day Four

Recap Day Four: Expert statements
Listen to the recap

The first day of the second week of the trial was dedicated to statements of expert witnesses. Most of the statements discussed were those that had previously been examined during the first instance proceedings.

The court first read an expert testimony that dealt with the historical context of the Second Liberian Civil War. The remaining two testimonies focused on forensic psychology. One of the experts had been consulted during the first instance proceedings, whilst the other had been more recently requested by the Prosecution for the current proceedings. The findings of the two expert opinions go against eachother; for this reason, each party called for both experts to be heard at trial.

[01/18/2023] Day Five

Recap Day Five: Gibril Massaquoi is heard
Listen to the recap

Day two of the second week of trial marked the first day of the hearing of the accused, Gibril Massaquoi.

The Defense was invited to question Massaquoi first. Its questioning followed a similar approach as that previously before the District Court. Massaquoi was first asked about his personal background and the origins of his membership in the RUF. He then went on to explain his activities in the RUF, first as a regular member, and later as the movement’s spokesman and assistant to its leader, Foday Sankoh.

As the acts allegedly took place between 1999 and 2003, this time period was covered extensively throughout Massaquoi’s hearing. He was asked about different trips that he took to Liberia and other neighboring countries as the head of the RUF external delegation, as well as his activities in Sierra Leone after the end of the Civil War and the arrests of former RUF members. Questions relating to the SCSL safe house, in which Massaquoi was located, also played a large role.

[01/19/2023] Day Six

Recap Day Six: The prosecution questions Gibril Massaquoi
Listen to the recap

On the second day of the defendant’s hearing, it was the Prosecution’s turn to question Massaquoi. As a basic chronology of events had been mapped out the previous day by the Defence, the Prosecution focused a lot on the statements that Massaquoi that had given to his defence lawyers.

The Prosecutors sought to establish contradictions between these recent statements, and those that he gave earlier in 2002 and 2003 to the Special Court for Sierra Leone. In addition, these were contrasted to a version of events that Massaquoi described in the draft of his book, where he recounts a series of events occurring in both Sierra Leone and Liberia.

For example, the Prosecution questioned Massaquoi on the end of his involvement with RUF armed activities, his role in the RUF diamond trade, and the role of Charles Taylor during the Sierra Leone peace process. The details of the RUF external delegation and its travels to Liberia and other countries were also discussed at length.

In addition to these questions, the Court also watched a videotape of a statement of a witness who had since passed away. The last day of the second week, on Friday 20th , will mark the beginning of witness statements given in Finland, before the Court heads to Monrovia.

[01/20/2023] Day Seven

Recap Day Seven: First witnesses heard
Listen to the recap

The final day of the January proceedings in Turku, Finland marked the beginning of witness statements.

The Court first heard an expert witness, who had provided two expert testimonies on the historical context of the Second Liberian Civil War during the District Court proceedings. After, it heard a Finnish policeman, who had been part of the investigation since the very beginning in 2018. This witness was asked about the details of the investigation in Liberia and the role of the GJRP and its employees. The Defense has strongly criticized the police investigation in this regard.

After these witness statements, the Court watched another videotape of a statement given to the District Court by a witness who had since passed away. On Monday 23, a similar videotape will also be watched, with the parties viewing it remotely online and the while the judges remain present in Turku.

The following week, the Court and the Parties will depart for Monrovia, Liberia for two months of witness statements. The first session in Monrovia is scheduled to begin on Monday, February 6.

[02/06/2023] Day Eight

Recap Day Eight: The proceedings begin in Monrovia
Listen to the recap

The eighth day of the trial marked the beginning of the appeal proceedings in Monrovia, Liberia. The previous week, the Appeals Court and the parties had visited some locations relevant for the case in Lofa County and Monrovia.

The day was supposed to be dedicated to a particular witness statement, but the witness had informed the Court that they were not able to come to Monrovia to testify. This led to a discussion between the Court and the parties on how to deal with such situations in the future. They discussed whether to view a videotape of the statement previously given by this witness during the District Court phase in February 2021. The Court decided that in this case, there was no obstacle under Finnish law to examine this particular witness statement from the videotape recorded during their previous testimony.

The rest of the day was used to view the videotape in question.

[02/07/2023] Day Nine

Recap Day Nine: The first witness is heard
Listen to the recap

The second day of the proceedings in Monrovia saw the Turku Appeals Court hear its first witness in person. The witness testified about his wartime experiences during the Second Liberian Civil War in Waterside, Monrovia.

As with the District Court proceedings, identifying the precise timing of the events proved difficult for both the witness and the Court to establish. The Defense of Mr Massaquoi cited the witness’ previous statements during the pre-trial investigation as well as the District Court proceedings, where he seemed to have placed the events at different years each time. The witness stated that the passing of time has made this difficult to remember and maintained that he always tried to remember the specific date of the events to his best ability.

Tomorrow, the Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear three more witnesses.

[02/08/2023] Day Ten

Recap Day Ten: Three more witnesses heard
Listen to the recap

The third day of the proceedings in Monrovia saw the Court hear three witnesses recounting their wartime experiences in Waterside, Monrovia, where Gibril Massaquoi allegedly committed some of the crimes he is being charged with.

The incident discussed by the witnesses relates to the difficult food situation in Monrovia during the war and the looting of a biscuit store in Waterside. The witnesses told the Court that they met a man calling himself Angel Gabriel, or Gabriel Massaquoi, who was commanding the government forces. They stated that man ordered the killings of civilians in Waterside and near the Old Bridge in Monrovia. The Prosecution maintains that this man is the defendant, Gibril Massaquoi, whilst the Defense rejects any such claims.

The Court will not be in session tomorrow and will resume the hearings on Friday, February 10.

[02/10/2023] Day Eleven

Recap Day Eleven: Three more witnesses are heard
Listen to the recap

On the final day of the first week of proceedings in Monrovia, the Court heard three more witnesses. One of the witness’ identity is classified, so and this witness was in a private hearing.

The Court resumed public hearings at 1 pm and heard two more witnesses about events relating to a biscuit store and the Old Bridge in Waterside, Monrovia. The witnesses talked about a commander calling himself Angel Gabriel ordering the killing of civilians next to a base, or checkpoint, at Old Bridge.

The next hearing is scheduled to take place next Monday, February 13.

[02/13/2023] Day Twelve

Recap Day Twelve: Three witnesses and a biscuit store
Listen to the recap

The first day of the second week of proceedings in Monrovia began with the Court hearing three witnesses about events that occurred near a biscuit store and around the Old Bridge area in Waterside, Monrovia. The three witnesses spoke about the killing, harassment and rape of civilians in Monrovia and the role of Angel Gabriel, the commander of the soldiers committing these acts.

The Court will continue tomorrow with three more witnesses.

[02/14/2023] Day Thirteen

Recap Day Thirteen: Civilians detained in Waterside
Listen to the recap

The Court heard three more witnesses about events in Waterside, Monrovia today.

The first witness described how they were detained by soldiers in Waterside and taken to the Old Bridge area, where they saw civilians killed and raped by soldiers. The leader of the soldiers also killed a young girl himself. The second witness described a shooting that took place at a particular biscuit store in Waterside, where his friend was killed. Civilians were also taken to the Old Bridge, where they were executed. The third witness spoke about being detained in a store by soldiers in Waterside. The soldiers picked up civilians from the store and executed them outside.

The Court will continue to hear witnesses tomorrow.

[02/15/2023] Day Fourteen

Recap Day Fourteen: Shooting in a store
Listen to the recap

The Court heard three more witnesses today in relation to events in Waterside, Monrovia. The first witness described seeing civilians being detained in the Waterside market area and taken under the Old Bridge. Here, the witness added that civilians were killed and raped by soldiers. The witness testified to being assaulted and robbed by a child soldier belonging to the same group.

The second witness explained how they had gone to Waterside market, to buy rice. They described being in an unattended shop with other civilians who were also looking for food, soldiers fired into the store. The soldiers detained the survivors, including the witness, in a building by the Old Bridge. The witness added that the soldiers’ commander killed children and allowed his troops to rape women.

In the final testimony of the day, the third witness described a similar chain of events.

The Court will not be in session tomorrow, and is scheduled to continue hearings on Friday, 17 February.

[02/17/2023] Day Fifteen

Recap Day Fifteen: Soldiers in court
Listen to the recap

The last day of the second week of proceedings in Monrovia saw the Court hear two soldiers about their participation in the Second Liberian Civil War.

The first witness served during the war in the Armed Forces of Liberia. He described the co-operation between official government troops and the RUF, who crossed from Sierra Leone to Liberia during the war. Later, when he was in Monrovia, he witnessed a battle against LURD rebels and the alleged atrocities committed by RUF troops.

The second witness was an RUF fighter during the war. He described his experience of crossing from Sierra Leone to Liberia and the killings of civilians in Lofa county by RUF forces. He also talked about being in Monrovia, where he was placed in Waterside. He recounted witnessing similar battles and atrocities as described by the first witness.

While the witnesses described somewhat similar events, the precise timing of their testimonies was the subject of a lot of discussion in the Court. The Court shall resume hearings next week.

[02/20/2023] Day Sixteen

Recap Day Sixteen: Waterside soldiers
Listen to the recap

The third week of the proceedings in Monrovia began with the Court continuing with last week’s theme. The Court heard two former RUF fighters’ testimonies about their experiences during the Second Liberian Civil War.

The first witness described his time in the RUF, both in Lofa County and Monrovia. Both parties focused on his experiences around the Waterside area in Monrovia during the so-called World Wars.

The second witness described his experience as a fighter for multiple armed factions both in Sierra Leone and Liberia. As they had done with the first witness, the parties focused on his time with the RUF, and particularly events in Monrovia during the World Wars.

The Court will continue its hearings tomorrow, Tuesday 21, and will hear three additional witnesses.

[02/21/2023] Day Seventeen

Recap Day Seventeen: Civilians held under a bridge
Listen to the recap

Today, the Court heard three witnesses speak about incidents in Waterside, Monrovia.

The first witness, an NPFL soldier during the war, described being stationed near Waterside in Monrovia alongside RUF troops. He described various killings of civilians and soldiers in the area.

The second witness was a civilian, who had been detained near Waterside market and taken to a gate near the bridge. The third witness was also a civilian and gave a similar account of being captured by soldiers. She, along with some of her friends, was tied up and taken under Waterside bridge. One of the friends that had been captured with her was killed before her very eyes by the Sierra Leonean commander of the soldiers in the area.

The Court is not scheduled to have a hearing tomorrow and will continue hearing witnesses on Thursday, February 23, at 9 am.

[02/23/2023] Day Eighteen

Recap Day Eighteen: Executions in Waterside
Listen to the recap

The Court heard two witnesses today, both soldiers serving on the Liberian government’s side during the Second Liberian Civil War.

The first witness described their war experience during the later phases of the Civil War, when fighting took place between government forces and LURD in Monrovia, around the Waterside area. The witness mentioned executions of civilians and soldiers undertaken by commanders, for example, as a punishment for looting the stores.

The second witness’ testimony also focused on the Waterside area. They described a particular incident, where they heard gunfire while on patrol around the Market area. Investigating the source of the sound, they came across Sierra Leonean troops and dead civilians near and inside a store in Waterside. According to the witness, the civilians had been killed by the commander in charge of the Old Bridge and Water Street area.

The Court will hear two more witnesses tomorrow, Friday 24

[02/24/2023] Day Nineteen

Recap Day Nineteen: Looting civilians shot in Waterside
Listen to the recap

Today, the Court heard two additional witnesses in relation to the events around Waterside area in Monrovia.

The first witness, a former soldier serving on the government’s side during the Second Liberian Civil War, described his wartime experiences in Monrovia during the battles between LURD rebels and the government forces around the city center, especially Waterside area. The witness spoke of an incident, where some soldiers, including the witness himself, broke into a store. Soldiers at the scene were given an order to shoot civilians that had been looting.

The second witness worked in construction in Monrovia, when LURD rebels were facing the government forces around Waterside and Vai Town. He described the difficult food situation in the city at the time, leading many civilians to resort to looting. The witness described a specific incident, where soldiers were ordered to drive looting civilians away from a store, resulting in the killing of many people.

The Court concluded the proceedings for this week today and will continue on Monday 27 at 9 am with three additional witnesses.

[02/26/2023] Day Twenty

Recap Day Twenty: Looters targeted
Listen to the recap

Today, the Court began the fourth week of proceedings in Monrovia by hearing two witnesses.

The first witness testified about cooking for various troops in Waterside, when battles between government forces and LURD rebels were ongoing. He described an incident where a commander of the Sierra Leonean troops was killed. Following this, soldiers rounded up civilians that had been looting nearby shops under a bridge. The civilians were executed.

The second witness described meeting various RUF commanders in Monrovia. He had been at a base near Waterside when he heard heavy gunfire coming from nearby. He managed to get a closer look at the scene and saw looting civilians being executed near a store selling foodstuffs in Waterside.

The Court will continue its hearings tomorrow, Tuesday 28, at 9 am.

[03/02/2023] Day Twenty-three

Recap Day Twenty-three: Kamatahun Hassala hearings begin
Listen to the recap

Today, the Court moved on from Waterside to discuss events that occurred in and around Kamatahun Hassala, Lofa County, Liberia. The Court heard testimonies from three witnesses that had been living in different villages at the time of the events.

Two witnesses testified about civilians being captured from their villages and brought to Kamatahun Hassala, where they were imprisoned along with other civilians that had been captured from neighboring villages. The witnesses recounted how a commander ordered soldiers to lock the civilians in a house and burn it down with them inside. While they were different ages at the time, both witnesses lost family members during the course of these events.

Another of the witnesses was from Kiantahun. He recounted a similar story. On the first day of the incident, he had written the date of the event down on a blackboard. He had later written a list of people that had died in the burned house.

The Court will continue its hearings on this matter on Friday 3, 9am.

[03/03/2023] Day Twenty-four

Recap Day Twenty-four: Forced labor in Lofa
Listen to the recap

Today’s hearing was focused on forced labor imposed on civilians by soldiers in and around Foya, Lofa.

Three witnesses testified to being captured and rounded up in the town center of their villages. They described how soldiers looted belongings from their houses and forced them to carry the stolen goods on their heads across different villages to Foya. Once the groups arrived in Foya, the goods were presented by the soldiers to the commander.

While one civilian managed to escape along the way, the other two were held or imprisoned in a building in Foya for multiple days. One of the captives was able to escape with a friend, while the other was later released after appealing to the soldiers. Each witness described soldiers mistreating and killing civilians during these events.

Hearings will continue Monday 6, 9am.

[03/06/2023] Day Twenty-five

Recap Day Twenty-five: A former soldier testifies
Listen to the recap

On Monday, March 6, the Court returned to its examination of events in Kamatahun Hassala.

A former soldier that had worked with the government forces recounted his experience with RUF fighters in Lofa. He described coming from a checkpoint to the village, where he had seen a house on fire and was told that there were people inside the burning house. He then described escorting some of the perpetrators to Monrovia as a consequence for their participation in these events.

In the second part of his testimony, the witness gave his account on events that occurred later on in Waterside, Monrovia. He described arriving onto the scene when soldiers were ordered to kill civilians that had been looting.

The witness affirmed that it was the same person that had ordered the acts in both Kamatahun and Waterside.

[03/07/2023] Day Twenty-six

Recap Day Twenty-six: Lives lost in Lofa
Listen to the recap

On Tuesday March 7, the Court heard two witnesses, both of whom had been witness to
killings of civilians in the area.

The first witness described being rounded up with other civilians and taken to Kamatahun Hassala. He managed to escape, and from there he saw soldiers putting people into a house and setting it on fire. The next day, he saw the bodies of 7 women that had allegedly been raped outside the Blacksmith’s kitchen. The witness lost two family members in the course of these events.

The second witness was a victim of torture. He described being accused of being a rebel and being subject to acts of torture carried out to get him to confess. He also described other incidents that occurred in the area, such as the killing of a man and the extraction and cooking of his heart, as well as the burning of a house with people inside.

There will be no hearings tomorrow, Wednesday 8, as it is Decoration Day – a public holiday in Liberia.

[03/09/2023] Day Twenty-seven

Recap Day Twenty-seven: Tributes made in Kamatahun
Listen to the recap

On Thursday March 9, three witnesses from Kamatahun Hassala testified before the Court of Appeal.

Each witness testified to similar events of civilians from surrounding villages being rounded up by troops and taken to Kamatahun. The large group of people was assembled in the town center and locked in a house. Upon the orders of their commander, the soldiers set the house ablaze with the people still inside. The witnesses also all testified to a group of women being separated from the group and raped by soldiers during the course of these events.

Each witness also testified to different tributes that had been paid to the victims of these incidents. They described conducting sacrifices to honor those that had been killed, the ceremonial burying of their remains, and the building of a palaver hut in the centre of town.

The final hearing of the week will be held tomorrow, Friday 10.

[03/10/2023] Day Twenty-eight

Recap Day Twenty-eight: Women raped in Kamatahun
Listen to the recap

On Friday, March 10, the court heard three more witnesses from Kamatahun Hassala.

The first witness testified in a closed hearing, due to the sensitive nature of the events discussed.

The second and third witnesses spoke of people being brought to Kamatahun from neighboring villages and locked in a house that was set alight. They both also testified to a group of seven women being tied up, stripped naked, and brought to a building near a blacksmith’s kitchen. Both witnesses then described that they saw the women’s dead bodies the following day but were unable to bury their bodies until some time after, due to the continued presence of soldiers in the village. The witnesses had deduced from what they heard and saw throughout this incident that the women had been raped before they were killed.

The hearings have closed for the week and will resume on Monday 13, at 9am.

[03/13/2023] Day Twenty-nine

Recap Day Twenty-nine: An ex-government soldier testifies
Listen to the recap

On Monday 13, the Appeals Court heard a soldier that had fought with the Liberian government forces speak on events in Kamatahun Hassala.

The witness gave a detailed account of the different stages of the Second Civil War in Liberia, explaining the relationship between the Liberian government forces and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) from Sierra Leone. He then described the events of people being gathered from other villages and being put inside a house and the house being burned. The ex-soldier added that this event had caused tensions to form between the groups.

Due to a mix-up, the Court was not able to hear the second witness. Hearings will continue tomorrow, Tuesday 14.

[03/14/2023] Day Thirty

Recap Day Thirty: Back and forth between Monrovia and Lofa
Listen to the recap

On Tuesday 14, two witnesses testified.

The first witness spoke of her friend, who had been in a romantic relationship with the defendant. She described trips from Monrovia to Lofa, where she saw weapons stored in a secret room and wounded soldiers being brought in and out. Some trips had been taken by convoys of pickups, some by helicopter, and others by motorbike.

The second witness was an ex-soldier that had fought with government forces. He had been involved in fighting across both Monrovia and Lofa. He described the close relationship between the Liberian government forces and the RUF as the RUF supported the government on the frontline.

[03/14/2023] Day Thirty-one

Recap Day Thirty-one: An investigator explains
Listen to the recap

Today, the Court spent the day assessing one witness. He was the Liberian investigator that the Finnish Police had contracted to help them with their investigations and has been working on the case with them since 2019.

The witness testified to the various trainings that he has received. He talked the court through the different methods that he has used to locate and contact witnesses. A few times, he explained in depth how he came to be interested in a particular person, how he managed to reach them and how he had facilitated their contact with the Finnish police.

In addition, his personal notebook was analyzed page by page.

[03/16/2023] Day Thirty-two

Recap Day Thirty-two: Child Soldiers
Listen to the recap

Today the Court heard three soldiers about their experiences in connection with the Liberian Civil War.

The first witness told about his experience as a child soldier serving the government troops in Liberia.

The second witness used to work as a driver for the RUF and described his travels between Sierra Leone and Liberia during the Second Liberian Civil War.

The third witness told about being abducted as a child from Sierra Leone ny rebel forces and being brought to Monrovia, Liberia until the end of the war.

Tomorrow, the Court is scheduled to hear one witness. (Editor’s note: the hearing for Friday the 17th was cancelled due to the witness being dropped by the Prosecution. The Court will resume hearings on Monday the 20th.

[03/20/2023] Day Thirty-three

Recap Day Thirty-three: Sierra Leoneans in Monrovia
Listen to the recap

Today, the Court heard two witnesses about the events in Monrovia.

The first witness described his experiences serving in the NPFL during the Second Liberian Civil War. He met with the Sierra Leonean forces in Monrovia and witnessed a standoff between them and his Liberian commander after the Sierra Leoneans had killed civilians at Water Street.

The second witness spent time in Monrovia at the RUF guest house and described the arrival and stay of multiple RUF members from Sierra Leone. He also described them taking arms and ammunition from Monrovia to Lofa county.

Tomorrow, the Court will begin the day by watching a video recording of the testimony of a witness who testified at the District Court, who has since passed away. In addition, one witness is scheduled to appear before the Court tomorrow.

[03/21/2023] Day Thirty-four

Recap Day Thirty-four: Torture in Klay
Listen to the recap

Today, the Court began the session by watching a video recording of the testimony that a recently deceased witness had previously given at the District Court.

The rest of the day was spent hearing one witness. He was the victim of torture allegedly perpetrated by Gibril Massaquoi, who was instructed to obtain a confession from him regarding a suspected plot to overthrow the then-President Charles Taylor. The witness described his arrest and initial interrogation by Charles Taylor, and then the multiple places where he was taken and held prisoner. He gave a detailed account of the acts of torture that the defendant had either ordered or carried out personally. The witness, who had always denied the allegations, was held for a number of days and only released once a foreign government and international NGOs had put pressure on Charles Taylor to do so.

Court proceedings will continue tomorrow, Wednesday March 22.

[03/22/2023] Day Thirty-five

Recap Day Thirty-five: A former child soldier testifies
Listen to the recap

This morning, a former child soldier from Sierra Leone came to testify. He had been captured by rebel groups in Sierra Leone at a young age, fighting first in Sierra Leone and later in Liberia. He described fighting and the mistreatment of civilians across Kolahun and surrounding areas such as Kamatahun, before moving to Monrovia. Once in Monrovia, he described further fighting across the city, including at Waterside.

The witness later described being in Monrovia at the ceasefire which ended the Second Civil War, where fighting factions packed up their weapons to give to the UN. At this point, according to the witness, Gibril Massaquoi had already left Liberia.

There are no hearings scheduled tomorrow Thursday 23, so the Court will reconvene Friday 24, 9am.