Gibril Massaquoi is currently on trial for committing and inciting the murders of civilians and enemy fighters, aggravated rapes, aggravated war crimes, and aggravated violations of human rights in a State of Emergency.

Massaquoi’s trial started in Tampere, Finland, on February 1st 2021. The trial will then continue in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

When possible, pseudonyms reflect those used in the prosecution’s pre-trial material. In addition, Civitas Maxima has assigned pseudonyms to named victims and/or witnesses in order to further protect their identity.

Civitas Maxima, in collaboration with Liberian partners, the Center for Human Rights, Gender, and Migration of Washington University (United States), and The Hague University (Netherlands), will provide a daily summary of the proceedings.

Art produced by Kalonji Art, and Leslie Lumeh in collaboration with New Narratives.

French translation provided by Natacha Bracq.

03/02/21 [Finland] Day 1: the Charges Are Read

The first day of public hearings in the trial of Mr. Gibril Massaquoi began at the Pirkanmaa District Court in Tampere, Finland on 3 February 2021, with District Judge Paiho (Chair) noting that, in the preparatory hearing, it was decided that a judicial examination of the case shall be arranged in Liberia, and that the details of this examination would be determined at a later date.

Following this, State Prosecutor Mr. Tom Laitinen proceeded to read aloud details of the charges from the annex to the Application of Summons (indictment).

State Prosecutor Laitinen stated that the Prosecution is seeking a sentence of life imprisonment for Mr. Massaquoi for the following four charges.

I. Murders, including of multiple civilians, including children, in Kamatahun Hassala village, Lofa County, Liberia; the murder of a woman in Yandehun village, Lofa County, Liberia; and murders of multiple civilians and suspected enemy fighters in Monrovia, Liberia;

II. Aggravated rapes against multiple civilians in Kamatahun Hassala and Foya villages, Lofa County, Liberia;

III, Aggravated war crimes in Hassala, Yandehun, Foya and Klay villages and their surroundings, Kamatahun, Lofa District, Liberia; and in Monrovia, Liberia. The underlying acts include murders, rapes, forced labor, the use of child soldiers in hostilities, infringement on the dignity of deceased persons and improper treatment of bodies, torture, and aggravated assault and assault;

IV. Aggravated violations of human rights in a state of emergency in Kamatahun Hassala and Yandehun villages and their surroundings, Lofa District, Liberia; and Monrovia, Liberia.

The first two charges are based on the Criminal Code of Finland (Chapters 5, 20, and 21), and the crimes are alleged to have occurred probably between June – December 2001.

The second two charges are based on the Criminal Code of Finland (Chapter 11), as well as the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Second Additional Protocol of 1977. Those crimes are alleged to have occurred probably between June 2001 – December 2002.

According to the Prosecution, Mr. Massaquoi’s responsibility is based both on direct and indirect participation.

Mr. Massaquoi denied all charges presented against him. His Defense Attorney, Mr. Kaarle Gummerus, stated that Mr. Massaquoi was not present in Liberia when the crimes allegedly took place. Mr. Gummerus also stated that Mr. Massaquoi did not participate in the acts in question, specifically noting the long period of time between each act. Mr. Gummerus further noted that such serious allegations require very strong evidence. Finally, Mr. Gummerus reiterated that Mr. Massaquoi has not been in Liberia since the summer of 2001. He stated that Mr. Massaquoi does not deny that these atrocities occurred, but denies having played any role in these acts.

The hearing ended at 10:58am and the trial was scheduled to resume at the Pirkanmaa District Court on Thursday, 4 February 2021.

04/02/21 [Finland] Day 2: Introducing the Case

The second day of public hearings at the Pirkanmaa District Court began with the Assistant Prosecutor delivering an overview of the Prosecution’s case. The Assistant Prosecutor began by showing various locations to make sure the Court had an overview of the crime sites.  The following places were emphasized by the Assistant Prosecutor:

  • Lofa County was shown on a map of Liberia. The villages of Kamatahun Hassala and Yandehun (both located in Lofa County) were presented as the sites of the alleged murders that form the basis of Charge 4.1.3. This includes the murder of civilians who were locked inside houses which were then set on fire.
  • The Assistant Prosecutor also showed a few other maps of the villages, as prepared by the National Bureau of Investigation (Keskusrikospoliisi, KRP). The Assistant Prosecutor then showed aerial pictures, including one in which various sites were marked, indicating houses that had been burned down. Another aerial picture showed a house where the Prosecution claims that women were raped. This was followed by a picture of the entire village.
  • The next location shown was the capital, Monrovia. It showed the Mesurado River and the west end of the “Old Bridge.” The crime site was highlighted on a map of Monrovia and in an aerial picture of the area. The photographs of Monrovia were related to Charge 4.3. Mr. Massaquoi’s base, a building used by his troops, was by the river. The Assistant Prosecutor showed an aerial picture of the base and Waterstreet. The Prosecution claimed that Mr. Massaquoi and his troops had patrolled the area close to Waterstreet and that six soldiers were shot there on Mr. Massaquoi’s command.
  • One picture highlighted the building in which the acts relating to Charge 4.2 allegedly occurred. 
  • An aerial picture was shown of Kamatahun Tahamba alongside a map of Liberia. According to the Prosecution and as part of Charge 4.4 (aggravated rape), Mr. Massaquoi is alleged to have found a civilian in the rainforest surrounding Kamatahun Tahamba, who he then brought to Foya and raped.
  • With respect to the forced labor laid out in Charge 4.5.3.2, the Prosecution asserted that these acts were committed in Kortuhun 1, Kortuhun 2, and Vahun (in Lofa County).     

The Prosecution’s overview of the crime sites ended with a list of acts giving rise to the charges and the places where those acts occurred.

State Prosecutor Mr. Tom Laitinen took over the presentation of the case after the overview of the crime scenes, to demonstrate the legal basis of these charges. Mr. Laitinen showed a powerpoint presentation in which the homicides and sexual offenses were illustrated. Mr. Laitinen then listed three articles of Chapter 1 of the Finnish Criminal Code, including Section 6, Section 11 and Section 7. Mr. Laitinen clarified that “aggravated war crimes” and “aggravated violations of human rights in a state of emergency” are international crimes that can be prosecuted in Finland regardless of where they took place.

Mr. Laitinen further clarified that Finnish law has changed since the alleged crimes were committed.  As such, the applicable law is the law that was in effect at that time. 

The crimes were committed in the context of the second Liberian civil war (21 May 1999 – 18 August 2003). Mr. Laitinen noted that, during this period, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) fought side-by-side with Charles Taylor’s troops. According to the Prosecution’s theory, Mr. Massaquoi was one of the authoritative RUF leaders who moved to Liberia and had the capacity to command RUF soldiers.

Charges

4.1-4.4 Murder and Aggravated rape

The Prosecution listed the murder and aggravated rape charges, which included: murders in Kamatahun Hassala village (Lofa County), described in Charge 4.1; the murder of Monjama in Yandehun village (Lofa County), described in Charge 4.2; murders in Monrovia, described in Charge 4.3; and aggravated rapes in Kamahatun Hassala and Foya villages (Lofa County), described in Charge 4.4.

The Prosecution clarified that these murders and rapes all related to the same course of events: civilians sought cover when they saw the RUF troops arriving in their village. They usually escaped. Sometimes, however, the RUF began to search for them; they did not want survivors. Civilians were then burned, and raped.

The murders in Monrovia are alleged by the Prosecution to have occurred during a later stage of war when people had settled in Monrovia. For various reasons, the RUF took civilians to its base, where they were killed. The Prosecution claimed that none of these actions had a purpose, nor was there any   justification. The Prosecution highlighted that civilians must be protected from any violence.

4.5 Aggravated war crimes

The Prosecution listed the “aggravated war crimes” as charged, which included: the murders described in Charges 4.1-4.3; the rapes in Kamatahun Hassala and Foya (Lofa County), and Monrovia; forced labor of civilians in various parts of Lofa County; the use of child soldiers to participate in hostilities in Monrovia; the mutilation or maltreatment of the remains of the dead in Kamahatun Hassala (Lofa County); torture in Klays; and aggravated assault in Monrovia and assault in Kamahatun Hassala (Lofa County).

4.6 Aggravated violations of human rights in a state of emergency

The Prosecution then noted that the charge of “aggravated human rights violations in a state of  emergency” related to each of the other charges. 

The Prosecution explained that there generally are no plaintiffs in trials relating to “aggravated war crimes” or “aggravated violations of human rights in a state of emergency,” as these provisions do not exist per se to protect individuals. If the rights of an individual have been violated, however, that individual may have the position of plaintiff.

Mr. Laitinen addressed the challenges regarding this case, which include: the length of time between the commission of the crimes and the present prosecution; cultural and societal differences; long-lasting traumatizing experiences; and the clear need to review credibility on an individual level. Mr. Laitinen stressed that overall assessment of individuals and evidence is required, adding that it is difficult to remember the details of events that happened ten or fifteen years ago, even for him. 

The hearing broke at 11:45, to resume at 13:00.

[Break]

The afternoon session began with opening statements from the Defense team, Mr. Kaarle Gummerus, assisted by Ms. Paula Sallinen. The Defense team stated its intention to demonstrate that Mr. Massaquoi was not in Liberia during the actions described in the charges. Instead, the Defense stated that Mr. Massaquoi was in Sierra Leone when the charged acts took place. Using a powerpoint presentation, the Defense laid out the following: 

  • In 2000, Mr. Massaquoi worked in Freetown (Sierra Leone), at Mr. Foday Sankoh’s residence, and also accompanied Mr. Sankoh to South Africa and Ivory Coast in February 2000. The RUF took UN peacekeepers as hostages in April 2000. There was a gunfight at Mr. Sankoh’s residence on 8 May 2000 and Mr. Massaquoi escaped to Maken. 
  • In 2001, Mr. Massaquoi was involved in the peace negotiations in Sierra Leone as part of the UN’s special mission starting in January 2001 until the end of that year. Mr. Massaquoi only visited Monrovia in February. The reason for this trip was to collect property he had left behind in Liberia, such as his car. In May, Mr. Massaquoi participated in a meeting in Nigeria.
  • In 2002, Mr. Massaquoi lost favor with the RUF leadership and was removed from his position as the group’s spokesperson. Former RUF soldiers attacked Mr. Massaquoi in March 2002, robbing him and vandalizing his car. Separately, Mr. Massaquoi was granted immunity for providing evidence to the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
  • In 2005 Mr. Massaquoi testified before the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Mr. Gummerus stated that Civitas Maxima and its Liberian sister organization the GJRP are in the background of this case, noting that Finnish police asked the NGOs for potential witnesses before their mission to Africa in March-April 2020. He asserted that this diminishes the credibility of those witnesses. Further, the Defense expressed its astonishment that this case was pursued at all, as the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Liberia includes no mention of “Gibril Massaquoi,” “Angel Gabriel,” “Angel,” “Gibril,” or “Gabriel.”

The Defense acknowledged that, in the photographic material the police provided, one individual with the name “Massaquoi” is listed as being relevant to events occurring in July 2003, but stated that Mr. Massaquoi was in a safehouse during that time.

In addition, the report only names “Junior Massaquoi,” “John Massaquoi,” “Mohammed Massaquoi,” “Roland Massaquoi,” and “x Massaquoi.”

The Defense articulated that there were central changes in the witness statements, which he claims may be a result of the large number of relevant news reports. The Defense also stated that this could be a consequence of bringing up the name, “Angel Gabriel.” 

Mr. Gummerus concluded the Defense presentation by noting that it provided vast written evidence and information about the witnesses as counter-evidence. The Defense relied on UN documentation, various media sources, and the reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions for both Sierra Leone and Liberia. Moreover, the Defense claimed that Mr. Massaquoi’s witnesses are people who were very familiar with Mr. Massaquoi, his actions, and/or the actions of the RUF. In support of this contention,  Mr. Gummerus showed an excel table listing all the witnesses, categorizing how the witnesses were involved in the pretrial investigation. 

The hearing concluded at 13:50, and was scheduled to resume on 5 February 2021 at 10:00.

05/02/21 [Finland] Day 3: Presentation of Documentary Evidence

The third day of public hearings was dedicated to the presentation of documentary evidence. 

State Prosecutor Mr. Tom Laitinen began by presenting the Prosecution’s evidence, summarized with relevant discussion as follows:

  • A list of witnesses, detailing how their interviews were conducted (Annex 1.6 to the Application of Summons, pages 763-772). 

Mr. Laitinen indicated that this evidence served to demonstrate the different ways in which witnesses were located and highlighted that the majority of the witnesses were discovered without assistance from Civitas Maxima. Mr. Laitinen specified that 20 out of these 55 independently discovered witnesses would be heard at trial.  Mr. Laitinen noted that these witnesses had not been influenced by Civitas Maxima, and stated that  the similarities between their testimonies  would prove the guilt of  the accused, Mr. Gibril Massaquoi. 

Defense Counsel for Mr. Massaquoi, Mr. Kaarle Gummerus, responded by stating that many of the witnesses in the indictment had in fact been found with the help of Civitas Maxima, and that those witnesses then helped in finding additional witnesses. Mr. Gummerus provided two examples of witnesses who came forward in such a way and drew particular attention to their credibility, noting that there was no way to know what type of information passed between them about Mr. Massaquoi. Mr. Gummerus noted that, due to the tight-knit nature of the village communities, information can move quickly between people. 

Mr. Laitinen acknowledged that, in small villages, it was impossible to isolate witnesses from one another but asserted that there was no proof that the witnesses tried to influence one another. He stated that, had someone influenced the witnesses, it should be proven, and asked whether someone should testify on that issue. 

Mr. Gummerus stated that some witnesses said that they received information from others, citing two specific examples. He noted that the testimony of these witnesses may be contaminated. District Judge Juhani Paiho (Chair) stated that testimony from the police will be heard to determine whether the witnesses were properly selected.

  • “List of perpetrators” from Vol. II of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report (Annex 1.8 to the Application of Summons, pages 776-776, rows 14-18).   

Mr. Laitinen clarified that police had acknowledged this specific list did not include the names of commanders, contrary to the Defense’s assertions. 

Mr. Gummerus argued that, while the other commanders are not found in that list, they are found elsewhere in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report. Mr. Gummerus highlighted the absence of Mr. Massaquoi’s name in the report as a whole, while stressing that the names of other commanders and foreign mercenaries (such as “John Massquoi” and “Mosquito”) are included in the report. Mr. Gummerus emphasized that the name “Gibril Massaquoi” is absent. Mr. Laitinen then turned to present an image of the form interviewers for Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission used when interviewing witnesses (Annex 1.8 to the Application of Summons, page 776). He stated that the absence of Mr. Massaquoi’s name in the reports is due to the fact that the form did not include Mr. Massaquoi’s name, nor mention the RUF, nor of any other party which Mr. Massaquoi represented. 

Mr. Laitinen argued that the witnesses were never asked about the RUF or its soldiers. This, Mr. Laitinen suggested, could be why the RUF and its soldiers were not discussed in the hearings and reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

Mr. Gummerus noted that interviewees were asked questions about other groups and that they had spoken about matters besides those mentioned on the interview form.

  • “Secret behind the gun: Massaquoi’s report” (Annex 1.25 to the Application of Summons, starting at page 3073) with Finnish translation (Annex 1.33, starting at page 3511). 

Mr. Laitinen explained that this document details Mr. Massaquoi’s own explanations of where he was at various times during the conflict. Mr. Laitinen read an excerpt in which Mr. Massaquoi stated, “I mentioned in many interviews that I was interviewed in X and not in Y, people thought that I was in Makeni (Sierra Leone) and not in Monrovia.” This excerpt concerned the time period between late 2000 and early 2001. Mr. Laitinen stated that Mr. Massaquoi knew how to make the interviewers believe he was somewhere other than his actual location, and that it was thus entirely possible that he was not where the interviews suggest. Mr. Laitinen noted that this was important when considering the credibility of Mr. Massaquoi’s claim of being absent from Liberia. 

Mr. Gummerus replied by pointing out that the time period in question was very short, and that the report also shows that Mr. Massaquoi was ordered to move to Makeni in January 2001. Mr. Gummerus further noted that the Defense evidence showed only five interviews conducted with Mr. Massaquoi via satellite telephone from Makeni. He claimed that there were also many interviews conducted in person with Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni. Mr. Gummerus also noted that the excerpt was Mr. Massaquoi’s own writing about old times.

  • Handwritten note from a meeting organized by Mr. Massaquoi in prison, (Annex 1.26 to the Application of Summons, at page 3447). 

This exhibit shows Mr. Massaquoi’s notes from a family meeting that was organised in prison. The Prosecution claimed that prison cleaners found these notes near a toilet after the meeting, and that the notes included guidance to several of Mr. Massaquoi’s witnesses. According to the Prosecution, the note stated that all key witnesses were to be informed of certain things. The information related to where Mr. Massaquoi had been; he wanted to guide these witnesses as to what they should say on this topic. Mr. Laitinen clarified that the notes did not state that Mr. Massaquoi’s ex-wife would have contacted other witnesses, and he noted that her story might be dictated in part by Mr. Massaquoi. 

Mr. Gummerus stated that Mr. Massaquoi’s note never left the prison and that it was written before witness groups three and four were heard. He posited that Mr. Massaquoi was worried but did not ask anyone to lie. Rather, Mr. Massaquoi was merely reminding them of different things that Mr. Gummerus stated were truthful. However, the Defence conceded that the writing of the note was wrong and should not have happened.

The session then shifted to the presentation of the Defense evidence. 

Mr. Gummerus began with a PowerPoint that he said contained many dates during which Mr. Massaquoi was somewhere other than Liberia. The PowerPoint demonstrated the best pieces of evidence, but the Defence clarified that there were more. Mr. Gummerus also introduced media coverage collected from online sources such as AllAfrica, “The Sierra Leone Web”, and UN sources mainly compiled from Reliefweb.int, as well as from the Truth Commission’s reports. 

Mr. Gummerus then formally introduced the following pieces of Defense evidence, with Defense exhibit numbers indicated:

  • Exhibit D1: Volume II of the Consolidated Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia

This report related to the murder of Samuel Bockary and his family in Nimba County on 6 May 2003. The Defense agreed that 6 May 2003 was the date the murders occurred, but argued that Mr. Massaquoi was not in Nimba County on that date. Mr. Gummerus asserted that witness stories to the contrary were not truthful. He noted that this evidence was adduced to demonstrate that references to the RUF were a consistent theme in the reported violations. Mr. Gummerus reiterated, however, that the Defendant was not on the list despite the report containing many RUF commanders and mercenaries who took part in the Liberian Civil War. The Defense also mentioned the fact that several other ‘Massaquois’ had been mentioned in the report, ranging from Edward Massaquoi to Roland Massaquoi, for different crimes in the conflict.

  • Exhibit D2: Volume III Appendices of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Mr. Gummerus referenced a list of the names of those responsible and another list of names including people with the surname ‘Massaquoi’. Mr. Gummerus noted that  there was no mention of a ‘Gibril Massaquoi’ on these lists.

  • Exhibit D3: Police summary of the Truth Commission’s statements

Mr. Gummerus cited page 790, which provided information about the witness hearings in Kamatahun Hassala and Monrovia. Mr. Gummerus reiterated that there was no mention of Mr. Massaquoi by name.

The morning session ended with a dialogue between Prosecution and Defense regarding the Defense evidence. Mr. Laitinen acknowledged that Mr. Massaquoi was not on the list in the police summary but noted that these statements could not be regarded as witness hearings, nor could these witnesses be heard in the courtroom. Mr Gummerus posited that the references to people with the surname ‘Massaquoi’ have nothing to do with his client. He asserted that these individuals, and not his client, might be implicated in the events that the witnesses in the case will speak of, and proposed a discussion about the value of these witness statements with Mr. Laitinen.

Mr. Laitinen responded that the reports could only be taken for what they said on their face. It was not possible to undertake in-depth analysis or hear from the people involved in the reports. Before the morning session closed, Mr. Gummerus reiterated that Mr. Massaquoi’s name was not in the reports, despite their length and detail. Mr. Laitinen countered that not all Liberians were heard from in the reports, a point that the Defence conceded.

The morning session ended at 12:06. 

[Break]

The afternoon  session  started at 13:16.

Defense Attorney Mr. Gummerus began by stating that the Defense and Prosecution had discussed the conflicting material they each had presented in the first session of the day. Mr. Gummerus clarified that neither the Defense nor the Prosecutor intended to make separate claims, rather, they both intended to demonstrate the in-depth nature of the reports.

The afternoon session continued with the Defense’s presentation of evidence as follows:

  • Exhibit D4: Liberian Newspaper Material

    Mr. Gummerus presented material from Liberian newspapers dated between 1 November 1999 and 12 December 2004. He referred to the newspapers as a demonstration of the problem they faced, noting that there was a significant amount of evidentiary material annexed to the Application of Summons that they had not been able to review.  Mr. Gummerus stated that the material does not contain any information regarding Mr. Massaquoi’s guilt, nor anything else relevant to the case. 
  • Exhibit D5: Photographs and Video

The Defense presented twelve photographs, including one photo of Mr. Massaquoi, and a video clip, which were used to identify Mr. Massaquoi in witness interviews. Mr. Gummerus alleged that some of the witnesses had only been shown the video clip.

  • Exhibit D6: Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Sierra Leone, Volume III A

The Defense referred to sections 941, 1053, 1184, 1212, 1213, 1407 and 1417 of Chapter III, Volume III A of Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. These sections refer to where Mr. Massaquoi was located at specific moments in time. Mr. Gummerus addressed each of these sections, elaborating on exactly where Mr. Massaquoi was at the relevant times.

  • Exhibit D7: News article from the Sierra Leone Web, September 1999

The Defense alleged that this article from the Sierra Leone Web News placed Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni, Sierra Leone, on 3 September 1999. The Prosecution interjected and requested the source of the report. The Defense responded that the source was unknown, and that the exhibit is a news article based on a report which is mentioned in the article itself. The Judge asked what in the article constituted proof that Mr. Massaquoi was in Makeni, to which the Defense replied that it was their understanding when reading the article. The Prosecution asked whether the reporter actually saw Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni, and the Defense admitted to not having knowledge of this fact. Mr. Laitinen expressed his disagreement that the article proved Mr. Massaquoi was in Makeni. 

  • Exhibit D8: News article from the Sierra Leone Web, December 1999

This article mentioned that Mr. Massaquoi had made a statement in Freetown on 15 December 1999. The Prosecution again interjected to say that this did not prove that Mr. Massaquoi was in fact in Freetown, while the Defense disagreed. 

  • Exhibit D9: News article from the Concord Times, 29 February 2000

This evidence contained a statement from a reporter who listened to Mr. Massaquoi speak on the radio as he stated he was in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The Prosecution responded that Massaquoi could have been anywhere.

  • Exhibit D10: News article from the Sierra Leone Web, March 2000

This article noted that Mr. Massaquoi had met members of the Sierra Leonean Government at a conference in Freetown on 15 February 2000. The Defense added that this demonstrated Mr. Massaquoi’s location and motives during this time period. 

  • Exhibit D11: News article from the Sierra Leone Web, May 2000

According to the Defense, this article placed Mr. Massaquoi in Sierra Leone on 19 May 2000. The Defense said that Mr. Massaquoi gave an interview via satellite phone from Makeni. The Prosecution responded that the satellite phone did not demonstrate with certainty that Mr. Massaquoi was really in Makeni. The Defense countered by stating that the article also provided that Mr. Massaquoi reached Makeni on 10 May 2000. The Prosecution requested the source of the article, which the Defense did not know.

  • Exhibit D12: News article from Sierra Leone Web, August 2000

This article, dated August 2000, placed Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni, according to his own statements. On 28 August 2000, Mr. Massaquoi spoke in Monrovia and shared that he was in Monrovia. 

  • Exhibit D13: Letter from Mr. Massaquoi to the President of Nigeria

The Defense presented a letter written by Mr. Massaquoi to the President of Nigeria on 11 October 2000. It was written from the headquarters of the RUF in Makeni, demonstrated by the letterhead. In the letter, Mr. Massaquoi had written that he did not yet have satellite phones. The Prosecution noted that the letter was self-serving. 

  • Exhibit D14: Official Statement from Sierra Leone in October 2000

The Defense offered an official statement made by Mr. Massaquoi on 6 October 2000 from the headquarters of the RUF in Sierra Leone. 

  • Exhibit D15: News article from the Sierra Leone Web, November 2000

For this article, Mr. Massaquoi spoke with a report in Monrovia, where he said he was on a “quick stop.” According to the Defense, Mr. Massaquoi was in Abuja on 10 November 2000, as he spoke to reporters from Abuja the following day.  The Defense posited that, on 30 November 2000, Mr. Massaquoi was probably back in Sierra Leone. 

  • Exhibit D16: Press Release from Sierra Leone, December 2000

This press release from Mr. Massaquoi was sent from Sierra Leone on 14 December 2000. The Prosecution asked if Mr. Massaquoi wrote it entirely by himself. The Defense responded that he probably did and notes that the release demonstrated what Mr. Massaquoi was doing at the time.

  • Exhibit D17: Press Release from Sierra Leone, June 2001, from ReliefWeb 

This press release, posted from Sierra Leone on 16 June 2001, stated that Mr. Massaquoi met with people in Makeni that day.

  • Exhibit D18: News article from The Progress, September 2001

This article, dated 18 September 2001, stated that there was a meeting between Mr. Massaquoi and people in Makeni. 

  • Exhibit D19: News article from ReliefWeb, February 2001

Dated 13 February 2001, this article stated that Mr. Massaquoi participated in a meeting the previous day in Makeni. Prior to the meeting, the participants visited a hospital in Makeni. Afterwards, they travelled to Magburaka. 

  • Exhibit D20: News article from the Concord Times, February 2001

This article, dated 14 February 2001, mentioned a meeting in Makeni during which Mr. Massaquoi promised not to fight ever again. The Defense claimed that this article demonstrated that Mr. Massaquoi was in Makeni at that time.

  • Exhibit D21A [unclear]: News article from The Progress, March 2001

This article from 7 March 2001 stated that someone met with Mr. Massaquoi in Lunsar.

  • Exhibit D21B [unclear]: Letter to the United Nations, May 2001

The Defense entered the next piece of evidence in two parts. The first was a letter from Liberia to the United Nations dated 18 May 2001, in which the Liberian government informed the United Nations that not a single person described on Security Council Resolution 1343 was in Liberia after the Resolution’s acceptance on 7 March 2001. The second piece was the Resolution itself, as Mr. Massaquoi was one of the individuals listed in the document. The Defense asserted that Mr. Massaquoi had thus not been in Liberia from 7 March 2001 to 18 May 2001. 

  • Exhibit D22: News article from the Concord Times, March 2001

This article, dated 20 March 2001, placed Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni’s state hospital. The Prosecution inquired as to how the article placed the Defendant there, and the Defense explained that, because the article detailed how Mr. Massaquoi had warned his men not to steal drugs from the Makeni hospital, it was reasonable to conclude he was there.

  • Exhibit D23: News article from Expo Times, April 2001

This article, dated 6 April 2001, described a RUF delegation meeting on 6 April 2001. Before the meeting, the delegation stopped in Lansar, Sierra Leone, on 31 March 2001. The Defense stated that the article included Mr. Massaquoi as part of this delegation.

  • Exhibit D24: News article from Reliefweb, April 2001

This article, dated 9 April 2001, showed officials from the RUF meeting with the UN Deputy Secretary-General in Lansar, Sierra Leone. The Defense asserted that Mr. Massaquoi was part of this meeting and that his presence demonstrated both his actions and motives during this time.

  • Exhibit D25: News article from the Washington Post, April 2001

The Defense presented an article, dated 14 April 2001, that reported Mr. Massaquoi giving a statement in Makeni either on 14 April 2001 or slightly before that. 

  • Exhibit D26: News article from Reliefweb, April 2001

The Defense used this article to demonstrate that Mr. Massaquoi was in Makeni on 20 April 2001.  He reportedly had an interview in Makeni on this date, although the Defense noted it was conducted via satellite phone.

  • Exhibit D27: News article from Sierra Leone Web, April 2001

This article, dated April 2001, purportedly showed Mr. Massaquoi in a delegation that was departing to Abuja. On 3 April 2001 and 20 April 2001, he gave interviews in Makeni. The Prosecutor asked whether Mr. Massaquoi had himself reported his location. The Defense conceded that he had. 

  • Exhibit D28: Youth Symposium in Makeni, 23-25 April 2001

The participant list for this Youth Symposium in Makeni (23 to 25 April 2001) indicated that Mr. Massaquoi had attended.

  • Exhibit D29: News article from Reliefweb, May 2001

This article, dated 12 May 2001, showed Mr. Massaquoi in a meeting with the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) in Magburaka, Sierra Leone, on 11 May 2001.

  • Exhibit D30: News article from Sierra Leone Web, May 2001

This article, dated May 2001, stated that Mr. Massaquoi was in Freetown to meet with a reporter at the Mammy Yoko Hotel. However, the Defense did not know whether the reporter was in Freetown.

  • Exhibit D31: Concord Times, 28 May 2001

This article, dated 28 May 2001, included an interview with Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni. The Defense  asserted that Mr. Massaquoi was thus in Makeni from 25 to 26 May 2001.

  • Exhibit D32: Metadata from Sierra Leone Web, June 2001

The Defense described this exhibit as a ‘special piece of evidence’. The Defense acquired it by searching for “Gibril Massaquoi” on Sierra Leone Web and sifting through the metadata to find reference to an interview conducted with Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni on 2 June 2001. 

  • Exhibit D33: News article from the Concord Times, June 2001

The Defense produced this piece of evidence, an article dated 18 June 2001, to demonstrate Mr. Massaquoi’s presence in Makeni on 15 June 2001. The Prosecution inquired as to who the interviewee in the article was. The Defense admitted to being unsure, but reiterated that Mr. Massaquoi was in Makeni.

  • Exhibit D34: News article from Reliefweb, June 2001

According to this article from 18 June 2001, Mr. Massaquoi met with a United Nations Ambassador in Makeni on 16 June 2001. The Defense clarified that the source of this article was the United Nations.

  • Exhibit D35: News article from the Sierra Leone Web, June 2001

This article, dated June 2001, included a picture of Mr. Massaquoi taken in Makeni on 24 June 2001. This photograph was the same one the Central Criminal Police used to identify Mr. Massaquoi. The Prosecution questioned whether the reporter was in Makeni as well. The Defense stated its opinion that both the reporter and Mr. Massaquoi were in Makeni.

  • Exhibit D36: USAID Field Report Sierra Leone, June 2001

This USAID report indicated that Mr. Massaquoi gave a joint interview with Mr. Sesay in Kono, Sierra Leone, in June 2001. 

  • Exhibit D37: UNAMSIL Press Briefing, July 2001

This UNAMSIL press briefing, dated 6 July 2001, indicated that UNAMSIL and representatives of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission met with Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni on 4 July 2001.

  • Exhibit D38: Concord Times, July 2001

This article from the Concord Times, dated 17 July 2001, showed the Special Representative’s meeting with Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni between 4 July 2001 and 10 July 2001.

  • Exhibit D39: News article from the Sierra Leone Web, July 2001

A Sierra Leone Web article dated July 2001 indicated that Mr. Massaquoi took part in a RUF meeting in Makeni on 14 July 2001. Mr. Massaquoi also gave an interview from Makeni in late July 2001.

  • Exhibit D40: News article from the Standard Times, 25 July 2001

This final piece of evidence was an article dated 25 July 2001. It referenced a statement the police took from Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni as part of an investigation in a counterfeiting case. 

The hearing ended at 15:52 and was scheduled to  continue on Monday 8 February at 10:00.

Week in Review – Week 1

The first week of the Gibril Massaquoi trial ended on 5 February 2021, after three days of public hearings in Tampere, Finland. For more context about the case, please see this overview.

Mr. Massaquoi stands charged with murder, aggravated rape, war crimes, and human rights violations, which are alleged to have occurred in Liberia during the Second Liberian Civil War (1999 to 2003). The Prosecution explained that the alleged acts constitute serious violations of international law that the State of Finland is obliged to prosecute, even if these crimes did not occur on Finnish soil. The Prosecution claimed that Mr. Massaquoi is responsible for the various charged acts as a direct perpetrator and as a superior under the doctrine of command responsibility, due to his senior position in the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Mr. Massaquoi does not deny that the alleged acts occurred. However, he denies his responsibility for each of the charges, stating that he was not in Liberia at the relevant times. 

The trial will move to West Africa at a later date to allow the Court to conduct a judicial examination of the crime sites in Liberia, and to hear witnesses in both Liberia and Sierra Leone. 

As is standard practice in Finnish criminal hearings, both the Defense and Prosecution began by presenting the charges and relevant documentary evidence. The judicial panel, chaired by District Judge Paiho, heard evidence from the Prosecution, led by State Prosecutor Mr. Tom Laitinen, and Mr. Massaquoi’s defense team, Mr. Kaarle Gummerus and Ms. Paula Sallinen.

Charges

On 3 February, 2021 (Day 1), the Prosecution charged Mr. Massaquoi with four categories of crimes. As Finnish law has been amended since 2003, the following crimes were charged according to the law in effect at the time of the alleged acts:

  • Murder (three counts) committed in Yandehun and Kamahatun Hassala in Lofa County, and in Monrovia, Republic of Liberia.
    • These were charged under Chapter 21, §§ 1(1) and 2(1)(1)-(2) of the Criminal Code of Finland.
  • Aggravated Rape (two counts) in Kamatahun Hassala and Foya in Lofa County, Republic of Liberia.
    • These were charged under Chapter 21, §§ 1(1) and 2(1)(1)-(2) of the Criminal Code of Finland.
  • Aggravated War Crimes (twelve counts) in Kamatahun Hassala, Yandehun, and Foya in Lofa County, Klay (presumably in Bomi County), in Monrovia, and surrounding areas in the Republic of Liberia:
    • Murder as a war crime (three counts);
    • Rape as a war crime (three counts);
    • Forced labor as a war crime (one count);
    • The use of a child soldier as a war crime (one count);
    • Maltreatment and mutilation of human remains as a war crime (one count);
    • Torture as a war crime (one count);
    • Violence to life, health, physical and mental well-being, including cruel treatment (two counts).
    • These war crimes were charged under Chapter 11, §§ 1(1) ¶3 and 5(1) of the Criminal Code of Finland in effect at the time, the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and the Second Additional Protocol of 1977.
  • Aggravated Violation of Human Rights in a State of Emergency (twelve counts) in Kamatahun Hassala and Yandehun in Lofa County, in Monrovia, and surrounding areas in the Republic of Liberia.
    • Each of the charges enumerated above were also charged as aggravated violations of human rights in a state of emergency.
    • They were charged under Chapter 11, §§ 4(1) and 5(1) of the Criminal Code of Finland in effect at the time, The Geneva Conventions of 1949, and the Second Additional Protocol of 1977.

The Prosecution seeks a life sentence for Mr. Massaquoi.

Theory of the Prosecution

The Prosecution introduced its case on 4 February 2021 (Day 2) by orienting the Court to the locations detailed in the Application of Summons (indictment) and presenting maps and photographs of the crime sites. It also provided the Court with the legal basis for the charges. 

The Prosecution noted that this case faces many challenges, such as: the length of time between the commission of the crimes and the present prosecution; cultural and societal differences; long-lasting traumatizing experiences; and the clear need to review credibility on an individual level. The Prosecution asked the Court to evaluate the evidence as a whole. 

The Prosecution presented its written evidence, including:

  • Records of 20 witnesses to the charged crimes, discovered by the Prosecution through various channels and specifically without the assistance of Civitas Maxima;
  • Portions of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, including a list of perpetrators of crimes which, though not mentioning Mr. Massaquoi specifically, did not reference members of the RUF generally, arguably because the interviewing form used with witnesses did not include the RUF among possible perpetrators;
  • A report written by Mr. Massaquoi (“The Secret Behind the Gun”), in which he admitted having previously deceived interviewers as to his actual location; and
  • Notes written by Mr. Massaquoi, found in a prison by a janitor, allegedly instructing key Defense witnesses, including his ex-wife, on how to testify in his case.

Theory of the Defense

As noted above, Mr. Massaquoi denied all charges, countering that he was not in Liberia at the time of the alleged crimes. To support this argument, the Defense challenged the credibility of the Prosecution’s witnesses, noted that the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission Reports did not mention “Gibril Massaquoi” in its findings of responsibility for violence, and offered numerous documents to demonstrate Mr. Massaquoi’s absence from Liberia during the alleged events. The Defense emphasized that the severity of the charges necessitated careful review of the evidence, noting that the Prosecution would require very strong evidence to meet the burden of proof, a task made more difficult due to the long period of time between the events and the Finnish investigation. 

The Defense then introduced its evidence, including:

  • Portions of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and its appendices to highlight the absence of the name “Gibril Massaquoi”;
  • News articles, press releases, letters, and even website metadata, indicating Mr. Massaquoi’s absence from Liberia during the time period in question;
  • Photographs and video clips featuring Mr. Massaquoi, for identification purposes in witness interviews.

Summary of Emerging Themes

In the first week of hearings, a few overarching themes emerged. 

One theme concerned the sufficiency of evidence placing Mr. Massaquoi in Liberia at the time of the alleged acts. Mr. Massaquoi claimed he was not in Liberia at the relevant times and has denied responsibility for the charged crimes based on this claim. The Defense noted that it is therefore up to the Prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Massaquoi was present at the crime sites for the acts charged against him as a direct perpetrator, and that he exercised sufficient authority as a commander of the RUF to be held liable for the actions of other RUF members under the doctrine of command responsibility. 

A second theme that emerged from the Defense relates to the legitimacy of the case against Mr. Massaquoi, as well as the credibility of witnesses for the Prosecution who were identified by two NGOs: the Swiss group, Civitas Maxima, and the Liberian group, the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP). The Prosecution responded by explaining its plan to call witnesses who were not presented by these NGOs.

For its part, the Prosecution seeded concern about the credibility of Mr. Massaquoi, noting both his motivation and ability to misrepresent his location at key times, as well as the reliability of several pieces of the Defense’s documentary evidence.

These themes are expected to reappear throughout the narrative of the trial.

The trial is scheduled to continue next week in Finland on Monday, 8 February 2021, at 10:00 A.M local time.

08/02/21 [Finland] Day 4: Presentation of Documentary Evidence (continued)

The fourth day of public hearings resumed with the Defense presentation of documentary evidence.

Defense Counsel for Mr. Massaquoi, Mr. Kaarle Gummerus, began by presenting the following:

  • Exhibit D41: News article from the Concord Times, July 2001

According to the Defense, Mr. Massaquoi gave an interview on 17 July 2001 to the Concord Times about the attacks against the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) peacekeepers in Makeni, Sierra Leone. The Defense asserted that the reporter was located in Makeni but acknowledged this was not a proven fact. 

  • Exhibit D42: News article from L’Express, 26 July 2001

The Defense then asserted that this article indicates that Mr. Massaquoi was at the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) base in Makeni on or slightly before that date. The Defense stated that the reporter noted that Mr. Massaquoi was sitting under a mango tree while they spoke. State Prosecutor, Mr. Tom Laitinen, asked whether the reporter was physically in Makeni, or if Mr. Massaquoi himself had told the reporter that he was sitting under a mango tree. The Defense could not confirm whether the reporter witnessed Mr. Massaquoi in Makeni. 

  • Exhibit D43: Press release from Reliefweb, 7 August 2001

The Defense presented this UNAMSIL press release, indicating that Mr. Massaquoi was in Makeni at the opening of the Sierra Leonean Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Community Sensitization Program earlier that week. The Defense noted that Mr. Massaquoi gave comments at the event, thereby demonstrating that he was in Sierra Leone on 2 August 2001. 

  • Exhibit D44: Communiqué on Reliefweb, 10 August 2001

The Defense next presented a UNAMSIL communiqué they claim indicates Mr. Massaquoi was in Kenema, Sierra Leone (roughly 250 kilometers east of Freetown) on 10 August 2001, where he took part in the agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and the RUF regarding the extension of the Kono disarmament. According to the Defense, Mr. Massaquoi signed papers relating to the agreement in Kenema. The Defense noted, however, that they have not yet been able to corroborate this theory with primary sources of evidence.

  • Exhibit D45: News article from Sierra Leone Web, August 2001

The Defense stated that, on 13 August 2001, Mr. Massaquoi gave an interview to the BBC concerning the events in Kenema. The BBC archive has been closed due to COVID-19, however, and as such, Defense Counsel stated that they could not obtain the original interview to verify where it took place. The Defense also stated that Mr. Massaquoi was in Freetown when the police raided his apartment on 20 August 2001. 

The Prosecution questioned whether one could be certain of Mr. Massaquoi’s whereabouts based on this piece of evidence.

  • Exhibit D46: Letter to the United Nations, August 2001

The Defense presented a letter from Mr. Massaquoi to the UN, dated 17 August 2001. The Defense conceded that it was Mr. Massaquoi himself who said he was in Makeni when he signed the letter.

  • Exhibit D47: UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Report, February 2002

The Defense then presented the November 2002 Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Its Causes and Consequences, based on her mission to Sierra Leone (21-29 August 2001).  In the Report, the Special Rapporteur stated that she met with Mr. Massaquoi. The Defense acknowledged that the exact date of their meeting was not clear from the report.

  • Exhibit D48: News article from the Concord Times, 23 August 2001

This article noted that Mr. Massaquoi had visited the Concord Times office in Freetown the day prior.

  • Exhibit D49: Letter to the United Nations, 27 August 2001

The Defense stated that Mr. Massaquoi signed this letter to the UN while he was in Makeni. The letter described a meeting to be held in September at RUF headquarters. The Prosecution again noted that it was Mr. Massaquoi himself who explained his whereabouts.

  • Exhibit D50: Press release from Reliefweb (orig. UNAMSIL), 1 September 2001

The Defense presented this press release as evidence that Massaquoi met with the Acting Force Commander of UNAMSIL in Makeni on either 30 August or 1 September 2001. According to the article, the discussion related to a meeting scheduled for 3 September 2001 in Kono.

  • Exhibit D51: News article from the Standard Times, 7 September 2001

The Defense then presented this article to show Mr. Massaquoi took part in a meeting in Kono from 3 to 4 September 2001. Mr. Massaquoi commented on the meeting, but it was not clear from the article if he was present. 

  • Exhibit D52: Statement by the Concord Times, September 2001

On 10 September 2001, the Concord Times made a statement which noted that “the other day Gibril Massaquoi was in our office.” The Defense cited this statement as evidence that Mr. Massaquoi was in Freetown around the 8 September 2001. The exact day of the visit, however, was not clear.

  • Exhibit D53: News article from the Concord Times, September 2001

On 10 September 2001, Mr. Massaquoi gave an interview to the Concord Times in Makeni. The Defense asserted that this interview showed Mr. Massaquoi’s motives and interests during that time.

  • Exhibit D54: News report from Reliefweb (orig. UNAMSIL), September 2001

This article, dated 19 September 2001, stated that Mr. Massaquoi took part in a Joint Committee on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) meeting as a member of the RUF delegation on 18 September 2001. The article also referenced upcoming meetings, including one scheduled for 11 October 2001 in Freetown.

  • Exhibit D55: Photograph in a news article from Justiceinfo.net, April 2020 

This article included a photograph of Mr. Massaquoi captioned “Gibril Massaquoi, when he was spokesman for the Revolutionary United Front, speaking to journalists in Makeni, northern Sierra Leone, in September 2001.” The Defense noted that they do not have access to an international photograph repository, so the only available information related to the photograph is the caption.

  • Exhibit D56: News article from Sierra Leone Web, October 2001

This Sierra Leone Web article from October 2001 purportedly showed that Mr. Massaquoi took part in a conference on 11 October 2001. The Defense acknowledged that, though Mr. Massaquoi commented on the conference, they could not confirm whether he took part in it. 

The same article reported that on 15 October 2001, Mr. Massaquoi announced he was moving from Makeni to Freetown, where the RUF’s new offices were located. On 29 October 2001, he responded to reports of his alleged expulsion by RUF leadership from Makeni to Freetown. The Defense pointed to this exhibit to show Mr. Massaquoi was in Makeni or Freetown during this time.

  • Exhibit D57: News article from Reliefweb (orig. Reuters),  31 October 2001

This article stated that Mr. Massaquoi was in Tongo “last week,” thus suggesting he was there between 22 and 26 October 2001. The Prosecution requested the source of this information, but the Defense could not offer anything beyond what was stated in the article.

  • Exhibit D58: Sierra Leone Humanitarian Situation Report, October-November 2001

This report by the UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) covered the period from 16 October to 5 November 2001. It describes the UN evacuation of Mr. Massaquoi to Freetown at the end of October 2001 due to conflicts within the RUF. The Defense did not claim that the reporter was present during the evacuation.

  • Exhibit D59: News Article from Reliefweb (orig. The Christian Science Monitor), 7 November 2001

In this article, a reporter described Mr. Massaquoi as someone who “fiddles with his heavy gold rings…”. The Defense inferred from this detail that the reporter spoke with Mr. Massaquoi in person while in Makeni. The Defense conceded, however, that the exact date of the meeting was unclear.

[…] a reporter described Mr. Massaquoi as someone who “fiddles with his heavy gold rings…” Artistic impression by JP Kalonji.
  • Exhibit D60: Report from Reliefweb (Sierra Leone Humanitarian Situation Report), March 2002:

The final piece of evidence presented by Defense in the morning session was this OCHA report covering the period of 1-31 March 2002. The report stated that, on 24 March 2002, former RUF combatants attacked Mr. Massaquoi in Segbwema, Kailahun District, Sierra Leone.

The morning session ended at 11:30.

[Break]

The afternoon session started at 12:46.

The Defense continued with a presentation of documentary evidence, summarized with relevant discussion as follows:

  • Exhibit D61: News article from the Sierra Leone Web,  3 April 2002

In this article Mr. Massaquoi gave a phone interview. The article referenced internal conflict within the RUF and stated that Mr. Massaquoi pledged his support to Mr. Foday Sankoh.

  • Exhibit D62: News article from the Concord Times, 19 April 2002

According to this article, Mr. Massaquoi personally delivered a protest letter to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the Concord Times.

  • Exhibit D63: News article from the Concord Times, 22 April 2002

This article referred to ongoing internal conflict within the RUF. The Defense noted this quarrel might become relevant later in the trial.

  • Exhibit D64: News article from Sierra Leone Web, September 2002 

This article stated that Mr. Massaquoi had a fishing project which he said would continue for the next 18 months. In the article, Mr. Massaquoi distanced himself from the RUF, claiming that he had no political links to them, and that he had no involvement with executions within the RUF or with hostilities towards civilians.

  • Exhibit D65: Out Of Court Statements Made By TF1-046 to SCSL Office of the Prosecutor

This was a list of statements made by Mr. Massaquoi for the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) Office of the Prosecutor (OTP). Each statement featured a date and a place that demonstrated when and where they were given. The Prosecution questioned whether Mr. Massaquoi sent the statements to the OTP himself. The Defense replied that he had, and that there were also oral statements recorded in the OTP offices. As an example, the Defense referred to a recording of Mr. Massaquoi on 3 December 2002 in which he was heard saying “we are sitting here at the offices in Freetown.” The Defense also referred to statements that Mr. Massaquoi signed and dated. In response, the Prosecution asked whether there were stamps that acknowledged when the statements were received. The Defense said that there were not.

  • Exhibit D66: News article from Sierra Leone Web, October 2002

According to this article, Mr. Massaquoi was questioned by Sierra Leone’s Criminal Investigations Department. The Defense asserted that, because it was the Sierra Leone Criminal Investigations Department, it could be presumed to have happened in Sierra Leone.

  • Exhibit D67: Witness Protection Agreement, 23 October 2002 

This agreement for witness protection (presumably for testimony before the SCSL) was signed on 23 October 2002. Mr. Massaquoi was told that everything he said could be used against him if he committed human rights violations, and thus there was a risk in cooperating with the SCSL investigation. 

Following the presentation of this exhibit, Mr. Laitinen and Mr. Gummerus discussed the phrasing of the document, agreeing that it warned of possible risk of prosecution.

  • Exhibit D68: News article from Sierra Leone Web, March 2003

According to this article, Mr. Massaquoi’s fishing project was accepted. Defense Counsel noted that, according to the article, Sierra Leone’s former Head of State, Mr. Johnny Paul Koroma, was still alive at the time of publication.

  •  Exhibit D69: Police Report on Finding Witnesses

This exhibit listed witnesses and detailed how and when they were found. The Defense pointed out that Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) used individuals associated with Civitas Maxima to interview witnesses in 2018, and therefore, there was a link between this case and the organisation. The Defense listed several witnesses located in Monrovia that they claimed were related to Civitas Maxima. The Defense also noted that the name “Angel Gabriel” came up in the witness hearings. The Defense questioned how certain individuals could know that some of the witnesses in this trial were former soldiers. The Defense also stated that some witnesses were found with the help of others who had a link to Civitas Maxima. The Defense then highlighted that this witness group’s identification percentage was much higher than any other. According to the Defense, over 90% of information was shared between these witnesses prior to the interviews. The Defense asserted that issues relevant to this case had been discussed with the witnesses. 

The Prosecution then briefly rebutted by stating that there was no difference between witnesses that were not to be heard in this process and those that will be heard. 

The presentation of this evidence ended with the Defense asserting that there were many problematic witnesses on the list, and that certain witnesses had information about the matters relevant to the case before the NBI carried out its interviews.

  • Exhibit D70: News article from CNN, 14 August 2003

The Defense presented this article, titled “Hungry Liberians storm port”, to provide historical and contextual background. It described events during a food shortage in Monrovia, which, the Defense noted, led to robberies. According to the Defense, this evidence also regarded where witnesses were during certain events. The Defense asserted that Mr. Massaquoi was already in a safehouse and thus could not have been at the port. The Prosecution asked the Defense whether it presumed that, when witnesses spoke about robberies, they were speaking about this particular event. The Defense stated that, if witnesses made statements about food shortages and robberies, it would be in reference to events occurring in 2003, even if the witnesses could not remember the year correctly. The Defense also clarified that the port was the Port of Monrovia.

  • Exhibit D71: News article from the Guardian, 28 June 2003

This article, titled, “Hundreds killed in Monrovia chaos,” described a four-day battle for Monrovia, which took place while the people of the city struggled with hunger and potential epidemics. 

While presenting this article, the Defense explained that in the summer of 2003, 42 people were murdered on the Johnson Street Bridge in Monrovia. This evidence was presented to pre-emptively raise the credibility of certain witnesses. The Defense asked the Court to specifically note that Johnson Street Bridge was in the Waterside area. The Prosecution noted that there was another bridge there and both parties agreed that they would need to mark the boundaries of the Waterside area. 

  • Exhibit D72: Video Clip Used for Identification

A video clip was shown to the court, with no additional comments.

  • Exhibit D73: Associated Press Archive Video

The Defense stated that this video would show that Mr. Massaquoi was in Lunsar on 23 July 1999. The video could not be shown to the court, however, due to technical issues.

  • Exhibit D74: Interview with Mr. Gibril Massaquoi, May 2001 (video and metadata)

The Defense presented a videotaped interview with Mr. Massaquoi, along with the video’s metadata, which indicated that the video was filmed in Makeni and published on 12 May 2001.

  • Exhibit D75: Expert Opinion regarding the timing of “World War I, II and III” 

The Defense noted that in March 2003, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) had moved towards Monrovia, but had not yet arrived. The Defense raised this because they believed witnesses were likely to discuss it, and that they would like expert opinion on whether such things happened in 2001 or 2002. The Defense said that they had located an expert who had conducted research about the situation in Monrovia in 2003 and earlier. The Prosecution had no objection to the use of experts generally but warned that experts may not be able to speak to all the things that witnesses describe.

  • Exhibit D76: Picture of Mr. Gibril Massaquoi

The Defense proffered this picture, taken in Sierra Leone and dated 26 September 2001, while also referring to an article in Helsingin Sanomat, dated September 2001. The Defense noted that metadata from international photograph repositories would make it easier to demonstrate the relevant dates.

  • Exhibit D77: News article from the Concord Times, 29 November 2001 

According to this article, titled, “Makeni Declared No-Go Area for RUF Spokesman,” Mr. Massaquoi escaped Makeni after having some problems with his superior. Mr. Massaquoi relayed this information to the press and was said to have been in Freetown waiting for an investigation.

The hearing ended at 15:09 and will resume on Thursday, 11 February 2021.

11/02/21 [Finland] Day 5: Mr. Massaquoi is Heard

NOTE: During today’s hearing, there were persistent difficulties in hearing the various names, places, and acronyms referenced, even for the Judges. This resulted in the Court providing Mr. Massaquoi with a board, upon which he could write the various names, places and acronyms that were difficult to hear. The board, however, was not visible to the audience. Where we were unable to accurately capture statements that seemed relevant to Mr. Massaquoi’s defense, we have indicated that there is a gap in the information with [information unclear].

The fifth day of public hearings opened with the Judge announcing that Mr. Massaquoi, the Accused, would be heard today. He explained that the Defense, led by Mr. Gummerus, may ask questions first, and following that, the Prosecution, led by Mr. Laitinen, may also ask questions. The Judge stated that the Accused is under no obligation to answer the questions or to answer truthfully. 

Mr. Gummerus began, explaining that the hearing will consist of several parts. The Defense would start with the history and background of Mr. Massaquoi’s life, and then focus on relevant places, times, and dates. Additionally, the Defense would go through the persons involved. Mr. Gummerus explained that the events will be addressed chronologically and at the end of the questioning, there will be individual questions related to the investigation.

Personal background and joining the RUF

The Defense proceeded to ask Mr. Massaquoi about his background, including when and where he was born, where he was from, and what his educational background was. Mr. Massaquoi answered that he was born on 17 October 1969 in Kenema, Sierra Leone. He elaborated that he attended primary- and secondary-level schools in the southern part of Sierra Leone and that he began teaching in 1991. 

After explaining Mr. Massaquoi’s background, the Defense followed up by asking him when the RUF attacked. Mr. Massaquoi answered that the RUF attack happened in April 1991, when he was teaching. A few days after the attack, the RUF began opening offices there in order to take care of administrative matters. Mr. Massaquoi explained that he was one of the persons who started working in these offices. 

Mr. Gummerus then asked Mr. Massaquoi why he was one of the ones who was chosen to work in the office. Mr. Massaquoi responded that he was actually chosen quite randomly to work in one of the offices. Following the question of whether he was working there voluntarily, Mr. Massaquoi confirmed that he was not paid for working there. The Defense asked him whether he joined the armed activity and whether he had any military training. Mr. Massaquoi confirmed that he did. He mentioned that he had once left the office to return to his mother’s town after hearing she had been threatened. Upon his return to the RUF office, he was accused of providing information to the government and sent to military training with a few other men. 

Mr. Gummerus proceeded to ask Mr. Massaquoi what his activities were after the military training he received in the RUF. In response, Mr. Massaquoi explained that the military training lasted for three weeks. After the training, the Government troops attacked and the RUF had to retreat towards the Liberian border. Mr. Massaquoi explained that the RUF was close to the Liberian border, when Government troops also moved towards the border. Mr. Massaquoi stated that he was in one of the units pushing the Government troops back. 

Roles within the RUF and 1997-1999 imprisonment

The Defense then asked Mr. Massaquoi about his position in the RUF and the battles he participated in, as well as the years in which he took part in the combat. Mr. Massaquoi stated that he was first a Deputy Commander and was later promoted to Commander. He explained that Alligator Forces were responsible for one of the main roads and the surrounding areas in 1993 until 1994. After being asked how his position in the RUF evolved, Mr. Massaquoi explained that, in 1995, he was relocated north by the leaders of the RUF, where he was a Commander. He stayed until 1996 when he became sick. Mr. Massaquoi explained that at this point in 1996, there was a ceasefire between the Government and the RUF. He was sent to the Ivory Coast to receive treatment. In 1997, Mr. Massaquoi had recovered and the RUF made him their spokesperson.

The Defense then proceeded to ask Mr. Massaquoi about his role as a spokesperson. Mr. Massaquoi responded that during that time he did not attend armed activities, as he lived in the Ivory Coast. While he was no longer an RUF commander, people still called him a commander . 

Mr. Gummerus then asked Mr. Massaquoi what happened in 1999 and why he ended up in prison. Mr. Massaquoi explained that he and the leader of the RUF, Mr. Foday Sankoh, were in Nigeria at that time. At the instructions of Mr. Sankoh, Mr. Massaquoi returned to Sierra Leone in 1997, where a new government had been formed. RUF was part of the new government. Two months into his return to Sierra Leone, Mr. Massaquoi had left the capital and was heading towards the countryside when he was arrested on allegations that he had acted for the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). During his detention, Mr. Massaquoi was asked whether the RUF planned to overthrow the Government. 

Mr. Gummerus than asked Mr. Massaquoi how long he was imprisoned during this time. Mr. Massaquoi noted the internal conflict within the RUF and stated that he was imprisoned from October 1997 until 6 April 1999. 

Organization of the RUF and Mr. Massaquoi’s evolving role

Following this exchange, Mr. Gummerus asked if Mr. Massaquoi could describe what the structure of the RUF was like during his imprisonment. Mr. Massaquoi described RUF battle commanders and area commanders he had known before going to prison. The Defense asked Mr. Massaquoi to explain his relationship with people within the RUF. Mr. Massaquoi replied that the commander of the western area, Dennis Mingo, was one of the people he was closest with in the RUF, along with one other area commander. He elaborated that he did not get along very well with the other members of the RUF and highlighted that these people tried to kill him when he was released from prison. The Defense requested the names of these other people, and Mr. Massaquoi gave three names.

The Defense moved on to ask what the chain of command was like when Mr. Massaquoi was released from prison. Mr. Massaquoi responded by stating that the chain of command consisted of former members of the AFRC who attacked Freetown and released them. Mr. Massaquoi stated that he was with them for a week and then left for the mountains, where he got information on the chain of command. When he returned, there had been many changes. For example, a Commander had become Chief of Defense Staff, and the colonels were now all generals. The Judge asked for a clarification of the names since it was very difficult to hear. Mr. Massaquoi repeated himself and clarified that the structure of the RUF was completely different from how he knew it before he was imprisoned. 

When asked what position he held in the RUF in 1999, Mr. Massaquoi replied that he had no position. He explained that he next arrived in Waterloo, Sierra Leone, where he met Dennis Mingo (identified by Mr. Massaquoi using his alias, Superman), one of his friends. Mr. Massaquoi stayed there with Mr. Mingo, where they both were under threat of arrest. Mr. Massaquoi explained that there was an internal dispute dividing the RUF. Mr Massaquoi clarified that he was on Mr. Sankoh’s side. Meanwhile, the internal fight continued as ceasefire negotiations were underway. It was agreed that Mr. Massaquoi would go to the negotiation events. 

As some parts of Mr. Massaquoi’s narration were difficult to hear, Mr. Gummerus began to ask Mr. Massaquoi whether he could spell something out. At this point, the Judge informed the parties that there would soon be a break. 

Peace Negotiations and work with RUF chief, Mr. Foday Sankoh

When asked about the essential conditions for the RUF for the Peace Agreement. Mr. Massaquoi explained that these included Mr. Sankoh becoming the vice president and the RUF receiving four ministry positions. Since it was mentioned that Mr. Sankoh would become the head of mineral resources, Mr. Gummerus asked what the main mineral sources were. Mr. Massaquoi stated that there are many, including gold and iron.

The Judge called for a break of ten minutes, attempting to find a way for the judges to hear the names and locations Mr. Massaquoi was saying.  After ten minutes, the hearing continued. Mr. Massaquoi had been given a writing board for writing names when they are difficult to hear. The board was not visible to the audience. 

After the break, the Defense picked up from where they left off, asking Mr. Massaquoi to continue talking about what happened after the Peace Agreement. Mr. Massaquoi explained that in September, there was a meeting in Monrovia, Liberia. He and his companions traveled to the meeting, taking detours for safety. The Defense asked where he had been residing before this trip. Mr. Massaquoi answered that he had been living in Makeni. The Defense interrupted to ask what his position was in Makeni. Mr. Massaquoi responded that his position was somewhat unclear, but he was a secretary in the Commission for the Management of Mineral Resources (CMMRE). He also participated in the peace negotiations, which included meetings with officials from the commission that worked on disarmament and recovery. 

Mr. Gummerus then asked Mr. Massaquoi whether he could tell the Court more about his time there between 1999 and 2000. Mr. Massaquoi said that he remembers attending meetings in November 1999 and plans to work on disarmament activities in early 2000. When asked, Mr. Massaquoi described a few meetings he attended in late 1999, including an attempt to travel to the Kailahun area that was aborted for security reasons. Mr. Massaquoi said that Mr. Sankoh was ‘a crazy person’ by mid-December 1999. 

The Defense moved on to 2000, and asked about his position as a Special Assistant to Mr. Sankoh. Mr. Massaquoi clarified that this was from October 1999 until October 2000. 

Mr. Gummerus started with a question about a trip to South Africa. Mr. Massaquoi explained that the group first went to the Ivory Coast and then to South Africa with Mr. Sankoh. The trip was to inform a group of companies in South Africa, particularly mining companies, that they were interested in conducting mining operations in Sierra Leone. Mr. Massaquoi explained that they came back the same route but spent three days in the Ivory Coast since Mr. Sankoh wanted to meet the former Prime Minister of the Ivory Coast. Mr. Sankoh also met other Ivorian officials. Mr. Massaquoi reiterated that these meetings were the reason for their three-day stop. He then returned to Freetown. 

The Defense next asked whether anything remarkable happened in the spring. Mr. Massaquoi explained that over 500 United Nations Peacekeepers were kidnapped while he was in Freetown. Mr. Massaquoi said that they did their best to calm the situation. The Defense asked Mr. Massaquoi who was responsible for the kidnapping; he responded that it was RUF troops from the north. He elaborated that almost all members of the RUF were imprisoned in Freetown at this time. Demonstrators, supported by armed troops, demanded that Mr. Sankoh come and speak to them. When Mr. Sankoh did not, the demonstrators became violent. Several people died in these demonstrations on 8 May 2000

Mr. Massaquoi explained that he had managed to climb a fence during the gunfire and escape towards the Peninsula Mountains. A few days later, Mr. Massaquoi heard that Mr. Sankoh had surrendered and there were attempts to start new peace negotiations. He noted that this meeting was in June of 2000. For this meeting, Mr. Massaquoi was appointed to lead an outside delegation, which was based in Monrovia, Liberia. 

The morning session ended at 12.04.

[Break]

The afternoon session started at 13.00.

More travel to Liberia, Mali, Nigeria in 2000

The hearing continued with the Defense questioning Mr. Massaquoi about his travel to Monrovia, including the route taken to reach the city and the time period in which it took place. Mr. Massaquoi explained that he had left for Monrovia sometime in August of 2000.  Along the way, he had learned the names of some of the villages, but he could not remember all of their names. Additionally, Mr. Massaquoi noted that certain routes to Monrovia were controlled by the Government and thus inaccessible. 

Mr. Gummerus continued this line of questioning by asking Mr. Massaquoi for details about the journey. Mr. Massaquoi explained that in order to cross the border to Monrovia, one must cross a bridge which leads to Grand Cape Mount. Additionally, he noted that he is very familiar with the territory, as it is the area he is from and where he had been teaching. He explained that the trip to Monrovia would take approximately 24-30 hours, depending on whether one started in Kono District or Makeni. Finally, Mr. Massaquoi noted that they had taken breaks on the way to Monrovia, but that he had no recollection of the villages in which they stopped.

The Defense then proceeded to question Mr. Massaquoi about his time in Monrovia. Mr. Massaquoi stated that while in Monrovia, he lived in the Sinkor area with a member of the RUF delegation. The Accused also had a girlfriend in Monrovia called Etna. Mr. Massaquoi stated that he and the RUF delegation arrived in Monrovia on 20 August to participate in peace negotiations. Mr. Gummerus asked Mr. Massaquoi about ECOWAS (Economic Community for West African States) and its importance to the visit. He replied that ECOWAS was responsible for the peace negotiations, and that while they were in Monrovia, the RUF delegation met with President Charles Taylor several times.

Following this, Mr. Gummerus asked about a trip to Mali and subsequent return to Monrovia. Mr. Massaquoi stated that the RUF delegation was in Mali for two days in October, and that they met the President of Mali before returning to Monrovia. Mr. Massaquoi stated that they had returned by road, but that he could not recall the villages they had passed. He also explained that the RUF delegation had arranged meetings upon return to Monrovia, including another with President Taylor. Following these meetings, the RUF delegation travelled to Abuja, Nigeria.

Mr. Gummerus proceeded by questioning Mr. Massaquoi on the RUF delegation’s visit in Abuja, and the RUF delegation’s subsequent return to Sierra Leone. Mr. Massaquoi stated that the RUF delegation stayed in Abuja for a day or two and took part in a meeting that resulted in the completion of the Abuja Ceasefire Agreement. The Agreement contained specifics on releasing UN Peacekeepers and ending hostilities in Sierra Leone. Mr. Massaquoi stated that the trip from Abuja to Sierra Leone took approximately 20 hours by road. The RUF delegation stayed in Sierra Leone for a day or two. 

The Defense continued by asking Mr. Massaquoi to describe how he came to know someone called “Colonel Eagle”. Mr. Massaquoi stated that the RUF delegation met Colonel Eagle in the city of Voinjama [Lofa County]. He noted that on the way to Voinjama, there were several checkpoints, but the RUF delegation were let through easily; all the soldiers along the way were armed. 

Mr. Gummerus continued by asking about events which occurred in November in Monrovia. Mr. Massaquoi stated that they had many meetings related to the peace process in Sierra Leone over the course of several days, including another meeting with President Charles Taylor. Following this, Mr. Massaquoi stated that he visited Monrovia again in December, where he met some Arabs with someone named Ibrahim Bah.  Mr. Massaquoi explained that he gave diamonds to Ibrahim Bah and then returned to Makeni to spend Christmas with his family. 

Defense counsel asked about the diamonds and more travel around Liberia and Sierra Leone. Mr. Massaquoi stated that Ibrahim Bah had taken the diamonds to President Charles Taylor for safekeeping. Additionally, he noted that he (Mr. Massaquoi) took a helicopter to Liberia, landing in Foya, Lofa County. Following this, he traveled back to Makeni into Sierra Leone, for a meeting requested by a special forces soldier called Benjamin [Yeaten]. Mr. Massaquoi then returned to Lofa County and then went on to Monrovia. This all likely happened in January.  

Peace Agreement developments, 2001

Mr. Gummerus questioned the Accused about the political situation in January in Monrovia and the relationship between the RUF and the Liberian government. Mr. Massaquoi explained that it was peaceful in Monrovia and the relationship between both sides was free of conflict. He added that he returned because nothing was done in regard to the peace negotiations. The Defense then asked about “Abuja II” and its significance. According to Mr. Massaquoi, “Abuja II” was a follow-up agreement between the RUF and the Sierra Leonean government pertaining to disarmament. It was very significant and following that, they had tri-party negotiations. Mr. Gummerus asked what he did after the negotiations. Mr. Massaquoi answered that they spent a night in Monrovia. They then flew to Abuja by private plane and stayed there for two days.

Following a break, Mr. Gummerus continued the questioning about Mr. Massaquoi’s involvement in the “Abuja II” negotiations and the details surrounding it. Mr. Massaquoi explained that the negotiations were a tri-party meeting involving the RUF, the Sierra Leonean government, and the United Nations. The objective of the negotiations was disarmament and recovery. The negotiations started in May 2001 in Freetown. They were held once every month until December 2001. Most of the meetings were in Freetown, but they also took place around the country, including in Makeni. Mr. Massaquoi stated that he did not recall the number of times they had been summoned; however, the disarmament started in May 2001. As the RUF representative, he was involved in almost every meeting. 

The Defense then asked Mr. Massaquoi if he could recall not attending any of the meetings [information unclear].

Final trip to Liberia was in 2002

When asked about his last time in Liberia, Mr. Massaquoi said that it was at the end of June 2002 and he was only there to pick up his car and things he had left behind. On this trip, he heard about the death of Dennis Mingo. He later met General Benjamín Yeaten who told him the same thing. According to Mr. Massaquoi, Mr. Mingo was killed because he went to the American embassy. He noted that the “Arabs” he had met earlier were gone, but on this trip, he met a Senegalese man who was involved in the same diamond deals. 

Mr. Gummerus asked about the significance of Mr. Mingo’s death. Mr. Massaquoi said that he had mixed feelings about it. General Benjamin Yeaten told him that enemy troops had killed Mr. Mingo when they came over the border. After this, Mr. Massaquoi affirmed that this was the last time he was in Liberia; the date he remembered is 28 June 2002. 

Defense returns to 2001

Asked about his return to Sierra Leone, Mr. Massaquoi replied that he continued the tri-party negotiations and lived in Makeni until the end of October 2001. Mr. Massaquoi stated that he was involved in many things. When he was in Freetown, he was involved in the activities of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of Sierra Leone. He also attended several meetings with the United Nations and was involved in ECOWAS meetings in Kono. He also drove a taxi in Freetown. He remembered an incident which involved a certain Alhaji Usman Kamara. According to Mr. Massaquoi, Mr. Kamara said he wanted to help Issa Sesay. Mr. Kamara stole money from Mr. Massaquoi and also stole his car so Mr. Massaquoi had to chase him in Freetown. Mr. Massaquoi states that he got his car back and submitted a police report. 

The Defense then played a video showing an interview in 2001. Mr. Massaquoi confirmed that he remembered the interview and said that it related to the Government’s statements about releasing prisoners. The Government intended to release the prisoners before the tri-party negotiations but it only happened afterward. Only 16 of the prisoners were RUF soldiers; the rest of around 40 prisoners were normal criminals. Mr. Massaquoi stated that he gave the BBC an interview about this via his satellite phone. 

Mr. Gummerus proceeded to ask Mr. Massaquoi about his return to Freetown. Mr. Massaquoi stated that he first stayed at a friend’s place in western Freetown. After that, he spent two weeks at his cousin’s place, a clay factory in eastern Freetown. He then got his own apartment in Kissy, Freetown. His family escaped Makeni and came to Freetown later.

The Defense then asked about the political situation in Sierra Leone at the end of 2001. Mr. Massaquoi said that by December 2001, the RUF was already disarmed. The war ended on 17 or 18 January 2002 and there was peace. 

Elections in Sierra Leone, 2002

Mr. Gummerus then questioned Mr. Massaquoi about whether he played any role in the Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP). Mr. Massaquoi stated that he had no role; they all met at the party office as individuals. Mr. Massaquoi was running for parliament but cancelled his candidacy a few weeks before the election because, according to the Sierra Leonean Constitution, only a person chosen by the party could represent it in parliament. He did not want to take part in it and wrote to the national election committee about it. He explained that his relationship with the RUFP executives was not good and he had criticized them for recruiting people into positions they had not been elected for. 

Mr. Gummerus, referencing the documentary evidence, next asked about an attack on Mr. Massaquoi’s car. Mr. Massaquoi stated that his car was attacked by the former security person of Issa Sesay, who smashed a large rock into his windscreen. 

Mr. Gummerus then went on to ask about the RUFP party house acquisition. The Accused replied that they went to Freetown to acquire a party house for the RUFP and the money was paid to someone in the UK. The Accused stated that the disagreements regarding acquisition of the party house lasted from August 2001, when the man in the UK was paid, until March 2002. 

Life after the 2002 elections

When asked about his life after the elections, Mr. Massaquoi stated that he continued his normal life with his family. The only thing he remembered is that the RUFP was not elected. He also met with the staff of the Truth Commission in his house. They questioned him for 5 days about the RUF. He also wrote a project for the NCDDR (National Committee for Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration). Following that, he wrote about a fishing project that included the education of 120 former soldiers in order to integrate them back into society. 

Mr. Massaquoi noted that, at some point, he received a phone call from a woman. He met up with her in Freetown in June or July 2002.  She told him that a special court was going to be set up in Sierra Leone and she wanted him to participate in the trials.

Mr. Gummerus then asked Mr. Massaquoi about Etna, his ex-girlfriend in Monrovia. Mr. Massaquoi stated that they became friends in Freetown and he got a call from her in July 2001 – she had a child. They met frequently in Freetown from 2001-2003. 

Finally, the Defense referred to a book, The Secret Behind the Gun, that had been confiscated by the prosecution. The book was about the RUF and the economic situation of Sierra Leone at the time. Mr. Gummerus asked Mr. Massaquoi if he had written the book. Mr. Massaquoi said he tried to write everything he knew, starting in 2000 or 2001, but some parts of it are written by other contributors. 

The hearing ended at 16:02 and will resume on Friday, 12 February 2021.



12/02/21 [Finland] Day 6: Mr. Massaquoi is Heard (continued)

The sixth day of public hearings opened with the Judge stating that the hearing was to continue from where it had left off the previous day. 

Relationship with the Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2002

The Defense, led by Mr. Gummerus, began by questioning the Accused, Mr. Massaquoi, about his whereabouts in August 2002. Mr. Massaquoi responded that on 14 August, 2002, he attended a meeting with people working for the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL): Corinne Dufka, Alan White, and David Crane. Mr. Massaquoi added that he met with these people every couple of days during August 2002, and that such gatherings included unofficial meetings and drinking. 

Next, the Defense questioned Mr. Massaquoi about the date on which he was approached to testify for the SCSL and why he required immunity. Mr. Massaquoi replied that he signed the witness protection document in October 2002, and that he needed immunity both for his role as a combatant and his role as a diamond transporter for the RUF. Mr. Massaquoi claimed that because there was a possibility that all RUF members could be arrested, his role as an insider increased his need for protection. Finally, Mr. Massaquoi said that he required protection for himself and his family because of concerns for their security. He noted that he had already been attacked at his safe house. 

The Defense continued its line of questioning by asking Mr. Massaquoi about statements made to the SCSL in late 2002 and about the significance of some of the dates mentioned in the statements. Mr. Massaquoi stated that there was an unrecorded general statement, along with additional statements made at various stages. Mr. Massaquoi also indicated that, on several occasions, he spoke with the SCSL team on the phone to arrange meetings with them. Mr. Massaquoi clarified that the dates in the statements are not necessarily indicative of when the statement was given, but rather of the date on which he handed the statement over to the SCSL. 

Return to Freetown, Sierra Leone in 2003

The Defense then proceeded to ask him about 2003, opening with a question about 9 March. Mr. Massaquoi recounted that on that day, he was driving to Freetown and was stopped by Issa Sesay on the road. Mr. Sesay told him that a court had been set up in Freetown and Mr. Sesay and others needed to escape Sierra Leone. Mr. Massaquoi recalled that he had been in possession of money from the [RUFP] Party House, and Issa Sesay and others needed this money for their escape. Mr. Massaquoi said that he and Mr. Sesay agreed to go and meet with President Charles Taylor. Mr. Massaquoi stated that he then contacted the SCSL’s Investigation Team, which agreed to meet the following morning.  Mr. Massaquoi additionally noted that the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) for the SCSL did not know who had tipped people off about the start of the trial. Mr. Massaquoi explained that RUF members had heard rumors that the SCSL would be starting trials soon and they were anxious to escape the country. Mr. Massaquoi concluded by stating that he told the OTP when the meeting with President Charles Taylor would be. Based on this information the OTP came to the meeting and arrested everyone. The OTP accused those present at the meeting of taking part in war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

Freetown safe house

Following the line of questions related to Freetown, the Defense asked Mr. Massaquoi about the circumstances of his safe house and to describe the safe house’s surroundings. Mr. Massaquoi testified that he met a man from the Witnesses and Victims Support Unit in Freetown’s Kissy neighborhood at around 23:00, after which he was taken to the safe house. Mr. Massaquoi noted that he was unfamiliar with the Pipeline area of Freetown, where the house was located. Mr. Massaquoi added that the safe house was constantly guarded by two security guards, no one was allowed to leave for months, and there was a tunnel for escape. Mr. Massaquoi concluded that the only other people in the safe house were his family and half-brother. 

Fame and hiding

The Defense questioned Mr. Massaquoi about the impact of the witness protection agreement, and whether it restricted Mr. Massaquoi’s future activities. Mr. Massaquoi replied that it was clear that if he were to commit any war crimes in Sierra Leone or another country, he could be accused of them. 

The Defense turned to a series of questions about Mr. Massaquoi’s level of fame during the 1990s and early 2000s. Mr. Massaquoi explained that he was not well-known in the 1990s, during his time as an activist and teacher. Mr. Massaquoi testified that in the 2000s, however, an increase in his media presence led to both his name and face being well-recognized in Sierra Leone. Mr. Massaquoi indicated that he was not sure how well-known he was in Liberia at the time, but that Liberian officials and some security people seemed to know him. He said he was well-known in Liberia because of his frequent press releases. 

Mr. Massaquoi further elaborated that he gave interviews to the Liberian media through his satellite phone at various locations throughout Sierra Leone. Mr. Massaquoi noted that he received his first satellite phone – the size of a laptop – from President Charles Taylor, along with instructions as to how to avoid having the call traced. According to Mr. Massaquoi, he was instructed to press an orange button prior to answering a call so that he could hide his physical location. In the beginning of 2000, Mr. Massaquoi obtained his own satellite phone. Mr. Massaquoi says that he only ever hid his location on one call, during a BBC interview. He noted that, in other calls, people demanded he reveal his location, even asking what the weather was like to ensure he was telling the truth.

The Defense asked Mr. Massaquoi whether he had personally witnessed violence in Liberia to which Mr. Massaquoi responded “no,” and noted that he was treated “as a diplomat’’ when in Liberia. He said he had never witnessed any violence in Lofa County, Liberia.

Vantaa Prison Note

Mr. Gummerus recalled that the Prosecution had raised the issue of the note in Mr. Massaquoi’s handwriting that had been found in Vantaa Prison by the cleaning staff. The Defense asked Mr. Massaquoi about the motivation behind writing the note for his family. [Other discussion of the Vantaa Prison note is available under the “04/02/21 [Finland] Day 2: Introducing the Case” daily summary.] Mr. Massaquoi contended that the note was not written to influence witnesses, emphasizing that all information contained within the note was public and that the note simply served as a reminder to the witnesses about how events took place twenty years ago. 

Moreover, Mr. Massaquoi explained that he had written the note because he felt that the police did not believe his testimony but instead believed the witnesses questioned in Lofa.

Prosecution begins with questions about knowledge and responsibility

After the Defense finished, the trial turned to the Prosecution’s questions. Mr. Laitinen, for the Prosecution, asked if there was war in Liberia between 1999-2003. Mr. Massaquoi stated that he was aware that there was war in some parts of Liberia, especially in Lofa near the border of Guinea. When asked about the perpetrators of the attacks, Mr. Massaquoi stated that he believed the attacks in Lofa County were launched from Guinea by an RUF army commander named Sam Bockarie (whom he identified using Mr. Bockarie’s alias, “Mosquito Spray”).

The Prosecutor asked Mr. Massaquoi to elaborate on visits to Liberia in 2000 and 2001. Mr. Massaquoi confirmed that he was in Monrovia and travelled through parts of Lofa where there was no conflict. He explained that he was at times unable to travel to southern Liberia because after the 1997 presidential election, the border between Liberia and Sierra Leone was occupied by government troops. It was impossible for the RUF to cross. When asked how he knew about the situation at the border, Mr. Massaquoi says he read about attacks committed by Mr. Bockarie between 1999 and 2001 “from Guinea to Lofa” when he was in prison.

The Prosecutor then asked Mr. Massaquoi whether he had heard about attacks in 2002 from the BBC, also asking him to clarify the RUF’s connection to the attacks. Mr. Massaquoi responded that he had also heard about the 2002 attacks from the news and that he was a spokesperson of the RUF at the time of the attacks, in 2002 and 2003. Additionally, Mr. Massaquoi stated that Mr. Bockarie had escaped to Liberia with his family in December 1999.

When asked about his position within the RUF at the time, Mr. Massaquoi explained that he was the group’s spokesperson and head of its peace delegation. When asked by the Prosecution whether he had been informed about these attacks, Mr. Massaquoi said that in this capacity, he was not responsible for RUF troops or for knowing about these attacks.

The Prosecution then asked if he was nonetheless responsible for asking questions about the troops. Mr. Massaquoi responded by saying that he was never interviewed about the RUF’s fights in Lofa County, as the RUF only operated in Sierra Leone and focused on supporting the Liberian government. Mr. Massaquoi explained that the RUF was helping the Liberian government regain control of Lofa from the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebel group. 

The Prosecution raised Mr. Massaquoi’s earlier mention of running into RUF troops en route to Lofa County, asking if those RUF troops had informed him of the situation in Liberia. Mr. Massaquoi said no, they had not. He was not a commander and so the RUF soldiers had no reason to report these things to him.

Following this, the Prosecutor asked Mr. Massaquoi why he was chosen to represent the RUF during peace negotiations if he was insignificant within the RUF and his knowledge about the conflict situation was so limited. Mr. Massaquoi explained that he was primarily involved with the political side of the RUF, with little involvement in the military structure. He explained he received information from RUF executives, not commanders. According to Mr. Massaquoi, he was chosen by the RUF to take part in peace negotiations due to his experience in peace negotiations. The Prosecution asked if the political and military arms of the RUF communicated with each other at all, to which Mr. Massaquoi confirmed that they were.

The morning session ended at 11:45.

[Break]

The afternoon session started at 13:30. 

As the hearing resumed, the Prosecution continued questioning Mr. Massaquoi. Mr. Laitinen sought to clarify Mr. Massaquoi’s intentions in writing the notes found in Vantaa prison. Mr. Massaquoi replied that his only intention was to remind people that their memory may not be perfect, especially after twenty years. 

Addressing inconsistencies: The death of Superman

The Prosecution then asked Mr. Massaquoi when he heard that Superman (Mr. Dennis Mingo) was dead. Mr. Massaquoi said that he found out in June 2001. Mr. Laitinen then asked whether Mr. Massaquoi remembered how he answered the same question during earlier investigations. Mr. Massaquoi stated he did not remember. Mr. Laitinen then noted that Mr. Massaquoi said on page one of the prior [SCSL?] investigation summary that he learned of Superman’s death between July and October. Mr. Massaquoi stated that if the date was anything other than June 2001, there was probably a mistake.

The Prosecution then asked if Mr. Massaquoi had seen Superman’s body, to which he replied “no.” Mr. Laitinen then showed Mr. Massaquoi part of the prior investigation summary in which he said he had gone to where Superman was said to have died and had seen his body. The Prosecution asked whether Mr. Massaquoi remembered this conversation. Mr. Massaquoi said that he remembered it, but that his security person had told him. Mr. Laitinen asked to invoke this as written evidence, which the judge approved. 

Addressing inconsistencies: Mr. Massaquoi’s role with the RUF 

The Prosecution moved his line of questioning to the time period in which Mr. Massaquoi had fought for the RUF, noting inconsistencies in what Mr. Massaquoi had said in yesterday’s hearings compared to what he had said during the investigation. Specifically, the Prosecution noted that yesterday, Mr. Massaquoi said he fought with the RUF from 1993 to 1994, whereas in the investigation, he had stated that he fought with the RUF between 1992 and 1996. Mr. Massaquoi clarified that there was not really a difference and that he had actually been fighting in 1993 and 1994.

Mr. Laitinen went on to ask him why he was called “commander” even after his role as a combatant in the RUF ceased. Mr. Massaquoi stated that because he was an RUF Lieutenant Colonel, many people still referred to him using his military rank even though he was a spokesman. This, Mr. Massaquoi explained, was due to the culture of the group. 

The Prosecution asked whether Mr. Massaquoi was the leader of the delegations that had previously been discussed, and Mr. Massaquoi confirmed he usually was. 

Addressing inconsistencies: Locations and modes of travel

Mr. Laitinen then shifted the questioning back to several villages Mr. Massaquoi mentioned yesterday. The Prosecution noted that, yesterday, Mr. Massaquoi had indicated that there were certain villages he could not remember that were along his routes when he traveled throughout the region. The Prosecution recalled that Mr. Massaquoi had mentioned an airstrip in Foya and asked whether Mr. Massaquoi remembered this airstrip or the villages Kamatahun Hassala and Yandehun. Mr. Massaquoi responded that he did not recall these places.

Mr. Laitinen referred again to yesterday’s hearing, in which Mr. Massaquoi stated he often went by car from Sierra Leone to Foya, Liberia, and from there by helicopter. Mr. Massaquoi recalled having flown from Monrovia to Foya, then taking a car from there to Sierra Leone. He recalled that the trip was usually a mixture of flights and car journeys. Mr. Laitinen then referenced the pretrial record, where Mr. Massaquoi had said that he always traveled by car. Mr. Massaquoi responded that was not true and stated that if the report said “always,” then it meant “often” or “frequently.” 

Mr. Laitinen then asked Mr. Massaquoi if he recalled the village Kailahun. Mr. Massaquoi noted that he only knew a Kailahun in Sierra Leone but not in Liberia. 

Addressing Inconsistencies: Meetings, diamond transportation, and Mr. Massaquoi’s car

The next line of questions focused on Mr. Benjamin Yeaten, Mr. Joseph “ZigZag” Marzah, and Sam “Mosquito” Bockarie, and inconsistencies between Mr. Massaquoi’s statements during this trial and statements he gave in earlier investigations. Mr. Massaquoi said he believes he remembers meeting them. Mr. Laitinen asked Mr. Massaquoi if he remembered his comments in earlier investigations regarding meeting Mr. Marzah. Mr. Laitinen produced these comments, in which Mr. Massaquoi said he never met Mr. Marzah. 

Mr. Laitinen continued this line of questioning, referencing Mr. Massaquoi’s book, The Secret Behind the Gun. The Prosecution pointed to a passage in which Mr. Massaquoi mentioned a discussion with Mr. Marzah. Mr. Massaquoi said that he may have met Mr. Marzah but could not remember. 

Mr. Laitinen then asked Mr. Massaquoi about his compensation for the transportation of diamonds for the former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor. Mr. Massaquoi recalled that diamonds were brought to Mr. Taylor but did not remember receiving anything for his role in their transportation. He also stated he was aware Mr. Taylor supported the RUF. 

Mr. Laitinen turned to Mr. Massaquoi’s earlier explanation that he returned to Monrovia to pick up his car, first asking why Mr. Massaquoi had a car in Monrovia. Mr. Massaquoi noted he was given the car due to his role in the RUF’s various delegations and did not actually own it. He also remembered being given the car around the end of June. Mr. Laitinen then questioned why Mr. Massaquoi specifically recalled the date being 28 June in the previous hearing. Mr. Massaquoi stated that it was an estimate based on the day he had left Monrovia and that his memory was not clear since it happened a long time ago. 

Addressing Inconsistencies: Mr. Massaquoi’s satellite phone and his location

The Prosecution then asked Mr. Massaquoi about his satellite phone, noting that Mr. Massaquoi had received it from Mr. Taylor and that it had an orange button which could be used to conceal location data during calls. The Prosecution asked whether Mr. Massaquoi had previously told a journalist that he was in Makeni when he was not. Mr. Massaquoi responded that he had done this once because he was specifically instructed by Mr. Taylor to do so. Mr. Taylor had explained that he wanted to distance himself from the RUF.

Mr. Laitinen turned back to Mr. Massaquoi’s book, asking whether Mr. Massaquoi recalled what he had written about hiding his location data when making calls with the satellite phone. Mr. Massaquoi did not, instead noting a conversation he recalled writing about in which Mr. Sesay called him back to Sierra Leone. Mr. Laitinen closed the day by displaying a part of the book in which Mr. Massaquoi wrote that on several occasions, he had said he was in Makeni (Sierra Leone), while actually being in Monrovia.

The hearing ended at 14:30 and continues next week in Monrovia.

Week in Review – Week 2

The second week of the Gibril Massaquoi trial ended on 12 February 2021, after three days of public hearings in Tampere, Finland. The first day of this week’s hearings comprised the continued presentation of documentary evidence by the Defense. On the second and third days, Mr. Massaquoi offered his own testimony to the Court and was questioned by both the Defense and the Prosecution.

Documentary Evidence from the Defense

On Day 4, the Defense continued to present documentary evidence to assert that Mr. Massaquoi was in Sierra Leone during the commission of the charged crimes in Liberia. This evidence included news articles, UN reports, letters from Mr. Massaquoi to the United Nations, statements given by Mr. Massaquoi to the Office of the Prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), Mr. Massaquoi’s witness protection agreement for the SCSL, a Finnish police report regarding the procurement of witnesses for Mr. Massaquoi’s trial, expert opinion as to the timing of events reported by witnesses, and photographs and video footage of Mr. Massaquoi. The Defense also submitted metadata of some of the material, which it asserted helped establish dates and locations of creation.

According to the Defense, the documentary evidence demonstrates that Mr. Massaquoi was present in Sierra Leone, not Liberia, during the time of the alleged acts. Additionally, the Defense presented evidence of deadly civil unrest in Monrovia in 2003, while Mr. Massaquoi was allegedly unable to leave a safehouse provided by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). For its part, the Prosecution questioned whether reporters had verified in person that Mr. Massaquoi was in Sierra Leone during these times, reminding that Mr. Massaquoi had previously misrepresented his location to the press.

Additionally, the Defense sought to undermine the reliability and credibility of the Prosecution’s witnesses by introducing a Finnish police report indicating the assistance of individuals associated with Civitas Maxima in locating and interviewing witnesses for the case. The Prosecution clarified that it would be calling witnesses it had found independently of Civitas Maxima and its local partner, Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP). The Defense asserted its position that, even so, many of those witnesses had likely shared information amongst themselves. Finally, the Defense presented the above-noted evidence regarding civil unrest in Monrovia, which it asserted would establish a timeframe for witness-reported events that would exclude the possibility of Mr. Massaquoi’s participation and call into question the credibility of certain witnesses.

Questioning of Mr. Massaquoi by the Defense

On day 5, the Court called Mr. Massaquoi to testify; the Defense was permitted to question him first; the Defense’s inquiry comprised the entirety of the proceedings on day 5, and continued into Day 6, on which day the Prosecution began to question him as well.

The Defense first questioned Mr. Massaquoi about his personal background and early involvement with the RUF. Mr. Massaquoi testified that he was born in Sierra Leone and worked there as a teacher until the RUF attacked in April 1991. Following the attack, he began working, unpaid, in an administrative office established by the RUF. At some point, he was sent to military training. After three weeks of training, the government attacked, and Mr. Massaquoi fought for the RUF near the Liberian border.

Mr. Massaquoi further testified that he was first a Deputy Commander in the RUF, and later promoted to Commander. He served in this capacity until 1996, when he became sick and was sent to Côte D’Ivoire for treatment following a ceasefire between the RUF and the government of Sierra Leone. In 1997, after his recovery, he was made spokesman for the RUF. Mr. Massaquoi testified that at this time he was no longer involved in armed activities for the RUF, as he lived in Côte D’Ivoire.

Mr. Massaquoi asserted that he was sent back to Sierra Leone in 1997 on the instructions of Mr. Foday Sankoh, the head of the RUF, after the RUF had joined the new Sierra Leonean government. Two months later, Mr. Massaquoi was arrested on allegations that he had acted on behalf of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). He was imprisoned from October 1997 to 6 April 1999.

Mr. Massaquoi then testified as to the structure of the RUF and indicated that, with the exception of an RUF commander Dennis Mingo (alias Superman), he did not get along with other RUF members. Mr. Massaquoi asserted that three of these other RUF members attempted to kill him after his release from prison. Mr. Massaquoi also claimed that the structure of the RUF had changed substantially during his time in prison, and that after his release from prison, he no longer had a formal role within the organization.

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Massaquoi was assigned to a position in Makeni, Sierra Leone, under the auspices of the Commission for the Management of Mineral Resources. He also participated in peace negotiations, including a meeting in Monrovia, Liberia. He was appointed special assistant to Mr. Sankoh in October 1999, and attended disarmament meetings in this capacity in late 1999 and early 2000. He also referred to other work-related travels with Mr. Sankoh during this time, including to Côte d’Ivoire.

Mr. Massaquoi testified that in the Spring of 2000, hundreds of UN peacekeepers were kidnapped in Freetown, Sierra Leone, by RUF troops from the north. When Mr. Sankoh refused to speak to angry demonstrators, violence broke out, causing several deaths. Mr. Massaquoi asserted that he managed to escape the violence. Mr. Sankoh surrendered shortly thereafter. Subsequently, Mr. Massaquoi was appointed to an outside delegation for peace negotiations in Monrovia, Liberia, in August 2000. This delegation went briefly to Mali to meet with the President of Mali, and met several times with Charles Taylor, then the president of Liberia. Finally, the delegation went to Abuja, Nigeria, where it concluded the Abuja Ceasefire Agreement stipulating the release of UN peacekeepers and the end of hostilities in Sierra Leone.

After the conclusion of the Abuja Agreement, Mr. Massaquoi returned to Sierra Leone. On the way, as he passed through the city of Voinjama in Lofa County, Liberia, his delegation met with a man named “Colonel Eagle.” Shortly thereafter, in December 2000, Mr. Massaquoi returned to Monrovia, Liberia, where he entrusted some diamonds to a man named Ibrahim Bah, who was to bring the diamonds to Charles Taylor for safekeeping. Mr. Massaquoi returned to Sierra Leone to meet with Benjamin Yeaten, a soldier of the Sierra Leonean special forces, before once again going to Monrovia in January 2001. Later, in May 2001, negotiations for a final disarmament began in Freetown, Sierra Leone. These negotiations ended in December 2001 with the “Abuja II” agreement. Mr. Massaquoi asserted that most of the negotiations took place in Freetown, but meetings occasionally occurred around the country, including in Makeni.

Mr. Massaquoi testified that he lived in Makeni until October of 2001, and took part in the tri-party disarmament negotiations leading to Abuja II. Additionally, he was involved in the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of Sierra Leone, attended meetings for the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and drove a taxi in Freetown. 

After the final RUF disarmament by December 2001 and the end of the civil war in January 2002, Mr. Massaquoi returned to Liberia at the end of June 2002, in order to retrieve his car and some personal possessions. Mr. Massaquoi testified that he heard about the death of “Superman” Dennis Mingo on this trip. This news was later confirmed in a meeting with General Benjamin Yeaten. Mr. Massaquoi asserted that this was the last time he had been in Liberia, and he believed it was 28 June 2002.

Mr. Massaquoi testified that he had registered to run for office in the 2002 elections in Sierra Leone, but withdrew in the weeks leading up to the election because of his poor relationship with executives in the Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP). Around this time, Mr. Massaquoi referenced internal RUFP disagreements between August 2001 and March 2002 regarding the purchase of a house in Freetown for the party.

After the elections, Mr. Massaquoi stated that he lived a normal life with his family in Freetown, where he met with the staff of the Truth Commission for 5 days of questioning about his involvement with the RUF. He also wrote a project for the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration, and wrote about a fishing project intended to reintegrate and rehabilitate former soldiers. In June or July, Mr. Massaquoi met with a woman who told him about the formation of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and asked him to participate in the trials. 

Mr. Massaquoi asserted that on 14 August 2002, he met with Corinne Dufka, Alan White, and David Crane, employees of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), and that he continued to meet with them officially and unofficially every few days thereafter. In October 2002, Mr. Massaquoi signed a witness protection agreement with the SCSL in preparation for his testimony. He did this to secure protection for himself and his family, as well as immunity from prosecution for acts related to his roles as a combatant and a diamond transporter for the RUF. 

On 9 March 2003, Mr. Massaquoi was approached by Issa Sesay on the road to Freetown, who informed him that he and other RUF members needed financial assistance to escape Sierra Leone before the SCSL trials began. Mr. Massaquoi agreed to help by meeting with President Charles Taylor, but he alerted the SCSL prosecution team about these  plans to escape the country. Based on this information, the Office of the Prosecutor was able to arrest attendees of the meeting with Charles Taylor and charge them at the SCSL.

In the last lines of Defense questioning, Mr. Massaquoi explained that he was confined to a safehouse in an unfamiliar neighborhood of Freetown during the SCSL proceedings; that he only became well-known in Sierra Leone and Liberia in the 2000s, when his media profile increased; that he used satellite phones capable of hiding his location, but that he only did so on one occasion (an interview with the BBC); and he did not personally witness any violence in Liberia generally or in Lofa County specifically. Finally, Mr. Massaquoi testified that the note in his handwriting found in Vantaa Prison was not written to influence witnesses, but rather to refresh their memories with information in the public record about events that occurred twenty years ago.

Questioning of Mr. Massaquoi by the Prosecution

Questioning by the Prosecution began by inquiring as to Mr. Massaquoi’s knowledge of the actions of RUF troops in Liberia. The Prosecution began by establishing that, between 1999 and 2003, Mr. Massaquoi was aware of conflict in parts of Liberia, particularly in Lofa County near the border of Guinea, waged by soldiers under the command of RUF commander Sam Bockarie, also known as “Mosquito Spray.” The Prosecution proceeded to ask whether Mr. Massaquoi knew of connections between the RUF and attacks in Lofa County, or whether, as spokesperson for the RUF, he was responsible for asking questions about RUF troop actions. Mr. Massaquoi asserted that he had only secondhand knowledge of RUF attacks in Lofa County. Additionally, Mr. Massaquoi stated that the RUF operated only in Sierra Leone and acted to support President Charles Taylor in regaining control of Lofa County from rebels of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). Mr. Massaquoi insisted that his role concerned the political operations of the RUF. He said he was neither informed of RUF military operations nor responsible for RUF troops.

The Prosecution then asked about Mr. Massaquoi’s testimony as to the death of “Superman” Dennis Mingo. Mr. Massaquoi testified that he learned of Mr. Mingo’s death in June 2001, and that he did not personally see Mr. Mingo’s body. The Prosecution then presented a prior investigation summary in which Mr. Massaquoi had stated that he learned of Mr. Mingo’s death between July and October 2001, and that he had seen Mr. Mingo’s dead body. The Court accepted this investigation summary into evidence.

The Prosecution next inquired about inconsistencies in Mr. Massaquoi’s reporting of his military record with the RUF. Mr. Massaquoi had testified to the Court that he fought for the RUF in 1993 and 1994, but earlier in the investigation admitted that he fought between 1992 and 1996. The Prosecution also noted that Mr. Massaquoi was called “commander” within the RUF even after his military role ceased; Mr. Massaquoi said that this was because of his rank, Lieutenant Colonel, and because of the culture within the group. Mr. Massaquoi also confirmed that he was usually the leader of the RUF delegations mentioned throughout his testimony.

Next, the Prosecution asked Mr. Massaquoi about his routes and means of travel between Liberia and Sierra Leone. Mr. Massaquoi testified that he did not recall the specific villages of Kamatahun Hassala or Yandehun or the location of the airstrip in Foya mentioned earlier in his testimony. Additionally, he testified that his trips were conducted both by car and by air, and that he would sometimes fly between Foya and Monrovia. The Prosecution referenced the pretrial record, where Mr. Massaquoi asserted that he “always” traveled by car; Mr. Massaquoi replied that this was a mistake, and that if the report said “always,” it should say “often” or “frequently” instead. Finally, Mr. Massaquoi admitted that he is aware of a village named Kailahun in Sierra Leone, but not in Liberia.

The Prosecution next addressed inconsistencies in Mr. Massaquoi’s testimony with his statements in earlier investigations regarding his relationships with General Benjamin Yeaten, Joseph “ZigZag” Marzah, and Sam “Mosquito” Bockarie. Mr. Massaquoi said that he believed he remembered meeting them. The Prosecution then presented Mr. Massaquoi’s prior comments from earlier investigations, in which he claimed never to have met Mr. Marzah. The Prosecution also noted a passage from Mr. Massaquoi’s book, The Secret Behind the Gun, where he mentions a discussion with Mr. Marzah.

Asked whether he had been compensated for the delivery of diamonds to President Charles Taylor, Mr. Massaquoi indicated that he did not remember receiving any personal remuneration, but knew that Mr. Taylor supported the RUF. The Prosecution asked why Mr. Massaquoi had a car in Monrovia, and why he was able to testify as to the exact date he retrieved it. Mr. Massaquoi said that he was given the car for his role in the RUF’s delegations, and that he did not actually own it. Further, he stated that he was only able to estimate the date, because it happened a long time ago.

The Prosecution ended the day with questions about Mr. Massaquoi’s use of the satellite phone and his admitted instances of misrepresenting his location to journalists. Mr. Massaquoi admitted that on one occasion he told a reporter he was in Makeni, Sierra Leone, when he was actually in Liberia, and that he had used the orange button on the satellite phone to obscure his location. He explained he had done this at Charles Taylor’s request because Mr. Taylor wanted to distance himself from the RUF. Mr. Massaquoi asserted that this was the only time he had misrepresented his location. However, the Prosecution displayed a passage from The Secret Behind the Gun in which Mr. Massaquoi had written that, on several occasions, he falsely claimed to journalists that he was in Makeni, Sierra Leone, when he was actually in Monrovia, Liberia.

The hearing ended at 14:30 on 12 February 2021. Proceedings will continue next week in Liberia.

23/02/21 [Liberia] Day 7: The hearing of Witness 1

The trial resumed after the Finnish authorities (judges, prosecutors, and lawyers) spent their first week visiting sites where Gibril Massaquoi allegedly committed crimes against humanity. To know more about this, you can read about it here, and see footage here.


The seventh day of public hearings resumed on 23 February 2021, with the trial moving from Tampere, Finland to Monrovia, Liberia, to hear witnesses. The Accused, Mr. Massaquoi, remained in Finland.

Defense counsel questions Witness 1 

The day began with Defense counsel, Mr. Gummerus, questioning a Witness. The identity of Witness 1 was not disclosed, and Witness 1 testified with her back to the video feed that was available to trial observers. 

Mr. Gummerus began by asking Witness 1 about what she saw during the civil war in Liberia. Specifically, Mr. Gummerus asked if she recalled a day when she was looking for food in Monrovia and ran into soldiers. Witness 1 responded that, while she could not remember the day, she recalled it was the year 2000, which she remembered because it was the year she went looking for food.

Mr. Gummerus then asked Witness 1 to explain what happened to her on the day in question. Witness 1 explained that she joined a group of men and women leaving Logan Town, Monrovia, to go to Vai Town on Bushrod Island. The group, which included two of her friends, was trying to find food. The group began to cross the bridge, going towards Waterside. 

Witness 1 explained that when the group got to the edge of the bridge, soldiers stationed at a checkpoint ordered them to stop and form a straight line. As they were following the order, Witness 1 noticed a man wearing a white t-shirt and camouflage pants. According to the Witness, the man stated: “I am the Angel Gabriel Massaquoi. I am the one who can send you to God and you tell him that I sent you.” 

Witness 1 further explained that, as he was walking through the crowd he saw her friend [Victim A]. She stated that the man then took [Victim A]’s hand and attempted to take her out of line to a road under the bridge. When [Victim A] resisted, the man shot into the air.

Witness 1 went on to explain that more shots were then fired by some boys who were with “Angel Gabriel Massaquoi”, and the group began to scatter. According to the Witness, shots continued as they started to run. Witness 1 was not sure if it was government troops or rebels who were firing at them. Witness 1 fled to the West Point area and ran into a man’s house, where she slept. The next morning, Witness 1 heard that people were heading back across the bridge, so she decided to join them. 

When Witness 1 arrived, she was told to wait and see to what happened to the first group of people who were trying to cross the bridge. Witness 1 testified that while she was waiting, she began to grieve for her friend, [Victim A]. She explained that a boy saw her grieving and informed her that her friend had been killed. At this point, Witness 1 stated that she began to cry for her friend.

As Witness 1 crossed the bridge, she explained that she saw her friend [Civilian 37], who was [Victim A]’s sister. [Civilian 37] told Witness 1 that [Victim A] had been killed. After Witness 1 crossed the bridge, she went home. Witness 1 explained that she did not go back to the bridge again because she was afraid. 

After Witness 1 explained what happened, Mr. Gummerus asked if she personally saw her friend [Victim A] being killed. Witness 1 responded that everyone went their own way, and that it was a boy who told her that [Victim A] was dead. Witness 1 did not identify the boy, but noted that [Civilian 37] also confirmed that her friend had been killed. Mr. Gummerus asked if Witness 1 knew how [Civilian 37] found out about her sister’s death, and she clarified that [Civilian 37] told her that she had been present when [Victim A] was taken under the bridge because she had also been taken there, and that boys began torturing [Civilian 37], but she was able to escape.

Earlier interactions with the Finnish police and the events on the bridge

Mr. Gummerus asked Witness 1 if she remembered talking to the Finnish police about these events. Witness 1 explained that she told them the same thing she had just stated. Mr. Gummerus asked Witness 1 about inconsistencies between her testimony now and what she had told the Finnish police earlier. In particular, Mr. Gummerus told Witness 1 that when the Finnish police had interviewed her, their notes said that the Witness 1 personally observed [Victim A] being killed. Witness 1 clarified that the Finnish police might not have understood her, and that when [Victim A] was being taken under the bridge, Witness 1 and others scattered because shots were being fired behind them. She then repeated that [Civilian 37] confirmed [Victim A]’s death. 

Mr. Gummerus also questioned Witness 1 about the man who introduced himself as “Angel Gabriel Massaquoi.” He asked Witness 1 who that was and if she understood what role he played. Witness 1 answered that he said he was the commander and that he was “Angel Gabriel […] the one that can take people to heaven.

Witness 1 then explained that she was so scared by what happened that she stayed in Logan Town. In order to feed her children, she sold wood and potato greens. She stated that stores were not open, so only brave people went across the bridge. Mr. Gummerus also asked why the situation was so bad that people were looking for food. In response, Witness 1 explained that there was fighting and people were scattered – she clarified that the fighting had been going on for a long time.

Mr. Gummerus then asked Witness 1 who had contacted her about these events. Witness 1 explained that only the Finnish police contacted her, and that they had reached her through  [Civilian 37]. Mr. Gummerus then asked Witness 1 if she knew how [Civilian 37] had met the Finnish police. Witness 1 explained that [Civilian 37] told her she had met someone named [Employee 1]. She further stated that [Employee 1] had told [Civilian 37] that white people came and wanted to hear people’s views on what happened during the war. Mr. Gummerus asked Witness 1 if [Civilian 37], [Employee 1] or anyone else told her what to say to the Finnish police. Witness 1 responded that [Civilian 37] had only told her that [Employee 1] wanted her phone number to give to the Finnish police, which is how she was contacted.

Mr. Gummerus asked Witness 1 about the multiple wars that occurred in Liberia and if there was peace between the wars. She explained that there were breaks in the fighting. For this reason, different periods were named “World War 1” (WW1), “World War 2” (WW2), and “World War 3” (WW3), but it was the same war in the same year.

Mr. Gummerus then asked if she remembered anything in particular about “Angel Gabriel Massaquoi”. Witness 1 explained that she remembered he had an accent that sounded like he was from Sierra Leone, as he didn’t speak like a Liberian – one could tell when someone from a different country is speaking.

Mr. Gummerus asked Witness 1 about the bridge from Vai Town being closed. She explained that it was closed because of the fighting, and that no one could cross it unless soldiers allowed them to. Mr. Gummerus asked Witness 1 to clarify who was fighting at the time, and she explained that the government forces were on one side, but she was not sure which side the man with the accent, “Angel Gabriel”, was from. Witness 1 supposed that this man may have been fighting for a force opposing the government, but it was difficult to be certain who was fighting for whom, as they all wore the same camouflage. 

Mr. Gummerus asked where else in Monrovia did fighting occur. Witness 1 answered that all of the city was affected by the fighting, but the bridge was the main place where it occurred because people used it to go buy. Mr. Gummerus asked Witness 1 the name of the bridge, which she identified as “Old Bridge” – she further elaborated that there are two bridges, one going to Johnson Street and the other going to Waterside. Mr. Gummerus asked if any other fighting occurred on Old Bridge after 2000. Witness 1 explained that even if there were breaks in the fighting, more happened during the same year.

Mr. Gummerus resumed asking Witness 1 about the context of her prior interview with the Finnish police. Witness 1 stated that [Civilian 37] told her that she, Witness 1, was the first to talk to the police. Witness 1 spoke to [Employee 1] on the phone, and he was the one who took her to the Finnish police; they did not discuss the matter as [Employee 1] as they traveled (?) to the interview. 

According to the police’s summary of the interview, Witness 1 had stated that WW3 was what was supposed to have been interviewed about, but Defense counsel noted she was talking about WW1 and WW2 in the present trial. Witness 1 explained that she was talking about WW1 and WW2 because there was a break in the conflict. When asked what her understanding of WW3 is, Witness 1 stated that it was just a name for that part of the war. There was a ceasefire, but it was the same war.

The next line of questioning centered around Witness 1’s knowledge of the name of the man who introduced himself as “Angel Gabriel Massaquoi” on the bridge. Mr. Gummerus stated that during the police interview at the end of 2019, Witness 1 did not say the name “Massaquoi,” so he asked how she knew the name “Massaquoi”. Witness 1 insisted that during her interview with the police, she had said the name “Angel Gabriel Massaquoi.” She further stated that, during the incident she had described, he was the only person to introduce himself, and he started to fire shortly after doing so.

Mr. Gummerus then resumed asking Witness 1 about the timing of the incident. She stated that it had happened in 2000. Mr. Gummerus stated that she had said June/July 2003 in her earlier interview and asked if she thought the police wrote it down incorrectly. She said she thought so, pointing out that the police were the ones taking notes, with the assistance of an interpreter. 

Mr. Gummerus asked how long after the incident the war ended. Witness 1 stated that it did not take long; she reiterated that her experience was in WW1 and there were breaks in the war between WW1, WW2, and WW3. Witness 1 further explained that after the incident, she stayed with her daughter in Jacob Town for about a year, and then moved to Nimba in 2003.

 Witness 1’s earlier interview with the Finnish police

After a ten minute break, Mr. Gummerus played the video of Witness 1’s interview with the Finnish police. Mr. Gummerus wanted to call attention to two things: the name and the year Witness 1 referenced in the interview.

NOTE: The audio from the video was difficult to hear through the video link used to observe the trial. In the video, it appears that Witness 1 described the incident at the bridge. She explained that she and other women went to the market to sell things around the West Point area near the “Old Bridge”. She stated that a lot of people were beaten and three boys were killed. She said that a tall man with a Sierra Leonean accent who called himself “Angel Gabriel” took [Victim A]. He brought her back and killed her with his gun. He also killed three boys. Witness 1 said that they escaped when Liberian soldiers came. Witness 1 noted that she had been 2 months’ pregnant at the time and miscarried after this event.

After the video was played, Witness 1 confirmed that she remembered the interview. Mr. Gummerus pointed out that in the interview she did not state the name “Massaquoi”, although she had just stated that she did. Witness 1 acknowledged that while she did not say “Massaquoi” in the interview, that was what he had said: “I am Angel Gabriel Massaquoi.” 

Mr. Gummerus then again focused on the timeline of the events, asking whether Witness 1 wanted to explain why she told the Finnish police that the incident happened in 2003, but now was stating that it occurred in 2000. Witness 1 responded that she said 2000 because the war started in 2000. Mr. Gummerus followed up by asking why she had not said that it was 2003 when he had questioned her before, and she said it was because the war lasted until 2003. Mr. Gummerus pressed further on this point, noting that the Finnish police had asked her about the time of her experience with “Angel Gabriel,” rather than the war. He also pointed out that she had just said the war was from 2000 to 2003, but she had previously said the war was in 2000. Witness 1 explained that she had said 2000 because that was when the war started and there were breaks in the war. This concluded Mr. Gummerus’s questioning of Witness 1.

The Prosecution questions Witness 1 about events

The Prosecution then began its questioning of Witness 1. First, the Prosecution referred to the interview recording in which Witness 1 described “Angel Gabriel” killing the three boys and [Victim A], and then asked whether she had witnessed these killings with her own eyes. Witness 1 clarified that someone else had told her of those deaths. The Prosecution asked if anyone told her before her testimony not to talk about the deaths. Witness 1 denied this.

The Prosecution then asked about Witness 1’s sister. In the recording, Witness 1 said her sister had been killed in Freeport, and she mentioned Gabriel in connection to that. Witness 1 clarified that it was not “Angel Gabriel” who killed her sister. – her sister was killed at a warehouse in 2000.

The Prosecution also asked about [Civilian 37] being interviewed by the Finnish police with regard to the same incident. He stated that, when Witness 1 was asked about this, she had said  [Civilian 37] did not say she had already been interviewed, but simply that [Employee 1] wanted to speak with her. The Prosecution noted that in his view, when the Finnish police mentioned  [Civilian 37]’s interview, Witness 1 already knew about it.

Finally, the Prosecution asked if Witness 1 tended to tell stories as if they had happened to her when in fact they were about things she had heard about, but not seen personally. Witness 1 denied this. The Prosecution asked if that was what she had done during the interview with the police. To this, Witness 1 simply responded that she, [Victim A], and [Civilian 37] had all been together throughout this experience.

The hearing concluded and will resume in Monrovia on Wednesday, 24 February 2021.

24/02/21 [Liberia] Day 8: The Hearing of Witness 2 and 3

The eighth day of public hearings resumed on 24 February 2021 in Monrovia, Liberia.

The Prosecution questions Witness 2 about events near the bridge and his experience with “Angel Gabriel Massaquoi”

The day began with the Prosecution questioning Witness 2 regarding his experience in Liberia. The Prosecution asked the Witness whether he remembered well what had happened, and if he saw many people with guns in Monrovia. Witness 2 said that he did, and that he remembered them coming from Logan Town. When asked his age at the time, Witness 2 said that he was born in 1952 and would have been around 47 years old.

The Prosecution then focused on the day in question. Witness 2 explained that he was getting food with his friend and brother at a shop in Waterside near a roundabout. The Witness clarified that by “friend and brother” he meant two separate people. The Prosecution recalled that the Witness had previously stated that he heard gunshots when he was in the shop, and asked if he knew who was shooting. The Witness responded that he only saw one man firing shots with a pistol. He called this man “Gabriel Massaquoi.” The Witness explained that this person had many other fighters with him – though he did not have an exact count – and that a few of them carried guns, and wore camouflage uniforms. 

The Prosecution then asked how the Witness knew the name of the man who was shooting outside the shop. Witness 2 replied that the man had identified himself by name after he finished shooting, saying, “I am Gabriel Massaquoi”. The Prosecution asked the Witness to confirm that the man specifically used the name “Gabriel Massaquoi,” and the Witness responded affirmatively. 

The Prosecution asked if anyone was shot when the Witness heard the gunshots and exited the shop. The Witness said “no” and further stated that he did not see any wounded individuals at that time. The Prosecution referred to the Witness’s earlier statement that individuals were brought to a “control building,” and asked where this building was located. The Witness said that the building was near the Old Bridge, and that it was where a man had been killed. He said that he and his friends were taken to the same place near the bridge, along with at least thirty other people. The Witness mentioned that he could see many dead bodies under the bridge.

The Prosecution asked Witness 2 to elaborate on his earlier statement regarding “lines and shooting.” The Witness explained that when they went outside, everyone was told to line up single file. The Prosecution then asked the Witness for more details regarding what happened under the bridge and whether there was any gunfire. The Witness stated that the firing happened at two checkpoints. When asked whether the place under the bridge was a checkpoint or a base, the Witness responded that it was a base. The Prosecution then asked whether the Witness had been taken to the base with his friend and his brother. Here, the Witness stated that his friend and brother had been killed earlier when they were taken from the line and carried under the bridge. Witness 2 confirmed that he had seen them being killed. The Prosecution asked who had done the shooting. The Witness responded that it was Gabriel Massaquoi; he remembered it was a pistol. 

The Prosecution asked whether the Witness’ brother and friend both died immediately after being shot. Witness 2 replied that they died at that time but that they were alive when they were taken from the line and brought under the bridge. The Witness mentioned that everyone who was not taken from the line found a way to escape. At the request of the Prosecution, the Witness confirmed again that his brother and friend were alive when they were carried under the bridge, and that they were killed under the bridge. The Witness explained that people were just being picked out of the line at random to be taken under the bridge, and that he himself was not taken there. The Prosecution again asked the Witness whether he personally witnessed Gabriel Massaquoi shooting these people. The Witness said he saw this with his own eyes. 

The Prosecution then asked for the names of the Witness’s friend and brother, and Witness 2 provided them. The Witness also explained that he knew some other people who had also been in the line and that some of them were his friends. The Prosecution asked whether the Witness was present when any other individuals were killed. The Witness replied that they did not kill any other people while he was there. 

The Prosecution resumed its questioning about Gabriel Massaquoi, asking whether the Witness knew the name of Mr. Massaquoi’s group. Witness 2 responded that there were people behind Mr. Massaquoi wearing a lot of camouflage. The Prosecution repeated the question, and the Witness responded that it was the first time he saw Mr. Massaquoi armed. The remainder of his answer was unclear.

The Prosecution returned to the subject of the shooting at the shop, asking who else was in the shop. The Witness said that he went there with his friends to look for food, since they did not have any. He indicated that there were more than twenty people in the shop, including himself and his brother.

The Prosecution then asked whether, in the Witness’s mind, Gabriel Massaquoi was leading the group. Witness 2 confirmed that Gabriel Massaquoi was the Commander. The Prosecution asked whether the Witness saw several commanders, or only one. To this, the Witness clarified that he only saw one:  it was Gabriel Massaquoi, who came in front of him and killed. The Prosecution asked if the Witness was referring to a specific incident. The Witness said that Gabriel Massaquoi took people from the line, carried them under the bridge, and killed them with a pistol. 

The Prosecution then reminded Witness 2 that they were discussing the year 2000 and asked whether the Witness remembered what season or time of year these events took place. The Witness responded that it was the beginning of the year. 

The Prosecution then stated that the Witness had talked about the incidents at the shop and the bridge before and asked if the Finnish police had asked him about them, but Witness 2 said they hadn’t. When asked again whether the Witness had previously been questioned about these incidents, the Witness responded that friends who had been in the line with him that day had told him that there were white people who wanted to know what had happened. However, the Witness said he had not told them about it, he didn’t talk to the Finnish Police, and it was his first time seeing a white man. 

The Prosecution then asked if Witness 2 knew a person named [Person A]. The Witness confirmed that he knew him, calling him “his brother.” However, the Witness noted that he  died last year from an illness. The Prosecution then asked if the Witness knew [Person B]. The Witness confirmed that yes, he knew him, and this was also his brother. He had been sick and died, but the Witness did not recall exactly when. 

The Prosecution turned back to the Witness’s recent meeting with the white men, asking him what they had discussed. Witness 2 responded that he told them that he was happy, because they came here to get justice. The Prosecution asked if he talked to the white men about the incidents at the bridge, to which the Witness replied, “no.” When asked what he did talk about with them, the Witness responded that this hearing was his first time seeing white men. The Prosecution asked him whether he was talking about today; the Witness clarified that he meant yesterday. Following this, the Prosecution asked him whether he remembered meeting white people over a year ago. Witness 2 responded that he only met two gentlemen from Finland and this happened yesterday. 

The Defense questions Witness 2 about Gabriel Massaquoi and Mr. Varney

The Defense then began its questioning of Witness 2. When asked how he became involved with the case, the Witness replied that a lady who had been on the line had told him that white people from Finland came to help and ask about the bad people. When asked, the Witness explained that the “bad people” were the ones who had taken people from the line and killed them. He mentioned that he was happy to hear that white people came to render justice. The Defense pressed the Witness to explain what he had discussed with the lady. The Witness confirmed that they did talk about what had happened and also specific names of people, including his friend and his brother. 

The Defense asked whether they discussed Gabriel Massaquoi. Witness 2 responded that since the incident, he had not seen him. To clarify, the Defense asked again whether they talked about Gabriel Massaquoi or whether the lady asked him about Gabriel Massaquoi. The Witness responded that she did not ask him, but that he explained it to her. 

The Defense then switched gears, asking about Mr. Gabriel Varney. The Witness responded that he was one of the workers on the field, also confirming that Gabriel Varney had been on the bridge. The Defense asked what Varney had been doing there, to which the Witness responded that he was the commander on the line, only there to tell people what to do. When asked how he knew Mr. Varney’s name, the Witness simply stated that on the field, people were calling him “Varney.” 

To close, the Defense then asked if, at the end of 2019, Witness 2 had talked with two white men from Finland. The Witness responded by stating that “no,” he did not. 

The Prosecution continues questions Witness 2 about Mr. Varney and Gabriel Massaquoi

The Prosecution began by asking Witness 2 about what exactly Gabriel Varney did. The Witness responded that Varney was on the field. He added that sometimes, when people were killed, he told people to stand in line. When asked whether the Witness saw Varney shooting anyone, the Witness said that the first person he saw shooting was Gabriel Massaquoi. The Prosecution attempted to clarify whether Gabriel Varney and Gabriel Massaquoi were the same person, to which the Witness explained that no, they were two different people. The Prosecution then asked who Varney had killed. The Witness responded that Varney had not killed anybody, he was just there to arrange the bodies under the bridge. 

The Prosecution asked if the Witness could share any details about Gabriel Massaquoi. The Witness responded that when he came from the store, he saw him with a pistol. When he shot, he said, “I am Gabriel Massaquoi, if you play with me, you will die right now.” The Witness highlighted again that this is how he knew his name. When asked what language Gabriel Massaquoi  spoke, the Witness said he spoke Liberian English. 

The Defense questions Witness 2 about armed groups in Monrovia

The Defense returned, asking Witness 2 why people were looting the store. The Witness simply responded that there was no food. 

The Defense then began a line of questions about various armed groups. First, when asked whether he knew who or what LURD is, the Witness stated that at that time, there were many forces. There was “RU” (LURD), there was ULIMO-K, ULIMO-J, and others. The Defense asked whether this groups included ECOMOG as well. The Witness confirmed, also noting that ECOMOG was in Monrovia. 

When asked if he remembered when LURD came to Monrovia, the Witness responded that he had heard about them and that they came to Monrovia. The Defense then asked if the incident happened at the same time LURD came to Monrovia, or before. The Witness replied that it was long before then. He further noted the war lasted so long that he cannot remember exactly how much time had passed. The Defense asked whether he could remember ECOMIL, to which the Witness responded that he did not; he only knew ECOMOG.

The morning session ended at 10:52.

[Break]

The afternoon session started at 13:10.

The Prosecution and the Defense conclude questioning of Witness 2

The Prosecution continued questioning the Witnesses about their experiences during the Liberian wars and their encounters with the Accused, Mr. Gibril Massaquoi. 

The Prosecution began by recalling that during the morning session they had asked Witness 2 whether they had previously discussed anything with the Finnish police, which the Witness denied. The Prosecution then proceeded to show the Witness a video and ask questions about it.

[Note: The audio from the video was difficult to hear through the video link used to observe the trial.]

The Prosecution recalled that Witness 2 mentioned Person A and Person B by name in the recording and asked why he mentioned them. The Witness responded that both were his brothers who were shot by Mr. Gibril Massaquoi. However, Witness 2 noted that Person A later died of illness and not the gunshot. The Prosecution followed up by asking whether Witness 2 saw dead bodies outside the store where Person A and Person B were shot, which Witness 2 denied. 

The Defense continued by asking what year this event took place. According to Witness 2, the events took place in 2000, instead of 2003, which he had previously stated in the pre-trial investigation. The Defense was curious to know why Witness 2 decided to correct the year now during this hearing. To this, the Witness explained that so much time has passed and he is not very educated, so it is difficult to remember years. 

The Defense then asked whether Witness 2 had discussed this matter with anyone after he had mentioned the year 2003 to the Finnish police during the pre-trial investigation. Witness 2 explained that he had discussed the matter with his friends which was why he came to the conclusion that the events took place in 2000 instead of 2003. He offered to bring the names of these friends if needed.

The Defense continued the line of questioning by addressing other inconsistencies in Witness 2’s statements. Specifically, the Defense asked why Witness 2 previously stated that there were dead bodies in front of the shop in the recording of the pre-trial investigation when he testified today that there were no dead bodies in front of the shop. Witness 2 denied that he ever said that there were dead bodies in front of the shop. 

At this point, a discussion ensued regarding the area where the described events had taken place and where the LURD forces were, farther from the center of Monrovia. The Defense again asked about discrepancies between today’s testimony and what was heard on the video, to which Witness 2 agreed that there are differences because many things have “skipped” his mind over time.

At this point, the trial observers lost access to the video feed for some moments. When the connection was re-set, the Judge was explaining to Witness 3 that the Prosecution had brought him as a Witness and that he should answer questions as best he can. 

The Prosecution questions Witness 3, who lost his wife by the bridge

The Prosecutor began asking Witness 3 whether he recalled the day when his wife went out to get food from the Waterside Market. Witness 3, similar to Witness 2, first explained that during the Preliminary Investigation, he had placed the event in the year 2003, but later corrected it to the year 2000 (WW1). He then noted that at the time, he had been living in West Point. On the day in question, his wife had heard that the stores in Waterside were open so she had gone down there to look for food. Looking ahead, Witness 3 explained that fighters had grabbed his wife and carried her back down the bridge to their commander “Angel Gabriel Massaquoi.”  

Backing up in time, the Witness described how first, after his wife failed to return home, he went out to search for her. When he got there, they questioned him, arrested him, and put him in ‘line’. According to the Witness, there were two lines; one in the front and one in the back – he was put in the former, with his wife. However, the Witness saw two other people walk from the front of the line to the end, which influenced him to leave the line he was in and go to the end of the other line. The Witness then described how much he feared when he saw “Angel Gabriel Massaquoi” kill two boys. Afterward, the same person gave an order to shoot the people on the first line. Following the incident, Liberian soldiers arrived at the bridge and began shooting in the air while asking, “Why are you killing our people?” This led to confusion on all sides, including for “Angel Gabriel Massaquoi” and his bodyguards. In the resulting chaos, Witness 3 was able to run away.

Witness 3 mentioned that, before the shooting, he had recognized a lady whom Angel Gabriel Massaquoi’s soldiers had slashed on the foot with a bayonet. This was because she had refused to follow them. 

The Witness then continued with details about the shooting. He again noted that because the shooting created such chaos, he was able to escape. Witness 3 noted that it was due to the grace of God that he is alive and able to testify today. 

He also noted that he has not seen Angel Gabriel Massaquoi since 2000. He was surprised  and moved at being called to testify, because Angel Gabriel Massaquoi had killed his wife, and he had to take care of his children alone. 

The Prosecutor then asked Witness 3 how he knew the name “Angel Gabriel Massaquoi.” The Witness explained that this person had stood before them and introduced himself that way, saying, “I am Angel Gabriel Massaquoi, go tell God I am the one who sent you.” 

The Prosecutor then proceeded to ask if Witness had seen the murder of the two boys with his own eyes. Witness 3 confirmed that yes, he was there when the two boys were killed. He added that later, Angel Gabriel Massaquoi issued orders to kill other people, including Witness 3’s wife. The Witness then described how “Angel Gabriel Massaquoi” had called the boys out and fired at each of them with his pistol. This had made Witness 3 afraid. When asked, the Witness confirmed that the boys were civilians and not soldiers. 

He also stated that Angel Gabriel Massaquoi ordered his bodyguards to kill the other people using their “long” guns. 

Switching gears, the Prosecutor then asked about how Angel Gabriel Massaquoi spoke. The Witness answered that it was with a Sierra Leonean accent. 

When asked how many Liberian soldiers had arrived, Witness 3 said that due to the shooting, he could not stay there to count. Nor could he count the number of Liberians who asked, “Why are you killing our Liberian soldiers?” 

The Prosecutor then focused on an apparent error in the Witness’ recollection of the year these events took place. The Witness said that even though he previously mentioned the year 2003, the incident really took place in 2000. The Witness also stated that with the exception of the Finnish police, he had not spoken about the year in question with anyone else. 

The Prosecution then asked the Witness how he came into contact with the Finnish police. The Witness explained that he had talked to women in Waterside who were telling others about what happened to them during the war. According to the Witness, there was a Sheikh who heard them, and said that he knew people who would want to listen to their stories. The Sheikh then took their contact information and provided the information to the Finnish Police. According to the Witness, the first person the Sheikh contacted regarding the matter was [Person C]. 

The Prosecution closed this examination by asking Witness 3 if anyone at all had told him what he should or should not talk about. Witness 3 confirmed that this had not happened; this was his own story.

The Defense questions Witness 3 about timeframes, armed groups, and prior conversations about the events in question

The Defense picked up on this thread, asking Witness 3 to confirm that he had not talked to anyone except the women and the judge present, which the Witness confirmed. The Defense asked about the Sheikh: how long did it take after the Sheikh wrote down his contact information before he was contacted. The Witness answered that he was contacted approximately five days later. 

The Defense proceeded to challenge Witness 3’s ability to recall the correct year, pointing out that all three witnesses had previously said these events took place in 2003 but were now saying it was 2000. Witness 3 acknowledged that he had made a mistake with the year and had tried to contact the interviewers to correct this, but he was unsuccessful. He simply said the mistake was because his head had been disturbed and much time had passed.

The Defense then asked the Witness whether he could describe the situation in Monrovia at the time of the incident. Witness 3 noted that there was fighting in Monrovia, with both goverment forces on one side and rebel forces on the other. He noted that fighting in the city would start and stop, with different periods called WWI, WW2, and WW3. Witness 3 explained that during this time, one could only travel to areas controlled by the government.

When asked to describe the fighting that took place in 2000, the Witness responded that they were in West Point at the time, lying down in fear. He could not describe it further. The Defense noted that the Witness stated in his pre-trial interview that the battle was rough. The Witness corrected Defense counsel, saying that he had not called it “war” – it was just Liberian fighters who were firing and yelling at “Angel Gabriel Massaquoi,” asking, “Why are you killing our Liberians?”. Witness 3 noted that they were all fighting for President Charles Taylor.

The Defense then returned to the Sheikh and [Person C]. The Witness stated that [Civilian C] works in business while the Sheik seems to be an “agent” of the Finnish actors, though he was not entirely sure where he works. When asked if he had ever discussed the incidents in the Sheikh’s presence, Witness 3 clarified that the Sheik only collected his information. When the Defense asked why, after not speaking about these events for 19 years, Witness 3 suddenly discussed them with the Sheikh. The Witness responded by saying that he did not discuss anything with the Sheikh directly. Instead, the woman said the Sheikh may have heard something when he was passing by as she sold fish. 

The Defense then returned to the issue of armed groups active in the area at the time. Counsel noted that, though Witness 3 seemed to be saying ULIMO forces were there fighting at the time, other information indicated that ULIMO had not been there since 1996. The Witness replied that he simply accepted what the fighters had told him. When asked if he had seen all the warring factions, Witness 3 said he had only seen Charles Taylor’s group – they had been there the day he lost his wife. He clarified that he had not seen ULIMO fighters himself, and had only heard from Charles Taylor’s men that they were fighting ULIMO forces.

Defense counsel returned briefly to the events concerning Witness 3’s wife. When prompted for more detail, Witness 3 explained that the shop had “burst open” so people were looting it in search of food; he had waited for his wife at home for about 45 minutes before he went out to look for her.

The hearing was scheduled to resume on 26 February 2021.

25/02/21 [Liberia] Day 9: The Hearing of Witnesses 4, 5, and 6

The ninth day of public hearings resumed on 25 February 2021 in Monrovia, Liberia.

WITNESS 4 is Heard 

The Prosecution questions Witness 4 

Witness 4 stated that during the crisis, they usually went out to look for food and sell goods. They had gone to Waterside, where a biscuit store was being looted. There were many there, her sister [Victim 1], [Person F], and [Person C], they were all trying to get food for their families. After the store was broken into, a group of soldiers came and the Witness stated that their commander said he was “Angel Gabriel, I can take people to God” and he threatened to kill everybody. They took them to their offices, by the bridge, where soldiers started to beat them. Witness 4 stated that she still has bruises all over her, and that if she took her clothes off, the Court would be able to see them. 

The Witness recounted how her sister, [Victim 1], was being pulled by Angel Gabriel in a room to be raped. When she resisted, he said to his men: “you take the motherfucker from the line and do her work”. When the soldiers started firing at them, another group from across the bridge started shooting, and people started to run, scattering, not knowing where to go. 

Going back to her previous statement, the Witness specified that she was not in the store, and that shortly after the soldiers arrived: that is when she saw the commander for the first time. Even though people called him Gabriel Massaquoi, he introduced himself as Angel Massaquoi, the angel that could take people to God. The Witness chronicled that there was no shooting going on before the soldiers arrived. She was captured by the store, and that everyone there was captured as well – it was too many for her to remember the exact number, she could only remember the people she had initially gone there with. 

The Witness continued by saying that she was taken to the soldiers’ base, which was across the bridge, in a small building. She was carried in, and that is where they were beaten by the soldiers. Witness 4 explained that the commander wanted to take her sister, [Victim 1], to a certain room. When she resisted, he told his soldiers to take her and kill her – the Witness heard him giving the command herself. The Witness also added that she herself was raped. 

Witness 4 explained that she saw her sister being taken outside, and that is when another group of soldiers came shooting on the bridge. The Witness couldn’t really tell if it was a different fighting group, she was too scared. She did not look back after the killing, she was too afraid and she was crying. The Witness was not on the scene when her sister got killed, but she heard a gunshot. She added that some friends were on the scene, and told her that [Victim 1] had been killed – she never saw her sister again after that. 

The Prosecution wanted to know who witnessed her sister being killed, to which the Witness replied it was [Person C], but others also told her about it. 

Witness 4 said she saw the commander carrying a gun, but she didn’t know what kind. She repeated that it was her first time seeing him, and that he had a Sierra Leonean accent, as he did not sound like a Liberian. She said she couldn’t really tell what year this happened, it could have been between 1991 and 2001. 

The Witness described that there were many soldiers in Monrovia at that time, especially in the city center. She said the soldiers were from many different groups: government forces, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), and others. The Witness couldn’t tell which group had captured her. 

When asked how she had gotten in contact with the Finnish Police, the Witness replied that [Employee 1] had called her one day, as [Person C] gave him her number, and asked her if she knew anything of what happened in Waterside. When she replied affirmatively, he told her that white people were there, and wanted to talk to her about it. She did not speak about the incident to [Employee 1], nor has she ever got into details about her sister’s death to anyone. 

The Defense questions Witness 4 

Witness 4 stated that she couldn’t remember the exact year of the incident, as war had been going on in Monrovia. Even in 1990, Doe and Taylor, government and Rebel forces, were fighting. She specified that the rebels were then called freedom fighters. The Witness explained that in 1990 they also had World War 1 (WW1), World War 2 (WW2), and World War 3 (WW3) – when asked by the Defense, the Witness said that she thought WW3 was in 1990, but she was unsure as she was getting older. 

The situation was bad at the time the biscuit store was looted, but they still went out looking for food because they didn’t want to die of hunger. Despite the fact that there had been shooting on the other side of the bridge, there had been none on Waterside, and she had reached the bridge from Johanssen. The Witness stated that there was no food because of the war, there was no free movement: Monrovia was not under siege, but fighting was raging in the center. 

The Witness said she was not aware of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). She said she heard plenty of “funny names” used by the soldiers when she was around the bridge, like “Kill The Dog” and “Town Devil”. The Defense asked her if the only real name she heard was Massaquoi, and the Witness stated that he had called himself “Angel Gabriel”, and that he could take people to God. According to the Defense, on the interview recording, the Witness also talked about people called “Dirty Water” and “Spirit”; the Witness said she hadn’t mentioned them in the hearing because she couldn’t remember. However, she stated that everyone there knew their names, and said to the Defense that “Except you were not in Liberia then you won’t know.

Witness 4 stated that Gabriel Massaquoi was a name people were aware about, and he would say his name “when he was about to do wickedness”. She had talked about him to others because her sister was the only person she had in this world. 

The Defense wanted to return on the issue of the soldier’s names, and asked if “Country Devil”, “Kill the Dog”, “Spirit”, and “Dirty Water” were present when her sister had been killed – the Witness confirmed that they were the main people that took them to the office. 

The Witness unsurely stated that she was born in 1976, but then corrected it to 1974. Her age was not verified when she was interviewed, she knew the year because her mother had told her. She initially could not remember how old she was when her sister had been killed, but then the Defense reminded her that in the recording she had stated she was 19 – the Witness confirmed, as she was still living with her sister at the time. She said that her sister, [Victim 1] was a grown woman, and far older than her – but could not remember her age. She was reminded by the Defense that in the recording, she had said that [Victim 1] was only three years older than her. Witness 4 said that she had said that because she had it written on her phone, which she lost. The Witness also had a picture of her sister on that phone. 

Last questions to Witness 4 

Prompted by the Prosecution, the Witness stated that Charles Taylor was President at the time the incident occurred. She had initially said to the Police that the events occurred in 2002, but she recalled they took place in 2001, and corrected herself. She could not remember when Charles Taylor became President and when he left, but she was sure he was President when the incident at Waterside happened. The Defense asked what was Taylor’s role as President, and the Witness responded that he was a rebel leader. 

WITNESS 5 is Heard 

The Prosecution questions Witness 5

Witness 5 testified that between 2001 and 2003 there was no food – and he went to Waterside to find some. When he saw a looted shop, him and his older brother, [Victim 3], went in order to find something to eat. Whilst there, a group of soldiers arrived, and started beating and killing people – the soldiers captured Witness 5 and his brother, and took them to their base, right besides the bridge. Once there, Witness 5 said that someone named Angel Gabriel Massaquoi took his brother and another person, and shot them because he claimed they were rebels. Gabriel Massaquoi then put him in a line with other people – as they had soldiers pointing weapons at them – and ordered his men to fire on the group. Witness 5 saw a lady named [Person C] leaving the line, so he himself did the same. At that moment, the Witness heard gunshots behind him: people started running and got wounded – he saw [Person C] bleeding from her leg. He managed to escape.

Asked by the Prosecution, Witness 5 specified that the man who gave orders had said “My name is Angel Gabriel Massaquoi, I have sent them to God” and that is how he learned his name. Witness 4 said he didn’t know the name of the other person who was killed with his brother, but he confirmed that Angel Gabriel Massaquoi killed them in front of him. He remembered that this took place in 2001, during the dry season – even if he had initially said to the Finnish Police that the incident took place in 2003. The Witness recalled that that period was what it is locally referred to as WW1, followed after a few months by WW2 and then World War 3 WW3.

When asked about how the Finnish Police contacted him, he said that last year he received a call from [Employee 1], who told him [Person C] had given him his number. [Employee 1] asked him if he knew anything about the events that took place in Waterside, and he replied that his brother had been killed there. He strongly denied that neither [Employee 1] nor anyone else instructed him on what to say to the Finnish Police. 

The Defense questions Witness 5

On cross-examination, the Witness said that even before [Employee 1] reached out, he had been in contact with [Person C] because they were both sellers on Waterside, but they had not discussed the incident during all of those years. They knew each other because they both sold goods in the same place, but they were not close.

The Witness explained that during WW1, Charles Taylor’s Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU) were fighting against rebels, in Waterside, Monstserrado County. He stated that he got confused about the dates when talking to the Finnish Police because WW1, WW2, and WW3 all happened the same year, with a few breaks in between. After 2001, he left Monrovia and went to Bomi Hills, and he didn’t hear about war again. 

The Witness stated that he knew about LURD, and that he knew they were close by, even if he didn’t know where they were. He had heard about their base in Monrovia, but he didn’t want to know where it was. Witness 4 explained that during the WWs, government troops and rebels were fighting, but he was not aware of the names of the latter because he only knew about them from Government troops; besides LURD, he did not know any other rebel group name. 

Witness 4 elucidated that people were looting because there was no food, as the conflict made it hard to find something to eat – he stated that the fighting took place in Monrovia. He recalled that Angel Gabriel Massaquoi spoke with a Sierra Leone accent. He ended his testimony by stating that it took until 2005 for “total peace”. 

[Break]

Witness 6 is Heard 

The Prosecution questions Witness 6

The Witness recalled that between 2000 and 2001, he was living in Elwa Junction with his elder brother, [Victim 3]. One day, he went to Waterside to buy goods, and he saw people in a store that sold biscuits – the store was broken into. As he spoke with a boy who had biscuits and milk he was interested in buying, his brother left him to go inside the looted store. Witness 6 stated that a man with an accent from Sierra Leone ordered soldiers to shoot the crowd – many died, including his brother and a girl he knew, [Victim 4]. As he was trying to escape, he was arrested by the soldiers that took him to the “big man”, who ordered to tie him up – the soldiers tabeyed him. Witness 6 mentioned that the soldiers were wearing army fatigue, which was used back then by the ATU. 

Witness 6 stated that other people in line were also tied, and he saw the “big boss” take 4 people from the group, 2 boys and 2 girls. He stated that his name was Gabriel Massaquoi, and “his” Sierra Leoneans called him that: this is when the Witness learned he was from Sierra Leone. Then he talked to the people he had pulled out, and said to them that his name was Angel Gabriel, and this was the name he used for “destruction”. He continued: “As I’m about to send you people, tell God I was the one that sent you”, and he shot the 2 boys and the 2 girls. He then ordered his soldiers to carry their corpses under the bridge, which is where they kept dead bodies. 

As the Witness was still tied, he noticed a man he knew from Nimba County amongst the soldiers, [Soldier 1]. He stated he had never seen him bear weapons before that day. He asked one of his bodyguards to request [Soldier 1] to release him, and he told him to “leave your own with God, as you are finished”. 

Witness 6 said that he started crying – the person he knew was speaking to another soldier, but then saw him. [Soldier 1] said he was surprised to see him, and asked the Witness what he was doing there. Then Gabriel Massaquoi came and said that the group Witness 6 was with were spies, and that they were going to kill them. Witness 6 begged [Soldier 1] to plead on his behalf, so he went and talked to Gabriel Massaquoi. The Witness stated that [Soldier 1] was like an aide de camp of the “big boss”. He was released, and [Soldier 1] escorted him and gave him bread to eat: this is how he escaped. 

The Prosecution revisits some details of the testimony

The Witness specified that the girl he knew, [Victim 4] was already there when he met her – he also knew two other people, [Person D] and [Person E] – he used to sell with them. Witness 6 confirmed that Gabriel Massaquoi gave the order to shoot on the crowd, he saw and heard him himself. 

When they arrested the Witness, they brought him around the bridge – there were many people there. Witness 6 said that he did not know the 2 boys and the 2 girls that were taken out of the line, nor did he know the reason why they were chosen. When asked further, Witness 5 said that Gabriel Massaquoi didn’t give any explanations, but in any case he was not listening properly because he was “praying to God to get me out of there”.

Witness 6 said he saw with his own eyes those people being taken out of the line, and that Gabriel Massaquoi gave the order to kill them, as he was controlling the whole group. The Witness did not know what kind of weapon he used to kill people, as he wasn’t a soldier and didn’t know enough about weapons. He stressed that Gabriel Massaquoi’s accent didn’t resemble a Liberian one.

When asked about what faction did Gabriel Massaquoi belong to, Witness 6 responded that among his men there were ATU soldiers. The Witness stated that there were also child soldiers, and that these child soldiers were present at the shooting in the store, mixed up with the others. Whilst he knew LURD and RUF, he didn’t know much about the groups. 

The Witness admitted to being confused about the dates – he had said 2000 because that is when the ATU was around, but what occurred to him happened in 2001.

He was interviewed by the Finnish Police the year prior, as he was in Kendeja. However, he was contacted the first time in [Place 1], where he lived. People were discussing the Waterside incident, and he joined the conversation, stating: “I myself was at Waterside, it’s just God that saved me”. It was then that a man, [Employee 1], approached him, and told him that what had happened at Waterside was no small incident, and that security people from Finland would be interested in talking to him about it. The Witness stated that the incident had happened so long ago, and that he had lost his elder brother who was supporting his education – it was frustrating for him to think about that if his brother hadn’t died back then, the Witness probably would have had multiple degrees by now: he did not like to talk about the Waterside incident. 

The Witness didn’t have a phone, so he gave [Employee 1] the number of his uncle’s daughter and said that “since you have spoken to me in this manner when the people come I would like to talk to them”. One day, he was called and told that the Finnish Police was in Liberia. He went to Monrovia and met with a man who was from the Finnish Police, and an interpreter. The Witness specified that he didn’t talk to anyone else, including organizations, about the incident; he also added that: “no one can influence me or stop me from talking”. 

The Defense questions Witness 6 

The Witness stated that he had talked to [Employee 1] at the end of 2019, when the rainy season was coming to an end. He explained he had met him in [Place 1], where there were often political conversations. The Witness had briefly explained to [Employee 1] about the Waterside incident, but he didn’t go into details. 

Witness 6 explained that during WW1, in 2001, the elected government was fighting against the LURD rebel group: the fighting took place all over the country. However, he did not know if LURD was in Monrovia or not. 

When the police had interviewed him, the Witness had declared that Gabriel Massaquoi was part of the RUF. During the testimony, Witness 6 said he didn’t know what faction Gabriel Massaquoi belonged to, but that he was assigned to the ATU forces. 

The Court played a recording of the Witness’s interview with the Finnish Police. In the recording, the Witness said that WW1 was during 2001, and at the time LURD forces were in Monrovia. In 2001, and 2002, fighting was also intense in Lofa, as his aunt who lived there called him and told him about it. 

Asked by the Defense, the Witness reiterated what he had said on the recording, and specified that in 2001 LURD forces were in Monrovia, but they were there for reconnaissance – things escalated in 2002. The Defense inquired if at Waterside there were any fights or battles going on between government forces and LURD. The Witness responded that at Waterside there was no fighting, it was just civilians looking for food. He further explained that in 2001, LURD had entered Monrovia, but that it was in Lofa that massacres were taking place. 

The Witness, when asked by the Defense, specified that when he was talking about his brother being killed, he referred to [Victim 3]. 

Even if he said he didn’t know about guns, the Witness explained that in the interview he had stated that AK-47 were used because [Person D] and [Person E], who also had escaped, had told him. 

Prosecution questions the Witness again 

The Witness explained that he has many siblings, and prompted by the Prosecution, he stated that with him that day at Waterside, was also another brother of his [Victim 5]. Witness 6 explained that after [Victim 5] entered the store, he did not hear from him again – the Witness stated that it was not a small number of people that got killed that day. 

The Prosecution asked the Witness if he also saw [Victim 5] being killed. The Witness said that he saw both [Victim 5] ad [Victim 3] entering the store, and that Gabriel Massaquoi’s men killed them. 

The Defense questions the Witness again 

The Witness said that he did not know if there were many Sierra Leoneans on that bridge, as he was praying for his life, and he was only aware of Gabriel Massaquoi being there, as he spoke with an accent from Sierra Leone. Witness 5 added that he had never been to Sierra Leone, but he had dealt with many Sierra Leoneans, so he could recognize the accent. 

As the Defense stated that they were surprised to hear that the Witness lost two of his brothers that day, Witness 6 stated that he had told the Finnish Police about both of them, but that the recording was not on, so it wasn’t on tape. 

The hearing concluded and will resume in Monrovia on Monday, 1 March 2021, at 9:00.