Court has been called to order.
Prosecutor Brenda Hollis is continuing the examination of witness Varmuyan Sherif, today clothed in a white suit, white shirt and striped tie. In answer to a series of questions, he states as follows:
Pros: Let’s talk more about the dispute between Sam Bockarie and Issa Sesay, and how Taylor invited them to Monrovia. You said it was decided that Sesay was the new commander. Who finalized that arrangement?
Wit: Mr. Taylor supervised the solving of the problem between the RUF leaders. He said that Mosquito was changed, and that Issa Sesay was the new leader. Bockarie was instructed by Taylor to move from RUF territory back to Liberia. He came to Liberia with about 350 men. An ATU helicopter belonging to Taylor was used to airlift some of the men from Foya to Monrovia. They were then sent for training. Bockarie moved to Liberia for some time, then later we heard he went to Burkina Faso.
An RUF guest house was provided for the RUF, near the Nigerian embassy in Monrovia. Two RUF members were assigned to the guest house. Taylor prepared the building for them.
Pros: You spoke yesterday about a trip with Taylor to Guinea, and that you were at a meeting with Taylor, Conte and Kabbah and that these individuals discussed “non-aggression to fellow countries”. What did you mean my that?
Wit: That none of the Mano River Union countries should support war against any other members. MRU members are Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Taylor said at the meeting he had no idea about what was happening in Sierra Leone, and that he’d provided no men to attack or support attacks in Sierra Leone.
Pros: Yesterday you spoke of an incident at an airport in Monrovia, that you were to receive an AFRC delegation from Sierra Leone. What aircraft were they to travel on?
Wit: A helicopter. ECOMOG surrounded the whole area – denying us the ability to receive the people. They controlled the area. I did not see what happened to the AFRC delegation. ECOMOG wouldn’t let us approach the helicopter.
Pros: Who is Roosevelt Johnson?
Wit: The leader of ULIMO-J. He had a problem with the government. He returned to Liberia but we didn’t know how he got in. Taylor ordered his arrest after Johnson refused a summons to visit him at the Executive Mansion.
Pros: You said yesterday that you took Abu Keita to a meeting with Benjamin Yeaten, and that Dopo Menkazon was there, and that he was a four-star general.
Wit: He had a position in the NPFL at the time, but not a position in the government. He was still called a four-star general.
Pros: You said you traveled to Foya to find arms and ammunition, and that your home was in Voinjama. During this time did you travel there?
Pros: Did you see movement of arms, ammunition and people when you went to Voinjama.
Wit: I saw former ULIMO people taking arms ammunition to Bockarie in Sierra Leone. I saw Superman in Voinjama, sent by Bockarie to take arms and ammunition back to Sierra Leone.
Pros: How many trips did you make to Voinjama during this time?
Wit: 3 times.
Pros: Did you see this type of behavior each time?
Wit: RUF members were patrolling the whole of Lofa County, taking arms and ammunition to Sierra Leone.
Pros: You spoke of a meeting at Robert International Airfield, and you followed an arriving arms shipment from there to White Flower. How many vehicles were there filled with weapons.
Wit: There were 3-4 big deliveries to RIA even into 2003 until Taylor left power. The first shipment I experienced was in 2001, if memory serves. It happened 2001-2003.
Pros: You said Bockarie was at RIA for an arms delivery. Yesterday you said this was was before the Freetown invasion of January 1999. Was that correct?
Wit: They were discussing how they would divide the delivery of arms and ammunition, but it all had to be delivered. It happened before the attack in Freetown, before 1999.
Pros: You spoke of an ECOWAS meeting in Togo, and Kabbah lifted a little girl whose arm had been amputated. Who was present.
Wit: All ECOWAS leaders were present. President Taylor was president when Kabbah did this.
Pros: Yesterday you spoke of Roland Duo and said he was Commander of the Navy Division and Security Director for OTC. What was OTC?
Wit: It was a logging company at Buchanan, “Oriental” something. I don’t know the exact name. Mr. Taylor and Gus were the owners.
Pros: You said Duo was Security Director of Hotel Africa. What was Hotel Africa?
Wit: A hotel in Africa. Gus supervised the hotel, which was government-owned hotel.
Pros: You discussed attacks by LURD on Liberia as beginning in 1999. What happened to you at the end of 1999?
Wit: Taylor suspended me and sent me to jail for six months. He said he had intelligence information that I was supporting the attacks.
Pros: And then in 2001 you became Deputy Chief of Staff for the Army Division?
Wit: Yes, I was promoted straight from jail, armed and sent the front.
Pros: Earlier you mentioned a militia called “Strike Force”. What was that?
Wit: A militia headed by Adolphus Dolo in Nimba County. He was one of the junior commandos for the NPFL, and today is a representative for Nimba County in the House of Representatives. The commander of the Strike Force reported to Benjamin Yeaten, who in 2001-2002 was SSS director, the Joint Chief of Staff, and supervisor for all of the divisions, all of the militias. Benjamin Yeaten reported to Mr. Taylor. Yeaten’s rank was four-star general. Nobody had a higher rank, except Mr. Taylor who had a five-star general rank. At this time he was based at Lofa County. The Army Chief of Staff reported to Yeaten, and sometimes to Taylor. All divisions reported to Yeaten or to Taylor directly. The head of the Wild Geese reported to Yeaten. The head of the ATU reported to Mr. Taylor directly.
Pros; What other commanders were in Lofa at the time?
Wit: Navy Division and Marine Division were in Foya.
Pros: Did the RUF come to assist in the fight against LURD?
Wit: Yes, they operated in Foya, Kolahun and Voinjama. When Abu Keita was in Voinjama, he sent me a letter saying he was in good hands with the RUF. The RUF was reporting to Yeaten directly. Mr. Taylor gave guns to Yeaten, who in turn distributed them to the RUF and other groups in Lofa. Some of the wounded RUF fighters were taken to JFK hospital in Monrovia. There were reports in the media accusing the government of sending Liberians to Sierra Leone, and that Sierra Leoneans were fighting in Liberia. Some reporters were arrested for these reports, including the curent election commissioner. They were arrested for saying Liberians were sent to Sierra Leone.
I took instructions directly from Yeaten, and sometimes directly from Taylor. He called me many times, every 2-3 days. He wanted to know the situation at the battle front. The chiefs of staffs of the other divisions, they received instruction either from Yeaten or directly from Taylor. We were all issued satellite phones so that Taylor could call us directly.
I was at a meeting when his home town, Arthington, was attacked, very close to the city. He called all of the chiefs of staff together for a meeting. The Marine Chief of Staff, Fassu, was arrested at the meeting because he had lost territory. My own boss, Joseph Montgomery, was put under house arrest for saying that if we can’t execute this war, we should forget about it. Yeaten arrested Fassu and put into jail at the Battle Training Center in the center of Monrovia. Taylor instructed Yeaten to place Montgomery under house arrest.
Chiefs of staff would not call meetings among themselves unless these were called by Yeaten or Taylor. Nobody else had the power to call a meeting. Only Taylor had that power.
Taylor never visited anybody in their territory. He always sent Yeaten to visit us. Yeaten only visited me three times at the front line. For other meetings, he would call and say the meetings would be at Charles Taylor’s place.
Pros: How many?
Wit: We had another meeting at Taylor’s residence with Daniel Chea, when Taylor said that he would have to quit the presidency and leave because the international community was on his back. Chea was Defense Minister and had the rank of Brigadier General, a one-star general. Taylor said he would go to Nigeria and said there was an international conspiracy against him led by the US and UK. That was the last meeting we had with him.
Pros: In 2001-2002, who was in charge of bringing arms and ammunition to Lofa.
Wit: Taylor was in charge of arms and ammunition. He would give them to Yeaten to distribute, or sometimes he would give them to us directly. Sometimes there was too much, and I had to take the arms and ammunition to my house. Taylor would give instructions to some of the SSS officers at the White Flower, his residence, to give a certain amount of arms and ammunition to certain persons. Arms and ammuntion were taken to the fighters in Lofa County. Sometimes we picked it up at White Flower. Sometimes Yeaten would take them to the Division Chiefs of Staff, or Taylor would call you directly to White Flower and you would take it for yourself. Each of the chiefs of staff had not less than three cars. Taylor gave each 3 or four cars. They were Land Cruisers, trucks and open-back vehicles. We would drive the arms and ammuntion to Lofa. Sometimes they would use the ATU helicopter to drop it to us in Lofa. ATU had two helicopters: one green-black and gray camoflauge, and another that was army color green – a solid color. Ukrainians and South Africans flew the helicopters. Mr. Taylor had the control of the helicopters, and also Yeaten, Momoh Gibba and Chuckie Taylor.
The helicopters would fly to Foya, Kolahun, Voinjama, and Zorzor. I used to get not less than 250 bags of AK-47 rounds, or 50 RPG bombs, or 300 AK-47s for Army Division. Army Division did not get ammunition by helicopter. I always picked up the ammunition personally at White Flower and took it to Lofa myself. If it was too much, I would store some of it at my house. If we lost ammunition, we could be court martialed.
The ammunition bags were emptied at White Flower and the ammunition put into empty rice bags. We would burn the original bags, because Mr. Taylor did not want those bags to be exposed to outside people. Those bags would show where the ammunition came from in violation of the arms embargo. Sometimes you’d see Chinese or Arabic writing on the bags.