Court has been called to order. Judge Sebutinde announces that the ICC has requested that the Special Court adjourn the trial for the morning of January 17 so that the public gallery of the courtroom can be used for other purposes. To compensate for this lost time, the bench proposes to sit full days on each of the succeeding Fridays. Prosecution and Defense both say they have no objections.
Lead defense counsel for Taylor, Courtenay Griffiths, continues his cross-examination of prosecution witness Varmuyan Sherif:
Def: Yesterday I was asking you about general propositions in order to see your reactions. Let’s start again. I suggest you were never invited to the president’s house on a social basis.
Wit: Not true.
Def: I suggest that was the case when he lived near to the German embassy and when he was living at White Flower.
Wit: Who invited me?
Def: Taylor, he never did.
Wit: It was my responsibility to see him every morning before going to my job. It was my duty.
Def: Would you regard you relationship with Taylor as a friendly one?
Wit: I was not friendly with him. I was security. It was my duty.
Def: Did he ever invite you as a friend to either of his houses?
Wit: We are not friends. I was his security. It was my responsibility to appear before him every morning.
Def: I suggest that was never your responsiblity.
Wit: It was my responsibility.
Def: Do you agree that you’ve never sat down and had a drink with Mr. Taylor?
Wit: We were not friends. I never sat down to drink with him.
Def: You’ve never sat down and watch TV with him?
Def: So you don’t know what TV he watched?
Wit: I saw CNN on his TV in his office and in his waiting area.
Def: Did you sit down and watch with him?
Wit: There is a TV on his desk with CNN, when I went into his office to see him. And a TV in his residence.
Def: Do you agree that you’ve never spent more than a few minutes in his company at any one time?
Wit: Yes, 5-10 minutes.
Def: Would you agree you were never an “insider” – one of Taylor’s trusted inner circle?
Wit: I was one of the trustful men. That’s why he appointed me to these senior positions and let me travel with a side-arm with him. He wouldn’t have done that if he didn’t trust me.
Def: Do you agree that Taylor had a trusted inner circle of friends and colleagues?
Wit: He had other trusted people also.
Def: Do you agree that Yeaten was much closer to the president than you were?
Wit: Of course.
Def: A number of individuals were closer than you?
Wit: Of course.
Def: So there was a clear distinction between that inner circle and yourself?
Def: You were never an insider, as the prosecution claims.
Prosecution requests of the judge that defense define what he means by the word “insider”. Judge Sebutinde agrees.
Def: You were never as close to the president as you are trying to suggest to this court.
Wit: We had different jobs in the SSS. I prepared the assignments. We had the aide d’camp group to assist the president unless he requested people specifically. He had 5 special attendants always in his house. They were directed by SSS. When the motorcade was ready to move, the Director of SSS, Deputy Director and Assistant Director had to be there. I don’t know what you mean by “insider”. We all had obligations to perform.
Def: Your primary responsibility was for transport of the president?
Wit: Not my first responsibility. My first responsibility was to protect his life.
Def: You accept that you had been a senior member of ULIMO?
Def: You accept that therefore you were treated with suspicion by many former NPLF members?
Wit: In 2000.
Def: Even when you were appointed as Assistant Director, you were still regarded with suspicion.
Wit: From 1997 until 2000, then Taylor started looking at me with suspicious eyes. Then I was sent to prison. NPFL people told Taylor that war was coming from Guinea and that Sherif was former ULIMO-K, so we don’t trust him.
Def: There came a time when Mr. Taylor distrusted you?
Wit: Yes, in 2000.
Def: At the time of the LURD invasion, involving many former ULIMO fighters, were you regarded with suspicion then?
Def: That was in 1998?
Wit: I know about the end of 1999.
Def: Do you agree that from the time of that invasion, you were regarded with suspicion.
Wit: I was in jail for six months, then he called and apologized to me and gave me 2 assignments.
Def: Were you as close to the president as Dopoe Menkerzan?
Wit: I know him in person. I don’t know how close he was to the president. He was one of the men who trained with Taylor in Libya.
Def: He had a much longer relationship to Taylor than you?
Def: Were you as close to the president as Roland Duo?
Def: Were you as close to the president as Momoh Gibba?
Wit: Gibba was my senior officer, he was closer to the president as senior aide d’camp.
Def: Do you agree you have never seen Taylor and Bockarie together?
Wit: I never saw Taylor together with Sam Bockarie. That is true.
Def: Bearing in mind what you have told us, do you agree you have no idea why Taylor would want to speak with Sam Bockarie?
Wit: I was not there, so I don’t know.
Def: You were never present when Taylor spoke to Bockarie?
Wit: I was never there when he was talking to Bockarie.
Def: So you have no idea what they spoke about?
Sebutinde: That question was already answered.
Def: You have never seen Bockarie give diamonds to Taylor?
Wit: I never saw them together. I never saw him give diamonds to Taylor.
Def: Do you agree you have no idea what happened to the diamonds you claim to have seen in Sam Bockarie’s possession?
Wit: I don’t have that idea.
Def: The last time you saw that jar of diamonds was in Voinjama?
Wit: When Bockarie was taking off his jacket to take his bath, I saw the jar full of diamonds.
Def: You never saw that jar again?
Wit: I saw diamonds with Sam Bockarie.
Def: Do you agree that after Voinjama, you never saw that jar of diamonds again?
Wit: I never saw it again.
Def: Do you agree that you never saw Charles Taylor give Sam Bockarie money?
Wit: No, but Taylor told me he gave Bockarie money. I never saw him give the money. I never saw them together.
Def: I suggest you’re lying that the president told you he gave Bockarie money.
Wit: It’s true.
Def: Do you agree you have no idea what instructions, if any, Charles Taylor gave to Sam Bockarie.
Wit: I don’t know because I wasn’t in their meeting.
Def: Want to talk about your account of going to Sierra Leone to bring Bockarie back to meet with Charles Taylor. Please confirm the outline of the account you gave us. (Cites earlier court transcript from Jan 9.) You began your telling of this trip by referring to the seizure of the helicopter at the Monrovia airport. You said end 1998/beginning of 1999. Is that what you said?
Wit: I said it happened in 1998.
Def: At the end or beginning?
Wit: It was the beginning of 1998.
Def: You went on to say that after the incident at the airport, Taylor called you to his 4th floor office at the Executive Mansion. You cited who was present (including Joseph Montgomery, Momoh Gibba, etc) All were present when you were given this instruction?
Def: At that meeting he told you to bring Sam Bockarie?
Def: You said Taylor did not explain why he wanted to see Bockarie?
Def: You went on to say that at the time you were given the assignment, you did not know who Sam Bockarie was.
Wit: I knew Bockarie to be RUF commander. Becuase when ULIMO was battling RUF, I used to hear his name as leader of RUF.
Def: You were asked the same question by prosecutor but you said no. You said you did not know Mosquito Sam Bockarie in particular. Right?
Def: When you went to see Bockarie were you given a letter of introduction or other document?
Def: Do you agree that when asked by prosecutor Brenda Hollis on Wednesday, you said that if a document had been given to you, it could have caused problems with ECOMOG? That Taylor hadn’t told you that, and you hadn’t requested a document?
Def: You had no difficulty crossing into Sierra Leone?
Wit: I had no difficulty.
Def: You say when you saw Bockarie, he was with a group of up to five Kamajors?
Wit: Yes, in Kailahun. He executed them.
Def: You said he shot them with a gun.
Def: Do you agree that that act by Bockarie was not only surprising, but also horrific?
Wit: It was bad.
Def: Would you agree that it’s the kind of incident that would stick in your mind?
Def: Do you recall saying you traveled from Kailahun to Bockarie’s house in Beudu? That you told us Bockarie was suspicious of you? And asked in particular why Taylor had sent you rather than an NPFL member?
Witness agrees with all.
Def: You agree that he was suspicious because you were former ULIMO?
Def: Is it right he told you that he did not trust you?
Wit: He was right.
Def: You said you spent the night at Bockarie’s house?
Def: You say on the following day you walked 20 yards from his house to where a radio was located?
Def: Do you agree he told the radio operator to call Monrovia and the Executive Mansion, and that worried you?
Def: Because you didn’t know that the RUF had any connection with the Executive Mansion?
Def: You said you didn’t provide any information on how to call the Executive Mansion.
Wit: I gave them no information.
Def: So that information on how to call was already in Bockarie’s possession?
Def: On the return journey, Bockarie was reassured, and you traveled by a different route.
Wit: Bockarie told me that.
Def: In Voinjama, you said you stopped there because Bockarie said he wanted a bath and a haircut. So you took him to your family home?
Def: At a time you were present with one of your senior officers and Bockarie, Bockarie took off his jacket and inside that jacket you saw a mayonaise jar full of diamonds.
Wit: Yes, a middle size.
Def: Indicate using your hands how big. (witness indicates) So we’re talking about something 8 inches tall by the length of your palm.
Def: It had been concealed inside his jacket?
Wit: It was inside his military jacket.
Def: A camoflouge helicopter came to meet you?
Wit: Yes, to a village ten miles from Voinjama.
Def: The director of intelligence was on board?
Wit: Yes, the assistant director.
Def: The purpose was to confirm Bockarie’s identity?
Def: So having confirmed his identity, that man got on the helicopter and flew back to Monrovia?
Wit: Yes, after thanking me.
Def: So it would have been possible to put Bockarie in the helicopter and take him back to Monrovia?
Wit: Those were not the instructions. This man was junior to me, and I would have needed an order from Taylor or Yeaten to turn over Bockarie to him.
Def: In practical terms, Bockarie could have been transported by helicopter?
Wit: No, because ECOMOG was at the airport and we had to be careful.
Def: You went to Wiesua where you parted with Bockarie?
Def: Did you encounter ECOMOG roadblocks?
Wit: No, there were none. ECOMOG roadblocks were only close to the city. Yeaten came in his vehicle with dark windows to take Bockarie to Monrovia.
Def: Do you agree it’s possible to land a helicopter within the grounds of the Executive Mansion.
Wit: It never happened before.
Defense counsel is consulting with Charles Taylor.
Def: I suggest that’s complete nonsense, but let’s move on.
Def: Was Sam Bockarie known to Taylor before you brought Bockarie to Monrovia?
Wit: I can’t explain that because I didn’t know. He sent me to get Bockarie.
Def: You have no prior knowledge of their relationship?
Wit: I didn’t know. I only heard Taylor was supporting RUF. When Taylor sent me to Sierra Leone to bring Bockarie, that indicated to me that he was the one giving support to the RUF.
Def: When you went to get Bockarie, did you have any knowledge about whether Taylor had met Bockarie before?
Wit: No. When I took Bockarie back, he thanked me and told me that before he had only communicated by phone or radio. He thanked me for bringing him to meet Taylor in person.
Def: At the time you were in Sierra Leone, Lofa fell under the control of Christopher Vambo – the Liberian Mosquito?
Wit: No. No government official had control of Lofa at that time. If I had not gone to Lofa to work with former ULIMO, they were not going to work with Taylor at all.
Defense counsel is conferring with Charles Taylor.
Def: I suggest Christopher Vambo was clearly in charge of that area and you’re not telling us the truth.
Wit: Not true. He became commander of the 8th battalion after my mission. At the time I’m talking about, I was the only one who went.
Def: I’m suggesting that if Taylor wanted to bring Bockarie to Liberia, he didn’t need you. You’re lying about going to Sierra Leone to bring Bockarie.
Wit: Not true, Christopher Vambo was in Monrovia at the time.
Def: Moving on, in late 1998/beginning of 1999, you began to suffer from a form of African sign, didn’t you?
Def: What is “African sign”?
Wit: I don’t know what that is.
Def: Did you not begin to suffer a form of mental illnes?
Wit: Not true.
Def: And didn’t that first develop after the first LURD attacks?
Def: And wasn’t it brought on by your family background?
Wit: Not true.
Def: Your family was very anti-Taylor, wasn’t it?