Proceedings have resumed and the defense team is present. Judge Sebutinde announces that the court has adjusted the hearing schedule as requested by the defense team.
Lead defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths continues his cross-examination of prosecution witness Varmuyan Sherif:
Def: On Friday I was asking you about one particular aspect of your testimony. You said you had seen Bockarie in possession of a jar of diamonds. I showed you passages in your first interview with the prosecution when you were asked about diamonds. (Defense points to a page of the witness’s old interview with the prosecution.) Do you see where you were asked about diamonds and how you didn’t see diamond transactions personally. What did you mean “I didn’t see”?
Wit: I didn’t see him doing diamond transactions.
Def: You’ve never seen a diamond transaction involving Taylor?
Wit: Yes. I did not see him particularly.
Def: Now (pointing to another page of the interview transcript) you see where you were again asked about diamonds. The name Eddie Kanneh is put to you. When you answered the prosecution here in court, you said Eddie Kanneh is a diamond dealer and that he has a connection with your ex-wife?
Wit: Yes, they both come from Bo, Sierra Leone.
Def: What was Kanneh’s involvement with diamonds?
Wit: Kanneh told me he was business manager for RUF diamonds and he was the go-between for the RUF with the NPFL government.
Def: You understood that to be his responsibility and not that of Sam Bockarie?
Wit: Bockarie gave the position to Eddie Kanneh. Kanneh was working under Bockarie.
Def: His responsibility was diamond dealing?
Wit: He was always given the diamonds with instructions. He told me he had this position in the RUF and had been given it by Sam Bockarie.
Def: Do you accept that nowhere in your interview you mentioned seeing Sam Bockarie in possession of a jar of diamonds in Voinjama?
Wit: I had several interviews. In one of my interviews I said I saw Bockarie with diamonds.
Def: I’m asking about your first interview with the prosecution.
Wit: In my first interview we did not get to the diamond discussion.
Def: That’s incorrect. You were asked on seven occasions in this interview about diamonds. You never mentioned seeing diamonds in the possession of Bockarie.
Wit: I don’t know about that particular interview. I didn’t do all the interviews on one day.
Def: I know you had several interviews. I’m only asking about the first interview. You never said you saw Bockarie with diamonds?
Def: You also didn’t mention seeing Bockarie executing five Kamajors in Kailahun. Do you accept that?
Wit: I mentioned it in the first interview.
Def: You didn’t. You did later, but not in the first interview. I suggest you didn’t mention either of those incidents is because you never went to fetch Bockarie at the request of Taylor.
Wit: That’s not true.
Def: It’s a total fabrication.
Wit: It’s not a fabrication. I have nothing personal against Taylor. I’m telling the truth here.
Def: You told us that when you arrived in Voinjama, you met a senior intelligence officer who had traveled by helicopter from Monrovia?
Wit: Robert Biah landed in Tenembo (ph) and drove to Voinjama to check Bockarie’s identification.
Def: It would have been much easier to transport Bockarie to Monrovia by helicopter?
Judge Sebutinde interrupts to say that this question was asked and answered last week. Defense says he has received further instructions on this from Charles Taylor, and Sebutinde allows the question.
Wit: The problem was with ECOMOG, and it was safer to move Bockarie by road.
Def: You told us last week that there were no facilities for a helicopter to land at the Executive Mansion.
Wit: A helicopter has never landed at the Executive Mansion.
Def: Is the Executive Mansion on 15 plus acres of land?
Wit: I did not say there wasn’t space. I’m saying I never saw a helicopter land there.
Def: But one could land in front of the mansion, and a soccer ground within the grounds of the mansion, and a very large lawn at the rear of the mansion?
Def: (Pointing to the interview transcript again) Here you’re asked about helicopters. You described the helicopters coming to Foya as one with fatigues and one with camoflauge. Correct?
Def: Then on this page you say one was fatigue and one was camoflauge. What color camoflauge?
Wit: Green mixed with black.
Def: Were there helicopters available to the governement that were not those colors?
Wit: THere were ATU helicopters.
Def: What color?
Wit: Fatigue and camoflauge. These helicopters were used to bomb Lofa and the surroundings. Green and black camoflauge.
Def: I want to ask about arms and the RUF. Would you agree that the vast majority of arms you know went to the RUF were bought by the RUF from former ULIMO combatants?
Wit: That’s not true. Arms were coming through Roberts International airport. I also saw Zigzag Mazar delivering weapons. I saw Bockarie with Yeaten in Foya and an associate saw a truckload of arms.
Def: Do you agree that many commanders of the various militias and factions, following Taylor’s elections, for a number of reasons, did things without the authority of Taylor?
Def: For personal, financial, ethnic or tribal reasons. Do you agree?
Wit: Please ask in detail.
Def: The combatants from the various factions were not being paid regularly after the elections?
Wit: Taylor only paid those who were obligated to him?
Def: Most combatants were not paid?
Wit: Who was paying them?
Def: Were the former ULIMO combatants being paid after the election?
Wit: He assisted them with money. He gave 20,000 to distribute. He gave rice every month for one year to former ULIMO-K?
Def: Isn’t it true that some commanders would sell arms illegally given them by the Liberian government in order to make money on the side?
Wit: Those in Lofa might have done there. I wasn’t there and didn’t witness it.
Def: Did ULIMO buy arms from ECOMOG officers and soldiers?
Wit: I don’t know. I was not the leader of ULIMO. I was the commander at the battlefront. You should ask the leader of ULIMO.
Def: I’m suggesting you did buy arms illegally from ECOMOG.
Def: Did ULIMO do private deals with Sierra Leonean military officers in the border area in addition to the official assistance from Sierra Leone?
Wit: That’s true.
Def: Similar deals were being done with Guinean troops?
Wit: I’m not aware of that.
Def: Guinean soldiers sold their arms illegally to groups like ULIMO, didn’t they?
Wit: ULIMO never had an arms shortage. Many of the arms came from captured areas. We took NPFL weapons too.
Def: Where Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea meet in Lofa, there was a brisk business in diamonds, arms and looted goods.
Wit: I don’t deny it. That’s war.
Def: That area is like the Wild West?
Wit: Yes, of course.
Def: I want to ask about (points to another page of the interview transcript) when you were asked, about 45 minutes into the interview. You were told that there would be a period of the interview “off the record”. What did you talk about?
Wit: I don’t know what that means.
Def: What was so sensitive that you talked about for 10 or more minutes during this interview?
Wit: I can’t remember.
Def: Is there anything you’d want to talk to the OTP about “off the record”?
Wit: I can’t remember.
Def: Were you made promises of money or any other benefit in exchange for certain evidence?
Def: What were you talking about “off the record”?
Wit: I can’t remember.
Def: I want to show you the correlation between interviews conducted with you and payments received by you. (Shows document.) After that interview, you received 70 US dollars. What was that for?
Wit: To cover transport to the area where they wanted to see me.
Def: But you were working in Monrovia at the time?
Wit: Yes, but not for the Special Court.
Def: Were you living in Monrovia at the time of the interview?
Def: Was the interview in Monrovia?
Def: What were your travel expenses to cover this interview?
Wit: It was given to me to cover my expenses.
Def: You were given 70 dollars on March 9. Then on September 8 and again on September 9, you were given a further 155 US dollars. What was that for?
Wit: They wanted me to bring an individual from Boma Hills and I had to hire a car to get there.
Def: You were paid although you attended no further interviews?
Wit: Sometimes the prosecution wanted me to help them get somebody, and they’d give me transportation to Nimba or Gbarnga.
Def: You were conducting investigations?
Wit: No. I was just getting individuals for them.
Def: How many witnesses did you manage to locate for the OTP?
Wit: Three persons, I think.
Wit: I can’t remember.
Def: Was it in the period immediately after the February 2005 interview?
Wit: It was after that interview.
Def: Let’s look at these payments in more detail. We see here details of the three payments I’ve asked about. You see the first was made on March 9. The reason is stated as “payment to source to assist OTP in locating witnesses”. When we see the second payment of 100 dollars on September 8, it was for “reactivation of source development”. What does that mean?
Wit: I don’t know. I was given money to locate witnesses and cover expenses.
Def: What is “reactivation of source development”?
Wit: I don’t know what that means. It was to cover expenses and locate people for them.
Def: You were further interviewed by the prosecution on the 8th and 9th of July 2006. (Points to summary of that interview.) I want to ask you about this. We see that this was supposedly a clarification interview conducted in Monrovia. Present were David Cunningham and Joseph Sesay. Do you recall it?
Wit: I don’t know their names.
Def: But you remember being interviewed in July 2007?
Wit: I don’t remember the people’s names.
Def: We see here that the summary states the witness discussed Bockarie’s communications with Taylor. You told us here in court that after the stopover in Voinjama, you drove to Wiesua where Bockarie was met, and you continued to Monrovia with his bodyguards?
Def: In this interview you said it was at Gbarnga, not Wiesua?
Wit: It was Wiesua. When Taylor sent me back to the place I had left Bockarie, I went to Wiesua but had to wait because they were having a meeting in Gbarnga.
Def: Why in this interview did you say it was Gbarnga?
Wit: They wrote it wrong.
Def: I suggest you’re lying about the whole trip and that’s why your account is always changing?
Wit: I’m telling the truth.
Def: Gbarnga is a different place than Wiesua, isn’t it? Yes or no?
Def: In the final paragraph, you are reported as saying that in relation to the purchase of arms by the RUF from ULIMO, Taylor wanted to open Lofa for Bockarie to move back and forth and that people from Lofa should have free movement in Sierra Leone. Who are you quoting there about this?
Wit: There was an instruction from Taylor.
Prosecutor Brenda Hollis points out that this is a summary interview, and that the quote in the summary is from the witness himself. Defense says that if there’s a quotation, it must refer to a transcript of the interview, with which the defense has never been provided. Prosecution says there was no transcipt.
Judge Sebutinde agrees with prosecution that the quotes refer to a quote from the witness himself.
Defense counsel says he wants to see the original notes from the interviewer. He points out that the interview lasted two days, but that the summary is only three pages long. Prosecution: defense will get that. Defense says that in every instance of every summary, the defense would like to see full notes – and that this applies to all witnesses. Prosecution says that information in the original notes are put in total into a typed form. Prosecution will provide hand-written originals as requested.
Def: (to witness) Did you have a conversation with Taylor as described in that paragraph? Do you see you make references to opening corridors between Liberia and Sierra Leone. Are you referring to a conversation with Taylor?
Def: More specific?
Def: Where did that conversation happen?
Wit: White Flower.
Def: Who else was there?
Wit: Osebio Demeh (ph) and Musa Cissa.
Def: You’re lying.
Wit: I’m not.
Def: (points to another part of the interview summary) Here it says Taylor appointed Christopher Varmoh as NPFL commander for Lofa. True?
Def: You clarified that you did not see the money transactions. Is that true?
Wit: I don’t understand.
Sebutinde complains that she also doesn’t follow and asks the interpreter to speak clearly.
Def: Did you ever witness a money transaction involving the sale of arms to the RUF?
Wit: Yes. When Superman came, he was buying arms in Voinjama and taking them to Sam Bockarie.
Def: Who handed the money over?
Wit: Taylor said he would provide money for Bockarie.
Def: I’m asking about the transaction you say you saw.
Wit: Superman had the money and was buying the arms.
Def: Whom did he give the money to.
Wit: Former fighters.
Def: From which factions?
Wit: All factions, including NPFL.
Def: So money was going to individual combatants?
Def: What were you talking about when here it says “did not see money transactions”?
Wit: Superman went with Bockarie to Monrovia when I took him. I knew what Superman was doing and he used to explain it to me.
Def: Do you see where it says witness says arms to RUF were coming from all warring factions–from ULIMO, NPFL and Liberian Peace Council –and that Taylor initially stated all ULIMO arms should first be brought to Monrovia, but after the recruitment and deployment, Taylor ordered that all weapons from Lofa should be directly sent to Sierra Leone. At first this happened on a weekly basis, but then Bockarie took control of Lofa, and fighters took weapons to Sierra Leone all the time. RPGs, AK-47s, ammunition. Fighters were being paid 200-300/weapon. Witness states some weapons were exchanged for looted items from Freetown. Witness said this occured after the Freetown invasion. Do you agree with all of that?
Def: So the sale of arms was being conducted by individual combatants?
Wit: They did it individually following the instruction. Taylor later instructed me that the former combatants in Lofa should sell them to the RUF in Lofa or go to Sierra Leone to sell them. Taylor told me he gave money to Bockarie for the purchases.
Def: You’re aware the Freetown invasion took place in 1999?
Wit: The first one happened after the AFRC government was removed from power. That was at the start of 1998.
Def: On the next page, you see “the witness states…” that Liberian ex-combatants who were trading looted property were invited to Sierra Leone by Bockarie. Many people who crossed over were recruited into the RUF. Witness says ULIMO only came up in the area of Lofa County, and at this time the RUF were not dealing with a specific warring faction. Taylor did not have any specific influence with these people–only to the extent he was condoning free movement across the border. Private people were going to diamond mining areas. What did you mean, Taylor had no specific influence?
Wit: People were going there by themselves. Taylor provided a guarantee of security.
Def: Taylor didn’t have a great deal of influence over this lawless area, did he?
Wit: This lawlessness started after Bockarie’s visit. After the election, the area was very quiet. When Taylor gave the freedom to everybody, that’s when the lawlessness started.
Def: Do you agree that Taylor had very little influence in the area?
Wit: At the end of 1998/beginning of 1999 he deployed the army and police throughout Lofa.
Def: Do you agree that Taylor had little influence in the area? When do you say Taylor’s influence was diminished in that area?
Wit: I don’t understand.
Def: Was there a time when Taylor did not have any influence in that area?
Wit: After the elections Taylor never had control over the other warring factions’ territories. But little by little he began deploying men and eventually took control over the entire area.
Court is adjourning until 11:00. With the half-hour delay in the video and audio feed to the media center, this live-blog will continue at 11:30.