Prosecutor Brenda Hollis continues her questioning of witness Varmuyan Sherif. She is showing photographs to him and the court.
Witness identifies the following:
The person in this first photo is Benjamin Yeaten, (pictured in a military uniform, speaking on a phone).
Wit: The second photo is of Sam Bockarie (standing with a group of other men).
Wit: The third photo is of Sam Bockarie and Zigazag Marsa (ph) (the two standing together on a road).
Wit: The fourth photo is of Abu Keita (standing with two other men).
Wit: The fifth photo shows Momoh Gibba, Charles Taylor, Musa – the deputy ADC, another man who is the counsellor for Africa (shown shaking hands with Taylor) and Joseph Montgomery. (Picture is apparently at an airport.)
Pros: You were Assistant Dir. of Operations for SSS. You were also Deputy Chief of Staff and Acting Chief of Staff of the Army Divisions. How would you characterize Taylor’s relationship with Benjamin Yeaten?
Wit: Like father and son. Taylor is the father and Yeaten is the son. Taylor made it clear to all SSS members, that Yeaten is like his son. Yeaten was very cordial with Taylor. Yeaten did everything for Taylor. But if Yeaten did anything without first asking instructions, it was still OK. When the Special Court wanted to arrest Taylor in Ghana, Yeaten arrested two of the Liberian ministers. Taylor went on the radio and said Yeaten should acknowledge his mistake, and that is all.
Pros: How would you characterize the relationship between Taylor and the RUF?
Wit: He was the father of the RUF. Bockarie told me, that Taylor would send him on a mission, and when he sent Bockarie on a mission he was small. He told me he had seen Taylor and talked with his father, and he felt fine.
Pros: Yesterday you said you fought as a member of ULIMO against the RUF and NPFL in Sierra Leone. What period of time was that?
Wit: End of 1991 to 1992. I fought there for six months before I crossed over to Liberia.
Wit: In Pujehun District, Sierra Leone – from Banda Juma where the paved road stops.
Pros: What did you learn in this period about the treatment of civilians by the RUF and NPFL?
Wit: Civilians who refused to retreat with them or carry their loads for them, they would be executed. Children, men and women were forced to join the forces. They took women they wanted, and if the husband resisted, he would be executed.
Pros: Yesterday, you spoke about the treatment of civilians by the NPFL in Liberia and said that if a civilian has food and a soldier does not, then the “civilian does not have blood and the fighter would take the food”. what does that mean?
Wit: The fighter cannot be hungry and the unarmed civilian has food. That cannot be. The armed person must eat before the civilian.
Pros: who used this expression “the civilian does not have blood”.
Wit: All the warring factions.
Pros: Were you familiar with the term “capture live”? What does that mean?
Wit: Yes, it means in a captured village, you can take any woman you like.
Pros: Who used this term?
Wit: All militias fighting for Mr. Taylor.
Pros: Did you hear the term SBU during this time?
Wit: Yes, that means Small Boy Unit. It is NPFL that created these. Then SBU had a commander called Zoupon. When ULIMO and NPFL merged, Zoupon had his own SBU unit under the SS Cobra of the NPFL with small children, 12-16 years old. When I took over as Deputy Chief of Staff or the Army Division, every division was supplied with a Small Boy Unit. At the end of the month, we reported to Yeaten on our supplies. My SBU commander was Junior, and he was just 10-11 years old. Every division had such an SBU.
Pros: From August 1997 to 2002, did you listen to commercial radio stations in Liberia?
Wit: Yes, a local station, ELBC and also the BBC.
Pros: What did you hear about the treatement of civilians in Sierra Leone?
Wit: I heard about about the amputation of people’s hands – they called it “short-sleeve and long-sleeve”. I also saw it on BBC and CNN.
Defense objects: Why use this witness to introduce this evidence, why not get records from the broadcasters directly? Prosecution replies that this goes to notice, that this witness living in Liberia at the time had this information available to him. Defense argues that this witness won’t be able to speak to the exact nature of the material he heard or viewed. Prosecution argues that if witness can’t give detail, that will be a question of weight of the evidence. This is a valid way to show that the accused knew about the atrocities in Sierra Leone.
Judge Sebutinde: The question is allowed. The objections of the defense go to the weight of the evidence.
Pros: Did the stations that you heard, did they explain what “short-sleeve” and “long sleeve” meant?
Wit: From what I heard and saw over the radio and satellite, this meant cutting off the arm at the upper arm, or cutting off the hand at the wrist.
Pros: Did the programs say who was doing these things?
Wit: They mentioned the RUF, AFRC and West Side Boys.
Pros: Did Charles Taylor have a television in his executive mansion?
Wit: He had a television in his office, and a CNN television in the waiting room outside his office.
Prosecutor Hollis says this concludes the direct examination of the witness.