Defense counsel for Charles Taylor, Terry Munyard, continues his cross-examination of prosecution expert witness Dr. Stephen Ellis:
Def: (References a page in the witness’s report) You say that Taylor was assisted at times by hundreds of troops loaned by Burkina Faso. I put to you that Burkina Faso provided materiel, but no troops.
Wit: The president of Burkina Faso has publicly acknowledged providing troops.
Def: You say Taylor’s administration was marked by a personality cult and that Amos Sawyer said Taylor often boasted he made decisions alone within the NPFL. What’s unusual about that?
Wit: Nothing. It’s just that some governments are more collegial than others.
Def: You say Taylor maintained a number of different armed and security units armed by rival commanders. He inherited a number of units, including the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit set up by Israel for Doe?
Wit: It no longer existed.
Def: That was the title of a pre-existing unit?
Wit: The Special ATU ceased to exist by 1991.
Def: Some of his family members had positions in government, but no necessarily for long periods of time?
Wit: Yes, some of these for short periods of time.
Def: You talk about the absence of an efficient bureacuracy in Liberia. In fact there was a fully functioning government from 1997?
Wit: There was a full range of ministries and departments, but these didn’t cover an efficient bureacracy – largely due to the damage from the war and erosion of the bureacracy under Doe. Under Taylor, titles and institutions existed, but they were hollow shells. A ministry of mines existed, but all minerals were under command of the president. A panel of experts report said that the maritime agency provided money to Taylor.
Def: But there was a private company in the US that took most of the profits from the shipping registry.
Wit: A panel of experts report in 2003 dealt with detail about how Taylor reorganized revenues from the shipping registry. Lester Hyman was key in the reorganization, and that’s why I regard him as an important source. Monies were diverted to arms purchases without going to the Liberian treasury. This was referred to as “non-cash receipts”.
Def: Taylor effectively set up a government of national unity after his unity. 60% of positions were given to former adversaries?
Wit: We saw a system where cabinet ministers were formally under their control, but he established parallel structures to maintain actual control.
Def: He brought in ULIMO leaders?
Wit: He did, but he controlled the bureacracy under them. These were key officials who were never government ministers.
Def: But more were from outside his party, including Alhaji Kromah?
Wit: Perhaps. Kromah was a minister. Roosevelt Johnson was Minister of Agriculture.
Def: You say Taylor’s association with the RUF may be situated in the context of a multiplicity of armed forces. You describe how you say Taylor maintained control and power within his movement and government. This is divide and rule. How does this have bearing on his relationship with the RUF?
Wit: He had competing security forces, and also an unofficial network of control that paralleled the official networks.
Def: Ruling by divide and rule has no bearing on his relationship with the RUF?
Wit: He had many security forces, and the RUF can be seen in this context.
Def: How does this relate to the RUF?
Wit: The relationship with the RUF can be understood within that context.
Def: (References another section of the report) You set out the SL TRC’s view that the NPFL were primary perpetrators in the first phase of the SL civil war until 1994. That doesn’t take account of the breech between NPFL and RUF in 1992?
Wit: The TRC report acknowledges an evolution in the relationship, but sees the NPFL as remaining a key player.
Def: You’ve conflated what they’ve said about what they’ve said about 1991-2 with what they’ve said about the three phases of the war.
Wit: I’m not. The TRC says the war can be understood in three phases, and that in the first phase the NPFL were primary perpetrators.
Def: You’re not recognizing the breech in 1992.
Wit: We agree that there’s a change of phase after 1994.
Def: I suggest that 1992-1997, there is virtually no contact between the NPFL and RUF at a formal level.
Wit: I don’t believe there was ever formal contact with the RUF due to its nature. I don’t know what you mean.
Def: As a whole, the NPFL was not involved with the RUF in Sierra Leone from 1993-1997.
Wit: I disagree. There were continuing relations between members of the NPFL and members of the RUF. I accept the intensity of the relationship had changed. At a certain point ULIMO control of the border area made contact more difficult.
Def: There was indeed a physical barrier?
Wit: I agree, but that doesn’t mean contacts ceased. There was a military wedge between the two organizations.
Def: On diamonds, you state that smuggling from SL to Liberia was not a new development, that the diamond industry in SL had been seriously affected by the involvement of all sorts of dubious people. You write that control of diamond fields in SL became more of an objective for many, including Taylor. Control of diamond fields is an illusory concept isn’t it?
Wit: I’ve seen diamond fields under armed guard.
Def: Control changed over time?
Def: You say there were cease-fires to allow mining by different factions. That included ECOMOG?
Yes: Yes. A UNAMSIL commander even resigned in protest.
Def: Gen Jetley leveled the accusation as a NIgerian general?
Def: Gen Kobe was also involved according to Lansana Gberie?
Wit: I don’t know, but that could be.
Def: ECOMOG was in SL from 1991 onwards?
Wit: There was a small Nigerian presence in SL from a very early time. Nigerian troops were based in SL as part of the ECOMOG deployment to Liberia in August 1990.
Def: What do you know of ECOMOG’s role in the diamond business?
Wit: We get into complex, unclear arrangements. It’s clear that over time that some members of ECOMOG developed interest in the diamond business. It’s complicated due to the arrival in 1995 of mercenaries, Executive Outcomes, linked to companies dealing in diamonds.
Def: What did Executive Outcomes do in relation with diamonds?
Wit: They fought the RUF, increasingly in the areas of diamond fields. Executive Outcomes and ECOMOG were on the same side.
Def: ECOMOG smuggled diamonds?
Wit: Some ECOMOG individuals smuggled diamonds for personal gains. Executive Outcomes had a formal arrangement with diamond companies.
Def: The Economist reported that Nigerian troops mined diamonds across from RUF in accordance with local deals – cited in Gberie’s book.
Wit: I’m not familiar with the report, but I accept that it was the case.
Def: By this time they were UNAMSIL?
Wit: Yes, Nigerian forces who had been wit ECOMOG were “blue-hatted” to serve with UNAMSIL, but increasingly, UN forces were non-Nigerian.