The testimony of Varmuyan Sherif continues, in response to questions from Prosecutor Brenda Hollis:
I went through a number of towns (the witness traces his route on a map of Liberia and Sierra Leone). When I crossed the border from Liberia to Sierra Leone, we did not have problems because we were in our uniforms. When we got to Pendembu, the RUF commander stationed there questioned us. I don’t remember his name. He was a Sierra Leonean. I told him I came from Monrovia and had a mission to see Sam Bockarie. They didn’t ask more questions and said I could pass to Kailahun. We left Pendembu and went to Kailahun. There I saw a group of armed men. One of my bodyguards went to them to get someone who could get Sam Bockarie for us. We were lucky. The person we called was one of Bockarie’s bodyguards, and he pointed out Bockarie standing in the group. He told us that Bockarie was seeing some Kamajors. Sam Bockarie came out and executed up to five men because he said they were Kamajors. We watched Bockarie execute the people with a gun. Then he issued orders to have others dead by the time he got back. I don’t know what happened to those people. After the execution, Bockarie got into his vehicle and drove off. His bodyguard said we should follow him.
More than three cars full of armed men were in Bockarie’s convoy when he drove off. We followed. We travelled to Beudu. When we arrived in Beudu, we met a checkpoint. They asked our mission. I told them I was from Liberia, from the Executive Mansion, with the SSS, and that we needed to see Sam Bockarie. We told them we were following Bockarie from Kailahun and his bodyguard had said we should follow. They told us to wait. They disarmed us. When they came back, they apologized to us and showed that we were welcome there. We went to Sam Bockarie’s house. When I got there, he asked my mission. I told him Taylor sent me, and that he should come to see Taylor. He asked my name. He said “Aren’t you from ULIMO? I don’t trust you. Why didn’t Taylor send an NPFL man?” I told him because there were some ULIMO-K fighters still in Lofa who weren’t disarmed, so I can pass through Lofa without problems. NPFL people could have problems in Lofa if they had been sent. Taylor hadn’t given me this reason, but this is how I explained it.
After I explained this to him, he said he would call Monrovia to find out. He said we should sleep there until the next day so he could contact the Executive Mansion. We were worried because we didn’t know how he would contact Taylor. He gave me a room to sleep in in that house. The next day he said we should go to the radio room. We walked about 20 yards fromm the house. Sam Bockarie told the radio operator to contact Monrovia, the Executive Mansion. I was worried, because I didn’t know whom he would contact at the Executive Mansion and whether they would know of my mission. Not many people in the Executive Mansion knew of our mission. I never knew that the RUF had any direct link with the Executive Mansion. I did not provide them with any information about how to contact the Executive Mansion.
After the instruction was given, the radio operator contacted the Executive Mansion. The call was answered on the fifth floor of the Executive Mansion, not by the regular operator. The man who answered gave the code “405”, I knew he was an NPFL man who came with Taylor from the NPFL. I recognized his voice too. He said “I’m going to contact Joseph Montgomery”. I felt relieved because Montgomery knew about my mission. Bockarie asked Montgomery about my mission, and Montgomery told Bockarie that whatever instruction I had brough was an instruction from Taylor and that he should comply with it. On the radio Montgomery gave the code “52”, which was his number. My code was “56”. These codes were for the SSS, and those codes are still used today in peace time. (Witness recounts many codes for various officials by title.) I also recognized his voice. We worked together for a long time. I knew his voice. Later I saw the separate communications area on the fifth floor of the Executive Mansion. After the mission to Sierra Leone, I learned that the separate system had a long-range radio for use from country-to-country.
After the communication, Bockarie told me “I am satisfied now. Go prepare to leave.” He asked about the route I had taken to get to Beudu. He wanted to use a different route to go back because he was still afraid to go through Lofa. Bockarie wanted to travel with all of his bodyguards and escorts because he was afraid transiting Lofa. There were three cars. They all had weapons. We went to Koindu, then Mendekoma. He had three vehicles behind him in the convoy. The vehicles were looted, because I could see erased markings. They appeared to be NGO vehicles. They didn’t use keys – they started them by touching the ignition wires. When we arrived in Koindu, Bockarie decided that one of the vehicles – one with a mounted weapon – should go back. We put all of the weapons together in one vehicle and covered them in a tarpaulin because we would have problems with ECOMOG in Monrovia if they saw the weapons. One of the vehicles went back. We now proceeded in a total of three vehicles.
Court has been adjourned for lunch. It will resume at 2:30. With the half-hour delay, this running summary will resume at 3:00 (2:00 in Sierra Leone and Liberia).