Following a brief closed session, trial has resumed in open session. Defense counsel Terry Munyard continues to question prosecution witness Stephen Ellis:
Def: I want to move to general questions of these sorts of atrocities. You’ve discussed atrocities in your report. (References a page of the report) Can I establish this with you: mass amputations had historical president in Africa, specifically under Belgian King Leopold II in the Congo?
Wit: There, amputations of hands did. Amputations more generally have more diffuse roots. If you look at all of Africa, Congo does come to mind for systematic amputations.
Def: And under RENAMO in Mozambique?
Def: ULIMO were noted for brutalities such as executing people, decapitating them and sticking their heads on posts?
Wit: I was certainly aware of that.
Def: Mr. Gberie observed this personally?
Wit: He’s told me that and I take his word for it.
Def: You look at whether the RUF learned these tactics from “NPFL mentors” and say that you saw photos of people with amputated hands in Liberia in 1994. You go on to say there is little evidence of Liberian precedent for RUF amputation of hands. There is no evidence to suggest that this particular brutality was learned from the NPFL?
Wit: None that I know about.
Def: Regarding child soldiers, there’s a history in Africa of using child soldiers in conflict?
Wit: Not just in Africa. It’s the origin of the word “infantry”.
Def: That both NPFL and RUF both had Small Boy Units doesn’t necessarily mean the RUF learned it from the NPFL?
Wit: Not necessarily.
Def: The government of SL has used child soldiers?
Wit: Yes, esp. after 1991.
Def: (References another page of Ellis’s report) Regarding rape, you write that rape was widespread in Liberia and Sierra Leone. That you’re not aware of Taylor specifically encouraging rape as a tactic of intimidation?
Wit: There’s no evidence that I’m aware of.
Def: Regarding hostage-taking, you write that in 1990 Taylor’s forces took ECOMOG soldiers hostage, and that in 2000 RUF took UN peacekeepers hostage. You suggest some linkage between the tactics. This means nothing more than that members of the RUF bore in mind something that had happened 10 years earlier?
Wit: I have no evidence that NPFL suggested this to the RUF.
Def: History is rife with instances of abductions to create political pressure?
Wit: I agree.
Def: You note that Taylor, in an interview with LeMonde, was aware that the RUF had committed terrible atrocities. But wasn’t the entire world was aware at that point?
Def: (References another page) There is a body of thought that suggests that there was an ideological underpinning to the RUF?
Wit: Yes. There’s substantial literature on the RUF and the war in Sierra Leone. There are two broad points of view. There are those people, including many Sierra Leoneans, who say the RUF had no political content whatsoever – that it was a huge movement of delinquents. Another group says that at least in its origins, the RUF had a political view. The TRC report takes the latter view, and I attach importance to that. If the RUF was there to liberate people, why cut off people’s hands? The TRC says that there was ideology at the beginning, but that the brutality of the NPFL fighters provided a very bad example, and that the most ideological leaders were murdered-probably by Foday Sankoh-at a very early stage. That’s the view of the TRC, to which I give a lot of weight.
Def: So there were some ideological underpinnings in the beginning, but the people recruited to it changed the nature of the RUF?
Wit: The means of recruitment was increasingly the abduction of very young children. The children I interviewed in Freetown in 1998 had been abducted at a very young age and initiated in very brutal fashion. This speaks to the state of mind of people willing to cut off the hands of training.
Def: In a general sense, it is the nature of military training to create recruits who to some extent are no longer normal?
Judge Doherty interrupts to say it is time to break for lunch. Court resumes at 2:30. Our coverage continues at 3:00 (2:00 in Sierra Leone and Liberia).