2:00 Cross-examination of Dennis Koker concludes; Stephen Ellis, an expert witness for the prosecution, takes the stand

The court session has resumed.

Defense counsel Morris Anyah continues his cross-examination of prosecution witness Dennis Koker.

[Note: technical problems led to a loss of detail in the summary of the first part of this session.] 

Through a series of questions, the witness has agreed that weapons came to Sierra Leone from Ukraine (during the AFRC government), and that there were also weapons made in China and Russia.  

Defense asked about the witness’s testimony yesterday that the men who brought weapons were wearing yellow polo t-shirts with “NPFL Navy Ranger” written on them, when in previous statements and testimony the witness said the men wore uniforms.  The witness says some of the men wore the t-shirts under their military jackets, and that the t-shirt was a kind of uniform.

Defense asks a number of questions about how the witness knew these guns and ammunition were Liberian.  Defense points to previous statements and testimony that offered various reasons given by the witness.  The witness agrees with all of those previous accounts.  Defense puts it to the witness that he is lying when he said Taylor sent the guns.  The witness denies it, and says he saw the guns.

Defense asks the witness about currency used in the border region, and the witness says that civilians and soldiers used Liberian currency.  Defense asks whether people used barter.  The witness says there was barter and use of the Liberian dollar.  Defense asks whether civilians who worked on the farms of RUF commanders were fed and received medical treatment.  The witness says they were fed, but not enough, and agrees when asked about one of his previous statements that they received first-aid treatment (after first saying they received no treatment).

Def: Is it true that sometimes you are called “Green Snake”?

Wit: No.

Def: Do you deny being known by that name.

Wit: That is not my nickname.

Def: If I told you that witnesses could be brought who would confirm that your nickname is “Green Snake”, would I be mistaken.

Wit: If you can bring them, then I am not telling the truth.

Def: Is there a difference between a nickname and a fighting name?

Wit: My warrior name is “Warrior”.  My traditional name is Kugbe.  There is a difference between a nickname and a war name.

Def: Have you ever heard the name LURD?

Wit: I used to hear that name.

Def: In what context did you hear it?

Wit: I used to hear it when I was in Beudu. 

Def: In what context.  Did you understand it to be a military group?

Wit: I did not have an idea.

Def: What did you understand LURD to mean when you heard others refer to it?

Wit: When we were there, I did not care about Liberia.  I did not investigate.  I only wanted to know what was happening in Sierra Leone.  I cared about Freetown.

Def: What did you understand LURD to mean?

Wit: I cannot tell you what I don’t understand.  If somebody says LURD in English, it sounds like Lord in the Bible.  It was not my concern.

Def: You’ve told us you were in Beudu and that you’re a military man.  If I told you that from 1999-2000 there was a military organization called LURD, would I be mistaken?

Wit: I don’t know about that.

Def: Do you know Sekou Detame Conneh?

Wit: I’ve never heard the name until you said it.

Def: Do you know Mohammed Jumandy?

Wit: No.

Def: I say that you, Dennis Koker, were a member of LURD, true or false?

Wit: That is not correct.

Def: I put it to you that your nickname in LURD was Green Snake, true or false?

Wit: That is not correct.

Def: You were a mercenary for LURD, true or false.

Wit: That is not true.

Def: If any witnesses come before this court in the future and testify that you were in LURD, they would be lying?

Wit: It would be a made up story.  They would be lying.

Def: I want to go back to when you first had interactions with the Special Court beginning in 2004 and payments you received.  I will be referring to disbursement records from the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) to this witness. (References document).  You were paid 10,000 Leones in 2004.

Wit: Yes, at the end of the interview.  They gave me a receipt to sign.

Def: And on July 1, 2005, you were paid the amount 10,000 Leones. 

Wit: Yes.

Def: And here it indicates that you also received 35,000 Leones.  True?

Wit: Yes.

Def: And here it shows on March 2, 2007 you received 15,000 Leones?

Wit: Yes.

Def: On April 26, 2007 you received 55,000 Leones, correct?

Wit: Yes.

Def: On June 13, 2007, you received 25,000 Leones.

Wit: Yes, in Freetown.

Def: And on July 17, 2007 you received 5,000 Leones.

Wit: Yes, at Wilberforce Barracks.

Def: And lastly, in July 2007 you also received 20,000 Leones.

Wit: Yes.

Def: Six of these eight entries date from Feb-July 2007?

Wit: All the amounts I see here are correct.

Def: In all of 2007 you never testified in proceedings before the Special Court?

Wit: I did not testify in 2007.

Def: And in 2006 you did not testify before the Special Court?

Wit: Correct.

Def: (References another document)  These are records from the Witness and Victims unit of the court showing payments in addition to those from the prosecution.  They gave you money for medical issues?

Wit: Yes.

Def: It was 91,000 Leones?

Wit: Yes, that’s right.

Def: You were given money for transportation?

Wit: Yes.

Def: It was 435,000 Leones?

Wit: Yes, this is correct.

Def: Other expenses of 877,000 Leones.  Is that also correct?

Wit: I don’t know what other expenses are.  I don’t understand when I was given that.

Def: These are the total amounts you’ve been paid by the Witnesses and Victims section since April 1, 2005.  Did you receive that total sum?

Wit: I did not receive this sort of amount in 2005.  In bulk, no. 

Def: If you add the amounts you received in 2005, 2006 and 2007, would it add up to 877,000 Leones?

Wit: I want to know if you’re asking me for all the money I received.  I did not receive it on one occasion.  Are you asking me for the grand total.

Judge Sebutinde: To be fair to the witness, he has already explained he does not know what you mean my other expenses.  And it’s not fair to ask him to add unless you’re willing to let him calculate it.

Def: If I told you you had received a total of over 2 million Leones from the Special Court, would that be correct?

Wit: I don’t believe it would be correct.  I’m confused about this document.  If you can check my receipts and give me the total, maybe I’d know.  I don’t know the occasion where I received this 800,000.

Def: Have you received any kind of psychiatric treatment in the last ten years?

Wit: They did not treat me for that.  They gave me treatment in 2007 because my throat was swollen.  Otherwise I have never been sick.  I had a boil on my throat and the Special Court treated me.  Once I was bitten by a dog and they gave me an injection.

Def: From the time you left military training in Kailahun District until today, have you ever received medical treatment for mental health issues?

Wit: No, I have never been treated for a psychiatric treatment.

Def: Have you ever been treated in Block 34 of the military hospital in Freetown.

Wit: I’ve never been admitted there.  I went there for treatment because my ears were aching.

Def: Do you know what I mean by psychiatric conditions?

Wit: Yes. As if I don’t have my senses with me. 

Def: Do you know a Dr. Nahim?

Wit: I don’t know him.

Def: You deny knowing Dr. Nahim, a psychiatrist?

Wit: I only know a Nahim at the Special Court.  I don’t know any other Nahim.

Def: Have you ever been court-marshalled?

Wit: No.

Def: Was there a time in Beudu when you were court-martialled at the orders of P.M. Kaisamba.

Wit: No.

Def: I put to you that while you were in Beudu you were court-marshalled for raping a woman prisoner.  Do you deny it.

Wit: I deny it.  I had nothing to do with women during the war.

Def: Because you were found guilty of that offence, you received 150 lashes.  Do you deny that?

Wit: Yes.

Defense counsel is now conferring with Charles Taylor.

Def: At any time during your service in Beudu, were you ever administered lashes at the order of any commander?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Tell us.

Wit: Tom Sandie spoke, and I spoke too.  They beat me and sent me to an ambush at the Guinea border.  I even cried.  Later they recalled me to write on the MP vehicle.  They brought me back and apologized.  Another time, Eldred Collins had me lashed.

Def: So if someone came to this court and said there was a third time, they’d be lying?

Wit: There was a third time in Kailahun.  Eldred Collins lashed me.  There were only three times.  I had a wife, but she was given to me by the UN.

Def: The UN gave you a wife?

Wit: Yes, they asked me to marry.

Defense has no further questions.

Prosecutor Christopher Santora will now have an opportunity to re-examine the witness.

Pros: Yesterday when defense counsel asked about why you did not mention the towns of Tombu and Fogbu in the first statement.  Is Tombu between Freetown and Masiaka?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Is Fogbu between Freetown and Masiaka?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: You were asked about payments from the OTP that you received in 2007.  He asked if you testified in 2007.  Did you ever give statements to the OTP in 2007?

Wit: I did not give a statement.  They just read my statement back to me.  I did prepping.

Pros: You met with someone from the OTP in 2007?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Do you remember how many times?

Wit: Three days I came there, on two occasions.

Pros: Yesterday defense counsel asked about your responsibilities in the MP office in Beudu.  You agreed you had significant responsibilities; that you issued passes to civilians and to the warring soldiers; that you were responsible for prisoners of war; that you had to count people brought for “manpower”.  When you described these responsibilities, were you referring to yourself or to the MP office?

Wit: To the MP office.

Pros: Defense counsel asked about Martin George.  Do you know who he his?

Wit: Yes.  He was a Colonel, then an RUF commander for the entire Kailahun.

Pros: Yesterday during cross-examination you said Liberian English was used frequently at the border.  Who spoke Liberian English?

Wit: The Liberians and even some of our brothers.  They had been changed.  Even Martin George spoke Liberian.

Pros: You were asked about how you knew arms came from Liberia.  You said it was based on language, because of the dress on some of the men, the writiing NPFL on yellow shirts, from talking to Liberians who came, because you saw the direction the vehicles came, from a conversation with Tom Sandie, and from your intelligence.  Are these all the reasons you know that these arms came from Liberia?

Wit: Yes.

Prosecution has no further questions for the witness.

Judge Sebutinde thanks and excuses the witness.

Wit: I also want to thank you, for you to help us in West Africa to end terrorism.  I will pray for you.

Prosecutor Mohamed Bangura calls the next witness, Stephen Ellis, who will be an expert witness.

Stephen Ellis has taken the witness stand and been sworn in on the Bible.  He will testify in English.

Through a series of questions from Prosecutor Bangura, the witness states the following:

My name is Stephen Ellis.  I have a doctorate of philosophy (history) from St. Antony’s College, Oxford University.  I’m 54 years old.  I’m a senior researcher at the Africa Studies Center, University of Leiden.  I have an undergraduate degree in modern history from Oxford.  I wanted to do a PhD in African history, because I’d lived in Cameroon.  I studied the history of Madagascar.  My dissertation was accepted in 1981.  Since then I’ve had a number of jobs researching African history and current affairs.  I’ve acquired skills from those jobs.  As a senior researcher at Leiden University, on my own or with others, I develop and implement research projects.  I teach an MA course and give general, occasional lectures.  I’m often asked to do consultancies within the field of current affairs in Africa.  Africa is my primary research interest.  Beyond Africa, I’ve given lectures for the Dutch foreign ministry on general problems of failed states, I’ve done work on religious history, including European history.  After I got my undergraduate degree in 1975, I worked for the British Ministry of Agriculture for a year.  I went back to do my doctorate in African history.  While doing that, I lectured for a year at the U. of Madagascar.  In 1982 I worked in the International Secretariate of Amnesty International, on West Africa – mostly the francophone countries.  From 1986-1991 I was an editor for Africa Confidential.  From 1991 I’ve been at the U. of Leiden. In 2003-2004 I took a leave of absence and worked for the International Crisis Group as Director of the Africa Program.  At U. Leiden I was initially director of the Africa Studies Center.  But it was too administrative, so I became senior researcher.

At Amnesty International from 1982-1986, I was formally responsible for working on 10 or 11 countries.  The ones I worked on intensively included Ghana, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Madagascar, Nigeria.  I didn’t work on Liberia or The Gambia.

For some years I was a member of the Africa Studies Association of the United States, and I’ve been a member of that association in The Netherlands and UK.  I’ve given testimony before in a case in The Netherlands last year, as an expert witness.  It was the case of Mr. Gus Kouwenhoven. 

English is my mother tongue.  I speak and write fluently in French.  I speak fluent Dutch.  I can read but not speak the Malagasy language.  I speak a little Italian.

My publications on Africa include: my PhD thesis on Madagascar was published by Oxford University Press.  Since then I’ve written, co-written, edited or co-edited 8 books on Africa.  I’m author of numerous other articles on Africa.  They’re written in English, French and Dutch.

I attend many conferences and seminars, most on African affairs.  In 1997-1998 I worked for a while as a researcher for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.

Since 1994 I’ve had a particular interest in Liberia, and to some extent, Sierra Leone.  Since I first became interested in Liberia, I’ve visited Sierra Leone a number of times.  I became interested in Liberia because the Secretary General of Amnesty International asked me to be part of a delegation to go to Liberia, where I’d never visited before.  I went with one other person to Liberia, which of course was at war.  I received very interesting information, which I thought allowed me to understand the situation there better.  When I went back to Leiden, I resolved to do further research on Liberia.  I have since gone back to Liberia on a number of occasions, and also later when I was working for the International Crisis Group.  In 1999, I published a book called “The Mask of Anarchy” about the Liberian civil war of the 1990s.  A second edition of the book came out in 2006.  I’ve also written a number of academic articles on Liberia.  The Mask of Anarchy aimed to investigate the historical background to phenomena that became observable during the war of the 1990s: particularly the atrocities that many foreign jounalists misunderstood.  In order to do that, I also had to establish some of the key events.  The first part of the book is a straightforward account of the war.  The real purpose was the second part, which investigated the historical antecedents of the war.  The book has been widely discussed.  In 2000 the Africa Studies Association of the U.S. short-listed it for a prize.   

I’ve done some original research on Sierra Leone and published a number of academic articles beginning in 1998.  I observe events in Sierra Leone.  I first visited in 1984, again in 1998, and a number of times since then.  I’ve written on Sierra Leone and the topic of Sierra Leone together with Liberia.

I’ve written a report for the Special Court: “Charles Taylor and the War in Sierra Leone”.  I wrote it in 2006. 

(Copies of the report and being distributed in court.  Prosecutor Bangura notes that a corrigendum was filed with the report.)

Pros: What was the mandate for this report?

Wit: Special Court officers contacted me and made a broad request to outline the political career of Charles Taylor and examine his relationship to events in Sierra Leone from 1997 to 2000.  It was a broad brief.

Pros: Under what terms did you write this?

Wit: I was prepared to do this without payment because I’m employed by an institution funded by the Dutch government.  It’s part of that institution’s mandate that we’re required to perform services in the public interest.  I felt this shouldn’t be paid employment.

Pros: What were your sources for this report?

Wit: I approached it as a historian.  All sources could be relevant, but I had to distinguish between primary and secondary sources.  Primary documents are those created by a person or institution in the course of their normal work or existence and have a bearing on the matter in question.  An archive of documents is a good source of primary documents.  Secondary documents are compiled by people with a distance from events, and are more of a commentary on events.  I have worked in the Liberian national archives on several occasions before being asked to compile this report.  I used some of that.  The Liberian archives are in a poor state.  I couldn’t necessarily find exactly what I wanted.  Interviews that participants gave with newspapers, UN documents, and memoirs are primary documents.  A number of Liberians and non-Liberians involved in these events have written memoirs.  Secondary sources include the great body of commentary and writing by people considering these events from afar. 

Pros: How did you select material?

Wit: The report covers aspects of Liberia and Sierra Leone, so there is a lot of literature, with which I’m quite conversant.  I tried to use original sources whenever possible.

Pros: How would you assess the weight these various sources?

Wit: I attach a lot of importance to UN reports, particularly to those of a Panel of Experts created by the Security Council to investigate violations of sanctions.  The researchers had exceptional access and the authority of the UN.  Press interviews with Charles Taylor and various other first-hand accounts are particularly authoritative.

Pros: Did you ever meet with Charles Taylor?

Wit: I’ve never met the accused.  I tried to meet him in 1994 but it was difficult because I was in Monrovia and Buchanan, which were controlled by ECOMOG.  I tried to get permission from Taylor’s associates – notably John T. Richardson – to visit Taylor in Gbarnga.  Taylor was president of a quasi-government called Greater Liberia.

Pros: Talk about your sources on Sierra Leone.

Wit: I’ve read many books, news articles and reports.  I gave a lot of weight to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report.  The TRC had access to document and was able to interview numerous people.  It attempted to be an objective source.  I used documents and memoirs of a former cabinet minister.

Pros: When you visited Sierra Leone, did you have meetings about the situation there?

Wit: Yes.  I went to Sierra Leone for Amnesty International in May-June 1998.  It was when the AFRC Junta had been displaced by ECOMOG.  I met a number of military and political participants.  I met Gen Maxwell Kolbe, the ECOMOG commander at the time.  He was also Chief of Staff of the Sierra Leonean armed forces at the time.

Court has adjourned for the lunch break until 2:30.  With the half-hour delay, our coverage will resume at 3:00 (2:00 in Sierra Leone and Liberia).