3:30 Cross-examination of Varmuyan Sherif ends

Defense Counsel Courtenay Griffiths continues his cross-examination of prosecution witness Varmuyan Sherif:

Def: Before lunch we were talking about a series of prosecution interviews with you in November 2007.  I want to ask you about another passage from your statement then. Concerning the jar of diamonds the witness saw with Bockarie in Voinjama, the witness confirmed the previous account.  It is also correct, as he stated in his earlier statement that Master General also saw the jar of diamonds, as both the witness and Master General saw the jar at the same time.  He said he didn’t mention in November/December 2006 because he wasn’t sure he wouldn’t be in trouble himself if he mentioned it.  How could you have got in trouble by mentioning it?

Wit: My head is not a computer.  That is true.  I recall some things sometimes, but not everything at once?

Def: How could you have got in trouble for telling the OTP about the diamonds?

Wit: I saw the diamonds with Bockarie.  What kind of trouble are you referring to?

Def: In this paragraph, it says the reason you gave for not telling them about it earlier was that you feared getting in trouble.

Wit: The NPFL mislead us.  They told us the Special Court could arrest us.

Def: How could you have got in trouble for telling the OTP about a mayonaise jar of diamonds?

Wit: Roland Duo told us that anyone involved in giving information was going to get in trouble.  I had that at the back of my mind.

Def: There was another interview conducted with you on Dec 5, 2007.  Pete McClaren and Chris Santora were present.  In the course of that interview you were shown photos and asked to identify people.  After that, on the 3, 4, and 5th of January you had another proofing meeting with prosecution lawyers here in The Hague?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Apart from yourself, who was present during those proofing meetings?

Wit: It wasn’t a meeting.  I appeared but somebody was ahead of me.  They brought me and took me back, brought me and took me back.

Def: We understand that further preparation of you took place on those three days in the week before the trial started.  Who was present in these sessions.

Wit: I can’t recall all of the different lawyers.

Def: On each of those days, how long did you spend with lawyers for the prosecution.

Wit: Sometimes for two hours, then they’d send me back.  Then maybe three hours.

Def: Were you told what you might be asked in cross-examination?

Wit: I didn’t know what cross-examination meant?

Def: Did you rehearse your testimony?

Wit: They asked me questions.  I only learned what cross-examination is here in this courtroom.

Def: I’m almost finished questioning you. 

Def: I suggest that because of your personal and family experience, you have always hated Taylor?

Wit: Not true.

Def: Even when the NPFL murdered your father’s wives?

Wit: If that were so, I wouldn’t have agreed to join his government.

Def: I suggest even when you were in his government, you were plotting against him.

Wit: No.  I helped him in Lofa.

Def: You’ve always worked against Taylor, isn’t that right?

Wit: No.

Def: I suggest you may have gone to Sierra Leone in 1998.  But you weren’t sent to get Bockarie by Taylor.

Wit: He sent me.

Def: You have family in Liberia and Sierra Leone?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Your family in Sierra Leone live near Beudu?

Wit: No.

Def: I suggest you went to Sierra Leone in 1998 for your own purposes and it had nothing to do with Taylor.

Wit: Not true.

Def: You may have gone to meet with LURD members and it had nothing to do with Taylor?

Wit: Not true.

Def: Did you have former ULIMO colleagues who went on to join LURD?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Did you go to Sierra Leone to meet with them and give them information?

Wit: I only went to Sierra Leone under instructions.  I was SSS director.  I wouldn’t have left the capital wihout instructions from the leader.

Def: Your duties within the SSS did not permit you to spend as much time in Lofa County as you’ve told this court.

Wit: Of course.

Def: Your primary responsibilities were in Monrovia where you organized the motorcade.

Wit: I had my boss and my deputy to act when I was not there.

Def: You were never instructed by Taylor to give arms to the RUF.

Wit: That’s not true.

Def: Your suggestion that you sat in on conversations between Taylor and Conte is totally false.

Wit: I did not tell you that I sat in the meeting with them.  But security was always there where they were talking.  Security enters a meeting with the boss.

Def: Outside.

Wit: Inside and outside.

Def: In your role, you never would have been made privvy to such conversations.

Wit: I did not tell you I was part of the meeting.  We were standing in there and heard what they were discussing.

Def: I suggest you have never taken arms and ammunition to any personal residence associated with President Taylor, either to White Flower or his previous address.

Wit: It happened.

Def: I suggest the photos you say were taken at Foya – that was never done at the instigation of Taylor.

Wit: It happened.  you can visit Foya and ask the civilians.

Def: I suggest that following the LURD invasion, you were imprisoned for 6 months.

Wit: Yes.

Def: Because you suspected to be a traitor?

Wit: I was promoted afterwards.

Def: At the point you were arrested, you were considered a traitor.

Wit: That was the intelligence report, after that I was promoted.

Def: At that point, you were regarded as a traitor.

Wit: Then they never would have taken me out of jail and given me a higher position.  Taylor called me and asked me to help defend him.

Def: The main reason you were suspected of being a traitor is because you had strong family and friendship links with LURD.

Wit: That is true.  Of course.

Def: Was Abu Keita your conduit to pass information on to LURD?

Wit: Abu Keita never worked for LURD.  He was one of Bockarie’s senior commanders and fought against LURD. 

Def: I suggest that you did not have the level of contact with Taylor that you would like this court to believe.

Wit: I had contact with him.  He proved it even until he left, after Yeaten was under house arrest in Togo.  He invited me with Roland Duo to visit him in Calabar.

Def: On that night you were asked to find other photographs to support your account, weren’t you?

Wit: Nobody asked me.  I thought it necessary to locate some of my own pictures.

Def: Did you search through your pictures for photographs?

Wit: My family thought it necessary to destroy all pictures of me with Bockarie when Bockarie went to Burkina Faso.

Def: Did you find any photos of yourself with Taylor?

Wit: There are plenty.

Def: Where are they?

Wit: In Monrovia.

Def: You didn’t provide a single photo to the OTP showing you close to Taylor?

Wit: No.

Def: I’m suggesting that you have inflated your role in order to lend a false credibility to your evidence.

Wit: Not true.

That ends the cross-examination.