Cross-Examination of Koker Completed; Prosecution Examination of Expert Witness Stephen Ellis Commenced

The Hague

January 16, 2008

Court resumed this morning at 9:30 a.m.   Defense Counsel, Morris Anyah continued his cross-examination of Dennis Koker from the previous day.  At the close of this cross-examination, Christopher Santora for the Prosecution completed a brief redirect of Koker.  The next prosecution witness, Stephen Ellis was introduced and the direct examination of Dr. Ellis by Prosecutor Mohamed Bangura commenced. 

Anyah Continued Cross-Examination of Koker

During Anyah’s cross-examination of Koker, he questioned the witness with regards to several areas.  Central themes in this questioning included Anyah’s questions to establish that Koker was responsible for some of the brutality in Sierra Leone, the delivery of arms to Sierra Leone from Liberia, inconsistencies in his testimony as compared to previous proceedings, Koker’s possible involvement in LURD, and payments Koker has received as a result of his participation in these proceedings.  There appeared to be interpretation problems during this portion of the cross-examination.  Koker appeared frustrated at times with the questioning and repeatedly told the Court that he was not lying in regards to his testimony.

  • Anyah sought to establish that Koker was responsible for killing a Nigerian soldier who suffered from tuberculosis while under the control of the military police.  Koker explained that the soldier had been taken to Sam Bockarie’s home and that he did not die in prison.
  • Anyah challenged Koker in regards to the uniforms and materials worn by the Liberian men who were present when arms were delivered to Sam Bockarie’s house in Buedu.  Koker testified that the men wore uniforms consisting of jackets and polo shirts with the NPFL logo on them under the jackets.  Anyah challenged Koker’s testimony and refered Koker to inconsistent statements in his past testimony regarding the appearance of the Liberian men at Sam Bockarie’s home during the delivery of arms.
  • Anyah questioned Koker regarding where the weapons that were delivered to Sam Bockarie’s home had originated.  Koker informed the Court that he could identify where a weapon was manufactured.  For example, he recalled his testimony from the previous day where he identified a G-3 gun as being manufactured in Germany.  Koker testified that he knew the weapons arriving at Sam Bockarie’s home were from Liberia because his superior, Tom Sandy, had told him so, they arrived in the convoy that came from the direction of Liberia and had Liberians in the vehicles and he could tell by looking at the guns. 
  • Anyah questioned Koker with regard to inconsistencies in his testimony about the treatment of civilians in Sierra Leone by the RUF.  Anyah asked Koker if civilians in the commanders’ farms received medical treatment and food.  Koker answered that they did not receive medical treatment, and was then shown his previous testimony, which stated that civilians received first aid in the hospitals, which was not enough treatment.  Koker stated that this first aid was only there to “encourage them”.  Anyah questioned whether currency was available for citizens or whether bartering was the only form of exchange.  Koker clarified that currency was available near the markets, but that barter was oftentimes used near the warfront.
  • Anyah questioned Koker about his involvement with LURD and a nickname of “green snake.”  Koker stated that he did not have a nickname of “green snake” and further clarified that there is a difference between a nickname and a war name.  He identified his war name as “Kugbe.”  During this part of the questioning, Charles Taylor passed a post-it note to Anyah.  Anyah then questioned whether Koker had heard of LURD and Koker confirmed that he heard of LURD while he was in Buedu.  While Anyah questioned Koker with regard to whether he was a member of LURD, Charles Taylor looked up from his notes and computer with interest.  Koker answered that he was not a member of LURD and Charles Taylor reacted by raising his eyebrows and shaking his head.  Koker stated that witnesses would be lying if they said that he was a member or a mercenary within LURD.
  • Anyah questioned Koker about payments he had received as a result of his participation in this matter.  Anyah questioned Koker regarding the payments that the witness received from the Special Court in the period from 2004 to 2007.  These payments included reimbursement of transportation costs and other expenses paid by the Witness and Victims Section of the Special Court.  Anyah stated that most of the payments were received by the witness in 2007, while he never even testified in 2007.  Koker agreed that he received all of the smaller payments, however he disagreed with the totals that were presented, stating that he never received a payment equal to those stated as “total amounts”.  He repeated that he never received a payment of that size.  Koker informed Anyah that he was confused and would not confirm the correctness of the amount.  The President of the Court pointed out to the Defense that, without pen and a calculator it might be difficult for the witness to add up so many amounts.
  • Anyah questioned whether Koker ever received psychiatric treatment, which Koker denied.  Koker stated that he received treatment for a swollen throat and further stated that he received an injection when he had been bitten by a dog.  Koker also denied that he stayed in Block 34 at the Military Hospital in Freetown.  He further denied knowing a doctor by the name of Nahim.
  • Anyah sought to establish that Koker had been court-martialled before.  Koker responded that he had never been court-martialled.  Anyah continued and asked specifically if Koker had been court-martialled for raping a woman.  Koker denied ever raping a woman or having involvement with a woman during the war.  Anyah pressed Koker and asked if he had received 150 lashes for this, to which Koker denied receiving the lashing.  Charles Taylor and Anyah conferred.  Anyah then asked if Koker had received lashing at the order of any other commander.  Koker said that he did receive a lashing at the order of Tom Sandy and Eldred Collins.  Koker detailed three lashings and said that there were no more.

Prosecution Completed a Re-Examination of Koker

Prosecutor Christopher Santora continued with a brief redirect.  Koker clarified that he was aware of the arms being delivered from Liberia because (1) those in the convoy spoke Liberian English, (2) they were wearing Liberian uniforms, (3) the vehicles came from the direction of Liberia, (4) Tom Sandy had informed him of this fact, and (5) he learned that this information was true after the war ended. 

Koker also confirmed that responsibilities including the issuance of passes to civilians and warring soldiers, minding the prisoners of war, and counting the civilians brought to the station for “manpower” were all the responsibilities of the entire MP office, and not his alone.  In regards to the towns of Tombo and Fogbo, Koker confirmed that Tombo is between Freetown and Masiaka and that Fogbo between Freetown and Masiaka.

Santora also examined Koker in regards to the payments he received from the OTP in 2007.  Koker confirmed that he did not testify in 2007 but did meet with the OTP on three occasions.

Examination of Expert Witness Stephen Ellis Commenced

Prosecutor Mohamed Bangura introduced the next witness, Dr. Stephen Ellis, an expert witness on African Studies and Affairs.  Dr. Ellis was sworn in wearing a blue and brown tie and a teal jacket.  Dr. Ellis received his doctorate from Oxford University.  Dr. Ellis currently serves as a senior researcher at the Africa Studies Center, University of Leiden in The Netherlands.

Dr. Ellis described the positions he has held that involve researching African history and current affairs, including his current position.  He has also been asked to do consultancies within the field of current affairs in Africa and has lectured for the Dutch Foreign Ministry on general problems of failed states.  He has also worked for the British Ministry of Agriculture, lectured at the University of Madagascar, worked in the International Secretariat of Amnesty International (with a focus on West Africa), and served as Editor for Africa Confidential prior to joining the African Studies Center at the University of Leiden.  In 2003-2004, he took leave to work for the International Crisis Group as Director of the Africa Program.

Dr. Ellis explained that the report he has prepared for the Special Court concentrated on the period 1997-2000, but also included information into the year 2003.  He was asked to include information about events that occurred during this period in Liberia and how they affected Sierra Leone.  Dr. Ellis’ testimony included historical accounts of the conflict in Liberia and Sierra Leone.  The following are some of the highlights from his testimony:

  • Dr. Ellis testified that between 1987-1989, Charles Taylor became acquainted with Foday Sankoh at a Libyan military camp.  Taylor organized the NPFL, including not only Liberians, but also Gambians and Ghanaians who saw themselves as pan-Africans.  Taylor’s association with the conflict in Sierra Leone can be traced to his acquaintance with the Sierra Leonean revolutionaries in Libya.  The witness testified that he believes these revolutionaries saw themselves as Pan-African revolutionaries; an idea held by Africans who believed that a Pan-African armed movement could free the continent from colonialism and neo-colonialism.  This idea was prevalent in the Libyan camps. 
  • Dr. Ellis reported that when the war started in Liberia in December 1989, some countries had a sympathetic view that it would spark a revolution.  Over time, many changed their views as information about RUF atrocities became widely known.  
  • The NPFL was organized outside Liberia and attacked at Christmas time, 1989.  Within a few days, it became known that a war had begun.  People in West Africa were aware that the group had support from Libya, Burkina Faso, and certain circles in Ivory Coast.  Some governments in the region became nervous and believed that this might be an attempt at a pan-African militancy.  They feared if a revolutionary government took hold in Liberia, conflict would spread.
  • Dr. Ellis was asked whether he agreed with the findings of Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report (TRC), to which he responded that the TRC did not clearly state from where the tactic of amputations came.  Additionally, the wide extent of Liberian involvement in the first phase of the war that was reported was a surprise to him.
  • Dr. Ellis also discussed abductions and hostage practices that the NPFL and RUF engaged in.  He explained that when a group came to attack an area, people would join out of sympathy, to protect the area, or because they were forced.  In Liberia, when it became clear that Nigeria was siding with Doe, the NPFL took hostages to pressure the government.  Many hostages were mistreated or killed.  In 2000 the RUF took UN peacekeepers hostage.
  • Diamonds played a role in the conflict and the marketing of diamonds was an important factor in the Sierra Leone war, although Dr. Ellis did not believe this was the determinant focus of the entire war.  At the beginning of the war, the conflict was not primarily about diamonds.  By the end of the 1990s, the control of diamonds was a key factor as combatants were able to sell diamonds to finance the continuation of the war.  In Sierra Leone, diamonds became an important means of financing the RUF.  Dr. Ellis stated that the UN Panel of Experts report on Liberia supported findings that Charles Taylor funneled weapons to the RUF in exchange for diamonds.
  • Charles Taylor had a close personal interest in the RUF and he supervised the diamond trade with them.  A source for Dr. Ellis’ research was a book by Lester S. Hyman, who is a lawyer and an influential member of the Democratic Party in the United States.  Hyman had written that despite Charles Taylor’s suggestions to the contrary, Charles Taylor traded diamonds for weapons sent to the RUF.  Hyman was an employee of the Liberian government at the time.
  • Dr. Ellis also referred to an interview that he used in the preparation of his report that involved Charles Taylor.  When asked about the peace process, Charles Taylor had answered: “Only belligerents can make peace.  The RUF committed terrible atrocities.  People will have to answer for that.  The same people who caused that will have to be part of the solution.”
  • Based on information in UN reports, media reports, and interviews with Liberians close to the government, Dr. Ellis learned that Sam Bockarie was the most important RUF commander and that he had a direct relationship with Charles Taylor.  Dr. Ellis testified that the presence of Sam Bockarie in Liberia benefited Charles Taylor, as Sam Bockarie was more closely integrated into the command structure under Charles Taylor.
  • Dr. Ellis explained that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) organized the ECOWAS Military Observer Group (ECOMOG). The procedure for establishing ECOMOG was abusive and Nigeria was the main force in its creation.  ECOMOG was established in August 1990, after the war in Liberia started.  It was divisive in West Africa because governments were aware that the NPFL contained members of different nationalities.  Nigerian President Babangida was close with Liberian President Samuel Doe and Nigeria wanted to intervene and felt it best to do so through a multilateral force, ECOMOG.  The ECOMOG mandate was to enforce a cease-fire in Liberia, but there was no cease-fire.  ECOMOG was overwhelmingly Nigerian.  Charles Taylor made clear he was hostile to ECOMOG and Nigeria, which was close to his enemy Samuel Doe.  There were reports that the Nigerian government supplied Samuel Doe with weapons.  Charles Taylor had good grounds to feel the Nigerian government opposed him.
  • Charles Taylor made it clear that he opposed ECOMOG, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.  For example, Charles Taylor made such statements in a BBC radio broadcast on November 4, 1990, where he told Sierra Leoneans they would “taste the bitterness of war”. 
  • Dr. Ellis testified that the relationship between Charles Taylor and ECOMOG changed over time.  At the beginning, there was extreme hostility and heavy fighting in 1990.  The countries that composed ECOMOG were often supporting the armed militias in Liberia and Sierra Leone.  In 1998 ECOMOG forces, overwhelmingly Nigerian, forcibly removed the junta from power in February 1998.  The ECOMOG troops took contol in Freetown and the main centers of Sierra Leone.  RUF and AFRC were in fairly remote areas, including the border to Liberia.  At this stage, Taylor controlled all of Liberia.

As there is no morning session tomorrow, Court will resume at 2:30 p.m.


  1. I am a former British Army Officer and lived in Sierra Leone working for a humanitarian group for 13 months. I know Dennis Koker personally and can honestly say he was the most honest and trustworthy man I met in Africa. I lived in the same town, Kailahun, and he looked after me when I first arrived homeless, and we became good friends seeing each other on a daily basis. I also knew Sam Bockarie well and Tom Sandy who also lived in the town.

Comments are closed.