February 13, 2008
Defense Counsel Terry Munyard continued his cross-examination of Prosecution Witness Suwandi Camara and questioned him on the following:
Transport of arms and ammunition to Sierra Leone during ULIMO-K control of Lofa County
• Munyard questioned Camara on his knowledge of footpaths in Lofa County. Camara answered that he knew footpaths in Lofa County, Bong County and (parts of) Gbarpolu County but not as far as Grand Cape Mount County. Munyard sought to establish that during the time that ULIMO-K controlled Lofa County, it was impossible for the LDF to use these paths for the transport of arms and ammunition from Gbarnga to Sierra Leone. Camara admitted that at that time he was in Gbarnga and did not know if these bush paths were in use for this purpose.
• Camara stated that when he was at Cobra Base, which is near Gbarnga, he was able to hear explosions and gunfire in Zorzor (distance: about 100 km). The Defense disputed this on account of the large distance between the two locations.
• The Defense disputed there was an airstrip near Gbarnga, but Camara insisted that there was one and that airplanes, not helicopters, were used to transport arms and ammunition from this airstrip to Sierra Leone. After (part of) Gbarnga had fallen into the hands of ULIMO-K, Camara was assigned to the Executive Mansion Ground (EMG). Camara testified that he had escorted at least on one occasion the transport of arms and ammunition from the EMG to the airstrip and was present when the load was boarded on the plane, destined to fly to Sierra Leone. At this occasion several Generals were present as well, but Camara mentioned no names. Camara claimed to have personal knowledge of many more of these transports, however he cannot testify to have actually been present at these occurrences.
Small Boy Units (SBU’s)
• The Defense suggested that there were no SBU’s in Cobra Base or in the EMG. Camara insisted that Cobra Base was a training base especially for SBU’s and SBU’s were also present at the EMG. When Munyard stated that the only reason Supoon was present at the EMG because he was a relative of Charles Taylor, Camara testified that Supoon was a SBU-commander and that to this day he did not know Supoon to be a relative of Charles Taylor.
Overhearing secret radio messages
• The Defense disputed Camara ever having overheard top-secret military radio communications. Camara testified that on that specific occasion he could overhear a radio message because he was assigned to make and bring tea for Charles Taylor himself, so he was present. Furthermore the message was transmitted in the Mandingo language, which is his native tongue. Camara further stated that on two or three other occasions he overheard military radio messages in Mandingo as the gate he used to watch was about 5 meters from the radio message room and about two meters from the bedroom of Charles Taylor.
“Death” of Morris Kallon
• In answer to a question from the Defense, Camara stated that Morris Kallon was in Gbarnga in 1996, but later Camara was informed that Morris Kallon had died. He did not know how he had died, nor did he receive any information about him afterwards. Munyard informed Camara that Morris Kallon is alive and on trial at a different division of this very same Court (RUF Trial). Camara said he did not know if this would be the same Morris Kallon whom he knows, as he has not seen him.
Meetings with Charles Taylor
• The Defense questioned Camara on a meeting with Charles Taylor in Burkina Faso shortly after the time in Libya. Camara testified that he himself was not present at this meeting, but was briefed afterwards by his leader Dr. Manneh. Only Charles Taylor, Foday Sankoh and Dr. Manneh were present at this meeting. The three worked out a plan to enter Lofa County. Taylor could enter from there into the rest of Liberia, Sankoh could enter from there into Sierra Leone.
• The Defense questioned why Camara did not inform the Prosecution’s investigators until his 5th interview that he was present while Charles Taylor and his company (and a load of arms and ammunition) flew in an airplane from Burkina Faso to Ivory Coast. Camara said this took place in 1991 and he was given short notice by his leader Dr. Manneh that this was going to happen the next day. Munyard called Camara a liar and said that if there was a plane trip at all Charles Taylor was not present. He stated that, because Camara did not mention such a dramatic event until his 5th interview with the investigators of this Court, this event may have been suggested to him.
• The Defense continuously focused on inconsistencies between prior interview statements by Camara and Camara’s testimony in this Court, in particular the confusion of dates.
Imprisonment and return to Gambia
• Camara confirmed that he was in detention in Senegal from August 1996 until December 2000. In August 1996, the gendarmes conducted a raid and arrested several members of the group of Gambians, including Camara, but Dr. Manneh was able to escape. According to Camara the government of Senegal and the leaders of his group were negotiating the conditions for their return to Gambia, but they could not reach an agreement. Munyard contested this, saying that the real reason for their arrest was the planning of a coup d’etat in Gambia and suggested that Dr. Manneh went to Liberia to meet with Charles Taylor to persuade the government of Senegal to release the group of Gambians. Camara said this did not happen. “It’s your pay back time, isn’t it?” asked Munyard. Camara replied that it was not a matter of vengeance, he only wished to tell what Charles Taylor had been doing.
Reimbursement, payment, assistance and money
• The Defense extensively questioned Camara on the testimony he gave last Monday afternoon about not receiving any benefits for giving testimony at this trial. Camara insisted that he received only reimbursements for transportation from his home in Gambia to the meeting place in Gambia with the investigators, for mobile telephone calls and meals. He did however admit to having received financial support as a “voluntary assistance” (assistance in West-Africa means financial support) and became combative when Munyard referred to this as “payments”. Munyard continued his cross-examination refraining from using the words “paid” but using the phrase “given money” instead.
• The Defense extensively questioned the Witness about the signed receipts for money that Camara received on dates when interviews took place and on dates when no interviews took place. Sometimes the currency was US dollars, other times Gambian Dallasi. The total amount of money received by Camara was $ 1,706.18.
When Munyard concluded his cross-examination, Lead Prosecutor Brenda Hollis stated that the Prosecution had noticed that payment receipts of October 2006, November 2006 and February 2007 were missing. Having just received an e-mail from Liberia with this information, she read it out to the Court and the Defense and arranged for this information to be printed and distributed. The total amount received by Camara now amounted to $1.984,79. She said she had given orders to Liberia to check and double-check the reimbursements of all the Prosecution Witnesses. If any inconsistencies exist the Court and the Defense will be notified.
At 4:10 p.m. Prosecutor Alain Werner began his examination on redirect and concluded this at 4:30 p.m.
At 4:30, Presiding Judge Doherty dismissed Camara and the Court adjourned until tomorrow 9.30 a.m. when Crimebase Witness “TF1-026” will take the stand in open session with protective measures (use of a pseudonym/screen).