Cross-Examination of RUF Radio Operator Concludes; Prosecution Calls Next Witness, Suwandi Camara

The Hague,

February 7, 2008

Defense Counsel Andrew Cayley continued his cross-examination of Perry Kamara:

Radio Codes

Further to Cayley’s questions, Kamara confirmed that he had heard communications over the radio between Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh from 1992 onwards.  He said they sometimes spoke in code, for example using words “Alpha Mike” when referring to ammunition.  Cayley challenged Kamara on this, accusing him of lying, as “Alpha Mike” was not a sophisticated code.  Kamara maintained he was telling the truth and that only those that knew the code would have understood and that sometimes “Alpha Mike” was used to refer to other things aside from ammunition. Kamara explained that though the men sometimes spoke in plain English, when they were in a military zone or referring to one they would talk in code. For example, when they discussed an ambush between Makeni and Freetown they would use the grid reference and a code “Bravo 7”. Sankoh would understand what was meant but if you were not a member of the Society you would not understand.

Cayley challenged Kamara by saying that other radio operators had been spoken to who had never heard Charles Taylor talking to Sankoh on the radio and that, therefore, Kamara was lying. Kamara was firm that he was not lying and that he monitored all of the network’s activities.

When asked whether he knew Taylor and Sankoh had had a disagreement in 1993, Kamara stated that he did not know this and always thought they were brothers and friends.

Log Books

Cayley extensively questioned Kamara about the whereabouts of the log books that were kept by all the radio stations and whether such log books contained the communications between Taylor and Sankoh. Kamara explained that not all the log books would contain such communications and that they were sometimes kept in special log books. Cayley reminded Kamara that he had said in evidence the day before that all log books were kept forever. Kamara agreed he had given this evidence but said that at the end of the war some of the log books had been burnt.

Kamara was specific that there was a difference between messages and conversations over the radio. His evidence was that only messages were recorded in the log books, not conversations, and that these were recorded in special log books which were not always kept. When reminded by Cayley that he had previously said in evidence that all the books were kept, Kamara explained that the books were kept when the RUF was in power but some were destroyed after that. Cayley again accused Kamara of lying and being confused about what had really happened. Cayley went on to state that all the radio stations had books which they recorded messages in and that they would have recorded any messages between Taylor and Sankoh. Kamara agreed with this. Kamara confirmed that he had identified 5 radio stations and Cayley asked him whether all the log books at the 5 stations had gone missing, to which Kamara responded yes. Cayley argued that this was ridiculous and again accused Kamara of lying. Kamara maintained he was not lying. Kamara confirmed that during 1992, there were 20 radio stations but that even though there would have been 20 log books at these stations, these could have been lost when the stations were attacked.

Code Names

Under questioning, Kamara stated that it was possible for two people to have the same code name. Kamara explained that it depended on the code name in question and that, for example, two people might be known by the code name “Father”. He thought that as both Taylor and Sankoh were high-level commanders they might both be known by the code name “Father”. Cayley asked whether this would be confusing but Kamara did not think so. Cayley used the example of 4 operators going by the code name of “Alpha” and asked how another operator would know which Alpha was which. Kamara said that it was not confusing when only two people had the same name. Kamara stated that Taylor’s code name was “Father” and that he also knew him as “Chief”. Cayley referred to the evidence of Abu Keita and read from his transcript about how the code name Chief meant Benjamin Yeaten and not Charles Taylor. Kamara stated that he did not know if Benjamin Yeaten was also known as Chief as he had never heard him referred to in that way.

The Prosecution challenged Defense Counsel for taking Abu Keita’s evidence out of context so the transcript was found and the appropriate section read out. Defense Counsel accepted the Prosecution’s objection and moved onto a different line of questioning.

Charles Taylor giving Foday Sankoh military advice

Kamara confirmed the evidence he gave last Monday that in 1994 Taylor and Sankoh had conversations during which Taylor had given Sankoh military advice. He also confirmed that he knew Sankoh was a professional soldier but stated that he was not aware that Taylor was an economist by profession or that he was not a professional soldier. Cayley informed Kamara that Taylor has in fact never served in the military but Kamara stated that he did not know this.

Kamara repeated his prior testimony that Taylor was a military advisor to Sankoh. Cayley directed Kamara to a diagram showing Sankoh as a military advisor. Kamara confirmed that he understood the diagram but that this diagram related to Liberia and not Sierra Leone and that he could not say if the diagram was accurate or not. Cayley asked Kamara whether he thought it was odd that Charles Taylor was giving military advice to a professional soldier like Sankoh. Kamara explained that could often happen, that someone who was a civilian one day could become knowledgeable about military matters the next. Kamara said he did not know how long Sankoh had been in the military.

Cayley put to Kamara that in fact the conversations between Taylor and Sankoh regarding military advice never took place. Kamara insisted that they had.

Samuel Bockarie communications

Kamara reiterated his testimony from last Tuesday that all messages received on the radio net should have been recorded in log books and that these books were kept forever. However, Kamara stated that when troops are attacking you, some of the books might get lost.

Kamara confirmed that Samuel Bockarie had a satellite phone and that any messages received on that phone were transmitted to all RUF stations. Kamara also confirmed that the radio operators did not hide anything from each other in terms of communications.

Kamara confirmed his previous testimony that messages were received from Samuel Bockarie regarding diamonds and disarmament almost continuously from 1998 onwards. Cayley directed him to a log book, and Kamara confirmed that the book in front of him was from Samuel Bockarie’s radio station at Buedu. Cayley asked whether Kamara would expect this log to contain references to messages about the diamonds and getting supplies from Charles Taylor. Kamara explained that most messages were sorted by category but that he did not know if those messages were in the log book as he had not looked through the book. Cayley then took Kamara through several entries of the book which related to messages concerning ammunition and food and the RUF and Kamara confirmed this. Cayley stated that there were no messages in the book relating to Taylor providing ammunition and Kamara confirmed that this was true for the messages he had seen. Cayley accused Kamara of lying as there are no messages in the whole book about Charles Taylor. Kamara insisted that he was not lying and said that this was not the only log book for Samuel Bockarie and that separate messages were kept in separate books. Cayley accused Kamara of making this up but Kamara insisted that he was not.

Kamara confirmed that from 1993 the route between Sierra Leone and Liberia was blocked and that it became unblocked when Taylor became President in 1997. Defense Counsel directed Kamara to a Salute Report Document which Kamara confirmed he had seen before. Kamara confirmed that Samuel Bockarie had signed this document.

Kamara confirmed his previous testimony that Taylor had directed Bockarie to take the mining area and that he would provide the weapons. Cayley then directed Kamara to Bockarie’s statement in which he stated that the instructions came from ULIMO. Kamara confirmed that he could see this written in the statement. Cayley then accused Kamara of lying that the instruction came from Taylor but Kamara said he was not lying and that the evidence he was giving was that Taylor gave the instructions. Cayley asked Kamara if he thought Bockarie was lying about who gave him the instructions and Kamara said he thought he was.

Kamara confirmed that he had previously given evidence on this incident. Cayley drew Kamara’s attention to the fact that Bockarie’s report does not mention the weapons coming from Taylor. Kamara agreed that the statement did not mention Taylor. Cayley suggested that Kamara had been lying when he said the weapons came from Taylor but Kamara said he was not and that it had been Taylor who had come up with the plan to attack Freetown.

Kamara confirmed that he had previously said that Bockarie regularly said on the radio that he was going to Liberia to collect weapons from Taylor. Cayley directed Kamara to a bundle of prosecution interview notes and to an interview with Kamara in October 2006. Kamara confirmed he recalled this interview and that he had said that the arms and ammunition were from Liberia and Charles Taylor. Cayley challenged Kamara on this and stated that in fact Kamara had said in that statement that he had not known exactly who had sent the arms and ammunition. Kamara did not answer this comment. The Presiding Judge asked Kamara if he had heard the question. Cayley directed Kamara to the relevant paragraph of the statement where Kamara had said that he did not know who the weapons had come from. Kamara responded by saying that he did know where the weapons had come from but was unable to answer Cayley’s questions as to why he had not said that at the time. Eventually Kamara stated that he could not remember why he had said he did not know.

Kamara confirmed that he was not present in Liberia when Samuel Bockarie had supposedly met with Charles Taylor. Kamara stated that radio messages proved they had met although he conceded he had never actually seen them meet.

Magburaka Air Strip

Kamara confirmed that the testimony he had given on this issue last Tuesday was correct and that it had happened towards the end of 1997. He also confirmed that this was the only arms shipment he was directly involved in and that he did not know where the arms had come from.

Cayley then asked for the session to continue in private and this continued until the recess for lunch.

Open Court resumed after the lunch break and Cayley continued with questions about these arms and the UN Peacekeepers. Cayley put it to Kamara that by 1997 Liberia had disarmed and that, therefore, Charles Taylor could not have sent these weapons as he did not have any to send. Kamara said he did not know.

UN Peacekeepers 

In relation to the UN Peacekeepers, Cayley reminded Kamara that these peacekeepers had been captured, stripped naked and detained. Kamara’s evidence had been that a helicopter had come from Monrovia and picked up the peacekeepers and dropped off weapons. Cayley asked Kamara whether he was aware that Kofi Annan himself had asked Charles Taylor to intervene in the peacekeepers’ situation. Kamara confirmed that he had not been aware of this. Kamara also confirmed that he was not aware that Taylor had personally helped to secure the release of the peacekeepers and had sent a former Liberian Minister, Mr. Cooper, to help. Kamara also confirmed that he had not known that the helicopter sent to rescue the Peacekeepers was in fact a UN helicopter and not Charles Taylor’s. Kamara also confirmed that he had actually been in Makeni when the Peacekeepers had been picked up and had, therefore, not actually witnessed their rescue.

Payments to Kamara from the OTP

Cayley then went into quite some detail with Kamara about payments he had received from the Office of the Prosecution in the time before he was assisting them by giving interviews. Kamara made it clear that the payments in question had not come directly to him as they were payments for expenses such as accommodation and transport. Cayley did not dispute this but wanted to know why he had been receiving expenses in January / February 2006. Kamara confirmed that he had been assisting the OTP with the finding of a witness. Kamara wrote down the name of this witness and the name was not read out in open court. Kamara also said he was helping with various investigatory matters but that he could not remember precisely what he had been doing during that time.

Re-examination of Kamara by the Prosecution (Mohamed Bangura)

Unfortunately there was a technical problem during the re-examination and there was no English translation available for Kamara’s responses. The answers should be available on the official transcript.

Prosecution Calls Suwandi Camara

Prosecutor Alain Werner then began the examination of Suwandi Camara (whose nickname is Suwanzy). His date of birth is 18 February 1964 and he is originally from the Fondi Bondali area of Gambia. He gave his evidence in Gambian Mandingo and interpreters in that language were accordingly sworn in. At the start of his evidence Camara was told several times to slow down his responses so that the interpreters could do their jobs properly.

Camara gave evidence that following high school in the Gambia he had then joined the military (the Gambian gendarmie) where he had stayed for 5 years. During that time he received police training for 6 months and military training for 6 months. He left the gendarmie in 1987 and went travelling in West Africa eventually ending up in Libya in 1989. At first he worked for an agricultural company but at the end of 1989 he went to Tripoli. At first he stayed with his father-in-law who was in the same compound as Alhagi Saikou Jaiteh. Jaiteh told Camara about Kukoi Samba Sanyang, who also went by the nickname Dr. Manneh. Camara testified that he knew Dr. Manneh before he came to Libya as he had been in the Gambia during an aborted coup d’etat. He had also stood for MP in Camara’s local area for the National Convention Party whose leader was Camara’s cousin.

Camara testified that he first met Kukoi Samba Sanyang in Libya at the end of 1989. Camara had met him previously in the 1970’s when he used to stay in the same compound. Camara testified that Alhagi Saikou Jaiteh had told him that Sanyang was looking for people to collaborate with. Camara explained that the party, Special Operational Force for Africa (“SOFA”), was looking for members and Sanyang was head of SOFA. Camara later met Sanyang in Mahtaba which was a lodge in Libya where training took place. Whilst at Mahtaba, Camara was shown some “mini” guns, AK47’s, general machine guns and RPG’s.

When Camara met Sanyang in Mahtaba he told him that he was looking to train people in Libya and then go back to Gambia to take over the previous government. Sanyang told Camara that he wanted him to be his intelligence guy and that he would be trained in Libya which would take place in several military camps in Tripoli. During this time Camara joined SOFA.

Camara explained that he was in trained in camps at Tripoli, Benghazi and Sabah and another place that he could not remember the name of. He explained that his training was special and that he was the only one selected for it. Camara’s instructors were Libyans and Arabs. He was able to speak some Arabic but they mostly communicated in English. Others had already done their training and by others Camara meant people who had been trained under Dr. Manneh. He did not know where they had done the training as that had happened before he got there. Camara had met Jackson aka Jokuday Nyassi, Mustapha Jallow (Jalloh), Domingo Ramos, Yanks Smith (Gambian spelling: Yankuba Samateh), and Lamin Campaore in Liberia.

At this point Defense Counsel raised an objection to the Prosecution Counsel’s persistent use of leading questions. Presiding Judge Doherty upheld the objection and Prosecution Counsel was directed to desist from asking leading questions in the future.

Camara resumed his explanation that the above named people had done their training and were waiting to have commands. After that they left for Burkina Faso but Camara could not remember exactly when that was. Camara also confirmed that he met Taylor and Sankoh when he was in Mahtaba. When asked, Camara thought that he had met Taylor and Sankoh at the beginning of 1990. Taylor had come and greeted Sanyang and Sanyang told Camara that Taylor was the leader of the Liberian group training in Libya. Sanyang also told Camara that Sankoh was the acting leader of the Sierra Leone group training in Libya.

Camara confirmed that he saw Taylor twice more before Taylor left for Burkina Faso.

This concluded the session for today and the Court was adjourned.