2:30 (3:00 with the delayed video/audio feed): Court is back in session following the lunch break.
Prosecutor Nick Koumjian has no further questions for the witness.
Defense counsel Terry Munyard begins his cross-examination of prosecution witness Isaac Mongor:
Def: Do you remember on one of the days you were giving evidence before the break, Mr. Koumjian made the point that you were one of the most senior RUF commanders in the field during the war in Sierra Leone?
Def: That’s right isn’t it? You were one of the most senior RUF commanders?
Def: So you’re one of the people who bears greatest responsibility for what went on during the war?
Def: How can you be one of the most senior commanders and not be most responsible?
Wit: Because I was also under command.
Def: You were one of the most senior RUF commanders?
Wit: Yes, but I had people above me.
Def: Foday Sankoh was the most senior figure?
Def: People below him such as Sam Bockarie, Morris Kallon and yourself held positions of great power, didn’t you?
Wit: I had great authority, but I was under authority of some other people.
Def: Bockarie, Issa Sesay and Morris Kallon were at times under the authority of other people, weren’t they?
Wit: Yes, under Foday Sankoh.
Def: Let’s see where you fit into the hierarchy. In your account before the break, you had spent around two months in the Liberian army in the mid-1990s before you deserted and went back to being a businessman. That was the start of your military career?
Def: You don’t learn much in two months, starting from scratch in the armed forces, do you?
Wit: Yes, I learned so many things.
Def: Why did you run away from the Armed Forces of Liberia after only two months?
[brief disruption in audio from the courtroom]
Wit: I had said that they captured me in Nimba County. They captured me in December 1989.
Def: Where in Nimba County were you captured?
Wit: They captured me in a village.
Def: Which village?
Wit: I don’t know its name. I don’t think I’d said that here.
Def: Are you trying to avoid telling us the name of the village you claim to have been captured.
Wit: I’m not trying to avoid. I don’t know the name of the village.
Def: By the time of the invasion of Sierra Leone, you’re the commander of the 2nd battalion?
Def: In 1992, you’re the acting battlegroup commander?
Def: It wasn’t until 1993 that you went back to your other rank of battalion commander?
Def: You were acting battlegroup commander in 1992 because of the absence of someone else?
Wit: Yes, Rashid Mansaray.
Def: When did he return to take up his position as battlegroup commander?
Prosecution objects: assumes something not in evidence – that Mansaray returned.
Judge Doherty: overrules the objection and allows the question.
Wit: Mansaray returned in 1993.
Def: You went back to being a battalion commander?
Wit: No, I was not a battalion commander.
Def: What was your position when Rashid returned?
Wit: When Rashid took over, it was the same week that the NPRC advanced on RUF positions, so we were all focused on the front line. There was no functioning office at that moment.
Def: So when Rashid Mansaray returned, you went back to being a battalion commander in the field?
Wit: I did not occupy the position of battalion commander.
Judge Doherty: You stated earlier that you were commander of the second battalion.
Wit: When you talk about 2nd battalion commander, the battalions we were fighting with – it was the 2nd that occupied Kailahun District. At the time we entered, I was the commander. I did not return to that position. I was in the second battalion. I was a commander at the frontline.
Def: Would it be wrong to say that when Mansaray returned, you went back to being a battalion commander in the field?
Wit: Yes, it would be wrong.
Def: What happened to you after Mansaray came back and took on his previous role?
Wit: I went to the frontline and I was fighting until the NPRC started advancing on us.
Def: When was that?
Wit: 1993, when the NPRC advanced on the RUF.
Def: What was your rank during that time?
Wit: At that time I had said I was fighting on the frontline. The rank I carried was captain.
Def: Who made you a captain and when?
Wit: The promotion came from the leader.
Wit: Foday Sankoh.
Def: When were you promoted by Foday Sankoh to captain?
Wit: The time I occupied the position of Battlegroup Commander is when I was promoted to captain.
Def: Did your rank change from captain during 1993?
Def: Any promotions in 1994?
Wit: There was a promotion in 1995.
Def: You were made a major in 1995, weren’t you?
Def: And area commander of the north?
Def: Who was above you when you were area commander of the north?
Wit: Mohamed Terawally (sp?)
Def: In 1996 you were promoted to colonel?
Def: That’s the year that camp Zagoda was routed and the RUF chased out?
Def: You weren’t there because you spent most of that year in the northern hills?
Def: How many times did you visit Camp Zagoda before the RUF was driven out?
Wit: Two times.
Def: In 1997, the AFRC coup takes place, and you become a member of the Supreme Council?
Def: You become a member of the governing body of Sierra Leone?
Def: In the following year, the junta is driven out of Freetown by ECOMOG, but you were then promoted to Brigadier?
Def: Who else was promoted to Brigadier in 1998?
Wit: Superman, Morris Kallon, Issa Sesay, and Mike Lamin.
Def: That group were the most senior commanders within the RUF at that time?
Def: And you remained as one of those most senior commanders of the RUF until your imprisonment in May 2000?
Def: Until your imprisonment at Pademba Road, you were one of those with greatest responsibility for conducting the war in Sierra Leone?
Wit: I was one of the senior men, yes.
Def: The senior men have greatest responsibility for what went on during the civil war?
Wit: Not all of them.
Def: Who do you say does not bear the greatest responsibility for the conduct of the war?
Wit: I’m number one. Mike Lamin is one of the people. Also the late Superman.
Def: Anyone else?
Wit: Some are dead, like Terawally (sp?) and Rashid Mansaray.
Def: Why is it you absolve yourself and Mike Lamin from greatest responsibility for conduct of the civil war. Why do you say you’re not as bad as the others.
Wit: We were all brigadiers, but there were brigadiers among the brigadiers.
Def: Mike Lamin was the ideological brains behind the RUF, wasn’t he? The ideas man?
Def: From start to finish, he was the brains behind the RUF?
Wit: Not from start to finish.
Def: From the very early days, Mike Lamin was teaching the RUF revolution to the fighters right up until the time he was also imprisoned in 2000?
Wit: That is not correct at all.
Def: The one thing you and Mike Lamin have in common is that you were both granted immunity from prosecution by this court if you cooperated, isn’t it?
Judge Doherty: Is there any evidence of this?
Def: I’m putting it to the witness.
Wit: I did not sign any contract.
Def: The prosecution wrote you a letter stating they did not intend to charge you with any offence before this court?
Wit: They wrote me a letter when I did not volunteer to testify before this court. They sent me a letter that I should not fear them. It was not a contract I signed with them. To say that I signed a contract to come and testify – that was not the case.
Def: I’m suggesting you were told at an early stage in your cooperation with the prosecution that you would not be charged with any offence before this court. That’s correct, isn’t it?
Wit: First of all, I want you to understand that the prosecution did not tell me that they were serving me the letter for me to cooperate with them. I volunteered. I accepted that I was going to come and testify before this court to explain what happened in the war.
Def: On May 7, 2000 you were arrested upon your return to Freetown following your efforts to secure the release of UN hostages? Were you successful in securing the release of the hostages?
Wit: We did not succeed.
Def: How long after your return to Freetown were you arrested?
Wit: I went on May 7, 2000 in the morning together with the force commander. That same evening, when I went to my house, they arrested me.
Def: And it was the West Side Boys who arrested you?
Def: The West Side Boys were acting on behalf of the government of Sierra Leone?
Def: So they were acting on behalf of President Kabbah?
Wit: Yes, they were working for the government.
Def: You were put in prison, and then charged with murder?
Wit: I said those were the charges that they brought before the groups that were arrested.
Def: When was this murder or these murders supposed to have been committed by you?
Wit: According to the charges that were brought against the group, it was because of the incident that took place on May 8 at Foday Sankoh’s house.
Def: You couldn’t have been involved in that because you had already been arrested?
Wit: Yes, that was how it happened. I didn’t know why I was arrested and charged for the May 8 incident.
Def: You would have been able to tell the authorities that the whole of the previous day you were in the company of the UN deputy commander?
Wit: Yes, it is exactly as you’ve said.
[brief interruption in audio]
Wit: I would have loved to explain it to the authorities, but I wasn’t given a chance to explain it.
Def: For five long years and three months, you didn’t get a chance to explain to authorities you’d been with the Deputy UN commander all day and then been arrested?
Wit: Not at all. I was in prison for two years before any court proceedings. Even in court I was not given an opportunity to explain. I always used to complain to the prison authorities. Finally I was able to tell the judges I was not there and my name was not on the list.
Def: Were you really arrested by the West Side Boys on May 7, or were you in fact part of the group who did the killings on May 8?
Wit: I was not there on May 8. The West Side Boys arrested me on May 7.
Def: You were a very senior RUF commander at the time?
Def: People would know your name and rank?
Def: On the evidence you’ve been giving us, you knew a fair number of influential people yourself, including Charles Taylor?
Wit: That I had influence?
Def: That you knew people that had influence.
Wit: I don’t think that I knew people who had influence, except Charles Taylor.
Def: Why didn’t you get a message to Mr. Taylor to seek help in sorting out the mess?
Wit: I want to tell you that I was not in a position to communicate with Mr. Taylor.
Def: It is possible to get messages out of prison, either formally or informally?
Wit: It’s not possible.
Def: Do you have family who were living in Freetown?
Wit: Yes, but they were also afraid.
Def: Did they visit you in prison over 5 years and 3 months?
Wit: The bishop of the church I used to attend visited me. Later my wife visited.
Def: When was the first visit you had after May 7.
Wit: It was some years before my bishop came to visit me at Pademba Road prison.
Def: What efforts did you make to see a lawyer?
Wit: It was not possible to secure a lawyer.
Def: An expert in this case testified that the Sierra Leone courts were operating reasonably well after Kabbah’s restoration.
Prosecution: Does defense have a reference for this?
Judge Doherty: Yes, please give the court a citation.
Def: I will get the citation tomorrow.
Def: You were imprisoned because you’d been involved in some sort of serious criminal offence, weren’t you?
Wit: I didn’t commit a criminal offence.
Def: Did you ever see a lawyer?
Wit: It was a state case, so I didn’t get a lawyer.
Def: What does that mean? You didn’t have access to a lawyer?
Wit: To hire a lawyer you should have money. I did not have money to secure a lawyer to defend me.
Def: Did you ask the bishop to help out?
Wit: Yes. I even told him to help secure me a lawyer. The government didn’t give us a chance to hire lawyers to defend us. When the bishop came to visit me, I told him I wanted him to help secure a lawyer for me. The bishop agreed, but he was somebody who had so many things on his mind. So I had no chance to secure a lawyer.
Def: Your bishop was too busy to help you show that you were arrested before the crime – so you were left to rot for five years because he was too busy?
Wit: The prison had procedures for how to deal with cases. They did not care about that.
Def: You said when you finally saw the charges against you, it was a charge of murder?
Wit: It was not in the prison I was shown the charges – it was in the court.
Def: You were shown a charge sheet with your name on it?
Wit: My name was not there. The charges covered the whole RUF group. The charges were read out in court.
Def: What year was this?
Def: In 2002, your name was not on the charge sheet?
Wit: It was not there.
Def: And you stayed in prison for three more years?
Def: How did you get out?
Wit: I raised my hand in court. The prison officers kept telling me to wait. I finally got the attention of the judge, Judge Hamilton, and I explained to him that my name is not on the list. The judge told me that I should write my name. He asked his clerk to take my name. Two other people made the same complaint. Then he said we should wait.
Def: Who were the other two?
Wit: Ansumana Folwa and Kentika Vieh (sp?) Their names were also not on the list.
Def: Can you spell Kentika Vieh (sp?) ?
Wit: No, he was a French man, from Ivory Coast.
Def: Were they there also for 5 years, unable to get help?
Def: The following year, the prosecution of this court started to interview you? In 2006?
Wit: I don’t think it was 2006.
Def: Was it the same year you got out of prison?
Wit: I don’t think so. I was released in August 2005. You might be right. It was the following year.
Def: While you were in prison, you presumably became aware that this court was set up and trials were starting against people involved in the civil war?
Def: You were awaiting trial of your own on murder charges at the time, even if you say it turned out that your name was not on the list?
Wit: Those were the charges against the RUF group?
Def: Were you worried when this court was set up, and senior commanders of the RUF were going to be prosecuted before it?
Wit: I was not worried at all. I never had that fear in me.
Def: In September 2006, the prosecution wrote to you telling you that they were not going to bring charges against you, didn’t they?
Wit: No, they didn’t write me before I became to the court. They did not write to me before I was willing to testify.
Def: I accept you had already been interviewed two weeks before the letter came.
Wit: I had already volunteered to give testimony. They did not write the letter before I was willing. They were taking statements from me prior to that.
Def: Why would anyone write you such a letter unless there was a realistic possibility that you would be prosecuted before this court?
Wit: I told you I was not afraid of the court. I never thought the court would arrest me. Even before I came to testify, I never had it in mind that the court would arrest me.
Def: Even if that’s true, can you think of any reason why the prosecution would write you such a letter?
Wit: I am telling you that the prosecution did not serve me the letter to say that the prosecution was not haunting me. I said to you earlier, I had already started giving statements before the court wrote to me. The letter was given to me, but it doesn’t mean they had not already taken statements. I was already willing to testify.
Def: So was the letter a big surprise to you?
Wit: What do you mean by surprise?
Def: If you were not afraid of prosecution, were you not amazed that they bothered to write a letter telling you they would not prosecute you?
Wit: It was not something that surprised me.
Def: Before the court started interviewing you, did you enter into talks with anybody about cooperating with the prosecution if they would agree not to charge you?
Wit: Nobody told me to come and testify and that if I cooperated I would not be arrested. I was willing to come to testify even before the letter reached me. I was not afraid.
Def: You were not surprised when you received the letter?
Wit; I was not surprised.
Def: Did you know it was coming before it came?
Wit: I don’t know. They did not tell me they were serving me the letter.
Def: Did you approach the prosecution or did the prosecution approach you, as a result of which you agreed to testify?
Wit: People had been calling my name. When the prosecution heard my name as one of the RUF men, they tried to trace me. When they came initially, I did not accept to talk to them. I decided to wait for my own time, when I decided to accept.
Def: When was this first occasion they contacted you and you were unwilling to cooperate?
Wit: In the same year, 2006.
Def: How long before the end of August 2006, when you gave your first interview did they first approach you?
Wit: When I was just released from prison, they made the move. I was just from jail and thinking about other things. I had lost communication with my family. They were no longer there. I tried to put myself together and start a business to help my family.
Def: Did you move away from Freetown after that first approach from the prosecution?
Wit: No, I was in Freetown.
Def: So how did it come about that you were interviewed on August 30, 2006. Did they contact you again?
Wit: They contacted me through Lawrence Wohmandia. I was living in the same area as him.
Def: Why was he in contact with them. Was he giving interviews to them?
Wit: I don’t know why he was with them. He told me he gave them my contact details. Later I spoke with Mr. Sesay.
Def: Mr. Wohmandia would have had a lot more to say than that, wouldn’t he?
Wit: He did not explain in detail. Himself and Mr. Sesay had been used before. When we were living together in the same area – he was the one that Sesay spoke to.
Def: What do you mean they had been “used before”?
Wit: They were friends before – they knew each other before, and now Mr. Sesay was working for the court.
Def: But the court already knew how to get ahold of you, didn’t they?
Wit: Yes, but I denied them because I was just from prison.
Def: By August of the following year, had you sorted out yourself and your family?
Wit: Through my church and my bishop, I was able to get a place for myself and my family to live. I started doing some business. I opened a shop and I was selling.
Def: Were you employed by the bishop?
Wit: The bishop gave me the business.
Def: Is this the same bishop who was too busy to get you out of jail in 2002?
Def: He helped you with accommodation?
Wit: He paid rent for one year.
Def: Is it right that you later moved because you weren’t getting on with your neighbors? Did you eventually move together with Peter Vandy (sp?)
Wit: No, never.
Def: Near him?
Def: But you were friendly with him?
Def: Was it him, Peter Vandy (sp?) who put you in touch with the prosecution?
Def: By the middle of 2006, was your business producing enough to support yourself and your family?
Wit: Yes, I was almost settled then. I was now living comfortably.
Def: Did Mr. Lawrence tell you that the office of the prosecution would really like to talk to you?
Wit: Yes, he told me that a friend, Mr. Sesay wants to talk. Sesay asked me to talk to you.
Def: Did he tell you there would be any benefit for you if you speak with the prosecution?
Def: What about loss of earnings while you were being interviewed by the prosecution?
Wit: He did not tell me that if I lost something they would give it to me – he did not tell me that. Nobody told me that.
Def: What were you earning on average per day in your shop in August 2006?
Wit: Business is a rise and fall thing. I cannot give a specific amount.
Def: How much on average per day?
Wit: Today I will sell and get 200,000. Maybe tomorrow I will not be able to get 200,000.
Def: Was the shop doing well or badly?
Wit: It was an on and off thing. There were days where I could cover costs. Some days I didn’t even make enough to cover fuel and other costs.
Def: So it wasn’t doing well?
Wit: It wasn’t doing as well I was expecting, but I thank God for what I have.
Def: Come August 2006, you were perfectly able to speak and understand English, weren’t you?
Wit: I was not speaking English to them. They had interpreters.
Def: In all your interviews?
Wit: Not in all of them.
Def: You are capable of understanding and speaking in English?
Wit: I can understand English.
Def: Is it correct that you speak English, Liberian English and Krio?
Def: You were educated up to the ninth grade?
Def: In school you spoke English?
Def: You speak English very well?
Wit: Not very well.
Def: You were interviewed 24 times between August 2006 and February 2008. You had an interpreter present on only five of those days, is that right?
Pros: Sometimes Sierra Leonean investigators are conducting the interviews, and they are Krio speakers.
Def: Does it sound right that on most occasions there was no interpreter present?
Wit: Maybe the person talking to me, I would understand him even without an interpreter.
Def: Does it sound right that for the vast majority of those interviews, there was no interpreter? The records show an interpreter on just five occasions.
Wit: It is supposed to be more than five, but if the record says five, then I’ll agree with you.
Def: When you were interviewed in English, were there ever times you didn’t understand the question you were being asked?
Wit: If I didn’t understand, I would ask them to repeat it.
Def: The interview record should be an accurate account of what you were telling the interviewers?
Def: Were notes being taken by anybody when you were being interviewed?
Def: Did they read it back to you, to make sure it was accurate?
Wit: Yes, they read it back to me.
Def: And if there was anything wrong, you corrected it?
Def: When did you discover that your transport costs, meals, and lost wages would be paid by the court?
Wit: I cannot tell you a particular date. They never told me that they would give back to me what I had lost. If I were to name that to them, they wouldn’t be able to pay.
Def: When did you first find out that you were to be paid for lost earnings if you agreed to be interviewed? Did you find out in the first interview?
Wit: They gave me transport fare for the first interview. Nobody told me they would reimburse what I was losing.
Def: Did you ever tell them what you’d lost in earnings by sitting in an interview room in the court instead of in the shop?
Wit: No. I did not tell them. They did not ask me.
Def: So you were never given money for money you lost by not being in the shop?
Wit: No, they did not give me money for anything I had lost.
[brief interruption in audio]
Wit: I closed the place for the meantime.
Def: When you came to Europe, or before?
Wit: I closed the place because my generator was stolen.
Def: When did you close the place?
Wit: I closed the place in September, I think. But I opened it again because I got another generator. But because the business was not running as I expected, I closed it again. It’s closed for now. I’ll reopen it again in another location.
Def: Going back to your personal history – you’re Liberian, aren’t you?
Wit: I’m Sierra Leonean. My mother is a Liberian.
Def: You’re not Liberian?
Wit: I grew up there and lived there all along. But I was born in Sierra Leone.
Def: You were brought up in Bassa County?
Def: What village?
Wit: In the city of Buchanan itself.
Def: Do you speak Bassa fluently?
Def: Do you have a Bassa tribal name?
Wit: No, I have no Bassa name.
Def: How long did you go to school in Sierra Leone?
Wit: I was a small boy when I was going to school there. My mother took me to Liberia.
Def: At what age did you leave school in ninth grade?
Wit: I think I was around 22-23 when I stopped going to school.
Def: You were born in 1965?
Def: So it was about 1987 when you stopped going to school, if you were 22?
Wit: Yes, 1987.
Def: What year did you go into the Armed Forces of Liberia for your brief two-month stint as a soldier?
Wit: I joined when Doe became president.
Def: Doe became president in 1980 when you were 15.
Wit: I was enrolled in the army in 1985. When I left there, it was not too long after that Quiwonkpa and others plotted the coup.
Def: Are you sure it was 1985?
Def: Could it have been 1983?
Def: When you joined the Armed Forces of Liberia, did you have to take any kind of test or examination?
Wit: I went there through somebody who was a soldier. The man lived close to our place.
Def: Was the Armed Forces of Liberia a volunteer army?
Wit: They did not force anyone to join.
Def: Was it easy or difficult to get in?
Wit: It was easy because at that time the military was recruiting people. They wanted people.
Def: Where did you do your training?
Wit: Camp T___.
Def: In Monrovia?
Wit: Outside the city.
Def: They knew you came from Buchanan?
Def: You escaped from the training camp and returned to Buchanan?
Def: The MPs never came for you between 1985 and 1989, when the NPFL captured you?
Wit: They never came.
Def: What did you do back in Buchanan?
Wit: Business. I was selling goods. I was based in Monrovia – I used to visit Buchanan.
Def: You went back to Monrovia, but were never arrested for desertion?
Wit: Nobody arrested me.
Def: It’s not true is it, that you joined the army and then deserted?
Wit: It’s true.
Def: It’s not true either that the NPFL captured you in 1989?
Wit: It’s true.
Def: But you did join the NPFL briefly before going with Sankoh to Sierra Leone?
Def: You made up the story about abduction to cover the fact that you volunteered to join the RUF?
Def: Your friend G___ introduced you to Sankoh and you volunteered to go with him?
Wit: No, G_____ introduced me to him, but when I was an Executive Mansion guard.
4:30 (5:00 with the video audio delay): court is adjourning for the day. The proceedings will resume tomorrow morning at 9:30. This account will resume at 10:00.