Next Prosecution Witness Called

The Prosecution called its next witness.  Nick Koumjian conducts the direct examination of this witness, Isaac Mongor.   The following is rough summary of the session and not a transcript of events.

Pros: When were you born?

W: Nov. 21, 1965

Pro: Where did you grow up?

W: Liberia.

Pro: What languages did you speak?

W: Mother’s language, Liberian english, Krio.

Pros: Military service?

W: Yes, in the Liberian national army.

 Pros: When join?

W: When Doe was President.

Pros: What year? 

W: It was in 1985.  He was trained but did not complete the training.  He was not a member of the Liberian army for very long, 2-3 months, as he did not want to be a soldier.  When he left the army, he started a business — he would go to the Ivory Coast for goods and then sell them in Liberia.  He was involved in this for some period of time until “the war met us.”  In “Christmas month” of 1989 the rebels who called themselves freedom fighters and identified themselves as the NPFL entered the village he was in.  When they entered they shot guns.  Some people ran away.  When they ceased firing the villagers came outside, after which the rebels took the young men to their base.  He did not recall the village he was in when he was captured.  In the village there were no fighters.

The rebels handpicked some of them (young men and women) in the town and took them along.  The range of ages included children, young women and young girls.  They were taken to the base at Gborpaly for training.  (Some discussion concerning the spelling of this camp)  This was a training base to fight for “our country” (Liberia).  The rebels indicated that that their leader was Charles Taylor, known as the “CIC” (Commander in Chief), and Mongor was there when Taylor came. 

Mongor was trained for 2 months.  They were given guerilla training and taught how to fire guns.  The ages of those being trained included small boys and small girls as well as adults.  

Pros: Youngest age of those being trained?

W: There were people about 10 years.

Pros: Any ceremony at end of training?

W: No, just graduated us and said we had completed training.

Pros: Where assigned after training?

W: Assigned to fight on the war front.  Fought in same Nima country in Gmata (sp?).  When I fought there for some time (Ganta (sp?)) the CIC came there for some time before they could advance.  They next moved to Banga and fought from evening up to midnight up to the next moring until Prince Johnson was flushed out of the area. 

Pros: Did your unit have a designation?

W: Yes.  At the time we captured Banga they took me to join the executive mansion guard, the CIC bodyguard group.  The overall boss was [?].  He did not know exactly when he became a member of this unit, but said it was the next year after he had been captured.

The duties of the Executive Mansion guard included guarding Taylor, fighting on the front line and going with the CIC wherever he went.  When he was there himself, he operated the heavy weapons and moved first before the whole group.  At that time he was a sergeant.  When he was using the AA (anti-aircraft gun) he was the advance team commander when the CIC went to the front line. 

Pros: How often see Taylor?

W: I saw him every day because executive mansion guards had access to him.  They would explain what was happening on the front line, so I saw him always.    

Pros: Routine?

W: Used to have a parade when the “Pa himself” (Taylor) would come to inspect the troops.  The CIC himself would come to see the men.  At the parade ground, there were SBUs (small boy units), and some other units also such as the Artillery units, which he was a member. Age range of small boys was 10 – ? years.  They were among the guards and used to go to the front line to fight.

Pros: How was security for the CIC arranged?

W: Sometimes when he was about to go somewhere he used to disguise himself, he didn’t want people to know.  Sometimes Taylor would be among the SBUs, and sometimes among others.  I was at the head of the advance team and would always be in front.

Pros: Was Taylor considered by troops as military leader or political leader?

Munyard (objecting): Which troops?  Objects to sweeping question.

Pros: I’ll rephrase.  Did you yourself receive any information on whether Taylor had any military training?

W: I heard Taylor was a soldier and somone who had been in the military.  He was the commander for the fighters.

Pros: You ever witness Taylor giving military commands?

W: Yes, he would give people military commands where he would tell them to go the front line to fight.

Pros: When you were a member of the executive mansion guard, did you observe how NPFL forces were supplied with ammunition?

W: Ammunition was supplied to us on the Executive Mansion ground.  When Taylor was ready to move to the front line the ammunition would be at the rear of the line where he was going.  He kept it at the Coca Cola factory and gave the troops weapons to fight.  This factory is in Monrovia.

Pros: Where was the Exective Mansion?

W: It was in different locations but the main location was Banga. We had some other bases like Bomo mines (sp?) and Harbel, but Banga was the main base for the CIC (Taylor).  At Banga, they kept the ammunition on the executive ground.

Pros: Where?

W: Where Taylor himself was. 

Pros: Need permission to obtain weapons from that location?

W: Always have to ensure Taylor approved for ammunition to come out of that place.  if not, no ammunition would come out to go anywhere. 

Pros: Place where ammunition kept locked?

W: Yes.  It was locked and there was somebody there to ensure that when “the Pa” (Taylor) needed ammunition he would come and open.  Moses Duoh came to get ammunition.

Pros: You talked about SBUs.  Do you recall names of any young members? 

W: Well, we had like Mosquito (Christopher Varmah), Zevun (SBU commander).

Pros: At some time, did you get a new assignment?

W: Yes, there came a time when I had a new assingment.  But before then I was fighting on the front line. 

Pros: What locations were you fighting at on the front line before you took the new assignment?

W: Places where I fought: Bomo mines (sp.), towards Coca Cola factory, and then towards Monrovia.  Didn’t capture the whole city but captured some areas.  Were very close.  We could stand there and see the mansion ground. 

Pros: Any other forces fought against in Liberia?

W: Prince Johnson’s group and the AFL. 

Pros: Any other locations you fought at the front line?

W: Those are the places I can recall for now.  I fought at Kakata of course.  I went to AFL military base.  At that time, Taylor himself who was among the attacking force, attacking an AFL barracks.  Later they captured it.  The barracks was Schefflin barracks. 

Pros: The new assignment, what was it?

W: The new assignment was to go and train people who were to go and fight in Sierra Leone.

Pros: Recall the year given this assignment?

W: It was in 1990.  That was the time I was given the assignment to go and train those people.  This was in March or April.  I cannot say exactly but it could be within that period.

Pros: How first learn about assignment?

W: Well, I was one of the executive mansion guards. I was able to get this assignment from the CIC to help his friend (Foday Sankoh) but at that time we were in Liberia and didn’t know him by that name.  Taylor called me and said to go with Sankoh.  He told me I should go with “his brother” to help him train his people.  I want you to know that at the time we were fighting in Liberia, Taylor used to talk over the BBC.  He said to the Sierra Leonean people at that time they one day they would “taste the bitterness of war.”  This was because the alpha jets used to come from Sierra Leone and bomb them.  Taylor gave the order to arrest the Nigerians.  Most were put in jail, some were killed.  He told me to go and train people who will fight in Sierra Leone. 

Pros: How was this assignment given to you?

W: Sankoh had already started discussing with Taylor before I was invited.  Taylor told him to go with “his brother” to go train his people. 

Pros: Where were you when this order was given?

W: I was on the ground where Taylor was, the executive ground.

Pros: Who was present?

W: When they called me I met and say Taylor and Sankoh together.  I used to see Sankoh a lot but I didn’t know he was a rebel leader. 

Pros: After turned over to Sankoh, where did you go to do this training?

W: Went through the training at [?], which was the AFL military base.  We had already been in control of that area. 

W: Camp Nama (sp?) is in Bong Country.  The camp was a military camp and was a big place.  It had houses there and the NPFL had their own base there.  Taylor had given directions to arrest Sierra Leoneans and Nigerians. 

Pros: Before, when you said you were captured, did you and the others have a choice of wherher or not to tade wit the NPFL?

W: At that point, we never had a choice.   

Pros: What nationalties were at the executive mansion? There were people from Burkina Fasa, Gambians, Liberians.  At the time he was with them the foreign forces within were trusted and believed more than the Special Forces who were Liberians. 

W: In 1990, the ages of people he was training with were when in NPFL — SBUs were training on the base.  There were women.  They were mature men also there.  Some Liberians were also there.

Pros: names of other trainers at camp?

W: Witness says names.   Gongano.  Sam Dripo. 

Pros: All teaching the same subjects?

W: There were different subjects that we used to teach.  In my case Gongano, Draper, and I gave them physical training.  I was the first person who had been there for almost 6 months before the others met him.  Sometimes Sankoh himself would conduct training.

Pros: Ever see Taylor there?

W: Never saw him there.

Had weapons there with Sankoh and he had his own personal weapon.  All instructors had weapons that came from Banga and were NPFL property. 

Pros: Where did rice and supplies come from?

W: From excutive ground and Taylor. Recounts names of soldiers he trained.  Issa Sesay, Juan Maurice Collon; Sam Bockarie.  I want the Court to know that the Liberians had their own mosquito (Varmah) while Sierra Leoneans had their own (Bockarie).  Sankoh used to talk to the recruits.  He used to tell them that Sierra Leone had a one party system at that time and that the country was corrupt.  He was training them to free them from the one party system and take over the country.  He told the men this during the parade and they should be strong and they should be courageous. 

Pros You ever spoke to Sankoh?

W: (Smiling) Yes.

Pros: Did he ever mention Taylor?

W: Yes.

Pros: Recall anything he said about Taylor?

W: He said Taylor was his brother and that when he was training those men it was Taylor who was doing it from them.

Pros: Sankoh ever say how he met Taylor?

W: Yes, said they had met.  Taylor had him released.  They had gone to Libya for training.  These were things Taylor told him.

At this point, Presiding Judge Doherty breaks for lunch.