Defense Challenges Reliability of RUF Insider’s Memory and Accuracy of Testimony

The Hague

March 6, 2008

Cross-examination of Mustapha Marvin Mansaray, an RUF insider witness, continued today. Mansaray was led in at 9:30 a.m. this morning, looking calm and wearing a blue button down shirt. Throughout the day, Charles Taylor sat quietly, regularly taking notes, in the back row of the defense tables, wearing glasses and wearing a dark grey suit, a white shirt and a striped blue tie.

Today’s testimony was marked by exchanges, at times testy, between the Defense and Prosecution on issues ranging from assisting each other with the page numbers on previous testimony being put to the witness, on the order of witnesses, and on the limitations on the Defense in asking questions about pre-testimony interviews with the Prosecution. Problems with accuracy of the transcript had Judge Sebutinde shaking her head at one point. Much of today’s questioning by the Defense was aimed at demonstrating that the witness was either exaggerating the truth or that his memory was unreliable. The final session focussed much of the discussion on the logistics of Mansaray’s pre-testimony discussions with the Special Court’s Prosecution Office from 2003 onwards and whether the investigators asked Mansaray to talk specifically about Charles Taylor when he first started talking with the Special Court.

Mansaray began by discussing the reports which the RUF’s Internal Defense Unit officers (such as himself) made which reported on crimes committed by RUF members with recommended disciplinary action. He said he continued to make these reports after the law broke down in 1996 in the hope that one day Foday Sankoh may want to read them. The witness said he kept duplicate copies and carried them with him from place to place as he was reassigned with the RUF until they were destroyed in the melee after Sesay, Kallon and former commanders “took the law into their own hands and killed the peacekeepers” in 2000. The Defense challenged the witness that the writing of these reports was a waste of time given the lawlessness which had overtaken the RUF after 1996. The witness rejected this, saying that it was not a waste of time because he was still writing reports on crimes which required action.

Defense Counsel Terry Munyard then turned to the time that Mansaray spent as a mining commander in Ngaiya. He focussed specifically on the testimony presented that civilians were forced to work in the mines and those who refused or tried to escape with diamonds were either beaten or killed. The Defense challenged the veracity of some of Mansaray’s testimony, including his statement that he had provided his supervisor, Francis Musa, with a report on a killing done by Alhaji Put More. Munyard said that Put More denied ever receiving such a report. Mansaray rejected this, and insisted that Musa received it and that they talked about it in person. The Defense also challenged the testimony that Mansaray had sent a report to Francis Musa about Sam Bockarie getting arms and ammunition from Liberia. Munyard argued that this was not the type of report that Mansaray would be required to write. Mansaray said that he and his colleagues from the IDU had to write daily reports about all things going on within the RUF, including the movement of fighters and civilians. The reports were not just about cases when commanders killed civilians. The movements of Bockarie were relevant for these daily reports.

Munyard then went through places from which the RUF got arms and funding. Mansaray said that the RUF got ammunition on at least one occasion from Guinea; that the RUF attacked the ECOMOG force and seized arms and ammunition; but he denied being aware of arms being transported to Sierra Leone from Burkino Faso. He also denied that he knew anything about Libya funding the RUF. Mansaray also confirmed he did not know about the invasion of Freetown on January 6, 1999 until the same day that it happened, when he heard about it on the RUF’s radio communications.

After this, the witness and the Defense went through an extended exchange where the witness denied the accuracy of his own prior statement as recorded by the Special Court’s investigators. He disagreed with the timing for certain events (he thought the attack on ECOMOG soldiers occurred two months later than recorded in his previous statement, for example) or the length of time he spent in particular towns and the order in which he visited them. The Defense suggested that the investigators must have got it wrong and the witness agreed it was a mistake.

Munyard moved on to challenge Mansaray about his claim that Charles Taylor addressed the RUF alongside Foday Sankoh at Bomi Hills in Liberia in 1991. Mansaray had heard that Taylor was staying in a place called Gbarnga at this time. Munyard noted how it would have been impossible for Taylor to get from Gbarnga to Bomi Hills in Liberia by car, as Mansaray had indicated, because it would have required Taylor to drive through Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. At the time, Taylor did not control Monrovia and NPFL forces had been unable to get into Monrovia that year. Mansaray responded that he did not know the geography of Liberia and that he was not the only one who was at the meeting where Taylor spoke in 1991, and proceeded to name individuals who were there with him.

One of the main points of contention of the day was when Munyard asked Mansaray if he had ever seen civilians being killed for trying to escape from the mines when Mansaray was a mining commander in Ngaiya in 2001. Mansaray said he had seen such killings up to 10 times. Munyard noted that in all Mansaray’s previous statements, he had never once said he had seen such killings, only that he had heard about them. Munyard told Mansaray that his evidence was “unreliable” because of “exaggerations or lies” he had told in the course of his evidence. Mansaray insisted he told the truth about the killings, but he did not clarify whether he had in fact personally seen people killed or not.

Munyard then turned to a previous statement in which Mansaray had named July 1999 as the time when the RUF had captured UN peacekeepers. But in a later statement, Mansaray had said that the timing was more like April 2000. After Mansaray noted that he had made a mistake in the dates and had corrected it, Munyard responded: “I’m simply demonstrating that your memory is not as good as you claim it to be.”

The session wrapped up with discussion on Mansaray’s pre-testimony discussions with the Special Court’s Prosecution Office. Munyard focused on whether the Prosecution Office had let Mansaray know that they were particularly interested in information on Charles Taylor and whether Mansaray had any previous dealings with him. Mansaray said that the investigators did not ask him about any particular person but wanted to know what Mansaray knew about happenings after he joined the RUF.

Trial will continue tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.


  1. hey

    I wanted to document some of the findings in my work. Can you tell me what reference name I should use for the author and the organization that owns or operates this site? My study is due this thursday so a rushed response would be highly appreciated!


Comments are closed.