Defense questions reliability of witness’ memory and circumstances of interviews with the OTP

Cross examination of Mansaray resumed after lunch at 2pm. Charles Taylor sat behind the two lead defense attorneys, watching the testimony and taking notes. He wore glasses, a striped two-tone blue tie, a grey suit and a white shirt.

Terry Munyard continued. He started by going through forced mining and the punishment meted out for those who refused.

Def: Noting in first interview about forced mining. You talk about where the mining was carried out and who the diamonds were given to. In your second interview in March 2004 you talk about people being forced to mine. You spoke about people being forced to mine, that the mine was fortified by armed men, people who refused to take part in forced mining were executed. You said you heard about this information – that Pelato killed people. You were asked about specific people. You said yes but can’t remember names. You say Pelato would torture and punish them – you got reports of this happening if people tried to steal diamonds or refused to work. In third interview, you said Patrick Bangura was appointed by Bockarie to command there. Patrick told you that civilians not paid for the work. In the fourth interview, in para 13, asked to clarify comments about forced mining and the fate of those who refused to work or tried to escape. You said you saw people being forced to mine but never saw anyone being killed. Heard about people being killed and mutilated in sites. You later went back to that passage and corrected the spelling of one name. So I will also look at other interviews, in 15 October 2007, in which you talk about forced mining. You are in a prepping interview, and it says witness was asked about involvement in diamond mining in Kono between 1998 and 2000. But you were still in the IDU at that time?

Wit: Yes.

Def: You were appointed to work with Pelato after peacekeepers were released in 2000. You were appointed as mining commander in Ngaiya. The notes of the interviewer says that the witness confirmed everything in his previous. Presumably that means previous statements. We know that you mentioned Kono in that paragraph 13 of the interview on the 3rd May 2006, when you said you had never seen anyone executed. You then provide further information about mining activities in Kono in 2000 and clarify that you saw ?? who was working for Sesay beating civilians. You saw Pelato you saw him place in vehicles and taking to mining sites in Kuido. I will read you what you said in 2007 interview. When asked about your personal mistreatment of civilians — sometimes his men will beat civilians if people refuse to come and work. Sometimes you will stop the beating, and sometimes not. You never personally participated in beatings, but felt bad about how your personnel treated civilians.

What did you mean that you had to recruit civilians and mining tools when the govt mining day comes?

Wit: Here you mention 2000 but this was not the year I spoke about that mining. What I meant was when we were prepared to undertake the mining, the shaker and the shovel that the civilians used to do the mining, we tasked them to bring those along to clean the gravel.

(Sebutinde shook her head at difference between tax and task on the record).

Def: can you use another word beside task or tax?

Wit: We forced them to do the work.

Def: Clear from this statement that if the investigators correctly recorded what you said. then you started your mining commanders job in June 2000, and not Jan 2001 which you told this court. Did you start in June 2000 as prosecution recorded in October 2007 or in Jan 2001.

Wit: It was 14 January 2001 when I was appointed as mining commander.

Def: So who’s got it wrong — you or the prosecutors?

Wit: I cannot recall, but the actual date I called is the corrected one. 14 January 2001 is the correct date that I started my job as mining commander.

Def: Now, on 24, 25 and 28 January 2008, you were seen by members of the prosecution team and in the course of those interviews, this is recorded: With reference to para 13 of statement 3 May 2006, — that is the first document that I read from when I began these questions where you say you never saw anyone executed — witness knew about the killings and amputations in Kono when you were based in Shegwema and were called by Gbao to meet him. Witness visited Shegwena IDU office. There he was told that some civilians had been killed at other sites because they had been refused to mine for RUF. Also civilians had limbs amputated in Kono when civilians refused to mine. In that same interview, between 2000 and 2001, witness was assigned as mining commander in Kono. There are notes taken by people who interviewed you as recently as six weeks ago. On 24, 25 and 28 January 2008 and they have recorded something very similar to what I read out from previous record dated October 2007 – namely that you were appointed mining commander in 2000 or thereabouts. Are you saying that this batch of prosecution staff also inaccurately recorded the time that you told them that you were appointed mining commander?

Wit: Perhaps the mistake is from me. I know the exact time — perhaps I made the mistake.

Def: He was in charge of six areas, which you also listed in court the other day. It says there were about 200 pits, and you were responsible for mobilizing civilians to mine the diamonds. People who attempted to escape were beaten or killed. It says the witness was ordered to beat or kill people who did not want to work, More than 50 people were killed for trying to escape or refusing to work. You don’t say that you saw anyone being executed for refusing to mine, do you?

Wit: From the start of my statement I did mention that people in the RUF that killed others because of the mining.

Def: never disputed that you said that. But talking about the difference between the evidence that you gave here that you saw people being executed, and the stream of statements in which you have not said that you saw anyone being executed, or that you never saw anyone being executed. So why given this court a different account to the one you gave to the prosecution? I’m suggesting that on your evidence on this matter you are embellishing your account. You are not telling the whole truth.

Wit: If you have read the statement, I mentioned about the punishment of the civilians. That was the law that Pelato that passed on to us. The punishment that should be metered to civilians who did not want to work.

Def: I’m saying that by the time you got to the courtroom, you are now adding to or making up things that you have never previously claimed to have seen. That you have invented some evidence. What do you say to that?

Wit: What I have been telling the people who took my statement, I think is the same statement that I am giving to the court, I am not giving new statements.

Def: You are unreliable in your evidence, because of exaggerations or lies you have told in the course of your evidence.

Wit: But I am telling you that all what I said here is the truth. These were things that were happening.

Def:Nobody disputes that people were killed because they refused to carry out RUF orders. I am saying you have not told the truth to the judges when you told them that you saw people who were killed. You were not telling the truth on that?

Wit: I said the truth. I gave an example – I told you that there was killings where I was working and there was info on killings in other areas. I told them killings took place – I am not hiding the truth.

Def: I will deal with last occasion when asked by investigators about forced mining.

Can I move on to something else? I wanted to ask about UN peacekeepers who were seized. You were asked about Indian UN troops. Do you remember telling investigators about the capture of Indian troops.

Wit: Yes I said something about that.

Def: And do you remember saying this: one night in 1999 we saw Issa Sesay, Gbao and Kallon who were together with UN troops and they were crossing them to Kailahun, but Sesay had sent a message to Manowa.

Wit: Yes I told them that.

Def: You had an instruction from Dennis Lansana, your commander, to receive Issa Sesay and the UN troops. These were troops under arrest or had been captured. And you were asked when the peacekeepers were captured, what time was that — and you said it was in 1999.

Wit: Yes I remember the date that I gave to them – it was not correct, when I thought about the correct date I gave it to them.

Def: You told them it was sometime in July because it was raining – the rainy season.

Wit:I remember the year and the month – I corrected it.

Def: I accept that. But I want to explore the incorrect year and month when you first told the investigators this happened. Do you remember saying it was sometime in July because it was raining?

Wit: I don’t believe that I mentioned a time in July. I can recall that initially the year that I gave to them was wrong. A mistake on my part.

Def: Did they tape record the interview?

Wit: Yes, the very day I was called by the SCSL it was recorded.

Def: It is perfectly plain from language in transcript that it is a transcript of a tape recording of actual questions and answers on that day. So when it has 1999 which month of it. And the answer is sometimes in July because it was raining, that is you saying that picked up by the tape.

Wit: They were recording in my presence but I don’t recall exactly what I said.

Def: The first interview is the longest and likely to be an accurate account of what the transcriber has listened to on the tape.

Wit: I made some mistakes that day and I effected some corrections.

Def: I’m simply demonstrating that your memory is not as good as you claim it to be.

Wit: yes.

Def: When asked in 2003 – asked about events just 3.5 years earlier. When asked about statement about July 1999, came back and said that it was more like April 2000. Your memory was not entirely correct.

Wit: I don’t under stand the question. Please repeat.

Def: Do you find your memory becomes less reliable as more time passes?

Wit: I believe that.

Def: would you agree that trying to remember in March 2008 events that took place in 1990s, your memory now is likely not to be as good as it was in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and 2006. Agree?

WIt: I don’t understand this question.

Def: Is your memory more reliable closer to the events than now in 2008?

Wit: Yes, that is true. That is why I cannot recall everything that happened – I can only speak of what I know.

Def: Just saying that your memory is not entirely clear about a number of events that you have been speaking about .

Wit: It could be – that is true. I cannot recall everything. I cannot store everything in my brain at the same time.

Def: On a number of occasions when you said in answer to questions from me that the investigators had written accounts, it is more likely they have accurately written what you have told then, rather than the wrong version of events you were telling them. Agree?

Wit: I disagree with you.

Def: Don’t mention any names. Can I ask you — did you know a person who was the training commander in Yengama?

Wit: Yes, the time I was at Ngaiya I knew the training commander in Yengama.

Def: I don’t want you to tell me the name, or whether man or woman. Did that person have a reputation for being particularly cruel?

With: I knew that person. I cannot say I knew that person as a wicked person. At the time I knew the person, I did not hear the person involved in any wicked act.

Def: Since then?

Wit: When together from 1992 I did not hear anything wicked related to that person. In fact that person training the recruits, I knew the person in 1992, and the person used to visit where we were at front lines, but I did not know the person was wicked.

Def: Heard anything since that the person has a reputation of being wicked?

Wit: One time in Kailahun in 1998 I heard about a case related to that person. Boidu IDU investigated that person and the person got free and not found guilty.

Def: You were working in the IDU at the time – that person were imprisoned in a dungeon because they were accused of wicked cruelty.

Wit: This is the information I got.

Def: They were in a dungeon until they were released because of relationship with a commander.

Wit: After the person left the prison, I understood that the senior commander wanted a connection with that person in order to punish that person.

Witness left courtroom for a break. The courtroom discussed upcoming witness arrangements in his absence.
Pros: We have a change in witness order. There are some final arrangements being made – as of tomorrow can see if the witness will testify openly. That may be our next witness.

Def: Further discussion on witness order. We may not be able to sit with this witness tomorrow as his defense partner has a retrial to do back in London.

Pros: the witness was originally due to testify on week of Feb 11. We hope to do this before the break. We do understand that Mr Griffiths prepared for this witness and will accommodate and can start on Monday.

Justice Sebutinde – assuming current witness finished.

Def:  Pros submitted motion in January – but did not tell as a precondition was protective measures. They reordered witnesses, Griffiths came back in time to conduct the examination, but was told in open court that protective measures had been lifted. Not sure if Griffiths can be back in time for this, not for tomorrow.

Justice Doherty: He can’t know Griffiths situation as of now. So this leaves me in a dilemma. Suggest not sure when this witness fwill inish, and you have this evening if realistic assessment and wise to defer this until you’ve done so. and see how this cross examination proceeds.

Pros: To respond to the defense, when a Witness asks for protective measures, that is what they think will require. We try to reassure the witnesses. Didn’t know until court made its ruling, announced the day that witness was supposed to testify.

Justice Doherty – will you be able to get a realistic assessment by tomorrow morning?

Proceed with cross examination….

Justice Doherty: You asked about a person who ended up in a dungeon.

Justice Sebutinde: the person had been released due to relationship with particular commander.

Def: When talk about senior commander who wanted to have connection with that person?

Pros: Any further explanation of that issue might compromise the identity of the person.

Def: Give up on that. When you said that you understood that the senior commander wanted to have connection with that person, what did you mean about connection?

Wit: The person being punished

Pros: We have already had pointers which could someone outside could form a clue as to what the identity.

Justice Sebutinde: Anyone can have connections with anyone regardless of the gender. I don’t see the problem. This commander’s base has been name and the time period. Are we not being paranoid? Can you explain what you mean by connection without reference to gender?

Wit: The person was saying that the other person was telling the first person to have sexual intercourse.The other person to whom the case was reported released the first person because the boss understood.

Def: I want to ask about the interviews you’ve had with the office of the prosecution. You have been interviewed on more than 12 occasions. The first occasion was on 20 November 2003 – how was it that the OTP and you got together on that date?

Wit: Don’t understand.

Def: What led to your being interviewed by an OTP investigator?

Wit: I got a message where i was that the SCSL wanted me to come and give a statement for them. That is why I came to freetown and met with the investigators and i gave a statement to them.

Def: Who told you?

Wit: Police officer who was in Mabroka. He called me from Mabroka.

Def: Was this the first time that anyone might give a statement to the SCSL OTP?

Wit: yes, it was the first time he told me and after he told me I did not even return home. I borrowed the landrover he had and we went into town. I was surprised he was the first person to tell me.

Def: Did you have family that you were living with in November 2003?

Wit: yes.

Def: Did you have a job?

Wit: At present when I left Freetown for here I  don’t have a job.

Def: Asking about 2003.

Wit: At that time I was not employed.

Def: When the police officer put you in a landrover to come to Freetown, did you tell wife and children?

Wit: I did not go and tell her, but sent a message to her.

Def: Did police officer told you that you had to go to Freetown that day there and then?

‘Wit: yes.

Def: Did you feel you had any choice? Did you feel you have to go.

Wit: When I came with the police officer I passed the night and the following morning went to the court.

Def: We know the interview started at 9:17 as on transcript. So the day before the police officer told you that he was going to take you to Freetown to see the SCSL.

Wit: He did not inform me on that day. He told me on the 19th, and on the following day a statement was taken.

Def: Did the police officer say to you that you had a free choice to come to Freetown — or did he say you have to come to Freetown because you are going to be interviewed?

Wit: the SCSL has sent a message to him to go with me. When he called me into his office he if I had any fear in my mind if I didn’t want to go, I said no I would go with him. I had the opportunity to refuse. So I was willing to travel with him.

Def: But he didn’t even give you a chance to go home and tell wife and children that you were going to Freetown for two days.

Wit: They left a message at the house, and sent a message to my wife that I have traveled to Freetown.

Def: When did you next have a job for which you were paid wages?

Wit: I had a job in 2004 October. I was paid.

Def: but you didn’t have any form of earning money between Nov 2003 and Oct 2004.

Wit: yes.

Def: how did the second interview come about on 24 March 2004? Did the same thing happen?

Pros: Objection –  looking now to an earlier decision of this chamber – questions to a witness should be  limited to time, date, duration.

Judge: That decision was predicated on lmitations on what def can ask unless specific allegation of misconduct.

Def: what is clear – pg 2 iii in AFRC case– even the Prosecution says in its submissions that questions relating to pre testimony meetings are allowed. Examples  the Prosecution gave were allegations of misconduct on prosecution; alternatively where the defense is aware of any modification of the disclosed statements, whether original supplemental, roofing notes, with testimony. This was the prosecution submission. We are clearly in that situation here – this witness has modified many of his statements. At the moment I’m not planning to go much further with this line of questioning. It seems to be in line with this.

Pros: We are relying on decision of court not previous submissions by the OTP.

Judge Sebutinde: The def asked an exact question- how did the interview come about? message from the police officer. Prosecution didn’t object. He is asking the exact question re: the second interview — Did the same thing happen?

How can this be objectionable? he hasn’t asked anything about the content of the interview? How can our deision apply to that?

Pros: The def asked what led to the witness being interviewed — and witness went into communications between the prosecution staff and himself. I assumed about how he came to meet — instead the witness talked about communications. So taking preemptive steps in asking.

Justice Sebutinde: if it went beyond that, I take back what I said.

Justice Doherty — question admissible and overrule objection.

Judge Sebutinde recited — now how did the second interview come about — was it the same thing?

Wit: When I was going for the second interview the SCSL staff met me in Mabroka at my house. They gave me a date to meet them in Freetown. They gave me transport fare to meet them in Freetown to be interviewed.

Def: Did they give you anything else in March 2004?

Wit: No only transport fare that he gave to me.

Def: The previous time you had to stay overnight. Sorry to go back – but when you spent the night in Freetown who paid for your accommodation?

Wit: It was the SCSL staff – those who wanted me to come to Freetown they lodged me.

Def: So in March of following year, they gave you a date and money to get there, and just a one day trip or stay overnight on that occasion?

Wit: I was there for 4-5 days in March. Maybe could be above that but around 5 days.

Def: have a taped transcript of that interview.  Appears to start at 3:05 in the afternoon. It is a 15 page transcript which says that we are stopping at 3:30pm and hope to continue again tomorrow. Might have missed something, but seems to be longer than a 25 minute transcript. Only want dates and times of the meetings.

Wit: March 2004 was the second time we met.

Def: Are you saying that that took 4-5 days?

Wit: Yes.

Def: again were you accomodated by the SCSL.

Wit: Yes in a guest house.

Def: Did you get any money in your hand apart from money for the transport?

Wit: They gave transport fare again for my return.

Def: you had to eat during those five days – did they give you money?

Wit: They brought me food.

Def: any other assistance?

Wit: No apart from transport fare no other assistance to me.

Def: We only have an interview on one day – 24 March 2004, — are you quite sure you spent up to 5 days in Freetown when OTP interviewed you?

And what else were you doing with them when they were accommodating you and bring meals? were you having any more conversations with them?

Wit: No.

Def: So why were you still there for 5 days after you had been interviewed on the 24 March?

Wit: I only understood that i went theree for an interview

Def: Did they explain why they had to keep you there for another four days?

Wit: They did not explain to me.

Def: The first two interviews in 2003 and 2004 – by time of the first interview, you knew that charges had been laid against Charles Taylor by the SCSL?

Wit: yes. I heard it on Focus on Africa on BBC program.

Def: and when went for first interview was it clear that ths OTP wanted to know of any dealings you had with Charles Taylor?

Wit: Explain.

Def: Was it made clear to you that the OTP wanted to know if you’d seen or done anything for Charles Taylor?

Wit: No. It did not happen that way. the investigators only said to explain what you knew happened when you first joined RUF until disarmed. But they did not point out any particular person to talk about.

Def: You didn’t need them to ask you to spell things out about Charles Taylor because you knew they would be interested in CT.

Wit: I can’t say they have ideas to talk about Charles Taylor — they didn’t tell me what I had to say.

Def: In the first interview you told them about your history of joining the RUF.

Wit: yes.

Def: told them in the first interview about going into Liberia?

Wit: I explained what I knew. I explained that to them. When I travelled to Liberia I explained that. I told them that Charles Taylor was in Liberia.

Def: and told them that CT was staying in place called Bommy Hills.

Wit: I told them that.

Def: In second interview, you were asked questions by the investigators about certain things that you told them during the course of the first interview and you simply answered the questions that that asked in first interview. And in second interview where said they wanted to clarify some points in the first interview.

Wit: Yes.

Def: and they only asked you questions about events later than 1996 in the course of the second interview?

Wit: Repeat question.

Def repeated question.

Wit: for that I cannot say. I cannot tell you that they considered a particular year during the interview. They only interviewed me on what I had told them. I cannot recall whether thy asked only about 1996.

Def: the third interview didn’t take place until almost two years afterwards? How did that happen?

Wit: SCSL staff met me with a vehicle at my home.

Def: they interviewed you in your home or your hometown?

Wit: I was taken to Bo and the following day we went to Freetown.

Def: How many days did the third interview take? how many days were you away for the third interview?

Wit: Don’t understand.

Def: Told us that they met you at your home, went to Bo and then to Freetown. When took from your home to Bo was that all in the course of one day.

Wit: Yes the day they met me in my hometown, taken to Bo where passed the night, and then to Freetown.

Def: Did you pass any more nights in Freetown? how many?

Wit: I think it was about a week.

Def: when you were in Freetown for that week, did they accommodate you again ?

Wit: Yes the SCSL provided me with accommodation.

Def: Did you go alone with them to Bo and Freetown?

Wit: Along with two staff members.

Def: Working then? What kind of work?

Wit: yes was working and at the time I was working under the UNDP teaching people how to cultivate a farm. Also how to work with the local government. That is what i was doing.

Def: So were you given compensation for loss of earnings? You were working for UNDP. when you are taken away by SCSL investigators to give a statement for the prosecution, the UNDP would continue to pay your wages, wouldn’t they?

Wit: I was paid.

Def: So you didn’t lose any wages for being taken away from one UN organization by another one

Wit: Yes.

Def: So you didn’t lose any earnings as a result of going for that interview for that week.

Wit: I didn’t lose the money I used to receive.

Def: Fourth interview took place – were you surprised to be asked to go for another interview just a few months after the third interview.

Wit: No because it was their job.

Def: In the fourth interview do you remember being asked about your knowledge of Charles Taylor and the RUF ?

Wit: Yes i was asked questions.

Def: didn’t tell them in that interview that you have seen Charles Taylor in the Bommy Hills, did you?

Wit: I knew that was in my statement.

Def: You were asked about CT and RUF but didn’t tell them that you had seen him in the Bommy Hills.

Wit. The first statement I gave to them I told them that I knew somebody that introduced themselves at Bommy Hill.

Adjourned until tomorrow at 9:30am.