The Charles Taylor trial resumed this morning – but in the absence of the accused and of the prosecutor in charge of re-examining the current witness, Shyamala Alegendra.
According to defense counsel, Terry Munyard, he had received conflicting reports about Taylor’s absence from court. He understood that the new security escort in charge of bringing Taylor to court had subjected the former Liberian president to an “intimate search of considerable intrusion and considerable pain”. Munyard said this was the first time it had been done, and Taylor objected. Munyard told the court that Taylor was “humiliated” and “perfectly willing to come to court” if this behavior stopped. According to reports he received from the International Criminal Court (ICC) ICC security personnel, the security escort decided not to persist with the search and that Taylor was on his way to court. Munyard asked that the court wait to start the trial until Taylor’s arrival. He noted Taylor had been cooperative every day since the restart of the trial and before that also.
Munyard told the court that Taylor was set to arrive at the ICC in two minutes. He asked the court to adjourn to take instructions privately from Taylor as Munyard had been receiving different reports from different people about the security incident this morning.
Meanwhile Prosecution lawyer, Shyamala Alegendra, who had conducted the examination of the current RUF insider witness, Mustapha Marvin Mansaray, was also absent from court. Justice Doherty asked her colleague, Mohamed Bangura, to explain.
Bangura said that she was scheduled to return to Freetown today and had expected the witness to have been finished by yesterday. Alegendra, who is based in Freetown, was prepared to stay when Mansaray’s cross examination was not finished yesterday, until she found out that if she could not return to Freetown for two weeks if she did not return last night. Bangura passed on her apologies to the court for not seeking leave from the court in person to be absent today, and also applied for Bangura to take over from Alegendra.
As Bangura spoke, Taylor arrived wearing a blue suit, blue tie and white shirt.
After a short reply by Munyard (who did not criticize Alegendra for misjudging the time for the witness but also expressed surprise that she would not be able to go to Freetown for two weeks) and the court adjourned to allow Munyard to take instructions from Taylor.
When the court resumed its session, Munyard confirmed that Taylor had been subjected to intrusive search, and he insisted on coming to court. It was the security officers who said they would not take him to court. Taylor asked a guard to call the Chief of Detention and insist that Taylor be bought to court, but not subjected to this search. The search was called off, and Taylor arrived seven minutes after the court sat. Munyard also reminded the court that Taylor came to court last week when it was clear that Taylor was not 100 percent well. He continued to site in court, until he accepted that he had to go back to the prison to get assistance.
Munyard then turned to continue his cross examination of Mansaray. Mansaray sat in court in a grey button down shirt with his hands resting on his desk before him.
Following is a basic account of the discussion that followed (which should be checked against the actual transcript for accuracy):
Def: Going to ask you to look at a map.
(The map was distributed to the bench and a color copy to the witness. Then a separate map was distributed, with one in A4 size distributed to the court, and a larger A3 one given to the witness).
I ask you to look at the color copy map of Liberia. Looking at the first map, that is a map of Liberia – we can also see Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cote D’Ivoire but in box on the bottom it says Liberia.
I don’t want to do anything that is unfair or embarrassing – are you able to read the names of towns on this map?
Wit: There are many names of towns on the map.
Def: If you need assistance in having them read out to you, do say so. Do see where Liberia borders with Sierra Leone? Do you see the word Mano which is near Solima in Sierra Leone. Do you see Mano?
Wit: I cannot see Mano clearly, but see Sulima.
Def: Mano is Mano river. Do you see the word Mano running along that line? So you see now the Mano river?
Def: If we go up the river we can see the town of Bo in Liberia, and Bendaja. And above that is the town of Congo. If you follow the border along, we don’t get to another town close to the border until we get to Vaoun (sp??) which is close to the top. Can you tell us where it was that you crossed into Liberia when you were forced out by the Sierra Leone army or ECOMOG in 1991?
Wit: The very first time I went through from Sierra Leone to Liberia it was along the Mano River. When you cross over there you come to York Island in Liberia.
Def: Asked witness to show where this was on the map.
Wit: The way I am seeing the town from Sulima, you come to a town.
Witness was asked by a courtroom official to move over to a map – he moved chairs to point on the map.
Wit: I’m not seeing the town York Island on the Liberian side.
Def: The town of York Island is somewhere near Bendaja?
Wit: I cannot say. I did not go there. So I wouldn’t be able to tell you the geographical area where it was located.
Def: did you go to any towns in Liberia in 1991?
Wit: When I left York Island, I used a dusty route – used by RUF and AFRC to go to Tinne.
Def: Can you show us where Tinne is on the map?
Wit: Tinne I cannot see it on the map, but in Grand Cape Mount County.
Def: This is the map with the largest number of names we’ve been able to fine.
Wit: I cannot see as I cannot see Tinne on the map. And as I told you, I’m not clear on geographical areas of Liberia.
Def: Are you saying you did not go to any other towns?
Wit: Went to Bommy Hills, went to Tinne, and went back to Sierra Leone.
Def: Used the highway to cross into Sierra Leone at Bo waterside in Liberia. Do you see a pink line going from Bo across Grand Cape Mount Country to a town called Clay? Can you look at the box in left hand corner and it gives an indication on what lines are. There is a pink line there that is described as being a road.
Can you help us with the spelling of the place that you mentioned? (witness had earlier described towns which he had gone through to get to or from Liberia)
Wit: Mano Gbendeh.
Pros: The other name that came after Bo Waterside?
Def: Can you tell us where those two places are by looking at the map?
Wit: Mano Gbendeh is across from York Island. Gendema is at the bottom of the bridge at the Bo Waterside.
Justice Sebutinde: Helpful if the witness would circle it on the map.
Def: Are you able to indicate on this map where Mano Gbendeh is on the map?
Wit: If it was a larger map with all the names, but with this I cannot.
Def: Is Mano Gbendeh south of the town of Congo, nearer to the ocean?
Wit: Mano Gbendeh is very close to the sea.
Def: Then you went to Tinne. How far is Tinne from Bommy Hills where you say you went on one occasion.
Wit: Like I said yesterday, I cannot give the exact mileage as it was my very first trip and I didn’t undertake that trip with a peace of mind. I was in a mood of fear. In fact the vehicle that we used we had fighters all around us that took us along.
Def: Did you ever go to Bommy Hills again?
Wit: That was the only time that I went there and left the same day.
Def: Did you go on the proper roads when you went to Bommy Hills?
Wit: The vehicle took us along. I thought we used the main route, we didn’t use a bush path.
Def: You see the town of Klay marked on the map. If you travel from Bo Waterside across from Grand Cape Mount County, n the county of Bommy. Can you remember going in or near the town of Klay on your way to Bommy Hills.
Wit: I cannot say, What I understood in that vehicle we went from Tinne to Bommy Hills and back to Tinne. I was not taking a lot of notice.
Def: Back to Bommy County now, got to town of Klay and the road goes down to Monrovia. Or it goes up through Tubmanburg, do you see that? Now look at the other map please. That is another map of Liberia and again, do you see Monrovia?
Wit: Yes, I see it.
Def: If you put your pen on Monrovia and move it directly up, do you see the town Kle (this town is the same as Klay referred above, but spelled differently on each map)? Then up the map do you see Tubmanburg? To the right and up a little, do you see Bommy Hills?
Def: So that tells us where Bommy Hills is in relation to the other map which doesn’t have it on it.
Was it a closed vehicle, or were you not observing because you were not looking where vehicle was going?
Wit: It was a big vehicle with weapons with it, and senior officers. We were lying on each other to survive and I could not peep my head up to look.
Def: You travelled on proper road and you travelled in considerable discomfort.
Wit: The road when I was in the vehicle was good. But because we are not using the bush path it was a vehicular road.
Def: You have told us that you wouldn’t have known whether you were going through or past towns or villages because of your inability to look out of the vehicle, correct?
Def: Go back to the first map. I want to ask you to look at another place. But first, how long were you in Tinne?
Wit: I spent up to three months in Tinne.
Def: Apart from the one day trip to Bommy Hills, did you go anywhere else in Liberia in 1991?
Wit: In Tinne I used to go to another big town called Besse. We would usually use the route to go to Bo Waterside and then go back to Tinne. There was an ammunition dump we used to go to. From November 1991 we fought and then crossed over. From 1992 January to February 1992 went back to Sierra Leone.
Def: You said you were in Liberia for three months.
Wit: That was 1991 to 1992 was the end of three months.
Def : Do you remember being interviewed by OTP about your time in Liberia? I don’t think you gave them a date when you first went into Liberia in 1991?
Wit: November 1991.
Def: So you stayed their for three months and came back to Sierra Leone in 1992?
Def: You don’t go back to Liberia again except to go to Tinne to go to the ammunition dump.
Wit: yes I did not stay in Liberia again when I would go to get ammunition and I would come back.
Def: you never went into Liberia anywhere else except for the places that you have told us about.
Wit: xxx (missed the answer)
Def: Do you see the county of Bong? Do you see the town Bunga? The road from Banga, if you wanted to get to Tubmanburg, the road from Banga goes to Monrovia. So to get to Banga by road to the Bommy Hills you would have to go down into Monrovia and back up to Bommy Hills.
Wit: Didn’t know.
Def: Ran through dates of interviews with the OTP. We were looking at the time you went for an interview in May 2006. It is January and May in 2006 that you were interviewed. In January 2006 you were working on a project for the UNDP correct?
Def: You told us yesterday that although you had to go off to see Special Court investigators in Freetown. Because it was a job with a UN organization meant that you didn’t lose any wages when you were interviewed with the Special Court. Did you get the job with UNDP through the assistance of investigators from the SCSL?
Wit: No. It was not the Special Court.
Def: But you didn’t lose any wages for going for that set of interviews.
Wit: I did not lose my salary.
Def: Was that the time you spent a whole week in Freetown.
Wit: Yes. Well, it could be between 5 days and one week when they took me to Freetown two times. I cannot recall the exact time because they came met me in the field where I was working.
Def: You went by yourself and not with any family members in January 2006.
Wit: Yes I went with them alone.
Def: We know from the documentation that you were interviewed on the 14th of January but on that day alone. Does that accord with your memory?
Wit: I was not just interviewed on a day. It was more than that.
Def: We’ve been supplied with proofing notes of 14 January that does not indicate that you were interviewed apart from that one day. Were you interviewed on one day or more than one day?
Wit: Cannot recall.
Def: Were you interviewed on the first day you got to Freetown?
Wit: I believe so yes.
Def: You might have got there the night before and interviewed the next morning. Any particular memory of it now?
Wit: What I know was that they brought me they interviewed me.
Def: Interviewed you more than one day in that week?
Wit: I believe so.
Def: Were you still in Freetown being seen by the SCSL Prosecution team on 30 January 2006 for which we have proofing notes?
Wit: I don’t know if I spent up to two weeks with them.
Def: During that period, were you given any money, or were all your hotel, food and transport arrangements met by the SCSL?
Wit: I was at a private house that they rented. They gave me my transportation fare. My work gave me the payment.
Def: What payment?
Wit: I told them the amount that UNDP was paying me, and they gave me the same.
Def: But you told us that you did not lose your wages from your UN job when you came to see prosecutors from the SCSL. So are you saying you were paid twice – once by UNDP and once by the SCSL prosecutors?
Wit: Yes, because I had to secure the job I was doing. The Special Court was not paying me on a monthly basis. When they would meet me at my workplace, I’d make sure I’d secure my work, if the SCSL didn’t meet us there I would be terminated. I did not disclose my identity to anybody that I was working with the SCSL. My colleague would make an excuse – I gave some of the wage to my colleague. They asked me the daily wage, and they would pay me.
Def: To summarize, you didn’t want your colleagues to know what you were doing, so you gave your UNDP wages to them – is that correct?
Wit: I said I was coming for a workshop related to human rights. I did not disclose it was for the SCSL.
Def: Did you keep any part of the your UNDP wages?
Wit: Sometimes I had some reserve.
Def: When the SCSL paid you for lost wages, you were making a small profit?
Wit: It is not a profit to me. It was a sacrifice that I made. But it was not a profit to me. They just paid my wage and transportation fare.
Def: But you kept some of your UNDP wages, and did you get reimbursed for your full amount of UNDP wages?
Wit: If I would go for 2-3 days they would give me the money, and the remaining days UNDP would pay me for that.
Def: But can you think of any reasons why you were being paid transport and meal costs on 26 January 2006 and on 30 January 2006, meals while coming to Freetown?
Wit: Even if it happened, if you lodge someone you have to feed them. It was their duty to feed me.
Def: I’m talking about the dates when the money was paid by the prosecution. The only records that have been disclosed to us are 26th Jan – 30 000 Leones for transport/meals, 26 Jan – 30000 transport/meals, 28Jan 60000 lost wages, 30 Jan under family meals while coming to Freetown was 10000. So on docs we’ve been provided, looks like you were being paid for meals on 26 January and 30 January. And if you were interviewed on 14 January, then why were you still being paid for your meals and lost wages on 28th and 30th of January?
Wit: That is what they told me at the beginning. The would not pay me on a monthly payment. They met me working so they would give the money I would lose. They needed me later on so it was not their place. What they thought fit for me as a human being – I explained my problems to them and they would assist me.
Def: What do you mean by assist you?
Wit: Apart from the amounts that you have mentioned, sometimes in 2006 my family members could get sick, even my wife underwent an operation, I had a cell phone and told them my problems I was unemployed and they assisted me.
Def: They told me they were not going to pay me on a monthly basis – did you ask for monthly payments and they said no?
Wit: No. They told me clearly that the Special Court does not pay people that they take statements from. The only told me that the Special Court needed me to come and be interviewed by them. If they did not go to pick me up with their vehicle, if I used public transportation, they would give me the fare. If my family got sick and they found out it was correct, they would assist me. If I had a job and they needed me, and brought me for an interview, they would give me the lost wages.
Def: The prosecutors did pay for statements – they paid hospital fees, school costs, and paid round sums of money when you went to see them. You were given financial assistance because you helped the Special Court prosecutors by giving them statements.
Wit: It was not like that.
Def: We will need to look at it in a little more detail. Go back to November 2003 – you were not working at the time, you were accommodated and given meals. You spent none of your own money to be reimbursed for. I asked you yesterday if you were earning any money or in employment yesterday – do you remember?
Wit: When you say I did not get any money I mean from the Special Court. But I have been living on money every day with my family.
Def: We know in November 2003 that you were paid two separate sums under category of lost wages – funds required to facilitate for interview process. The sums paid were 20,000 Leones and 10,000 Leones. Did you lose this round sum as a result of being taken to the Special Court to Freetown?
Wit: I was not working on a salary – it was a day to day. I would work for construction companies – I was a laborer. I would feed my family with that.
Def: Accepting you didn’t fully understand me yesterday, even if you were earning money to support your self and your family, did you lose a round sum of 30000 in November 2003?
Wit: I don’t understand.
Def: I’m asking if you were being paid to give evidence.
Wit: They didn’t give me any money for that.
Def: Completely untrue, you were given 30000 Leones.
Wit: I explained that I was a man with a family so when they take me for two days, I explained myself for them. They would assist me, but they did not pay me for the statement.
Def: Does paid mean something different from assisted?
Wit: Because if it were a payment, I would show the amount I was to be paid. They asked me, for two days away, what think spending on a daily basis. But if it was payment, I would have shown them more money than that.
Def: You were picked up by the police officer and driven to Bo where you spent the night in town. the next day you are taken to Freetown and interviews from 9:17 to noon.
Wit: No. I did not sleep in Bo.
Def: I thought you said he collected you and sent a message to your family that you spent the night in Bo and then went to Freetown?
Wit: I did not tell you that.
Def: What happened on the day of your first interview with the Special Court interviewers?
Wit: The experience I had to be interviewed. The Police officer used a trick on me. At first I was doing a construction work, and I went to a town and asked for a lift. I came to Mabroka and saw a police man who went on a motorcycle. The same officer in the town were the same officer who told me the SCSL wanted to speak with me.
Def: What was the trick?
Wit: I was the only one they gave the lift to, But the next day I did not go home. I was a bit afraid of them, but I joined them and we went to Freetown.
Def: What was the trick?
Wit: When they took me from Zogu xxx, they were going in search for me. I was there when I sent a friend of mine to tell my wife that I was going to Freetown.
Def: What were you afraid of?
Wit: They say a court deals with law and I’m an ex combatant. I was wondering what the special court needed with me. They asked me about information about war. A court deals with law and I was worried.
Def: If you talked with them they would assist you in various ways – is that what they told you?
Wit: Well the way I saw them they were policemen they had uniforms on until I got to Freetown and the people who were not in uniform and I was at ease.
Adjournment until noon.