9:30 (10:00 with the delay in video and audio from the courtroom): Court is in session.
Defense counsel Terry Munyard (to judges): I suggested on Monday that a prior witness had stated that the court system in Sierra Leone had functioned fairly well after the restoration of President Kabbah. On February 19, a witness said he himself was involved in monitoring the courts, and he said he was generally impressed with the way the civil courts were working in 1998.
Judge Doherty: I will ask Mr. Koumjian to reply, because he objected to you putting that to this witness.
Pros: I would have to review the context in which the prior witness was speaking.
Judge Doherty: We’ll deal with the matter after the break.
Defense counsel Terry Munyard continues his cross-examination of prosecution witness Isaac Mongor:
Def: Yesterday, I asked you whether you communicated directly with Taylor in the field. You said you did it once from the field when you were acting battlegroup commander. At that point we ran out of time and the court day ended. Are you able to tell us when it was that you communicated with Taylor when you were in the field?
Wit: Yes, I told you that I can’t give a specific date. I can recall it was at the time I was battlegroup commander in 1992.
Def: [references a document] These are notes from your third interview on September 4, 2006, where an interpreter was present: It says there, “Mongor never communicated directly with Mr. Taylor while in the field.” You see that?
Wit: Yes, I see it.
Def: That’s what you told the interviewers in September 2006. Why are you telling us something different?
Wit: I cannot come here to lie about something I did.
Def: Why did you tell investigators in your third interview that you never communicated with Taylor while in the field unless that was actually the truth?
Wit: This is exactly what I was trying to say. There may have been a mistake through the language barrier. This is something that happened.
Def: You had an interpreter present.
Pros: That’s not a question.
Def: Are you trying to wriggle out of this by claiming it was a language problem?
Wit: That is not what I said. I’m saying here what I did.
Def: You said there may have been a language barrier, but there was an interpreter, so there was no language barrier?
Wit: I have a Liberian accent, so not everyone understands when I speak.
Def: You also speak English, don’t you?
Def: When the investigator asked the question, it was in English?
Def: You would have understood the question before the interpretation wouldn’t you have?
Wit: I would need an interpreter. Although I speak English, I do not speak it well.
Def: Do you need an interpreter to understand the question, Did you ever communicate directly with Charles Taylor while in the field?
Wit: Yes, because the field and battlegroup commander are two different things.
Def: That’s a lie, isn’t it?
Wit: I would need an interpreter.
Def: There was nothing about a battlegroup commander in that question. So would you need an interpreter to understand that question?
Def: What about the occasions that you were interviewed entirely in English. Didn’t you tell them you needed an interpreter?
Wit: Yes, in some cases I said it.
Def: So we can expect the notes to include a reference that you couldn’t understand what you were being asked?
Wit: I would have understood if the man was doing the interview to my level.
Def: What is above your level in the simple question, did you ever communicate directly with Taylor while in the field?
Wit: There is nothing there, but as long as that is the procedure, to have an interpreter, in which case if the investigator was there. In any case, I wouldn’t have denied that because I didn’t understand all English very well.
Def: You had the double advantage in that interview of hearing the question in English and your language?
Def: So there could be no doubt about what you were being asked about on that occasion. So it is a lie to say that the answer was recorded incorrectly because of language difficulties.
Wit: I’m not lying.
Def: [references document] You were also interviewed the day before. We see you were interviewed on September 3rd, and there’s no reference there to an interpreter being present. And there’s no note saying you didn’t understand or that you asked for an interpreter?
Wit: There was no interpreter.
Def: I suggest that out of 24 different interviews, there was an interpreter on only five days. You coped perfectly well in English, didn’t you?
Wit: I was coping.
Def: Go back to the answer in the previous document. Is that what you told investigators that day: that you never communicated with Taylor while in the field?
Wit: I said I communicated with Taylor at the time I was in the field.
Def: So they have recorded that wrongly?
Wit: It’s not correct.
Def: Are you saying they have recorded it wrongly?
Def: Why didn’t you correct them when they read it back to you?
Pros: The question assumes a fact not in evidence – that the witness did not correct that statement. Materials show that this is not true – that it later was corrected. I don’t think the witness has said that the investigator’s notes were read back to him.
Def: I asked him on Monday if, when he was interviewed, at the end of the interview the investigators read back to him their notes to confirm they were correct.
Judge Lussick: These are notes of the interview. There’s no evidence that the notes of the investigator were read back to the witness.
Pros: I’m saying, my understanding is that the notes are written and typed up, but not read to the witness.
Def: I don’t want this argument made in front of the witness.
Judge Doherty: I haven’t received a full reply from you (def) to the objection.
Def: The objection seems to be that this particular document has not been shown to the witness before. The evidence of the witness was that the notes of the interview were read back to him so that he would have an opportunity to correct errors. We work on the basis that what the prosecution supply to us is an accurate record of what was read to the witness. If the typed notes are different from the hand-written notes, then those hand-written notes should be disclosed to us. The prosecution is obligated to supply them to us if there is a difference.
Judge Doherty: The second part of the objection was that you were putting to the witness a fact not in evidence, i.e. that the notes were never corrected.
Def: I can ask him if the notes were read back to him. The objection was premature.
Judge Doherty: We allow the question.
Def: When you were being interviewed and the notes were read back to you, did you correct anything they had written down wrongly?
Def: What did you correct?
Wit: That concerning the communication.
Def: What was corrected?
Wit: I did say that I communicated with Taylor at the time I was battlegroup commander, and it happened one time, before I handed back the office.
Def: I want to make clear to you, I’m asking about your interview on September 4, 2006 – the first time you were asked about this.
Wit: I understand.
Def: You were interviewed many more times after that – 21 more times?
Def: In those later interviews, you were asked about many of the same things?
Wit: They wouldn’t ask me a question today and then the next time they asked me about the same thing. We moved to different topics.
Def: You never went over the same things?
Wit: We talked about different things.
Def: Did they not go back to previous issues you had discussed?
Wit: Yes, they did.
Def: You sat and listened to what Mr. Koumjian said happened – that they wrote the notes by hand and then later typed them. What do you say happened on September 4, 2006, when you were asked the question, did you ever communicate with Taylor while in the field?
Wit: I said yes.
Def: What did they read back that they had written down, as your answer to that question?
Wit: What we have in this paper was what they read back to me. I tried to let them understand, indeed I had communicated.
Def: You’re telling the court you corrected this mistake?
Def: What did they do with the piece of paper after corrected it?
Wit: I’m not the keeper of their documents.
Def: What did the man who was writing do when you made the correction? Did he write something else when you pointed out the error?
Wit: When he read to me what he wrote, he took a pen and wrote in the area where the error was.
Def: You see what’s typed on this page, can’t you?
Def: What is typed is the opposite of what you corrected in the interview?
Def: What you’re telling the court is that they corrected it, but then typed the wrong thing again.
Wit: Sometimes the mistake comes from them.
Def: You’re asking this court to believe you said something, they wrote the opposite, you corrected it, they corrected it in writing, but then they typed the wrong thing again?
Def: How do you remember now, out of 24 interviews, that particular incident?
Wit: I recall because that is something I had said. If I see that I had said it and they did not write it in the paper. That’s why I recall.
Def: I suggest you say you remember because you’ve heard the discussion in court this morning. You’re making this up, aren’t you?
Wit: I think I said it even before the objection came up.
Def: You didn’t say they had made the correction before typing it up?
Wit: It was something that I said – that I communicated with Mr. Taylor.
Def: You’re absolutely clear that it was just one occasion on which you communicated with Taylor?
Wit: Yes, one time.
Def: [references document] This is an interview from December 23, 2006 – your 11th interview. On this occasion, it’s just Mr. Collott interviewing you, no interpreter. It says “continuation of clarification interview of Mongor by Collott”. You see that?
Def: Clarification means they’re asking about matters they already asked you about?
Wit: I understand that.
Def: It says here: “When Mongor says he never communicated with Taylor in the field, he means as a frontline commander. Mongor did communicate with Mr. Taylor on a couple of occasions as battlegroup commander [correction to previous statements]”. You didn’t correct it on the 4th of September, did you?
Wit: I did.
Def: You changed it in your 11th interview, but didn’t change it on the 4th of September?
Wit: I did.
Def: What question were you asked in December 2006, and what was your reaction?
Wit: The question was about the “field”. When I was in the battlefield, I didn’t communicate with him until I was acting battlegroup commander.
Def: They asked you a question based on the document we have seen. What was the question. You have a detailed memory of the September 4. This was more recent. What was the question in December, and what was your response.
Wit: I am a human being. I am liable to make mistakes. When they asked me, I told them I communicated with Taylor one time – at the time I was acting battlegroup commander. When I was in the field as a frontline commander, I didn’t communicate with Taylor once.
Def: I’m asking about the interviews.
Wit: That’s what I told you. I told them when I was in the field I did not talk to Taylor, but that when I was acting battlegroup commander, I did.
Def: You claimed to remember exactly what happened on September 4, 2006. I want to know what the question was on December 23. What was asked about your previous account about communication with Taylor? And what was your answer?
Wit: The question was whether I used to talk with Taylor. I said yes, I talked to him once.
Def: Didn’t you say, “why are you asking me again. I’ve already told you.”?
Def: Why not?
Wit: Maybe it escaped my memory at the time.
Def: If you had not said to them in September, I never communicated with Taylor and had not corrected it, why didn’t you tell them in December what they were talking about?
Wit: I couldn’t tell the investigators that.
Def: On more than one occasion when answering the prosecution in this court that he had already asked you about things. Do you remember?
Wit: Yes, it was when I recalled that I had already told them something.
Def: Didn’t you say to them: why are you asking me about this? I already told you.
Wit: It might have escaped my memory.
Def: Were you being pressed by December to say that you did actually speak to Taylor?
Wit: Nobody pressed me.
Def: Is that an honest answer?
Def: Did they give you any reason in December why they asked you again why you said you had never communicated with Taylor when they had asked you about it in September?
Wit: I did not ask them the reason why they were asking me.
Def: I’m asking whether they said to you why they were asking again about that when, on the face of it, you had given a plain answer three months before.
Wit: No, they did not give a reason.
Def: You told us yesterday and today you only communicated once with Taylor in the field, yes?
Wit: I said I communicated with Taylor when I was acting battlegroup commander.
Def: I’m asking about the number of times.
Wit: Yes, you asked me how many times.
Def: You said yesterday and today that you only did it once?
Def: [references doc] It says here: Mongor did talk to Taylor on the radio a couple of times while acting as the battlegroup commander. Have they got that wrong?
Wit: It should be only once.
Def: When this was read back to you, did you correct it on the 23rd of December.
Wit: I told them once.
Def: Did you correct it?
Wit: Yes, I said once.
Def: What was read back to you in that interview?
Wit: The answer I gave them was that I told them I communicated with Taylor at the time I was acting battlegroup commander.
Def: What did the investigator write down and read back to you. You just told the court you corrected what was read back to you.
Def: What did the investigator write down that was wrong and that you had to correct?
Wit: They wrote that I have been communicating Taylor sometimes. I told him I communicated with him once when I was battlegroup commander.
Def: So he got it wrong a second time?
Wit: Maybe he got it wrong for the second time.
Def: You were clear in September and he managed to get that wrong too?
Wit: To say what?
Def: When you were asked about this in September, you said it clearly and he got it wrong?
Def: When he wrote down the wrong answer again in December, didn’t you say, I already told you this in September, you wrote it down wrong and I already corrected it. Why have you got it wrong again?
Wit: I did not do it at that moment.
Def: At one point in your history, you were acting in the number two position in the RUF, and you were saying that someone of your background and history couldn’t say to an investigator: “Why are you asking me about all this again?”
Wit: I did not think about it that way, for me to ask the investigator at that particular moment.
Def: You were being pressed by December to give a better answer than you had given back in September, weren’t you?
Wit: Nobody was pressing me.
Def: What did he do when you corrected the second error he’d made in December?
Wit: The thing that is written on this paper: I said I communicated with Taylor once as acting battlegroup commander.
Def: And what did he read out?
Wit: He made a correction.
Def: What did he read?
Wit: What he read was not correct, that I communicated with Taylor some times.
Def: What did you say and what did he do when you corrected that in December.
Wit: I told him I communicated with Taylor at the time I was made acting battlegroup commander.
Def: What did he do when you told him this in interview number eleven?
Wit: He said he wrote there that I communicated with Taylor some time within the period I was made acting battlegroup commander.
Def: Where did he write this?
Wit: On the piece of paper that he had.
Def: [references document] This is the last page of notes from this interview. The interview stopped at 13:57 in the afternoon. He was doing all of this in handwriting on a piece of paper?
Def: In pen or pencil?
Wit: I can’t recall.
Def: But you have a good recollection of this interview, don’t you – because you remember correcting him?
Wit: Yes, I told you I made correction.
Def: You would probably know then if the interview was written in pencil or pen?
Wit: Yes, it was pen.
Def: You could see what he was writing? You could see that he was writing on paper?
Wit: Yes, he was writing.
Def: Do you see where it says “stopped at 13:57”. Read the words immediately underneath that.
Wit: It talks about notes of the interview.
Def: Read it.
Wit: It says notes of interviews typed directly into…. I can’t see this area clearly.
Def: It’s in small type, but look at the screen.
Wit: It says “notes of interview typed directly into laptop computer during interview by Collott and later transformed to this form by Collott.”
Def: You’ve been lying all through your evidence about these interviews?
Wit: I didn’t lie.
Def: You lied about him writing this?
Wit: It wasn’t a lie.
Def: What was it then?
Wit: I did not see him writing in a computer while I was talking with him. I can’t recall that.
Def: If you can’t recall, then why didn’t you say so if you’re giving honest evidence?
Wit: Because at all times they interviewed me, they wrote in pen on paper, not writing on a computer.
Def: He never used a computer?
Wit: A computer was there, but when I was talking with him, he was typing on a computer – I can’t recall that.
Def: You said that at all times they interviewed you they were using pen and paper.
Wit: Yes. That’s what I said.
Def: You’re saying you never saw him with a computer?
Wit: I saw him with a computer.
Wit: I can’t recall now the particular date when he had the computer. On many occasions he had his computer in a bag and he would place it on the table.
Def: Until I mentioned it, you had completely forgotten about the computer?
Wit: I had forgotten. I don’t remember whether he used a computer.
Def: When you told the judges he had hand-written the notes in December, you made that up?
Wit: I did not make it up. I did not see him typing on a computer when he was asking me questions.
Def: You were making it up in order to explain the discrepancies.
Wit: I did not make it up.
Def: The notes make plain he typed the notes directly into the computer. Do you say he’s lying about that?
Wit: I did not take note of that.
Def: Are you saying you’re correct that he wrote everything on paper, and his account of typing the notes is wrong?
Wit: I’m not going to say he lied, but I cannot recall that.
Def: Were you ever asked this question by the investigators again – whether you ever communicated with Taylor directly?
Wit: At what time?
Def: Were you ever asked it again?
Wit: Yes, they asked me.
Def: What did they ask you?
Wit: Whether I communicated with Taylor myself.
Def: What was your response when they asked you this yet again?
Wit: I said I communicated with Taylor myself once.
Def: Did you say to them, “Why on earth are you asking me this again. I’ve already dealt with that.”
Wit: You already asked me that. It did not occur to me to tell them that.
Def: You don’t mind saying to me that I’ve already asked a question. Why didn’t you say that to the investigators?
Wit: Because it happened at the same time. That is why I recalled.
Def: [references document] This is an interview that was conducted on 25th and 26th of July 2007. The investigator was Umaru Kamara and prosecutor Koumjian was there. It says, “Taylor did not mind witness talking to him directly because Taylor sent witness to work with RUF and also because witness was giving Taylor information.” You see that?
Def: What was the question you were asked that led to that answer. This is your sixteenth interview.
Wit: They asked me what were the things that I discussed with Taylor at the time I communicated with him. I told them I gave him information on the activities in the field, the frontline area. And what our present situation was.
Def: Did you tell them there it was only on one occasion?
Wit: I told them I only communicated with Taylor once. Then they asked what we discussed.
Def: Are you saying that on the previous occasions you told them you were in communication with Taylor, the investigators never asked you what you discussed with Taylor?
Wit: I can’t recall.
Def: You have perfect recall of the interview in September 2006, why can’t you remember an interview in August 2007?
Wit: I’m a human being. Sometimes I’m liable to forgetting.
Def: [references another document] This is an interview that starts on Nov 29, 2007, and you were interviewed again on Dec 4, 2007. Present was Mr. Werner, the prosecutor there. Do you recognize him?
Wit; Yes, I know him.
Def: He’s been involved in interviewing you on a number of occasions>?
Def: Language: English. You see that?
Wit: Yes, it was English they spoke.
Def: And it was English you spoke?
Def: There was no interpreter there. Did you have any difficulty in this interview in English?
Wit: I cannot recall whether I experienced difficulties.
Def: Can you recall any interview in which you had difficulties?
Wit: I cannot say exactly where I had difficulties in English.
Def: [references document] This is your interview on Dec 4, 2007. “Witness was asked a number of questions with regard to previous interview from July 2007. He provided following information as clarification or correction.” Then it says “witness states he spoke directly with Taylor only when he was acting battlegroup commander in 1992”. You’re now being asked this question a fourth time. Did you not say to them “why are you asking me again?”
Wit: I did not tell them anything that we’ve covered this ground so many times.
Def: Did you not tell them that you only spoke to him once?
Wit: Yes, I said that.
Def: In fact, you’d already told them that you had spoken to Taylor while acting battlegroup commander – in December 2006. You’d already told them a year before?
Wit: I did not recall I told them I had not given them this information.
Def: You were being pressed time and again to give the prosecution a positive answer that you had been in contact with Taylor?
Wit: Are you saying I was forced? When you talk about pressed, I said nobody pressed me. The way I understand it that you are trying say I was forced.
Def: I’m not saying forced, I’m saying pressed.
Wit: You are referring to it as pressed. I understand it to be the case that I was forced. That is how I understand it. Maybe you interpret it differently.
Def: There was nothing that needed clarifying from the answers you gave them in July, was there. Because you already clarified it in December?
Def: How many times did you go to Camp Zagoda while the RUF was based there?
Wit: I went there at the time Foday Sankoh was there, before the peace accord. Also at the time he left for Abidjan for the peace accord.
Def: Can you give us the months and years you’re talking about?
Wit: I can say the first time was 1995.
Def: And the second time, you said it was the time he left for Abidjan. So are you saying he wasn’t there?
Wit: It was before he went. He had not yet gone to the peace accord. When he left for Abidjan, he left Mohamed Terawally in charge, that was the other time I went there.
Def: You went once he was there, and once when he was gone?
Def: Just those two occasions?
Def: So the first time is 1995, is that right? When Sankoh is there?
Wit: I want to recall well. I’m thinking over it.
Def: Take your time.
Wit: OK, went there when Foday Sankoh was there – that was before the general election.
Def: Are you confused?
Wit: I’m trying to recall the time that I went there before Sankoh left to go for the Abidjan peace accord. The peace accord was in 96 and I went there in 1996, before the peace accord. And I recall also I went there when he was not there. That’s the time Zino was there.
Def: Who’s Zino?
Wit: Mohamed Terawally.
Def: Was that 1995?
Wit: It cannot be 1995. I think it should be 1996.
Def: When Zino was there, but Sankoh wasn’t?
Wit: Yes, at that time, Sankoh was not there. It has been a long time. I cannot recall all the incidents. But I went there once when he was not there and once when he was.
Def: That much is clear: that there was one occasion that Sankoh was there and another when he wasn’t?
Def: Were you ever at Camp Zagoda in 1995?
Wit: 1995? I just came to pass through there to go to the jungle because at that time we had a meeting there.
Def: Was Sankoh there?
Def: So the time Sankoh was there was in 1995, not 1996?
Wit: He was there. I passed through there in 1995 to go to the northern jungle.
Def: So how many times did you go there?
Wit: I can say three times. Because when I passed through there, that could be another occasion. In 1996 I came when Sankoh was there and once when he was not there.
Def: On Monday, why did you say you were there only twice?
Wit: It happened two times that I left the jungle to come there. That is why I said so.
Def: I didn’t ask you that. I asked how many times you went there and you said twice.
Wit: I did say two times, but the two times I’m talking about is when I was in the northern jungle.
Def: So it wasn’t right to say you’d been there two times. According to your evidence today you’d been there three times?
Wit: Yes, if the question is about the first time I saw Camp Zagoda, I’m not considering that. That’s why I said two times.
Def: The question on Monday was simple. Whey did you say two when you now say it was three?
Wit: Because I did not consider counting the one that happened in 1995?
Def: Why not?
Wit: It was because I only passed through there to go to my assignment area. That’s why I didn’t count that occasion.
Def: You didn’t stop there in 1995?
Wit: I stopped there.
Def: For how long?
Wit: I did not stay long. The next morning we had a meeting and after the meeting I left.
Def: You stayed overnight?
Def: How did you forget that on Monday if you’d spent a night there?
Wit: I did not consider that one. I only concerned myself with the time I was in the northern jungle.
Def: You claim to be a man who can remember bits of interviews in 2006, and yet you didn’t recall that you’d spent the night in Camp Zagoda?
Wit: I’m a human being. I can’t recall everything at the same time.
Def: Can you remember, did you get there before or after dark in 1995?
Wit: It was during the day.
Def: Did you leave the next day in the morning, afternoon or night?
Wit: I left in the evening.
Def: So you spent the better part of two days there in 1995?
Def: And you didn’t remember that on Monday?
Wit: I couldn’t recall.
Def: Can you now recall what you did there on those two days?
Wit: We had a meeting with Foday Sankoh.
Def: About what?
Wit: He called on all of his commanders in order to talk to them with regards how we could maintain the jungle, people who were to be assigned to other areas. He made some promotions.
Def: Who got promoted?
Wit: I was one of the people.
Def: Who was promoted?
Wit: They promoted me to major, they promoted Mike Lamin, Mohamed Terawally, Sam Bockarie, Peter Vandy, Rocky CO – who is called Emmanuel Williams.
Def: Who else was there?
Wit: Augustine Gbao, Issa Sesay. There were some other commanders who were assigned to other areas, but they couldn’t come, so they sent representatives.
Def: How is it that on Monday and again this morning, you forgot you had been at Camp Zagoda and been promoted if you’re telling the truth about that?
Wit: My mind did not go around that at the time you asked me. That’s why I said two times – when I was in the jungle.
Def: Monday was the same day I went through your various promotions with you, wasn’t it?
Wit: You said I was one of the senior men in the RUF. You talked about Mike Lamin.
Def: I asked about all of your promotions on Monday?
Wit: Yes, you went through them.
Def: It still didn’t jog your memory that you were in Camp Zagoda in 1995? Were you ever there in 1995, or is the true answer how you answered Monday and earlier today, that you were only there twice in 1996?
Wit: It did not jog my memory.
11:30 (12:00 with the video/audio delay): Court is now adjourning for the half-hour mid-morning break.