9:30 (10:00 with the video/audio delay from the courtroom): Court is in session.
Taylor Defense Counsel Terry Munyard continues his cross-examination of prosecution witness Isaac Mongor:
Def: Yesterday I reminded you that at some stage during your evidence before the break, Mr. Koumjian put to you that you were one of the top commanders of the RUF. Looking at the transcript, he asked whether you, as one of the three area commanders were one of the top half dozen or so top commanders of the RUF. You said you were in the top command of the RUF. So you were one of the top half dozen or so commanders of the RUF, weren’t you?
Def: Yesterday I was asking about your initial involvement with the NPFL. You said you had been captured in Nimba County, but didn’t know the name of the village. Can you say where in Nimba County the village is?
Wit: I don’t know the name of the village.
Def: What part of Nimba?
Wit: On the road that goes towards the Ivory Coast border.
Def: Is this where you were trading?
Wit: Yes, that was the road I used when I was going and coming back.
Def: There is one main trading road that goes from Nimba County into Ivory Coast, isn’t there?
Wit: Not a single main road. There were roads that entered Ivory Coast.
Def: The two principal roads that enter Ivory Coast are in the north – one near Yekepa.
Wit: That’s not the one I’m talking about.
Def: You’re talking about the one at Loguatuo, aren’t you? You know Loguatuo – that’s the main trading road?
Wit: Yes, I know about it.
Def: That’s the road you’re talking about?
Wit: Yes, the road that goes towards that end.
Def: Is that where you say you were captured by the NPFL?
Wit: Yes, it was on that road I was captured.
Def: How near to the border was this village where you were captured?
Wit: There was a distance going towards the border.
Def: Were you near the road that crosses the border?
Wit: I was in one village, but not close to the road per se. I was not on the main road. I was a little bit far from there.
Def: And how far from the border?
Wit: I said there was some distance.
Def: What sort of distance?
Wit: I used to go there and return. At that time, the route I used was not my usual route, so the distance I’m referring to is a little bit far but not too far – where I was captured.
Def: You’ve told us you were captured in December 1989?
Def: When in December 1989?
Wit: I don’t know the particular date. It was a long time ago.
Def: Before or after Christmas?
Wit: Christmas was ahead.
Def: When you were captured, was it before Christmas Day, or after?
Wit: Christmas had not yet reached – it was a little far.
Judge Doherty: Interpreter, that’s not good English.
Wit (interpreter): It was before Christmas.
Def: You’re sure?
Def: It was some distance from Ivory Coast, but not too far, and some distance from the road that goes to Loguatuo?
Def: Where was this village in relation to Borpleh?
Wit: Where do you call Borpleh?
Def: The place you told us about you were trained in.
Wit: It’s far from there.
Def: Was Borpleh to the south of where you were captured?
Wit: It’s a little far to Borpleh.
Def: Is it between Longuatuo and Borpleh?
Wit: The village where I was captured?
Wit: Yes, the village is around that area.
Def: Are you saying it’s somewhere between Borpleh and Loguatuo?
Wit: I told you it’s far from the Ivory Coast border. From the Loguatuo end to the village to Borpleh is also far, but not very far. You can even walk by foot and go there. Normally people go by foot.
Def: If you’re going from the village to Borpleh, are you going north, south, east, or west?
Wit: I don’t know.
Def: Is it further up the country, or do you go further down from this village to get to Borpleh?
Wit: Borpleh is going towards almost the end part of Nimba County. That is where Borpleh is.
Def: By “the end part”, what do you mean?
Wit: That is where Borpleh is located.
Def: How long were you in this village when you were captured?
Wit: I did not stay long there.
Def: When did you first arrive in Borpleh?
Wit: I’m unable to recall the date.
Def: We know you were captured before Christmas. How long after Christmas did you arrive in Borpleh?
Wit: I was there at that time. When I was captured they took me there.
Def: You mean you were taken straight away to Borpleh?
Wit: Yes, they took all of us there. That was their base.
Def: How long did it take you to get there?
Wit: It did not stay too long. The day we were captured is the same day we were taken to the base.
Def: You arrived at Borpleh sometime before Christmas?
Def: How long after your arrival did you start training?
Wit: It had already started. We joined.
Def: Borpleh as a training base was not opened until May 1990. You’re lying when you say you went there in December 1989.
Def: Describe the town of Borpleh.
Wit: It’s a big town. There was a field where we were training.
Def: Where did you live?
Wit: At the training base. They had some houses around the area. The recruits lived in those houses.
Def: How long were you living in these houses, being trained?
Wit: I was there for about almost two months, but not exact – when we were graduated.
Def: I suggest that at Borpleh, the trainees actually lived in the forest outside the town and not on the base. If you had been trained there, you would not have been living on the base.
Wit: People were not living in the forest.
Def: You’re lying.
Wit: I’m not.
Def: Who was your training commander?
Wit: There were many.
Def: Who was your principal training commander?
Wit: They had somebody called Borpleh Devil, Musa, and ____.
Def: Who was the training commander?
Wit: General Musa.
Def: That is completely wrong. Who was the deputy to Gen. Musa?
Wit: I don’t know whether this was deputy or that was that.
Def: Do you know the name John Teah?
Wit: I don’t know that name.
Def: Do you know Sam Sleshee?
Wit: I don’t know that name.
Def: These were Special Forces trainers who were running Borpleh when it opened, not before May 1990. They were running the training.
Wit: Well, maybe that is the name you have. The name you have is not the name I know.
Def: Where did you go when you’d finished training. Where was the first place you went to?
Wit: I was sent to the front line.
Wit: It was around the Ganta area.
Def: On the other side of Nimba County?
Def: When did you get to Ganta?
Wit: I can’t recall that date.
Def: You say you were training for a little less that two months, which brings us to about February 1990. It must have been then, yes?
Wit: I don’t think it was February.
Def: When do you say it was?
Wit: I didn’t tell you about February.
Def: You told us you were captured before Christmas, immediately went to Borpleh, then trained there for a little less than two months. If you count from December, that brings us to sometime in February.
Wit: If you say it was January I might agree with you.
Def: Can you count from one to two?
Def: Two months training from December, what month does that bring us to?
Wit: Take it from the beginning of December. Almost half a month takes us to January.
Def: You say early December?
Wit: It was early December.
Def: So early Dec 1989, you were captured by NPFL forces in a village between Longuatuo and Borpleh?
Wit: That’s what I said.
Def: You then trained for less than two months, which brings us to the end of January 1990?
Def: Then you went right across Nimba to Ganta on a mission? What mission?
Wit: We fought against government troops for a long time there.
Def: How long?
Wit: For almost one week. Whilst we were fighting they pushed us back and then we pushed them.
Def: Did you get control over Ganta after one week?
Wit: Yes, we captured Ganta.
Def: How long was this first mission?
Wit: Almost one week.
Def: Who stayed in Ganta after it was taken?
Wit: The NPFL was there and the CIC – Mr. Taylor, also came there to ensure that the troop was prepared to make advancements.
Def: Did you stay there?
Wit: Yes, we were there.
Def: Did you personally stay there?
Wit: No, I did not stay in the town.
Def: How long were you on that first mission?
Wit: I said that the first mission to capture Ganta took almost one week. Once it was captured, we advanced. We went towards the Gbarnga area.
Def: Did you eventually get to Gbarnga?
Wit: Yes, we fought, but at that time, Prince Johnson had already captured Gbarnga. So we fought against Prince Johnson.
Def: Did you eventually succeed in getting control over Gbarnga?
Def: How? Did you have to fight your way in?
Wit: Yes, we fought there. Starting in the evening until the next morning before the man retreated and we were able to get Gbarnga.
Def: Were you fighting inside the town?
Def: Did you have to inflict casualties on them in order to get control of the town?
Wit: Yes, they had casualties, because it was war and we were playing with bullets.
Def: Why did you have to think about that answer?
Prosecution objects: Makes an assumption, and counsel doesn’t know how long the interpretation took.
Def: Did you have to think about the answer?
Wit: I had to wait for the interpreter.
Def: Did you have to think about your reply?
Wit: I had to wait for the interpreter.
Def: Do you know anything about the circumstances in which the NPFL captured Gbarnga from Prince Johnson’s forces?
Wit: Please repeat the question.
Def: Do you know anything about the circumstances in which the NPFL captured Gbarnga from Prince Johnson’s forces?
Def: You’re seriously saying there was fighting in the town, with casualties on both sides?
Def: When do you say this happened. You left Borpleh sometime in January, then went to Ganta. When do you say you captured Gbarnga?
Wit: I don’t want to give you a specific answer. I did not record dates when we were fighting. In Gbarnga when we were fighting – it was in that same month of January that we were able to push Johnson out of Gbargna.
Def: Jan 1990?
Def: Two months after you joined the NPFL?
Def: Are you sure?
Def: I suggest that by the time the NPFL got to Gbarnga, Prince Johnson had abandoned the town, and there was no fight, and were no casualties.
Wit: I disagree totally. There was fighting from evening until morning. Indeed he retreated. But there were casualties.
Def: I suggest it took about a month for the NPFL to gain control of Ganta – not a week, a month.
Wit: It did not take us a month. We started fighting in the evening and we fought until the next morning when the man retreated.
Judge Sebutinde: Gbarnga or Ganta?
Judge Sebutinde: The question was about Ganta.
Wit: It did not take one month in Ganta.
Def: Were you involved in fighting around Butuuo?
Def: You know where it is?
Wit: I’ve heard the name, but I was never there.
Def: Do you know anything about the NPFL and Butuuo?
Wit: I cannot tell you anything about Butuuo and NPFL affairs.
Def: How have you heard the name Butuuo?
Wit: I heard the name. I heard people call the name.
Def: What have people said about Butuuo?
Wit: They said that the NPFL fought there.
Def: When, according to what you’ve been told?
Wit: I can’t tell you a specific time.
Def: Was it before or after you were captured by them?
Wit: They had starting fighting at Butuuo even before I became an NPFL. I never fought there and have never been there.
Def: I suggest to you that the NPFL did not get into Gbarnga until Jan or Feb 1991. What do you say about that?
Wit: I want to disagree with you.
Def: About a year after when you say you were involved in the bloody battle for Gbarnga.
Wit: It’s not a year.
Def: In your story, how long do you stay in Gbarnga after gaining control?
Wit: Gbarnga became the base, the NPFL headquarters. It was from there that we started fighting to capture other places.
Def: I put to you that the training period at the Borpleh base for all trainees was a fourth month period, not less than two months. So if you had trained there, it would have been four months.
Wit: The people who were captured, they did not train them like national soldiers with a particular standard time bracket for training. It was a guerilla training. They taught people how to fire a gun, to take cover, to dodge bullets, to advance towards the enemy. The training was a fast-track type of training. There was no standard time.
Def: When you were at Borpleh, where was Mr. Taylor?
Wit: Taylor was in the town where the base was. That’s where I first saw him.
Def: Who commanded his bodyguard at Borpleh?
Wit: Well, at that time, I was not part of the bodyguard. I was a recruit. I can’t say who his bodyguard commander was.
Def: Who was his aide d’camp?
Wit: I was a recruit. Trained people were with Taylor – I as a recruit would not be brave enough at the time to ask them such questions.
Def: Moving on the Gbarnga. You say you get there Jan-Feb 1990. Did you remain there or go somewhere else?
Wit: I went somewhere. We advanced and went to fight in Kakata, going toward Bong Mines.
Def: What month are we in now?
Wit: I can say that it was in the second month of that year.
Def: How long were you involved in that operation?
Wit: Well, we fought in Kakata and when we captured it, we went to fight in Bong Mines.
Def: How long were you on that operation?
Wit: I can estimate it at two weeks before returning to headquarters.
Def: How long were you at headquarters before you went anywhere else?
Wit: I was at the headquarters when we would take the CIC, Mr. Taylor, to the front line. The troops were advancing towards the capital city. We would go with him to the Coca Cola factory at the front lines and come back.
Def: You went with Taylor?
Wit: Yes, Mr. Taylor, as the fighters were advancing, would come from the rear and put his own checkpoint – the CIC checkpoint.
Def: You told us before the break that you had heard Taylor was a soldier – a commander. In what army did you understand that Taylor had been a soldier?
Wit: I heard he was a soldier in the Doe army before he brought the war.
Def: You were told Taylor was a soldier in Doe’s army?
Def: Before the break, you told us that Prince Johnson and Taylor were living in Borpleh at the same time. Do you still maintain that?
Wit: I can’t tell you that Johnson and Taylor were both in Borpleh at the same time. I don’t think I said that here. I did not see them together at the same time. They were fighting against each other.
Def: How long do you say it took for the operation to get to the Coca Cola factory?
Wit: I don’t want to give a specific time. My focus was on the battle. I wasn’t recording the time.
Def: Was it in February or later?
Wit: I can’t give you any specific time when we entered the Coca Cola factory.
Def: I’m asking in broad terms when it was, not specific dates.
Wit: I can’t recall. It took a long time and my head is not a computer where I can store all of those things. I cannot give you a specific time now.
Def: Have you borrowed that expression “my head is not a computer” from someone else?
Wit: (laughs) I’m not together with someone. I’ve even said that here in this court before the recess.
Def: It’s not the first time we’ve heard that phrase in this court.
Pros; Is that a question?
Judge Doherty: Avoid facetious remarks.
Def: Is that an expression you’ve heard from somebody else in the last few months?
Wit: I did not hear that from anybody.
Def: At the base in Gbargna before the mission that eventually ends at the Coca Cola factory – how long had you been there before you leave on the mission to the Coca Cola factory. Days, weeks, months?
Wit: It was just for a day. People were not based at a particular place. All the ammunition was stored at Gbarnga. When the CIC himself was moving, sometimes we went with him to the front.
Def: Roughly how long did the mission to the Coca Cola factory take?
Wit: I can’t tell you any date or time. I was not counting, I was not recording. I did not pay attention to that.
Def: Was it days or weeks or months after leaving Gbarnga?
Pros: The question should be more specific: the time to get there, the time there was fighting there. The question is too vague.
Def: I’m asking this witness about his movements. How long were you involved in the mission that began at the base in Gbarnga and ended up at the Coca Cola factory. Days, weeks or months?
Wit: I did not go and fight at the Coca Cola factory. It was there we had the CIC headquarters on the front lines. So we would go there and take ammunition there. The fighters would move ahead to enter the city. The AA that I was controlling, I would give fire support at the Coca Cola factory – then I would come back and report where the troops were advancing.
Def: You spoke of entering and leaving the Coca Cola factory. Were you saying that you yourself went to the Coca Cola factory with Mr. Taylor?
Wit: I did not go myself with Taylor to the Coca Cola factory.
Def: I asked whether you went there with Taylor and you said yes. You’re now telling us something that contradicts something you said earlier. Is it yes or no?
Wit: I want the lawyer to know that the gate I referred to as the CIC gate and the very Coca Cola factory – the place that was Taylor’s headquarters there. It was at the Coca Cola factory. I did not say he stayed there. I only said he went there when the troops were advancing.
Def: I asked before if you had gone with Taylor to the Coca Cola factory and you said yes. Are you now saying the answer should have been no?
Wit: Why should I have said no?
Def: How long were you away from Gbarnga on the second mission? How long before you left Gbarnga to go on another mission?
Wit: Gbarnga was Taylor’s base. The fighters with him used to go to the front line to get information and come back. We told him where the defensive position was. It was not a place I stayed. Normally when I came, I passed the night, then I went to the front line again and in the evening I came back.
Def: Was there ever a time when you left Gharnga for a period of days or possibly longer?
Wit: Yes, I left Gbarnga for Kakata and later Bong Mines.
Def: After that, when was the next time you left Gbarnga for more than a day?
Wit: Since that time, I did not go anywhere else. I normally moved with the Pa when he went to the front lines. When he left for Bong Mines for some time, I went with him. Later we also took him to the Coca Cola factory and came back.
Def: From Dec 1989 to sometime in about Feb 1990, the NPFL have gone from the border of Ivory Coast and Liberia, got hold of Borpleh, Ganta, then they get Gbarnga, then from Gbarnga they go to the edge of Monrovia by Feb 1990. That’s your evidence?
Def: You’re saying the NPFL were strong enough to do all of that – to get from one end of the country to the capital in 2-3 months?
Wit: The NPFL was strong. Most soldiers surrendered to the NPFL. I some places, fighting did not even take place.
Def: How long did the battle for Ganta last?
Wit: Almost a week.
Def: I suggest it was almost a month, and that Doe’s forces fought very strongly around Ganta for at least a month.
Wit: I disagree with that one-month fighting you are talking about.
Def: You say the NPFL went straight from Ganta to Gbarnga. Do you still stick by that?
Wit: That is what I am saying. There’s a main road from Ganta to Gbarnga.
Def: I suggest the NPFL went from Ganta to Buchanan, not to Gbarnga.
Wit: I disagree with you. Where I joined the NPFL and whilst we were fighting, nobody went to Buchanan. Later other troops went to Buchanan. Not from Ganta.
Def: Doe’s forces were still fighting around Ganta until mid-1990. Ganta did not fall until then.
Wit: I disagree.
Def: You had gone off to join the RUF in early 1990, hadn’t you?
Wit: (laughs) It was not early 1990 that I joined the RUF. Let’s say up to three months that I was in Liberia, after which I went to train the RUF. At that time there was no fighting at Ganta. We were all at Gbarnga.
Def: When do you say you started with the RUF?
Wit: I said I went to the RUF base in the third month of 1990. It was almost at the end of the third month that I went there.
Def: So that’s in the early part of 1990, isn’t it?
Def: You were with the RUF from then on, weren’t you?
Wit: Yes, I was there with them.
Def: You weren’t with Mr. Taylor at his Executive Mansion as part of his bodyguard.
Wit: I was part of the bodyguard when I said we were moving with Taylor from Gbargna to the Coca Cola factor, or to Bong Mines, or the front lines.
Def: You told us you were in his bodyguard and your overall boss was called Cassius Jacobs. You said that on March 10th this year, do you remember?
Wit: Yes. Cassius Jacobs was the bodyguard commander.
Def: What did he look like?
Wit: He’s a dark person.
Def: Darker skinned than you?
Wit: Yes. My own color is lighter. He is darker.
Def: What height was Cassius Jacobs?
Wit: Cassius Jacobs was about the same height as me.
Def: How tall are you?
Wit: I don’t know my height. Maybe you can look at me. If you want me to stand, I’ll stand. [witness stands]
Pros: I think he’s about 5’9″.
Def: I’ll agree with that.
Def: Was there anything unusual about his appearance?
Wit: Whilst I was with him, I did not see anything about him I would take note of. He always had a haircut.
Def: Can you tell us anything about his face?
Wit: He’s a man whose eyeballs are not that big. He had a broad nose.
Def: Anything about his skin, apart from its color?
Wit: I did not see anything on his body I took note of that I can recall.
Def: I suggest to you that Cassius Jacobs was 6 feet tall. He was pale skinned – at least as pale as Mr. Taylor – and his face was noticeable for pimples all over his face. What do you say about that?
Wit: I don’t agree with you at all. Pimples was not something that would be in somebody’s face that you cannot cure. Even myself, sometimes I get pimples all over my face and they heal. Maybe he had pimples at times, but not when I saw him.
Def: How many times did you see him?
Wit: He was the bodyguard commander. I saw him every time.
Def: I suggest that Cassius Jacobs did not become commander of the bodyguards until sometime in 1994. At the time you’re talking about in 1990, he was not the bodyguard commander.
Wit: That is a lie. When I was with the NPFL, Cassius Jacobs was the commander, even up to the time that Taylor erected the checkpoint at the Coca Cola factory.
Def: You told us on 10 March that you used anti-aircraft gun in the front vehicle?
Def: When do you say you were first the person in charge of the anti-aircraft gun in Mr. Taylor’s escort?
Wit: The time I started operating the AA-gun – I was the first person. I was with the man who was initially operating the AA – a man called Bullet Patrol, a special forces.
Def: He was the trainer?
Wit: He was not the trainer. Bullet Patrol killed JR, the AA man, and then I took over. The man was called Junior, but we used to call him JR.
Def: Who trained you in the use of the AA gun?
Wit: Well, if I tell you that somebody trained me, it was the man who was with the AA. I was a gunner under him. I used to move with him. It was based on that that I was also able to operate it.
Def: So you just learned on the job how to operate the heaviest piece of weaponry?
Def: A gunner to Bullet Patrol?
Wit: I’m talking about JR, the man who was the operator of the AA.
Def: One killed the other?
Wit: Yes, Bullet Patrol killed JR.
Def: Was he disciplined for that?
Wit: No action was taken.
Def: There was no discipline?
Wit: Taylor’s special forces did whatever they wanted to do. There was no discipline.
Def: When did you first use the AA gun?
Wit: I don’t remember the date.
Def: Before you joined the RUF?
Wit: Taylor sent me to join the RUF at the end of the third month.
Def: Was it before that that you first moved with the AA gun?
Def: I suggest that the NPFL didn’t have an AA gun in 1990.
Wit: I disagree with what you are saying. We had a twin-barrel, a single barrel. They were all there. If you are claiming the NPFL didn’t have those weapons, I disagree with you.
Def: I suggest they had those weapons much later, when you were with the RUF.
Wit; They had them before I left.
Def: What vehicle did Taylor drive in?
Wit: A Nissan Patrol.
Def: Was there anything special about it?
Wit: What do you mean by special?
Def: Was there a particular specification of the vehicle, or was it an ordinary one?
Wit: The van never had any special thing on it. It was a jeep. It was nice. Mr. Taylor was not just riding in a single vehicle. He was a man very conscious of his security, so he changed the vehicle he would use.
Def: Taylor used a bulletproof jeep, didn’t he?
Wit: From the beginning when I was with Taylor, he did not have a bulletproof vehicle. The vehicles were looted.
Def: It was a Mercedes Benz jeep, not a Nissan Patrol.
Wit: At the time I was with Taylor, he was using a Nissan Patrol. If you’re talking about a bulletproof Mercedes, I was not there then.
Def: I suggest he was using a Mercedes bulletproof jeep during the period you’re describing and that you were not with him in 1990 or 1991.
Wit: (laughs) Those are two questions – 1990 or 1991?
Def: You told us that you never saw him in a bulletproof Mercedes jeep. You also told us you were part of his Executive Mansion guard from 1990-1991. I suggest he had such a jeep during that time. If you never saw it, that means you were never with him during that period.
Wit: I never said I was with Taylor in 1991. In 1991 I was not there. In 1990, I did not see him with a bulletproof Mercedes – he used a Nissan Patrol.
Def: Did Taylor give you a reason why he would select you of all people to help Sankoh to train the RUF?
Wit: He gave me no particular reason, but maybe he did it because of the way I was active or the way I performed my duties. Maybe it was based on that.
Def: Were there also Special Forces who went with you to train the RUF?
Def: Were there Special Forces available at Gbarnga who could have gone, but they picked you instead?
Wit: Yes, I was selected, and there was a reason. Taylor used a disguise for people not to know about the RUF. He was not in a position to send Special Forces to go train the people. He had said over the BBC that Sierra Leone will feel the bitterness of war. He didn’t want people to know he was preparing people to fight.
Def: When did Taylor say on the BBC that Sierra Leone will know the bitterness of war?
Wit: In 1990, when Alpha jets flew from Sierra Leone.
Def: When in 1990?
Wit: I can’t give a specific date. He said it over the BBC in that year. He even passed an order that Sierra Leoneans and Nigerians should be arrested.
Def: What part of 1990 was it? Beginning, middle or end?
Wit: It was mid-1990.
Def: Around June?
Wit: I can’t give a specific month.
Def: So he selected you in March 1990 to train the RUF, but because he tells the BBC some months later that Sierra Leone will feel the bitterness of war, he wanted to disguise the fact that he was sending people to train the RUF?
Wit: You asked why he left the Special Forces and select me.
Def: [reads from earlier transcript] On your account, it was because he said that, that he wanted to disguise his support of the RUF. But he had already sent you months before he said it. So how is it that it was because of what he said that he wanted to disguise the training and sent you.
Wit: Even when he ordered and those people were arrested, I was there. When the arrest of the Sierra Leoneans and other people went on, I was there – even before the training.
Def: I want you to explain your earlier answer. You said he wanted to disguise the fact of his support for the RUF because he had said that Sierra Leone would taste the bitterness of war – when he hadn’t even uttered those words by that time. It doesn’t make sense.
Wit: Taylor had already said those words before the mission. We were already arresting people.
Court is now adjourning for the mid-morning break. The session will resume at 12:00 (12:30 with the half-hour delay in video and audio from the courtroom).