12:00 (12:30 with the delay in video/audio from the courtroom): Court is back in session following the mid-morning break.
Defense counsel Terry Munyard continues the cross-examination of prosecution witness Isaac Mongor:
Def: Let’s be clear about what you’re telling the court about that event in Voinjama. You went to a place where Taylor is staying?
Wit: Where did I meet him?
Def: You tell us.
Wit: It was Voinjama.
Def: There was a meeting between Taylor and the RUF people, including yourself?
Def: After that meeting, you say Taylor called you into the house?
Def: And he had a private conversation with you there?
Wit: I did not say private. Private means he and I alone, but he was talking and Sankoh and some other special forces were present.
Def: It wasn’t the meeting where he addressed the troops about to go to Sierra Leone. Something different?
Wit: The discussion in the house – he was discussing with special forces. Sankoh and I were present.
Def: A smaller number of people than he’d addressed earlier?
Def: And he spoke specifically to you, yourself?
Def: He thanked you for the job you’d done and said you should “keep the ball rolling”?
Def: [references document] This is additional information you gave in February 2008. It says the information was not read back to you. It says: “The witness mentioned in his previous statements a meeting held in Voinjama just before the invasion. Taylor did not talk specifically to witness during that meeting, but to all commanders. … Taylor said troops should keep the ball rolling.” You said that?
Def: So why did you tell the court just a month later that Taylor spoke to you yourself and said Taylor told you to “keep the ball rolling”.
Wit: In this statement, it doesn’t refer to the one in the house. During this particular case, he came to address all of us when he said these words.
Def: Why was it you told the prosecution in February that Taylor did not specifically speak to you during that meeting. Were you not clarifying something you’d said earlier that he had spoken to you?
Wit: He spoke to me in the house. This one I’m talking about here: he was addressing everybody present. At that time he did not speak to me particularly. He was addressing all of us.
Def: I want to understand what it was you were trying to tell prosecutors in early February: that Taylor didn’t speak to you specifically – that he told everyone to keep the ball rolling. You told the court that he told you in the house to keep the ball rolling.
Wit: I did say he told me to keep the ball rolling. During the time he was addressing all of us again, he said it again.
Def: Why did you tell the prosecutors in February that he did not talk to you specifically during the meeting?
Wit: During that meeting he did not talk to me particularly.
Def: Why did you tell them that in February if you hadn’t told them something else before?
Wit: He spoke to me when other special forces were present. At the time he was talking to us, the next time he spoke to me in everybody’s presence when we were going for the mission. He did not speak to me personally.
Def: He said the same thing to you personally in the parlor?
Def: He said the same thing to you specifically about “keep the ball rolling” in the parlor of the house?
Wit: He said it. He said we should ensure that we get hold of the country.
Def: You never met Taylor in Voinjama in March 1991, I suggest.
Wit: I met him there. The troops passed the night there. The next morning we all moved to Foya to enter Sierra Leone.
Def: “Top 20 was an operation led by Liberian special forces…Top Final was an RUF operation against Liberian special forces.” Were you yourself injured in these operations?
Wit: During the Top, from the start, I had an injury in my head.
Def: Is it Top or Tap?
Def: Were you yourself injured in these operations?
Wit: Yes, I was wounded.
Def: You were beaten up and cut with a machete, weren’t you?
Def: Which side were you on in these Top operations?
Wit: I was on the side of the junior forces.
Def: Are you talking about the RUF or the NPFL?
Wit: The RUF.
Def: You were not only beaten up and cut with a machete on your head, you were also detained in Liberia for three weeks?
Def: They were trying to get rid of you because of your senior position in the RUF?
Def: By “get rid of you”, what was it you thought the Liberians were trying to do to you?
Wit: I think they wanted to kill me.
Def: Hence being chopped on the top of the head with a machete?
Def: Although the RUF members regarded you as a Liberian, they knew you were on their side?
Def: The RUF fighters regarded you as a Liberian?
Def: But they knew you were on their side?
Def: Although they knew you were Liberian, they did not attack you?
Wit: No, they did not attack me.
Def: What happened when you were detained in Liberia?
Wit: They placed me in a separate tent that was used as a jail. It was about three weeks. One day they took me to the radio room and said they received an instruction to release me. They said Taylor sent an order to release me.
Def: Did you ever have a problem with Foday Sankoh in the early 1990s when you were first involved with the RUF?
Wit: I can’t recall now.
Def: Did Sankoh have you arrested and put in jail for any reason?
Wit: Yes, he put me in jail.
Def: For what?
Wit: I don’t know what actually I did. But Sankoh put me in jail and I was there for some time. Later he released me. Later I discovered that I was loving to a particular woman and Sankoh equally had proposed to that woman. So it was as a result of that woman’s issue, because he said he had asked the woman and the woman said, “I’m in love with one of your commanders.” But he said to forget about the commander she was in love with.
Def: He put you in jail because he was interested in the same woman you were?
Def: When was that?
Wit: I think it happened before – I can say it was around late 92 going towards 93 if I’m not…
Def: Was it before or after the “Top” operations?
Wit: I can say that it happened, he put me in jail before the “Top”.
Def: During the “Top” operations we know the Liberians made an attempt on your life. Are these Liberian NPFL people you’d previously been with in 1989, 1990?
Wit: Yes, those were some of them.
Def: You told us it was Taylor who recruited you to join the RUF?
Def: Now you’re saying his organization tried to murder you in 1992?
Wit: Yes, it was some people in the NPFL – not the whole organization.
Def: You yourself organized Top Final after your release?
Def: And that involved bloody battles between the RUF and NPFL – people on both sides killed?
Wit: I know about my own side. The bodies that I conveyed. I’m aware that anywhere a shootout occurs, there are casualties on both sides.
Def: In 1992 you were acting battlegroup commander?
Def: Is that when Sankoh imprisoned you over a woman?
Wit: No, at that time I was not yet acting battlegroup.
Def: I want to ask a little more about something we talked about yesterday – the massacre at Sandiaru. You remember you admitted being involved in the shooting of civilians at Sandiaru?
Def: Villagers from Sandiaru were trying to escape to Guinea because the RUF had entered their area?
Wit: No, that was not the time.
Def: You gave orders to the RUF men to arrest the people trying to run away from them the conflict, into Guinea?
Wit: They were not people who were escaping from the war to Guinea.
Def: These people were arrested on the border?
Wit: I agree, but they were not arrested close to the border. They had left the border area and they were coming toward Sandiaru.
Def: And there were more than two dozen people you had executed?
Wit: They were not more than two dozen.
Def: Some of the people in the village were still allowed to live, weren’t they? You didn’t kill the whole village?
Wit: Go over that again.
Def: I suggest you sent your fighters to execute people trying to run away from Sandiaru, they were arrested on the border, brought back and executed.
Wit: They did not go to arrest them at the border to bring them back and execute them.
Def: There were people in the village not shot?
Def: They wanted to bury the bodies of the people you executed?
Wit: I don’t know about that.
Def: Think about that, please. Are you saying you don’t know what happened to the dead bodies of the people you’d shot?
Wit: I don’t remember now.
Def: It’s the case, isn’t it, that they were told they should not bury the bodies, but should throw them into the bush? And that’s what they did?
Wit; I don’t think so. I can’t recall such an order.
Def: You can’t recall such an order?
Def: Does that mean you might have made such an order but you can’t now remember?
Wit: I can’t recall that I issued such an order.
Def: I don’t think you’ve answered the question.
Judge Doherty: He has.
Def: What does the nickname Tombolo mean?
Wit: The name of a place or a person?
Def: Somebody’s name? Your name, I’m suggesting.
Wit: I don’t think I have that kind of name.
Def: I asked yesterday if you had a nickname?
Def: You said people knew about the massacre at Sandiaru?
Def: Your name – your nickname – was well known after that massacre, wasn’t it? The nickname Tombolo?
Wit; I disagree.
Def: And the name means someone who can destroy a whole family? Does that name ring any bells with you?
Wit: That name is not my name, and I have never carried that name.
Def: You were in Giema in 1995, weren’t you?
Def: And it’s right that the RUF fighters there under your command treated the civilians like bush animals?
Wit: Giema – I was not commander there. I only went there because my wife and children were there. Sometimes I would come from the front and spend a few days and go back.
Def: How did RUF fighters treat civilians in Giema?
Wit: Civilians were together with RUF people in Giema. Myself, my family was there. Sometimes when I came from the front I would spend a few days and then return. And the civilians there in the RUF area, in Giema, the RUF used those civilians to work for them.
Def: You said civilians were together with RUF people in Giema. What do you mean “together with”?
Wit: They were living in the same town. I was not in their heart to tell you they were happy or not happy. The RUF used them to work for them.
Def: Do you agree that RUF fighters treated them like bush animals: beating them up, keeping them cells and making them work for them?
Wit: They were working. I cannot tell you whether they were paying them. They were working for the RUF but they were not paid for any of the works they did.
Def: Were they beaten up?
Wit: I was not there at any time to see them beating up civilians. I came there to spend time and then return. I did not meet civilians being beaten up in my presence.
Def: Did Sankoh have a name that he called you by?
Wit: The name I have, Isaac, is what he called me.
Def: Did he ever call you Papay or Uncle?
Wit: No, never.
Def: In the beginning of your evidence, you spoke about being involved in going to Bong Mines when you were in the NPFL. Where Bong Mines first captured by Prince Johnson’s part of the NPFL?
Def: Were Bong Mines captured from your group by Johnson’s group?
Def: How long after you got there did that happen?
Wit: We were there for a long time before Johnson captured the place?
Def: What do you mean a long time?
Wit: We captured it. Even Taylor came and spent some time. It was under NPFL control for some time.
Def: What do you mean “a long time”?
Wit: For some time.
Def: Several days?
Def: Several days could be 2-3 days, or 5-10 days. How long was it roughly?
Wit: I can’t recall specifically how long the NPFL was there before Johnson came.
Def: It was days rather than weeks?
Wit: I cannot say.
Def: I’m not asking for specifics. How long do you mean by a long time? Are you talking about days and not weeks?
Wit: I can’t recall that now.
Def: When do you say that the NPFL reached the edge of Monrovia and captured the Coca Cola factory? What month?
Wit: I can’t recall the month.
Def: Does July 1990 sound about right to you – the first time the NPFL get to the edge of Monrovia?
Wit: I can’t recall that. Maybe that is a time you are talking about yourself. I cannot just agree with you.
Def: Does this date sound right – that your group of the NPFL captured Bong Mines around the beginning of June 1990?
Wit: I can’t recall any month now.
Def: Were you involved in the NPFL seizing Buchanan?
Def: You said that a group of people went from the RUF to Taylor in 2002 to ask for support, and they ended up not getting support, but getting arrested instead?
Def: You were not on that delegation?
Def: Were you aware that Charles Taylor gave them [consults with Taylor] 150,000 US dollars for the 2002 elections?
Wit: I don’t know about that.
Def: And that nobody from an RUF delegation was arrested when they went to see him that year for that purpose?
Wit: I disagree with you.
Def: Were you aware that the government of Ahmed Tejan-Kabbah recruited child soldiers during the 1990s – before and after the junta?
Wit: I don’t know about that. I was not in the SLA.
Def: You were fighting against them.
Wit: You know that they and the Kamajors used child soldiers, don’t you?
Def: I don’t know whether Kabbah recruited child soldiers.
Wit; You do not know that the SLA had child soldiers?
Pros: That’s a different question.
Wit: I don’t know whether they recruited them.
Def: Not Kabbah personally, are you saying his army did not recruit child soldiers?
Wit: I don’t know – I was not in the national army.
Def: Did you ever hear him making a public committement not to recruit child soldiers?
Wit: What year?
Def: A number of years after his restoration?
Wit: Maybe it happened, but I don’t know about the national army.
Def: Did you ever see child soldiers in the national forces opposing you, the RUF?
Wit: When I was fighting against the national army, I did not see a child soldier who was a member of the national army.
Def: You talked about seeing heads on sticks, put there by the NPFL?
Def: That was also something that ULIMO did?
Wit: I was not on the ULIMO side.
Def: You went to fight ULIMO you said. Were you ever aware of ULIMO using human heads on sticks?
Pros: This is irrelevant to the charges in this case – whether crimes were committed by another party.
Def: I simply want to know whether this was a common practice in the region.
Judge Doherty: I will allow the question.
Wit: I was not with ULIMO, so I did not know their practice.
Def: You were fighting against ULIMO, weren’t you?
Def: When your troops battled ULIMO, did you ever see any evidence of that same practice, putting heads on sticks?
Wit: I can’t tell.
Def: In your evidence you spoke about contact between Taylor and Sankoh from March 1991 right across all the years, up to the time when Taylor became president of Liberia. Is that right?
Def: You say they were still in contact despite the bloody battles in the “Top” operation?
Wit: They were in contact. That was his friend. Where you had two friends and nothing had destroyed the friendship.
Def: That’s your opinion? You’re completely wrong about that. After the RUF/NPFL fight in 1992 there was no communication between Sankoh and Taylor until after Taylor’s election?
Wit: I don’t agree with that at all.
Def: In 2000, was there a breakdown of communication between the two of them?
Wit: It was sometimes in 2000 that I can recall, when they did not have communication. But later they had it.
Def: They had communication again just before the time you are arrested and thrown into prison for five years and three months?
Wit: The contact was there even before I was arrested.
Def: The contact was renewed because Taylor was asked to send people to try to help release the UN hostages in Sierra Leone?
Wit: I don’t know. I don’t know who asked Taylor. I saw delegates from Liberia who came to Foday Sankoh.
Def: Who were the delegates?
Wit: I said it was one woman – I don’t know her name.
Def: Dorothy Musuleng Cooper? Does that ring a bell?
Wit: Maybe. I don’t know her name.
Def: You don’t know who Dorothy Musuleng Cooper was in Liberia?
Wit: I don’t know that name, or even whether the woman who came was her. The people who came – I only knew one of them, Joe Tuah.
Def: Did you not know that the woman was the former foreign minister of Libeira?
Wit: I didn’t know that.
Def: Is it true that you were involved in the effort to free the UN hostages with the deputy UN commander.
Wit: I went there with the Deputy Force Commander. I was one of the representatives who went with him to the RUF controlled areas.
Def: I want to ask about relations between the RUF and AFRC right from May 1997. It wasn’t an easy relationship right from the start?
Wit: What do you mean?
Def: There were tensions between both groups right from the start?
Wit: You mean the time in 1997 when the AFRC called on the RUF?
Def: I mean right from the start.
Wit: To say it was not easy between them?
Def: Are you agreeing?
Wit: Before I agree or disagree I want to know what went on between them that you refer to as easy?
Judge Doherty: Do you understand the question?
Def: There was tension between the two organizations right from the beginning of the junta in May 1997. Do you agree?
Wit: What I want to know is, what was the tension between the two groups like you are saying?
Def: Do you agree in general that there were problems making the two organizations work together and see each other as equals?
Wit: I did not take notice of that, to say that there was that kind of tension.
Def: Did the AFRC high command always treat you as equal brothers and sisters?
Wit: I can say, yes, the AFRC treated us together with the soldiers and we were all working together.
Def: When the junta came together – when the AFRC and RUF joined – were all the military high command of the RUF given military appointments?
Wit: They gave other positions to the RUF and the soldiers were also in their own areas.
Def: Are you saying the soldiers were also in their own areas of control as RUF soldiers, as opposed to AFRC soldiers? Did the two lots of soldiers have separate command structures?
Wit: At the time we joined the AFRC, we were all together was one body. That is what I know.
Def: Were you ever aware of Johnny Paul Koroma saying that some members of the RUF were planning to overthrow his government.
Wit: I don’t recall him saying that.
Def: You never even heard a rumor about that?
Wit: If I heard a rumor, it doesn’t mean it was from Johnny Paul.
Def: Did the RUF have its own arms and ammunition, separate from the AFRC?
Wit: We did not get separate supplies, and while we were fighting, the government troops distributed arms and ammunition for all of us to fight.
Def: What about during the time of the intervention when the RUF’s own supplies were handed over to the AFRC leaders?
Wit: I don’t think the RUF had any supply that they handed over to the AFRC. I know we were all doing things in common.
Def: At the time of the intervention, did the AFRC leaders abandon the RUF to fight the enemy while they rushed away from Freetown?
Wit: Yes, the bosses left. Because they were the bosses we allowed them to go.
Def: Is it right that people within the RUF were angry that the AFRC leaders abandoned the city and left the RUF to fight the forces of the intervention?
Wit: I don’t think the RUF went angry, saying the AFRC had run away and left us alone. In the town we were all under Johnny Paul Koroma’s command.
Def: You all knew which group you originally belonged to?
Wit: We knew we belonged to groups. I knew I was RUF, but I had joined the AFRC. We were all as one – rebels. I didn’t make any difference.
Def: When you joined the AFRC you were no longer rebels, you were the government, weren’t you?
Wit: We were rebels. I can say that still, because it was both the RUF rebels and AFRC that participated in the coup. Fighting was still going on.
Def: But you were the government now?
Def: In your conversations with Bockarie during or after the junta, did he ever mention a word of dissatisfacation about the AFRC?
Wit: He did not tell me that.
Def: Are you sure?
Wit: I can’t recall that know, whether he said that to me. Maybe it’s escaped my mind.
Def: At any time during the junta or after the junta, did Bockarie complain to you about the way the AFRC treated the RUF?
Wit: It’s been a long time, so I can’t recall that now.
Def: The marriage between the AFRC and RUF was the most significant thing to happen to the RUF during the war because it brought the RUF into power. Do you agree?
Def: Indeed, if it hadn’t been for you being invited by the AFRC, you never would have had a chance to govern the country at all?
Wit: I will not agree because we were still fighting.
Def: Before the AFRC invited you, you were fighting for six years?
Def: And the RUF had failed to gain power?
Wit: We were still fighting.
Def: You were a failed organization because you had failed to accomplish what you intended in 1991?
Wit: We did not fail. The fighting was going on.
Def: You got inside government only because the AFRC invited you to join them?
Wit: Not just because the AFRC invited us. We were also fighting to be the government.
Def: You finally get into power at the invitation of the AFRC. During that time or later, did Sam Bockarie ever express a single comment to you about his view of the relationship between the RUF and AFRC?
Wit: I was not staying in the same place with Sam Bockarie, so I cannot recall that at any time I sat down with him to discuss the AFRC. He was also part of the AFRC.
Def: After the intervention, did Bockarie become hostile to the AFRC or particular individuals within the AFRC.
Wit: I was not in the same place as him, so I cannot say.
Def: You’ve given evidence many times about what Bockarie did and said when you weren’t present – that he had told you about or you’d listened in on somehow. Did he ever talk to you about the AFRC or any of its members?
Wit: I can’t recall now because I have said so many things. If I recall, then I will tell you.
Def: I’m now moving on to another issue, with only two minutes left in the session. This may be a good time to stop.
1:28 (1:58 with the delay in video and audio): Court is now adjourning. The proceedings will resume Monday morning at 9:30.