2:00 Defense casts doubt on Mongor’s claim that Taylor sent him to the RUF

Defense Counsel Terry Munyard continues his cross-examination of prosecution witness Isaac Mongor:

Def: Mr. Taylor’s broadcast on the BBC about Sierra Leone tasting the bitterness of war was made in November 1990, not the middle. You’re just using that as an excuse for why you were selected to train the RUF.

Wit: I disagree with you.

Judge Doherty: Which part do you disagree with?

Wit: That the broadcast was in November – that is what I disagree with.

Def: I have a detailed map available of the part of Nimba County that I was asking about this morning. [Distributes copies to the judges, prosecutors and the witness.] This is a map of the north-eastern part of Nimba County, where Nimba County borders Côte d’Ivoire. Do you see the town of Borpleh, here spelled Gborpleh?

Wit: Yes.

Def: If you go up along the border, the next town you come to is Loguatuo. That’s the border town we were talking about, right? You told us this morning that you were captured somewhere between them, right?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Look back at Borpleh, and then look down at the town of Butuuo.

Wit: I see it.

Def: Using this map, I suggest to you that the area between Borpleh and Loguatuo was not captured by the NPFL until some months after they first invaded through Butuuo. What do you say about that?

Wit: (laughs) I’m laughing because you said it was 1990. In 1990, that was now at the rear of the NPFL. There was no fighting in that area. It doesn’t mean I was laughing at your question. I disagree with you.

Def: I want to make clear to you that I suggest what happened is: after Borpleh, the NPFL moved south to Tapeta. Then some time after that, the NPFL moved further south to Buchanan. Do you agree?

Wit: I did not disagree with the fact that the NPFL ever went to Buchanan. The particular group I fought with didn’t go to Buchanan. The NPFL was divided in groups. There was a group that went from Tapeta to Buchanan. There was another group that went from Ganta to Gbarnga.

Def: Mr. Taylor went from Tapeta to Buchanan. I suggest he was not in Ganta or Gbarnga at all in 1990.

Wit: I disagree.

Def: From there he went to Harbel and was there for some time. Only when Gbarnga was safe and secure did he go there in late 1991. By that time you were in Sierra Leone.

Wit: I don’t agree with your suggestion at all.

Def: You say you fought in Bong Mines. Who was the commander there?

Wit: Prince Quiwonkpa.

Def: Who was the commander in Kakata?

Wit: It was we and Pa Zobia. There was Francis Miawon (sp?)

[Munyard confers with Taylor.]

Def: Earlier I said that Cassius Jacobs wasn’t commander of the bodyguard until 1994. I got that wrong – it was 1993. But by then you were well out of Liberia?

Wit: I was not there at that time.

Def: You said you were chosen to train the RUF because Taylor didn’t want Special Forces training them. In fact there was a man called Gonkenu or Gunkenu [sp?] or Gungenu or something like that among the trainers. Do you recall that?

Wit: I know that name.

Def: He was a member of the Special Forces who was training the RUF in Camp Nama, wasn’t he?

Wit: He was not Special Forces.

Def: How do you know?

Wit: I was together with him.

Def: Who were Special Forces?

Wit: Those who trained in Burkina Faso and Libya – the ones who brought the war.

Def: What about Gio Devil?

Wit: Gio Devil – I know that name.

Def: He was in the Special Forces who was training the RUF in Camp Nama, wasn’t he?

Wit: Gio Devil never trained RUF at Camp Nama.

Def: Let’s move to your involvement with the RUF. Your friend, John Karboh, introduced you to Foday Sankoh?

Wit: I knew Sankoh to be one of the Special Forces to be present on the Executive Ground. I later knew him through John Kargboh, one of my friends. They were tribesmen.

Def: It was Kargboh who introduced you?

Wit: I knew him before.

Def: Which Mansion ground is this that you say you knew Sankoh from?

Wit: Gbarnga, at the Executive Ground. I used to see him go with Taylor at the front line. I didn’t know him as Foday Sankoh.

Def: What did you call him?

Wit: Pa Morlai.

Def: You told us that Sankoh had a special relationship with Taylor because Taylor helped get him out of prison in Ghana.

Wit: Yes, I said that.

Def: When is it that you say that Foday Sankoh was in prison in Ghana?

Wit: Foday Sankoh did not give me a particular date. He said it was before they went to Libya to train. He told me Taylor fought to get his release.

Def: When did Sankoh tell you this?

Wit: In Camp Nama.

Def: Were there two training bases there – one for RUF and one for NPFL?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Two separate bases for two separate organizations?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Most of the people you trained were Sierra Leoneans?

Wit: Yes.

Def: 90% of the people you trained there?

Wit: Yes.

Def: You were recruited by Foday Sankoh, weren’t you – to go train RUF fighters in Camp Nama?

Wit: It was not Sankoh who recruited me?

Def: Who do you say recruited you?

Wit: It was Mr. Taylor who sent me to go with Sankoh.

Def: Have you ever told anyone it was Sankoh who recruited you?

Wit: No.

Def: What were you claiming to be at the time – Liberian or Sierra Leonean?

Wit: Well, I was a Sierra Leonean. I told people I was born in Sierra Leone but it was in Liberia that I grew up.

Def: When you went to work with the RUF, were you saying you were Sierra Leonean or Liberian.

Wit: Sierra Leonean.

Def: That’s why you were with the RUF, wasn’t it?

Wit: No, it was a mission given to me. It’s not because I was Sierra Leonean.

Def: The man who introduced you to Sankoh was a Sierra Leonean?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Sankoh was a Sierra Leonean?

Wit: Yes.

Def: What was the mission with the RUF, what was the purpose?

Wit: For them to go and fight in Sierra Leone.

Def: Why were they going to fight in Sierra Leone?

Wit: They were going to fight to change the system that had been in their country. Because at that time there was a one-party system in the country.

Def: Why did you agree to do this?

Wit: I did it because it was a mission given to me. It was a mission I was to accomplish.

Def: Did you believe in what the RUF were trying to do when you started training them in 1990?

Wit: Yes, I believed in it.

Def: I’m going to ask you to look at some documents. [shows a particular document, interview notes from a prosecution interview with the witness in July 2007] Here it says, on or about 1983, you joined the Armed Forces of Liberia. Is that right?

Wit: No.

Def: Did you tell Mr. Koumjian and the investigators that it was 1983, or did the investigators have it wrong.

Wit: Maybe it was through the language barrier. I said 1985.

Def: You recall that yesterday I established that these interviews were read back to you so that you could correct anything that was wrong.

Wit: Yes.

Def: Why didn’t you correct them when they read back to you that you joined the AFL in 1983?

Wit: Maybe I was not attentive enough to have made that correction.

Def: Do you think they got it wrong, or you did?

Wit: Maybe the mistake came from the person who wrote it.

Def: And then you didn’t correct it when it was read back to you.

Wit: Maybe I was not attentive enough when they were reading that area to me.

Def: Below there, it describes your training and your escape from the training. It says you were selling clothing between Liberia, Ivory Coast and Koindu, Sierra Leone. So you were in Sierra Leone too?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Then it says that during the early stages of the war in Liberia, he “became associated with the NPFL”. What does that mean? It doesn’t mean “was captured by”, does it?

Wit: No. I was trying to explain that at that time I was a businessman.

Def: Were you captured by them, or did you simply become associated with them?

Wit: Once I had been captured, it means I was already part of those people. I was considered part of them. That is what I tried to explain.

Def: This interview, in July 2007 is the 16th day on which you had been interviewed by the office of the prosecution. You had been interviewed on 15 previous interview. This interview is said to be clarifications/corrections of previous interviews. I accept that in the first interview you said you were captured by the NPFL. I want to know what the clarification is when it now says in July 2007 that you “became associated” with the NPFL. That doesn’t suggest you were captured.

Wit: They had already captured me, so I considered myself part of them. I was already part of the organization.

Def: Then it says: He first met FS through John Karbo who was SLP. Does that mean Sierra Leonean Police force?

Wit: Yes.

Def: So you first met Foday Sankoh through your friend John Karbo who was a Sierra Leone police officer?

Wit: Yes. But I want to make clear that when I said “first” – I had known Foday Sankoh, but that was not to suggest that I had ever gone close to him for the two of us to discuss. That never happened. My friend first created the avenue for us to talk.

Def: Had you ever spoken to him before?

Wit: Sometimes I just greeted him or gave him compliments because he was one of the bosses. But I never sat and talked to him until Karbo introduced us.

Def: It was John Karbo and not Charles Taylor who made Sankoh interested in you?

Wit: No, it was not John Karbo.

Def: [references notes from first prosecution interview with Mongor] It says the investigator went over the Taylor indictment with the witness. Were you told of the specific charges and allegations against Taylor before they asked you any questions?

Wit: He showed me and he told me the charges against Mr. Taylor. It was at that time that he asked me what my relationship was when I was in the NPFL.

Def: You knew by that time that the Office of the Prosecutor was very interested in your knowledge of Charles Taylor?

Wit: Yes, the court had interest, because they knew I was with Mr. Taylor. They knew I knew how the war started and entered Sierra Leone.

Def: You say the court knew that I was with Mr. Taylor. Did they tell you that before they interviewed you?

Wit: Yes, they told me that they had information that I had been with Mr. Taylor.

Def: You knew since they had tried contacting you a year before that they were interested in getting information from you about Mr. Taylor?

Wit: They wanted me to tell them everything I knew about Mr. Taylor.

Def: And they told you that they believed you had been with Mr. Taylor?

Wit: Yes, they believed based on the information they’d got.

Def: Did they tell you where they got that information?

Wit: No.

Def: Were you at any time in any of your 24 interviews shown a witness statement from any other witness in this case?

Wit: No, never.

Def: Is that an honest answer?

Wit: Yes, there was never a day they read another witness’s statement.

Def: It says here, Mongor joined the NPFL in 1989 at the start of the revolution. Then it goes on to say “captured by NPFL in early part of 1989 while in Nimba County.” First, did you join them or did they capture you?

Wit: They captured me. It was not something I was willing to do.

Def: In this interview, you have the benefit of an interpreter. Correct?

Wit: Yes.

Def: If we take this interview and the other, we now have three different expressions: “joined”, “captured”, and “became associated with”. It’s all rather ambiguous, isn’t it? They don’t necessarily convey that you became a member of the NPFL against your will, do they? Did you join the NPFL, or did you go straight to the RUF training camp?

Wit: I was with the NPFL.

Judge Doherty: There wasn’t an answer to the previous question.

Def: The words “joined” and “associated with” are a long way from the meaning of the word “captured”, aren’t they?

Wit: I was captured at first. When you say join, it means I was with them. I know that I was captured before I was trained. After that I became a member and I was a part of the NPFL.

Def: Here it says you were captured in the early part of 1989 in Nimba County?

Wit: Yes, I was captured.

Def: In the early part of 1989?

Wit: I said it was in December.

Def: Did you tell the investigator it was December, but they managed to write down a completely different phrase?

Wit: I told them it was December.

Def: It says “trained in Borpleh in Nimba County. Charles Taylor resided at that base with Prince Johnson”. Did you tell them that?

Wit: No. During my testimony here, I have never said that Johnson was at Borpleh with Taylor.

Def: Did you tell investigators that Taylor resided at the base with Prince Johnson?

Wit: I cannot recall telling them that. I did not tell them that.

Def: Are you saying these people who interviewed you just invented that?

Wit: They made a mistake.

Def: They made a mistake?

Wit: Maybe, yes. Maybe they misunderstood me.

Def: How could they have misunderstood something so simple?

Wit: I never said Prince Johnson was there.

Def: Either the investigators are unreliable in recording that, or you are unreliable in the account that you are given.

Prosecution objects: That’s argumentative.

Def: Isn’t there a simple choice here: that either the investigators are unreliable in recording that, or you are unreliable in the account that you are given.

Wit: Please repeat it.

Judge Doherty: [repeats question]

Wit: I did not say that Prince Johnson and Taylor were at the same base in Borpleh.

Def: The last two lines: Mongor first met Sankoh in early 1990 in Gbarnga. He had no special recollection of Sankoh or Taylor. Is that true?

Wit: What do you mean “met him”? When I saw him?

Def: Here it says you first “met” Foday Sankoh in Gbarnga in early 1990?

Wit: Yes, I saw Foday Sankoh in 1990.

Def: What month?

Wit: I can’t give a particular month. It was when Taylor was already there when the Executive Mansion ground was prepared.

Def: You told us earlier that that was in Jan or Feb 1990 when you were in February. So was it then?

Wit: It could be in that second month.

Def: On the next page it says, “Mongor was recruited by Foday Sankoh to join his mission to change the system in Sierra Leone”. Why did you tell me this morning that you were not recruited by Sankoh when you told investigators in this interview that you were recruited by Sankoh?

Wit: When I spoke about recruitment with regard to Sankoh – when I was sent to go and train those people, at that time he explained his objectives in Sierra Leone. It was not that he recruited me before I went to the base. It was at the base where we had this discussion.

Def: You told me within the last hour that Sankoh did not recruit you for the training, but that Taylor had recruited you. Have you forgotten that in the first interview you said you were recruited by Sankoh?

Wit: No, Sankoh did not recruit me. Taylor recruited me and sent me for that mission to go and train those people. Sankoh told me that I should join him and fight in Sierra Leone after training the men. We should help him to change the system.

Def: You started that answer by saying “no, Sankoh did not recruit me”. Why did you tell investigators in August 2006 that he did recruit you?

Wit: He did not recruit me.

Def: I’m asking why you told investigators that?

Wit: Tell them what?

Def: That Sankoh recruited you?

Wit: When I spoke about recruit here, I meant I joined him to go and fight in Sierra Leone. But I was sent to train his men by Mr. Taylor.

Def: Why didn’t you tell them that?

Wit: Maybe I forgot.

Def: You forgot? You forgot to say it was Charles Taylor who recruited you? How could you possibly forget such a thing if it was true?

Wit: They asked me “who sent you” – how did you get connection to the RUF. I said it was Taylor who sent me to these people. I was handed over to Sankoh to train the men.

Def: That’s a complete lie. You did not tell them that. That does not appear anywhere on that page, does it?

Wit: I’m telling you that’s what happened.

Def: Show us on the page where it says that. Look at the page and take some time to read it.

Wit: I have looked at it.

Def: Where does it say what you’ve just told us you told to them?

Wit: What part are you referring to?

Def: One more time: You said to us “I said it was Taylor who handed me over to Foday Sankoh”. You said you said that to these investigators in this interview.

Wit: That is what I said.

Def: You’re just making this up as you go along, aren’t you?

Wit: No.

Def: Your story did change your story with additional interviews. But it was well into your relationship with the office of the prosecutor when you said Taylor sent you.

Wit: I don’t think so.

Def: In your first interview, you already knew they wanted to know all about your relationship with the RUF. Why then didn’t you say it to them in your first interview that Taylor sent you to the RUF?

Wit: I said it.

Def: In that interview?

Wit; Maybe not in this interview, now that it’s in front of me.

Def: You were one of those Sierra Leoneans living in Liberia, weren’t you?

Wit: Yes.

Def: You identified yourself as a Sierra Leonean living in Liberia?

Wit: Yes.

Def: One of many recruited by Sankoh?

Wit: No.

Def: You changed your story when it became clear to you that the prosecution wanted more out of you about Charles Taylor. In the first interview you told them the truth about being recruited by Sankoh?

Wit: No.

Def: It says you were first introduced to Sankoh by John Karbo. You stand by that, that you were introduced to Sankoh by John Karbo?

Wit: Yes, but I knew Foday Sankoh even before then, but I got closer to him through John Karbo.

Def: So that is correct?

Wit: Yes, but I had seen him before.

Def: Who got it wrong when it says you were recruited by Foday Sankoh – was it you who got it wrong, or the investigators?

Wit: The first one is not correct. The investigators got me wrong. Where they say Karbo introduced me to Sankoh, they got that right.

Def: Next paragraph: Taylor never saw Charles Taylor at Camp Nama or was aware of Taylor being there. Is that right?

Wit: Yes, Taylor never went to the camp while the training was going on.

Def: So they got that right?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Next paragraph: They started training in 1990. Is that right?

Wit: yes.

Def: And you were “at base” until entering Sierra Leone in March 1991? Did they get that right?

Wit: Yes.

Def: You weren’t running back and forth between the RUF camp and the NPFL. You were at base until entering Sierra Leone?

Wit: Yes, but I want to clarify something about 1990. When you asked me about 1990 to 1991, being at the base, and I was not there moving with Mr. Taylor – I told you I had performed that duty before being sent to that base.

Def: I’m not suggesting you have never said you were at the Executive Mansion acting as a guard between 1990-1991, because you did say that. I suggest that this paragraph here is actually much closer to the truth than this story of you running back and forth between the RUF and Executive Mansion Guard.

Judge Doherty: There was not testimony to that effect.

Prosecution: There was no such testimony.

Def: On your account, you were with Sankoh from early 1990, and you were also fighting in Liberia, accompanying Mr. Taylor. How did that work unless you weren’t going back and forth?

Wit: I never told you I went from the base back to the Executive Mansion guard.

Def: [reads from notes] It says here he went back and forth between March 1990 and March 1991.
Court is now adjourning for the lunch break. Proceedings will resume at 2:30. With the half-hour delay in video and audio, this account will continue at 3:00.