2:00 Defense: Mongor lied about Taylor involvement in Freetown invasion out of fear of prosecution

12:00 (12:30 with the video/audio delay): Proceedings continue following the mid-morning break.

Defense counsel Terry Munyard continues the cross-examination of prosecution witness Isaac Mongor:

Def: You said “Later I made up my mind to tell them the truth.” You said that you told them lies, but you can’t say about what apart from about Charles Taylor and the Jan 6 1999. During the break, have you been able to think of any other lies you told investigators?

Wit: No.

Def: I suggest it was a lie to say that you asked for and received ammunition around the time the AFRC came to power. That’s a lie?

Wit: It’s not.

Def: The AFRC came to power in May 1997?

Wit: Yes.

Def: What was happening in Liberia then?

Wit: In May?

Def: That’s what I mean.

Wit: I can’t recall anything now.

Def: Try hard to think about it. You are part Liberian. Did you have family there then?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Who was president of Liberia in May 2007?

Wit: It was Mr. Taylor.

Judge Sebutinde: May 2007?

Def: Did you have family in Liberia in May 1997?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Who was president of Liberia in May 1997?

Wit: Mr. Taylor.

Def: Had he been elected president by then, when the AFRC came to power in Sierra Leone?

Wit: I can’t recall the month, but I recall he was president.

Def: At the time of the coup in Sierra Leone?

Wit: Charles Taylor was president in 1997. Whether it was the time the AFRC took over, I can’t recall.

Def: You’ve said there was an ammunition deal around that time with Taylor – around the time in the coup, but that the ammunition didn’t arrive until after you went to Freetown to join the junta?

Wit: Yes.

Def: How did the ammunition get from Liberia to Sierra Leone?

Wit: I cannot say – I wasn’t there.

Def: Have you heard of Ruth Sando Perry?

Wit: I can’t recall that name now.

Def: President of Liberia in May 1997: does that ring any bells?

Wit; I cannot recall exactly the month you are talking about.

Def: Do you know the name?

Wit: I don’t think so.

Def: Were there ECOMOG troops in Liberia in May 1997?

Wit: I cannot recall about ECOMOG troops at that time.

Def: Are you saying that you, as a member of the governing body of Sierra Leone, was not aware of who was president next door in Liberia?

Wit: I told you that in 1997 Mr. Taylor was president, but I don’t know the month.

Def: Were you not aware that there were something like 20,000 ECOMOG troops all over Liberia when you joined the junta?

Wit: I don’t know about how many thousand troops.

Def: Were you aware of a large contingent of ECOMOG troops in Liberia at the time when you joined the junta government?

Wit: Maybe it happened, but I can’t recall it now.

Def: [references a document] “Continuation of interview of Isaac Mongor at 13:11, 2006 Sept 6” And you had the benefit of an interpreter on that occasion. You were being asked to tell the prosecution everything you knew about Charles Taylor and the NPFL, weren’t you?

Wit: Yes.

Def: The first point we see: “Mongor did not participate in the invasion of Freetown in 1999.” Did you tell them that?

Wit: Yes, I told them I was not there.

Def: Because you were too far away?

Wit: I told them that I did not take part in the Jan 6 1999. That I was far from Freetown.”

Def: Did you tell them the plan had been for you to go to Freetown?

Wit: Yes.

Def: On the occasion of this interview?

Wit: No, I did not tell them that that after I captured Joru I should go to Freetown?

Def: Why not?

Wit: Because at that time I had not been told about my going to Freetown, so I would not have said that.

Def: Did you understand my question? Why didn’t you tell the interviewers in 2006 why you didn’t tell them to capture Horu and move on to Freetown.

Pros: The question assumes an answer that the witness didn’t give.

Def: I have it here, and I’ll put it just in a moment. Are you saying [to Mongor] that in September 2006 you hadn’t been told about going to Freetown after capturing Joru, if you could have done?

Wit: I have not had the instruction that when I had captured Joru, I should go to Freetown.

Def: Did you ever get that instruction?

Wit: Yes, from Sam Bockarie.

Def: Why didn’t you tell investigators that you were too far away at the time although you had been instructed to go?

Wit: I did not tell them, because I don’t think I had the instruction before going to Joru. After I had attacked and did not succeed. Then I captured the place in 72 hours. Then I attacked Zimmi. The enemy pushed me back from that position within 72 hours. Then I received that instruction. If I had received the instruction before going to Joru, I would have told them.

Def: Right, but why didn’t you tell them that? Why didn’t you fill in the picture about your role in the invasion of Freetown?

Wit: They did not ask. I think I was supposed to do something about it if they had asked me – I would have gone into details. I did not get the instruction before I went to attack that particular position, that I was to go to Freetown. It was later they gave me the instruction.

Def: And who gave you the instruction?

Wit: Sam Bockarie.

Def: Did Saj Musa have anything to do with it?

Wit: At the time I had the instruction, he was dead.

Def: So Saj Musa was dead when it was suggested you should head towards Freetown?

Wit: Yes.

Judge Sebutinde: There are two different places: Geru and Joru.

Pros: I believe it’s the same place, spelled Joru, but the investigator spelled it differently.

Def: If Saj Musa was dead by then, then why did you tell this court on March 11: The time Saj Musa died, Gullit advanced on Freetown. …Saj Musa had selected me to move with those men and at that time I was on the Joru axis”? You remember saying that?

Wit: I don’t think the time I was to go to Freetown and when they gave me the instruction, Saj Musa had died and Gullit was in command.

Def: On March 11, nobody objected that you had given the wrong name. Was it Saj Musa, or was it Sam Bockarie or was it Gullit?

Pros: There was a question of the interpretation at the time of the direct examination.

Def: Well, you corrected it. Do you accept you used the wrong name the first time around?

Wit; Yes, I agree I used the wrong name. It was not Saj Musa, but Sam Bockarie.

Def: The plan to take Freetown had been Saj Musa’s and Gullit’s, wasn’t it?

Wit: They moved towards it.

Def: It was their plan and not Charles Taylor’s?

Wit; It was the plan that Taylor made together with Sam Bockarie, even before we heard it.

Def: So it was Mr. Taylor, Sam Bockarie, and the RUF’s plan first?

Wit: It was Bockarie and Taylor – they were the ones who planned and sent that to the RUF.

Def: On 11 March, you said Bockarie told you that he and Taylor sat together to plan the operation to capture Kono, Makeni and Freetown. We were also to capture Joru. We were to launch another attack on Kenema. Whoever attacked Joru was to advance on Zimmi…The reason for this attack – Sankoh was in jail in Freetown – we were to free him and the others and seize power.” That’s what you told this court, that this was Taylor’s plan and that was the objective. Is that what you’ve always told the prosecution?

Wit: I told them.

Def: [references document] This is 1 Oct 2006. “Mongor doesn’t know about Taylor’s involvement in the decision to attack Freetown in January 1999.” Does it say that?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Is that what you told prosecutors on 1 Oct 2006?

Wit: Yes, I said that.

Def: Why?

Wit: That was what I told them.

Def: Why?

Wit: Because I did not know about that.

Def: So that is the truth – that statement – is it?

Wit: I cannot say it is the truth.

Def: If it’s not the truth, why did you tell them that?

Wit: I don’t think I have any reason why I told them that.

Def: Try again.

Wit: I don’t think I have any reason.

Def: Have a third attempt.

Pros: It’s been asked and answered.

Judge Doherty: Move to another question.

Def: Can you think of why you would have told investigators a lie on that day?

Wit: I have no reason to say I lied. And I’m not lying.

Judge Doherty: Are you saying you’re not lying now, or then?

Wit: I’m not lying now.

Def: Have you given us a reason yet that isn’t a lie?

Wit: Ask your question again.

Def: You’ve told the judge, “I’m not lying now”. Not lying about what?

Wit: I’m not lying now that Taylor did not take part in the Jan 6 invasion. I’m not lying at all.

Def: We’re not talking about Taylor’s part in it. “Mongor does not know about Charles Taylor’s involvement in the decision to attack Freetown in January 1999.”

Wit: I’m telling you that Taylor knew about that attack.

Def: You started this interview at 10:20 in the morning that day. Would you have been to church already on that Sunday?

Wit: Maybe, but I can’t recall whether I went to church, or had come from church at that time.

Def: You knew then how important it was to tell the truth to investigators, didn’t you?

Wit: I know.

Def: Know or no?

Interpreter: The witness said, “I know”.

Def: Can you think of any way in which it would have protected you to lie to investigators about Taylor’s involvement in the decision to attack Freetown?

Wit: I don’t think I have any reason to lie to the investigators.

Def: [references another document] This is 8 Feb 2007. You were asked more questions about the October 2006 interview in February. We see it was just after 2:00 in the afternoon, and the interviewer were continuing to clarify the answers from the October interview. It says here: “When the witness said that he didn’t know about Taylor’s involvement in the decision to attack Freetown, he meant he understood that the Freetown invasion was largely an AFRC project.” Did you tell them that?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Is it the truth?

Wit: Yes, I told them.

Def: Is what you told them there the truth?

Wit: Yes.

Def: So it wasn’t all Taylor’s idea – it was largely an AFRC project?

Wit: AFRC had the movement, but how would they have done it without the RUF? They wouldn’t have been able to do it.

Def: They did it without the RUF.

Wit: They made the coup in Freetown.

Def: We’re talking about the invasion of Freetown in Jan 1999.

Wit: They wouldn’t have been able to do it without the RUF?

Def: The invasion of Freetown in Jan 1999?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Isn’t it right that only after the AFRC started to get in trouble in Freetown that they called the RUF?

Wit: Without the RUF attacking all the other places, those men would not have been able to get inside.

Def: This was a Saj Musa and Gullit idea – to attack Freetown – to restore the Sierra Leone army?

Wit: They wouldn’t have been able to bring the SL Army back together if they only depended on those small groups. ECOMOG troops in other places would not have allowed them to pass, unless the RUF attacked to release the burden on them.

Def: Saj Musa was not on good terms with the RUF at this stage, was he?

Wit: Initially, Saj Musa was not in agreement with the RUF. He never had good dealings with the RUF.

Def: [references another document] This is an interview in July 2007 conducted by Umaru Kamara, and the attorney was Mr. Koumjian. “Saj Musa was hard to work with because he felt he should take orders from nobody.”?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Saj Musa was a fully qualified soldier?

Wit: Yes.

Def: He did not have a lot of respect for the RUF fighters, did he?

Wit: That was later on that he did not have respect for us.

Def: He died in the attack on Freetown?

Wit: He did not reach Freetown.

Def: Benguema Barracks at Waterloo, he died there?

Wit: Yes.

Def: He wasn’t cooperating in some big plan of Charles Taylor’s in Jan 1999, was he?

Wit: He agreed with the arrangements. That’s why when they…

Def: [interrupts, apologizes]

Pros: Can the witness finish his answer?

Judge Doherty: Please finish.

Wit: I finished.

Judge Sebutinde: You didn’t finish.

Wit: He agreed with the plan, that’s why he moved.

Def: This was when he did not have respect for the RUF?

Wit: At the time the plan came up, they said we should forget about all misunderstandings. That’s why they agreed and then they moved.

Def: [references another document] This is an interview on 29 Nov 2007, where Mr. Werner and an investigator, S. Streeter, were there. You remember that interview?

Wit: There were interviews, but I cannot recall the dates as you are keeping the records. If I know the person, I will agree.

Def: Mr. Werner is sitting right there on the prosecution side. [references part of document]: “Witness states that he was in Kenema District when he heard that Saj Musa died. Witness says Gullit took over command after death of Saj Musa. Witness said that as a member of the RUF high command, he was happy when Gullit took over command….”

[brief interruption in video/audio]

Def: In October 2006, why did you tell him that you didn’t know about Taylor’s involvement in the attack on Freetown because that was largely an AFRC project?

Wit: If AFRC had that plan, they wouldn’t have been able to do it. That small group wouldn’t have been able to enter Freetown, going through all those ECOMOG forces in Kono and other places. They were able to enter Freetown because RUF groups in Kailahun, Kono, Kenema District – they were able to attack there. That’s what made them able to enter.

Def: So it’s not right to say that the invasion was largely an AFRC project?

Pros: Objection: asked and answered. The witness has given a detailed answer.

Judge Sebutinde: We’re dealing with inconsistent statements. I’m not satisfied. Every time he asks a question we get a slightly different answer. I would like to hear.

Judge Doherty: Ask again, please.

Def: Why did you tell the interviewer in Feb 2007 when he was trying to find out what you meant in the interview of Oct 2006, when you said you didn’t know about Taylor’s involvement in the decision to attack Freetown in Jan 1999 – why did you tell him that the invasion was largely an AFRC project?

Wit: I think when you said that the AFRC planned to enter Freetown, I was able to make it clear to you that the AFRC was unable to enter without the help of the RUF.

Judge Sebutinde: I think you’re avoiding the question. The question is clear, for the nth time. Why in 2007 did you tell investigators what you told them: that the attack was largely an AFRC project. You haven’t answered the question.

Wit: I told them that because if you look at the group that moved for the Freetown invasion, many of them were AFRC men who were soldiers. They refused to wait for the RUF group to join them. They were just doing it themselves. It was based on that, I said that.

Def: There came a time in Nov 2007 when you tell the investigators that Sam Bockarie told you that he’d had a meeting with Charles Taylor and a plan had been developed to attack other areas prior to invading Freetown. Why did you tell them that then when you’d said on other occasions that you did not know of Taylor’s involvement?

Wit: This was the time – they had not asked me anything concerning the plans.

Def: But they asked you about Taylor’s involvement in the decision to attack Freetown on a number of earlier occasions and you said you didn’t know about it. What made yuou change your story in Nov 2007?

Wit: Because I knew, and later I realized something about the plans that Bockarie brought that I later told the investigators.

Def: Are you saying you’d forgotten about what Sam Bockarie had told you about Taylor planning the attack, and then you suddenly remembered in Nov 2007?

Wit: Yes, I am a human being. I’m liable to forget. You cannot say what I am saying – I will sit in one place and say everything about it.

Def: Were you being pressed in Nov 2007 to give more to the prosecutors on this subject?

Wit: Yes, the prosecution would want more information?

Def: Were you being pressed?

Wit: Yes, when they asked me over and over.

Def: Did you feel you had to give them more to satisfy them?

Wit: It was not to satisfy them. It came to my mind.

Def: Did you have a shaky heart in Nov 2007?

Wit: I have so many other problems that disturb me. I cannot say it was because of that at that time that my mind was shaky. I’m a human being.

Def: Did you worry that you were being interviewed for the 19th time and that they may need something more out of you or you might be in trouble yourself?

Wit: I had my mind on so many other things. I’m a human being. You can’t tell me that a human being always has a steady mind.

Def: I asked last week if you knew that the RUF accused were on trial, and you said you didn’t know they were on trial. You later changed your account. Do you remember saying initially that you didn’t know?

Wit: Yes, I recall.

Def: When you were interviewed in Nov 2007, were you told that the RUF trial was taking place?

Wit: Even if it happened, I can’t recall now whether they said it and that I heard it.

Def: [references a page of the handwritten version of the interview notes]: The date is 29 November 2007. You were being interviewed by investigator S. Streeter. The language is English and the prosecutor is Alain Werner. “AW discussed trial date and assured that witness knew process involved in trial, transport, accommodations.” This isn’t that long ago. Can you remember that they were talking to you about transport and all the processes involved in your giving evidence?

Wit: I think so.

Def: “AW explained that RUF prosecution was complete.” Can you remember Mr. Werner telling you that the RUF prosecution was complete?

Wit: Maybe he said it, but I forgot.

Def: So when I asked whether you were aware that the RUF accused were on trial at the moment, why didn’t you mention this?

Wit: Maybe my thoughts did not go to that.

Def: You implied in answer to me that it was a complete revelation to you that the RUF was on trial.

Wit: That was how I took it.

Def: You knew perfectly well the RUF were on trial because you visited the detention yard in 2005 and 2006?

Wit: I went there.

Def: “AW explained that information being sought now was for Taylor prosecution.” Did he say that?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Had you possibly been involved as a witness in the RUF prosecution as well as the Taylor case?

Wit: I don’t think I took part in the RUF prosecution that I recall.

Def: You didn’t take part in the RUF prosecution – in the case, in the sense of giving evidence in court. But were you ever asked questions with a view to giving evidence in the RUF case?

Wit: I don’t think anyone asked me that.

Def: “Alain Werner explained that the information being sought now regards Taylor prosecution. AW explained that as a top level commander, he would be privy to more information than he had disclosed so far.”

Wit: They told me that information concerning me.

Def: It doesn’t say that there.

Wit: They had information.

Def: What was the information?

Wit: They had information that I was part of the high command and that I’d been with the NPFL and RUF, so I should be able to give information concerning two parts.

Def: This was the 19th interview. They already knew that, didn’t they?

Wit: Even before that, they knew I was in the high command of the RUF.

Def: So that wasn’t the information they said they had on you.

Wit: That wasn’t the information they said they had on me.

Def: What was the information?

Wit; I can’t know that now. They asked if I was in the RUF high command and I agreed.

Def: They already knew that.

Wit: Yes, but I confirmed it.

Def: Alain Werner explained to you that as a top-level commander you would be privy to more information than you had given them in the 18 previous interviews. That’s what he was telling you, wasn’t it?

Wit: Yes, he told me.

Def: They wanted you to give them something you hadn’t given them already?

Wit: Maybe it was not something I had not given them before. Maybe they wanted me to add to it.

Def: And you added to it by making up a pack of lies about Taylor’s involvement in the attack on Freetown in Jan 1999 in contradiction of what you’d told them before.

Wit: No.

Def: Did that suggestion from Mr. Werner make your heart shaky?

Wit: It’s not a sort of heart shake. I hadn’t a shaky heart for what the man said.

Def: What did you have?

Wit: I only knew that I was supposed to talk about my involvement. They wanted me to be bold. It was not something that I was to say to satisfy them.

Def: You were pressed and you lied in that interview?

Wit: They did not press me to lie.

Def: I suggest they pressed you and you lied.

Wit: I don’t agree.

Def: Did you feel pressed by that comment that you must know more?

Wit: They didn’t press me to lie. It was not a press.

Def: Did you feel pressed by that comment?

Wit: They did not press me, I did not feel pressed.

Court is now adjourning for lunch. The proceedings will resume at 2:30 (3:30 with the delay in video and audio).


  1. This is the problem the Prosecution is having with the majority of their witnesses. The witnesses are being discredited on cross examination.

Comments are closed.