12:00 (12:30 with the video/audio delay): Court is back in session following the mid-morning break.
Prosecutor Brenda Hollis: I would like to notify the court of a failure to disclose evidence, for which I take full responsibility. The hand-written notes of this witness were not disclosed to the defense, but have now been disclosed. There was a failure within the Office of the Prosecutor. I offer no excuse because there is no excuse. I apologize to the court and the defense.
Def: I’m told by Mr. Koumjian that when he looked through them, there were no differences between the notes and the typed notes. I’ll look through them tonight, and reserve the right to raise this tomorrow morning.
Prosecutor Koumjian: Just to be clear, I did not review all the documents.
Def: I accept that.
Judge Doherty: Mr. Munyard will be able to come back to this later.
Defense counsel Terry Munyard proceeds with his cross-examination of prosecution witness Isaac Mongor:
Def: Back to this meeting where you were promoted with a group of other people at Camp Zagoda in 1995. That must have been an important occasion, as far as you were concerned?
Wit: It was important to me.
Def: Not something you would easily forget?
Wit; I’m human. Sometimes you might forget something important, then later remember it. I’m a human being. Later, as we go along, if I recall, then I say then.
Def: What else happened on that trip to Camp Zagoda apart from the meeting where you and others were promoted?
Wit: Apart from that, and after the promotion, everybody went to their areas of assignment.
Def: Were you at Camp Zagoda in order to receive your promotion?
Wit: I was going on assignment?
Def: Had you been asked to come there in order to receive your promotion?
Wit: They did not call me to receive the promotion.
Def: So the promotion was a big surprise?
Wit: I did not expect it.
Def: Was the meeting simply about the promotions?
Wit: I told you that it was also about talking to the commanders on how to maintain the various jungles we occupied. Those were the things Sankoh called the commanders to discuss. Then he promoted some people.
Def: Then did you leave to go to your particular assignment in the jungle?
Wit: Like I told you, I left the next evening to go to my assignment area, the Northern Area. that’s where I went to be in charge of.
Def: Did anything else significant happen during that visit of yours to Camp Zagoda?
Wit: I recall that Issa Sesay was there facing queries. I know about that.
Def: Apart from Foday Sankoh promoting you, did he do anything else with you?
Wit: The only thing is that I was given an assignment area – the Northern Area. I went with Mohamed Terawally.
Def: When in 1995 was this?
Wit: I can’t give a specific time now because it has taken a long time. I cannot recall everything.
Def: Was this the first occasion of you being appointed to the Northern Area?
Def: So you will remember what time of year it was that you went there to take charge?
Wit: I have said that I cannot recall the specific time. It has been a long time.
Def: I’m asking you to try to recall what time of year it was that you received this surprise promotion and your assignment.
Wit: I don’t want you to force me to try. I have said it has taken a long time and I cannot recall.
Def: Was it the rainy season?
Wit: I am trying to tell you is that I cannot tell you anything know about whether it was the rainy season or the dry season. It has been a long time.
Def: Being promoted by surprise and being assigned to take charge of the northern hills is something you’re more likely to remember than whether someone wrote something on the side of a page during one of 24 interviews?
Wit: It surprised me. Because I was excited at that time, maybe I could not keep it in mind. As time goes on, if I remember, I will tell you.
Def: All you can tell us is at some time in 1995 there was a meeting in the morning at which you were promoted and received your assignment?
Def: Tell us about the next time you went to Camp Zagoda.
Wit: I went the year Sankoh was supposed to go sign the Abidjan accord.
Wit: 1996, but I can’t recall the specific date.
Def: What part of the year?
Wit: I can’t recall. It was before Sankoh went to attend the Abidjan peace accord and before the general elections that year.
Def: You told us in evidence about a time before the elections when Sankoh told you at Camp Zagoda that you were to carry out an operation to prevent the elections, and you said when you got there, Sankoh’s radio man came to get him to say Taylor wanted to speak to him, and that you went to listen to the conversation?
Def: Was that the only time that you listened in on a radio conversation between Sankoh and Taylor?
Wit: Right now I cannot tell you whether that was the only radio communication. As time goes on and I recall another, I will tell you.
Def: You would remember overhearing any radio conversation between Sankoh and Taylor, if you had heard any?
Wit: Yes, at that time I heard him when he was talking.
Def: If you’d ever heard any radio conversations between Sankoh and Taylor on other occasions, you would be bound to remember them too?
Wit: It’s something that I should recall, but I can’t make it possible to recall now. You shouldn’t press me to recall it. If things come to my mind, I will tell you.
Def: I’ve only asked you this question twice and you’ve said I’m pressing you. Does asking a question twice mean I’m pressing?
Wit: You’re pressing me.
Def: Why didn’t you say that to the prosecutors on the second, third and fourth occasion they asked about whether you communicated with Taylor? Why didn’t you say, “stop pressing me”?
Wit: It is the duty of the prosecution, or maybe it was their procedure to ask repeated questions.
Def: The conversation that claim to have overheard in 1996 between Sankoh and Taylor – was that the only time you overheard the two leaders talking by radio: yes or no?
Wit: You can’t tell me to say yes or no. As we go on, maybe I will recall. You can’t tell me now to just say yes or no.
Judge Doherty: Do you remember hearing other conversations, or do you not remember hearing other conversations?
Wit: I recall some other conversations. When I recall, then I will tell you.
Def: What do you mean by that. Are you saying there were other conversations but you don’t remember them, or are you saying you don’t remember if you heard other conversations.
Wit: I remember they had conversations.
Def: Which you overheard on the radio?
Wit: I heard it myself, and my operators would call me.
Def: Now you’re remembering other conversations? What’s going on here?
Wit: It’s been a long time. As we go on talking, as I think, they might come to my mind.
Def: Before you gave evidence, when were you last asked about other conversations you overheard between Sankoh and Taylor?
[brief interruption in video/audio feed]
Def: I’m asking you whether there was any other occasion when you were with Sankoh when he was talking with Taylor.
Wit: The only time I stood close to him while he was talking with Taylor was in 1996 during the elections. After that I never stood by him again while he talked with Taylor at Camp Zagoda.
Def: There was never any other occasion?
Wit: I heard them talking again, but I was in Freetown when they were conversing?
Def: You heard them on the radio in Freetown?
Wit: I’m talking about communications.
Def: I’m asking about radio communications throughout. I reminded you I was only talking about radios.
Def: So, when you told us the only time you stood close to him while he was talking to Taylor was in 1996 during the elections, is that correct?
Wit: Yes, at that time I was standing close to him while they were talking.
Def: Who else was there?
Wit: His security were there. But they were securities, so they went and took positions, guarding far off.
Def: Anyone else?
Wit: The radio operator, Zedman. He was in the radio room.
Def: That’s the only time that happened?
Def: On March 10, in your evidence, you told us about that incident: I came there and I was there when his radio man came to call him and said Taylor wanted to speak to him. Sankoh got up and we both went to the radio house. So Zedman advised Sankoh that he had someone on the radio to talk to him?
Wit: It was not an advice.
Def: Zedman informed him?
Def: You went with Sankoh to the radio room?
Wit: You overheard a conversation between Sankoh and Taylor, you say?
Def: Your evidence continues: The talk lasted 20-25 minutes during which Sankoh explained we had been cut off and were no longer getting supplies from Liberia. The government was carrying on with the elections. He wanted to give the men a plan to prevent the elections.
Def: Did you hear only what Sankoh was saying, or did you hear Taylor’s replies?
Wit: I heard Mr. Taylor.
Def: You said: The offensive we were to undertake we should make fearful. We should amputate any person we captured. Sankoh called his commanders to give them the plan. Taylor said the plan was not a bad one. Two days later we went on the offensive.
Def: You said Sankoh told Taylor you were going to undertake an offensive that was fearful, and that you would amputate the hands of anyone captured. And Taylor said that was not a bad plan?
Def: That sticks clearly in your memory?
Wit: I recall it.
Def: That was a very dramatic conversation, would you agree?
Wit: It was what? Significant? Break that down for me.
Def: An important conversation?
Wit: It was important.
Def: And an unpleasant suggestion by Mr. Sankoh?
Wit: I agree.
Def: Did you agree with the operation he was proposing?
Wit: I agreed with the operation.
Def: You were willing to go along with amputating hands to prevent voting?
Wit: It was a command given to me.
Def: You were one of the top half dozen commanders in the RUF. Did you go along with this idea, or did you object at any stage?
Wit: You wouldn’t have made any objection. Your life would be at risk.
Def: Even during war, you’re entitled to give an opinion, aren’t you?
Wit: You might do it, but the situation under which you were – if you came up with such an objection, you would be charged.
Def: What if you said: “Do we really have to go that far?”
Wit: Maybe they would say I have connived with the government. I would have been charged with that. So I didn’t object.
Def: You’re telling the court, if you had said “do we really have to go this far, to cut off hands”, that you would have been charged with conniving with the government?
Wit: Yes. I was in the field. I know about it. Those were the things that happened. If I decided to do otherwise, to object against that command, I would have been charged. They would have said I connived.
Def: Did you carry out that operation?
Wit: I went on the operation? The area where I attacked, I did not capture anyone who amputated. In other areas it happened.
Def: Why didn’t your men amputate hands if that was the operation?
Wit: It was not that they refused to do it. The place where we attacked, they did not capture. They did not refuse. But the opportunity was not there for us to capture somebody to amputate them. That’s why we didn’t implement what the plan said.
Def: You said you had captured people.
Wit: I said in my area, I did not capture somebody, or that my men did not capture somebody.
Def: You talked about capturing areas. How do you capture areas without capturing people in them?
Wit: I had specific areas to attack during that operation. My own area that I was to attack, I did not capture somebody.
Def: Are you the only senior RUF commander who failed to capture a single person and amputate their hands during that operation?
Wit: I know about my own area.
Def: You’ve told us about other peoples areas. You would know. You’ve said you listened in on the radio. Did anyone else fail as you did to carry out the order?
Wit: I can’t tell you at that moment that I monitored the other areas. I only know that other areas carried out the operation.
Def: So your failure to capture anyone – was that not seen as you conniving with the government – was your life in danger?
Wit: It’s not like that. I was fighting against people who had guns. If I was able to conquer them, I would take charge of the area. If I couldn’t conquer them, I couldn’t take charge.
Def: Do you think this operation was wrong – to cut off people’s hands to prevent them from voting?
Wit: Yes, as an individual I thought it was wrong.
Def: You ran away from another army before simply because you didn’t think being a soldier was the life for you. Why didn’t you run away this time?
Wit: I couldn’t. The army and a guerilla movement are different things.
Def: Is that your best answer?
Def: Let’s go back to the conversation you claim to have overheard between Foday Sankoh and Charles Taylor…
[brief interruption in video/audio]
Wit: It was based on that that he called his commanders to carry out the operation “Stop Elections”
Def: You told us the first half of the conversation was about the lack of supplies, and the second half was about the operation?
Wit: That was not the first thing he said. He first gave his report about the activities, before he talked about supplies. After that he went to the plan. But he did not just say at once that we are not getting supplies from Liberia.
Def: You remember that very clearly – it was an important conversation and involved a very nasty proposal, didn’t it?
Def: Why did you laugh?
Wit: I didn’t.
Def: By nasty, I mean an extremely brutal and inhuman operation – not something you would ever be likely to forget. Do you agree?
Wit: If I agree?
Judge Doherty: Do you understand?
Def: Operation Stop Election was an extremely brutal and inhuman thing to propose, wasn’t it?
Wit: He said he was going to define the word “nasty” and now he is on to other things.
Judge Doherty: I directed counsel to ask the question again. Listen and answer the question.
Def: Operation Stop Election proposed by Sankoh to Taylor was a brutal and inhuman plan?
Def: It is something you would never forget overhearing?
Def: It would stick in your mind forever, wouldn’t it?
Wit: Yes, it would be in my mind.
Def: [references document] This is the interview of September 4, 2006 again. It says: “Mongor would often be advised by Sam Bockarie or Issa Sesay that they’d just talked to Papa, Taylor, on the radio. Mongor was never present for any conversation between either Bockarie or Sesay and Taylor, however was present for conversation between Sankoh and Taylor. Mongor was at Zagoda in 1995 when Zedman advised Sankoh someone wanted to talk to him on the radio.” Is that right – in 1995?
Wit: It was not 1995.
Def: When was it?
Def: So there was only the one conversation then?
Def: Only the one occasion?
Wit: Yes, when Zedman was there.
Def: “Mongor went with Sankoh to the radio room and overheard the conversation. He heard Taylor talking and he knows Taylor’s voice.” Is that right?
Def: Have investigators correctly typed up this part of the conversation?
Wit: Concerning the issue of Zedman? Be specific?
Def: Every part of this passage so far, have they got that right or wrong – any part I’ve read so far?
Wit: You talked about 1995 and I told you it was 1996.
Def: When the notes were read back to you, what year was read back to you? You already told the court this morning you have a clear memory of that interview and the investigator writing corrections in the margin. What year was read to you?
Wit: I want to make a point of correction. I don’t want you to say something I have not said. I have not said I have a clear memory. I can forget. I’m a human being.
Def: What year was read back to you from the interview notes?
Wit: I cannot tell you the year.
Def: You remembered having to correct the investigator at an earlier stage of the interview about talking to Taylor yourself. Do you remember having to correct him about this year of the conversation between Sankoh and Taylor.
Wit: I told you I heard it in 1996.
Def: I’m asking about what was read back to you. Do you have any recollection about having to correct anything. You know perfectly well that’s asking you, don’t you?
Pros: Defense is asking more than one question at a time.
Def: I’m asking about what happened during the interview. You understand that?
Wit: I understand you are asking me about the interview.
Def: Do you recall correcting the investigator regarding the year of that conversation between Sankoh and Taylor?
Def: What happened? What is your recollection?
Wit: I recall I told them that the year was not 1995, but 1996.
Def: What did the investigator do?
Wit: I told them to change the dates.
Def: What did he do?
Wit: I want to believe he made the correction.
Def: You told us earlier you saw him make a correction on the page. Did you see him make a correction of this second important error?
Wit: I saw him write on a piece of paper the things I said – that is about the 1996.
Def: You saw him make a correction?
Wit: Yes, I saw him writing.
Def: On the page as he was reading it out to you?
Wit: He had plain sheets in front of him. When he completed reading, I told him it was 1996. I saw him write it on paper.
Def: Where? Where 1995 was written?
Wit: He had pieces of paper in front of him.
Def: How do you have such a good memory of that interview?
Wit: When we are talking, I am able to recall. These things happened a long time ago. As we’re talking, I’m able to recall certain things.
Def: It was less than two years ago and you had an interpreter.
Wit: I’m a human being, liable to mistakes, even now.
Def: I’d like to show the witness the hand-written notes that were supplied to us just at noon. I don’t have copies for everyone. Can I just put them on the screen?
Judge Doherty: Yes.
[Court officer places hand-written notes on the overhead projector.]
Def: It starts “Mongor never communicated directly with CT while in the field.” Do you see that?
Wit: I don’t see it unless you point at the place.
Def: I’ll read it out slowly. Correct me if I read anything that’s wrong. “Mongor never communicated directly with CT while in the field.” You see that?
Wit: I see it.
Def: There is no correction there, is there?
Wit: I don’t see a correction?
Def: “Only SB spoke to CT directly on the radio…” You see the name Lamboy further down.
Def: You gave investigators that name, didn’t you?
Wit: I can’t recall now.
Def: “Mongor used a radio operator named Shekun” And then that’s crossed out and it says “Sheku”. And that correction is initialed. You were being interviewed by a man named by a K.R. Collott. Do you know his first name?
Wit: I don’t recall.
Def: [looking at next page] I want to take you seven lines from the top. On the right side of the page, do you see the number 1995 at the end of the line?
Def: It says, However, he did overhear a conversation between FS and Taylor in 1995. 1995 is not corrected there is it?
Wit: There is no correction.
Def: Three lines from the bottom, do you see a line that starts “house off Spur Road”, and the word “when” is crossed out?
Def: That appears to be the only correction there.
Def: [looking at next page] We see no corrections on that page either?
Wit: No, I have not seen any corrections.
Def: Why did you tell the justices a while ago that you saw Mr. Collott write a correction of 1995 to 1996?
Wit: Yes, I didn’t tell you about any specific piece of paper. He wrote it on paper.
Def: You were lying?
Def: You never made any corrections, did you?
Wit: I made it.
Def: [references document] You claimed that you knew Taylor’s voice. Then it says: Taylor and Sankoh were talking about the RUF being cut off from supply lines. You agree that’s what it says there?
Def: That is what you said in evidence that Sankoh discussed with Taylor in 1996, isn’t it? That you’d been cut off from your supply? Is that right?
Def: But much more importantly, you say the conversation went on to discuss Operation Stop Election, don’t you?
Wit: I did not say that they went straight to Operation Stop Election.
Def: But they did discuss it?
Def: Did you tell the investigator on September 4, 2006, that they didn’t just discuss the RUF being cut off from supply lines, but about the brutal and inhuman plan, Operation Stop Elections?
Def: You said that to Collott, but he got the date wrong?
Wit; I said it about Operation Stop Election.
Def: “Taylor wanted to know how things were going. Sankoh said they were cut off and had to rely on villages and captured enemy ammunition, drugs and food.” And that’s where your account of the conversation ends in September 2006?
Wit: If I saw it and said it?
Def: You said you told Collott of this brutal and inhuman plan?
Wit: I said it – the things that the operation was all about.
Def: Why didn’t you say they missed the most important thing about the conversation when they read the notes to you?
Wit: I did tell him about the operation and what it was all about. I said it.
Def: It was so important, you said you would never forget it as long as you lived. Do you remember saying that?
Wit: I did say the things that were supposed to happen during the operations. It would not be easy to forget them.
Def: It’s a pack of lies that you told the investigator back in September 2006?
Judge Doherty interrupts to say that it’s time for the lunchtime adjournment. The session will resume at 2:30. With the delay in video and audio, this account will continue at 3:00.