2:30 (3:00 with the delay in video and audio): Court is back in session following the lunch break.
Defense counsel Terry Munyard continues the cross-examination of prosecution witness Isaac Mongor:
Def: Back to the page we were on when we broke for lunch. [references document] We just dealt with Superman being unhappy with Kallon’s decision to burn houses. Let’s look at the next paragraph, dealing with looting or pillage. You said: “No RUF member would deny looting from civilians because that is how they survived.” You see that?
Def: And no honest RUF member would deny burning houses, would they?
Wit: That they would deny burning houses? That they would not deny it? I did not get it clear.
Def: Next paragraph: “In 1993 the RUF felt townspeople were conniving with government troops and killed dozens all over Giehun. Sam Bockarie ordered this.” You see that?
Def: Did you take part in that?
Def: How did you know about it?
Wit: Because I was once a victim for such things at the time they arrested me that I connived. Sankoh’s girlfriend Janet was from that town. People were arrested there in that Giehun…
Pros: With his Liberian accent, I think the interpreter got it wrong.
Def: I want you to spell her name.
Wit: I’m unable to spell it.
Def: Simply say the name directly to the judges without it being interpreted.
Wit: I said Janee (ph). [Interpreted as “Janet”]
Def: How did you come to know about dozens of civilians in Giehun?
Judge Sebutinde: You asked “did you participate in this”? I think the witness understood you to mean “did you connive”, which I don’t think is what you meant to ask.
Def: I’ll clarify that. [To wit] About the killing of dozens of civilians, I asked if you took part in that. Did you take part in the killing?
Wit: I did not take part in that killing.
Def: Did you take part in any conniving?
Wit: No, but they accused me.
Def: How did you know about the incident in the village of Giehun?
Wit: Because I passed through there, and even when I was arrested, that is where they took me – that is where they took you to kill you.
Def: You didn’t actually witness it yourself, but you remembered it in September 2006 and you were able to tell the investigator?
Pros: Those are two questions.
Def: Did you witness it yourself?
Wit: I saw where the people were killed.
Def: Does that mean you didn’t witness the killing, but you saw where they had been killed?
Wit: Yes, I was not there, but I saw the place.
Def: You saw the bodies?
Def: Why didn’t you tell the investigator that when you were describing this incident, if it’s true that you saw the bodies?
Wit: I think I did say that I saw where the people were killed and I saw bodies in the river where they were killed. I think I said that, if I’m not mistaken.
Def: [reads from document] Why doesn’t it go on to say “and I saw the bodies myself”?
Wit: If they did not ask me such a question, why would I tell them about it. It is because you are asking about it.
Def: You said within the past two minutes that “I think I said that, if I’m not mistaken”.
Wit: Yes, I said that.
Def: Can you see any reference there to you saying “I saw bodies”?
Wit: I don’t see it in the passage, but I saw corpses there.
Def: We’re concerned with what you told investigators. Is this another example of the investigator failing to write what you told them.
Wit: If I did not tell them, the one I’m telling you now is the one you’re supposed to consider.
Def: Did you ever order that any civilians be executed for spying?
Wit: Whether I ordered?
Wit: I don’t think I gave such an order to somebody.
Def: You don’t think so? What does that mean?
Wit: I can’t recall whether I gave such an order to somebody.
Def: Are you saying you might have given an order that somebody should be murdered for spying, but you’ve now forgotten.
Wit: Maybe it happened, but I can’t recall it now. I can’t recall now that I gave such an order.
Def: I’m talking about civilians from villages. Can you remember giving any order that civilians should be murdered by your men for suspected spying?
Wit: I can’t recall now. If I recall, I will tell you.
Def: Is the reason you can’t remember because you gave so many orders that people be murdered for one thing or another?
Wit: I can’t recall now. As time goes on, if I recall I will tell you.
Def: Were you promoted to the top of the RUF because you were such a brutal killer?
Wit: I don’t think so.
Def: [references another page of document] “There were many situations where RUF authorities like Mongor would get information that people from a certain village were giving food to government troops, spying… In cases like that, RUF commanders would order their arrest and execution.” Did you tell investigators that in September 2006?
Def: So there were many situations where RUF commanders such as yourself?
Wit: Yes, I was part of it.
Def: How did you remember in September 2006 that you ordered villagers arrested and executed for spying, and yet you can’t remember now?
Wit: We talked about RUF authority. I’m a part of that. I can’t recall whether I passed such an order.
Def: Look at that passage again. See if it brings to your mind any occasions on which you ordered your soldiers to seize villagers, arrest them and bring them back to be executed for spying. Did you do that?
Wit: I will recall as time goes on. Whether I gave orders, I will tell you. If I say I will sit here now and try to remember, maybe if you give me some minutes and I don’t still recall it, I will end up telling you the same thing I have told you now. As the process goes on, I will tell you if I remember.
Def: Were these people given any kind of trial or investigation?
Wit: This issue of spying, I don’t think there were any investigations about it. Most times they would only ask them where they are from, or whether they came for information.
Def: What if they said, “no, I haven’t”. Did you let them go, or did you execute them.
Wit: That depended on the commander at the time. It was solely his decision. If he believed it, then he will.
Def: Do you know of any examples of villagers saying they weren’t spies, and then allowed to escape?
Wit: I can’t recall.
Def: How did you execute them.
Wit: By the gun.
Def: Are we talking about men, women and children?
Def: Children executed on suspicion of giving food to government troops or spying? Or simply moving from government-controlled areas. You ordered them executed?
Wit: I can not recall whether I personally issued such orders. Women and children, yes, we carried out executions on them as long they suspected you of spying.
Def: As long as you suspected them of spying?
Wit: Once they suspected them.
Def: How young was the youngest child that your men shot dead for suspected of spying, giving food to government troops or moving from government-controlled areas?
Wit: I can talk about 12.
Def: Any younger than that?
Wit: There was 10.
Def: Any younger?
Wit: I can’t recall. I can say they were within those age brackets.
Def: Look at the passage again. “The RUF commanders would order RUF soldiers to arrest and execute…” You were one of the RUF commanders who gave those orders, weren’t you?
Wit: I was one of the RUF commanders. I have not denied that. I told you, I can’t recall whether I ever issued such orders. If I recall that I did such things, then I will be bold and say it in court.
Def: [reads] “To clarify about the burning of villages, Mongor acknowledges that sometimes the RUF would burn the houses of villagers whom they believed were conniving as a matter of reprisal? You said that?
Def: So you didn’t just murder villagers themselves, you’d also burn down their houses?
Def: In those situations you burned the whole village?
Wit: I don’t disagree.
Def: You burned down an entire village because a couple of villagers were believed to have moved from the government side to your side?
Def: Maybe they were moving away from the government side because they were trying to get away from the armed forces of the state?
Wit: I don’t believe it that way?
Def: Why were they executed then?
Wit: They were suspected of being spies, to come and go back to report on our positions.
Def: Were any of your men ever disciplined for executed civilians?
Wit: I don’t think so.
Def: There was no effective discipline system in the RUF at any stage, was there?
Wit: There wasn’t too much discipline.
Def: At any stage from the beginning of the war until you went into prison in May 2000, there was no effective discipline system in the RUF, was there?
Wit: There was discipline but not effective.
Pros: The interpreter translated the word “complete” as “effective”.
Interpreter: “Complete” is better.
Judge Doherty: So the record should be amended.
Def: If there was a system of discipline, it didn’t operate at all well, did it.
Wit: It did not operate well.
Def: And most of the time it didn’t operate at all, did it?
Wit: Sometimes it did not operate.
Def: Most of the time?
Wit: It was not operating well.
Def: Can you think of any occasion on which a disciplinary system was operated well within the RUF?
Wit: I said it did not operate well.
Def: You can’t remember any occasion when anyone was disciplined for executions?
Wit: I can’t recall.
Def: There was no effective discipline for RUF soldiers who sexually assaulted and raped women, was there?
Wit: No, there was effective discipline from the start. It was not until it got to a certain stage that someone wanted to bring in sentiment – that’s when there was a problem.
Def: There was no discipline for RUF soldiers who sexually assaulted and raped women, was there?
Wit: We did not have such discipline.
Def: You yourself sexually assaulted women?
Wit: Yes, because the woman I had, I did not meet her people to pay her bride price, so I can say I was part of that, because that was rape.
Def: Did anyone report you for that?
Wit: I don’t think so.
Def: [references another page] At the top of this page it has the words: “Back to crimes listed in indictment”. That’s Taylor’s charge sheet. It says: “At one point in 1999, the high ranking officers of the RUF including Mongor, Kallon, Dennis Mingo, Sesay, Leatherboot, [others], got together at a meeting to deal with the problem of raping. The RUF culture was so used to raping, etc. that it still continued.” Did you tell the investigator that?
Def: Was this meeting in 1999 the first time you got together to try to tackle the problem of rape?
Wit: Yes, it was the time I also went to participate in that meeting.
Def: This was the first time that the RUF at a high level had attempted to deal with the problem of rape?
Wit: It was the time that I became part of this group for this kind of meeting.
Def: This was the first time that the RUF at a high level had attempted to deal with the problem of rape?
Wit: That was the time that I know that the commanders who were authorities came together and I was part of it.
Def: Look at the names again. Was there anyone higher up in the RUF who was not in the meeting?
Wit: There were others not there.
Def: Anyone higher up?
Wit: Mosquito was not there and he was the field commander.
Def: Who else?
Wit: Morris Kallon too was not there.
Def: His name is on the list.
Wit: Sorry, I have just seen it. Augustine Gbao was not there.
Def: Morris Kallon and Issa Sesay, who were there, are now on trial together with Augustine Gbao for their part, as being amongst the people with greatest responsibility for crimes during the war. You fall in that same class?
Wit: Yes, I’m a commander. But there were people with higher ranks above me. We were all in the class of high command, but the commanders were in different categories. One commander could serve under another.
Def: When you spoke with the investigator, you knew that Kallon, Sesay and Gbao were on trial before this court, didn’t you?
Wit: I told the investigator about what?
Def: When you gave the investigator this list of names, you knew that Kallon, Sesay and Gbao were on trial, didn’t you?
Wit: I knew that they had been arrested and taken to the Special Court for trial.
Def: This is September 8, 2006. You knew that trial had been taking place in 2006, didn’t you?
Pros: That’s been asked and answered this morning.
Def: I don’t accept that I can’t ask it again. If you look at his answer, he’s know acknowledged that they were there for trials. I now want to know if he knew the trial was underway.
Def: You knew they were on trial and had been for some time at a time you were putting your name amongst at least two of theirs in September 2006?
Wit: I don’t know whether their trial had started or when it is going to start. I know that they’re there in detention and are there for trial.
Def: Where is the place you were interviewed in September 2006?
Wit: Ask clearly, please.
Def: In what building were you being interviewed? You were interviewed first in August, then [reads various dates in September] 2006. The sixth interview was on the 8th of September 2006 – many days in succession. Where were the interviews?
Wit: In the Special Court compound.
Def: The first interview was in the afternoon at 1:40, the next one at 9:50, the third at 14:30, the fourth at 19:15, the fifth at 13:10, and this interview started at 9:02 in the morning. When you went there, did you see anyone else passing through the compound?
Judge Doherty; It’s a public street.
Def: In the compound?
Pros: It’s a busy place.
Judge Doherty: I don’t see the relevance.
Def: Did you see lawyers going in and out of the court building?
Wit: I don’t know how to look at someone and see they’re a lawyer.
Def: Did you see any relatives or friends of Kallon, Sesay or Gbao?
Wit: The dates you’re talking about I can recall. I saw Gbao, Kallon and Sesay in person in the Special Court.
Def: We’ve only dealt with the first six interviews. In all those trips, nobody made you aware that their trial was already underway? Is that the honest truth?
Wit: I think the interviews – I went through there. The investigators told me that Sesay, Gbao and Kallon were on trial.
Def: The investigators told you they were on trial?
Wit: Yes, the investigators told me. I asked them “where are they”? They told me they were on trial. I used to go there to see them in prison.
Def: When you left prison, it was August 2005. Their trial started the previous year. So when you visited them in prison, you knew their trial was already underway?
Wit: I wouldn’t know by just talking to Augustine Gbao. He said he had not been to court. He said they were trying to put his trial modalities in place.
Def: “trial modalities?”
Wit: For his trial to start.
Def: How many times did you visit these men in prison?
Wit: I think two times, if I am not mistaken.
Def: Which of them did you see?
Wit: I went to visit the three of them there, especially the RUF. But I know the other AFRC men who are there. When I went there, I just made it a visit to all of them. Hinga Norman and his own men – I talked to all of them.
Def: The RUF, AFRC and CDF defendants? You talked to all of them?
Wit: Yes, the accused people. I saw them and greeted them.
Def: Why did you go?
Wit: They are my brothers, my friends. We’re all members of the same movement. Even when I’d had that problem and now I was a free man. I had information that they allowed visits there. That is why I decided to go, to let them understand that I was now free.
Def: Were you worried that they might say things in their trial that might cause you to get into trouble with the Special Court?
Wit: I don’t think I was worried whether they were going to say something about me to cause problems. I only went because they were brothers.
Def: When were these two visits?
Wit: I made that visit in the same year I was freed from prison. I went there.
Def: Did any of them tell you that they were actually in trial, before the court?
Wit: They told me, because Gbao was actually the person who sat and talked with me for a long time – he told me he had not been in court.
Def: What else did they tell you?
Wit: Sesay did not talk about trials. He talked about the time we were in prison, in problem. He said he felt for us – he said they pressed issues for the government to free us. He thanked God we were free. He said I should take care of myself and then the area where I live. Those are some of the things he told me. He asked about others in prison who were free. I told him there were only three of us.
Def: Did you ask how the trial was going?
Wit: I did not ask about the trials. I was unable to ask him.
Def: After you finished giving evidence in March, this March 11, did you leave this country and go home? Your evidence was before Easter and after Easter, yes?
Wit: I went back to Sierra Leone.
Def: Did people ask you “how’s the trial going”?
Wit: I didn’t expose myself.
Def: Friends and family – people who knew you were giving evidence. Didn’t they ask you?
Wit: My wife and other family members in Freetown – when I went I told them I would have to go back.
Def: Your visit to all these accused persons in the Special Court. Did you ask any of them how the trial was going?
Wit: I in particular did not go there to ask them. They explained stories. They asked about my story and they said they wanted us to be set free. They spoke about elections and other things. I did not concern myself with asking about “how was your trial.”
Def: You said Gbao told you he hadn’t gone to court yet – didn’t you ask about Kallon and Sesay, whether they had been in court.
Wit: I didn’t ask about that.
Def: Did he tell you the other two were in court?
Wit: No, we did not go to that topic. When I was set free and when those guys saw me – my attention did not even run there. We explained stories about what had happened.
Judge Doherty: I wonder about the relevance of all of this.
Def: You said this morning you didn’t know they were on trial. You then went on to say within the last half hour that the investigators told you that these men were on trial. You remember?
Def: Why did you say the opposite to the judges this morning?
Wit: I understand I told the judges this morning that I know they had been arrested and were in detention for trial. You were asking me whether I knew their trial was going on or whether it has started. I told you I didn’t know.
Def: Then this afternoon you said you were told by investigators that they were on trial.
Wit: Yes, I recall I said that.
Def: You said that when you went to see all these accused, “we said this”. Who did you go with to see these men?
Wit: I went with another brother, Ansumana Forway.
Def: Back to this passage. This meeting of all of you high ups in the RUF about rape. Was it a serious instruction that the subordinate officers were supposed to go back and tell their men to stop raping? Or was it just meant to make the RUF look good?
Wit: It was something that was happening that we wanted to put under control. We knew something that happened from the start of the war would be hard to stop, but it could be minimized. Because the people had already adapted to the system from the start of the war. But it got to be too much so we said, let’s see if we can minimize it. So that’s what we did.
Def: “There were situations where some RUF were disciplined for sexual assaults. Mongor saw Issa Sesay execute three young men accused of gang rape of a young girl. Mongor thinks Sesay did this because he was from Makeni and wanted to look strong in front of his tribesman. It caused dissention in the ranks.” You said this?
Def: So it wasn’t about discipline, but so that Sesay would look good among his own people?
Wit: Yes, that’s how I took it to be.
Def: [references another page of document] Interview from January 28, 2007, by Mr. Collott again. This is interview number 12. “Everybody in the RUF knew about the raping. For the most part, no one was disciplined. In previous account, Mongor recalled Sesay killing three for rape. It was the only one he had ever heard of”. Is that accurate – did you tell him this?
Def: So apart from that incident, no one was ever punished for rape. [references another document] “Mongor says rape was very common amongst RUF soldiers and this remained the case for a long time. They started at beginning of war. Mongor said there were rules against it. Mongor acknowledges sexually assaulting women. If he’d attempted disciplining his men for rape, he would have lost soldiers to other commanders who tolerated it” You said that?
Def: That was interview number one. So even though there might have been some rules about it, they were never enforced, were they?
Def: There was no disciplinary system in effect in the RUF for any serious offences?
Wit: The laws were there, but its implementation was limited.
Def: Extremely limited?
Wit; I would say limited. I would agree to the word limited.
Def: You said there was no discipline related to killings. There was no effective discipline for rape. Was anyone ever disciplined for any other serious offence you can think of?
Wit: The only disciplinary action was for someone who killed another person. You’d be sent to jail and released later and sent to the front lines.
Def: What are you talking about? You said earlier there was no discipline for killings.
Wit: If a soldier was in the movement. If I were a soldier and another commander killed another soldier or another commander.
Def: There was no disciplinary system at all for offences against civilians?
Wit: I agree.
Def: I want you to tell us of your involvement in various operations. By sometime in 1992, there was a serious disagreement between NPFL and RUF over the behavior of NPFL members in Sierra Leone?
Def: By mid-1992 there was an order from Liberia to withdraw all NPFL from Sierra Leone?
Def: Did some NPFL decide to stay in Sierra Leone and stay as RUF?
Wit: It happened.
Def: The NPFL as a body were withdrawn by mid-1992. After that there was little or no contact between the NPFL in Liberia and the RUF in Sierra Leone?
Def: What is wrong with that?
Wit: Foday Sankoh used to go to Liberia and return, so there was contact.
Def: When do you say he went to Liberia and returned after mid-1992?
Wit: That 1992 is the year I am referring to. Sankoh used to go and return.
Def: Foday Sankoh was publicly stating his anger with the NPFL in 1992, wasn’t he?
Wit: He was not annoyed with the NPFL.
Def: You’re saying Sankoh was not annoyed with the NPFL in 1992?
Wit: He was not annoyed with the NPFL that he would do anything to them.
Def: But you drove them out in a military operation, didn’t you?
Wit: He said he agreed with his brother, Mr. Taylor, for them to be withdrawn.
Def: The top final was what finally led Taylor to take those people to take people back to Liberia.
Wit: Top Final, we had a strategy to disarm the men.
Wit: We were fighting amongst ourselves.
Def: The RUF were fighting the NPFL?
Def: But Sankoh was not annoyed with the NPFL – isn’t that what you just said?
Wit: The NPFL is a whole organization. Within the organization there were people causing problem. He wanted their withdrawal. He was not against the whole NPFL.
Def: Did anyone die in this battle between the RUF and NPFL?
Wit: I knew about an incident where two men our side died.
Def: And yet this didn’t make Foday Sankoh unhappy with the NPFL?
Wit: Foday Sankoh himself was an NPFL. NPFL was an organization. He couldn’t be against his own organization. There were certain people whose withdrawal he requested. There were individuals within the NPFL – Sankoh requested their withdrawal. There was an agreement between him and his brother.
Def: By 1993, ULIMO controlled Lofa County, Liberia, didn’t they?
Def: And the RUF was cut off from Liberia?
Wit: We were not cut off yet, because the people had not advanced to the border. They had come to Voinjama. The border was not closed.
Def: When do you say the border was closed by ULIMO?
Wit: IN 1993, but I can’t specify the month now. We went and fought there in that year. We entered Liberia and returned.
Def: You fought there, but you were defeated by ULIMO, weren’t you?
Wit: It was later on. It was the time ULIMO came to Voinjama. I went there and we captured Voinjama from ULIMO.
Def: How long did you keep it?
Wit: About a month. Then I returned.
Def: What happened after the month?
Wit: I was withdrawn and they sent another commander. ULIMO recaptured the town from them.
Def: Because you’d been withdrawn?
Wit: That is not what I’m trying to say.
Def: ULIMO chased the NPFL and RUF out of Voinjama and managed to capture all of Lofa County by early 1993, didn’t they?
Wit: Yes, but there was still fighting there. The RUF/NPFL would capture a place, then it would be taken.
Def: The border was closed once ULIMO took control of Lofa County, wasn’t it?
Wit: It was 1993, but it took some time.
Def: On March 11, you testified about when ULIMO controlled Lofa – saying it was from 1993. You remember?
Def: When in 1993?
Wit: I cannot tell you the time now. It has been a long time. But I’m sure it was 1993.
Def: So where was the RUF getting its arms in 1993?
Wit: In 1993, we were not getting arms. We captured arms from the enemies.
Def: You weren’t getting them from Liberia, were you, from 1993 onwards?
Wit: We were not getting it after the border closed. We only got arms from the enemies we conquered – the SLA soldiers.
Def: Anybody else?
Wit: We were mainly fighting the SLA.
Def: Did you get arms or ammunition from any source during the time the border was closed?
Wit: Yes, we got some ammunition from the Guinea end. We transacted some business with Guinea soldiers.
Pros: The witness said “small small” in Krio.
Judge Doherty: Is that “some amount”?
Interpreter: There are various meanings of “small small”. Here it means “some amount”.
Def: Did you get arms or ammunition from anywhere else?
Wit; We got ammunition from some other end?
Def: From where?
Def: From anyone else?
Wit: No, only from that Guinea border. Besides that we didn’t get arms from any other end, except enemies.
Def: Didn’t you get arms from ULIMO?
Wit: The arms deals for ULIMO were later on. I was not there.
Def: I’m not asking about what you did. Did the RUF get arms from ULIMO at any time?
Wit: Yes, the RUF had arms and ammunition from ULIMO?
Def: Because the RUF was fighting ULIMO as the enemy, or in some other way?
Wit: They had it when there was a ceasefire in Liberia in readiness for their disarmament to start. That is when the RUF had a contact with the ULIMO to sell ammunition to them.
Def: What year was this?
Wit: I think it was 1996 – around then. Until 1997, before the AFRC coup. That’s around the time I’m referring to.
Def: Is this your evidence: that once the border with Liberia was closed, you didn’t get any arms or ammunition from Liberia until 1998?
Wit: Yes, when you are talking about Liberia, it means it was the place we had access to. It was the place we got arms and ammunition. At that time we were cut off. At that time it was only through ULIMO that we got arms and ammunition from Liberian soil.
Def: Until 1998?
Wit: Yes, until 1998.
Def: When you say the only arms and ammunition you got from Liberian soil in that period – you are talking about any source of arms and ammunition from Liberia?
Wit: Yes, I’m talking about any source on Liberian soil. We were not having that access to our own zone.
Def: You got nothing from Charles Taylor or the NPFL from the time the border was closed by ULIMO until 1998?
Def: When I say you got nothing from Taylor, I mean by any method.
Wit: I cannot recall that when ULIMO occupied that place that we got arms from any other source.
Def: Did you ever get arms from either Ghana or Libya?
Wit: What time are you referring to?
Def: At any time.
Wit: I cannot recall that we got any arms from Ghana.
Def: To your knowledge, was anyone from the RUF ever sent to Ghana with money to obtain arms?
Wit: I cannot recall that one.
Def: Did the RUF ever get any arms or ammunition from Libya?
Wit: We did not have a direct dealing with Libya.
Def: Did you have indirect dealings?
Wit: Not directly with Libya, but we had dealing with Mr. Taylor.
Wit: From the start of the wary. It was Mr. Taylor who armed the RUF and he provided the ammunition before the RUF could invade Sierra Leone.
Def: I’m asking about Libya.
Wit: We didn’t have a direct contact with Libya. All our contacts were in Liberia. And if any other connection existed from Liberia to any other country, it couldn’t have been directly from the RUF.
Def: [references document] This is the 16th time you were interviewed. Umaru Kamara and Mr. Koumjian were there. [references page] On that page: “In 1996, Jonathon Passawe traveled with Sankoh to Abidjan. While there, he was sent by Sankoh somewhere, he thinks Ghana, to get money for arms and ammunition, but he took the money for his own purposes and was afraid to return to Sierra Leone…” Do you know who he was going to see in Ghana to collect money to buy arms and ammunition?
Wit: I can’t remember.
Court is now adjourning for the day. The proceedings will continue at 9:30 tomorrow morning.