2:30 (3:00 with the delay in video and audio): Court is back in session following the lunch break.
Chief Prosecutor Stephen Rapp continues his direct examination of Charles Taylor’s former vice president, Moses Blah. Blah is now testifying in Liberian English through an interpreter.
[brief interruption in the video and audio feed]
Pros: …they gave Blaise the instruction to give what he has. Was he going to give it in the future, or had he given it already?
Wit: He had already given weapons. By the time I got to Ougadougou, the weapons were already shipped to the NPFL. They were AK-47s and there were some other weapons, mixed sort of weapons and ammunitions.
Pros: What were you expecting from the Libyans when you were in Tripoli?
Wit: We expected to stay and get more weapons because the war was still going on.
Pros: What had the Libyans provided already?
Wit: What they had was what they gave. It was a continuous process. As the war went on, they gave new weapons – all sorts of weapons. Ammunition, AK-47s, rockets for BZT and GMGs and some grenades too.
Pros: How did you know they gave this?
Wit: I was on the ground and saw what the NPFL were fighting with.
Pros: How did you know where it was coming from?
Wit: I was inspector general of the NPFL. It was not anything hidden from me.
Pros; Were the weapons coming from Libya or Burkina Faso?
Wit: I cannot tell you, because some landed directly at the airport and were being collected.
Pros: Was Blaise providing you with weapons from his store, or from somewhere else.
Wit: It was what he had in his possession at this time.
Pros: The weapons in these three trucks from Abidjan – had they been in Libya or Burkina Faso?
Wit: I cannot say.
Pros: Do you know why Libya was providing the NPFL with weapons?
Wit: I wouldn’t know because the first thing I said was that the first instruction was from Gaddafi that he should give what he had at the time. There must have been some other negotiations I didn’t know about.
Pros: What was Gaddafi’s role in this?
Wit: I was trained in Libya and a member of Mataba. I had been there so long that I knew the instructions were from Gaddafi.
Pros: Do you know why Burkina Faso was assisting?
Wit: It could be that there was a negotiation that I did not take part in.
Pros: Do you know anything about Taylor’s relationship with the leader of Libya as of 1989?
Wit: I knew we were going to Libya to train, and that Gaddafi was providing the training.
Pros: Did you know anything about a relationship between Taylor and Blaise Compoare at this time?
Wit: They were friends, otherwise we would not have been able to stay in Burkina Faso.
Pros: Going back to your duties as inspector general, did you ever yourself order anyone executed or shot?
Wit: No, never. I didn’t have the authority.
Pros: Were there persons you did not have the power to investigate?
Wit: Yes. It was not a particular person. The persons under the Executive Mansion Guard Unit, if I were to question or attack them, it would mean I was attacking Taylor.
Pros; That unit existed in 1990?
Pros: Can you name any of these individuals you received information on?
Wit: Cassius Jacob. He was the commander of the unit. And Nelson Gaye, he was attached to the unit. I did not have the authority to arrest or question them.
Pros: Did you gain any information about the activities of Cassius Jacob?
Wit: Activities were many because he was responsible for the movement of the president at the time. He supervised the guards for the president.
Pros: Did you receive any information about his conduct?
Wit: Yes, so many times. Soldiers executed people at checkpoints.
Pros: Any other reports on his conduct?
Wit: A lot of things I cannot recall now. They tied people and beat up civilians – a lot of illegal things.
Pros: Did you make any complaint about Jacob?
Wit: Sometimes I made complaints, sometimes I didn’t, because my duty was limited.
Pros: What happened when you made complaints?
Wit: I made complaints to Taylor. Apart from the inspector general he had other units to deal with these matters. All I knew is that Jacobs deserted his post when Gbarnga was taken by ULIMO-K. He was executed. That was his punishment.
Pros: Did you receive reports on Nelson Gaye’s conduct?
Wit: Yes, Nelson Gaye had the habit of eating fellow human beings. I saw one of the incidents with my own eyes. I visited a camp at rubber plantation. He had roasted the hands of a human being and ate it with boiled cassava.
Pros; Anything else?
Wit: Another time, I heard it, but did not see it. He arrested a man on his cassava farm. He asked the man to dig up cassava and cook it for him. The man himself pounded cassava in the mortar. He ordered the man killed and the man’s intestine was cooked and part of his body was cooked, and he and his men ate the cassava with that. At the time he had not joined this unit. At that time you would not join the unit if you did not eat human beings.
Pros: What did you do about these reports?
Wit: I was reluctant to complain because I would be attacking the Executive Mansion Guard Unit. They had their own…
[brief interruption in video and audio]
Pros: …Let’s talk about Dokie for a moment. You said Nelson Gaye commanded the Marine Unit?
Wit: Yes, they used to fight too, but they had different operations. There were so many different units. You don’t take orders from each other, but only from the commander in chief, Charles Taylor.
Pros: Was Gaye’s eating human flesh well known?
Wit: It happened for a long time.
Pros: You mentioned that Dokie had been an interior minister. What happened to him?
Wit: He was executed by Yeaten and his men. His wife’s sister was also my best friend. She told me what happened. She was present at the time.
Pros: What did she tell you?
Wit: That Dokie was on his way to his sister’s wedding in Sanni Qullie. He was stopped in Gbarnga and Yeaten told him that he shouldn’t pass that point and that he wanted him to be questioned. And that was how he was detained. The daughter who gave the information to me, she left the scene of the arrest. He was taken away with his wife, sister, driver and another person. They were taken to a place called Cocoa Yard Road. Their bodies were discovered, but they were burned bodies.
Pros: When was Cassius Jacobs executed?
Wit: There was a day I can’t remember, but he was executed for desertion. It was in Ganta at a different time.
Pros; What year?
Wit: The latter part of 1990.
Pros: Nelson Gaye? When was he executed?
Wit: It was in 1990, in the middle or the end of the year.
Pros: What about Dokie?
Wit: Dokie was in 1991.
Pros: What was Taylor’s position at the time he was executed?
Wit: Taylor was in Monrovia as a member of the 7-man government.
Pros: When did you first meet Benjamin Yeaten?
Wit: At the camp in Libya.
Pros: How old was he at the time?
Wit: Around 14-15. He was one of the youngest men in the training.
Pros: What was his relationship with Taylor?
Wit: He had no relationship with Taylor, except that he was very aggressive in training and won a lot of prizes. That was when our leader recognized his efforts and drew him nearer.
Pros: What was the relationship with Taylor that followed?
Wit: He made Yeaten his bodyguard and gave him some instructions, like director of certain units close to the president at the time.
Pros: How long did this relationship go on?
Wit: A long time – until Taylor left Liberia.
Pros: What was your relationship with Yeaten?
Wit: He was my friend and tribesman. When he became director of the SSS, he did not respect me any longer and I kept away.
Pros: Did you ever go to him for anything?
Wit: Yes, from time to time I passed by. I asked him for rice sometimes to send to my house.
Pros: Did anyone give Yeaten orders?
Wit: No, nobody else but President Taylor.
Pros: Did anyone ever disobey an order from Taylor?
Wit: Nobody could disobey orders. You would be punished severely, including myself.
Pros: Did you have any role in providing assistance or protection to civilians as inspector general?
Wit: Yes, it was my job to prevent killings, rapes, looting of civilians.
Pros: Did you provide any assistance to victims of these offenses?
Wit: Yes, if I saw it I would take you away from the scene.
Pros: Can you remember any specific occasions when you took people to a safe area?
Wit: I saw someone on the road crying, saying Benjamin’s men had beaten them. They had cane juice – a local alcohol drink. And I had to stop the men and put them in my pick-up and take them to the main road.
Pros: Did these efforts come to Taylor’s attention?
Pros: What was his reaction?
Wti: He congratulated me and said I was doing well taking care of civilians.
Pros: Did you ever get in trouble for it?
Wit: Yes, at one time in Grand Gedeh, I opened a corridor for old people, women and children and let them cross to Côte d’Ivoire because they were being mistreated by our forces. A report reached him that I was opening a corridor for our enemies. I explained what I was doing and he said I should go back to work.
Pros: Were you ever unable to protect civilians?
Wit: Yes. I took civilians in Grand Gedeh to an administrative building and went to look for food. When I went back, one of the soldiers had executed these men I was taken care of. I was annoyed and I rushed to Gbarnga to inform Taylor. I told him what that man did to kill those innocent people. He did not like it and said he would look into it, but I did not see the action.
Pros: What was the position of the soldier who killed the civilians at the time?
Wit; A battalion commander attached to the executive mansion guard unit.
Pros: Was he ever punished?
Wit: Yes, he shot a man for a television. I was not around, but when I returned to Gbarnga, he was in detention. Taylor did not like the idea and ordered an investigation. It was found out that he killed the man illegally and he was executed.
Pros: Were those earlier killings you described illegal?
Wit: Yes, very illegal.
Pros: Was there ever a case where you refused to do an investigation?
Wit: It was on one occasion that I can remember. A lady was accused of her boyfriend being the one that killed Taylor’s brother, Nelson Taylor, in an ambush. This girl was called Jenny from Sino. It was on that occasion that a truck was ambushed and Taylor’s brother was in the car. He was taken away and killed. This man, Kpeh, whose girlfriend was executed, he was also arrested. He was one of the battalion commanders, but was in charge of Sino.
Pros: Did you know anything from your personal knowledge about the incident?
Wit: Yes, the brother of the president was going to Sino at the time. The truck was ambushed and Kpeh was the commander of the area. He said enemies ambushed the truck. Cassius Jacob arrested him.
Pros: What was the girl suspected of?
Wit: The girl was the girlfriend of the battalion commander who was arrested. I was asked to investigate, but on the way to Tapeta, my vehicle broke down. After two days I was called by the president and asked if I’d reached the location where the girl was. I said no. He said it had been taken care of.
Pros: What did Taylor say about you after that?
Wit: After I said my car had broken down and I came back to headquarters, he said I was a weak person and not a soldier.
Defense Counsel Courtenay Griffiths: Mr. Rapp is questioning the witness based on a document available to him. None of these details from the last 30 minutes or so are based on documents disclosed to the defense.
Pros: The proofing notes we provided to the defense two days ago from sessions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. These are not matters I had previously discussed with him. [cites paragraphs of documents disclosed to the defense]
Judge Doherty: Have these been disclosed to the defense?
Pros: Yes indeed. They were disclosed on Monday.
Def: I will make inquiries about this. I may be in error.
Judge Doherty: Please proceed.
Pros: Just a clarification: what was Taylor’s brother’s name?
Wit: Nelson Taylor.
Pros: And the girl’s first name?
Pros; In your role as inspector general, what geographical territory were you responsible for?
Wit: The NPFL controlled 90% of Liberia.
Pros: How were you able to keep up with that territory?
Wit: I had very few field commanders. I was always in the field. I had a long-range radio in my car and the same in my house.
Pros: This kind of communication, could you hear conversations between other persons?
Wit: Yes, it was open. I could hear people in the field.
Pros: How did you prevent information through that system going to unfriendly forces?
Wit: We spoke in codes. I was Scorpion.
Pros: You remember other code names?
Wit: We had many. I cannot remember them.
Pros: And codes for places?
Pros: In 1990-1991 did you ever hear a code you didn’t understand?
Wit: Yes, I heard Kuwait. When I came to Gbarnga, I found out it meant Sierra Leone.
Pros: Did you learn anything about Kuwait?
Wit: Yes, through friends, soldiers and my security, I learned we had men in Sierra Leone fighting. They were NPFL soldiers associated with the RUF.
Pros: Did you find out how they got to Sierra Leone?
Pros: Did you know anything about the relative strength of Liberians and Sierra Leoneans?
Wit: At the beginning there were more NPFL than RUF.
Pros: Did you find out why they had gone in?
Wit: Yes, they said they were fighting alongside the RUF.
Pros: What was the RUF?
Wit: Forces headed by Foday Sankoh.
Pros: Was this the same Foday Sankoh who was in Libya?
Wit: Yes, I met him in Gbarnga.
Pros: Did you find out who headed the Liberian group in Sierra Leone?
Wit: Foday Sankoh. The leaders of the Liberians in Sankoh’s force were Dopoe Menkarzon and Liberian Mosquito, Christopher Varmoh.
Pros: How did Varmoh gain that name?
Wit: He was a very thin fellow.
Pros: Did you have any occasion to talk to Sankoh after his forces went into Sierra Leone?
Wit: When I returned to Gbarnga one morning to report to headquarters, I drove by a place called New Gbarnga. I saw Sankoh, and I stopped an embraced him. He said was here now and was a rebel commander, no more a small boy. He said I had to salute him, and I saluted him. I said you are my boss now. He said he came to discuss a serious matter: that the NPFL boys sent to help him were committing a lot of atrocities – raping women, killing people and looting. He said he was losing respect among his tribesmen and he had come to discuss it with the chief.
Pros: Did you talk to him after this conversation?
Wit: I talked with him and said he’d talked with the chief. But he was not satisfied.
Pros: Did you talk to Taylor about Sankoh’s complaint?
Wit: It was not really a conversation. He was walking around his palace in Gbarnga. He said he didn’t know earlier that Sankoh had talked to me about this matter. He said, look, Sankoh is here. He said “How could a war be fought. This type of thing happens in war. You are not eating bread and butter. You are fighting.”
Pros: Did you have an opportunity to meet any Liberians who had gone into Sierra Leone?
Wit: Yes, I met Yam Mayan Kollia (ph) who happened to be my bodyguard later when I became vice president. He told me what happened in Sierra Leone.
Pros: What did he tell you?
Wit: He told me there was a lot of looting, that they had everything they wanted. Things were very easy with them. But it was all illegal.
Pros: Did he indicate he’d been punished for that?
Wit: No. He used to teach me Krio to me. I would laugh when he spoke Krio to me.
Pros: Were there other Liberians who returned to Sierra Leone?
Wit: Yes. I saw Dopoe and Liberian Mosquito in Gbarnga. They said there had been a conflict with Sankoh and Sankoh didn’t appreciate what they’d done for them.
Pros: Were they punished?
Wti: No, they were given security jobs.
Pros: Did all the Liberians come back from Sierra Leone?
Wit: No, I wouldn’t know.
Pros: After you were inspector general, did you receive any other assignment?
Wit: Yes, I was appointed as liaison between NPFL and ECOMOG forces. I used to fly in a helicopter to go to a town before we landed anywhere. The president didn’t want ECOMOG at the time because they were doing a lot of illegal things in our territory. Taylor said they must be disarmed and returned to their headquarters. That went very well. We disarmed them all on the same date at the same time.
Pros: To which headquarters were they brought?
Wit: To ECOMOG headquarters. They were put on board trucks from various locations.
Pros: For how long were you in this position as coordinator?
Wit: Very brief: less than a month. When the confusion started, I was withdrawn from that position.
Pros: What confusion?
Wit: ECOMOG went in as a fighting force, and they were not coordinating with us to go places. The president said they wanted to bypass their operation.
Pros: You said earlier that at this time in 1991 or 1992, the NPFL controlled 90% of Liberia?
Wit: Yes, it was 1991-1992 that we controlled 90% of Liberia.
Pros: What government did the NPFL provide for this area?
Wit: There was a seven-man government and Taylor was a councilor in that government.
Pros: Was there any kind of NPFL government in its area of control?
Wit: We had the National Reconstruction Assembly Government in which Taylor was in charge of our own area. We had our own Ministry of Defense, a bank – everything a government should have. Our capital was in Gbarnga.
Pros: Where was Taylor?
Wit: In Gbargna.
Pros: When you visited him, were you able to see how he stayed up to date on events?
Wit: Yes, he was in control of almost everything. He had ministers reporting, the forestry manager reporting, he was in full control – like a president.
Pros: Did he keep up to date on events outside Liberia?
Wit: Yes, he had a radio and a satellite television.
Pros: What radio and television did he listen to?
Wit: Most times BBC and CNN. He listened at all times. He was well informed.
Pros: How did he obtain information for events outside Liberia after this period?
Wit: He listened to radio and watched television. He liked to listen to Focus on Africa. We were informed about what was happening outside.
Pros: Did you have a television yourself?
Pros: Did you read newspapers?
Wit: No, but our organization printed its own paper, The Patriot.
Pros: And later, did you read newspapers?
Wit: Yes, all the time.
Pros: Did you hear anything about the situation in Sierra Leone?
Wit: Yes, I listened very much. People also used to come from Sierra Leone. There were a lot of accusations from Sierra Leone.
Pros: Did you hear any of that in the news media?
Wit: Yes, there was an accusation in the newspapers that Taylor was helping RUF. There was an accusation that Mosquito came to Liberia. President Taylor showed off Christopher Varmoh to show that this was the only Mosquito we had here. Everyone came to see who that Mosquito was. It was a press conference.
Pros: Did you hear anything about what human rights groups were saying?
Wit: Yes, they said Taylor was involved in fighting in Sierra Leone.
Pros: Was Sam “Mosquito” Bockarie in Liberia?
Wit; No, not at that time.
Pros: When did you first see him?
Wit: I saw him in Yeaten’s house on one occasion and Yeaten introduced him to me.
Pros: Did Mr. Bockarie say anything to you?
Wit: No, he only greeted me as a chief.
Pros: Was this meeting while Taylor was president of Liberia, or before?
Wit: He was president at the time.
Pros: Earlier you were telling us about the seven-member government. How did that come about?
Wit: In the peace negotiations. Every faction was represented. Taylor was our representative.
Pros; Was this government able to organize elections?
Wit: No, it broke down completely. War erupted.
Pros: Were elections ever organized?
Wit: Yes, elections were organized later. Everyone took part and Taylor won in 1997.
Pros: During the time of the 7-member government, did you ever travel anywhere with Taylor?
Wit: Yes, I traveled with him to Togo. Sankoh was there. The president of Togo was there and they wanted there to be peace in that country.
Pros: Was there any time you traveled with Taylor during the time of the 7-member government in Liberia?
Wit: No, never.
Pros: Did Taylor have a specific role in that government?
Wit: Each member was responsible for areas they controlled. Alhaji Kromah was in Voinjama. Taylor was in Gbarnga. Kromah was head of ULIMO-K.
Pros: Where did Taylor work when he was in this government?
Wit: In the Executive Mansion, in Monrovia.
Pros: Who provided the security?
Wit: ECOMOG troops. Everyone had ECOMOG assigned to them.
Pros: Were there other security?
Wti: They also had their own security guards.
Pros: Were there any problems with Taylor’s security?
Wit: Not that I know about.
Pros: Did anyone ever try to attack Taylor?
Wit: Yes. There was one from Roosevelt Johnson’s group – they tried to assassinate him. An aide was killed in that process – Gen. Jackson. Jackson was from The Gambia.
Pros: What did Taylor do after this attack on him?
Wit: He told the world he escaped an assassination. He held a press conference.
Pros: You mentioned the 1997 election and you said Taylor won. Did you play a role?
Wit: Yes, we campaigned. Even my wife was head of the women’s group for the National Patriotic Party to which I belonged.
Pros: Do you remember the NPP slogans?
Wit: During campaigns, we had slogans. “You killed my mom, you killed my father. I will vote for him.”
Pros: What did that mean?
Wti: That meant that even if you did something to me in the past, I will bring you to the presidency.
Pros: How did that encourage people to vote for him?
Wit: People were singing it everywhere in Liberia. It was almost a song. If you killed my mother, if you killed my father, I will still vote for you. It was not directed to a particular person.
Pros: After the election, did you receive an assignment?
Wit: Yes, I became Liberian ambassador to Libya and Tunisia.
Pros: Did Taylor say what he wanted you to do there?
Wit: He said I should do a good job.
Pros: During the course of your ambassadorship, did you meet with Gaddafi?
Wti: Yes, on several occasions.
Pros: Did Gaddafi provide Libya with any assistance?
Wit: Yes, he provided him with a bulletproof Mercedes jeep and some other assistance. He was ensuring that he protected his presidency.
Pros: Did he provide other forms of assistance?
Wit: Yes, he provided crude oil to provide money for military hardware and uniforms.
Pros; What kind of military hardware?
Wit: Like uniforms for police and soldiers, and ambulances for hospitals.
Pros: Did he give anything to Taylor himself?
Wit: Sometimes, yes. Sometimes he tried to give him money. Sometimes Taylor sent me to ask for money.
Pros: Did you ever deliver money from Gaddafi to Taylor?
Wit: Yes, about half a million dollars.
Pros: Did his level of support remain consistent while you were ambassador?
Wit: He said he was under pressure. Taylor got fed up because there were a lot of promises.
Pros: Did you tell Gaddafi that Taylor was unhappy?
Wit: No, Gaddafi told me that he was not happy with Taylor because he was not doing the revolution. He said he should not go near Foday Sankoh. He didn’t say the reason why.
Pros: Gaddafi said Taylor wasn’t following the principles of the revolution?
Pros: Did he say why?
Wit: He did not explain the details to me. But he said the NPFL was not going the way of the revolution. He said the principle of Mataba was to share the wealth of the country with the people of the country, but we were taking everything for ourselves. He asked me whether everybody in the revolution was getting support from the president.
Pros: What period of time were you ambassador in Libya and Tunisia?
Wit: Three years.
Pros; Did you stay in those countries all the time?
Wit: Most of the time I was in Liberia. I’m afraid of cold. When the winter was over, I went back to work.
Pros: When you were in Tunisia or Libya, how did you follow what happened in Liberia?
Wit: I was far away. I only knew what happened in Liberia when I was in Liberia.
Pros: When were you there?
Pros: What position did you have after you were ambassador?
Wit: I became vice president when Dogoleah died.
Pros: What was Taylor’s attitude about you being vice president?
Wit: He’s the one who chose me before it could be put to a vote in the Congress.
Pros: Who voted?
Wit: The legislature – the House and Senate.
Pros: Let’s move to people involved in Taylor’s government when he was president. Did Yeaten have a position in Taylor’s presidency?
Wit: Yes, he was director of the Special Security Services, responsible for the president’s movements, family and cabinet. He was also a battlegroup commander. He had a group called Jungle Fire. He was not really in his office, but was fighting.
Pros: What did the Jungle Fire group do specifically?
Wit: It was a very strong fighting group. Wherever there was trouble, he moved with them.
Pros; How many were there in the unit?
Wit: I wouldn’t know.
Pros; Do you remember any of their names?
Wit: Yeaten, and there was Zigzag Marzah – one of the strong commanders in Jungle Fire.
Pros: How did Yeaten’s power compare to that of a cabinet minister?
Wit: He was very powerful. Even I as vice president would almost salute Yeaten.
Pros: Who had more power: Yeaten or Taylor?
Wit: Taylor had the greater power.
Pros: Did Yeaten have a deputy in the SSS?
Wit: Yes, he had two deputies I knew of: Joseph Montgomery and Joe Tuah. They were deputies for different operations. Montgomery was for operations and Tuah could be sent anywhere at any time that Taylor wants something done, outside Liberia.
Pros: Do you know of missions on which Tuah was sent?
Wit: Yes, on one occasion I went with Tuah to Ougadougou to talk to Blaise Compoare about the strained relationship with Taylor. Compoare complained a lot about Taylor, and we had to come back to him with that report.
Pros; Was this when you were ambassador or vice president?
Wit: I was ambassador then on that occasion.
Pros: You went there to talk to Blaise Compoare. Did you have any requests from Taylor?
Wit: No, that he was still a friend. It was reawakening the relationship between himself and Blaise Compoare.
Pros: Did you see any other Liberians in Burkina Faso on that occasion?
Wit: I saw Musa Cisse in the hotel and Grace Minor.
Pros: What were they doing there?
Wit: I asked. They had come on a mission to see Blaise Compoare. I don’t know for what.
Pros: Where did you go after you were there?
Wit: I was in Ougadougou. When it was time to come, there was a plane coming from out of Ougadougou with a lot of arms and ammunitions, and sheep. We came to Monrovia.
Pros: What kind of plane?
Wit: Weasua airline. It’s not flying anymore. It was condemned by the UN as unsafe.
Pros: What kinds of arms were on the plane?
Wit: Boxes of ammunition. AK-47 rounds, rocket propelled grenades. The writing on the boxes was all in Russian language. I was a fighting man and knew what was on those boxes.
Pros: What was the sheep?
Wit: I took a big ram with me and took it to my farm.
Pros: Where did it come from?
Wit: I bought it in Burkina Faso.