9.30 Liberia’s former vice-president, Moses Blah, continues his testimony

[this is not a transcript of the hearing]

The prosecutor Stephen Rapp (“PO”) continues the direct examination of former Liberian vice-president Moses Blah (“WW”).

PO: I would like to go back to yesterday: you mentioned your flight from Burkina Faso to Liberia. Why did you obtain the sheep?

WW: We did not have that type of sheep in Liberia.

PO: Why did you need the sheep?

WW: We had a farm.

PO: Did you still have a farm when you were ambassador?

WW: Yes.

PO: What is current status of this farm?

WW: I still have the farm and work there myself.

PO: What was the reason for your trip to Burkinabe president Blaise Compoare?

WW: I had to deliver a message and bring back the response to Taylor.

PO: Was this an oral message ?

WW: Yes, orally.

PO:  What was the message?

WW: I had to say that Mr. Taylor still saw Compaore as his friend. Although he had difficulties, he should still remember him to be a friend.

PO: What was the response of Compaore?

WW: Compaore was not happy with the way the friendship had been going. He was no longer happy with the relationship. He said he had been risking his life for Taylor.

PO: What do you think he meant with risking his life?

WW: He had been helping Mr. Taylor, for instance with shipping consignments.

PO: What did these consignments consist of?

WW: Arms and ammunition.

PO: In Burkina Faso you met with Musa Cisse and Grace Minor, did you know that they would be there?

WW: No.

PO: Did they inform you of their mission?

WW: No, Mr. Cisse told me in a joke that Mr. Taylor was running a Russian government. They all laughed over it.

PO: What did you think about the joke?

WW: I think too many people were sent there. They did not know what the others, who were on different missions, were after.

PO: What was Mr. Taylor after?

WW: I did not know.

PO: Can you tell us what happened with the cargo?

WW: The cargo was offloaded on Roberts International airport. There were several trucks in a long row.

PO: What kind of trucks were present?

WW: It were long trucks, used for transportation in Liberia.

PO: Who did the offload?

WW: Soldiers of NPFL group, I did not know who. They did it very fast.

PO: Was there any international presence?

WW: Not at that moment.

PO: Were the persons you met with in Burkina Faso (three), who were on different missions, also on the plane?

WW: No, only Mr. Cisse was on the plane. Ms. Minor stayed in Burkina Faso because she was afraid.

PO: Did she tell you why she was afraid?

WW: No, I do not know.

PO: In what year did the shipment occur?

WW: I can not record the date.

PO: It was at the time you were in Liberia, right? When were you in Liberia normally?

WW: I was in Liberia during June, July and August. That is because of the terrible rainy months in Libya. After the rainy months I returned to Lybia. I was always in Libya the other months. I was always home when it was cold.

PO: Did you know where the weapons went?

WW: They were offloaded. I know as a member of the NPFL where they went. They were usually brought to the backoffice of mr. Taylors house, White Flower.

PO: Is this the same as the Executive Mansion?

WW: No, that is different. There was only one White Flower; the residence of Mr. Taylor. Even if he changed houses.

PO: Was there ever more than one White Flower?

WW: Yes, at the time he built his new house at Topman Boulevard. The old house, he still lived in and the new house were both White Flower.

PO: Which location did you refer to regarding the weapons?

WW: That was his new house. Underground there was a secret place where the weapons were put.

PO: Was Taylor at the time of the shipment in his new mansion?

WW: Yes, he was there.

PO: Where did the weapons go after White Flower?

WW: No idea. The weapons were normally distributed to the different units.

PO: Have you any knowledge of any shipment of arms from Liberia to Sierra Leone?

WW: No.

PO: What was the security situation in Liberia?

WW: There were rumours of war. It was a very tense situation. The war had however not reached Monrovia.

PO: Were there any other forces active in Liberia?

WW: Ulimo-J and Ulimo-K.

PO: So, there were no other forces than those?

QWW: No other forces. NPFL was of course also active.

PO: Which groups were threatening the government of Mr. Taylor?

WW: Ulimo-K and -J.

PO: How where the shipments paid for?

WW: No idea.

PO: Were you during your vice-president / ambassador  time aware of any other shipments?

WW: Yes, in particular one shipment during my vice-presidency. Mr. Taylor was not there, people thought he had disappeared. Suddenly Mr. Taylor appeared. There were rumours of a large plane with weapons.

PO: When did this occur?

WW: At the end of my vice-presidency.

PO: And during your early time as vice-president?

WW: I was at my office of vice-president and did not know of any shipments of weapons.

PO: Did you investigate the weapons’ shipments?

WW: No, but I remember that at Roberts International Airport a plane crashed.

PO: Did you go there?

WW: Yes, I went there. There were a lot of explosions. It was dangerous to go there so I waited. Afterwards I drove to the main airport. I saw two white men carried into ambulances. They had Ukranian passports. One died and one got wounded.

PO: So you are aware of three shipments to Roberts. Was any other airport used?

WW: No, I would not know which one.

PO: Let’s go back for a moment. Before your vice-pesidency. Did any shipments come in by air?

WW: No, not that I know of.

PO: I now would like to discuss the individuals in the Taylor government. Musa Cisse, what was his role?

WW: He was Chief of Protocol in the Executive Mansion.

PO: What were his responsibilities?

WW: He had to receive guests and to inform the president of who was going in and out. Sometimes he was sent on missions.

PO: Did he have an informal role also?

WW: Musa Cisse was a friend of the president. The first time I met him he was a friend of Taylor, who met him in Ouagadougou. He is a Madinko (tribe).

PO: What was the position Madinkos in Liberia?

WW: The Madinkos were against Taylor, except Cisse.

PO: What was the role of Grace Minor?

WW: She was a friend of the president. Later she became senior senator, of Mount Serrado County, where Monrovia is located.

PO: What kind of assignemnts did Taylor give her?

WW: There were two senators of each county. She was close to the president. Whatever the president wanted she was prepared to do. She was always inofficially present at the president.

PO: Did you ever met her informally?

WW: Yes. Grace gave me 300.000 USD for transportation to Liberia, when I stopped in Abidjan. I was on my way to Libya.

PO: Did any other women handle such finance affairs?

WW: There was Kiddiwty Finnly (ph).

PO: Any other women?

WW: No.

PO: Are you familiar with Marita Johnson (ph)?

WW: Yes, she was at the military side during the war.

PO: And after the war?

WW: After the war she got a job at Roberts International Airport.

PO: Who did Taylor rely on in finance?

WW: When I was president, I relied on the minister who was in charge of finance. Taylor did rely on the minister also. The minister guarded the finance for Taylor. You got only your padiam (ph) at signing.

PO: Who was the first finance minister?

WW: I do not recollect his name. All money you obtained from the finance minister had to be signed for. He only gave money at signing. Nathanial Banse (ph) was minister of finance at the time. When Mr. Taylor requested money, he said there had to be signed for it too. Subsequently he was fired.

PO: Who succedeed him?

WW: I think it was Charles Supret (ph).

PO: How was he appointed?

WW: All cabinet ministers were appointed by the president.

PO: You mentioned the RPLC yesterday, who headed that?

WW: First Sirel Allen, second Bell, subsequently Dumba.

PO: What was the role of Taylor in the RPLC?

WW: I do not know.

PO: Liberia is known for its flags on vessels. Who handled the flags for shipping?

WW: The Maritime bureau.

PO: Who headed this?

WW: Mr. Benoja Juri. This bureau had its headquarters in London.

PO: Where did the money go?

WW: When I became president I investigated this on the basis of receipts. There was nothing there. It had been paid in advance to the president, Taylor, according to the Finance Minister.  

PO: Who appointed the head of this office?

WW: The president.

PO: Do you know if there were officers that were bringing in funds for Liberian government?

WW: No.

PO: Do you know Talal Al Nadi?

WW: Yes, he is a friend of the president.

PO: What was his business?

WW: He was a big boss. He was involved in building materials, fishing companies, a lot of business.

PO: Let’s go back to yesterday; to your meeting with Gaddafi. Gaddafi asked about men trained in Liberia. You said you lied, how?

WW: I said that I was only an ambassador. Tagin Whati (ph) was ambassador in Guinea. Not all people I mentioned however were working for the government.

PO: Did you keep track of the men that were trained with you?

WW: Yes. We belonged to the same ethnic group. They were around when there were difficulties.

PO: Have you made a list of these men?

WW: Yes, we made a list. Sometimes there were also forces of Libya. We had to know who was NPFL and who was involved. So we would know who was lying.

PO: [presents list to WW] Do your recognise this list?

WW: Yes.

PO: Who created this list?

WW: This list was drawn from training to know who was in the group of the NPFL.

PO: Can this list be marked for identification?

Court: Yes, this can be marked for identification, 5 pages with names.

PO: The first name on the list is Charles Taylor. Further names are sometimes marked with X’s. What is the reason for that?

WW: These people were killed during time of war.

PO: Who placed X’s?

WW: I, Moses Blah.

PO: Copper Miller, number 2, has been X-ed.

WW: He left and tried to establish his own organisation. Taylor set up an investigation and he was arrested. He was taken to Burkina Faso, together with Augustus Wright (number 3).

PO: Do you know what happened to them?

WW: They were taken there so they could not return to Liberia. In a clash between our troops and  Prince Johnson, Miller was killed. He was killed in a fight. The order to move into the base of Prince Johnson was of Taylor. Augustus was executed because he had a weapon on him when he was in the presence of Taylor.

PO: Who authorised this execution?

WW: Taylor authorised all executions in NPFL.  Wright was arrested because of carrying a weapon. Probably Taylor ordered his execution.

PO: Where was this?

WW: Lamco (Liberian American Mining Company) Jecepa. Where the ironmines are. He was executed there.

PO: Let’s continue the list. Number 8 Moses Blah. Followed by Mr. Karseh, who has been x’ed.

WW: He was arrested on a motor bike. Taylor ordered him to be investigated. If guilty he had to be executed. He was executed on dissidence (he had gone to Prince Johnson).

PO: Who ordered his execution?

WW: Only the president can do that.

PO: Who was Samuel J. Fanny (ph), number 10?

WW: He was also of my ethnic group. He got sick and died.

PO: And Mr. Degban (ph) number 11?

WW: He was an intellectual, geologist. Executed on the orders of Mr. Taylor. Tried to take over the NPFL. This was during the war.  

PO: Prince Johnson, number 12?

WW: He is now a senator and lives in Liberia. He fled to Nigeria, where he was for many years. He was never investigated and returned to Liberia. He stood for elections and won.

PO: And number 14 Michael Paygar?

WW: He was dismissed from the forces by Taylor because he was drunk. He left the job and still lives in Liberia.

PO: And number 38, Timothy Mullbah (ph)?

WW: He was executed after investigation because he was against Mr. Taylor. Execution was ordered by the president, Mr. Taylor.

 PO: And number 58, Dogolea, the former vice-president (before Blah). How did he die?

WW: He was sick. Taylor sent him to France for medication. He was taken to Abidjan. Afterwards, there were rumours that Mr. Taylor hit him and that he died because of that. I do not know where these rumours came from.

PO: Mr. Joey Kidway (ph), deputy he mentioned earlier (yesterday).

PO: And number 72: Francis Mewan (ph)?

WW: He was investigated for attempts to overthrow the government. He got off the hook however and still lives.

PO: John Doe (ph).

WW: He got sick and died.

PO: Oliver Fanny (ph)?

WW: Execution because he was against Taylor, attempt to overthrow him.

PO: Why is there no x?

WW: I forgot.

PO: And 88 Anthony Mohingwabihoe (ph)?

WW: He was investigated and executed on the order of Mr. Taylor. No X because I forgot.

PO: And number 90, Johnson Leeman (ph)?

WW: He got sick and died recently. He was deputy minister of defense for the coast guard defense, immediately when Taylor became president. He was there for quite a long time, I can not remember time frame. He was deputy until he got sick and died.

PO: On page, 4, Number 99, Paul Nimely?

WW: He is well, he is ok. He later became representative for his county (Sinoi County). He was NPP.

PO: And number 103, Joe Doe?

WW: He had an unfortunate situation. He had a problem with Benjamin Yeaten. His wife was taken by Benjamin. He fled into Cote d’Ivoire. Benjamin persuaded him to return. He invited him during an assignment at Lofa County. Benjamin could go everywhere he wanted. Benjamin executed him there.

PO: Number 121 Benjamin Yeaten?

WW: He needed only permission from Taylor to travel.

PO: ____

PO: Page 5, Paul Fay (ph).

WW: He got sick of AIDS and died. I’m not aware of him holding any position.

PO: 142, Mussa Sesay, same as chief of protocol you mentioned earlier?

WW: Yes, it is spelled different, but it is the same person.

[break while WW goes to restroom]

PO: Sam Lattoo (ph), did you speak of him yesterday?

WW: Yes, he was one of the strong fighters of the NPF. He killed a man on the highway of Monrovia-Zweddru (ph). Lattoo stopped a motor driver and shot him for stealing a TV. Sam was investigated and executed. Sam Lattoo one time killed all people (about 70 people) residing under me as vice-president, I reported that to Mr. Taylor.

PO: So Lattoo was freed after your first accusation?

WW: Yes.

PO: And Amagly Johnson (ph)?

WW: He was an American, fighting alongside Taylor. He fell into ambush. I do not know how he was killed exactly. Rumours were that he was killed on order of Taylor. I do not know where these  rumours came from, I heard it from fighters and civilians.

PO: page six, 160, Wrongbaye?

WW: He was a friend of Taylor. He was introduced in Libya to me. Later he became defense minister. He was arrested on the order of Mr. Taylor. Subsequently he was detained by SBU’s for a very long time. He went back to the United States; he was an American.

PO: He was arrested by SBU’s?

WW: No he was detained by SBU’s. He sent a message to Taylor and did not receive a satisfactory message back. He was not treated well. Subsequently he returned to the USA.

PO: Who leaded the SBU’s?

WW: There where two ways: president or specific commanders. Every commander had SBU’s attached to his forces. Everyone liked to have a SBU. Mr. Taylor had his own SBU’s; can not recall the name of the specific SBU.

PO: Did they perform special operations?

WW: They blocked roads, detained men. They could do any dirty operations, because they had no sense. I had a SBU too. There were no special names given to them.

PO: Was there no overall command structure?

WW: They had their own commanders, their own chiefs. That was how they operated.

PO: And the overall commander?

WW: Zobun, commander of SBU’s. Now in USA.

PO: Can you tell something about their ages?

WW: The members of the SBU’s were about 13-14 years old. Above 15 you were too old and had to leave the SBU.

PO: What was the age of the youngest SBU member you saw?

WW: 13.

PO: About the people that were with you in the Libyan camps. How large were the numbers of the NPFL?

WW: The numbers went up and down. From 22 we went up to 180.

PO: And after the NPFL entered Liberia, how large was it?

WW: We went up to 10 – 20 thousand. And futher to 70.000. They were al acting under different commanders and in diverse operations. They did not reside under the chief inspector operating. So its is difficult to estimate.

PO: How many were killed?

WW: I would not be able to tell the general casualties; we lost about 10.000 men, including wounded, killed, disabled. It was a big fight.

PO: What happened with wounded people?

WW: I remember one incident around 2003, almost at the end of the presidency of Taylor: the wounded people were assembled by Benjamin Yeaten. They were put in a big truck. They were brought to Mehire River. He said that they had to pay for what they had done. They were killed and thrown into the river. Benjamin took them away. The people were said to be killed because they would embarrass the troops when entering Monrovia.

PO: What did Yeaten say specifically to you?

WW: The week before he had said that these boys had to pay. It was a very large number. There was no place to keep them. There was a way they could pay for the general benefit. I did not ask further.

PO: Why not?

WW: We were fighting for safety and food. I could not ask Taylor, because I had limited authority. My authority was outside the Executive Mansion. Especially I had no authority as Benjamin Yeaten was involved.

PO: Who was guarding the road, as was mentioned by you before?

WW: This was not told to me. Yeaten had commanded Jungle Fire unit to block the road.

PO: Were there also non-Liberians close to Taylor?

WW: Yes, the Gambians were very close, for instance Mussan Jai.

PO: Yesterday you mentioned General Jackson.

WW: He was a Gambian. He was a brother of Doctor Manneh. When the president was attacked at the mansion, Jackson was shot there. You can distinguish Gambians and Liberians by their language, for instance the way they speak English.

PO: when did you find out about this?

WW: a day or two after I was told.

[ Mid morning break]