12:00 (12:30 with delay in video and audio): Court is back in session following the midmorning break. Lead Defense Counsel Courtenay Griffiths continues his cross-examination of Moses Blah.
Def: Before we adjourned for the break, we were talking about your time in Tajura Camp in Libya and those individuals involved in the attempted coup against Charles Taylor. Do you remember?
Def: The intention was, wasn’t it, that once the group entered Liberia they would kill Charles Taylor and take over the NPFL?
Def: What was the intention?
Wit: Once Taylor went to Burkina, that was when these fellows said, if Taylor is not coming, we will take over from there as commanders of the former NPFL. According to them, they had the Revolutionary Council of Liberia. That was the name given by them. It was not kill Charles Taylor.
Def: That group was investigated, right?
Def: And arrested while still in Liberia?
Wit: Yes. Two persons were arrested, but more were involved. Cooper Miller and Augustine Wright.
Def: Both of them were taken to Burkina Faso, but you later saw them in Liberia?
Wit: Yes. I saw Cooper Miller, not Augustine Wright, in Liberia.
Def: I want to move on from Liberia. From Liberia, the group went to Burkina Faso. And you remained for a year.
Def: At that time, the NPFL had no arms.
Wit: Yes. You are correct.
Def: Eventually, still without arms, the group moved to the Cote D’Ivoire.
Def: The part of Cote D’Ivoire where they moved shared the same ethnicity of Nimba County.
Def: In that part of the world, frontiers are quite artificial aren’t they?
Def: The Cote D’Ivoire and Liberian border cuts through one ethnic group and divides families.
Def: Likewise on the Sierra Leonean and Liberian border, you have Mandingos on both side. And with Guinea also.
Wit: Yes, with Guinea, but not with the Sierra Leonean border. That is where there are Mendes on both sides, the Sierra Leonean and Liberian sides.
Def: I am pausing to deal with this because there has for centuries been a great deal of fluidity across these borders?
Def: You have traders crossing borders.
Wit: That is correct.
Def: And it’s virtually impossible to police those borders.
Wit: You are correct.
Def: The idea that any one of those countries could monitor its borders to prevent ingress and egress is complete nonsense, isn’t it?
Wit: In modern days, it is possible with the modern police and modern immigration. They are trained for that. Years back it was not possible.
Def: We now have those Libyan trained NPFL fighters in Cote D’Ivoire.
Def: In 1989?
Def: After all those years of exile, people were getting restless.
Def: At the same time, there weren’t sufficient arms to conduct a proper invasion.
Def: There was an attack in 1998 in Butuo.
Def: The NPFL were armed with shotguns and machetes, weren’t they?
Def: Those who claimed that Taylor was a puppet of Gaddafi, that invasion took place without the participation of Libya?
Def: In fact, Gaddafi was mad that Taylor ordered the invasion?
Def: NPFL fighters were reluctant to capture arms from the Liberian army?
Def: Nimba County was chosen as point of entry for good reason. For the simple reason that the citizens, given their treatment by the Doe regime, would be more receptive to a revolutionary force?
Def: Support for the NPFL developed very quickly?
Def: Very rapid advances were made by the NPFL in Nimba?
Def: And Liberians were forced to retreat?
Def: One further consequence of the invasion was a major exodus of Liberians into Guinea?
Def: The war expanded and started to take on a distinctly ethnic/tribal nature?
Def: Doe’s forces, allies with the Mandingo tribe, massacred other ethnic groups?
Def: The Gio and the Mano?
Def: And there were defense attacks by Gios on Krans?
Wit: Yes. Kran and Mandingo, I agree.
Def: It was very difficult to control the emotion on that invasion?
Def: It’s as if the Doe regime with its brutality was keeping the lid down on a boiling pot, and the lid had been taken out. A lot of pent up emotions poured out, right?
Def: The NPFL came quickly to control large areas of the country.
Def: In time they came to control all of the country with the exception of Monrovia.
Wit: I agree.
Def: From a fairly early stage, ECOWAS tried to intervene?
Wit: Yes, according to them.
Def: But equally, the idea behind the revolution was not to broker peace with Doe.
Wit: Yes, to bring peace, yes.
Def: The only way to achieve that was to get rid of Doe?
Def: Now, by about July 1990 Doe was effectively besieged in the Executive Mansion.
Def: Around that time your former president Taylor established the National Patriotic Reconstruction Assembly.
Def: The first training camp for the NPFL was set up at Tiaplay.
Wit: You are correct.
Def: Beginning there the special forces trained recruits and volunteers who were called junior commanders.
Def: So the hierarchy was: Special Forces, Libyan trained, Junior Commanders, Liberian trained.
Def: Independent NPFL by Prince Johnson was established at this time, right?
Def: Johnson was willing to mount a coup against Taylor, but at the same time Johnson was a very courageous soldier.
Def: And when the initial attack by Isa Mussa was expelled, he was a coward wasn’t he?
Wit: Yes, Isa Mussa ran back.
Def: It was Johnson who led them into Liberia?
Def: Johnson killed some civilians in Bluntuo over a personal family dispute. Is that right?
Wit: Yes, the civilians, yes.
Def: Taylor because of that ordered Johnson arrested, didn’t he?
Def: Johnson, to save his own hide, decided to set up this breakaway faction?
Def: Thereafter, Johnson’s forces, were really a mercenary force?
Wit: Yes, with Prince Johnson and his forces.
Def: From then on he was a wanted man by the NPFL?
Def: The NPFL was chasing him across Liberia.
Wit: Yes, they were fighting side by side. Prince Johnson’s forces had intention to go to Monrovia. When Prince was attacked, he said no, I am not attacking the NPFL.
Def: He was trying to avoid a fight with the NPFL?
Def: In contrast, Taylor wanted him arrested and tried?
Def: It’s in this context, with the NPFL controlling 90 percent of Liberia apart from Monrovia, that I want to discuss with you the topic of discipline. Let’s contextualize: the 180 special forces [break in audio]. Until the NPFL came to a complement of 70,000. Now one consequence of that rapid enlargement of the force was that discipline was not as strict as among the special forces. It just wasn’t possible. By that, I mean this. You just didn’t have the time to train recruits for a year and a half the way you had been trained.
Wit: There was not time, yes.
Def: There was no way these forces recruited in Liberia could be as organized.
Def: And you had these additional complications. Were NPFL soldiers ever paid?
Def: Is it right that for the most part they were illiterate?
Wit: I agree.
Def: For the most part they had been drawn out of the most dire poverty?
Wit: I disagree with that.
Def: Most of them came from the poor, didn’t they?
Wit: Yes, but some of them had money and education.
Def: But how typical were the educated and those with money?
Wit: Some had good standing and money. Other than one, Diban, I cannot remember their names.
Def: Very well. But you do agree with the general proposition that the troops were poor and there was very little logistical support.
Def: For the most part they were forced to live off the land? They didn’t have convoys of trucks packed with sacks of rice with chefs waiting to set up field kitchens. It wasn’t like that, was it?
Wit: No. But as they captured an area they were able to feed themselves.
Def: This force is operating in a country where a large part of the population has been displaced. In a country where communications are often difficult.
Def: In a country where transport was virtually impossible.
Wit: I agree.
Def: In that kind of environment it’s very difficult to keep control of every single fighter.
Def: If we pause and think about it, you take a man out of the field who has no money, you train him for a few weeks, and you put an AK47 in his hand, and he sees a TV set. What do you think he is going to do? That is the dilemma you had as Inspector General?
Def: This is a situation where old ethnic tribal problems were already preexisting?
Def: Some individuals would take advantage of the situation to settle old scores?
Def: Let us have a look at what was actually done to deal with this situation. Let’s start at the level of ideology. You were taught ideology in Libya. One of the founding principles was that as a revolutionary force you have to win the masses onto your side. At all costs, nothing should be done to alienate the masses from the cause. It was appreciated that indiscriminate killing and looting would alienate the populace. As a consequence, the leadership of the NPFL, at that macro level, knew that discipline could endanger the cause. I’m right, aren’t I?
Wit: You are correct.
Def: Taylor cared about the welfare of civilians in Liberia, right?
Wit: Yes, at the beginning that was the intention. It was followed until the Gineo [ph] commanders were enlisted into the NPFL. Some of them were handpicked and selected for the Executive Mansion Guard Unit. They only took orders from the President. That made things difficult for me.
Def: Let me remind you of your testimony where you talked about cane juice, and about how you took care of a lot of civilians. When asked how Taylor reacted, you said he congratulated you for taking care of the civilians. Do you remember that?
Def: Now, does the name MacDonald Boam mean anything to you?
Def: He was a Leftenant in the NPFL from your part of Liberia?
Def: He was one of the original members of the NPFL who went into exile in the Cote D’Ivoire?
Def: Do you remember that at the end of the training in Libya that Taylor set up a board to investigate and recommend ways and means of putting the NPFL together?
Wit: I cannot remember. It was out of Libya.
Def: Where did that take place?
Def: The original board members were Boam, Cooper Miller, who was co-chairman – Cooper Miller was a former member of the army of Liberia – Augustus Wright, Anthony Maquinagbe – he was a former police officer – Paul B. Harris – a former member of the Liberian Army – Paul Nimley, Isaac Musa, and William Ogbe.
Def: Do you remember that after the NPFL entered Liberia and set up an alternative capitol, that the board was reorganized in late 1999?
Wit: This is the board that I remember. I was not part of the board. Before I became Adjutant I was in the kitchen washing dishes, so I wouldn’t know.
Def: There came a time, when such a board was established in Buople?
Def: Boam remained the chairman. Samuel Doke was the co-chair. Right?
Wit: I don’t know the members of this board. I remember Boam becoming a chairman to investigate illegal acts.
Def: A tribunal was set up to try individuals accused of criminal activities in NPFL territories. Boam was a member, do you remember?
Def: Do you remember Samuel Doke being a part of the tribunal?
Wit: That I cannot remember.
Def: Do you remember Henry Kahrn?
Def: And Anthony Makinwagbe?
Def: And Anthony Komahun?
Def: And [inaudible] Putu?
Def: The same Paul B. Harris?
Wit: He was killed.
Def: He was killed in combat?
Def: And Paul Nimlay?
Def: Do you remember that the very first case tried was the trial of a special forces soldier called Sam Tozey [ph]?
Def: He was investigated, tried, and found guilty? He was executed in Nimba County in early 1990?
Wit: You are correct.
Def: When that tribunal switched from Gbople to Gbana it was reorganized?
Def: It was established in 1990?
Def: It was reorganized because other professional people had joined, including lawyers. Right?
Def: In fact, the board was guided by statutory laws.
Def: MacDonald Boam remained the chairman? Cooper Biah was co-chair?
Def: Counselor G. Gabriel Bona Sargbah was the law officer?
Def: He was a former president of the Liberian Bar Association?
Def: Do you remember Counselor Richard Fluomo? And Managborlor?
Wit: Oh God, it could be true. But the spelling, no. I cannot remember.
Def: What about Prince C. Johnson? And John Fluomo?
Def: The Judge Advocate General was Counselor Sompon.
Def: And Francis Garlawolo?
Def: Pausing there, what is clear is that efforts were made to establish the NPFL on a legal, professional footing, right?
Def: In effect, the NPFL sought to establish the rule of law in those territories.
Def: Despite difficulties, that was the ideal everyone was aiming for, right?
Wit: You are correct.
Def: And that tribunal endeavored within its limitations to investigate thoroughly and to try and to mete out punishment according to the law.
Def: So the idea which some people may have had that the NPFL was lawless is complete rubbish.
Wit: Well, I cannot say for other people. NPFL was organized, but as time went on other things went wrong. There were no longer tribunals, and full responsibility was on the Commander-in-Chief. Other organizational plans were dissolved. There were changes.
Def: Following the elections, the normal court system was put back into operation in Liberia, right?
Wit: There were elections in 1997 and the government was in place and there was no longer NPFL organization.
Def: As you have indicated, in your role as Inspector General, you were in charge of overall discipline?
Def: What was your structural relationship with the tribunal?
Wit: I never reported to the tribunal. The day-to-day activities in the field, when they were suspected, I would report directly to the Commander-in-Chief. That was what I was instructed.
Def: But you also told us last Wednesday, that apart from you as Inspector General, the Commander-in-Chief had set up other units to investigate wrongdoing and disciplining those who committed wrongs?
Def: You said that Taylor had other units on Wednesday.
Wit: I am misquoted. If you want me to do so, I will repeat. There were other units that were strictly fighting forces. They reported directly to the President.
Def: My point is this: apart from yourself, there were other groups in the NPFL charged with imposing discipline.
Wit: I disagree. There were units that were all two star generals. It was the units that had the right to investigate. He will use his own disciplinary measures.
Def: I won’t delay over that. I want to address the tribunal’s cases. Sam Lato [ph] was reported for that massacre [of 70 people]? The murder of the man with the television set?
Wit: Not by me.
Def: Wasn’t he being investigated for that massacre?
Wit: I knew he killed somebody and the Commander-in-Chief was informed.
Def: [Cites previous testimony of the Witness].
Wit: I remember, but I did not call the investigation. I saw him before he was executed. The following day he was executed. According to the news, he was investigated and found guilty. I did not know who conducted the investigation.
Def: Let me give you another instance. A General Namayan was charged with raping a 13-year-old girl, Ewana Johnson.
Wit: This is another instance I wouldn’t know about. I heard by radio, but I did not know who investigated that case.
Def: But do you remember him being investigated?
Def: Do you recall that it involved the rape of a 13-year-old girl?
[Witness exits the courtroom momentarily.]
Def: Let me deal with one of two other instances. Do you recall an investigation into the late Luka Zulu who was a commander at Camp Zarma?
Def: He was commander of the camp?
Def: And he was investigated and arrested?
Def: Do you remember General John Warner being put on trial?
Def: John Wana [ph]?
Wit: I cannot remember. I know who John Wana is, but I don’t know whether he has been arrested and tried.
Def: But you do accept that there was a system of discipline and law and order in NPFL territories?
Def: It was not dissolved until after the elections in 1997, right?
Def: What was Black Gaddafa?
Wit: I need the real name.
Def: I’m talking about Black Gaddafa?
Wit: I can’t remember.
Def: Can the witness be shown MFI-16?
[Witness is shown MFI-16.]
Def: Can we start with the second page of that document. Do you see at number 51, John Wana?
Wit: I know John Wana, but do not know when he was being investigated.
Def: Could we go back to page one. [Inaudible] was a member of the Black Gaddafa, right?
Wit: I cannot remember. All I know was that he was executed. My assignment was not a stationary assignment. So I wouldn’t know most of these things.
Def: Were you not aware of a coup attempt named Black Gaddafa?
Wit: These were people who had been assigned to different areas. I wouldn’t know what happened in those areas. I think when this thing happened I was in [inaudible]. But I know that they were executed for their role in the revolution.
Def: For the role in what revolution?
Wit: In NPFL if you are investigated and found guilty you will be executed if you deserve this punishment. At that particular time, I cannot say I was there.
Def: Very well. I won’t delay over that. We’re still on the topic of discipline. I want to deal with one particularly distasteful practice. You know, don’t you, that when Marzah gave evidence he spoke about eating people, don’t you?
Wit: I listened to that.
Def: Now, as we went through this morning, you had been spoken to by the Prosecution in 2006 and 2007, and on none of those occasions was any mention made of cannibalism. Yet when you arrived here in The Hague, for the first time you brought up cannibalism. This being shortly after Marzah gave his evidence. Who raised that topic? Was it you or were you asked about it?
Wit: ZigZag has spoken. What I said was that he was a fellow who was a commander.
Def: I know from the documents in front of me that you mentioned cannibalism for the first time in May of this year in this country. Who raised the topic? Did you volunteer the information or did someone ask you?
Wit: The name of a fellow came out. And this name was asked. How do I know this fellow and what was he doing? That was when it came up. He was associated with Doke and left his assignment and went to Monrovia. Upon his return he was arrested. This is the fellow. Besides that, I don’t know about cannibalism. It is this person who I saw eating human hand.
Def: Which fellow?
Wit: I am talking about… I can’t remember his name.
Def: Did someone come to you in The Hague and say, this hot topic has come up and what do you know?
Wit: No. It is only that in this court I was asked about this person. He was investigated and it was found he had gone to talk to Doke and he was executed. This is the fellow I was talking about. This is not Marzah.
Def: I think we are at cross purposes. I want to establish whether it is coincidence that after Marzah introduces this topic that all of a sudden you and Kanneh start talking about cannibalism. Was this a prosecution topic introduced to you?
Wit: No. It was a question about a particular person. I was not referring to anybody that I know of in this organization that was an eater of human beings.
Def: Let’s set a context. The practice of cannibalism is long established in certain parts of Liberia, isn’t it?
Wit: That was a very, very long time ago.
Def: Between the Gio, the Mano, and the Kran, it was practiced historically?
Wit: Yes, in the olden days, they said they do not have a grave. They eat their dead.
Def: When your cousin was killed in Monrovia his body was cut up and eaten by Kran soldiers. It wasn’t that far back was it? It was 1985?
Def: It was soldiers of General Doe who carried out that practice?
Def: That kind of behavior was never ordered or condoned by Taylor or the leadership of the NPFL?
Wit: I never said an order was given to eat a human being.
Def: You have never heard of such an order, have you?
Def: Commanders were warned not to encourage it, weren’t they?
Wit: That is not to my knowledge. It was not ordered in my presence.
Def: In fact, Mr. Blah, do you recall making a statement in 2000 on behalf of Taylor?
Wit: What is the statement?
Def: On the issue of cannibalism, do you remember that certain publishers were suggesting that Taylor drank people’s blood and ate human flesh. You made a statement in the High Court of Justice in a case against the publishers. Do you remember?
Wit: And said what?
Def: “I consider the allegations against Taylor of the drinking of blood of his opponents, ritual sacrifice, and cannibalism to be totally false.” Do you remember making such a statement?
[Shows the witness the document and his signature at the end.]
Def: Do you recall making that statement for that court in London?
Wit: I remember. The statement was that I had not seen Taylor drinking blood or eating human flesh. Not in my presence. I have not been in his company and seen him eating a human being.
Def: I want you to look at the wording of the last paragraph on that page. Is that the statement you signed?
Wit: I was speaking my own view, that I had not seen these things.
Def: I’m not going to accept that answer. The way you are answering the question now leaves open the possibility that it may have happened not in your presence. The statement says, totally false.
Wit: I will not sit down even with my child and say my child did not kick this person yesterday and put my neck on the block. All I know are the circumstances of what I have seen. I have not on any occasion seen him drinking the blood of another human being.
Def: Read the full paragraph, please. You said, “It was not possible for Taylor to conduct himself in any way without my knowledge.” You go on to say that in your opinion Taylor is gentle and humane. You talked of the war and that Taylor stressed that the NPFL should remain disciplined. Did you sign that statement?
Wit: I said yes. I have explained to you over and over. I am saying I have not seen Taylor eat a human being or acting inhumanely. I have not seen him do that. What I’m saying is what is to my knowledge. I don’t have to tell lies. I am saying that I have not seen Taylor eating and cutting a human being, or drinking the blood of another human being. I cannot say anything further than that.
Court is adjourned until 3:00 p.m.