Former VP, Moses Blah, discusses killing of RUF leader Sam Bockarie and other events

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.   Note the following is not an actual transcript.

[Court reporters request that witness answer questions slower]

Pros:  You mentioned that you met Mosquito in a room at your farm in Cocopa plantation, where was this room?

Wit: Outside of my home in Toweh town.

Pros: How did Mosquito, Benjamin and their group arrive at your home?

Wit: They were in vehicles including Jeeps and they left that way as well.

Pros: What happened after they left.

Wit: I got a knock on my door.  It was not the same group of people as before.  I was told about a mission.  I knew something was not right, and I left my home with four other men.  I stayed away from my home in hiding.  I then was told to meet Benjamin at Saw Mill Camp.  I went there and Benjamin told me the mission was in the pick-up truck.  I saw Mosquito along with another man killed in the pick-up truck.  Mosquito was dead.  The other man was beheaded and he was a huge man.   

Pros: Where did you go afterwards?

Wit: Monrovia to see my daughter at school.  I also went to see Taylor.  I told him that Benjamin came by my house last night and Mosquito and another person was dead.  Taylor told me that this was a military operation and none of my business as VP.  I left and took my daughter back home. 

Pros: Did you learn anything else?

Wit: Later in the afternoon, there was an announcement by the Defense Ministry that the Liberian government attempted to arrest Mosquito and his crew when they tried to enter Liberia through Cote D’ivoire, but he put up a fight and was killed by the border patrol guards.  His corpse was brought to Monrovia. 

Pros: What happend to Mosquito’s wife and the other large lady that was with him? 

Wit: Leeway told me that they were both killed as well as some of their bodyguards.  The women were killed so they would not blab to others what happened.  I did not see the bodies of the women. 

Pros: Did Leeway tell you what happen to the bodies of the women?

Wit: Leeway told me their were buried near the highway and were not brought to Monrovia.

Pros: Did the Defense Ministry say how Mosquito was killed?

Wit: No

Pros: Do you know what happened to Mosquito’s property?

Wit: Harrison Conway was the man whose house Mosquito was staying.  Harrison said that his house was ramsacked and money and diamonds was taken from his house.  He did not say how much money was taken but he did say that a huge jar (7 to 8 nches in length) of diamonds was taken like the size of a mayonnaise jar.

Pros: Do you know what happen to Johnny Paul Koroma?

Wit: I heard through a rumor that he was killed in a Loffa forest by my radio operator who was in Monrovia who heard via radio, but the radio broadcast did not say who killed him.

Pros: Did this report from your radio operator happen before or after Mosquito was killed?

Wit: It was about 2 weeks after Mosquito was killed. 

[show witness BBC report re: Mosquito’s death]

Pros: Is this report consistent with the reports that you heard? 

Wit: Yes but it was not as detailed as this report.

Pros: This report was published in May 2003.  You mentioned that this happened in May 2002, do you still think it was in 2002?

Wit: I am not sure about the year.  Maybe I am making a mistake.  But I know it happened in May.

Pros: Is Mosquito’s killing consistent with this report?

Wit: Yes, because it says that he was killed after entering Liberia from Cote D’Ivoire.

Pros: Let me go to June 2003, where were you staying at that time?

Wit: In Monrovia. 

Pros: Did you have a special VP resident?

Wit: No.  I was in my rented house in Monrovia.  I was given a rental allowance.

Pros: What was the security situation like in June of 2003?

Wit: There was fighting and confusion.  It was fighting with ULIMO-K and the government. 

Pros: Were there any efforts to stop the fighting?

WIt: Yes, there was peace negotiations in Liberia and but mostly Ghana.

Pros: Did you have a chance to go to any peace conferences while you were VP?

Wit: I did attend some but not the one headed by the African leaders.  My wife went to that one with President Taylor.

Pros: Why did your wife go with Taylor?

Wit: In order to go on the Presidential plane and to get materials for her clothing store.

[Taylor is reading a book]

Pros: When did you first find out that Taylor was subject to an indictment?

Wit: Through my wife.  I refused to announce this indictment on the radio without Taylor ordering me.  Benjamin Yeaten made this announcment and would do “military vibrations”  This means that if his orders were not followed he would shake up such individuals.

Pros: What happened next?

Wit: Benjamin Yeaten called me at home and told me to report to the White Flower.  Taylor asked me if I wanted to overthrow his government.  I told him NO.  We argued about it.  They treated me like a prisoner.  They handcuffed me and took my car. 

Pros: Did you have any contact with American government?

Wit: I only had one discussion with the American embassy regarding the ATU which is a military group headed by Chuckie Taylor which the embassy accused of causing destruction in Liberia.  Witness does not remeber what ATU stands for but will remember later. 

Pros: What was Chuckie’s full name?

Wit: Charles Taylor Jr.

Pros: Did you find out if any other individuals had been accused?

Wit: When my wife came and brought me food by bribing the guards, she told me that Deputy Minister of Public Works, Issac V. and the Deputy Minister of National Security, John Yormin had been arrested and taken to an unknown location.  We prayed together.

Pros: Did you learn what happen to Yormin and Issac V.?

Wit: My wife told me that they had been executed.

Pros: What happened next?

Wit: They took my bodyguards away to various prisons.  I could hear them crying.  

Pros: When you were in this detention, did you understand what the guards were saying?

Wit: They were speaking in English.  I kept praying and asking God to retain my soul. 

Pros: What happened next?

Wit: Eventually I was reinstated as VP and my bodyguards were released under President Taylor (sounded like Tillo).  I went home.

Pros: Who told you what happened at White Flower?

Wit: It was very easy to find out.  A majority of President Taylor’s bodyguards were from my ethnic group. 

[Taylor is writing on his notepad]

Pros: You said that when you were in detention that you would be taken on to the highway, what did you understand that to mean?

Wit: I knew Benjamin and based on the way I was detained, I thought it meant death.  Even though my wife did not think that President Taylor would kill me because then he would be arrested and charged.

Pros: Did you know if President Taylor had any plans to remove you as VP?

Wit: I was to be replaced by a younger person but he would give me one million dollars.  I should have stayed with him until his term ended according to the Liberian Constitution.  When he left, I became President.

Pros: When did Taylor ask you to resign?

Wit: I was in detention.  I was told to resign because I was not physically fit.  My doctor told me to resign as well.  I consulted with lawyers who adviced me not to resign.

[Taylor converses with his lawyer] 

Pros: What was the security situation while you were released from prison?

Wit: Bad.  I was heavily guarded by the peacekeepers and the Liberian soldiers.  There were several attempts to remove me from power from the rebels.

Pros: I think you misunderstood my question, what was the security situation while you were released from prison as VP?

Wit: Bad.  I had serious security threats.

Pros: Earlier you talked about an arm shipment, what do you remember about that?

Wit: The arms which were brought from Liberia were intercepted by the peacekeepers from the UN.  They did not seize the plane or the pilot, but the arms was seized by ECOMOG. 

Pros: Was this before or after you were detained?

Wit: It was after I was detained.

Pros: You said that you followed international news, did you hear any reports in the news regarding this interception of arms?

[Witness reviews CNN document]

Wit: Yes, this document is consistent with my recollection.

Pros: Under the law, when did you term end?

Wit: January 2004 should be the time when we have the inauguration for the new President, my term should have ended.

Pros: You mentioned that Taylor disappeared for a few days, do you know where he went?

Wit: I heard that he went to Burkina Faso.  We did not know if he went into exile until he came back.  I was happy because I was still VP.

Pros: Did Taylor say anything when he left office and you were sworn in?

Wit: He said that he was forced out of office by the international community.  But God willing, he should return.

Pros: Did you say anything?

Wit: I accepted the Presidency and I promised that I would work with the Liberian people.

[Adjourned until tomorrow]