Witness Implicates Taylor in the Death of Sam Bockarie and the Transfer of Arms from Liberia to Sierra Leone, but Cross-examination Highlights Prior Inconsistent Statements

The Hague


May 12, 2008


The Prosecution concluded its direct examination of Karmoh Kanneh, an officer in the RUF.  The focus of the Prosecution’s questions were on Kanneh’s scheduled meeting with Sam Bockarie and receiving ammunition from Charles Taylor’s house during the time of disarmament.


Meeting with Sam Bockarie


Kanneh testified that he met Sam Bockarie at his house.  Bockarie complained to Kanneh about the RUF and described how ungrateful the RUF was to him.  Kanneh alleged that Bockarie apologized for using him during the war and said that the movement would never be successful.   Bockarie also told Kanneh that he had been detained for three to four days because President Taylor was under a lot of pressure from the international community to hand him over.  Because Bockarie threatened to tell the Special Court about Taylor’s relationship with the RUF, he was released a few days later.  He blamed his arrest on Charles Taylor and he was genuinely “worried for his life” at this time.  Kanneh said that after the meeting he himself returned to Sierra Leone and it was there he learned that Bockarie had been killed in Ivory Coast.  Kanneh believes that Charles Taylor had to kill Bockarie to prevent him from ever coming to this Court.

Transfer of weapons from Liberia to Sierra Leone

Kanneh testified that he obtained war materials at the back of the President’s house in May 2000 and that it was at this house that they loaded up the materials and ammunition.  Specifically, he saw AK rounds, RPG rockets, AK machine guns, RPG tubes, and grenades.  They loaded the materials onto a jeep and eventually onto a helicopter.  Kanneh expressed concern about the amount of materials given that peace had already been declared in Sierra Leone and the disarmament had begun.  Issa Sesay was commanding this operation and he told Kanneh that Charles Taylor had given them the materials and $50,000 so that they could attack the Indians from two flanks.  The actual mission took place in 2001 but Kanneh did not take part in this mission.

Other testimony

Kanneh testified that during a military operation he went to Zig Zag Marzah’s house and saw him eating human flesh.  The dead person was a boy they had captured the day before.  Kanneh could identify the human flesh because the head was not cooked and he recognized him.

Kanneh testified on direct examination that he remained with the RUF until the end of disarmament right up to the elections in 2002.  However, once cross-examined on this issue, he clarified that during disarmament he left the zone of the RUF, but not the actual organization and that in 2002 it was the RUF.

Defense’s cross-examination of Kanneh: discrediting the witness

Defense Counsel Terry Munyard spent the bulk of his time trying to discredit Kanneh’s testimony by emphasizing parts of his prior statements to the Prosecution that were inconsistent with his testimony before  this Court.  Kanneh testified that after each interview was complete the Prosecution would read back the testimony and then give him an opportunity to correct/add to the record if mistakes were made. Despite Kanneh’s repeated claims in Court that the written interview testimony was incorrect, he failed to correct the record after the interview when it was read back to him.  His explanation was that he was human and that it was not read to him in this way before.  Under questioning, Kanneh repeatedly admitted that he does not know why incorrect information was documented during the interview.

Further trying to discredit the witness, Munyard questioned Kanneh as to why he never told the prosecutors during the interviews that he met Charles Taylor in Bomi Hills and why he never corrected the testimony that now even Kanneh claims is wrong.   Kanneh claimed that the Prosecution never asked him this specific question and that is why he never mentioned that Charles Taylor addressed them at Bomi Hills.  Specifically, he claimed that the investigators only asked him if Foday Sankoh was there, but they never asked about Charles Taylor.  The witness also testified that it was at Bomi Hills that he was put in a unit called the Black Gadaffa that was organized by Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh, yet he never mentioned the Black Gadaffa prior to testifying in Court.  Munyard then read portions of Kanneh’s interview where he could have brought up the Black Gadaffa but had not.

Munyard then asked Kanneh a series of questions relating to his rank and promotions within the RUF.  Again the witness disagreed with what was written in the interview notes but had failed to make corrections when it was read back to him prior to trial.

The witness testified that he first became aware of the RUF’s involvement in diamonds in 1997 when they captured the Tongo mines.  Using the same tactic, Munyard read Kanneh’s prior testimony which claimed that the diamonds taken from Sierra Leone to Liberia were seized from civilians.  Again, the witness testified that these statements were incorrect in the interview notes, yet he failed to correct them after the interview.

In a further line of questioning, the witness testified that he made two arms related trips to Monrovia but in prior interviews he had stated he made three such trips.  Kanneh had again failed to correct the record.

Cross-examination will continue tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.


  1. Mr. Kanneh is just another long line of not credible witnesses the Prosecution has produced. He has totally failed on cross examination.

  2. I fully agree with you. I do not know where the prosecution is finding these witnesses from. It is disgraceful.

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