Cross examination of witness Albert Hindowa Saidu continues

This is not a verbatim transcript of the court session. Defense (Morris Anyah) questions witness, Charles Taylor present in court.

Defense (Def): We were considering one of your statements of 21 March 2007, on page 4 of tab 1 of the defense’s bundle of documents. You had takes three trips from Sierra Leone (SL) to Liberia. You confirmed this by saying: ” The witness never met Charles Taylor (CT) face to face.” And you reported on an exchange (a trip to Gbanga). We discussed that there was an error regarding the times you went (three vs. one), the time you went (1992 or 1993) and the presence of Sam Bockarie. You signed the statement despite the errors. Did you point out that the entire paragraph was in essence a lie?

Witness (W): I have pointed out to the court that that is not what I said. I went to Gbanga in 1992, not with Sam Bockarie. I have said so before.

Def: Did you point out to the prosecutor that the paragraph was a fabrication?

W: That is not what I said, in my statement I said that I went to Gbanga in 1992. I did not take note of the paragraph. The prosecution wrote the name of Sam Bockarie. I did not say it.

Def: The first paragraph of the same statement relates to trip with Sam Bockarie to Gbanga. Is your signature on the bottom of the page and the date 31 October 2007?

W: Yes.

Def: So twice you signed the information regarding the trip to Gbanga with Sam Bockarie to see Charles Taylor?

W: I signed it, but the statement I made to the prosecution is what I said, but I’ve said it before – I did not go to Gbanga with Sam Bockarie.

Def: Regarding your second trip to Liberia (Foia Tenga).

W: Yes.

Def: When was it?

W: It was in 1998, I can’t recall the month.

Def: Was it March 1998?

W: I can’t recall, but I was in Koindu in 1998.

Def: Sam Bockarie gave you a letter.

W: You were called to Buedu to take the letter?

Def: What is the distance from Buedu to Foia Tenga?

W: I don’t know.

Def: Was it during the rainy or dry season?

W: I can’t recall.

Def: You were called because you had a motorcycle?

W: Yes.

Def: What was your rank?

W: I was a captain.

Def: Before you were posted in Peyama?

W: Yes, there I was a lieutenant.

Def: Where you the only one with a motorcycle?

W: Don’t know, some had vehicles, other bikes. Sam Bockarie had vehicles.

Def: Was there radio contact between RUF and Liberia?

W: Don’t know. I was not at headquarters. At Koindu, we had no authority to communicate without permission.

Def: You were close to Sam Bockarie’s family. You took trips to Buedu because your family was based there and spent some time with Sam Bockarie?

W: Yes.

Def: And you don’t know anything about radio communication?

W: I was told by the securities.

Def: Back to the letter. Why were you chosen, when others had vehicles?

W: I don’t know.

Def: You were under the command of Harris Djongo [sp?]?

W: Yes.

Def: Why did Sam Bockarie not radio Djongo?

W: I don’t know.

Def: In one of your statements you state that you think that Djongo was a Liberian tribesman and you did not know his real name. RUF was under pressure and needed ammunition. You said to Djongo that they were desperate. Djongo sent a jeep full of ammunition with the witness to Buedu. This was during the dry season, before the overthrow of the SL government.

Def: There is difference between Foia and Foia Tenga, right?

W: I went to Foia Tenga, not Foia. After the AFRC coup. That is a mistake in the statement.

Def: In the dry season, vehicles could easily travel in that area?

W: I cannot tell.

Def: Did you meet Djongo personally?

W: At that time, I saw him.

Def: He was head of the RUF. Did you go alone?

W: Yes.

Def: Is it typical for the head of the RUF to tell you the content of the letter?

W: Sometimes yes, for the messenger to hurry up.

Def: He told you?

W: Yes.

Def: He could have asked someone from Koindu, rather than you from Buedu?

W: That would have slowed down the operation. I had never seen Djongo. Djongo told me in Foia Tenga that he had been waiting for the letter, then he took the helicopter.

Def: To Monrovia?

W: That event had passed.

Def: Your birthday is on 23 April. You said that on 23 April there was a satellite phone in the vicinity of Sam Bockarie.

W: Yes. We were only under attack in Koindu in June.

Def: Are you saying the delivery of your letter was in June?

W: I don’t know the month, but it was after the attack had taken place.

Def: Is that what you mean in your statement with “under pressure”.

W: Yes.

Def: If your trip occurred in 1998. Sam Bockarie’s alleged phone call took place in April 1998, to Monrovia. So why would he sent a courier with a letter to give to an intermediary, Djongo, who then took a helicopter to Monrovia?

W: Djongo was a man between the RAF and Charles Taylor. CT would know that whoever was in charge had given him (Djongo) the letter. CT himself would send Djongo to RAF, so if Djongo would come, there would be no doubts. Sometimes radio was monitored, in particular in case of attacks.

Def: Djongo often brought materials while you were with the RUF?

W: Yes.

Def: You told of the phone call of 23 April 1998?

W: Yes.

Def: Why did Sam Bockarie not use the radio?

W: I just explained that because of the pressure, communications were monitored. Maybe that’s why he decided to write a letter instead. He signed it himself. So when Djongo would take it to CT, it was for whoever was in charge at RUF. So no information would leak.

Def: You said that Djongo sent a vehicle with materials with you back to Buedu.

W: No. I just gave him the letter. I returned with my motorcycle to Buedu. But I did not return with a vehicle from Foia Tenga. I went and came back alone.

Def: In your statement you stated that a vehicle was sent with ammunition?

W: No, I returned alone. That only happened when I went to General 50.

Def: Is it an error? Is it a lie?

W: I returned alone from General Djongo. I believe it should be an error.

Def: Are you aware that in 1998 ECOMOG was still in Liberia?

W: I don’t know.

Def: But you went to Liberia by motorcycle?

W: Yes.

Def: And Djongo was going to fly a helicopter? Do you know how much it costs to take a helicopter?

W: I don’t know.

Def: How long did it take you from Buedu to Foia Tenga and back?

W: I don’t know, I did not have to refuel. On one tank it went about 100 miles.

Def: Why you?

W: Because I was a fast motorcycle rider. I had ridden a motorcycle before the war. There were others, but most had learned to ride during the movement.

Def: In 2000, when did you go to General 50 to deliver a letter?

W: After the first disarmament. I was based in Segbwema until the middle of 2000.

Def: Besse Ngobe brought a letter to Segbwema for you to take to General 50?

W: Yes, Besse was in Kono at that time. I had not served under Issa Sesay.

Def: All the places you went [lists places], not once did you serve directly under Issa Sesay.

W: Correct.

Def: But Issa Sesay asked you to take to General 50.

W: Yes, I don’t know why they chose me. It was a command. They could select anybody.

Def: Why you? It was an important letter.

W: Yes. I did not know his real name at the time. I heard later it was Benjamin Jetin. You mentioned it in court.

Def: Was there radio communication between you and Issa Sesay before Besse Ngobe gave you the letter?

W: Yes, the radio operator told me that Besse Ngobe was on his way to give me a letter.

Def: Did you go with anybody?

W: I went with Prince Kosai. He was seated in the back of my motorcycle.

Def: How was your commander at the time?

W: They sent a General from Kono, Amara. Before that, there were only seniors.

Def: You reported to the first Brigade commander?

W: Yes.

Def: How long did it take you to get to Faio?

W: I don’t know, it’s far. A day. I left in the morning and reached there in the afternoon.

Def: Of the following day?

W: No, the same day.

Def: Why did Prince Kosai go with you?

W: He was an “I. O.”. I was told he was going with you. I don’t know who told him we should go together. Besse told me that Prince was going to accompany me.

Def: Was it Besse who told Prince to go with you?

W: No, I was not there when they spoke. I don’t know who told Prince to go to Faio. I think Prince had to go because Prince was an Intelligence Officer, part of the Security Watch Unit.

Def: Was he sent to watch you?

W: I don’t know.

Def: Tell us why an I.O. had to accompany him.

W: I don’t know. I was told he should come with me.

Def: In 1998, on your trip to Foia Tenga, there was an I.O. unit, but nobody accompanied you.

W: Correct.

Def: Did you know the contents of the letter to General 50?

W: No.

Def: Did someone tell you at some point of time?

W: General 50 told me that he and Issa had spoken and he told everyone that they were leaving in the morning and he came with materials. That was the content of the letter.

Def: In your first statement, on page 6, you state that you went to Liberia a third time after the Longwe peace accord was signed.

Def: Your trip occurred after May 8?

W: yes.

Def: In your statement, you say you think it was after July, because it was during the rainy season. You describe General 50. You were there when he opened the letter. General 50 said he had heard from CT that CT had sent ammunition and medicine by helicopter to the RUF.

Def: Are you saying he read the letter to you and told you about his communication about other high officers and referred to CT as the father? And told you he had been in touch with him.

W: Yes.

Def: Was Prince Kosai present?

W: Yes.

Def: He told everyone present?

W: Yes, the soldiers brought him to him. He was sitting down, we were standing, when he told us.

Def: The next day a helicopter was to come?

W: Yes, that is what he told us. I did not see that he came the next day, not from where we were. Ammunition and medicine came and we took it in two vehicles back.

Def: Was that in response to the letter?

W: Yes.

Def: So within one day, they a two jeeps full of medicine of ammunition for you to take back.

W: Yes.

Def: Also arms?

W: Materials. Arms? Should have been in there.

Def: Are you speculating?

W: We took materials, ammunition and medicine. I did not see arms.

Def: Is there a reference to Prince Kosai in your statement?

W: No, the prosecution did not ask me with whom I went. I was not armed on my trip.

Def: Who was supposed to provide security?

W: Two drivers accompanied us. The later returned to Faio.

Def: At the bottom of your statement you only refer to medicine and ammunition and that it was off loaded at a house in Bomeru [sp?]?

W: Yes.

Def: Under tab 6, page 3, you state that you gave this information on 20 and 21 May 2008. It says that you were to give a letter to General 50, aka Benjamin Yeaten. Did the prosecution add “Benjamin Yeaten”?

W: I don’t know.

Def: Must have been the prosecution?

W: I don’t know.

Def: You stated that you were chosen because you had a motorcycle.

W: Not because I had one, but for me to hasten. I just received an order to go to Faio.

Def: You then say that you were provided with arms and ammunition. Did you tell the prosecution there were arms?

W: It was medicine and ammunition.

Def: So the reference to arms is an error?

W: It should be a reference to medicine.

Def: Tab 1, page 13, you state that the rebels had enough weapons that shipments after AFRC joined the RUF, the junta period, after February 1998, consisted only of ammunition.

W: Yes.

Def: Where were you when Foday Sankoh left for Ivory Coast.

W: Is was in Kailahun. I knew somebody who had that information. Foday Sankoh informed everyone that he was going to sign the peace accords.

Def: Who went with Foday Sankoh?

W: I recall, Dingalo, Philip Palma, Dr Barry, a radio operator called Besse and another man whose name I have forgotten. There were five, but I am not entirely sure. The fifth one is called Faia Mussa.

Def: Did he go with a radio operator?

W: Yes, a woman, Besse.

Def: Any male radio operator?

W: I can’t tell.

W: I can’t tell. I can only recall Besse. She was Sierra Leonian.

Def: Have you heard of a radio operator Menunate Din?

W: No. Maybe that was a nickname.

Def: Have you heard of Martin Moinama.

W: I have heard of Martin.

Def: Have you heard of Zedman?

W: Yes, I have forgotten his real name.

Def: Have you heard of a radio operator nicknamed the Cat?

W: No.

Def: Who told you about the trip?

W: It was announced. I can’t recall the actual person. We all know he was going to Abijan.

Def: Did he send any equipment back from Abijan?

W: I don’t know.

Def: Have you heard of Pakallom?

W: Yes. He was with the RUF.

Def: A witness testified regarding the delegation to Abijan, asked who Steve Bio was, that he was part of the delegation. That witness said the woman’s name was Iye. Have you heard of her?

W: No.

Def: Did Pakallom go?

W: I can’t tell you all of the names, as I was not present when they went. I recall the five that I mentioned. They went.

Def: The other witness stated, asked if Martin Moinema went, said that Sarah James was replaced by Martin Moinema and that another radio operator was appointed, Eddy Murphy. Had you heard that a fax machine was sent back from Ivory Coast?

W: No.

Def: So you have only heard part of the story?

W: Yes. Maybe other events happened that I did not hear about, so I don’t know.

Def: How long did Foday Sankoh spend in Ivory Coast?

W: I don’t know exactly.

Def: From Ivory Coast he went to Nigeria?

W: Yes, we heard about his arrest there. That information reached the RUF. We all heard that.

Def: From whom, how did you hear about it?

W: I can’t recall.

Def: Who was said to be the leader of the RUF after his arrest?

W: Zino had disappeared, so Sam Bockarie was in charge.

Def: Was the arrest on 2 March 1997?

W: I can’t tell.

Def: Did you get information on international radio about the leadership of the RUF?

W: No.

Def: Are you aware Philip Pama may statements regarding the leadership?

W: No.

Def. On 5 June this year, last week, you told us you were a senior official of the RUF. And you claim you did not hear anything about the leadership?

W: Yes.

Def: Last week you stated that the delegation was arrested?

W: Yes. They were abducted by the RUF at the riverside.

Def: You said that when Foday Sankoh was arrested Pama stated that they should lay down their arms.

W: They said that the war had ended. But Sam Bockarie and others abducted them. I did not hear anything about a new leadership.

Def: In your statement, asked about Pama, you stated that he was a delegate from RUF to Abijan, and that when Foday Sankoh was under arrest, the other delegates were persuaded by the SL government to join them and leave the RUF. They did not go back to the RUF to report on the peace talks, but to Monrovia.

W: Yes.

Def: And they asked the RUF to disarm?

W: Yes.

Def: Other witnesses have confirmed that Philip Pama was arrested for saying that he was the new leader of the RUF over the Voice of America. Are you aware of such an announcement.

W: No. I did not hear that personally.

Def: Do you know if Pama was getting arms?

W: I don’t know.

Def: Last week, you told us about an attack on Gaia and Lengema.

W: Yes.

Def: You stated Gaia was burned down completely.

W: Yes.

Def: You were there when this document was created?

W: No.

Def: Do you know when this document was actually written? It says 25 April 1999. Could it be that it was actually written in 1995?

W: I can’t say. Could be.

Def: You stated that Foday Sankoh stated that Gaia was to be burned down completely.

W: Yes.

Def: Did you receive ideology training?

W: Yes.

Def: Are you aware that witnesses have stated that the RUF were compassionate with civilians.

W: Yes.

Def: Are you aware of the term people’s army?

W: Yes. It was a term used by Foday Sankoh.

Def: You received ideology training at the same time of the instruction to burn down the villages?

W: Yes.

Def: Part of the training was to respect civilian lives and property?

W: Yes.

Def: Yet you heard that Foday Sankoh gave an order to burn down the villages?

W: Yes, it was an order.

 Court adjourned.