Defense questions Samuel Kargbo about Supreme Council meeting minutes

12:00 (12:30 with delay in video and audio):  Court is back in session following the midmorning break.  Defense Counsel Munyard continues his cross-examination of Samuel Kargbo.


Def:  We were just discussing Reverend Pratt.  Why was it important that he remained in prison?


Wit:  I don’t understand.  Please explain.


Def:  [Presents document MFI-16 to witness.]


[Interruption in video and audio.]


Def:  And so had Burkina Faso, and so had Niger.


Wit:  Yes.


Def:  And was that discussed at the very first meeting of the AFRC?


Wit:  We discussed it after the AFRC had joined us.  Before the ECOWAS meeting.


Def:  When you say this, what do you mean?


Wit:  When they joined the AFRC.


Def:  They joined within two to three weeks from the coup.  We established that this morning.  I think you are saying within one to two weeks of the coup.


Wit:  Yes.


Def:  So the RUF have joined you by the 19th of July.  They definitely joined you.


Wit:  They joined us even before that.


Def:  On the first page of this document.  Look at some of the names.  Number 8, Colonel Dennis Mingo, what group is he part of?


Wit:  RUF.


Def:  Isaac T. Mungo?


Wit:  I don’t know his surname.  He was known as Colonel Isaac.


[Interruption in audio.]


Wit:  Within the RUF.  He was the only one that I knew.


Def:  Masakoy [ph]?  What group was he?


Wit:  RUF.


Def:  Kallon?


Wit:  RUF.


Def:  Ibrahim Sesay?


Wit:  SLA.


Def:  So the RUF were a part of the July 19th meeting?


Wit:  Yes.


Def:  And you discussed the recognition of your government by three foreign governments at this meeting?


Wit:  Yes.


Def:  We’ve looked so far at the first three pages.  I’m going to take you over the next pages.  The fourth page deals with Gborie’s report, the film show, mining in Kono.  Page five deals with secret deals, diamonds, other business (including secrecy and indiscriminate shooting, recognition – and under recognition it says that Colonel Isaac reported about the problem of recognition).  And on the final page, power of the people – Leftenant Collins dealt with the importance of power of the people.  Nobody seems to have mentioned what is hardly a minor matter – the recognition of your government that you claimed has taken place by Liberia, Burkina Faso, and Niger.  Why wasn’t it minuted?


Wit:  As you can see in the minutes, there is something about secrecy.  I know it should be in front of you.


Def:  Are you making that answer up as you go along?


Wit:  I would like you to go over the minutes again.


Prosecutor Koumjian:  I believe Defense misquoted the witness.  He testified that this was discussed after the RUF had joined, before the ECOWAS meeting.


Judge Sebutinde:  But the witness was specifically asked about the July 19th meeting.


Def:  That’s what you were telling us about.  The discussion at this meeting.


Wit:  Yes.


Def:  And you say it was discussed.  But you are now claiming that it may not have been minuted because I took you to the passage secrecy.  A public recognition of your government by those governments was a secret.  Is that what you are telling us?


Wit:  Exactly.


Def:  So they kept it a secret?


Prosecutor Koumjian:  Argumentative.


Presiding Judge Doherty:  Allowed.


Wit:  Yes.  That’s why it is written there.  Not everything could be written in the minutes.


Def:  Do you understand what recognition of one government by another is for?  You tell the learned judges.


Wit:  The atmosphere would be different.  Not everybody should know who recognized us. 


Def:  How is the atmosphere different if other governments are kept in the dark about three of your neighbors lending legitimacy to your coup?


Wit:  That’s why it wasn’t included in any document.


Def:  Did it remain a secret?


Wit:  Yes.  Except now.  It remained a secret.


Def:  Are you the first person to reveal to the world that back in 1997 your junta received recognition?


Wit:  I believe the Prosecution did the research.  I am not the first person.


Def:  Have you heard anyone announce that this secret had been revealed?


Wit:  No.


Def:  As far as you are aware, you are the first person to break the secret?


Wit:  Yes.


Def:  Your government was never recognized by Liberia, I suggest.  You made that up.


Wit:  No.


Def:  Whose decision was it to keep it a secret?


Wit:  It was a combined decision.  The RUF and the AFRC.


Def:  Were you seeking recognition in order to persuade other governments to recognize you?


Wit:  Yes.  But it did not happen.


Def:  Because you kept it such a secret?


Wit:  Yes.


Def:  So it was pointless to have their recognition if you were going to keep it secret?


Wit:  Liberia recognized us.  It was for the other countries that did not recognize us.


Def:  That may be right, but it was pointless to have the recognition of these three countries if you were going to keep it a secret?


Wit:  No.  They wanted us to keep it a secret.  Anything ECOWAS wanted to do, pass through Liberia, Taylor would not accept. 


Def:  Look at the paragraph on secrecy and indiscriminate shooting.  [Reads from document.]  What that means is that members of the Supreme Council shouldn’t go around talking about things that you discussed in private, doesn’t it?


Wit:  No. Yes.  Together what you have said and what I said.


Def:  Give us some examples of things to be kept secret.


Wit:  I can’t recall all of them.  If you ask me a question then I will answer.  And about arms and ammunition deals.  Diamonds.


Def:  Obviously you would want to keep secret where you were getting your arms.


Wit:  Yes.


Def:  And you were mainly getting arms from Burkina Faso.


Wit:  Through Liberia.


Def:  And what about Libya?


Wit:  I don’t know about any shipment that came from Libya.


Def:  Can you help us with what this problem with indiscriminate shooting was?


Wit:  It was relating to the Alpha Jet.  The soldiers would fire the jet.


Def:  And then recognition, Colonel Isaac reported about this problem.  Who are the armed forces other than the People’s Army?


Wit:  The armed forces was the Sierra Leonean army.


Def:  You mean those who remained loyal to President Kabbah?


Wit:  There were different types of armed men.  We didn’t know that they were loyal to Kabbah.  Some of them were loyal to us.


Def:  Was the People’s Army getting into confrontations with armed forces personnel?


Wit:  Yes.  We heard that and we tried to redress it.


Def:  Are we talking about firing at each other?


Wit:  No.  I never heard that they had exchange of fire.  I heard that they fought physically.


Def:  On the previous page, the Kono issue.


[Witness leaves the courtroom.]


Def:  [Reading] Following the difficulties that came along with the political impasse, an initiative was taken to send a team to Kono to do some mining.  The team was not believed to have worked well.  The Chief Secretary of State was instructed to stop all mining operations.  Who was in this team and why did they not work well?


Wit:  At first the team comprised Five-Five.  At that time he was the one who was sent as the overall commander.


Def:  Who was in this team?


Wit:  He was the only one who was appointed.  There was no other supreme member, except the other RUF that I did not know.  There was the RUF representative who he went to join.


Def:  Was there a problem between the RUF and AFRC in the mining fields in Kono?


Wit:  At the early stage there was no problem.  Members of the Supreme Council sent their family members to Kono.


Def:  Members of the Supreme Council were sending their family members to mine for themselves?


Wit:  Exactly.


Def:  [Reading].  Saj Musa came with diamonds, and reminded members that there should be no need to rely on funding from external sources.  How were these diamonds carried?


Wit:  They were trying to get funds.  People were assigned to dealing these diamonds.


Def:  You told us before the break that you had seen diamonds carried in plastic bags, and you demonstrated a similar type bag.  How were these diamonds carried?


Wit:  By then, it was the chief Secretary of State, Saj Musa, that brought them.  They were wrapped in something like tissue, not plastic.


Def:  Did you ever see diamonds in a glass jar?


Wit:  No.


Def:  How many times were you at meetings of the Supreme Council during the period of the junta government?


Wit:  I was always present save for the time I was sent to Kono.


Def:  How many meetings out of the total did you not attend?


Wit:  I cannot recall.


Def:  Can you recall the total number of meetings?


Wit:  No.


Def:  Any idea roughly what proportion you attended?


Wit:  Only the time that I left to go to Kono that I did not attend.  I cannot tell how often they had meetings after that time.


Def:  They still had meetings after you left for Kono.  Presumably you got the minutes even if you were not present.


Wit:  Since I had not joined during the intervention, I did not get any minutes, because I did not come to Freetown.


Def:  When did you go to Kono?


Wit:  I went to Kono around mid-January 1998.


Def:  You were only in Kono for about a month for the nine months the junta was in power.


Wit:  About that.


Def:  During the period you were there, from May to mid-January of the following year, were diamonds produced at any other Council meeting?


Wit:  Yes.


Def:  How often were diamonds shown?


Wit:  About one or two occasions.  Rambo brought diamonds on one or two occasions.


Def:  Just on one or two occasions in the first eight months of the junta?


Wit:  The ones that Rambo brought.  And Five-Five.  And others.


Def:  I didn’t ask about any individual.  I asked how often diamonds were shown at Supreme Council meetings.  Your answer was about one or two occasions. 


Wit:  That is what I recall.  And Saj Musa.


Def:  You said that Rambo brought them on one or two occasions.  And others brought them on other occasions.  Tell us on how many occasions you saw diamonds.


Wit:  I cannot remember the times. 


Def:  Rambo, once or twice.  How many times did the others, Five-Five and Musa and others, bring diamonds.


Wit:  Saj Musa, the one he brought was in a tissue.  The one that Five-Five brought were in plastic.


Def:  Under the heading, Kono issue, Abacha was the president of Nigeria.  What was the secret deal between him and Tejan Kabbah.


Wit:  It was what they did by removing us from power in 1998.


Def:  How does this come under the Kono issue?


Wit:  This was a minute of a meeting during which people were making their contributions.  We had that they were trying to get men together to remove us from power.


Def:  Which didn’t happen until February 1998.


Wit:  Yes.


Def:  Did Tejan Kabbah have diamonds?  Is that why it comes under Kono issue?


Wit:  By then we had a report that some people who were strong supporters of SLPP and who were in Kono were pretending to be loyal to us, the AFRC.


[Break in audio and video.]


Wit:  It was only when they tried to remove us from power that we realized it was those diamonds they were using.


Def:  They removed you from power in February 1998.  We are looking at a deal that occurred in 1997.  Can you shed any light on that?


Wit:  That is the only explanation I have.


Def:  On the previous page, film show, a special film was played for council members to learn from the Guinean fourth republic.  In the film, very high standards of discipline were reflected.  I don’t want to dwell on the film.  The AFRC looked to Jerry Rawlings as a kind of godfather, didn’t they?


Wit:  We did not have anything to do with him, no.


Def:  Nothing to do with Jerry Rawlings of Ghana?


Wit:  No.  I even wondered how this film came to the Supreme Council.


Def:  Members of the Sierra Leonean army who participated in the coup…


[Break in audio.]


Def:  To encourage you to behave in a way that Jerry Rawlings government and forces behaved, wasn’t it?


Wit:  Yes, that was why they played the film.


Def:  So why did you say that the AFRC did not have anything to do with Jerry Rawlings if he sent his foreign minister to see you the previous month?


Wit:  He was the first foreign minister who came, and he tried to persuade us to hand over power.


Def:  And that was before this meeting we are looking at the minutes of.


Wit:  Exactly.


Def:  Did Ghana secretly recognize your government?


Wit:  No.  I never knew about that.


Def:  I want to ask you more about this delegation that had already been to see Taylor, headed by SYB Rogers.  Who else was on the delegation?


Wit:  There are two I remember.


Def:  What about AK Sesay?


Wit:  Exactly. 


Def:  You told us his name when you gave us evidence before.  You mentioned him and Colonel Charles Conteh.  I don’t think you mentioned Kanu.  SYB Rogers is dead.


Wit:  Yes.


Def:  Are any members of that delegation still alive?


Wit:  Mike Lamin.


Def:  I’m talking about the first delegation.  Mike Lamin was part?


Wit:  Yes.


Def:  And this was the delegation that went to see Charles Taylor.  You said you weren’t sure where they met Taylor.  Do you know how they got to Liberia? 


Wit:  It was by road by Freetown, Bo, Kenema District, and then they crossed the border.


Def:  What had they gone for?


Wit:  At first it was a delegation seeking recognition.


Def:  I thought you already had recognition from Taylor in a telephone call with Johnny Paul Koroma.


Wit:  He did say we needed to send a delegation.


Def:  Why did he say you needed a delegation for secret recognition?


Wit:  That was the proposal made by the chairman, Johnny Paul Koroma.


Def:  Mike Lamin, SYB Rogers and others go to seek recognition.  What did they come back with?


Wit:  They told us Mr. Taylor agreed.  That they were welcomed.  They praised him a lot.


Def:  Did they take anything with them?


Wit:  I wouldn’t know.  The chairman was supposed to send a letter.


Def:  And the letter was to ask for the AFRC government to be recognized?


Wit:  I don’t know what was in the letter.


Def:  You told the court in May that it was a letter they were supposed to take to be recognized.  Do you remember saying that?


Wit:  I am still saying a letter was sent, but what was in the letter I don’t know.


Def:  What do you expect the delegation to come back with if the other government has agreed to recognize them?


Wit:  They must bring some word.


Def:  Words on paper, presumably.


Wit:  Maybe just that they would come and explain.


Def:  When they went off with your letter and he recognized your government, did he send a letter in reply?


Wit:  Well, on their return they only reported verbally.  I did not see a letter.


Def:  Did they mention a letter?


Wit:  Whether he wrote it, I did not see a letter.


Def:  Why didn’t you mention Mike Lamin being on this delegation?


Wit:  Like I said in May, I cannot recall all of them.  I said the head was SYB Rogers.


Def:  Now you are saying Mike Lamin was there.


Wit:  Yes.


Def:  Who else do you remember today?


Wit:  The ones I said a short while ago. 


Def:  Do you agree that was a very important delegation?


Wit:  I knew, but there were some other things that I also committed myself, so I can’t recall.


Def:  Do you agree that that was a very important delegation to go on?


Wit:  Yes, that is why I recall the head of the delegation by name.


Def:  And then you told us about another delegation.  Who was on the second delegation?


Wit:  The delegation about the arms deal?


Def:  Was there a second delegation?


Wit:  Yes.  If I can remember, I think Kanu, Lamin, and Rogers together with some other RUF high commands.


Def:  So Lamin and Rogers went on both?


Wit:  Yes.


Def:  Where did the second delegation go?


Wit:  They went through Liberia.  When they were leaving I knew they were going to meet President Taylor.


Def:  Did they meet him?


Wit:  I was not part of the delegation so I can’t say.


Def:  You were on the Supreme Council of the AFRC junta government.  The Council sent the delegation to Taylor to organize arms and ammunition, an extremely important delegation.  When the delegation came back they presumably reported back to the Supreme Council.


Wit:  About the arms and ammunition.


Def:  What happened when the second delegation went to Liberia?  What did they tell you?


Wit:  They met us.  They came on a plane with arms.


Def:  How long after they had gone to Liberia did they return?


Wit:  Within a week.


Def:  So they came back before the arms and ammunition?


Wit:  Some came on the airplane.  I can recall Fonte Kanu and a guy who had on Burkina Faso military fatigues.


Def:  So, Mike Lamin did not come back until he lands with the airplane.  When SYB Rogers came back, did he tell you what Taylor said?


Wit:  He did not explain anything but he had a closed off talk with the chairman.  They had a closed door discussion, but they did not explain that to the Supreme Council.


Def:  The first thing you would want to find out is if they met Taylor?


Wit:  I was not there to find out.  My bosses were there.


Def:  What is the problem with SYB Rogers telling the whole council that he had a meeting with Taylor?


Wit:  The only thing they said was that everything worked out well, and that the airplane would arrive.  Whether there was any other discussion, the chairman and chief secretary of state said they would discuss later.


Def:  What about John Karifa Smart [ph]?


Wit:  I cannot recall everyone who was on the delegation. 


Def:  When Lamin arrived on the plane in Magbaraka, did he tell you what Taylor said in Monrovia?


Wit:  He didn’t explain anything to us.


Def:  Tell us, when the plane arrived, who was the first off?


Wit:  Mike Lamin.


Def:  And who was there to meet the plane?


Wit:  I was there together with other Supreme Council members and RUF high commanders. 


Def:  Can you name the RUF?


Wit:  CO Senegalese, Lion.


Def:  Where was Issa Sesay?


Wit:  He was there too.


Def:  When the plane touched down and the three men got out, what was expected to happen?


Wit:  We tried to remove it as fast as possible.  And everybody hurried to load the vehicles.


Def:  Did anybody go back on the plane?


Wit:  Except for the crew, Musa, Fonte, and Mike Lamin, all of them joined us and went to Freetown.


Def:  Was there a plan for Fonte Kanu to go back on the plane?  Issa Cesay? 


Wit:  No.  We all drove back to Freetown.