August 20, 2008
As announced yesterday by Lead Defense Counsel Courtenay Griffiths, Charles Taylor was back in Court today, despite the issues surrounding the increased security measures for his transport from Scheveningen jail to the Court not being resolved.
Today’s entire Court session was devoted to testimony by one witness, who was given the pseudonym TF1-367 for reasons of his own security. The witness was a member of the RUF with close links to the men in command. He gave the first part of his testimony in private session.
In open session, the witness recalled an attack on the city of Kakata in Liberia in 1990, executed by Charles Taylor’s NPFL rebels. After the attack, a befriended rebel convinced the witness (an inhabitant of Kakata at the time) to change his name and join the rebels. The witness did and was introduced to Foday Sankoh to fight with him in Sierra Leone – a war supported by Charles Taylor. The witness subsequently followed training to prepare him for the war. Some of his co-trainees became high commanders in the RUF, such as Sam Bockarie, Mike Lamin and Issa Sesay.
Prosecutor Nick Koumjian asked detailed questions about the witness’s assignments in different towns in Sierra Leone. The witness explained that at one point he was in charge of the mining activities, and at another he was head of logistics – seeing to it that the soldiers received their allowances. The witness was for some time responsible for buying arms and ammunitions. These were purchased from money received in exchange for coffee, palm oil and cacao – which the RUF had obtained from “contributions” from inhabitants of the areas they controlled.
Elaborate testimony was given on the attack on Koidu Town in the province of Kono. The witness explained that a preparatory meeting was held, of which he assumed there was a report. The attack was successful, after which he stayed in Koidu Town while others went on to take other towns, such as Makeni.
The Prosecution encountered strong resistance from the Defense and the Court upon their request to have the witness identify signatures on documents. On two occasions, the Court denied the documents to be shown to the witness, ruling that insufficient foundation in relation to those documents had been established (despite attempts by the Prosecution to do so). A third document, already submitted as evidence, was at the end of the session shown to the witness, who identified the signature as that of Jabba, Issa Sesay’s adjutant.
At this point Court is adjourned until tomorrow 9.30 a.m.