Trial Report: July 2008

Proceedings began on July 2, 2008 with the testimony of TF1-567 and went into recess until August after the dismissal of TFI-388, Jaward Jabati, on July 18, 2008.  The court heard from two witnesses during this reporting period for a total of 35 witnesses to date in the case against Charles Taylor.  The witnesses testified that Taylor collaborated and supported RUF forces in Sierra Leone.  The prosecution sought to use the witnesses’ testimony to support its claims that Charles Taylor aided and abetted crimes committed in Sierra Leone during the indictment period.

As with the [x] previous reports, available only at, this report summarizes witness testimony heard during this period and identifies issues that have arisen at trial.  It also notes significant submissions by both parties and decisions by the Trial Chamber.

The following witnesses testified during this reporting period:

1. TF1-567

2. TF1-388/Jabati Jaward

Proceedings in this period began with the testimony of TF1-567, who gave evidence regarding his capture, training, and the exchange of diamonds for arms, ammunition and other supplies.  As revealed during the cross-examination, however, the witness’s testimony regarding the diamond trade was primarily hearsay.  Nevertheless, the witness did have significant actual knowledge of certain diamond mining operations and Bockarie and Sankoh’s trips to see Taylor in Liberia.

The defense primarily attacked the witness’s testimony regarding the diamond trade.  The defense argued that the witness did not understand many of the documents written in English, and therefore objected to his testimony regarding the documents.  While the documents were not excluded, the Court expressed concern over the witness’s understanding of the documents before investigators read them to him and warned the Prosecution about leading the witness.

Next, Jaward Jabati, TF1-388, gave evidence regarding his capture, training, relationship with Bockarie, and Taylor’s role in supplying arms to Sierra Leone.  While the witness had significant actual knowledge regarding Taylor’s interactions with Bockarie, who employed the witness in a store for arms, ammunition, and various rations, his credibility was attacked by the defense.

The defense attacked the witness’s motivations for testifying and inconsistencies between the witness’s oral testimony and previous testimony.  Although the witness received money from the prosecution prior to his testimony, he testified that these payments were for expenses he incurred for transportation, medical treatment, and loss of wages.  However, the inconsistencies cast doubt on all of the witness’s previous testimony.  During the reexamination, the prosecution attempted to shift the focus away from documents which showed varying accounts of which of his fellow fighters were still alive and dead, and towards Taylor’s role in supplying arms and ammunition to Sierra Leon fighters.

Prosecution Themes and Strategies

Throughout its questioning of TFI-567 and Jabati Jaward, the Prosecution sought to (1) link Taylor to the crimes committed in Sierra Leone and (2) emphasize the role of diamonds and arms in the conflict.

(1) Linking Taylor to Crimes in Sierra Leone

The witness’s testimony highlighted Taylor’s role in providing supplies and orders to various RUF fighters operating in Sierra Leone.  For example, TFI-567 gave testimony regarding trips with Sankoh to see Taylor in order to procure arms and ammunition for use in Sierra Leone.  TFI-567 also gave testimony discussing Taylor’s order to capture Kono for its diamond mines.  Further, Jabati Jaward discussed his involvement in Bockarie’s supply store, which received deliveries of arms from Taylor.

(2) Role of the Diamond Trade

Both witnesses’ testimony discussed the exchange of diamonds for arms and ammunition.  Moreover, TFI-567 gave testimony regarding military operations, ordered by Taylor, to capture certain towns with diamond mines.  The diamonds were oftentimes mined by civilians, and then given to the RUF, who, in turn, traded them for arms and ammunition.  Both witnesses testified that Taylor was involved in these transactions.

Defense Themes and Strategies

Throughout its cross-examinations of TFI-567 and Jabati Jaward, the Defense sought to (1) undermine the credibility of the witnesses and (2) challenge the prosecution’s use of certain documentary evidence to link Taylor to war crimes.

(1) Undermining Credibility

The defense sought to undermine TFI-567’s credibility by questioning his actual knowledge of Taylor’s involvement in the diamond trade and the witness’s involvement in a rape. The witness admitted that he never witnessed a meeting between Charles Taylor and Issa Sessay, Benjamin Yeaten, Johnny Paul Koroma, Foday Sankoh, or Sam Bockarie.  The witness admitted that he never heard Charles Taylor give orders to transport arms into Sierra Leone.  Further, while the witness denied his involvement in a rape and subsequent punishment, the defense argued that the witness was forced to marry a woman that he raped.

The defense undermined Jabati Jaward’s testimony by questioning payments he received from the prosecution.  In response, the witness testified that he received money from the prosecution, but the payments were for expenses he incurred for transportation, medical treatment and loss of wages.  Further, the defense highlighted inconsistencies between the witness’s testimony in court and previously given testimony.  In response, the witness testified that the record of his previous testimony contained errors.

(2) Attacking Documentary Evidence

The defense attacked evidence shown to the witnesses by arguing that the documents were not presented to the witness appropriately.  Although TFI-567 was not fluent in English, the prosecution read him certain documents in English then questioned his knowledge of the document.  While the Court did not stop the prosecution, the judges expressed concern about the effect of reading a document on the witness’s testimony.  Jabati Jaward was asked to identify Bockarie’s house in a photo.  The defense unsuccessfully argued that the witness should have been asked to describe the house before being shown the photo in order to avoid the danger of leading the witness.

Legal and Procedural Issues

Motion for private session for Jabati Jaward

In July, the Special Court decided on a motion to move into a private session under Rule 79 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.  Rule 79 provides that closed and private sessions may be granted on the grounds of national security, witness protection, or the interests of justice. While the prosecution did not object to the defense’s motion, the judges asked for the defense’s rationale for the motion.  The defense argued that the motion should be granted in the interests of justice.  This rationale was sufficient for the judges and the motion was granted.

Defense’s application for adjournment

On July 17, the defense made a motion for adjournment of proceedings and to discuss the issue in private session.  After a private session, the Court granted the defenses motion for adjournment and Court resumed the next day.

Search of Charles Taylor

On July 18, the defense expressed dissatisfaction with the strip search of Charles Taylor.  The defense urged the court to launch an investigation of the allegedly inappropriate search.  According to the Court, Special Rule 59 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence applies and the Registrar should investigate these matters.

Objections to documentary evidence presented to TF1-567

The defense objected to document MFI 4, which is a Black Guard record book, arguing that it is obscure and parts have been cut off.  The defense requested an original, but the prosecution did not have the original because it had been returned to the Sierra Leone government.  Judge Sebutinde allowed the examination of the witness to proceed after the prosecution said that they will attempt to obtain an original.

When the prosecution asked the witness about the contents of the document, the defense objected because the witness did not produce the document and is not an expert on diamonds. The defense was also concerned about whether the witness knew about the document or merely knew the contents of the document after seeing it during the investigation. Judge Sebutinde concurred and expressed concern about the witness’s understanding of the document prior to having an investigator read it to him.  The prosecution argued that reading a document to a witness is allowed if the witness is not fluent.  Here, the witness had some grasp of English, but fluency had not been established.

After asking the witness exactly what words the witness understands, the judge concluded that the witness did not really understand the document because the witness understood only a handful of words on the document.

The prosecution then asked the witness about materials mentioned in the document.  The witness, however, began discussing materials that are not mentioned in the document.  This prompted the defense to object because the witness was contradicting the contents of the document.  Judge Sebutinde noted that the prosecution was leading the witness, and believed that the way it was proceeding was more like a cross-examination.  Judge Lussick reiterated concern over the witness’s understanding of the document before investigators read it to him.

The prosecution, however, proceeded to read the document to the witness.  The witness discussed the section of the document referring to people who accompanied Issa Sesay during the attack on Koidu town, an attack with which the witness was not involved.  The prosecution listed several names and the witness identified each person’s position.  The names involved included: Major Edwards Vandy (RUF guard), Captain Mohamed Kamara (junior RUF commander), Captain Mori Jiba (junior commander and Black Guard), and Abdulai Massulai (SLA on the ARFC).

Objections to documentary evidence presented to TF1-388 (Jabati Jaward)

The defense unsuccessfully objected to the prosecutions presentation of a photo of Bockarie’s house and a list of materials supplied to Issa Sesay for the Kono operation. The presentation of the photo did not amount to leading the witness even though the defense believed that the witness should have been asked to describe the photo before being shown the photo. Also, the presentation was not deemed to be leading because the witness was able to lay a proper foundation for the document before seeing it.

The defense also unsuccessfully objected to questions falling outside of the indictment period.  The questions were allowed because they were meant to establish a relationship between Charles Taylor and Bockarie.

Witness Testimony


The prosecution called witness TF1-567 on the morning of July 2.  The witness testified not only with facial and voice distortion, but also with private or closed sessions when necessary.  The witness was captured and trained by NPFL rebels fighting for the RUF in Bunumbu in 1991. After the training, he was chosen as one of the Mansion Security Guards to Foday Sankoh, whom the witness referred to as Charles Taylor’s brother. Next, he was chosen for inclusion in the Black Guards Unit, which was formed to be personal bodyguards to Foday Sankoh.

He spoke of times when he accompanied Sankoh to see Charles Taylor in Liberia. During these visits Taylor would provide them with arms and ammunition. The witness discussed attacks that were launched in order to get diamonds, which were exchanged for arms and ammunition.  The witness was a bodyguard to Sankoh until the time of his arrest in May 2000.

Capture and recruitment into Mansion Security Guards / Black Guards

In May 1991, the witness was captured along with other civilians when Bunumbu Town was attacked by rebels.  They were taken to a Court Barry, where they were punished, then taken to a training base in the Bonumbu Vocational Training compound.  They were trained by NPFL Rebels Fighting for the RUF in Sierra Leone.  Charles Timba, a Liberian, was the training commandant and was assisted by Monica Pearson.  The trainees included not only men and women, but also adults and children.  The witness testified that refusal to train resulted in severe punishment.

After the training, the witness was chosen as a Mansion Guard for Sankoh’s Pendembu home.  Those not chosen as Mansion Guards were sent to the front lines.  Although the Mansion Guards initially included some Liberians, they were sent to the front lines in 1991.  The Mansion Guards then became known as the Black Guards and served as Sankoh’s personal bodyguards.

Trips to see Taylor

In 1991 and 1992, the witness accompanied Sankoh on a trip to acquire arms and ammunition for the RUF from Taylor in Liberia.  However, in 1993, ULIMO fighters, led by Alhaji Koroma, blocked the road between Sierra Leone and Liberia, which restricted RUF access to Taylor in Liberia.  Sankoh ordered jungle warfare after government soldiers attacked RUF positions.

Diamonds for arms and ammunition

In 1992, Sankoh ordered an attack on Kono for its diamond mines.  Kono was captured by troops commanded by Sam Bockarie (“Mosquito”).  The witness observed transactions between Sankoh and Mosquito in Kono where Mosquito gave diamonds to Sankoh, which Sankoh then took to Charles Taylor in exchange for arms and ammunition.  Mosquito also gave diamonds to Charles Taylor in exchange for rice and clothing for the RUF.

The Black Guards kept records of the diamond mining in Kono.  The prosecution showed the witness document MFI 4, a Black Guard record book, in order to provide additional evidence of the group’s diamond mining activities.  While in Kono, the witness worked with a RUF commando, Josef Bakundu, who was ordered by Issa Sesay to take the reports.  Bakundu’s job was to ensure that every mined diamond was recorded because the group received a percentage of every diamond over 1 karat.

Abidjan Peace Accord to the Lomé Peace Accord

In 1996, Sankoh went to Abidjan to negotiate a peace accord with the Sierra Leone government.  The Abidjan Peace Accord was supported by all of the RUF commanders.

In 1997, the AFRC overthrew the Kabbah Government in Sierra Leone.  The witness heard about the coup over the radio and then received orders from Sankoh to form an AFRC/RUF alliance. The witness joined the AFRC in Freetown and was based in Benguemawith other RUF fighters. The AFRC/RUF controlled the mining activities in Kono and Tongo.  They forced civilians to mine for diamonds.  If civilians refused or were caught trying to hide diamonds, they were killed.  All diamonds were handed over to Mosquito, Eddie Kanneh and Johnny Paul Koroma.  The witness highlighted the command structure in Kono, where Issa Sesay was the overall commander.  Other commanders in Kono included Morris Kallon, Rambo and Akim Turay.

In 1998, the AFRC/RUF were removed from power by ECOMOG forces.  Afterwards, Taylor gave orders to Mosquito to advance to recapture Kono for its diamonds, which would be used to get arms and ammunition.  The effort was successful and RUF continued to mine in Kono.

In 1999, AFRC soldiers, with RUF reinforcement, invaded Freetown.  The witness assisted after Issa Sesay received the orders from Mosquito.  Ultimately, the invasion was unsuccessful but ECOMOG repelled the AFRC/RUF soldiers.

In 1999, the witness, along with 17 other men chosen by Mosquito at Sankoh’s behest, joined Sankoh in Lomé, Togo for peace talks with the Sierra Leone government.  Members of the delegation included Daudi Forni (aka DAF), SYB Rogers, Rashid Sandy, Mike Lamin, Leather Boot, and a woman called Agnes.

Cross Examination

The defense’s questions mainly addressed the witness’s loyalty to the RUF, actual knowledge of the diamond trade, and character.

The defense questioned the witness’s claims that he was recruited into the RUF by force.  Although the witness maintained that he was captured and trained against his will, the defense continued to question why he never attempted to escape and how he rose to positions of trust, acting as personal bodyguard to Sankoh.  The witness refuted the defense’s claims arguing that he did not attempt to escape because he feared for his life and that he rose to a position of trust because Sankoh liked him.

The defense next attacked the witness’s assertion that RUF policy forbade raping, looting, and killing civilians.  He argued that, indeed, these things sometimes occurred on the front lines, but it was the job of the Black Guards to report such problems.  The witness refuted his own claims by recounting a story where Sankoh was under the threat of being disciplined for killing a soldier who raped a civilian.  When asked about amputation, the witness testified that he never witnessed or heard of any orders regarding civilian amputations.

Next, the defense questioned the witness’s accounts of the exchanges of diamonds for arms and ammunition, trying to establish the lack of actual knowledge.  The witness admitted that he never witnessed a meeting between Charles Taylor and Issa Sessay, Benjamin Yeaten, Johnny Paul Koroma, Foday Sankoh, or Sam Bockarie.  The witness admitted that he never heard Charles Taylor give orders to transport arms into Sierra Leone.  Accordingly, the witness’s testimony regarding Taylor’s involvement in the diamonds for arms and ammunition trade was hearsay.  The defense, however, went further, arguing that the witness’s testimony regarding Taylor was a fabrication and merely the result of the prosecution coaching the witness.

The defense cast doubt on the witness’s account of the RUF’s guerilla warfare strategy by presenting exhibit 15, a document signed by Sankoh regarding airlifted deliveries for the RUF.  While the witness testified that the RUF’s guerilla strategy was a reaction to ground supply lines being cut, the defense sought to demonstrate  that the RUF may not have had limited supplies based on exhibit 15.

The defense also tried to put the witness’s character in question because of his trial for raping a girl in 1994.  The defense argued that the witness was found guilty, imprisoned for a month, then forced to marry his rape victim since she was a virgin at the time of the rape. The witness denied these allegations, but the defense continued, claiming that the witness was later flogged after being found guilty of mistreating the rape victim, who had since become his wife.  Again, the witness denied the allegation.  He did admit that Issa Sesay had him flogged, but for reasons relating to the sharing of confidential information.

The witness’s character was further put into question after the defense asked the witness to recount his role in diamond mining.  The witness testified that in 1997 he had five civilians mine diamonds, which he would sell.  Indeed, this is how many soldiers were able to pay themselves.

The defense asked the witness to recount his participation in the Lomé Peace Agreement, in an attempt to establish that Charles Taylor did not send any arms or ammunition to Sierra Leone.  Instead, the witness testified that the peace agreement did not end Taylor’s arms and ammunition shipments to the RUF in Sierra Leone.

TF1-388/Jaward Jabati

Jabati unsuccessfully fled from the rebels in 1991, and eventually was taken to a training camp in Pendembu where he was taught the ideology of the rebels and how to fight.  After the training, he went to the front lines, where his troops sustained heavy casualties resulting from a government attack.  Upon his return to Pendembu, he joined the G2, a RUF administrative office that handled complaints of violence against civilians.  Jabati was employed in the office until the Top 20 mission in 1992.

Top 20

Jabati testified about the Top 20 operation, a battle between Liberian and Sierra Leonean factions of the RUF.  He testified that many civilians, including his grandmother, were killed during the operation, but that many were killed before it began as well.

RUF diamond mining

The witness asserted that all diamonds mined in Kono were regarded as RUF property.  Moreover, the RUF carried on mining activities in Tongo, where Sam Bockarie was the commander, and the Peyama Jungle, where Pa Abdul was the mining commander.  The witness observed mining commanders, including Pa Abdul, deliver diamonds to Sam Bockarie, who in turn may have delivered them to Sankoh or exchanged them for arms and ammunition from Liberia.

Killings ordered by Sankoh

In 1993, while working as an investigator in the Military Police Unit of the RUF, certain RUF commanders were accused of communicating with government troops.  Jabati testified that many of the accused were killed before investigations were completed.  These executions were ordered by Bockarie and carried out by Issa Sesay, Sam Bockarie, Mohamed Tarawally, among others.   The witness listed some of the deceased, which included his cousin and Sankoh’s girlfriend.  The RUF employed various techniques to kill them, such as torture, beheading, and burning the accused with hot oil.  Soon thereafter, the RUF pursued a strategy of jungle warfare after they were overrun by government troops.  In 1996, while Sankoh was away for peace talks in Abidjan, government troops destroyed Zogoda.  Mohamed Tarawaly, in charge of Zogoda during Sankoh’s absence, was replaced by Sam Bockarie, who became RUF Battle Group Commander.

Witness’s relationship to Bockarie

The witness became Bockarie’s clerk after the promotion to Battle Group Commander.  As a clerk, Jabati monitored various communications and accompanied Bockarie to meetings.  He described Bockarie’s involvement in the diamond trade.  In 1998, he observed a meeting between Jungle and Bockarie, where Jungle received diamonds to be given to Charles Taylor in exchange for arms and ammunition.  After the AFRC was removed from power in 1998, the witness went to Buedu, where Bockarie put him in charge of two supply stores with arms, ammunition, food, gasoline, and clothing coming from Liberia.  Charles Taylor hired Liberian commanders to serve as escorts for the supply deliveries.

The witness testified Issa Sesay took weapons, delivered from Liberia, for use in the attack on Kono.  Afterwards, Sesay informed Bockarie of the successful operation.  Indeed, Bockarie even told the witness that Taylor was going to send supplies after a radio conversation with people in Liberia, including one of Benjamin Yeaten’s assistants.

When Bockarie went to Liberia, the witness, along with many other fighters and civilians, followed.  The witness testified that Bockarie left in order to avoid infighting after a misunderstanding with Sankoh.  Upon arriving in Liberia, Bockarie was informed that he was no longer part of the RUF.

The witness learned of Bockarie’s death while he was in jail in Monrovia.  Two colleagues of Benjamin Yeatin, Jungle and Sylvester, told the witness that they killed Sam Bockarie after receiving orders to do so from a soldier who accompanied Bockarie from the Ivory Coast.  The witness testified that Charles Taylor gave the initial order to kill Bockarie in order to make sure that Bockarie would not testify against him.  Taylor was suspicious after hearing rumors that Bockarie was planning a coup, and between 100-200 people were killed pursuant to the same order that mandated Bockarie’s death.

Anti-Terrorist Unit and Black Guards

Before working for Bockarie, Sankoh chose the witness for inclusion in the Black Guards.  The witness testified that he began to see a rift forming between Bockarie and Sankoh during his stint in the Black Guards.  After following Bockarie to Liberia, the witness was recruited for the ATU, where he became a captain and guarded Taylor’s house, among other things.  He eventually became a Second Lieutenant, but by that time Bockarie was no longer in Liberia.

Cross Examination

The defense’s questioning addressed the witness’s motivation for testifying, reasons for not fleeing, and inconsistencies in oral and written testimony.

The defense questioned the witness about payment he received for his testimony.  The witness received 190,000 Leones (~ 60 USD) for his testimony, and has received over 32 million Leones from the Victims Unit of the Special Court for protection.  The witness testified that these payments were not to buy his testimony.

The defense sought to establish inconsistencies between the witness’s testimony and another written statement.  These inconsistencies included the timing of his capture and training, dates of when the ULIMO had fought, and numbers of Sierra Leoneans recruited into the ATU.  The witness testified that any inconsistencies regarding the timing of his capture and training and dates when the ULIMO had fought were the result of inaccurate note taking.  He also testified that there is no inconsistency regarding the numbers of Sierra Leoneans recruited into ATU.  Although he testified that about 120 Sierra Leoneans were in his own training group, his earlier statement that about 200 were killed in Liberia as per Charles Taylor’s order was found to be  consistent because there were more Sierra Leonean ATUs than those in his group.

The defense questioned the witness about where the RUF fighters received their weapons.  The defense asked the witness if the RUF received weapons from ULIMO, NPFL, and the Liberian Peace Council.  The witness maintained that, as far as he knew, Charles Taylor was the only source of weapons.

The defense questioned why the witness never attempted to escape.  The witness testified that any escape attempt would be too dangerous and the only place to escape to was a refugee camp.

The defense asked the witness about the rumors that Bockarie planned to overthrow Taylor’s government.  The witness confirmed that he heard these rumors and was even asked to participate by other people, but that he refused.  The witness stated that Taylor ordered that Bockarie be brought to Liberia after being arrested, and was killed in Liberia pursuant to Charles Taylor’s order.

The defense raised the issue of the effect of the trial on the witness.  The witness, however, denied following the trial closely through the media and maintained that he was never encouraged to add things to his testimony.

The defense presented the witness handwritten lists.  The lists contained names of ATU soldiers.  They were presented to the witness twice before.  Each time the witness was asked to indicate whether the people on the list were dead or alive.  All three times the witness received the same lists, but marked some people differently each time.

Finally, the defense presented the witness with a typed list of soldiers along with their pay.  The witness was on the list.  In contrast with the witness’s testimony, where he testified that he was paid US$225, the list indicated that the witness was paid US$80.  Moreover, the defense recalled that the witness had previously indicated that the lists were destroyed by Chucky Taylor.


The prosecution attempted to restore the witness’s credibility and shift the focus back onto the arms and diamond trade between the RUF and Charles Taylor.  The witness also testified that his oral testimony was consistent with all previous written and oral testimony.

The witness is dismissed and Court is in recess until August 18, 2008.