Friday January 16, 2009
12:00pm: Court resumed and defense counsel for Mr. Taylor, Courtenay Griffiths QC continued the cross-examination of witness Hassan Bility. Counsel continued his line of questioning about the witness’s arrest by the Taylor government in 2002.
Witness’s Arrest and Detention
Referencing the his discussion with Mr. Taylor after his arrest in 2002, the witness said Taylor told him he had proof that he (witness) was plotting with other people to kill him (Taylor) and that Taylor showed him the emails which were read in court by defense counsel. The witness agreed with counsel that a habeas corpus application was made on his behalf (an application to the court to order that the witness, then an accused, be produced before the court). While the court granted the application, the government refused to comply with the order. The government argued that the witness, having been involved in a plan to assasinate the president had become an unlawful combatant and was therefore only subjected to military law. The government further said that as an unlawful combatant, the witness could be held in custody without trial. Counsel asked the witness whether he knew that at the time of his arrest, the US government also held two individuals in custody without trial because they were regarded as unlawful combatants. The witness said that he was visited by Thomas White from the US embassy but that the US ambassdor only visited him after his release. He agreed that the US government negotiated his release and that once released, he was escorted to the airport as a condition for his release was that he was supposed to leave the country immediately.
The witness also agreed with counsel that reports of his incaceration were reported freely in the Liberian press. He also agreed that while in custody, he was seen by a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
In questioning him about his arrest and the habeas corpus application made on his behalf, counsel pointed out that the government argued before the Liberian courts that the witness was in the custody of military authorities and will be charged in a military court. Counsel also referenced that the judge before whom the application was made defined who an unlawful combatant is and ruled that the witness, then the accused, fell within the said definition. He therefore ruled that the government was right to hold him in custody and charge him before a military tribunal. The witness agreed with counsel that there was international press condemnation for his arrest.
Witness’s Testimony Against Chuckie Taylor in Florida
Counsel asked the witness whether he testified in support of Mohamed Dukulu’s testimony against Chuckie Taylor in Miami, Florida. The witness said that while he testified in the said trial, he did not do so in support of Dukulu’s testimony. He said his testimony was in support of Vamunya Dolleh’s testimony.
The Analyst Newspaper Reports
Counsel referenced an article written by the Managing Editor of the Analyst Newspaper, the newspaper that the witness himself worked for, in which he referred to the witness as an ALCOP Partisan. The witness deinied counsel’s suggestion and explained that the editor was quoting the words in a press statement which had referred to him as an ALCOP partisan. Counsel also referenced an editorial in The Analyst newspaper that Liberian Special Forces were fighting in Sierra Leone. Counsel asked the witness whether he knew of Liberian Special Forces fighting for the Special Task Force with the Sierra Leonean army. The witness said he only knew of this at the start of the war in Sierra Leone.
Witness’s Speaking Engagement in USA
Counsel asked the witness whether he shared the same panel at the University of Maryland with Joe Wiley, who was a member of LURD. The witness said he shared no such panel with Wiley. He went ahead and called the names of the individuals with whom he shared the said panel. He said Joe Wiley only attended the occassion. Counsel asked the witness whether he remembers embracing two people after his speech which was an attack against Taylor’s government. The witness explained that after his speech, several people walked up the stage and embraced him, one of them being Joe Wiley.
The witness was shown a copy of The New Liberia Newspaper and he said that it was the government’s official newspaper.
Court adjourned for the day and defense counsel indicated that he will complete his cross-examination of the witness on Monday, January 19, 2009.