Thursday January 15, 2009
12:00 p.m.: Court resumed and defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths QC continued the cross-examination of witness Hassan Bility. Counsel asked the witness about his numerous arrests and sought to establish inconsistencies in the witness’s testimony.
Counsel referenced the witness’s testimony before the domestic Dutch court in 2006 and how it contradicts his present testimony in court. Counsel pointed out that the witness’s testimony that he was arrested two times between 1997 and 1998 contracdicts his testimony in the Dutch courts where he stated that he was arrested three times in 1997 and was also arrested in January 1998. The witness responded that there were four arrests within thie period, three in 1997 and one in early 1998. When asked who ordered these arrests, the witness said that they were directives from Mr. Taylor and Joseph Tate, the Director of Police in the Taylor government. Counsel also referenced the witness’s testimony in the Dutch court that when he was arrested in January 1998, he was detained for one week. This, counsel said contradicts his present testimony that he was detained for one day. The witness responded that he was arrested and detained for one day and then his movement was monitored for more than a week. He said he took the monitoring of his movement as a form of arrest. The witness was also quoted in his statement to the prosecution that he was tortured and then taken to the hospital, during which a US embassy official visited him. Counsel asked the witness to state the name of the US embassy official who visited him in hospital. The witness responded that he did not find the mentioning of the individual’s name relevant to the courts. After going back and forth on the issue, the presiding judge ordered the witness to mention the name of the US embassy official who visited him in hospital. The witness stated the official’s name as John Bomen. Defense counsel suggested to the witness that he was a spy for the US government. The witness denied counsel’s claim. Counsel also pointed out that on Monday, the witness in his testimony said that when he was tortured, he went to the hospital and then went back to work. This, counsel said was contradicted by his present statement that he was taken to hospital, admitted and visited by the John Bomen from the US embassy. The witness responded that the previous account on thie issue was inaccurate.
The witness explained that after his release on this occassion, the following day, his newspaper office was occupied by police officers and all property in the office confiscated.
Counsel asked the witness to say who the owner of the newspaper was. The witness responded that the paper was owned by a company, which was headed by one Sekou Kromah. Counsel asked the witness whether the said Sekou Kromah was related to Alhaji Kromah, head of the rebel faction ULIMO-K. . The witness said that while he knew Sekou Kromah to be a Madingo by tribe like Alhaji Kromah, he could not tell whether they were related to each other. The witness agreed with counsel that Sekou Kromah had links with ALCOP, which was a political party created by former members of ULIMO-K, a faction opposed to Taylor. Counsel also suggested that the witness himself had links with ALCOP but the witness disagreed with counsel.
Court adjourned for lunch break.