Morning Session: Cross-Examination of Witness Hassan Bility Continues

Thursday January 15, 2008

10:00am: Court resumed and defense counsel for Mr. Taylor, Courtenay Griffiths QC continued the cross-examination of witness Hassan Bility. Counsel asked several questions about handwritten notes prepared by the witness regarding his contacts with Mr. Taylor, the presence of Sam Bockarie at the time the witness was being interrogated by Mr. Taylor, the various arrests to which he said he was subjected and several inconsistencies in his previous testimonies in other cases and his present testimony in court.

Handwritten Notes Prepared by the Witness 

Counsel referred the witness to his handwritten notes which he said were taken of his arrest and encounter with Mr. Taylor in 1997.  Among the things written in the notes were the witness’s reference to Taylor’s statements that his government would help remove Kabba from power and his support for the RUF. The witness also said Taylor told him he was writing agaisnt him because he (the witness) was a member of the Madingo tribe which was opposed to Mr. Taylor. Defense counsel read from a portion of the witness’s statement made to the prosecution which indicated that the notes were taken based on instructions from prosecution counsel after the witness had testified in the RUF trial in 2004. The witness agreed that he wrote the notes at that time and that the prosecutiojng told him to write down notes of his encounter with Taylor. He said the same things were already written in 1997 but said notes were in Liberia at that time.  He agreed that the sets of notes presented before him in court were written after his testimony in the RUF trial in Freetown in 2004.  He said the notes were prepared to get the prosecution to determine whether they needed the handwritten notes in Liberia. Defense counsel made an application that the original handwritten notes be submitted by the prosecution. Prosecution counsel Mr. Santora responded that the prosecution would check for the original copies and once seen, would be submitted to the defense.


The witness also stated in his testimony that when he was interrogated by Mr. Taylor at the NPP headquarters in Monrovia, Taylor told Sam Bockarie that the witness was the No. 1 enemy of the RUF in Liberia. Counsel asked the witness whether Bockarie was present when he was being interrogated and he said that while Bockarie was within the vicinity, he was npt present during the interrogation. Asked how was it possible that Taylor would have told Bockarie about the witness when he (Bockarie) was not present during the interrogation, the witness explained that Mr. Taylor escorted him on his way out of the NPP headquarters and Bockarie was on the way during which Taylor told him so. Counsel asked the witness why he had not mentioned in his previous statements that Bockarie was present at the NPP headquarters.

Counsel also pointed out conflicting accounts in the witness’s testimony about the number of times he was arrested.  Counsel pointed out that previously, the witness had said that he was detained for two days when he was first arrested and that he was now saying in court that he was arrested for one day. The witness responded that the statement pointing to his arrest for two days was an honest mistake but that he was detained for only one day.  Counsel also pointed that the witness had previously said he was detained at the ministry of justice which conflicted with his testimony that he was detained at the NPP headquarters. The witness explained that his arrest at different locations was a sequence of events as he was first taken to the NPP headquarters, then to the police station, then to the ministry of justice before he was taken back to the police station.

Counsel pointed out that in the witness’s testimony before a domestic Dutch court in 2006, he had testified that he was arrested on two occassions, which contradicts his present tesimony of a third arrest. Counsel pointed out that he has spoken about two other arrests in the present trial which he did not mention in the Dutch court.  Counsel suggested to the witness that he had conflated the two other arrests in this trial. The witness disagreed with counsel and said he was arrested on about seven different occassions in total. Counsel again pointed out that when the witness testified in the RUF trials in Freetown, he said when he was arrested, he was detained for two days, in his testimony before the Dutch court, he spoke of the same two days detention and that in the present trial, he has said his detention lasted for one day. The witness replied that when he spoke of two days detention on those previous occassions, he mispoke.

Court adjourned for mid-morning break.