Monday January 19, 2009
10:00am; Court resumed and prosecution witness Hassan Bility concluded his testimony. After Bility’s testimony, prosecution witness Tariq Malik commenced his testimony. Justice Richard Lissick also conducted the proceedings as presiding judge of the Cmahber, a position in which he will serve for one year.
Cross-Examination of Hassan Bility
Defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths QC continued the cross-examination of Witness Hassan Bility. Counsel continued his questioning about the witness’s arrests by the Taylor government in Liberia and Taylor’s relationship with members of the Madingo tribe in the country.
Counsel started by suggesting to the witness that on his numerous arrests, he was only brought before Mr. Taylor on one occassion, and that was his arrest in June 2002. The witness disagreed with counsel and insisted that on other occassions of his arrests, he was taken to see Mr. Taylor. Counsel also suggested to the witness that with the exception of his arrest of June 2002, on all other occassions of his arrests, he was never detained for more than 48 hours.
Counsel put it to the witness that when he was arrested in June 2002, he was visited by officials from the US Embassy in Liberia on two occassions. The witness responded that the embassy officials visited him once when he was in detention and saw him once upon his release. Counsel asked the witness whether he told the officials who visited him that he was being tortured while in detention. The witness responded that he could not mention that while in detention for fear of being heard by police officers but that he used to write on a piece of paper what his experiences in detention were and the said paper was given to one of the guards, who also was his friend and the guard in turn would hand it over to human rights organizations which published them.
Charles Taylor’s Relationship with Members of the Madingo Tribe
Counsel asked the witness whether he believed that Taylor looked at Madingos with scorn or hatred. In response, the witness said that Taylor looked at Madingos with suspicion and that he was anti-press freedom. When asked whether he was ever invited to a Christmas party at Taylor’s address, the witness said that The Analyst Newspaper was invited to the party and he went and represented the newspaper at the event. He agreed with counsel that he was offerred a job in the Taylor government. He also agreed with counsel that there were members of the Madingo tribe in Taylor’s government, one being his own own uncle, Musa Sesay. Counsel asked the witness whether he was aware of Taylor having a wife who was a Madingo by tribe. The witness responded that he cannot tell whether the woman was Taylor’s wife but he knew that Haja Fatmata Taylor, a Madingo by tribe had a relationship with Mr. Taylor. He also agreed with counsel that every year, Mr. Taylor sponsored many people, mostly Madingos to travel to Mecca, for the holy Hajj observed by Muslims.
Witness’s Trips to Sierra Leone
In response to a question as to how many times ECOMOG facilitated his trip to Sierra Leone, the witness said that this only happened once. He said that this happened in August 1997 when he was editor of The National Newspaper. Quoting the witness’s testimony of last week Monday, counsel told the witness that he had said he travelled to Sierra Leone with the help of ECOMOG to witness the removal of the AFRC junta and the reinstatement of the Tejan Kabbah government. Counsel put it to the witness that this happened in 1998 and therefore was contradictory to his testimony that ECOMOG only facilitated his once, this being in 1997. The witness tried explaining that while he went to Sierra Leone on other occassions, ECOMOG only facilitated one of these trips. Counsel then ended his cross-examination of the witness.
Prosecution counsel Chrostopher Santora took the witness through re-direct examination. Counsel sought to clarify some of the issues that had come up during cross-examination.
In response to a question about the emails that were shown to him, alleging that he was plotting to assasinate Mr. Taylor, the witness said that the emails were mere fabrications and the email address used in the emails (email@example.com) was never his email address. He said that his email address at that time was firstname.lastname@example.org. He said he was suprised at being shown the emails after his arrest. He said a friend of his, who was one of the guards had already told him that those emails would be shown to him.
Counsel also showed the witness several statements that were made to Dutch investigators prior to his testimony before the Dutch courts in 2006. Counsel showed the witness statements made on April 19, 20 and 21, 2006. In all three statements, the witness said that there were no questions about his arrests in Liberia. Defense counsel objected on grounds that the witness should be shown his written statement made prior to him giving these statements. Counsel told the court that he just wanted to deal with that issue. He then took the witness through the statemens. The witness wrote in the statement that he was arrested on seven occassions and beaten many times. He insisted that there was no question about his arrest.
Counsel asked the witness about his statement to Chief of Investigations in the Office of the Prosecutor, Dr. Allan White and his statement in court that he only corrected his statement “in part.” Counsel asked the witness what he meant by “in part.” The witness explained that since he was supposed to testify against the RUF, he only focussed on correcting those portions that had to do with the RUF. He also refrenced his Augist 18, 2008 statement to the prosecution that many aspects of his statement to Allan White were misquoted.
Counsel also asked the witness to clarify his statement that he wrote for ALCOP and other parties on a professional basis. The witness explained that by other parties, he meant several other organizations which engaged his service to write for them.
Counsel asked the witness about his article written about the training of Liberian forces in Libya. The witness explained that while the government could not verify the story, he got his information from somebody who had come from Libya with pictures, confirming that the said training was taking place. He said he also got information on the story from other annonymous sources.
Counsel ended the re-examination of the witness. There were no questions from the judges. Both prosecution and defense teams submitted several documents to be marked for identification and admitted into evidence.
Prosecution called its next witness Tariq Malik. The witness is being led in evidence by the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Mr. Steven Rapp. The witness, a staff member of the Special Court was brough to verify prosecution exhibits and to explain how the numerous documentry evidence used in the trial were obtained, processed and used before the court.
Examination of Tariq Malik
Before the commencement of the witness’s testimony, Justice Teresa Doherty informed all parties in court that at some point in the past when working as a judge in Freetown, she had organised a walking group, which included several members of the staff of the Special Court, including the witness. She emphasised she had never been alone with the witness, nor had discussed work with any members of that walking group. She informed all parties that her professional obligation to the court would not be compromised. Presiding Judge Richard Lussick also informed all the parties that at some point in the past, all three judges have served on the same interview panel with the witness during the Special Court recruiting process.
Defense counsel Terry Munyard responded that the Defense had no objection to the concerns raised by the judges and added that he hoped the walks had been enjoyable and the interviews successful. The witness was sworn in and he commenced his testimony.
In introducing himself, the witness told the court that he presently works as Chief of the Section for Evidence, Archives and Post-Operational Access in the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He said he started working with the OTP in April 2003. Stating his academic credentials, the witness said he did his undergraduate studies in Pakistan, then travelled to the USA where he obtained another degree before studying again for a masters degree in Pakistan. About his career path, the witness said in Pakistan, he worked as Assistant Editor of a local newspaper, then worked with the civil service where he first became Asst. Supritendent of Police and then Supritendent of Police. He said he worked in Bosnia, where he investigated crimes for the trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) before joining the Special Court in April 2003. In 2003, the witness became Chief of the Evidence Unit which was attached to the Investigations Unit in the OTP. His unit was later moved and became a seperate unit, independent of the investigations unit. He said that on some occassions, he was aksed to take part in investigations especially for indictees who were at large like Sam Bockarie and Johnny Paul Koroma. He said that in the investigations unit, there are three kinds of employess:
1. International employees
2. International Secondees from foreign governments like Canada, and
3. National employees, who were mostly Sierra Leonean police officers.
Prosecution counsel asked the witness to explain how evidence was handled prior to his arrival at the Special Court. The witness explained that at this time, there was no evidence unit and as such, the OTP did not have the capacity to process evidence. Upon assumption of office as Chief of the Evidence Unit, the witness said he acted quickly by doing an assessment of what was required through detailed memos about what needs to be done. He said he immediately had an evidence ward constructed, created an evidence storage and evidence date base, and got several equipments to process the said evidence. He said he also obtained audio-visual materials to digitize evidence, established a proceedure to submit evidence in a uniformed way, and carried out trainings for staff on how to gather and submit evidence.
On this note, court adjourned for mid-morning break.