Prosecution Concludes Examination of Witness Hassan Bility, Defense Commences Cross-Examination of Witness

Tuesday January 13, 2009

We are still facining technical problems with the live streaming of the trial and so cannot record all the details of the witness’s testimony. We apologies for any inconvinience this may cause.

10:00am: Court resumed and prosecution counsel concluded his direct examination of witness Hassan Bility. Defense counsel for Charles Taylor, Mr. Courtenay Griffiths QC commenced cross-examination of the witness.

Examination of the Witness
In his direct examination, witness Hassan Bilitay testified about tales of physical and mental torture which he underwent at the hands of  Charles Taylor’s security forces. Mr. Bility testified that he was detained for a total of six months and on one occassion, he was interviewed by Mr. Taylor for two and the half hours and then thrown at the back of a pick up truck. Speaking of his detention, the witness explained that he was detained at a total of 13 different places in and out of Monrovia. He said that some of his detention places contained human faeces and water.   He said that during his numerous arrests and detentions, Taylor’s government did not find anything incriminating against him. He further explained that Mr. Taylor seized his personal check book and his passport and declared them the ‘Fruits of Crime’ (FOC) for the charges of subversion. He said that on June 24 2002, he was dragged out of Mr. Taylor’s White Flower residence and subjected to various forms of inhumane treatments at Caldwell, Monrovia and other places. He said that he was electricuted on his genitalia on several occassions, probably more than twenty times.

The witness told the judges that Mr. Taylor instructed Benjamin Yeaten to extract confession from him by whatever means necessary. He said that Yeaten took him to Clay in Bomi County where he was put in an underground four foot high prison that could not accomodate his height. He said that mistreatments were handed to him by Joe Tua, based on instructions from Yeaten. He said that on some days, they would move him from the cell to the administrative building where Yeaten would ask Joe Tua whether he had made any confessions. Once Joe Tua told Yeaten that the witness had not made any confessions, they would take him to the back of the building and torture him. He said that they would fire gun shots, saying they had just killed another prisoner and that if the witness did not make any confessions, he would be executed in like manner.

The witness concluded his direct examination and defense counsel for Mr. Taylor, Courtenay Griffiths commenced the cross-examination of the witness.


Mr. Griffiths at the start of his cross-examination told the witness that he had several suggestions to make, which included:

1. That the witness is a liar

2. That he is personally engaged in a crusade against Mr. Taylor

3. That the said crusade is motivated not by concerns about human rights abuses and Mr. Taylor’s alleged involvement in Sierra Leone but rather by ethnic and political loyalties held by the witness

4. That the witness was a spy for the United States of America

The witness denied all these suggestions. Mr. Griffiths further told the witness that he was in constant touch with the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) during Mr. Taylor’s presidency in Liberia. The witness also denied this assertion. Mr. Bility said that he was neither in touch with the US Givernment, nor the US Embassy in Monrovia. He said that on December 7, 2002, Mr. Taylor released him through the intervention of the US Government. He said that  in 2004, the FBI contacted him after he was interviewed by CNN, and he was asked whether Mr. Taylor was a member of the Islamic terrorist group Al Qaeda.

On this note, the court adjourned for the day. Cross-examination of the witness is set to continue tomorrow Wednesday January 14, 2009.