Charles Taylor did not support Sierra Leonean rebels in the early 1990s, but worked with them inside Sierra Leone to fend off attacks from a rival armed group in Liberia, he told judges today at the Special Court for Sierrra Leone.
Taylor began working with the Sierra Leonean rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) between August 1991 and May 1992, after a Liberian armed group started attacking Taylor’s forces, he told the court today. The rival group, the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO), was supported by the Sierra Leonean government, Taylor said — but this did not mean he wanted to helping the RUF rebel leader, Foday Sankoh, to attack Sierra Leone in the early 1990s.
“My relationship with Foday Sankoh was for security purposes to fight ULIMO in Sierra Leone so as t0 prevent fighting them in Liberia,” Taylor said today while giving testimony in his own defense.
Taylor told judges that “I never harboured any intention, never planned any such intention, there was no reason to plan such intention” to support the RUF and he refuted all allegations that he was present at the meeting where the RUF attack on Sierra Leone was planned.
“The whole issue of what is going on in Sierra Leone is none of my business. If ULIMO had not attacked Liberia from Sierra Leone, you will never have heard of all this foolishness,” Taylor said. He went further to tell the court that “Sankoh and his people are a bunch of idiots” and that it will be “foolish to believe that Taylor who had had no military training will be advising Sankoh who had been a trained soldier in the Sierra Leone army.”
Responding to questions that Sankoh fought alongside Taylor’s armed group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), in Liberia before attacking Sierra Leone, Taylor said that he “was not aware of Sankoh fighting alongside the NPFL.”
” If he had, I would have known,” Taylor said. “No evidence has been presented by the prosecution that Sankoh fought alongside the NPFL in Liberia.”
Taylor also denied allegations that he used children as NPFL combatants in Liberia. He explained that while many children were in NPFL controlled territory, “there was no official policy of the NPFL to recruit, train and arm children for combat.” He said that he even had one of the largest orphanages in Gbarngha during the war and that “whenever there is a crisis anywhere, you will always see soldiers moving around with children.”
Taylor also denied allegations that he supplied arms and ammunition to RUF fighters in the early 1990s. He explained that the flow of arms between the NPFL and the RUF would not have been possible at this time because from 1992 to 1993, ULIMO fighters occupied all the major routes between the NPFL controlled areas in Liberia and the border with Sierra Leone. He further said that from 1994 onwards, peacekeepers of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) occupied all the airports and seaports in the country through which arms and ammunition would have been transported.
Taylor also said ECOMOG forces had been biased against Taylor’s forces in Liberia, with an aim to stop the NPFL from taking power in Liberia. He accused ECOMOG forces in Liberia of “deceit and hypocricy” and said they were arming the Liberian armed forces in order to halt NPFL progress. Taylor defended attacks against ECOMOG peacekeepers as necessary because the NPFL “wanted to take the capital and end the suffering of the people.”
“They were not peacekeepers,” he said about ECOMOG forces.
Taylor’s testimony continues tomorrow.
Whenever we talk about atrocities, we pick on Taylor, and no one ever said a word about the Nigerians or so called ECOMOG.I recommend, everyone concerned watches CRY FREETOWN, produced by Sorious Samura. and was playewd by CNN
John, what about the Nigerians serving on ECOMOG or ECOMOG? The next time you write be specific. You, if you are a Liberian of all people want to attribute “atrocities” to ECOMOG? Now ask yourself these questions:
1. Did ECOMOG plan your senseless war?
2. Did ECOMOG/Nigerians start your pointless war?
3. Was it ECOMOG/Nigerians killing each other in Nimba County in 1990 and our entire disgusting civil war?
When we, Liberians, decided to kill ourselves and destroy our already least developed country, ECOMOG envisioned our stupidity and resolved to rescue us from ourselves. Are you saying that this resolution of ECOMOG is worth calling “atrocities”?
Please be reeducated, John. When a man is under siege my death in any form, self-defense becomes not a right but, a necessity.
For your friend Taylor, there are countless atrocities against Liberians. Thank God that He is not accused of atrocities in Liberia, but Sierra Leone. I’m absolutely certain that he will be acquitted of those charges.
Kindly tell us, John, what atrocities did ECOMOG commit?
Your point is well taken. Now all you said can be attributed to Sierra Leone. Did Liberians plan their senseless war? etc etc. So why then is our former President on trial ? Now your last point of what atrocities did ECOMOG commit in Liberia. One clear example was when they put so called alledged rebels in a container across the bridge in vai town then shot at it with an RPG killing everyone inside.
The name is Kessely Korboi, not Karbo.
Yes, Liberians planned the senseless war. Up till now, have you no knowledge of the planners of the Liberian Civil War? Our current President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Charles Taylor just to name a few and the host of other Americo-Liberians. I guess you did not follow the TRC Hearings in Liberia; I sure you are also not properly following the Charles Taylor Trial here. Aki, whenever you speak or write be specific. ECOMOG fought only against rebels and mainly the rebels of NPFL who were involved in the Cowfield Massacre, the murder of the five catholic nuns in Gardnesville during Operation Ocotups in 1992.
If you and those who think ECOMOG killed a lot of people or committed atrocities, those mainly killed by ECOMOG were rebels. ECOMOG only killed them defending the country and themselves.
Aki, if you have been deprived information, think again. This is the Information Age. Information is at the tips of your fingers.
“ECOMOG died that the Nation, Liberia might live. Rebels died that the Nation might be freed from destruction.” Kessely Korboi.
ECOMOG – Every Car Or Movable Object Gone!
John, it is because Taylor is on a POLITICAL TRIAL and not a criminal one.
I disagree with you on this one. All ECOMOG did in Liberia was to help Liberians. Please respect them, for goodness sake. Please do not
Dear Emmanuel, there were dirty hands on all sides, to include ECOMOG military leaders & rank and file. Taylor is attempting to paint ECOMOG as an occupational force that committed crimes against humanity as well (see his mention of cluster bombs which was verified by credible NGOs). One could credibly argue that the presence of ECOMOG lengthened the civil war, and hence the suffering of the Liberian people; the status quo allowed Taylor to get rich in “Taylorland”, which also allowed ECOMOG soldiers to enrich themselves in the selling of weapons, drugs, and other endeavors. I’ve served in Liberia with soldiers from ECOWAS states, many are fine and respectable people, some were not. Please do not claim that “all ECOMOG did in Liberia was to help Liberians”…it is not a complete and accurate statement of ECOMOG’s performance in Liberia. Keep it real, brother. Keep it real.
I think Mr. Taylor was right in his action to respond to ULIMO attacks from inside Sierra Leone. We all know how much supports the government of Sierra Leone give ULIMO beteen 1991 and 1992 to up seat Mr. Taylor. Thousands of Liberians were killed, raped, and displaced at the result of attacks from inside Sierra Leone. Should Mr. Taylor sit and allow those criminals to continue killing women and children? I say a resounding NO. I think if the court is about justice, and free from the will of westen powers, Mr. Taylor is a free man at the conclusion of this case.
If you say the truth, the truth shall set you free. Taylor is now coming to his senses lately to confess what he did openly in presence of million people. A precedent must be set to show to warlords and would be warlords that you don’t just commit hideous crimes and go with it
You know when people have a mind set. they can not see over their anger even it the truth is very very visible.
So we just need to watch them make fool of themselves and not true Liberian and African
Plenty has been written about ECOMOG. But I’m not sure I understand your point. Yes I’ve seen ‘Cry Freetown’. I’d be surprised if anyone who subscribes to this site hadn’t. But if your point is that ECOMOG soldiers committed atrocities, then currently the response would be: ‘So what?’ This trial is not about ECOMOG. This trial is seeking to prove whether or not Charles Taylor is guilty of a JCE and its associated crimes. The autopsy into the ECOMOG mission may come later, or it may not.
Two wrongs do not make a right. Concentrate on the case at hand. Taylor is on trial.
Can someone please point out during what times Taylor had arm embago in Liberia. Why where his enemies fighting him through Guinea in Mancenta twon in Gueckedou Prefecture while his hands were tight at his back. This whole treatement of Taylor is politically motivated. Does anyone know that the Guinean forces were actively fighting in Sierra Leone supporting the civilians Atrocities while at the same time they were mining diamonds in Sierra Leone. Do anyone knows why the then President Kabba habour the Guinean on the territory of Kailahun District in Yanga village to mine the diamonds of the Sierra Leone to build his Country Guinea. This Case about Taylor is not about the civilian Atrocites in Sierra Leone during the war. It is not about the diamond trade, it is not about the supporting of one of the factions in Sierra Leone noticebly the RUF, SLA or any other group. about Politice, about the West proving or experimenting whether their idea of the ICC based in the hugue will work, the best people if at all they don’t view us as Kangoroos to start with in this shameless court is African. It is a way to hear in public the African’s mindset to restructure what has been demolished by the west during the turbulent periods of slave trade. Neo colonialism. Listen people, the African Dictators may be overacting and that becuase of the same so called the agents of peace in the West who try to overstate or paint black their actions but all is good for Africans. Is Mugbe’s fight to regain the land for his native people illigitimate? The west has painted him a devil and try to supress all his movements by using local politicians such as Morgan Tsvangirai. Taylor, by this the west will know what he is planing to do for his people and they will work out strategies to prevent that. Let African stand together and withdraw from this public shameand be themselves.
You have very interesting points except that you are bringing them out in disorganized sense.
Whatever grieviance you have against the West can be discussed in another forum, Mr. Kamara. Perhaps at TLC web site in the future. This is an intelectual forum. We need to focus on fact in a matual and concise manner and not just putting gabbage out.What does Mugabe’s land deed has to do with blood diamond and the chopping off limbs of fellow humans? How is the West painting Blacks? You are painting yourselves Barbaric and uncivilized when you think it’s okay for fellow Africans to cannibalize eachother as long the West does not interfear or that african nationalistic feelings superceed individual basic rights that this Man constantly abused. You seem to have being one of those that lost no one during the 14 ytears of sensiless murder of a quarter million humans by this guy, or may have benefited from the spoil of war and now fear you may be next. Am I right? Come on Kamara, I want your intellectual response…Jfm
I am sure that Mr. Taylor will undergo a fair trial. Let us be patient and await the trial`s result. Mr. Taylor, it is only the truth that can set you free. Please say the truth.
That won’t happen. Because he knows the truth will definitely not set him free. The guy was a dictator for God’s sake.
As Taylor states his case I see that more and more people on this forum feel the charges against him are unjustified.
I am finding this case thus far very intriguing. It is amazing that the West chose Mr Taylor to pin all the blame on when in reality they were doing the exact thing they are accusing him of through their surrogates in Guinea and Sierra Leone. Yet Guinea was allowed to sit on the Security Council when they had supported by arming, training and providing other logistics to warring factions fighting the legitimate government of Mr Taylor. So why bother this man when they did worse and when we are finding that there is no actual evidence linking Mr Taylor to the crimes in Sierra Leone. Sad itsn’t it? very very double standards.
I do hope the judges will act accordingly and be fair to this man. It appears that hundreds of millions have been spent on foolishness. How sad for Africa. They could raise all this money to disgrace one of our leaders but cannot take care of the victims. Let’s open our eyes and wake up to the truth. It is imperialism under another guise. They are yet again trying to subjugate us.
This is 2009 not 1960; We are wide awake. We cannot be fooled anymore.
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