Charles Taylor Did Not Have Individual Influence Over The RUF Leadership

Charles Taylor today said he had no more personal influence over Sierra Leone’s rebel forces than any other West African leader during Sierra Leone’s brutal 11-year war, and deflected attention away from his relationship with the rebel group by pointing to the close military and financial ties between the rebel leaders and Nigerian peacekeepers.

Continuing along the similar themes as yesterday’s testimony, Mr. Taylor reinforced to the Special Court for Sierra Leonea judges that he was only able to convince the leadership of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels to yield to the demands of peace in Sierra Leone because he had “built the confidence and trust which is necessary in any mediation efforts.”

Asked by his defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths whether he exercised any influence over the RUF rebels, Mr. Taylor said “none whatsoever.”

The prosecution has alleged that Mr. Taylor had control over the RUF rebels who fought in Sierra Leone’s civil war. Prosecution witnesses have testified that the Mr. Taylor supplied arms and ammunition to the RUF rebels and that the leadership of the rebel group was answerable to him. Witnesses have testified that Mr. Taylor was able to secure the release of United Nations peacekeepers held hostage by RUF rebels because he had influence over the rebel group’s leadership. Mr. Taylor has denied these allegations.

In his testimony today, Mr. Taylor told judges that the rebel leadership listened to him just like they did to other West African leaders who were involved in facilitating a peaceful end to the conflict in Sierra Leone.

“Nigeria had very good contact with the RUF. Burkina Faso and Mali also had very good contact with the RUF. We built confidence and trust with them. They therefore took us seriously,” Mr. Taylor said.

Mr. Taylor told the judges when Issa Sesay became interim leader of the RUF in 2000 after the incarceration of the rebel group’s leader Foday Sankoh, all West African leaders involved in Sierra Leone’s peace process were in regular contact with Mr. Sesay. “I was in contact with him [Issa Sesay] and all other heads of states were in direct contact with him,” he said.

Mr. Taylor admitted that during this period, he maintained a guest house for use by the RUF in Liberia. He said that the RUF spokesman Gibril Massaquoi was based at the RUF guest house in Liberia for about six months.

Mr. Taylor also today discussed a September 9 2000 Guardian Newspaper article which reported that Nigerian peacekeepers in Sierra Leone were involved in diamond trade with RUF rebels. “There were indications that Nigerian soldiers were involved in the trade of diamonds,” Mr. Taylor said.

Mr. Taylor said that Nigerian military commander, Maxwell Kobe (who was head of the Sierra Leone army) received up to 10 million USD from the RUF, and that former Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) commander General Kpamber (also from Nigeria) worked with RUF leader Foday Sankoh. Mr. Taylor said that “some people referred to Kpamber as Sankoh’s ADC [aide-de-camp].”

Mr. Taylor further told the court that in his efforts to consolidate peace in his troubled neighboring country after peace accords were signed in 1999, he tried to intervene when the Sierra Leone government started training the new Sierra Leone Army.  Mr Taylor said he cautioned his neighboring government that all such trainings should cease until after the completion of the disarmament process. He said that he gave this caution because the training of military personnel while rebel groups were being disarmed could undermine the entire peace process.

“I saw that as a very disturbing factor because you will only discourage people from disarming. What is even troubling about it, you are doing this while disarmament is not over,” Mr. Taylor said.

Mr. Taylor’s testimony continues on Monday.


  1. This is Shocking!

    WE will need a response from the court TRACY! read on

    Guilty Verdict Awaits Taylor in The Hague, Prosecutor Stephen Rapp Declares
    08/19/09 – M. Welemongai Ciapha II, FPA LEGAL AFFAIRS WRITER, (+321) 077119511

    The Chief Prosecutor of Chamber II of the Special War Crimes Court for Sierra Leone, sitting in The Hague, Stephen Rapp says, he is convinced that former Liberian President, Charles G. Taylor would be found guilty of the 11-count charges levied against him by the court.

    Speaking Tuesday when he paid a courtesy call on Labor Minister, Cllr. Tiawan Saye Gongloe at his UN Drive offices in Monrovia, Rapp told journalists that the prosecution was not taking side in the trial, but rather, wants justice to be done to the former Liberian leader and further assured Liberians that Taylor will get fair and impartial trial.

    Rapp asserts that the court was not holding Taylor for what he did in Liberia during the 14 years of conflict, but he was being held for supporting the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone.

    The RUF rebels were headed by the late Foday Sankoh, who died in prison, while awaiting court prosecution in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

    Rapp further informed reporters that his team of Prosecutors would confront defendant Taylor with evidence to substantiate their claims that indeed he (Taylor) committed atrocities in Sierra Leone.

    The Chief Prosecutor noted that Taylor has opened himself more questions during cross-examination on the witness stand.

    According to Rapp, Taylor’s trial will be concluded by February, 2010 where the final determination of the case will be in the hands of the judges.

    He maintained that the prosecution paraded some ‘insider witnesses’, who he said, came from Liberia and testified to Taylor’s involvement in the Sierra Leonean crisis.

    Rapp who has been appointed by United States President, Barrack Obama as Ambassador at large for War Crimes in Washington D.C. said, he had been prosecuting for at least three years in Sierra Leone.

    He pointed out that the court will ensure that people, who will commit crimes against humanity, will not get away with it.

    For his part, Labor Minister Cllr. Gongloe thanked Rapp for the visit.

    Minister Gongloe told Rapp that as a Government, they were committed to international justice as well as to fairness of the process by opening the door to Taylor defense team, when they came to Liberia to gather some information for their client, Taylor.

    Minister Gongloe said the Taylor’s trial as far as he is concerned, has some impact on Liberians, because people are now seen how justice is done in a fair way.

    Sharing some of his experiences with Rapp as a former State Prosecutor, during the time he served as Solicitor-General of the country, Gongloe said at times, some of the cases he participated had lasted for more than three months.

    He told Rapp that a sitting senator, Roland C. Kaine was brought under the armpit of the court for murder and was later acquitted by the trial jury.

    He noted that because he had prosecuted some Government officials at the time, when he appeared for confirmation at the Liberian Senate, he was denied, but the press and the Liberian people rose against the Senate, and that he was immediately confirmed as Labor Minister.

    Monrovia – President has made a number of appointments in Government, subject to confirmation by the Liberia Senate, where applicable. Those appointed are: Mr. Samuel Thompson, Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Liberia; Mildred Reeves, member of the Board, Central Bank of Liberia; and Mr. Sylvester Grigsby, Deputy Minister for International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Legal Affairs writer M. Welemongai Ciapha II can be reached at (+321) 077-119-511

    pix: Labor Minister Tiawan Gongloe, left and Prosecutor Stephen Rapp. Rapp asserts that the court was not holding Taylor for what he did in Liberia during the 14 years of conflict, but he was being held for supporting the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone.


    1. Dear Nii,

      Unfortunately we cannot post the full news story about Mr. Rapp’s press conference in Liberia because of copyright issues — we can only post the link (which I repaste here: – I think some other readers have also posted this link as well.

      In your post, you thought this story was shocking and needed explanation. Can you tell me why you were shocked so we can better help with the explanation?


      1. Tracey,

        I believe that I have similar curiosity as NII concerning Mr. Rapps latest comments made in Liberia. We are not quite versed in the rules and procedures of the court. So I posted a request for you to check for us as to whether it was within the practice, procedures and rules of the court for such coments to be made. Mind you there is a public perception of this case, that both prosecution and defense should thread a fine line about.To what extent such comment impact the case from a legal perspective will be interesting to note.

        So if you could review my posting of yesterday, I believe it falls within the same line as NII’s concern.

        1. Really Andrew, I too wonder why Mr. Rapp always making PUBLIC STATEMENTS pertaining to this case??? What is his goal??? Fool us into thinking he and his team are doing a good work or what???

  2. It appears to me that CT has a lot of RUF “Intel” that, in his role as peace moderator, he shouldn’t have. He is giving a lot of detailed account of RUF interactions with ECOMOG. CT, how is it that you know that Kobe received 10mil USD from RUF and Kpamber worked for Foday Sankoh? These are not matters of public record.

    While the prosecution has done a sloppy job is presenting evidence, CT is giving testimonies that links him to the RUF not only as peace moderator but someone with a lot of detailed insight in their operation.

    I am watching to see where this case leads

    1. Elbee,

      Just do not jump to conclusion base on the comments. certain in law for an evidence to be introduced, as in this instance, reasonable foundations has to be laid. Let us wait for the transcript of august 20 to ascertain the conditions under which CT made the disclosure.

      but you are entitled to your views.

  3. Hem… this case is getting more and more interesting! How much did He Taylor received out of the 10 millions USD received by commander Kobe from RUF? As we all know, in diamond business, if one partake in or even see a diamond transaction, you will have to get a little amount.

    1. Vaa,
      According to two prosecutors witnesses, one said in evidence that Sam was killed fighting along side with the Liberian army against MODEL at the border of Liberia and Ivory Coast; the other one told the court, it was a PLAN to get rid of ALL the Sierra Leoneans within the Liberian army….

      Who do we believe???

  4. Elbee, President Taylor was truly a peacemaker. His role as peacemaker made it possible to access information that ordinary people will not have. These informations that he presented can in no way be translated as having control over the RUF/AFRC. Elbee, I must commend you for your honest concession about how lousy and gloomy the prosecution has presented its case. However, they might heavily rely on President Taylor’s testimony at least to put up some strength and fight. But that will not work either. Reason being that he was authorized legally to do what he was told to do by Ecowas, than OUA, UN, and the International Community and that was to bring peace to the suffering people of sierra Leone; except they want to tell us that they were setting him up for failure and entrapment and didn’t mean actually what they were saying.

  5. Tracey,

    I believe I raised this issue a few days back and asked for some guidance and clarification about Mr Rapps’ comments. Please advise if you can or seek some clarification if possible. I would be very grateful.

    1. Hi Helen,

      I am glad you followed up with me. I want to get a small post together on this today. Looking forward to more discussions with you and others about it once I do.


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