Charles Taylor said that a 2000 United Nations report charging him with gun running and diamond smuggling made recommendations that that not only hurt him, but punished Liberia. This, Mr. Taylor told Special Court for Sierra Leone judges today, was a “travesty of justice.”
For the past three days, Mr. Taylor has been responding to allegations made against him in a 2000 United Nations Expert Panel Report that he was involved in fueling the conflict in Sierra Leone through diamond and arms trade with Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels. The UN report reinforces prosecution allegations against Mr. Taylor that he supported RUF rebels through the supply of arms and ammunition in return for diamonds. Mr. Taylor has denied these allegations.
“This report actually is at the heart of this case and because of the way this report is written, together with the level of disinformation in it, it puts us in a bad position because it talks about diamonds, arms and training bases in Liberia. This is the basis of the case that has not been subject to legal scrutiny,” Mr. Taylor said.
Mr. Taylor accused the UN of writing an intelligence report rather than an investigative report against him, telling the judges that “Ian Smillie was not an academic but an intelligence analyst. This was not a report about going out to an investigation. These are words that you use in an intelligence report. The inclusion of Ian Smillie on the panel contaminated the panel from the onset.”
Mr. Taylor accused the UN of ignoring the good work he did to facilitate a peaceful end to the conflict in Sierra Leone. He said that any fair report would have pointed out that he made significant contributions to take the RUF rebels to the negotiating table. The report, Mr. Taylor said “does not present the whole truth. There is not one mention of my contribution towards peace in Sierra Leone. This report is not fair, it is fickle and should not stand.”
Mr. Taylor told the court that when the report was published in 2000, his government in Liberia sent an immediate response to the UN Secretary General in which they tried to put the record straight. “We were furious and we did not hesitate to respond immediately. The government put a team together and we responded,” he said.
Mr. Taylor told the judges that the Panel of Experts exceeded their mandate by recommending punitive actions against Liberia. “It was like we are accusers and we are now the judge and jury,” Mr. Taylor said about the Panel of Experts.
Among other things, the report recommended that a moratorium be put on all export of diamonds and timber from Liberia. In response to this, Mr. Taylor said that this recommendation was not even necessary as 80-90% of diamonds from Liberia were exported without his government’s knowledge. Mr. Taylor said that there were many conflict diamonds that entered the market from countries like Angola and Congo but were certified as coming from Liberia.
Mr. Taylor also denied allegations in the report that he had a training base at Batala in Liberia where RUF rebels were trained. ” My government denies that anyone order than Liberian personnel were trained at Batala,” he said.
Mr. Taylor dismissed the entire report as a step by Western countries to smear his image and get him out of power. Pointing fingers at the United States, Mr. Taylor said that at some point, US Senator Judd Gregg even asked for his assassination during his presidency.
“I told you I was an accident waiting to happen as part of a regime change policy. This is a travesty of justice. This is all made up, there is no truth in it,” Mr. Taylor said.
Mr. Taylor’s testimony continues tomorrow.
Those RUF cronies that were identified by the UN observers training and armed in Liberia to execute mayhem in Sierra Leone are now been admitted to only that they were giving Liberian citizenship to protect Mr. Taylor but nowhere in any local papers was this confirmed or written about, as thousands of Liberians were looking for employment and could not fine any work or training opportunities that would lead to possible employment at the time. frankly lets cut through the chase, this is another desperate attempts by Charles Taylor to justified those RUF rebels that were identified and interview by the UN team while training in Liberia to go a fight in Sierra Leone. this is far from over lets wait for the prosecution’s cross.and Taylor will be exposed.
It is good that the prosecution will come face to face with the Man they are accusing. We are all wainting for that battle.
On your second point, it is not longer a dispute that Bockarie and others were in Liberia as asylees. By the way it was announce on BBC that they were given the choice of the third country.
Like us who were brought here on a resettlement or other programs, have we not converted our residency into a stutus of permanency(either through a green card-permanent resident or a naturalized american citizen)? So why shoud this be an issue if Bocakarie and others were converted into permanency in Liberia.
I will confess had it not been for the years of restriction that the US impose(5 years as a permanent resident in good standing, before being eligible for citizenship), I would have loved to become US citizenship the minute I step foot here.
In Canada and other countries even Holland where Taylor is being tried, the duration is shorter.
My point is brother, the government of Liberia action is not unique.
I had problems again today with the live feed on this site. It kept repeating.
Helen — thank you for letting us know. We are hoping to hear again from the Special Court about whetehr they were able to fix the technical problems. Thanks again for alerting me.
Firstly, I wish to apologize for my previous impatientience regarding the transmissions, which I directed at this website. While I understood very well, that you personally are not to blame at all, I was under the impression that “you guys” are part of the ICC or SCSL – now I know a little better. Is there anyone in particular at the ICC or elsewhere that I could address in this matter?
Secondly, many correspondents are referring to their regular reading of the court transscripts. Are they referring to your daily summaries or is there public access to the official transscripts? According to the SCSL website, access seems to be privileged.
And finally, while I had no time yesterday to follow the proceedings and therefore cannot comment on the live feed, today there are no problems at all. Sorry, from my point of view there are no complaints, everything is running excellent!
Hi Sumoh — really, there’s no need to apologize. Yes, we are an independent monitoring group. We are not part of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, but I do just contact them when I get questions from people from this site about issues as they emerge and try to get answers if I can. I’m happy to play that liaison role if it is helpful to people, but I have no control over what the Special Court does.
In terms of the transcripts — yes, you can access the full transcripts to each day’s testimony here: http://www.sc-sl.org/CASES/ProsecutorvsCharlesTaylor/Transcripts/tabid/160/Default.aspx. I think everyone should be able to access them.
Hope this helps!
Please read through those transcripts. Take and day and help me pose this question to T. Fallah Menjor, Ziggy Silas and others.
Why rubber, as foreign exchange earning commodity for liberia, was not included in the economic sanctions imposed on the Taylor Administration?
The thesis was revenue from trade of timber and diamond was being by taylor to fuel the war. What about revenue from rubber? What did Taylor do with that?
Fallah and others please address these points.
Taylor, are you saying again that there was no training base set up at Gbatala for any one other than Liberian personnel to train? You did not train any RUf personnel at this base? Oh yes, I fogot, they were already carrying Liberian citizenship! Keep on chief, and what age range of boys and girls did you also train at Gbatala? 12 year olds, or 13 year old girls that were your girlfriends? You are saying things as if they just happened yesterday and you forget to realize that some of us were there and have information fresh at hand and can testify against you for what you did at Gbatala Training Base and other training bases set up by you in other parts of Liberia. But that comes when the Sierra Leone Trial is over and that you are acquitted as your zealous supporters already claim! You will be grilled on each count to fullest taylor! Your supporters will regret what awaits you! What went around has come around to you and your supporters! Please focuse on the charges against you for involvement in Sierra Leone taylor and stop defending what you did in Liberia! Period!
Please following the trial….the man didn’t say there weren’t any such…..the confusion you and some on the other side is facing is you don’t know who were the personels at that base.
The man told the court that the Constitution of Liberia gave him the power to NATURALIZE any BLACK MAN on the planet called Earth and he exercised such POWER by NATURALIZING THOSE RUF FIGHTERS THAT CAME IN WITH SAM BACKERIE TO HAVE A BETTER CONTROL OF THEM; THEY WERE NOW LIBERIANS NOT SIERRE LEONEANS ANYMORE; WE THEY SEND BACK TO GO INVADE FREETOWN???
I don’t believe any evidence was introduced in this court about any invasion.
Again, we are down to what?? A REPORT done by the UN seeking THE TRUTH instead gave us a GRAP HIM REPORT!!!. How can a TRUTH REPORT written by a body that is suppose to be FAIR but only ONE SIDE is told……a SIDE is full and fill with tales. Wasn’t UNMIL/ECOMOG all over Sierra Leone by 2000. How can a General who commanded UNMIL on the ground write a report and his is totally opposite as this one written by REMOTE control if they both work for the UN??
On what did these EXPERTS based their report on??? HEARSAYS?? Did they go to the training site to know for sure who were there training??? NO!!!. Did they follow the trail of the diamond from POINT A to POINT B??? NO!!! Did they interview Mr. Taylor to get his side of what they said he was doing??? NO!!!!! But yet still we are to accept this Report as a Bible…….Oh yes, a Bible….let’s pray OH GOD PLEASE HELP US UNDERSTAND THE WHYs IN THIS CASE FOR WHAT WE SEE IS A DEVILISH ACT BEEN PERFORMED IN THE NAME OF UN, IN YOUR SON’S NAME , AMEN.
Here is a summary between Mr. Simile and the defense in early 2008
(1) Ian Smillie (expert witness). Ian Smillie, a Research Coordinator with Partnership Africa Canada’s “Diamonds and Human Security Project” and a diamond expert, was the Prosecution’s first witness. Smillie contributed to a United Nations report addressing the issue of conflict diamonds and drafted a report for the Trial Chamber, “Diamonds, the RUF and the Liberia Connection.” Smillie described the presence of diamonds in Kono District and Tongo Field in the Kemena region of Sierra Leone and confirmed that the RUF transformed diamond fields into labor camps. Smillie’s expertise in conflict diamonds forms the backdrop of the Prosecution’s emphasis on a “campaign of terror” in certain diamond-producing districts of Sierra Leone. Under this theory, terror was a means to control the territory and diamonds of the region. Smillie also provided evidence that diamonds from Sierra Leone were funneled through Liberia, which generally had lower quality diamonds.
The Defense team responded by attacking Smillie’s qualifications and training, questioning the accuracy of statistics in his reports, and highlighting Smillie’s lack of knowledge about Liberian diamond production. The Defense team also noted that illicit diamonds were common throughout the region (before the Kimberley Process, 20 to 25 percent of diamonds were illicit) and pointed to widespread confusion over the origin of diamonds. The Defense team also challenged Smillie’s impartiality and asked Smillie if he had hostile predispositions toward Taylor. Smillie responded that he felt sorry for Taylor for not seizing the opportunity to bring peace to the region
I hope the defense brings Mr. Simile back to the stand to tell us how the report was formated. I researched Mr. Similie and this was what he wrote which I believe made it way into the UN PANEL REPORT. Is he an EXPERT??? Here what he wrote in book 2001
Controls In Producing Countries
In producing countries the question is: Are there adequate controls between the mine
and point of export, in order to ensure that conflict diamonds cannot enter the
system? The short answer in most countries is no. Although there are checks in Sierra
Leone, for example, there is no guarantee that at least some RUF diamonds are
not being laundered into the legitimate system. There is no guarantee that they are
not being laundered across the border into the Guinean system. There is proof 22
that they have been laundered into the Liberian system, and that diamonds are being
laundered into the legitimate chain through Gambia, a country with no diamonds
whatsoever, yet with significant diamond exports and an apparent inability to control
21 UN Security Council Report S/2001/1072, 13 November 2001, para 119
22 Report by UN Security Council Panel of Experts on Sierra Leone, S/2000/ 1195, December 2000.
In Sierra Leone, Congo Brazzaville, Guinea, Liberia, Gambia, DRC and elsewhere,
there have been long-standing problems of management and probity where diamonds
are concerned. South Africa presents another side of the issue. South Africa
has stronger and more explicit diamond regulations and controls than most countries.
My people, i’m really confuse over this charles taylor case. Someone pls help me understand. Is this man being charged with crimes against diamond or what?
He is been charged for ALL crimes committed in Sierra Leone on HEARSAY.
From the little information I gathered. “The prosecution alleges that Mr. Taylor helped in planning attacks on specific towns in Sierra Leone or that he aided and abetted in planning and executing the commission of crimes in Sierra Leone by providing arms and ammunition for the RUF in exchange for diamonds.” The prosecution is making there case by linking NPFL (Mr. Taylor’s rebel group) to “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” which were committed on the people of Sierra Leone. In addition the prosecution claims Sam Bockarie (a former battle group commander of the RUF, currently in exile in Liberia) received orders from Mr. Taylor. Personally, I think Mr. Taylor and his defense team is doing a great job creating reasonable doubt and an image as if he was a “Black Sheep” of the international Community.
Here the exchange between Ian Simile and the court…..
January 7 2008
Where did the UN Experts get their report of RUF rebels being trained in Batala? Not one of the prosecuation witnesses including their socalled Liberians insiders ever said that. Is the UN becoming a street judge who base findings on HEARSAY? I’m sure the UN Experts would have done better if they would have had the second thought to hear from Mr. Taylor during during their investigation. This case is an eye opener after which, I think the UN system will be revisited for the world organization to safe face. Little Liberia is again opening a new page of history in Africa that the rest will follow for BETTER AFRICA with one united force.
Harris K Johnson
Here we go again.. the UN panel report! If this report is a factual evidence on the part of the UN, why didn’t the international body allow an investigation or monitoring of the Liberian- Sierra Leonean Border by both the Sierra Leonean and Liberian Government as well as the United Nation personnels as requested by Mr. Taylor?
I must tell you, for anyone to believed that diamonds leaving Sierra Leone and Liberia before and even now has to be done with the involement of the Government of those is false. I can travel to Liberia and Sierra Leone right now and buy diamonds from the mining field without President Sirleaf of and President Koroma of Sierra Leone known about it.
I saw it happened in Feb. of 2008 when I visited Liberia from my deployment in Iraq. Those who bought diamonds from miners in the field are Liberian serving in the US Military who came from Iraq and went on leave in Liberia.
Can we say the government of Liberia or the President knows about it? Of course not but these things happen. Even in the US legal process, if someone accused another person of a crime, that accuser can’t served on an investigating team or panel. If they do, how can the accuse get a fair trial?
This is the case with this UN panel report. Intelligence reports are not always the facts. That’s why you have to investigate any intelligence given you because people some times process situations or informations differently. Human intelligence could sometime be the best but it can sometime mislead you as well.
For example, during the war 1990, we used to leave the VOA compound in Careysburg to find food in Bensonville for our Family but in so doing we had to some time act as if we were NPFL Soldiers when we come accross NPFL Soldiers while trying to get cassava and other thing from our own farms. In that light, anyone can say we saw NPFL Soldiers on the farm but you’ll have to investigate if you really want to know the facts.
So this whole thing about diamonds going through Liberia was and is Charles Taylor responsibility is totally nonsense. Look, Mr. Taylor is not there anymore have that stop diamonds from leaving Sierra Leone today going through Liberia and Guinea? Of course not.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I believed we all heard the comment made by Griffiths at the trial this morning that a judge on the ICC right now was interesting and coincidentally a lawyer hired to represent 4 international journalist that the Taylor government arrested. interesting isn’t.
I heard it and I choked on my orange juice……a sitting judge was hired by Channel 4 out of Britain to be the lead counsel for those 4 journalists…..INTERESTING to say the least.
And this court we’re FAIR and FREE of politics???? Mr. Taylor GOD BE WITH YOU for regardless how much you show, you will be spending the rest of your life in jail….WHY???
Oh well, you asked and asked and uptil today’s date, they still have yet to show the PROOFS….
Like I said yesterday I enjoy your postings. But If Mr. Taylor is convicted, it’s God way of punishing him for the lives lost in “Mother Liberia”. Not the evidence presented in court.
I believe GOD moves in a mysterial way but it will be a travesty if that is the hidden plan.
I strongly believe Liberia should have her own and let’s get to FACTUALLY hear some of the mess that went on behind the smokes….bring ALL and I mean ALL the players to court and let TRUE JUSTICE be the goal. Unlike Freetown’s court, Liberia will have EYE WITNESSES to convict them.
Falsehood crouch to the ground and crumbles but truth rise again and triumph over evil-Justice is coming soon and very soon
The cries,Blood and remains of the victims are awaiting Justice not only in Sierra leone but at carter camp,Duport road,The Catholic Nuns in gardenersville,The Senegalese in cape mount,FENDEL CAMPUS,John yormie and his friend and many many more.Justice is coming oh Yes we will see justice soon
Is this case about Liberia??? If so, name one EVIDENCE produced in here about Liberia??? Sometimes I wonder WHY some in here STILL believe this is about Liberia.
Was Mr. Taylor the only MURDER in the Liberia theater???
Why people like Harris Johnson can not wait and see Justice,Gone are your days spokeman.No one have to tell us or prove that Sam Bockarie live ELWA JUNCTION FOR more than two years and was seeing with malitias.Just wait and see justice is coming
Teah, justice in your thinking is that Taylor will be found guilty whether the prosecution prove their case or night. That is only when justice will be done, when Taylor is found guilty. But what if he is not found guilty, will that be justice also?
Have you been following the defense presentation? Well the prosecution is aware of how Sam Bockarie was in Liberia for so long whereas the peace process in Sierra Leone was still going on. Well we heard the details from the defense. I am not going to repeat it for you. Go back and read all the transcripts and commentary like I did only then will you be prepared to engage in up to date discussions here.
I meant not and not “night”
Helen, Nokos, Jose, Bnker, etc,
Reviewing the transcripts from August 25 and 26, Griffiths read an excerpt from a Dutch daily that stated that GUS FROM HOTEL AFRICA(cannot spell his last name) just got set freed by the appeals court on the basis of lack of sufficient evidence. Gus was accused of being a middle man in Taylor’s arms, timber and diamond deals in violation of UN EMBARGO. T Dutch appeal court judges said that the evidence were not only contradictory but objectively impossible to the extent that they could not support a conviction.
In my view the Appeal Court ruling sound similar to opinions of most people who are following the Taylor Trial.
Yes Andrew…..infact one of the prosecutors’ key witness, C. Reeves, couldn’t testify in this court because he was DISCREDITED in the Neitherland.
I still cannot see HOW these judges will look at what he has presented and still come up with a GUILTY verdict. The prosecutors have ZERO to bring in except PLUCK HOLES in his testimony.
I wish the defense will go more into HOW Sam Bockerie was expelled in 72 hours but was found DEAD in Liberia. If that was mentioned after the break I missed it…..was it???
I think technically the defense could argue that since CT is accused of gun-running and Gus was his supplier, but no evidence has linked him to supplying guns, therefore CT was not gun-running. But, I don’t think this would take any root. If Gus was not the arm importer than someone was, but the bottom line is that CT supplied guns to RUF, this is the argument of the prosecution. I think if its brought forward, I firmly believe it would be rejected by the judges. Then again, I am not a lawyer and don’t understand the technicalities of court proceeding; however a good lawyer as Courtney could get things done.
PREDICTION AFTER THIS TRAIL: Defense lawyers will be one of the most sought lawyers for cases at the Hague. If the Sudanese leader ever get to the court, he will hire this guy! He is good…I mean really good too!
Agreed, the defense team has proven their capability to handle this case given the limited time that they had to prepare. We just hope the law will be applied by majority of the judges as per the statute, innocent until proven guilty.
Based on the rule 98 decision, the judges concluded that the prosecution’s case had a smoking gun, as they singled out Taylor’s participation in the kono attack and the infamous operation no living thing.
If by now the defense has not driven a wedge of doubt through that mindset, then the defense might need a herculean dagger.
Agreed they are good. And should such a trial ensue for Liberian they should stand ready for hiring. Although I seriously doubt that Liberia will follow the Sierra Leone path.
Reading the special court statute, I realised that they beautifully crafted the document. the special court was given primacy and another clause stipulated that amnesty would not relieve any accused of responsibility nor bar them from trial.
So if we should form a special court on Liberia, the proposed statute will be presented in Liberia for public hearing and scrutiny before being adopted. No one will craft a document in secret and drive it down our throat. Those who support and oppose will debate openly and the majority view shall prevail.
if you did follow Mr. Taylor’s own V.P’s testimonies before this court, he admitted that Sam Bockarie was arrested and executed by Taylor’s top body guide and right hand man Benjanin Yetent when Taylor was still in power and Yetent was never arrested, investigated by Charles Taylor was this intended to silence Sam Bockarie for good? Taylor have more to answer to lets wait for the prosecution cross.
I think the Defence will most likely go into more depth next week. They touched on it for now but I’m almost certain they will expand on it later. The Defence is very thorough.
I listened to the decision. This just goes to show that if Mr Taylor was in a regular court of law, he would not even have had to stay this long. They would have thrown out this case for total lack of evidence. However as this case is not abotu law, we are watching to see what tricks they plan to pull.
Like I keep saying, if they want to maintain any modicum of credibility, they will do the right thing and not bow to any international political pressure. I hope the judges have principles and can stand their ground despite the odds.
Those who doubted Taylor’s defense should bolster, because it appears that the battle just only begun. After 227 witnesses, I wonder what would be left, judging from this level of thoroughness.
I wonder why people like Teah Brown, Fallah, Timoty, Sumo and other hard to get this thing. Look at what the UN Expert wrote on behalf of Liberia. They are saying Liberia is been use for Drug, and Arm smugerling, money lundering and every bad thing. To you guys is that what you know liberia for? Taylor tried in the pass to save the name of the country and these same people refused him and he is still doing it. You guys just sit and write anything, I see while liberian have no respect in the sub region again or in the eyes of the international community again. These report like this one is the very cause of these thing. Did Taylor ever say there was no training base in Gbatala? No. Did your expert go to Gbalata and asked those of the people that were training there No. They were ever refused access to visit the Gbatala base No. So where did they get their report from. One of the thing you guys are not getting is please this case is not about Liberia. If it comes to Liberia I have questions for Taylor and all the war lords. Was it Fair on the part of the UN to reject Liberia subjections on people appionted as panel. As I told you guys the last time wait until liberia open a court of such then the case will be different.
Ziggy you should understand that Liberian Civil war was fought mainly by foreign fighters. Since the begining we had the Burkinabe and the Ivorians as special forces commando and at a later stage the ATU comprises of many Sierra Leoneans. Despite the high unemployment rate many adult male Liberian never fancied joining any warring factions. Even now the new army is finding male recruits.
Is there anyone on the forum that can help me with a video link of the 25th August prosecution of Taylor’s trial.
Hi Galdia — unfortunately we cannot help you with the videolink as I do not think they are archived — but I can suggest that the transcripts of August 25 might be of use if you want to follow the discussion of the trial in detail.
The transcripts for the Taylor trial are available here: http://www.sc-sl.org/CASES/ProsecutorvsCharlesTaylor/Transcripts/tabid/160/Default.aspx.
I know the one for August 25 is already posted.
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