Charles Taylor and Sierra Leone’s rebel leader Foday Sankoh did not have any pact to render mutual assistance to each other for their respective wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia, the accused former Liberian president told Special Court for Sierra Leone judges today at his trial in The Hague.
“I had no pact with RUF leader Foday Sankoh for mutual assistance. That could not have been necessary,” Mr. Taylor said.
Mr. Taylor asserted that if such mutual pact ever existed between himself and Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leader Foday Sankoh, the prosecution would have led evidence to show the assistance that Mr. Sankoh rendered to Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL).
“There has been no evidence in this court about Sankoh being involved in the conflict in Liberia or commanding an NPFL post. There was no such thing because I did not know him at this time,” he said.
Mr. Taylor was responding to questions from his defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths –back in court today after falling ill last week — about allegations that while in Libya in the late 1980s, Mr. Taylor entered into an agreement with Mr. Sankoh for the RUF rebels to assist the NPFL during its initial war efforts in Liberia in exchange for Mr. Taylor’s assistance to the RUF in attacking Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor denied that this was ever the case. The accused former president reiterated his earlier position that while he was in Libya, he did not know about the existence of the RUF and that he did not meet with Mr. Sankoh.
“I did not know about the creation of the RUF in 1989. I did not know Foday Sankoh. I only knew Alie Kabbah and the Sierra Leone Pan African Movement,” he said.
Mr. Griffiths also read in court today an RUF official document called “Footpath to Democracy,” explaining the ideology of the RUF as well as its reasons for fighting a rebel war in Sierra Leone. The document presents the RUF as a decent organization with a clear agenda to liberate the people of Sierra Leone from years of misrule and corruption. The document was admitted into evidence as a defense exhibit. Mr. Taylor agreed with the contents of the document that the first set of RUF fighters were Sierra Leoneans who were recruited in Liberia. He insisted that he did not provide those personnel for the RUF.
“A lot of these people that were in Liberia are, some of them will have maybe a mother Sierra Leonean or father Sierra Leonean or both. We’ve had evidence led in this court, for example, Isaac Mongo, Nyaa, Lansana, a lot of them had these connections with Sierra Leonean parents,” he said.
Mr. Taylor also had praise for Libyan leader Muammar Ghadaffi who provided initial support for both the RUF and the NPFL. According to Mr. Taylor, Mr. Ghadaffi’s actions were necessary to destroy Western influence in Africa and give Africa back to the Africans.
“On the African continent, Ghadaffi was and, for me, is still considered an African hero,”Mr. Taylor said. “Because getting rid of the colonial and neo-colonial rule on Africa took the strength and the will of a Ghadaffi to assist in liberating Africa and giving Africa back to the Africans.”
In the words of the accused former Liberian president, “Ghadaffi is not a terrorist.”
Mr. Taylor also reiterated his earlier position in court that he had no reason to exploit Sierra Leone’s natural resources as Liberia already had so much that he could benefit from.
“We have resources in Liberia. We were trying to plan out what was good for our country. What benefit will it bring to another country when you don’t have stability in your own country? It will be nonsensical for anybody to suggest that,” he said.
Mr. Taylor was responding to allegations that he provided support to RUF rebels in Sierra Leone through planning of attacks against the people of Sierra Leone, and supplied arms and ammunition in return for diamonds. Mr. Taylor has denied the allegations against him.
Mr. Taylor’s testimony continues tomorrow.