Charles Taylor today dismissed as “lies” the evidence of a former radio operator for Sierra Leonean rebel forces, who said Mr. Taylor had talked regularly to Sierra Leone’s top rebel commander during the country’s conflict, asked the rebels to build airstrips in Sierra Leone for weapon deliveries from him, and provided food to the rebel forces when in Monrovia.
During his testimony in February 2008, the prosecution’s 10th witness, Mohamed Perry Kamara, (alias King Perry) alleged that Mr. Taylor was in constant radio communication with Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leader Foday Sankoh. The witness had told told the Special Court for Sierra Leone that based on Mr. Taylor’s advice, the RUF launched an operation to capture the diamond rich town of Kono. Mr. Taylor today denied this allegation.
“I never talked to Sankoh about any operations in Kono,” Mr. Taylor said. “Never did, never instructed, never discussed it with them at all.”
Witness Perry also testified that in 1994, Mr. Taylor advised RUF Leader Foday Sankoh to construct an airstrip where arms and ammunition will be delivered by aircraft for use by the RUF. In his testimony today, Mr. Taylor denied having any contact with the RUF in 1994.
“What am I going to be talking to Sankoh about in 1994? There was just no contact in 1993 or 1994 between me or the RUF,” the accused former president said.
“I will not dispute if some of these boys were communicating with each other. It will not be unusual if a Liberian who was fighting on the other side of the border in Sierra Leone wanted to contact a friend or family member in the NPFL [National Patriotic Front of Liberia],” Mr. Taylor added.
Witness Perry told the judges in February 2008 that he knew that Mr. Taylor and Mr. Sankoh had radio communications regularly and that the code names used by the two men were “Toyota and Beverly” respectively. In his testimony today, Mr. Taylor agreed with code names but denied that he spoke with Mr. Sankoh.
“I agree with the codes but I contest that we spoke,” Mr. Taylor said. “I never spoke on the radio.”
Mr. Taylor dismissed as “totally untrue” Witness Perry’s allegation that the RUF “will undertake a major attack” on the advice of Mr. Taylor to Mr. Sankoh.
Witness Perry’s testimony reinforced prosecution allegations that Mr. Taylor provided support to RUF rebels and that through his advice, the rebels launched strategic operations in Sierra Leone such as the attack on the country’s diamond fields. Witness Perry further alleged that diamonds mined by the RUF were taken to Mr. Taylor in return for supply of weapons, food and other materials needed by the rebels. Mr. Taylor has denied these allegations.
In response to Witness Perry’s allegations that Mr. Taylor provided radio communications equipment for RUF commanders, Mr. Taylor today explained that while he provided a satellite phone for use by RUF commander Sam Bockarie, he did not provide the phones used by RUF leader Foday Sankoh and Issa Sesay. When Mr. Sankoh was arrested in May 2000, Issa Sesay took over the leadership of the RUF.
Witness Perry had also said that while Sam Bockarie acted as leader of the RUF during Mr. Sankoh’s detention from 1997 to 1999, Mr. Taylor gave Mr. Bockarie instructions to construct an airstrip in Kono where flights would land with weapons for the RUF. Mr. Taylor dismissed the allegation as false.
“I did not give such instructions. If this was the case, then Sam Bockarie’s Salute Report is incomplete and he deceived his boss. I believe he will not have hidden these things from Sankoh. He must be ungrateful then,” Mr. Taylor said.
“Your honor, this thing is all a lie. I gave no such advice. So help me God,” the former president added.
Mr. Taylor further denied the witness’s allegations that he (Taylor) used to provide food supplies to RUF leaders when they went to Liberia. “I did not give RUF any food. Sankoh bought rice when he came to Liberia,” he said.
The former Liberian president also denied giving rice to Mr. Bockarie for use by the RUF and the witness’ allegations that Mr. Bockarie informed other RUF members whenever he returned from Liberia with food and weapons from Mr. Taylor.
Also in his testimony today, Mr. Taylor expressed shock at Witness Perry’s allegation that in 1998, Mr. Taylor sent a herbalist to provide traditional treatment for RUF rebels in Sierra Leone so as to prepare them for battle.
“I don believe in juju. How am I going to take someone to Sierra Leone when I don’t believe in juju and I didn’t use it in the NPFL?” he asked.
Mr. Taylor’s testimony continues tomorrow.