Defense witnesses for Charles Taylor this week told Special Court for Sierra Leone judges that the former Liberian president did not supply arms and ammunition to Sierra Leonean rebels, did not provide assistance in training the rebels in Liberia, and he did not help them plan the invasion of Sierra Leone in 1991.
Mr. Taylor, who is responding to charges that he supported the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group in Sierra Leone, has had witnesses from both Liberia and Sierra Leone testify on his behalf. Mr. Taylor’s witnesses have been refuting prosecution evidence against him, telling judges that the former president did not provide assistance to RUF rebels as alleged by prosecutors. This week, two former members of the RUF, one from Sierra Leone and a second from Liberia, testified on Mr. Taylor’s behalf.
On Monday, a Sierra Leonean who served as an arms repairer for the RUF, Charles Ngebeh, told the judges that the former Liberian president provided support to Sierra Leonean rebel forces but that such support ceased in 1991 when Mr. Taylor withdrew his Liberian fighters from Sierra Leone. Mr. Ngebeh testified that at the initial stages of the war in Sierra Leone, Mr. Taylor did provide support to RUF rebels through the supply of manpower and materials, such as food, medicine, arms, and ammunition. The witness said that such support, however, ceased when RUF rebels and Mr. Taylor’s Liberian fighters in Sierra Leone clashed in what has been called “Top 20, Top 40 and Top Final.”
Prosecution witnesses testified during the presentation of the prosecution case that in 1991, members of Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), who were fighting alongside rebel forces in Sierra Leone, had a conflict with their RUF counterparts that led to the Liberian fighters leaving Sierra Leone and returning to Liberia. In Mr. Taylor’s testimony as a witness in his own defense, the former president addressed the same issue, telling the judges that he did have Liberian fighters helping RUF rebels along the Liberia-Sierra Leone border but that such fighters were withdrawn when they had clashes with the RUF. Mr. Taylor also said that within this period, he did help the RUF with arms and ammunition because they were fighting a common enemy in the United Liberian Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), who were attacking the NPFL with support from the Government of Sierra Leone.
Mr. Ngebeh on Monday corroborated Mr. Taylor’s account when he said that “at the initial stage of the war in 1991, RUF used to have assistance from Mr. Taylor. After that infighting, Mr. Taylor withdrew all his men and the weapons they had.”
The witness explained that the two sources of ammunition for the RUF at that time were supplied from Mr. Taylor and those obtained after attacking enemy forces.
“There are only two sources that we used to get ammunition from: Mr. Taylor and attacking our enemies,” he said.
He explained that after Mr. Taylor withdrew his support from the RUF in 1991, RUF leader Foday Sankoh returned from Liberia and said “he’ll never step his foot on Gbangha [NPFL headquarters at that time] because Taylor had sent an order to arrest him.”
“Minus Taylor, plus Taylor, I will fight my war,” the witness quoted Mr. Sankoh as having said at that time.
On Tuesday, Mr. Ngebeh reiterated his position that Mr. Taylor did not supply arms and ammunition to the RUF, telling the judges that ULIMO, a rival group to Mr. Taylor’s NPFL, supplied the RUF with arms and ammunition. He explained that sometime in 1996, the RUF Battle Front Commander Sam Bockarie established a relationship with ULIMO that led to the Liberian rebel group supplying arms and ammunition to the RUF. He added that the RUF also bought arms and ammunition from Guinean soldiers.
The witness also affirmed on Tuesday that RUF rebels forced civilians to get involved in mining activities and that those who refused were either beaten or killed. Prosecutors have alleged that RUF rebels committed crimes of forced labor by forcing civilians to mine diamonds for them. These diamonds, prosecutors say, were transported to Mr. Taylor in Liberia in return for arms and ammunition. In his testimony on Tuesday, the witness explained how the rebel forces engaged in forced labor.
“It was the soldiers who would go to look out for the civilians. The AFRC and the RUF, they would go and search for the civilians,” the witness said.
Asked what would be done to the civilians if they did not do what the rebels wanted, the witness explained that “if you are unlucky, they will kill you. If you are lucky, they’ll beat you up. That’s the advice. They’ll take you by force. That was the options that they gave.”
As defense lawyers concluded the direct-examination of Mr. Ngebeh on Wednesday, prosecution counsel, Ms. Brenda Hollis, requested that the cross-examination of the witness be suspended because certain things to which Mr. Ngebeh testified had not been contained in his statement disclosed to prosecutors. She told the judges that the information provided by defense lawyers was insufficient for the cross-examination of the witness. Ms. Hollis further added that there were inconsistencies in the witness’s oral testimony in court and his written statement made to defense investigators. Mr. Taylor defense lawyer Terry Munyard objected to the prosecution’s request for the suspension of the witness’s cross-examination, telling the judges that the prosecution had not given enough reasons to delay the cross-examination of the witness.
After hearing arguments on both sides and conferring with her colleagues, presiding judge, Justice Julia Sebutinde, issued a ruling that while agreeing with the prosecution that the witness’s cross-examination should be suspended, his written statement disclosed by defense lawyers did not necessarily contradict his testimony in court.
“The Trial Chamber is of the view that although the summary is inadequate, what little there is of it is not necessarily inconsistent with the witness’s testimony given in chief. The Trial Chamber therefore finds that the proper remedy for the prosecution complaints is to allow the prosecution some time to prepare its cross-examination of the witness in respect of those parts of his testimony that were not contained in his summary,” Justice Sebutinde said.
On Thursday, Mr. Taylor’s seventh witness, a Liberian national who was a member of the RUF, John Vincent, told the court in his direct-examination that RUF rebels were trained in Liberia but not with assistance from Mr. Taylor. Mr. Vincent testified that he was part of the original fighters trained as members of the RUF in Liberia before the group attacked Sierra Leone in March 1991. Prosecutors have alleged that RUF rebels were trained at Camp Nama military training base in Liberia, with assistance from Mr. Taylor, whose NPFL rebel group had already waged a war in Liberia in 1989. Witnesses have testified to RUF fighters undergoing training at Camp Nama under instructions from commanders belonging to Mr. Taylor’s NPFL. The former president has denied helping in training RUF rebels in Liberia, telling the judges during his testimony as a witness in his own defense that he had no knowledge of RUF rebels being trained at Camp Nama.
On Thursday, Mr. Vincent, testifying in defense of Mr. Taylor told the court that he was part of the RUF fighters who underwent training at Camp Nama but that such training was not done with assistance from Mr. Taylor. He told the court that RUF leader Mr. Sankoh and some other people gave them military training at a particular section in Camp Nama called “Crab Hole.” The witness said that during the entire period of his training at Camp Nama, he never saw Mr. Taylor there.
In response to a question as to whether he ever heard “the name Charles Taylor mentioned” at Camp Nama, the witness said that “at the time Bong Mines was captured, that was the first time I started hearing about the name Charles Taylor, and throughout Liberia at that time now, we used to hear the name, but there was nothing that was made mention of about Charles Taylor at Crab Hole, no,”
The witness said when the RUF invaded Sierra Leone, he was appointed as the Training Commandant for the entire rebel group.
Also in his testimony on Thursday, the witness refuted claims by prosecutors that the RUF recruited and used children for combat purposes during Sierra Leone’s civil conflict. Witnesses have testified to the use of child soldiers in both the RUF and the NPFL, and prosecutors have asserted that Mr. Taylor encouraged the use of children for combat purposes in both rebel groups. One of the charges in the indictment against Mr. Taylor is the recruitment and use of child soldiers in the RUF. In his testimony on Thursday, while maintaining that the NPFL had no relationship with the RUF, the witness, Mr. Vincent, told the court that the RUF did indeed train children under the age of 17 years but added that such training was not for the purpose of being used for combat.
“What I mean here is that if I am here alone, maybe one of my family members has escaped and am going for training and I have my younger brother, I can’t leave him behind, he will be with me, we’ll train, and when am going for my assignment, he’ll stay at home. That was why those young ones were trained, for their own safety as well so in case of any danger, they’ll be able to get to their people but we were not using them as fighters,” the witness explained.
On Friday, Mr. Vincent testified that former RUF commander and prosecution witness Isaac Mongor’s testimony against Mr. Taylor that the former Liberian president helped the RUF to invade Sierra Leone in March 1991, is untrue. Mr. Mongor, in his 2008 testimony told the judges that shortly before the invasion of Sierra Leone in March 1991, Mr. Taylor and RUF leader Mr. Sankoh met in the Liberian town of Voinjama, near the country’s border with Sierra Leone. Mr. Vincent on Friday told the judges that this account by Mr. Mongor is untrue.
“Had Mr. Taylor being in Voinjama and when Mr. Sankoh went for us, the last group, he would have told us. And when we got there, if at all he was there, I was going to see him too, but that did not happen,” the witness said.
Mr. Vincent also disputed Mr. Mongor’s 2008 testimony that Special Forces from the NPFL moved from the NPFL base in Gbarnga, Bong County in Liberia to assist the RUF in invading Sierra Leone. According to Mr. Mongor, the NPFL fighters took with them a truck load of arms and ammunition for the invasion of Sierra Leone.
Asked whether he saw NPFL fighters providing assistance to the RUF or transporting arms and ammunition for the invasion of Sierra Leone, the witness said “no, not to my knowledge.”
The witness further refuted claims by Mr. Mongor that he (Mongor) was a training instructor for the RUF while they were preparing to invade Sierra Leone in 1991.
“Isaac Mongor did not train anybody. I continue to say that Isaac Mongor was a demonstrator,” the witness said.
Mr. Vincent will continue his direct-examination next week, after which, he will be cross-examined by prosecutors.
Mr. Taylor’s trial resumes on Tuesday.
Why it took you so long to report the actual news as oppose to making the news? Good job again. Well folks, there you have it. The judges are saying to Ms. Hollis and the prosecution that there is NO CONTRADICTION in the witness testimony. Ladies and gentlemen, let us have some seizure of conscience here. President Taylor is winning this thing openly and we need to say it, regardless of the side that you are on. However, my only concern here is like Mr. Griffiths take on the Appeal Chamber, who has no record of acquitting anyone especially, those who do not cooperate with the British. Nevertheless, I fervently believe that the judges on the “Trial Chamber” will have a unanimous consensus or vote in the acquittal of this innocent man.
Secondly, Alpha and Tracey, this is an unconfirmed report or rumors that if the Trial Chamber acquits this innocent man, the prosecution will take it to the Appeal Chamber, at which time, this website will be shut down completely to the general public. My question is, how true or reliable is this rumor, especially given the fact that this website has helped to expose the conspiracy and scam of the “West” and this inherently flaw court dispensation of justice?
You ask a good question about the website. After the trial is over, the court wil break for a few months while the judges come to a decision on the trial. Regardless of what that decision is, it is open to both the Prosecution and Mr. Taylor’s defense team to appeal that decision. We will then wait for the Appeals Chamber decision to come down. The issue is: what to do with this site when there are no more daily courtroom activities to report on? We haven’t come to any decision on this, (and please rest aassured, we do not plan to shut it down completely so noone can access the site) — but we would value yours and other readers’ suggestions on what should happen to this site once the courtroom proceedings have come to an end. Do let us know what you think!
I respectfully request permission that we revisit the prosecution case and all of the testimonies of their witnesses along with the cross examination and examination in-chief.However, if we do that, we will create an opportunity for those who never had the chance to hear from the prosecution perspective and their witness.
Secondly, if we can resubmit our request to Mr. David Crane to invite him back on this open forum to at least give his take on the case and how this court evolved to where it is now as the result of his own creative control, it will help to keep this site going.
Thirdly, Let us invite Ms. Brenda Hollis, Mr. Nicholas Koumjian, Mr.Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, Mr. Bangura and Mr. Stephen Rapp. However, on the defense side, let us invite Mr. Terry Munyard and Morris Anyah As well as Mr. Griffiths.
lastly, let us continue to invite scholars, university professors, and university law departments.
Hi Jose — let’s see what we can do.
Simple, we the other judges can DEBATE the verdict until the Appeal Court gets ready. I say, bring out the testimonies of KEY WITNESSES under direct and cross and let’s examine them.
Firstly, the CHARGES then we go from there.
Interesting idea, Noko4. We could try something like that.
Any other ideas from readers?
WHAT ELSE DO THEY WANT???????????? FREE THIS MAN, NO CASE AGAINST HIM.
THERE IS NO DOULBT, GOD REALLY SENT THIS MAN (GHANKAY).
HE WILL RETURN TO LIBERIA AND RUN FOR THE 2011 ELECTIONS.
I know this is off today’s subject, but can someone tell me these are not CT child soldiers, why are Taylor and his supporters keep saying the were no child soldiers. Please click on link to see picture
I went to your link. But please tell me how could you and whosoever that wrote his story , proof the ages of those armed militials. Which part of that foto depicts age. Or how do we know these were Taylors’ or goverment fighters ? Look why don’t you people come up with substantial informations that proof what you think you got against Taylor.
What you just showed is your LACK OF in this case.
Read please…”MONROVIA, LIBERIA – JULY 20: Liberian child soldiers loyal to the government sit silently before charging at a strategic bridge position July 20, 2003 in Monrovia, Liberia. Government forces succeeded in forcing back rebel forces in fierce fighting on the edge of Monrovia’s city center.”
What was going on in Liberia that year?? Does this relate to Sierra Leone?? Again, Mr. Taylor didn’t say there were not SMALL BOYS running around with guns but they were NOT sanctioned by NPFL. No witness from the prosecutors side has said that either….
Did you read the charges carefully for there is where the judges going to be coming from…….the prosecutors trying him for Liberia is GREAT but he was not charges for any dealings in Liberia.
Good Job John Thompson for posting this evident for these guys to digest. There are dozens of such images covering the period in question but supporters think is all plot from the West to lock up taylor! Some may even be in these pictures!
Fallah, what period in question are you referring to in relationship to this trial? Are you talking about November of 1996-2002?
Which part of this photo shows that those boys were President Taylor Government troops, can you also tell us the setting of this photo and prove that the area was under President Taylor control? I’m sure you can do just that because you are always in agreement with everything that people say against Mr. Taylor. Why not LPC, LUDR, MODEL, and ULIMO?
How can you proof that those who are holding guns in the back of the pickup ofJ ohn Thompsons web site arechild soldiers? Come on guys , why would you just look at othrs and claim that they are children? Is this the new format of telling age?????
First and foremost there is only one person I suspect would not be up to 18 in that picture IF at all my guess is right. Two, how did you know that that picture was actually taken in Liberia? what landmarks did you see in the picture that PROVES to you that the picture was taken in Liberia at all and also that they were “child solders loyal to the Liberian Government”? You see that is why a court of law is different from the court of public opinion. In a court of law, you have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that what you are saying is correct. You do not just make accussations and expect it to constitute guilt. You have to PROVE IT.
How many times should we tell you that this case is not about Liberia, are these potos that of ruf rebel child soldiers? Please support the TRC reports so that Mr. Taylor and others be prosecuted.
Harris K Johnson
This link is superb. However, the link did not indicate the ages of the troops. Could you please indicate the ages so that we can have a healthy exchange on this subject? It is not prudent in my view to discuss such topic on mere conjecture.
There are lots of these pictures out there, why the prosecutor didn’t bring one of these so-call child soldiers forward. Easy! bring the picture and let the person that took the picture defend it, for now, I can say those in the picture are from Ulimo, Lurd or LPC. We all know that the media was against CT, so any picture could’ve been shown. If the picture was indeed true, why didn’t they bring it forward in court?… Come-on!
john thompson, it’s funny because you guys haven’t come to grasp with the charges yet on CT. For a second, let us agree the picture are fighters loyal to Taylor’s government, where is the link to SL? The Prosecution is yet to establish any such link(s).
How could you determine the ages of those folks? Oh, No facial hair … haha. All the folks in the picture are no kids, remember poverty demean growth !!!!!!!! None of those in the picture are below 16 , so the picture BE DAMNED!!!!!!!
Very good linked John Thompson, this Taylor supports for innocense by his supporters based on their interpretations of the witnesses testimonies is absurd, for instance their failures to remember admissions by CT own witnesses namely Mongor,Vincent, and Ngebeh that RUF forces of 3 hundred men were trained at camp Nama’s crab hole in Bong County Liberia before their invaision of Sierra Leone in 1991 an area in Liberia located approximately 2.6 miles down the road from Taylors’ farm and at the time was under his controlled and NPFL fighters’ fought, alongside with the RUF and were recalled later by CT because of falling apart with Foday Sankor these admissions are very crucial to one of the procesution’s charges that the RUF received training in Liberia with Charles Taylor’s supports, an admission to a charged in any case only leads to QUILT and QUILTY it is…
what has any of Mr Taylor’s witnesses said so far that is new? their testimony has largely corroborated what Mr Taylor had already told the court. So there is nothing new here. Mr Taylor has said that RUF rebels were trained in Liberia without his knowledge and that when he found out those responsible were arrested, investigated, tried and executed. what we need now is for the prosecution to provide evidence that he indeed knew and infact supported the training which so far they have unfortunately not been able to do.
Are you sure that Mongor testified for Mr. Taylor? I’m not sure if you are really following the trial. Please double check your information. Lastly, what convinced you that the so-called child soldiers were Liberia Government’s troop, why are they not LUDR, LPC, or MODEL soldiers? Have you investigated the intent of the publisher? Please he us here.
Harris K Johnson
It seems that you have been away from Liberia for along time. This picture was taken in 2003. Do you know that there was a standing army that fought for the government. Even in this trial it has been mentioned that the AFL, ATU and SOD fought the LURD and MODEL rebels during the invasion. Not even the prosecutors have said that children were in the ranks of the AFL,ATU nor SOD. Then you show us some picture from LIFE magazine showing children with arms but no markings on the pick up they were in to identify which side they were on. Give up John your case is lost.
Please can someone help me here. Is this trail is about Liberia now? Or is it about Sierra Leone
This trial is about Sierra Leone. But these guys know that they don’t have any legal recourse to stand on in Sierra Leone, because the facts are not on their side. As the result, they have returned to their roots of invoking Liberia. Just imagine, you and I are asking the prosecution why did they charge this man from November of 1996-2002 and not 1991-2003. But the other side who professes to be more educated, don’t remotely care about timeline any more. In fact, their new talking point is the training of RUF fighters at Camp Nama without the acquiesce of the accused in 1991. Remember now, 1991 is totally outside of the time frame the prosecution brought against the accused. Leoroy, it is rough on these guys and the prosecutors. However, let me ask you, have you ever wonder why we have more Liberians contributing on this site and showing concern for this trial more than the Sierra Leoneans themselves? That says a lot.
Only pathological liars will live in Liberia during our uncivil war and still claim that the use of Child soldiers was not widespread and an official policy of all the waring factions in that country.
Trying to convince those who have chosen to deny this hard fact is like flogging a dead horse.
Bro, please don’t waste your time.
Why didn’t the prosecutors present this photo??? I will tell you WHY??? It wouldn’t have stand the test from the defense. I can get a photo from Uganda and make it look like Liberia’s.
Again, it’s not the photo in question but the FACTS of the photo.
Just to buttress your point in response to Morris, the prosecutors did try the same scam of President Taylor’s photo appearing in the UK Guardian Paper which wrote all kinds of trash about this God fearing man. However, the honorable judges viscerely reject the CAPTION and the article itself. However, the judges only marked President Taylor photo for identification. So, you are 100% correct Noko4. Anybody can get your photo or any photo for that matter and write whatever the hell they feel like writing about you. Good catch Noko4.
Did you mean “civil war” or you really meant “uncivil war”?
Morris Kanneh ,
Call me/us liar(s), in-turn could you show me/us the following:
Where was those SO-called SBU base located? Where ?
Why the prosecution didn’t bring any trainer unlike the defense
In the court of Law, it’s all about proof and evidence. The court would’ve rather a former child soldier(s), or former child soldier’s trainer testifying …. we haven’t seen jack, so why is this relevant now. The prosecution didn’t see the need to bring NO former child soldier forward to testify, they didn’t even look for any trainer, while the defense are parading witnesses that are trainers.. Now who credible?
You touched my heart. Thanks for taking care of Kanneh…..good job bro.
I say you keep this web going by taking on a similar case like Mr. Taylor’s. Defend those people international conspirators keep accusing to weakened Africa as a way to take what they want from the continent. Stand with the innocents in the name of justice, and let those crocks know that intellectual intelligence is not a right to dehumanize Africa. No law is above humanity and human dignity. Keep the web pls.
Thanks for your comment J. Tomas. I do agree with you — we should try to keep the web, but we will need to work out how to do it so that it continues to be interesting for everyone here to keep coming back each day like we all are now.
Can somebody answer this question for me on this site: If Charles DANKPANNAH GHANKAY TAYLOR knew about RUF training in Nama, now Madam Sirleaf is the the current president for the Republic of Liberia, does she know about or is she part of the ritualistic killing that is alarming all over Liberia which some of her goverment official are involved? Somebody please help me to answer this question!
Tracey Gurd, my delightful pleasure to contributing to your post. I really wish i could say enough words to thank you for all the good works you’re doing, my dear; but let hope i can do that one day. Justice is above no race or continent. We’re all equal in dignity as human. My best bet is that we go internationally and pick cases of crimes against humanity. I am in the US now, and I really love it here. But I have problem with laws that rights other people’s wrongs, particularly George Bush and his NATO partners in crime. I am not a muslim, a middle easterner or anti American or Anti – European. But i am boldly against anyone who think it’s ok to disrupt other nations like Irag and walk free after killing more than a million innocent middles easterners. Bush should be delivered before the house of justice for what he considered “A mistake” after leaving Iraq’s children in orphanage state. Millions of Americans will bless you if you can take on this case.
The Americans most of us kw don’t deserve to be judged by other nations because of the US govt criminal activities for the businessman’s profit! Americans are nice people with kind hearts without their govt, and m sure many would stand up for the good image of this country when it is badly damaged like it is now. I’ve have not been to other NATO countries, nut i am sure their are good people in those countries beside their govts. They also will bless u if u can just find the right partners for the sake of humanity and justice. Let work for world peace through your willing heart and through this web. Be the renaissance leader of a new peaceful day Sir, and you’ll have not only Liberian blessing at the end of the day for defending Taylor against his haters. I hope he’s free as an innocent man, and paid for all the days he’s been kept away from Liberty.
They must not fail to investigate how Taylor ran from jail in MA, and how he got to Liberia if he’s guilty. If anyone is found supporting him for his mission to Liberia in 1989, that person of organization must pay as twice as much Taylor will be charged. Killers are not my friend, but neither is anyone who help someone to kill for whatever reason. Truth is beautiful when she’s naked, but justice is better for those that deserves her. I speak out of love for fairness and out of my thirst equal dignity for all nations and all the secret lives on earth.
Dear J Tomas,
Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so glad you are finding this website useful.
You’ve also put forward a number of ideas which I am sure will prompt debate on the site. THanks so much for contributing your thoughts to the discussion here.
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