Charles Taylor’s defense witness, Mr. Yanks Smythe has said that certain aspects of his written statement were misrepresented as prosecutors today pointed out inconsistencies in his written statement to defense lawyers and his oral testimony in court.
Prosecution counsel Nicholas Koumjian today tried to point to Mr. Smythe that certain things about which he has testified in court differ from what he had said to Mr. Taylor’s defense lawyers when they obtained a statement from him in June 2009. For example, Mr. Koumjian pointed out that the witness has testified in court that Mr. Taylor’s rebel group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) did not use child soldiers. However, his written statement made to defense lawyers in 2009 differed from this account. In his response, Mr. Smythe said that such inconsistencies were as a result of misrepresentations made of what he had said in his written statement. The witness in his testimony has said that contrary to what prosecution witnesses said in court, there was no group for child soldiers called Small Boys Unit (SBU). He said that the term SBU was created by NPFL commanders who had rescued and were taking care of children abandoned in the frontlines. Mr. Koumjian pointed out that the witness’s written statement revealed a different story.
“Mr. Witness, you told the defense last year, didn’t you that there was an SBU unit, that these were under-aged, and they were part of the NPFL,” Mr. Koumjian put to the witness.
“This is a complete misrepresentation of what i said, i never said that. This was not what i said,” the witness responded.
“The defense invented this, is that what you are saying?” Mr. Koumjian again put to the witness.
“I don’t know what you mean by they invented but this is not what i said. I said SBU as i stated in my testimony here, yes, this is what i know about SBU,” the witness again responded.
As Mr. Koumjian pressed further on what the words “SBUs were under-aged” meant when he said so in his written statement, the witness responded that “I’m saying this is a complete misrepresentation of what i said in my statement. This is not what i said.”
Mr. Koumjian also pointed out that while the witness in his testimony in court said that he never fought on the frontlines for the NPFL, his written statement revealed a different story. In the witness’s statement, he was quoted as having taken part in an attack during “Operation Octopus,” a 1992 attack on Monrovia by NPFL rebels. The witness insisted that he had again been misrepresented by those who obtained his statement.
Asked whether he had taken part “in an NPFL attack from Mount Barkeley during ‘Operation Octopus’,” the witness responded that “I didn’t take part, i was on that side but i was not at the frontline.” When Mr. Koumjian asked him whether he had said he “attacked from Mount Barkeley” as stated in his written statement, the witness again said that “I’m saying i don’t know whether the person that wrote this misquoted me but i didn’t say i attacked.”
The witness also in his testimony in court had said that the first time he met Mr. Taylor was in 1987 at the Mataba guesthouse in Libya where Mr. Taylor reportedly lived alongside dissident leaders from Gambia and Sierra Leone. Mr. Koumjian pointed out that the witness’s written statement revealed that he had met Mr. Taylor at the Libyan revolutionary training camp Tajura, not Mataba.
Reading from the witness’s written statement, Mr. Koumjian quoted that “the first time witness met CT [Charles Taylor] was in 1987 in Tajura, not at Mataba meetings.”
“Did you tell the defense that last year?” Mr. Koumjian asked the witness.
Again, the witness said that “this was a misrepresentation of what i said.”
“The person that wrote it is misrepresenting what you said?” Mr. Koumjian asked further.
“This is not what i said, that’s what i am saying,” the witness insisted.
“So you are saying that the person who wrote this has told something that isn’t true,” the prosecutor again put to the witness.
Mr. Smythe insisted that that was a complete misrepresentation of what he said. “I never saw Mr. Taylor in Tajura,” he said.
While Mr. Smythe in his testimony been rebutting prosecution evidence against Mr. Taylor, prosecutors have also under cross-examination been trying to discredit the witness’s testimony. Like defense lawyers did with prosecution witnesses under cross-examination, prosecutors have also been trying to hughlight inconsistencies in Mr. Smythe’s oral testimony in court and his written statement made to defense lawyers. It will be left with the judges to determine the credibility of the witness and whether his testimony can be relied upon.
As prosecutors concluded the cross-examination of Mr. Smythe today, Mr. Taylor’s defense lawyer, Morris Anyah commenced the re-examination of the witness. Under re-examination, Mr. Anyah will seek to clarify some of the issues that have been covered by prosecutors under cross-examination.
Mr. Smythe’s re-examination continues tomorrow.