A defense witness for Charles Taylor has told Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague that a prosecution witness lied in his 2008 evidence when he testified that the former Liberian president helped Sierra Leonean rebels to invade Sierra Leone in 1991, a war that lasted in the West African country for 11 years.
John Vincent, a former Training Commandant for the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group that Mr. Taylor is on trial for allegedly providing support for, testified that former RUF commander and prosecution witness Isaac Mongor’s testimony against Mr. Taylor that the former Liberian president helped RUF leader Foday Sankoh 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 Mr. Sankoh met in the Liberian town of Voinjama, near the country’s border with Sierra Leone. In his testimony yesterday, Mr. Vincent told the judges that he was part of the RUF fighters trained in Liberia, who invaded Sierra Leone in 1991. As he continued his testimony today, in his response to questions from defense counsel for Mr. Taylor, Morris Anyah, Mr. Vincent said that the former Liberian president did not play any role in the invasion of Sierra Leone.
“In the period when you were making your way to Sierra Leone in particular the days between the 22nd and 23rd of March, did you ever hear anyone say that Charles Taylor was in the vicinity of Voinjama?” Mr. Anyah asked the witness.
“Not at all. 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 responded.
Mr. Vincent also disputed Mr. Mongor’s 2008 testimony that Special Forces from Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group 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. Today, Mr. Anyah sought to verify these accounts and to ascertain Mr. Mongor’s position as a training instructor for the RUF as stated in his (Mongor) testimony.
“Did you see any NPFL Special Forces that were there to provide support to the RUF?” Mr. Anyah asked the witness.
In his response, the witness said “no, not to my knowledge.”
“Did you see any trucks containing arms and ammunition that was supplied by the NPFL to facilitate the RUF invasion of Sierra Leone?”
The witness responded with a resounding “NO.”
“Whether at Crab Hole or at Camp Nama, to your knowledge, did Isaac Mongor train any men when your were there?” Mr. Anyah asked the witness again.
“Isaac Mongor did not train anybody. I continue to say that Isaac Mongor was a demonstrator,” the witness said.
In leading their witnesses, Mr. Taylor’s defense lawyers are making frantic efforts to discredit the evidence of prosecution witnesses. That is what Mr. Anyah and Mr. Vincent sought to do today with Mr. Mongor’s testimony for the prosecution. Mr. Vincent is the seventh witness that has testified for Mr. Taylor.
Mr. Vincent’s testimony continues on Tuesday. The courtroom will be used for other trials on Monday and therefore, Mr. Taylor’s trial will only resume on Tuesday.