Atrocities committed by Sierra Leonean rebels during the country’s 11-year civil conflict should not be attributed to Charles Taylor as he had no role to play in them, a defense witness for the former Liberian president told the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Those most responsible for the crimes, he said, have already been punished in Freetown.
Charles Ngebeh, a Sierra Leonean national and former member of the Sierra Leonean rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front, finished his testimony today, telling the judges that allegations of Mr. Taylor’s support to the RUF are false.
“All the atrocities committed by the RUF are not the concerns of Mr. Taylor. They did happen but it doesn’t concern Mr. Taylor. Mr. Taylor has no hands in it,” the witness said.
When lead prosecutor Ms. Brenda Hollis put to the witness that RUF commander “Sam Bockarie used his SBUs [Mr. Taylor’s Small Boys Unit] to protect government property from being stolen,” the witness responded that “it happened but Mr. Taylor is not responsible for it.”
Referencing the treatment of civilians by the RUF, Ms. Hollis asked the witness that “and indeed some of these civilians were killed when they were accused of stealing diamonds isn’t that correct?”
“All the atrocities you have explained about, is the cause why Issa and others are in prison today but Taylor is not responsible for that. Mr. Taylor is not responsible for it.”
In 2009, three RUF commanders, Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon and Augustine Gbao were sentenced to terms of imprisonment by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown after being convicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by them in their individual capacities as well as those committed by their subordinates under the doctrine of command responsibility. Prosecutors now say that these RUF commanders took their own orders from Mr. Taylor. Like Mr. Taylor, all defense witnesses have said that these charges are false.
As Mr. Ngebeh concluded his testimony today, another Sierra Leonean national and former senior member of the RUF, Mr. Fayia Musa, started his testimony in defense of Mr. Taylor. Mr. Musa told the court about the circumstances surrounding the start of the rebel war in Sierra Leone and how Mr. Bockarie (alias Mosquito) became leader of the RUF after the arrest of the group’s leader Foday Sankoh in Nigeria in 1997. Mr. Musa said that when the war started in 1991, he was appointed by RUF leader Mr. Sankoh as the group’s Agricultural Officer. According to Mr. Musa, after assuming the leadership of the RUF, Mr. Bockarie became what he called “the devil.” He said that all commands in the RUF were handed down by Mr. Bockarie, not Mr. Taylor. In illustrating Mr. Bockarie’s wickedness, the witness took off his shirt in open court to show the judges various scars left on his body due to alleged beatings he received on Mr. Bockarie’s orders.
“We underwent a lot of punishment, torture, we were tortured, almost every day, both mentally and physically,” the witness said.
Asked by Mr. Taylor’s defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths to tell the court on whose orders such punishments were administered, the witness said that “on Mosquito’s orders. That’s Sam Bockarie. He told his boys to tie us until the rope entered my skin and I started bleeding.”
“Sam Bockarie, I have started and I will end with this, he was a devil,” Mr. Musa said.
Mr. Musa is recorded in the report of Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as being one of the original founders of the RUF. He is the third Sierra Leonean national and the eighth witness who has testified in defense of Mr. Taylor.
Mr. Musa’s testimony continues tomorrow.
According to this witness, Sam Bockarie was “a devil.” I wonder who he was since they all were involved in devilish acts – a small devil or devil incarnate?
When Sam Bockarie ‘immigrated, fled, came, invited, or was recalled’ to Liberia and granted Liberian citizenship, did we invite a devil into our land? Or was Liberia the hub or the gravitational center of other devil incarnate?
It is interesting this witness finds no better word to describe Sam Bockarie than a devil. Indeed, that what he was – a devil…and that what the so-called militias who raped and violated young girls and boys were – devils…and that what the killings, torturing, raping, disembowelment, decapitations, and mutilations that visited Liberia at the hands of CT and others mean – a devilish act. No wonder those gallant Liberian women stood up to Charles Taylor, MODEL,and LURD and “Pray[ed] the devil back to hell.” Watch this film, if you can. It is now on sale.
I applaud this witness for his audacious portrayal.
Thank you for assisting to promote the stance of Taylor’s innocence. As you correctly recounnted, the witness alluded to wicked acts of Bockarie but has not as yet, testified to to the complicity, support or indulgence of Taylor. The role of Taylor in the perpertrations of these acts is the crux of the matter at hand. To the extent that Taylor’s involvement continue to be vindicated, the prosecution has an uphill battle still.
The other issue you raise in one of your post regarding “hijacking of this website” I feel that the issue is a claim that is not only debatable but highly subjective. I have avoided such engagements on this site although I am a stalward defender of Taylor’s innocence. My comments regarding the phrase ‘pick a fight’ to which you responded was centered around the idea that the phrase was an expression that could be applied to several situations and that it in no way implied a militaristic stance as you suggested.
Take for instance, a child who performs poorly at school is also aggressive towards his or her instructor. A parent intervenes and advises the child to pick his or her fight smartly. The parent goes on to advise the child to not pick fight with the teacher, instead he or she should pick fight with the lesson. In this scenario the contnetious phrase has been used in a more positive context.
Summation and encapsulation to economize space and time.
Subjectivity? Absolutely not!
Objectivity? Yes. Archival and/or existing evidences support my assertions.
We could get back to the specificity…now.
Sorry to know that you had some issues that kept you away from the site. I just want you to know that we appreciate all your hard work; you are the back bone of this site.
I was wondering what was going on, but than I would have been speculating.
Even though, at times we do get on your nerves and so do you, but without a shadow of doubt we appreciate you.
Keep up the good work girlfriend.
Thanks Big B – that is a kind note. And I can quite honestly say that individual readers here do not get on my nerves. I have found it really wonderful to get to know everyone’s personalities here, even if I don’t know each of you in person. I truly do enjoy hearing from everyone here, no matter what their opinion is. It is my role to try to ensure that this forum remains respectful and adheres to our rules – I know that this role (and my expression of it) can at times seem like I am frustrated by individual readers, but I can assure you I am not. It is simply a function of structure and balancing the – at times competing – concerns on the site, and not at all personal.
Thanks again, Big B.
They were NOT invited just because Mr. Taylor wanted them but rather TO HELP WITH THE PEACE PROCESS….
I posted a comment in response to Big B, on the 7th of April at 6.58pm and its now the 14th of April and the said comment is still awaiting moderation !!! Can U please let me know what is causing the delay in posting my comment/. ……Thanks
As always Wadi’The Zima’
Hi Wadi Williams – I do apologize for the delay. You post raised some questions — I have indicated what they are in response to your original posting. THank you, in any case, for your patience.
Galant men and women of LURD and MODEL indeed. Were they any better than the RUF and NPFL that you hate so much ?
Thanks but sorry!
You missed the point!
This is a serious misreading of my post!
Here’s what I wrote:
“No wonder those gallant Liberian women stood up to Charles Taylor, MODEL, and LURD and “Pray[ed] the devil back to hell.”
Nowhere in the above assertion did I refer to “Galant men and women of LURD and MODEL” as you claimed. Please revisit my post, if you can, for contextual purposes and clarity.
Now, although you inadvertently misconstrued or misprocessed my assertion, I will try to speak to your other issue – hate. I am here simply articulating factual, analyzed statements on the specifics of this witness’ testimony. He depicts his dreaded rebel leader, Sam Bockarie, “a devil.” I have no grounds to love one side to the Liberian conflict and hate the other side and here is why: the NPFL, ULIMO (J, K), LURD, MODEL, LPC, INPFL, CT, Samuel Doe, and you are at liberty to populate this list were all the same – they shared a common characteristics and intentionality – killing. They turned our “sweet land of liberty” into a killing field. Have we ever stopped to visualize what caused the deaths of over 300,000 Liberians and created a massive displacement of the population? Anyway, by default of the witness’ testimony, these militant groups and leaders were “devil[s].” The devil idea did not originate from me but from the witness.
Thank you Davenport well said. You are on the right track. God bless you for your analysis.
Blessings to you.
Is this witness Fayiah telling lies.
Really a great post helped me a lot.
Thanks for this.
Liberia: No joy for Taylor’s prosecutors
After two years of trial, the prosecution in the Charles Taylor case are still struggling to nail him down conclusively with the 11-count indictment announced to the world amidst great fanfare in 2004. Lans Gberie went to The Hague in February to watch the prosecution at work; he found them clutching at straws and apparently bereft of new ideas.
Charles Taylor was transferred to The Hague from Sierra Leone in 2006 to fulfill a promise made to Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the new Liberian president, who feared that trying Taylor so close to her fragile country could be destabilising. The Special Court had probably anticipated this: Article 9 of the Court’s founding Act states that: “The Special Court shall have its seat in Sierra Leone. The Court may meet away from its seat if it considers it necessary for the efficient exercise of its functions, and may be relocated outside Sierra Leone, if circumstances so require.”
The prosecution concluded the cross-examination of Taylor in early February 2010, telling the judges to convict him for the following offences: that he persecuted human rights activists and suppressed press freedom in Liberia; that he executed politicians and rebel commanders who he saw as threats to his quest for political power; that he had ulterior motives when he negotiated the release of UN peacekeepers held hostage by Sierra Leonean rebel forces; and that through his support for rebel forces in Sierra Leone, he brought untold suffering to the people of Sierra Leone. Taylor, of course, vigorously denied these charges, and his combative lead counsel – a very experienced British criminal lawyer of Jamaican descent named Courtenay Griffiths – tried hard to play it all down, insisting that the whole trial was a Western conspiracy to humiliate and convict an awkward African leader.
On 8 February, the judges granted Griffiths’ request for a one-week adjournment in order for him and his client to reflect on a few issues that came out of the cross-examination. At the same time, the acting prosecutor, the Sierra Leonean Joseph Kamara, announced that the trial would be concluded by the end of this year. This is, of course, doubtful: the judges have over $2m to use up in salary, and ditto the prosecutors. Taylor’s defence team, too, is paid $100,000 a month by the Court (the former president pledged he was indigent) – so obviously no one is in a hurry to wrap this whole thing up. I saw this for myself when I visited the Court on 29 February.
Read the full story in New African.
For dialectic purposes, historically, what have been the length of war crimes and other specifically related trials at The Hague (Netherlands) and perhaps Nuremberg (Germany) – I mean the trials of criminals from the Rwandan and Bosnian wars and WWII? I want to process Big B’s comments but first need to analyze as well as use a compare and contrast methodology to get a rounded nonbiased perspective. Please help me out, if you can.
Good question Davenport. The trials range in length — I will try to look some up and give you a sense of the range.
If these SENIOR players in the game can testify on behalf of Mr. Taylor, that within itself speaks VOLUME. Why is this still going on is beyond COMMON SENSE.
But we truck on…so far the score reads Ms. Hollis & Mr. Koumjain 0 vs Mr. Taylor 5.
Hi Travey, and welcome back home! How are you, and how is everything going? You were beautifully missed during your time away, and that was not nice for your web-family including myself. I hope your gone was not due to some serious personal situation though, it’s nice to have you back!
Hey guys, I am not here for you; I’m only here to talk to our sister Tracey. So, see ya later! Haha.
Back to her (T.G).
Stay less busy Tracey, and get yourself some good rest before you start reading much of these headache posts we put on here ok; please, it’ll be good for you and us to have a healthy Tracey in great form.
Come back asap when you feel 100% of what took you away is under complete control.
J. Tomas – what a lovely message! Thank you for your kind words and concern. I am actually feeling fine and well, thank you, and I too missed my “web-family” (what a nice term you have coined for us here. I like that very much). It was actually a slew of other deadlines that kept me away, but I am back now and looking forward to our continued conversation.
Trust me they have nail him, its just a matter of time. When his lawyers get done with trillions of witnesses/liers. You must have not follow the other two RUF leaders trial in the Hague, if you did you will know their case is directly connected to Taylor’s case. There is no way those guys were found guilty and Taylor will not me found giulty. The minute Taylor is found not guilty (which will never happen) the lawyers for thos RUF leaders will file for an appeal or mistrial.
And Big B keep he mind this is a court of law, there is due process, Milosovic (former Bosnia leader) trial took over 3 years and the time length in Taylor’s trial is nothing compare to previous ICC trials, so relax my friend the Evil Man will not be getting out of his cage any time soon.
John Thompson, I’m in total disagreement Taylor will be found guilty. We say what we think the out come will be at the end of the trial. The judges have the final words. Hey John, where is Taylor’s money? I’ve yet to hear anyone say they have located his alleged billion. Show me the money, show me the money, and yes, show me the money. Lies, lies, and more lies. Taylor walks and you can’t stop him.
You maybe right, President Taylor might be locked down in his cage for a long time but if that happens, it wouldn’t be because he was legally found guilty; it will be the tremendous pressure from the west. However, if those honorable judges remain unshakable and don’t yield to pressure from the west, President Taylor walks, and that’s the fact.
John, I have confidence in these judges, they are going to stand their ground, and there wouldn’t be any fluctuations on their part. They will call it right down the middle.
John, let me tell you where my fear lies. My fear lies with the Appeal Chamber. That so called Appeal Chamber has two S.L judges presiding. That’s prejudice within itself. Due to the jungle precedents of this kangaroo court, the defense can’t petition the court for the S.L. judges to be recused
I think the most honorable thing those S.L. judges should do is to recuse themselves from the bench when the prosecution appeal.
Are you already contemplating on the appeal chamber while the trial is still on going, B Big? Taylor is winning and there should be no panic amongt you!
Look, the Prosecution failed to bring “living proof” of taylor commanding the RUF child Soldiers, of taylor receiving a jar of diamonds from sam Bokerie, nor taylor inducting Sam and his thugs into Liberian citicenship. Taylor was never in knowledge of training bases in his territories, neither was he awared of the indictment against 300 plus thugs he hired in the ATU headed by his free son, Chuckie, who presently enjoys vast freedom in Maimi Florida Key, and all the lies that taylor ran the National Bank of Liberia in his White Flower Bunker, and on and on…!
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