Atrocities In Sierra Leone Were Committed By Sierra Leoneans Rebels, Not Charles Taylor’s Forces, Witness Says

After a week-long recess the Charles Taylor trial restarted today, with a defense witness testifying that crimes committed in Sierra Leone during its brutal 11-year long civil conflict were perpetrated by its own rebel forces — not by rebel forces loyal to the former Liberian president.

Charles Ngebeh, a Sierra Leonean national and former member of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF)–a Sierra Leonean rebel group which Mr. Taylor is alleged to have supported during the country’s civil conflict – today insisted that allegations of Mr. Taylor’s support for the RUF are not true. The exception, he said, was in 1991 when the conflict started in Sierra Leone and Mr. Taylor provided some support to the rebel forces in his neighboring country. Mr. Taylor himself has admitted to providing support for the RUF in 1991, saying that such support was necessary because United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) rebels were attacking his positions in Liberia with support from the government of Sierra Leone, which the RUF rebels at that time were fighting to dislodge. This support stopped in 1992, according to Mr. Taylor, after the Liberian rebels fell out with their RUF counterparts.  Corroborating Mr. Taylor’s evidence, Mr. Ngebeh has testified that Liberian rebels in Sierra Leone indeed returned to Liberia after falling out with the RUF in an operation titled “Top 20, Top 40, and Top Final.”

As he responded to questions from prosecutors under cross-examination today, Mr. Ngebeh said that the Sierra Leonean rebels themselves, of which he was a member, were responsible for atrocities committed in Sierra Leone from 1992 to 1996. He said that Mr. Taylor’s forces had nothing to do with the atrocities committed in Sierra Leone.

“From 92-96 the atrocities that were going on was terrible, caused by us the Sierra Leoneans, let’s forget about Mr. Taylor’s issue. That was terrible. You won’t compare that at the time that Mr. Taylor was assisting the RUF in 1991. Mr. Taylor’s NPFL was not killing, the killing that was going on was caused by us the Sierra Leoneans,” Mr. Ngebeh told the court today.

Mr. Taylor’s indictment covers crimes committed by the RUF in Sierra Leone from 1996 to the end of the conflict in 2002. Prosecutors have led evidence to establish that in addition to supporting the RUF within the period covered by the indictment, Mr. Taylor also supported the RUF prior to 1996. This, prosecutors hope, will convince the judges that the Joint Criminal Enterprise (JCE) in which Mr. Taylor and the RUF were allegedly involved, was a continuous process, spanning a period from the early days of the conflict to its conclusion in 2002. Mr. Taylor has denied these allegations. Now in his defense, the former president’s witnesses — such as Mr. Ngebeh — are telling the judges that apart from 1991, Mr. Taylor did not have any relationship with the RUF, even prior to 1996 as alleged by prosecutors. It is in this light that Mr. Ngebeh today sought to exonerate the former president from crimes committed in Sierra Leone from 1992 to 1996.  These crimes, the witness said were committed by Sierra Leonean rebels.

Also in his testimony today, the witness told the court that mining activities conducted in RUF-controlled territory in Sierra Leone during the war were undertaken predominantly by individual RUF rebels, not by the RUF as an organization. Referring to the RUF as a government, the witness explained that when individuals mined diamonds, they would only hand the very big diamonds to the government (RUF) because big diamonds were hard to handle by individuals.

Responding to questions about the ownership of diamonds in RUF controlled areas, the witness explained that “after the coup [1997 coup in Sierra Leone], diamonds no longer were government property.  Everybody took his. In spite of the fact that we had centralized areas were we mined for different authorities, but it was not a government property. Everybody had rights to carry it, except if you take a big one that you were not able to be in control of, you would handover that to the government [RUF].”

Prosecutors have alleged that the RUF were involved in organized mining in Sierra Leone propelled by forced civilian labor.  They have also alleged that all diamonds mined in the RUF mines were taken to Mr. Taylor in Liberia. The former president, it is alleged, supplied the RUF with arms and ammunition in return. Mr. Taylor has denied these allegations. Mr. Ngebeh’s testimony appears to suggest that the mining activities in RUF controlled territory were not as organized as prosecutors say.

In another development, it was announced today that Justice Teresa Doherty, one of the Trial Chamber judges, will be absent from court for a few days due to illness. The trial will continue in her absence.

Mr. Ngebeh’s testimony continues tomorrow.


  1. Hey People,
    Can you all see how the prosecution has been carrying out its cross examination by actually interogating the witnesses instead of presenting its case to the witness and trying to contradict the witnesses’ testimony?

    Throughout this cross examination so far, the prosecution really did not contradict the witness’s testimony. I do not know where this is leading the prosecution but obviously the witness is doing very well thus far in his testimony. Given the fact that the length of cross examination has so far exceeded the length of this witness’s direct testimony, I do not see this cross examination going beyond tommorrow and having gone through the most part of the cross examination without anything achieved by the prosecution, I think they have to restrategise.


  3. Despite the commentary on this site…..based simply on the doctrine of command responsibility Taylor is so guilty. And the reason is simple – Sam Bockarie. Bockarie is the albatross around Taylor’s neck. Kono and Freetown crime bases are a lock…if you compare this evidence to other tribunals, the prosecution is in good position…no accused at ICTY or ICTR in Taylor’s position had so much DIRECT evidence against him. And Yeaten also will be huge problem for Taylor. Everyone knows Yeaten was loyal and carrying out Taylor’s instructions. So many witnesses from so many different perspectives….especially the radio operators. Some of you keep just saying “hearsay” … but hearing radio instructions from Yeaten? Seeing Bockarie on phone and meeting with Taylor….that is direct evidence my friends….

    1. Bundu,
      What about the direct evidence being given by the defense witnesses ? If the prosectuion witness says Taylor gave the orders and the defense witnesses say Taylor did not give the orders. Who do you believe the witnesses who have been paid by the prosecution as per testimony given or witnesses who only came to testify becasue of the lies of the prosectution witnesses ? The trial judges I believe are fair minded people. In this case the verdict can only be not guilty. Now in the Appeals Chambers if you think that the one Sierra Leone Appeals judge may be your salvation that waits to be seen.

    2. I don’t know what your understanding of command responsibility is! How can you prove that Bokarie is the guilty position of Mr. Taylor? Mr. Taylor have said in his testimony that he was asked by ECOWAS Member States to allow Mr. Bockarie to relocate to Liberia so the war in Sierra Leone to come to an end.

      Now, no one have come to say this wasn’t the facts… not even any of the prosecution witnesses. Not any Head of States of those Countries who were involve. I did say here that Mr. Taylor didn’t order Mr. Bockarie dead. Anyone who been on this site long enough dating back to July of 2009 would tell you that I was correct. Not everybody on this site is not consider an hearsay like some of you are! Mr. Yeatenloyal to Mr. Taylor doesn’t mean that he Mr. Taylor supported the RUF during the time period for he’s charged. That doesn’t prove the prosecution case against Mr. Taylor. I must tell you that my Father is from Sierra Leone and my Mother from Liberia; therefore I’m in the middle here! I do have a lot feelings for my Sierra Leonean People!

      1. Nobody is really interested in ones ties to either by birth, or naturalization, to Sierra Leone. what seems important here is whether it is true charles participated in the criminal enterprise with RUF rebels of Sierra Leone and completely maginalized the people of that Nation. Besides, from what I hear on this site from charles’ support group is not nationalistic feeling, rather, a gangster sort of offensive move to free captured leadership that seems to leave subjects not only exposed, but vunerable to future prosecutions, and thus pleading to the public for mercy! Thank God Britain and US have recently passed laws to prosecute all suspected persons with ties to rapes, murders, and other atrocities not only in Sierra Leone, but Liberia as well. those against any forms of crimes against the people are fighting daily by lobbing High Courts to let Justice be done to both charles and the poor people he trashed! For some of you think twice for your days are numbered just as you say about others! A hint to a wise is sufficient!

  4. Ladies and gentlemen,
    The testimony of this witness have completely dislodged whatso ever the prosecution has presented in this court… Go ahead boy do it…..

    1. just another case of a witness repeating what he already heard from taylor’s previous testimony

      1. Madman,
        the question for you now is: Was the witness present when those things he testifies about happend? The answer is YES! so how could he possibly be repeating what he heard from Mr Taylor’s testimony?

  5. So the witness said Taylor NPFL fighters were not killing, uhm, let me guest they were sitting around listening to gospel music and reading the Bible. What a blalant lier, who is this man thinks he’s lying to, we all know RUF was a very force until they started getting and continue to get their support from Taylor. Same old lies different day.

    I wonder how was Taylor’s Easter meal, I bet he didn’t have any fufu and soup or palm butter, whoa, and all that red oil on that cassava leaf. Taylor supporters should ask him how does bogloni sandwich taste and now he knows how it feel to starve.

    1. John Thompson,

      Grow up! This is quite infantile. First of all Mr Taylor is converted to Judiasm so would not be having an Easter meal like you. Also is palm butter and Cassava leaf supposed to be everything? The man does not even like those things.

      Why is it that you all were so willing to believe the negative lies that did not correlate by those prosecution witnesses but are aversed to accept the version of the defence witnesses that have all said the same thing. Even logic tells you that the very fact that everyone is saying the same thing has to count for something. In the case of the prosecution witnesses, there were so many different and conflicting accounts of the same events,. Who then is lying?

      Logic my dear simple logic!

      I am not sure I get your point. It appears we are watching different trials here. How is Sam Boakarie an albatross around Taylor’s neck when the people who were with Boakarie and in senior positions in the RUF have said that Taylor did not supply them with any weapons nor receive diamonds? I do not know how you arrived at your conclusion above at all.

      1. Readers – please, can I ask you: let’s be respectful to one another when referencing each other’s comments. Let’s stick to the issues.

      2. Yess Helen,
        Tell them. They are so hard to learn…. They need Albert Eistein to wirte it on their backs before they can believe…Don’t know when these bunch liers will leave mr, Taylor alone…

    2. John Thompson,
      Are you surprised that so many of the witnesses coming to testify on behalf of the defense are Sierra Leoneans?

  6. Mr. Ngebeh testimony seem to say a lot about the RUF activities that are not well known to the prosecution! Did they the prosecution know that mining in the RUF control areas were organized at all before starting their case against Mr. Taylor? They need to let Taylor go and if they want, they can prosecute Mr. Taylor for crimes committed in Liberia instead of Sierra Leone! I think they will have a better when it comes to Liberia but again, they will have to prosecute many Liberians including the ones they support!

  7. What a messy trial! we are very tired of this so called war crime trial against another Ex-President from a third world country.
    What about the western atrocities in the Arabian Golf State of Iraq, in Afghanistan and Libya? Will there be any war crime trial soon?
    Now you are chasing Al Bashid of Sudan and Robert Mogabe of Zimbabwe………..this is an act of injustice to the Africans, my people.
    Now you are running to Ghana because we have discovered Crude Oil! You say Ghana is the face of Africa. Ha ha ha ha ha.
    Fire burn them…… western hypocrites ……BOMBOKLAS.

    Na mi name be say The GhanaRastafarian.

  8. if this witness is right, how many more S. Leone citizens will have to come foward before these this everlasting case’s over. the judges must take into account that mr. ngebeh is not a liberia, but a S.L citizen who’s refusing the accusation against Taylor. how big can this get, folks? not only did mr Ngebeh did fairly well in his testimony, today he also proved the blood diamonds scripts untrue that Taylor was trading diamonds for gun used by the rebels. i hope taylor win this case, so liberia can have an x living president for the first time.

    hey bro. J. thompson, good day to u sir! how r u doing today, and what is your take on this witness’ testi?

  9. The truth of Mr. Taylor’s help to the RUF is becoming glearing now to those in the world who never saw or went through the chaos those theys in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
    The withness ,Mr. Ngebeh , in other words is implying that Mr. Taylor did support a criminal group(RUF) but Mr. Taylor and the NPFL were not criminal oriented; Is this painting a black cat white?
    My friend was killed by the NPFL rebels on may 20, 1991 in Pujehun; in that same month bussinesses
    were vandalized in that very city by the NPFL; in that same month and in the followiing month the NPFL comensed forceful recruitment of people, including children . The truth shall never hide , so Ngebeh should stop covering up for this man that has done HUMANITY the greatest ham in the Mano River Region. Justice must prevail !!!

  10. It is now known that Taylor and Sankoh started the war in Sierra Leone with NPFL rebels fighting side-by-side with RUF fighters. Up on till the end of the war there were still NPFL rebels like superman and others fighting in Sierra Leone. Do you all remember during the invasion of Freetown January 9, 1999 when Bockarie over BBC quoted the “Papay” meaning Taylor as saying that they (meaning the RUF) are at a better position to negotiate with the Sierra Leone government and demand their needs? After that Sankoh was made VP in charge of mineral resources. It does not mean that because Ngebeh is a Sierra Leonean he is not loyal to Taylor. What was his position then and what is it now?

    1. Ivel,
      can you give a date for this purported quote please? “Do you all remember during the invasion of Freetown January 9, 1999 when Bockarie over BBC quoted the “Papay” meaning Taylor as saying that they (meaning the RUF) are at a better position to negotiate with the Sierra Leone government and demand their needs?”

      We need to know when, where and in what context was Sam Bockarie refering to a “Papay” and how you arrived at your conclusion that the “Papay” was Mr Taylor.

  11. J Thomas
    I hear you and your Taylor supporters saying the prosecution trial is weak, I don’t know which trial you people are paying attention to or you just turning a blind eye to reality. So what the witness is from SL, the prosecutor had several witnesses also from SL, that does not proof your “so called” point.

    What is wrong with you, are you just not paying attention to anything that has happen to Taylor or Liberia since 2003. What in the world will make you say Taylor will come back to Liberia to run for president in 2011? Do you not know it was part of his exile agreement he will never step a foot back on the rich soil of Liberia, please do me and the others a favor and go read up on CT exile agreement before you start blabing.

    You sound like one of those people, can’t even mention it, don’t you think its in Ghana’s best intereest to sell its crude oil to whoever can aford the Republic of Ghana’s price. I will think you will want your country economy to do well, sell its natural resources at a fair price and take care of the thousands of poor in Ghana.

    Once again we Africans need to stop thinking backwards and start moving forward, look at the rest of the world, things are changing you can’t sit back and wait for handout you need to start being inovative and get your tribal minds right.

    Learn about your resources, develope tools and mechanism to extract those resoources and distribute the wealth fairly, not give it to currupt dictators like Mugabe, Taylor, or Al Bashid in Sudan, another power hungry one who doesn’t want to give up power because he likes the oil money.


    1. John Thompson,
      Was it part of the agreement too that Mr Taylor will be handed over by the governement of Liberia to the Special Court for Sierra Leone to the tried?

  12. Folks,

    I guess it is all about believability…is this testimony believable? Is this witness believable??????


  13. Aki,
    Do you expect any reasoning person to be surprise at Former RUF and NPFL fighters testifying on behalf of Taylor?
    We are still waiting to see decent and honourable persons defending Taylor.

  14. My brother John Thompson, this whole Taylor trial is just a waste the good time of Charle Taylor.
    Do know the white man can change colors at any time. Where we are now, there is no case against this innocent man.

    Brother, we were all hurt during the crisis, but if we dwell on this, we will be making enemyship.

    Do let the white fool us

    1. How can people be so heartless , naive and rediculous to tell everyone that the Taylor trial is a waste and that peole should forget about the past. well a , you may say because the sivilized world has chosen to justly try this man without using the jungle type he used to exploit, killed, dehumanized and abuse thousands of others. As for bye-gones been- byegones, the best that should happen first is what Taylor is facing now, JUSTICE!!!

  15. Sam

    The agreement did not say Liberia or any country had to hand Taylor over to the special court. Taylor was handed over because Nigeria president wanted to keep Bush happy by keeping his word on his promise that he (Obasanyo) will turn in Taylor.

    And why in the world was Taylor running away with all the cash in his belongings when he got caught on the border, uhm seems like he knew what boiling in the pot but wasn’t smart or fast enough to get away, thats why they snatch him up like a rag dog and put those cuffs and chains on him like a slave he is, a slave to power and greed.

    No I won’t grow up, what are you trying to say that Taylor doesn’t eat Liberian food no more cause he coverted to a different religion, LMAO, please give me a break you taylor supporters are so naive. If you don’t like what I said about your dictator Taylor than don’t read my post. I’m not afraid of you, Taylor, or anyone as a matter of fact.

    Please don’t try to tell me what to say and I dont care if Taylor is Hindu, Budist, of Jew, as for me my Easter was great and I had lots of fun and good Liberia food, something I know Taylor loves to eat.


  16. Dear bro. John Thompson,
    I am not a Taylor fan. But I am a fan of justice and true fairness of the laws that governs all humans with the same height of pure dignity! I’m aware you’re taking notice for my stand on this case though, and I know nothing I have said is against Taylor. If he Taylor is guilty of the crimes he’s in that court for, I say the judges must take every penny out of his account and give to the handicaps in S . Leone, maybe it’ll help them survive because they deserve helps!! But also, if justice be served, everyone who backed Taylor or asked him to go to Liberia in 1989 must pay 3x more than Taylor because it’s them that may it possible for him to get to S. Leone people!
    I don’t agree with wrong doers bro JJ, not even my own closest friends. If you’re wrong I say you’re wrong no matter how bad it makes you feel.

    I can’t deny that this Taylor this Taylor that thing here is just a big boys conspiracy, JJ; and for me that is not justice to try to kill a person simply because they refuse to do your will. It all started from coming from US prison to over throwing Doe and taking power of the presidency in Liberia. For a black man, not to mention an African; that’s a myth. And if he’s guilty, it’s logical to say whoever free and or supported Taylor’s mission to Liberia is the maker of the monster he (taylor) is known to be in the western world.

    Again, I am not a Taylor fan J. Thompson, I just want a better world where each and everyone of us can walk tall without fearing if I don’t for my maker he’ll destroy me because he has the power to built me, and he has the same power to tear me down.

    I hope you get my stand well JJ, please don’t put me in Taylor’s fan uniform because I really don’t fit in it.

    Here from you if need be.


  17. Wonder never ends. The same advocates of Taylor wisdom in using our meager resources to open so-called covert accounts and spent millions on Public Relation operations (intended to woo the very western countries we are being told are evil) are the very persons here talking about waste of money to trial Taylor.
    You can stop providing loan, grants and humantarian supports to the US and the UK since they are wasting money on Taylor’s trial.
    I also hope that everyone on this forum is aware that it is clearly written in the Liberian constitution that you immediately lose your Liberian citizenship by joining a foreign Army. So, it such comes as no promise when a former citizen of Liberia (lost his citizenship by joining the US Army) becomes an advocate of criminals and mercenaries.

    1. Hi Morris – thanks for your comment. I presume you are not aiming your comments at any specific readers on this site, right?

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