RUF Fighters Were Not Recruited From NPFL Cells in Liberia, Witness Says

Stories of Sierra Leone’s rebel leader recruiting his fighters from jail cells under the control of Mr. Taylor’s rebel forces in Liberia are false, a defense witness told the Special Court for Sierra Leone today.

Martin Flomo George, a Liberian national and former Brigade Commander for Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel forces, today questioned accounts that RUF leader, Foday Sankoh, recruited most of his fighters from National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) jails during Liberia’s civil conflict in 1990.  Several witnesses have given different accounts about how Mr. Sankoh recruited fighters for the RUF in Liberia. Some have testified that RUF fighters were recruited at NPFL check points, while some were recruited from prisons in NPFL-controlled territory.

According to Mr. George, these accounts are wrong. While some of the witnesses were captured in neighboring Ivory Coast, Mr. George said that no RUF member ever told him that he was captured from an NPFL jail.

“I know how some of these people came to the base, like for Issa Sesay, he was in Abidjan, Yusuf Sillah was in Abidjan, Kaifa Wai was in Abidjan,” Mr George said. “He brought them from Abidjan to join us at the base.”

“But I don’t know about anybody else who was in jail and who was freed by Foday Sankoh to come and join us,” the witness said.

Mr. George’s account, however, conflicts with the account given by another defense witness, John Vincent.  Mr. Vincent’s testimony corroborated accounts of previous prosecution witnesses, who spoke of Mr. Sankoh’s recruitment of RUF fighters in Liberia. According to Mr. Vincent, who himself was recruited by the RUF in Liberia, some of the RUF fighters were recruited from NPFL check points and from a jail cell in the Herbel area — a place under the control of Mr. Taylor’s NPFL rebels.

Also in his testimony today, Mr. George refuted prosecution allegations that Mr. Sankoh ordered his rebel forces to amputate the arms of Sierra Leonean civilians in order to stop them from voting in the country’s 1996 general elections. According to several prosecution witnesses, when Sierra Leoneans were preparing to vote in the 1996 presidential and parliamentary elections, Mr. Sankoh was enraged. In order to disrupt the elections, witnesses said, he ordered his troops to cut off the hands of civilians. The slogan for the 1996 election was “the future is in your hands” — according to prosecution witnesses, cutting off those hands was meant to incapacitate civilians from voting. Mr. Taylor knew about this operation and gave it his blessing by providing more support to RUF rebels, prosecutors have alleged. Today, Mr. George dismissed these claims as false, saying that Mr. Sankoh never gave such an order.

“He [Sankoh] never gave that instruction to Morris Kallon or to Boston Flomo. Never,” Mr. George said.

“How would you cut people’s hands, and who would vote for you in future? He never gave that instruction,” he added.

The witness claimed that he was at the meeting where Mr. Sankoh gave instructions to his commanders to stop the elections but not to cut people’s hands.

“I was at that meeting, I was not far off from the meeting. I was right in the meeting. He never gave that instruction,” the witness said.

Prosecutors have alleged that Mr. Taylor supported and gave his approval to operations undertaken by RUF rebels in Sierra Leone. During those operations, the RUF committed heinous crimes including murder, rape and the infliction of terror on the civilian population of Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor bears responsibility for these crimes, prosecutors have alleged. Mr. Taylor has denied the allegations against him.

The cross-examination of Mr. George continues tomorrow.


  1. Tracey,
    If you don’t mind, can you see to it that the post of today testimony 27April 2010 posted Alpha is corrected? He stated in his post today that the witness said he wasn’t far from Mr. Taylor when he Mr. Taylor gave the instructions for RUF Commanders to stop the election in Sierra Leone. Instead of Sankor giving the instructions, Alpha said Mr. Taylor.


    1. Jocone — you are right — that was a misunderstanding in the editing process. It is corrected – thanks for pointing it out.

  2. Alpha,
    Thanks for the summary. However I believe there is a typo error where you state. ” The witness claimed he was at the meeting where Mr. Taylor gave instructions to his commanders to stop elections” I think Alpha you meant to say Mr. Foday Sankoh gave instructions instead of Charles Taylor ?

    1. Aki – that is correct and the misundersatnding happened in the editing process. It is corrected now — thanks for helping us out on it. Lucky we have people like you and other readers keeping an eye on us to make sure we are getting everything accurate.

  3. Alpha or Tracey,
    Mr. George’s account do not conflicts the account given by John Vincent. Mr. George from your summary said, “that no RUF member ever told “him” that he was captured from an NPFL jail.” Mr. George did not know every member in the RUF organization nor how he or she may have joined. Mr. George spoke of the members he have a lot of contact with, which seem to be the higher-level of the RUF organization as he pointed out Issa Sesay, Yusuf Sillah and Kaifa Wai.

    I think you miss spoke when you said, “The witness claimed that he was at the meeting where Mr. Taylor gave instructions to his commanders to stop the elections but not to cut people’s hands.’ Please correct me if I am wrong.

    1. Hi Ken — no you are right about the error — it should have been Mr. Sankoh instead of Mr. Taylor. My misunderstanding in the editing process. It is fixed now.
      Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  4. Tracy/Alpha,
    I do have a problem with the first paragraph of this Summary whih I quote (emphasis mine)”Stories of Sierra Leone’s rebel leader recruiting his fighters from jail cells under the control of Mr. Taylor’s rebel forces in Liberia are FALSE, a defense witness told the Special Court for Sierra Leone today.”

    I never heard the witness say the stories were FALSE. he said no RUF vanguard ever told HIM that they were recruited in a jail in Liberia. he said he had no knowledge of vanguards being recruited in Jail in Liberia. when pressed on the issue by Mr Bangura during cross exam he said the vanguards who stayed in the same room ussually interact with each other and they share stories about how they were recruited and he mentioned those vanguards that he could remember that told him about how they were recruited. Note worthy is the fact that non of those that he mentioned was contradicted by the prosecution. his testimony also did not contradict that of John vincent because those that John Vincent mentioned were recruited in Jail were not the ones that Martin George mentioned.

    Martin George did not categorically state that those reports were false he said he did not know about it. I do not understand how not knowing about something equates to saying it was FALSE.

    Also I have quoted paragraph 10 above as saying (again emphasis mine) “The witness claimed that he was at the meeting where MR. TAYLOR gave instructions to his commanders to stop the elections but not to cut people’s hands.” Again the witness did not say that Mr Taylor gave instructions to anybody infact he did not even say that Mr Taylor was at the meeting. Rather he said MR SANKOH did not give such an order at the meeting.

    maybe these are typographical errors or an editing error. please endeavour to correct them or at least point to the parts of the transcript upon which these assertions in your summary were made.

    1. Sam — you are totally right about the error of putting Mr. Taylor instead of Mr. Sankoh in the 10th paragraph, which was a misundersanding in the editing process. Fortuantely, you and an number of other readers have pointed this out and we have now corrected it.

  5. We will never sense any coherence in statements made by these so-called defense witnesses.These guys just went to worked,designed lies thinking this would help them secure the release of Taylor ande eventually plague the west African subregion into turmoil again.

    That is why as one witness takes to the east,the other traces the west by way of the north.I just wonder such a hoax looks likely to work

    1. Oh Jocone — I am sorry to ask on two of your comments today — but would you mind revising the one that you sent at 4:42pm today? If you could just disconnect the comments directed towards the other reader in relation to a particular individual connected to a fighting group, then I will happily post your comment. Let me know if you need me to send a copy of your comment to you.

  6. Alpha,

    Did the witness really say that Mr. Taylor gave instructions that his commanders stop the elections but not to cut people’s hands, which elections by the way? I’m sure this is the wrong posture of the witness testimony, but I understand because Mr. Taylor is guilty by public options even before court trial.


    Harris K Johnson

    1. Harris – you are absolutely right! I’m glad for your note that helped us pick up the error that was made in the editing process. It is fixed now. GTlad you and others have brought it to our attention.

  7. The following sentence do not seem to hang together, Is Mr Taylor or Sanko who wanted elections disrupted or is it that that Mr Sankoh was only interested in disrupting elections why Taylor was interested in amputating hand of voters. Please read the following sentences and advise.

    1. “According to several prosecution witnesses, when Sierra Leoneans were preparing to vote in the 1996 presidential and parliamentary elections, Mr. Sankoh was enraged. In order to disrupt the elections, witnesses said, he ordered his troops to cut off the hands of civilians”

    2. ” The witness claimed that he was at the meeting where Mr. Taylor gave instructions to his commanders to stop the elections but not to cut people’s hands “

    1. Hi Genke — you are absolutely correct. We have fixed the error that you rightly pointed out. It should be okay now — thanks for pointing it out to us.


  8. Are you telling me in this transcript that Mr. George said that he was present in a meeting when Charles Taylor gave instruction to his commanders to disrupt the election but not to cut people’s hands?
    Or is it a mistake that should have been Sankoh gave instruction to his commanders to disrupt the election but not to cut people’s hands?

    1. Hi Johannson — it was an error in editing which we have corrected. Thanks for alerting us!


  9. Alpha Sesay, did the the witness claimed that he was at the meeting where Mr. Taylor gave instructions to his commanders to stop the elections but not to cut people’s hands?

    1. Hi Borris — thanks for alerting us. It was an error which has now been fixed. Glad you let us know.

      1. Tracey,
        Once more great Job but Alpha sesay needs to answer some of these comments made by us against errors made during his editing process! These kind of errors send the wrong message to other readers around the World. As such, people will believed in the wrong messages being posted by him. For example, Mr. George did not say no RUF fighters were recruited from Jail cells in NPFL control areas instead, no one ever told him and did not see such a recruitment happened.
        But during the editing process by you guys, your make it sound as if Mr. George is saying no RUF personnels were recruited by Sankor from Jail cells in Liberia. I Kindly request that you edit your summaries before posting because a lot of people have access to the trial through this site; therefore, we don’t want them to be mis-inform of this trail!


        1. Hi Jocone — thanks for your comment and we do absolutely agree with you on the importance of accuracy. On the error in the editing process, it was my fault as I edited, as I misunderstood Alpha’s text, shortened it, and in the process made the error. I’m so glad you and others helped us to correct it, and it makes me more aware of how careful we need to be at all stages of hte posting process. Hopefully in this case, all is fixed now.

  10. Hi Tracey,
    Is the witness saying he was at the meeting where Mr. Taylor ordered his comanders to stop the elections? Mr. Taylor or Mr. Sankoh, which one?

    1. V-Man — it was Mr. Sankoh — mistake in editing. Glad you raised it with us. It is fixed now.

  11. Hi Tracey,

    I don’t think the below account from Alpha is correct. It is in the summary you publish.
    Can you please countercheck with Alpha and make the necessary correction?

    “The witness claimed that he was at the meeting where Mr. Taylor gave instructions to his commanders to stop the elections but not to cut people’s hands.”


    1. Golf – thanks! Lucky we have so many attuned readers that can assist us in making sure all our articles are correct. Yes, indeed, it was Mr. Sankoh and not Mr. Taylor — a mistake in editing which is now fixed.
      Thanks for raising it with us.

  12. It is very interesting to hear from the defense witness Martin Flomo George that it was not Foday Sankoh who gave the order for the cutting of the right thumb or arm before and during the day of the 1996 election. Indeed Sankoh was against elections before peace as the motive of the NPRC second face of military rule led by retired Brigadier Maada Bio whose sister was married to Sankoh had wanted the elections not to take place but for Sankoh to come and form a government of national unity with the military junta.
    This brought a problem between the civil populace and the junta. Maada Bio by then had no alternative but to prevail on the traditional rulers(paramount Chiefs) to denounce the elections in their respective Chiefdoms. He was totally disappointed when they turn him down by saying elections before peace talks. Two consultative meetings code Bintumani 1&2 were held. it was during these consultations that it was unanimously agreed that elections before peace talks.
    With this been accepted by 90% of the populace, the RUF leadership in conjunction with the support of the Junta became enraged and this resulted to the cutting of right thumbs or arm.
    My question is, if the cutting of right thumbs or arms was not instructed by Sankoh, who then among the RUF leadership gave such instruction?
    Martin Flomo George, you are a Liberian and former brigade commander in Kono, can you tell the person who was responsible for the cutting of arms or right thumb in Lunsar in the north, Free town and else where before and during the day of the 1996 elections?
    These are thugs that were hired from one nation to go and destroy a neighbouring nation. The blood of those you destroyed are crying to God and one day you will surely account for it.
    As for Issa desay, he was a fourth former at the Magburaka Secondary School for boys. He abandoned school to go into buying gold for Lebanese merchants. During this period, gold has just been discovered in the Konike Barina Chiefdom, Makali being the chiefdom headquarter, along the Magburaka-Kono high way. He was stationed in Makong village, 7 miles from Makali with his friends on the same business.
    During this period, a lot of Liberians started infiltrating the country with their guns as hunters for monkeys which they said they are taking to Liberia. They invaded the terrains that link Tonkolili district from the Konike Barina flank, Bamakonta in the Kenema District and Mongeray in the Bo district. This is a mountain range that is thickly forested. During this hunting process by these hunters and their Sierra Leonean Counterparts, they started preaching the gospel of liberation for the country.
    Issa sesay by then was engaged in dubious activities of which he was mixing copper with gold as they look alike in colour. This brought problems for his financiers who were going into gross loses as their commodity was always rejected for been mixed. The matter was reported to the police and as investigations were been carried out, Issa Sesay and others knowing that they are been haunted for such malpractice decided to follow their Liberian friends and their Sierra Leonean counterparts through the jungle as mensured above and from Kenema to Liberia through Kailahun.
    In view of this, non Liberian recruit in the RUF will be able to testify in court about the exact invents in Sierra Leone except otherwise he or she was a member of the hunting group that entered Sierra Leone between the period of 1985 to 1988 before the war started in Liberia in 1989. To be candid before the end of 1988, these guys have disappeared.
    Please note that I was a bailing Machine EY 18 Robin operator at the mining areas by then. I am B.SC and I am now pursuing my M.Sc. I know Issa Sesay just as I know Faya Musa alias
    Soro Silicate of N’jala University Fame. God bless the moderators of this program and God bless us all who are contributing to the program.
    Fuad Tee. USA.

    1. Good history Fuad! but how does this concern Mr Taylor? what has this to do with the allegations in this trial? the prosecution has to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. this they have failed to do till date.

    2. Fuad,

      Be advised that we are not interested in your fairy tale and how well you profess to know the geography of Sierra Leon. That’s your problem. We can care less. All we are asking is for the prosecution to show us proof beyond all reasonable doubts. And so far, they have massively failed to do just that. However, whether you have a B.S.C or in pursuit of a Master Degree in the U.S, we don’t want to know. Therefore, please keep your side comments to yourself.

    3. Faud
      You can claim to have master in whatever you want to say but the fact is that, Liberians and Iserra Leoneans are inter-connected. There are mande speaking people in Liberia who are consider Liberians and there Mande speaking people in Sierra Leone who are consider Sierra Leonean. There Kissi speaking people Liberia who are Liberians and there are Kissi speaking people in Sierra Leone who are consider Sierra Leoneans. S

  13. Hi Harris K. Johnson, Golf and J. Fallah Menjor.
    I have gone through your responses on my article. I thank you all for those comments made on the 27 of this month. Then will you agree with me that it was a deal between CT of the NPFL and Foday Sankoh of RUF. Let us stop pointing fingers at the other warring factions in Liberia for having Sierra Leoneans. That is a lie. CT and Sankoh entered with their men in Liberia from Libya through Ivory Coast. The deal was RUF to fight along side with NPFL so that strategic points will be held under the control of NPFL. As on good turn deserves another, CT reciprocated.
    He felt been president of Liberia the same should happen in Sierra Leone for which Sankoh should also be a president. It was based on that he continued to support the Movement. Until we realise it otherwise we are just wasting our time. Say it right that Sierra Leoneans were in the NPFL that caused mayhem to the people of Liberia until we all accept it and start to look at it critically then we may be able to come out with a unanimous understand of the two countries wars devoid of bias. We are lucky that we survived let’s say thanks to God.
    Once again let us look at the issue from all angle but to be sincere with you LURD and others you are claiming to be the ones with Sierra Leoneans and you keep on denying for your god father and the NPFL of not having Sierra Leoneans neither do NPFL and CT had their hands in the Sierra Leone Conflict stand to be funny.
    Thank you and God bless you.

    1. Fuad you conspiracy theory story is very interesting but this is not a village square where stories are told. this is a court of law where you the accuser must provide evidence beyond reasonable doubt to prove that your conspiracy theory is true. but you see the reality in this case is that the prosecution has made a very bad case in fact they have miserably failed to prove even a shred of the allegations in the 11 count indictment. let them bring the EVIDENCE.

      1. Sam, I think we should give FUAD credit for his first hand report since he does not only seem to know what he is saying here, but unlike most of you, seems to have personally known these guys some time in his life! Some of you are talking about taylor’s greatness from your point of view as having benefited from his rule.Fuad seems to also know the resume of these losers who where out for revenge just like we hear from most on this blog! We know truth haters will always twist things for their own selfish desires. Taylor is doomed and you guys should be preparing to cover your own deeds! Thank you Fuad, don’t let anybody silence your valuable input on this site! I appreciate people like you who fear nothing because taylor is just a piece of prisoner, and will never come to haunt you! Besides, his followers are all talks but with no guts to face you in person! No one brings rubbish to jfallahmenjor even if they say all they have to spit out!

        1. Hi J Fallah Menjor — I know you are not directing your comments towards anyone specific on the site — I do want everyone to know they are free to express their opinions about the trial here and we make no judgment on the individuals who are posting, or what perspective they are coming from. EVerybody here is welcome to share their views as long as they fit within our policy for comments. Some may be inflammatory, some may provoke disagreement, some may help us to understand the trial and the conflict much better — some might do all these things at once — but that is all part of our debate here. I just make one request of everyone: let’s be respectful towards each other as we converse.

    2. Look Faud,
      Stopbmisleading the people of Sierra Leone because they are the people who went all the pain of the RUF actions. The people of Sierra Leone should know by now and I am pretty sure that they know that Liberians and Mr. Taylor wasn’t and is not responsible for thier probelms. Just to remind you that I am a Sierra Leonean Liberian. That is, my father is a Sierra Leonean and my mother a Liberian but that doesn’t change anything when it comes to my feelings of the people of Sierra Leone.
      The people of Sierra Leone need Justice for those who cause them all these problems and pain but the wrong the person is face the false Justice systems that only applied to black people, especially Africans who had nothing to do with the problems! For example isn’t other people from the west who were involve in the supports of the NPFL and the RUF on trial? the facts is that, we Africans are consider dumps in the first place!

  14. Tracey,
    I do understand that you couldn’t post my comment as you have said but it’s no problem! I knew it was going to happened by the way. I just wanted for sam to know how the person you’re saying my comment was pointed against do act on this site. He called others names and get away with it but I do understand why. I just wanted other to know how much I know about the war in Liberia from 1989- 1998 because I was there during those years.
    And the funny thing about it is that I do speak many of the Liberian languages! Which include, Kpelle, Bassa, Loma, Madengo, vai, Gola, Mano and Gbandi. That’s 8 out of the 17! It made easy for me to travel during the war in Liberia. My mother is from the kpelle tribe in Liberia and my father is from the Mande Tribe of Sierra Leone. I was able to learned Loma, Madengo and Gbandi while attending school in Lofa.

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