As They Resume The Cross-Examination Of DCT-190, Prosecutors Say Witness’s Written Statements And Oral Testimony Have Been Inconsistent

Prosecutors today pointed out that there have been several inconsistences in the written statements made to defense lawyers and the oral testimony given in court by Charles Taylor’s fifteenth witness whose cross-examination resumed today, having being put on hold on after the witness concluded his direct examination about two weeks ago.

On June 8 2010, Special Court for Sierra Leone judges suspended the cross-examination of Mr. Taylor’s witness DCT-190 on the basis that the witness’s statements which were disclosed to prosecutors by defense lawyers were “grossly inadequate.”

The witness in his direct-examination told the court about being involved in fighting in the West African sub-region for the past fifteen years, having been a member of the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO) rebel group, a rival rebel faction which fought against Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group, was recruited into the Civil Defense Forces (CDF) of Sierra Leone with an aim of fighting against rebel forces in Sierra Leone, and was recruited as part of the Liberians United For Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), a rebel group which fought to topple the government of Mr. Taylor while he served as president of Liberia.

Today, prosecution counsel Katherine Howarth sought to establish that the witness has given inconsistent accounts to defense lawyers and Special Court for Sierra Leone judges.

Ms. Howarth pointed out that in his brifieng notes with Mr. Taylor’s lead defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths on June 6 2010, the witness said that LURD forces dispelled attacks by Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in the Guinean town of Gekeidou. The witness denied saying this to Mr. Griffiths and insisted that a mistake had been made.

In his written statement, the witness was quoted to have said “we attacked Gekeidou to push RUF back into Sierra Leone.”

The witness responded that “It might have been a mistake.”

“It was after disarmament that we travelled. By that time, RUF had disarmed…we took this operation after disarment,” he added.

When put to him that he was “changing his story before these judges,” the witness said that “i am not changing my story.”

“You are saying one thing to the judges and a completely different thing to your lawyers,” Ms. Howarth put to the witness.

“I am telling you there is a mistake somewhere,” the witness responded.

Prosecutors have long stated and witnesses have testified that while Mr. Taylor served as president of Liberia, he sent RUF fighters to attack Guinea. Prosecutors now seek to establish that the witness is changing his account because an admission that LURD had pushed RUF out of Gekeidou will give credence to accounts that Mr. Taylor indeed sent the RUF to attack Guinea.

Ms. Howarth therefore put to the witness that “you know very well that the RUF attacked Gekeidou on behalf of Mr. Taylor.”

The witness responded that he could not say that this was the case.

Ms. Howarth again pointed out that in his written statements to defense lawyers, he had stated that in 1992, NPFL fighters helped RUF rebels in attacking Pujehun in southern Sierra Leone.

“There were some NPFL elements assisting the RUF at this time [1992],” the witness was quoted in a June 6 2010 statement made to Mr. Griffiths.

When prosecutors commenced his cross-examination on June 10 2010, the witness told the court that he “never said NPFL elements were assisting RUF in Pujehun” at the end of 1992.

Ms. Howarth again put to the witness that “you are contradicting everything that you’ve been saying in this court.”

In his response, the witness said that “this written statement, i am not very convinient with it.”

This prompted a question from Justice Richard Lussick to the witness that “are you saying you didn’t tell your lawyer that?”

“That is correct,” the witness responded.

When asked whether this had been made up by Mr. Griffiths, the witness said “that’s a question for Mr. Griffiths.”

“You don’t want to say that now because you don’t want to incriminate Mr. Taylor,” Ms. Howarth put to the witness.

“In the first place, this is my first time of seeing Mr. Taylor and so i have nothing to hold back for Mr. Taylor,” the witness said.

Ms. Howarth also pointed out that in the witness’s direct-examination, he told the court that LURD leader Sekou Damate Conneh informed him in June 2003 that Liberian journalist Hassan Bility had called from Monrovia to inform them that Mr. Taylor’s forces were running out of ammunition and so the time was ripe to attack the Liberian capital. The prosecutor put to the witness that the last time Mr. Bility was arrested in Liberia was in June 2002 and upon his release and based on a condition given by Mr. Taylor, Mr. Bility was taken out of the country in December 2002.

Ms. Howarth told the witness that “Mr. Bility was completely out of the picture and was in the USA” by June 2003.

The witness explained that he never spoke to Mr. Bility but that he had been briefed by Mr. Conneh who said he had spoken with Mr. Bility.

As prosecutors highlight inconsistencies in the witness’s accounts, they seek discredit the witness and establish to the judges that he is not credible and so his testimony cannot be relied on. It will be left with the judges to determine the authenticity of the witness’s testimony.

DCT-190’s cross-examination continues on Monday.


    1. Ken,
      According the prosecutors, during the witness’s testimony in court, his accounts on certain issues are different from what he said on the same issues when he made written statements to the defense lawyers/investigators prior to his testimony in court. That was how they approached the cross-examination of the witness today. It will be left with the judges to determine whether prosecutors are right in saying that the witness’s accounts have been inconsistent.

      1. Alpha,
        This is what we had hoped for – a reply to questions, criticisms, and concerns specifically addressed to you. This is a way forward. Enjoy your weekend.
        Thanks so far.

  1. pliz this guy Taylor shld just go to hell, all of you guys knw that he did very bad things to innocent pple, why wld you think he will get out of this shit. the wage of sin is death, simple. stop wasting time thinking some miracle will happen here, WATCH THIS SPACE….

    1. Baba,

      Prove your case. By the way, President Taylor is not going to hell. He is winning this thing openly.

      1. Jose Rodriguez where in the world have you been? well we loyal supporters of the innocent man His Exellency Dakpanah Charles Gankay Taylor have been holding fort very well in your absence. we do not need to allow the western sponsored propaganda against this innocent man go unchallenged we need to speak up against injustice. Hope you will stay around this time.

    2. And what were the BAD THINGS?? Isn’t that the reason we are in court for?? To hang him for the BAD THINGS and if the prosecutors cannot prove the BAD THINGS, what are we to do?? That is the question at hand.

  2. Pure dry leaves the prosecutor hanging on. If that is the standard to discredit witnesses then all the prosecution witnesses are discredited because all the prosecution witnesses contradicted themselves , and contradicted one another because of their she say, they say, and her say.

    There was limited direct testimony from prosecution witnesses> Nearly all their testimony were based on third or fourth party hearsay.

  3. Well People! I think there are some credibility issues with defence witness DCT-190. if he could be denying imaterial details that do no go to the substance of his testimony, then the substance of his testimony is suspect. That is my fair unbiased conclusion about his testimony.

    However, what was the reason behind the defence calling DCT-190 in the first place? it was to present Mr Taylor’s version of what happend in SL. Now was it a requirement for Mr Taylor to present his own version of what happened in SL? well I will say NO. All Mr Taylor has to do is deny the allegations and poke as much holes as possible in the prosecution case by bringing witnesses to show that the version of events the prosecution claimed happened was not likely what happened in SL. He does not need to tell his own verison of events. So while I have my doubts about the credibility of this witness’s testimony, I do not think his credibility will seriously hurt the defence case as much as credibility issues would have hurt the prosecution case.

    For me this witness’s credibility is as damaged as that of Isaac Mongor or Zigzag Marzah who both denied statements made to the prosecutors when confronted with contradictions in those statements and their testimony before the court during cross examination. Infact Zigzag Marzah at a point accussed Mr Koumjian of tampering with his testimony forcing Mr Koumjian to stand up and interupt the cross examination in order to clear his name and defend himself from the allegations of Zigzag Marzah. Clearly in a criminal case credibility of prosecution witnesses can be fatal to the prosecution case if it is determined by the court that their testimony is grossly inconsistent and unlikely to the true when examined in conjunction with the totality of evidence before the court.

    1. Sam,
      I enjoyed reading your analysis of witness DCT-190. However the inconsistencies were very minor at best and will not damage the witnesses credibility. For example, in court when asked by Ms. Hollis if he had ever told anybody that the NPFL got fresh supplies from Ivory Coast he said no. When shown his witness statement to the defense in it he had said . He does not know that much about the NPFL but they got fresh supplies from the Ivory Coast. Sam these are just minor inconsistencies. If someone knows little about an organization how can he be sure where they get their supplies from would have been a better question from the prosecution. All in all this witness gave a good account of the double handed deals played by all sides opposed to Mr. Taylor. The objective of ECOMOG, Sierra Leone government etc. was to blame Taylor for all Liberians fighting in Sierra Leone although they knew very well that alot of these Liberians were fighting against Mr. Taylor and being backed by them.

      1. Aki,
        The point I was trying to make was that the witness fell headlong into the trap of the prosecution. You will notice that the prosecution did not dispute his account about the support the Special Forces received either from Sandline or from Guinea neither did they dispute his testimony about the activities of LURD. They only concentrated on some of the seemingly insignificant details found in his statements which unfortunately he denied ever making such statements to the defence. He should have said he does not remember rather than categorically denying that he never said that. So the strategy of the prosecution was to discredit the witness by claiming that since he has lied about small things then he definately was lying about the rest of his testimony.

        But going through the witness list and summary, there is another witness which the defence may call later who was a former leader of LURD. That witness may be a better witness than this one and the defence may seek to use that witness testimony to corroborate the evidence of this witness.

  4. Baba,

    We are indeed watching and so should you. You are obviously very misguided and have very jaded views. You are not logically looking at the facts as presented in this case. Instead of being insulting. perhaps you should open your mind and look at the obvious. The case has an enormous amount of both flaws and big holes in it. The prosecution have simply failed to prove anything.
    You like a few others seem to be enthralled by the fact that the prosecution are from powerful nations and may represent the views of the powerful; however remember might does not make right. If anyone claims to believe in true justice, then they should be advocating for this man to be left alone in the interest of justice. Taylor may have started the Liberian civil war, but he is not responsible for the atrocities in SL. This is a total fallacy.

  5. Q. And you did not receive an instruction from David Crane to
    capture Charles Taylor, did you?
    A. Yeah, we got that instruction also.
    Q. You never —
    A. But it was not mentioned here. As I told you, the issue of
    David Crane was so sensitive, that we were afraid to even say it.
    Q. David Crane never gave you – I am not going to say your
    name – but you an instruction, did he?
    A. He gave the instruction directly to Sparrow, and Sparrow
    passed on the information to us.
    Q. Mr Witness, there was no such instruction and you are
    either confused or wrong about that point, aren’t you?
    A. I am not confused.
    Q. Now, turning to somebody else

  6. Dear Sirs

    Trying to understand the proceedings. The trial is about S/Leone, what about prosecution mentioning about Liberia. will that have any effect on this trial?


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