Defense lawyers for Charles Taylor this week asked Special Court for Sierra Leone judges to deny the request by prosecutors to issue a subpoena for Supermodel Naomi Campbell, who is alleged to have received rough diamonds from Mr. Taylor while on a visit to South Africa in 1997. A defense witness for Mr. Taylor also told judges this week that members of Mr. Taylor’s rebel group, who assisted Sierra Leonean rebels during the country’s civil conflict, did so voluntarily and were not sent by the former Liberian president.
On Monday, in response to a prosecution request to reopen the case against Mr. Taylor by calling three addition witnesses, including a subpoena for British supermodel Ms. Campbell, Mr. Taylor’s defense lawyers asked the judges to turn down the prosecution requests.
After closing their case against Mr. Taylor in February 2009, prosecutors have asked that they be allowed to present three new witnesses, who will testify about a diamond gift allegedly given by Mr. Taylor to supermodel Naomi Campbell while they were both on a visit to South Africa in 1997. The three people whose evidence prosecutors seek to submit as new evidence are Ms. Campbell, Mia Farrow, and Ms. Campbell’s former agent Carole White. Prosecutors say that Ms. Farrow will testify about being told by Ms. Campbell that Mr. Taylor had sent men to her hotel room after a 1997 dinner with former South African president Nelson Mandela and that the men had given her a diamond gift allegedly from Mr. Taylor. Ms. White, prosecutors say, will testify that she was present when Mr. Taylor said he was going to give the diamond gift to Ms. Campbell and that she was present when the men arrived and delivered the said diamonds to Ms. Campbell. As Ms. Campbell has been reluctant to testify about the incident, prosecutors have asked that the judges issue a subpoena to oblige the supermodel to testify about the incident before judges in The Hague. In their response on Monday, defense lawyers for Mr. Taylor called both motions unnecessary and urged the judges to deny both requests.
In the “Defense Response To Prosecution Motion To Call Three Additional Witnesses,” which was signed by Mr. Taylor’s lead defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths, defense lawyers stated that “The Defense strongly opposes this motion on the basis that no reasonable Court could find that the anticipated evidence is relevant to the charges against Mr. Taylor.”
“Furthermore, the prosecution should not be allowed to trivialize the seriousness of the proceedings and charges against the Accused by adducing tangential and highly speculative testimony into evidence,” the defense response states.
The response further states that “The issue of Mr. Taylor’s interaction with the AFRC/RUF [Armed Forces Revolutionary Council/Revolutionary United Front] junta, the issue of diamonds and the issue of his credibility has been thoroughly explored and and addressed as part of the Prosecution case-in-chief. Consequently, additional witnesses are not needed to elaborate on these same issues.”
“Simply put, there must be finality to the proceedings. For the Prosecution to present such an inferential evidence, as part of an obvious publicity stunt, would bring the administration of justice into serious disrepute,” defense lawyers say.
Regarding the request by prosecutors for a subpoena to be issued for supermodel Ms. Campbell to testify on the same issue, the defense response states that “The Trial Chamber should refrain from exercising its discretion and issuing a subpoena for several reasons.”
These reasons, defense lawyers say include “Naomi Campbell’s evidence is of low probative value and is tangential to the real issues in the case.”
“Secondly, the evidence that Naomi Campbell could put before the court is obtainable elsewhere. Thirdly, the Prosecution must be aware that Naomi Campbell will likely be a hostile witness and should not be allowed to subpoena her as such. Finally, the Trial Chamber should be cautious about issuing an order that might not be enforceable.”
“The Defense contends that Naomi Campbell’s only utility would be to bring unwarranted media attention to the proceedings, it cannot be said that her testimony is necessary to try the case fairly,” defense lawyers say.
The response concludes that the prosecution request should be denied by the judges.
On Tuesday, Mr. Taylor’s 13th witness, a Sierra Leonean national and former executive member of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) – the rebel group that Mr. Taylor is accused to have provided support for – told the court that RUF leader Foday Sankoh personally gave him (the witness) an amount of $30,000, which he took to a soldier in Liberia, who was an officer in the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) peacekeeping force in Liberia. The amount was for the supply of arms and ammunition to the RUF. This arrangement was facilitated by a Liberian national called Saye Boayue. Defense counsel for Mr. Taylor, Terry Munyard, sought to know how the witness and his RUF counterparts intended to transport the arms and ammunition from Liberia if they were supplied by the ECOMOG officer.
“I was supposed to receive the arms and ammunition from the ECOMOG man, he has to make sure that he leads me to the border of Sierra Leone and Liberia, then hand those arms and ammunition to a man called Michael Mike Lamin,” the witness explained.
Mr. Lamin himself was a senior Commander in the RUF.
Asked by Mr. Munyard whether he knew “how much, what quantity of arms and ammunition you were expecting to accompany to the border,” the witness said, “I didn’t know how much.”
The witness explained, however, that the arms deal with the ECOMOG office was futile because the officer had failed to deliver the arms and ammunition after receiving the money from him.
Prosecutors have argued that it was Mr. Taylor who supplied the RUF with arms and ammunition in return for blood diamonds mined by the rebels in Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor has denied the allegations.
As the witness concluded his direct-examination on Tuesday, prosecution counsel Nicholas Koumjian commenced the cross-examination of the witness immediately. Mr. Koumjian sought to know about what happened to the diamonds mined by the RUF, especially in the late 1990s, to which the witness said that the only person who can answer that question would be Issa Hassan Sesay. Mr. Sesay, the former Interim Leader of the RUF, is now serving a sentence of 52 years imprisonment in a Rwandan jail after Special Court for Sierra Leone judges convicted him for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law in the territory of Sierra Leone from 1996 to 2002.
“Diamonds that were reserved by the RUF, these diamonds, the only one that can tell about the whereabouts of these diamonds is Issa Sesay himself,” the witness said.
He said that Mr. Sesay had kept some of the diamonds and told them he was doing so for RUF leader Mr. Sankoh, who at that time was incarcerated in Nigeria. The witness agreed with Mr. Koumjian that diamonds mined by the RUF in Sierra Leone had not been of any benefit to the people of the country.
“My Lord, I did not see any benefit, there was no benefit for the people of Sierra Leone,” the witness said.
Prosecutors allege that diamonds mined by the RUF in Sierra Leone were taken to Mr. Taylor in Liberia. Mr. Taylor has denied receiving any diamonds from the RUF.
On Wednesday, DCT-292 told the court that the NPFL fighters who went to Sierra Leone did so voluntarily and allegations that they were sent by Mr. Taylor were wrong. The witness mentioned that NPFL commanders Anthony Menkunagbe, Dupoe Menkazohn, Francis Menwon, and Nixon Gaye, among many others, volunteered to help the RUF in Sierra Leone. These Liberian fighters, prosecution witnesses have said, committed atrocities in Sierra Leone and were later forced to leave the country. The witness said that he cautioned RUF leader Foday Sankoh to seek advice from Mr. Taylor even though the men had indicated that they were in Sierra Leone to help the RUF voluntarily. Prosecution counsel Nicholas Koumjian had his doubts.
“Sir, when you said that he [Foday Sankoh] should go talk to Charles Taylor, that was because you knew that these Liberian soldiers who were creating the problems were under the command of Charles Taylor, correct?” Mr. Koumjian asked the witness.
In his response, the witness said that “when they came they said they were not under the supervision, so I came to conclude that it was not Charles Taylor that sent these people.”
“I told Foday Sankoh to go back and tell Charles Taylor about it,” he added.
“Because you understood Charles Taylor was able to command those men, correct?” Mr. Koumjian asked again.
“He was their leader, yes, he can command them,” the witness responded.
Regarding the prosecution suggestion as to why he did not ask Mr. Sankoh to inform Amos Sawyer, who was the interim Liberian president at that time, the witness agreed with Mr. Koumjian that it was Mr. Taylor who had control over the Liberian fighters.
On Thursday, as he concluded his testimony, DCT-292 agreed with prosecutors that Mr. Taylor lied in his testimony that he did not ask RUF commander Issa Sesay to take his fellow RUF commander Sam Bockarie back to Sierra Leone. After falling out with the RUF leader Foday Sankoh in 1999, Mr. Bockarie relocated to Liberia with Mr. Taylor’s approval. When RUF leader Mr. Sankoh was arrested by the government of Sierra Leone in 2000, prosecutors say that Mr. Taylor asked interim leader of the RUF Mr. Sesay to allow Mr. Bockarie to rejoin the RUF and go back to Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor in his testimony denied this account. On Thursday, Mr. Taylor’s own witness DCT-292 told the court that it was in his presence that Mr. Taylor asked Mr. Sesay to allow Mr. Bockarie to go back to Sierra Leone.
Prosecution counsel Nicholas Koumjian asked the witness whether Mr. Taylor had lied to the judges when he denied saying this. The witness agreed with Mr. Koumjian that that was the case.
“Mr. Taylor was asked by his counsel ‘Now, did you suggest that Mosquito [Sam Bockarie] be taken back,’ and Mr. Taylor said ‘No, I did not suggest that.’ Mr. Witness, Charles Taylor lied to these judges because you were present when he asked Issa Sesay to take Sam Bockarie back to Sierra Leone, correct?” Mr. Koumjian asked the witness.
“Yes, my lord,” the witness responded.
Also on Thursday, former Liberian Legislator and member of the NPFL, Mrs. Annie Yeney commenced her testimony as Mr. Taylor’s 14th witness.
In her testimony, Mrs. Yeney told the court that prosecution witness and former member of the NPFL, Joseph Zig Zag Marzah, lied when he told the court about how she had been engaged in cannibalism with Mr. Taylor. Mr. Marzah in his testimony told the court that on Mr. Taylor’s orders, when former Liberian politician Sam Dokie was killed in 1997, his liver was removed, cooked by one “Annie Yeney” (the current witness) and eaten together with Mr. Taylor. Mrs. Yeney denied ever engaging in such a practice.
“It is not true. That is what we call assassination of character, for a woman like me to cook a human being, it is not true. I am speaking to my God I serve, He knows my heart,” Mrs. Yeney told the court.
Mrs. Yeney took some moments to sob when speaking about Mr. Dokie’s death because according to her, Mr. Dokie’s wife was her sister who was also assassinated alongside the Liberian politician. She said she was informed that it was Mr. Marzah who had killed her sister and her brother-in-law.
Mrs. Yeney explained that it was Mr. Marzah’s practice to eat human beings and brag about it, telling people that he did not have a jail to keep his enemies.
“Zig Zag Marzah used to say these things in Gbarngha. He used to say he hasn’t got a jail house, when he arrests any war criminals, he’ll eat them,” she said.
Describing Mr. Marzah, the witness told the court that “Zig Zag Marzah was not correct in his head, he was half mad, he used to naked himself and run in the streets,” she said.
Mrs. Yeney’s description of Mr. Marzah corroborates what Mr. Taylor and his 11th witness Timan Edward Zammy told the court about the prosecution witness. Defense lawyers concluded Mrs. Yeney’s direct-examination within a couple of hours and prosecutors immediately commenced her cross-examination.
On Friday, prosecutors questioned Mrs. Yeney about the death of Mr. Dokie, who prosecutors alleged was assassinated on the orders of Mr. Taylor because the former Liberian president believed that Mr. Dokie and other NPFL members wanted to form a rival faction to pose a threat to his (Taylor) bid for the Liberian presidency. Mr. Taylor has denied these allegations.
The witness, who told the court on Thursday that Mr. Dokie’s wife was her sister, on Friday said that she could not tell whether members of the Dokie family were killed on the orders of Mr. Taylor. Alongside another popular Liberia politician, Jackson Doe, prosecutors allege that Mr. Dokie was assassinated because he was about to depart for neighbouring Guinea to meet another NPFL dissident Laveli Supuwood. Mr. Supuwood is now a part of Mr. Taylor’s defense team. Asked whether these allegations were true, Mrs. Yeney said she did not know.
Mrs. Yeney denied that her loyalty to Mr. Taylor had motivated her to travel to The Hague to testify for the former Liberian president. She said that she decided to testify because she wanted to refute claims by prosecution witness Mr. Marzah that she cooked Mr. Dokie’s liver as a meal and served Mr. Taylor.
Mr. Taylor is on trial for allegedly providing support to RUF rebels during Sierra Leone’s 11 years civil conflict. The former president has denied the charges against him.