The wife of Liberia’s former vice president today maintained her testimony that her husband’s death was from illness, not from torture at the hands of Charles Taylor’s security forces as prosecutors have alleged. She told the Special Court for Sierra Leone today that her husband’s illness got worse after he was treated with traditional medicines by relatives before he died.
On Friday, Regina Dogolea, wife of Charles Taylor’s former vice president Enoch Dogolea, responded to suggestions that her husband had died in 2000 after being severely beaten on the orders of Mr. Taylor. Prosecution witness, Joseph “Zig Zag” Maazah told the court in 2008 that Mr. Taylor had ordered that Mr. Dogolea be beaten – an action which he said had caused Mr. Dogolea’s death. Mrs. Dogolea on Friday denied such claims, telling the court that her husband died because he was seriously ill.
In her testimony today, Mrs. Dogolea explained that after falling ill, Mr. Dogolea had called his relatives who took him to a nearby bush in Gbarngha and offered him traditional medications. This, she said, was done in her absence and had the effect of making her husband’s condition worse. Today, this account drew questions from Special Court for Sierra Leone judges.
Presiding judge, Justice Julia Sebutinde, sought to know the relationship that existed between Mr. Dogolea and the men who took him to the bush for traditional treatment.
“Now, were any of these three people your husband’s security?” Justice Sebutinde asked the witness.
“No, they were his own people,” Mrs. Dogolea said.
Asked what she meant by “they were his own people,” Mrs. Dogolea said that “they were his relatives, he sent for them to do the treatment.”
“So when they were administering the treatment, none of your bodyguards or his bodyguards was present, were they?” Justice Sebutinde asked further.
“I was not in the bush,” Mrs. Dodolea responded, prompting Justice Sebutinde to seek a more direct answer from the witness.
“Were any of his bodyguards or your bodyguards, did they escort him to the bush, to the best of your knowledge?” Justice Sebutinde asked again.
“No,” the witness said.
“It was his own relatives who took him to the bush, that’s what I saw,” she added.
Another judge of the Trial Chamber, Justice Richard Lussick, asked the witness to explain more details about how her husband returned from the bush after he got sick.
“You told us on Friday that when you wanted your husband to return, you sent your security to get him, you remember saying that?” Justice Lussick asked Mrs. Dogolean.
The witness agreed that she did say so.
“But I think you told Mr. Munyard (Mr. Taylor’s defense lawyer) when he was asking you questions on Friday that only the people who took your husband into the bush came out of the bush with him. You remember saying that?…now you are saying that apart from the people who took him into the bush, you security also came back with him?” Justice Lussick asked again.
“Yes, but I told you that the only thing they said that women were not allowed to go to the place but men could go there, so at last, he did say that he sent for me for someone to collect me but because I could not go there as a woman, I sent my security to go there and bring him,” Mrs. Dogolean said.
As the former Liberian second lady ended her testimony, defense lawyers explained that they would only be ready to present their next witness on Wednesday.
The court adjourned and will resume on Wednesday morning.