Prosecutors today questioned a defense witness for Charles Taylor about the death of Liberian politician Samuel Dokie ,who was allegedly assassinated alongside his family in 1997 by fighters loyal to the former Liberian president. Prosecutors aim to prove that in addition to supporting Sierra Leonean rebels, Mr. Taylor did not respect the law and that he was notorious for eliminating persons perceived to be opposed to him.
Mrs. Annie Yeney, a former member of Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group, today concluded her testimony as Mr. Taylor’s 14th witness after being cross-examined by prosecutors. Prosecution counsel Mohamed Bangura spent today’s cross-examination questioning the witness 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 few 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 yesterday that Mr. Dokie’s wife was her sister, today 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 Guniea to meet another NPFL dissident Laveli Supuwood. Mr. Supuwood is now a part of Mr. Taylor’s defense team. Asked today whether these allegations were true, Mrs. Yeney said she did not know.
Asked by Mr. Bangura whether “Charles Taylor believed that Sam Dokie and Laveli Supuwood will form an alliance against him and that’s why he prevented him [Dokie] from going to Guinea,” Mrs. Yeney responded that “I don’t know.”
“The death of Sam Dokie and Jackson Doe were not incidents that happened by chance. These people were ordered executed by Charles Taylor?” Mr. Bangura asked the witness again.
Again, the witness said “I don’t know.”
“It was part of his efforts to eliminate political opponents, isn’t it? Mr. Bangura pressed the witness again.
For a third time, the witness said “I don’t really 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 and former member of the NPFL Joseph Zig Zag Marzah that she cooked Mr. Dokie’s liver as a meal and served Mr. Taylor. In March 2008, Mr. Marzah told the court that after Mr. Dokie’s execution, his liver was cooked by Mrs. Yeney and served in a meal to Mr. Taylor as part of a ceremony. The witness denied this allegation in her testimony yesterday. Today, Mr. Bangura sought to know whether the witness ever served this meal in a bowl to Mr. Taylor as part of a traditional ceremony. The witness said that never happened.
“Around the time that Sam Dokie was killed, you did serve food to Mr. Taylor, didn’t you?” Mr. Bangura asked the witness.
“No,when Sam Dokie was killed, I never, even when we were in Gbarngha, I never gave him food, no, I never gave him food,” the witness responded.
“You served him soup which was served in a ceremonial way, didn’t you.” Mr. Bangura pressed the witness further.
Again, the witness said “no, I don’t know anything about society, I am not in a society, no.”
Mrs. Yeney also today told the court that those who were accused of executing Mr. Dokie and his family were never tried in court. She said that Mr. Taylor’s Director of Special Security Services (SSS) Benjamin Yeaten was only questioned by a Court in Bong County whether he knew anything about the death of Mr. Dokie and his family. She said that family members of the Dokies were later informed by the judge that those who were responsible for the assassinations had escaped and that once they were arrested, the family members would be informed. This, she said never happened.
Prosecutors allege that Mr. Taylor was known for executing his political opponents and that was why he allegedly ordered the execution of the Dokies. The former Liberian president is on trial for providing support to Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor has denied the allegations against him.
On Monday the testimony of Mr. Taylor’s 15th witness will commence.