As Issa Sesay Concludes His Testimony, He Apologises To The People Of Sierra Leone

In concluding his evidence today as the 19th defense witness for Charles Taylor, Issa Hassan Sesay, the convicted former interim leader of the Sierra Leonean rebel group which Mr. Taylor is accused of supporting, used the opportunity to apologise to the people of Sierra Leone for his role in the conflict and the actions of his Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group.

As his final question to Mr. Sesay, defense counsel for Mr. Taylor Silas Chikera ask Mr. Sesay thus:

“Now, Mr Sesay, one final question. Your hope is with the people of Sierra Leone, apart from God. You’ve considered yourself that a number of atrocities were committed during the war for which you are also guilty, individual and collectively as a member of the RUF. What do you say to the people of Sierra Leone who are listening to your evidence right now, concerning all the atrocities that went on in Freetown and other parts of the country?”

In his response, Mr. Sesay said that “I say sorry to the people of Sierra Leone and I’m appealing to the people of Sierra Leone, especially the victims, who lost their loved ones, those whose arms were amputated, those whose properties were destroyed, I’m appealing to them that what happened during the war was not good for Sierra Leone, but it has happened. I’m just appealing to them.”

Mr. Sesay added that “And even those who were behind RUF lines, they know that most of these crimes, the commanders who were committing them, Issa had no control over them; but today I am bearing the responsibilities of the RUF, so I’m just pleading with the people of Sierra Leone, because they are seeing the perpetrators around, they are seeing them, those who were doing bad things to them, some of us who were protecting and speaking on behalf of the civilians today, I have found myself in the jail.”

He concluded that “I’m just pleading with them in the name of God for them to forgive me and forget. We are all Sierra Leoneans.”

Mr. Sesay’s evidence has lasted for over one month during which time he has not only spoken about the activities of the RUF in Sierra Leone, but has also made extensive efforts to refute prosecution allegations that Mr. Taylor had control over and supported the RUF in Sierra Leone. Mr. Sesay denied claims that he was part of a team of RUF commanders who took Sierra Leone’s blood diamonds to Mr. Taylor in Liberia in exchange for arms and ammunition which were used to commit attrocities against the civilian population of Sierra Leone.

Mr. Sesay also gave his reason for testifying in The Hague when asked whether he was “here to set the records straight for Charles Taylor.”

“Well, i am here to give my own true side of the story of what i know. That’s why i am here,” he said.

When asked to tell the judges what his motivation for testifying for Mr. Taylor was, Mr. Sesay said that “it was because I used to hear on radio [UN Radio] when my colleague RUF were coming here to say things against me… And they were saying that the way Issa left [RUF leader] Mr Sankoh in jail and disarmed the RUF, we too would prosecute him until he dies in jail. I heard my colleagues saying a lot about Issa, things that Issa didn’t do.”

“So when Mr Taylor’s lawyers told my lawyers that they would need me as a witness, I said: Well, the lies in this case are too much. Let me too go there and give my own account. My colleague RUFs want to destroy me because they are saying that the person who had their future, that is Mr Sankoh, I had betrayed Mr Sankoh, so they were going to make sure that Issa dies in prison. So that was why I came here,” Mr. Sesay added.

This statment from Mr. Sesay prompted a response from the Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber Justice Julia Sebutinde that “But, Mr Sesay, this is not your trial. So whatever you say here has no bearing on the sentence that you are serving. I don’t understand that kind of reasoning. How does this clear your name? This is Mr Taylor’s trial, not yours.”

“Yes, my Lord. I know that it is not my trial, but it is for people, those who are following up on the Court, for them to know my own part of the story, because a lot of things that they said against me here are not true,” Mr. Sesay replied to the presiding judge’s comment.

Mr. Sesay reiterated that he is not hoping that Mr. Taylor would help free him from his 52 year jail setnetnec if he (Taylor) is acquitted of the charges against him.

As Mr. Sesay concluded his testimony, defense lawyers recalled Mr. Taylor’s 20th defense witness, DCT-008 a former radio operator in Liberia who told the court on Tuesday that members of Mr. Taylor’s security aparatus, including Benjamin Yeaten, the former Director of Special Security Services had dealings with RUF commanders without Mr. Taylor’s knowledge.

As he continued his testimony today, the witness spoke about trips made to Liberia by RUF commader Sam Bockarie and other Sierra Leonean rebel commanders during which they held meetings with Mr. Yeaten about their operations in Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor, he said, did not know about all of these.

DCT-008’s testimony continues on Monday.



  1. It sounds like Mr. Sassay is saying, “I would like to ask for your forgiveness even though I am not responsible for what happened in Sierra Leone.” Then who is responsible, Mr. Sassay? You’re not responsible, Taylor is not responsible, and I’m sure if Bakari were still alive or if the SCSL had called Mr. Yeaton to testify that they, too, would have probably also disclaimed their responsibility. I don’t buy it. This blame game is truly saddening because without the acceptance of responsibility, truly learning from past mistakes becomes difficult and the result for West Africa will only be increased impunity in the future.

    1. Paivy,
      I don’t think Mr. Sesay is saying that he doesn’t shared the responsibility of what happened in Sierra Leone. What he’s saying is that, many of those commanders who cause the lives of so many are still moving around in Sierra Leone when infact they were the one who didn’t want him working to bring peace to Sierra Leone. By him working to bring the conflict to an end, cause them to go against him there by saying that he Mr. Sesay betray Mr. Sankor positions on the war in Sierra Leone.
      By the way, this case against Mr. Taylor has cause other African Countries not to the ICC call to bring other African Leaders to face trial. For example, the president of Sudan was in Kenya few days ago and the government of Kenya refused to honor the request of ICC to have him arrested while in Kenya. He has traveled to African Countries who are members of the ICC but they all had refused to him arrested. Even the AU has said that member States shouldn’t any african Leaders arrested for the ICC.
      All of this is happening because of this case against Mr. Taylor. Paivy, you know who are responsible for the Sierra Leonean problems; the Sierra Leonean people know those who are responsible because they sees and hear them each and everyday!
      Until those who are responsible can face Justice, they will see the same thing that happened to them happen to them again. The reason is that, they looking for the wrong people to hold responsible for the acts of their sons and daughters! Let’s wait and see because history will repeat it self in Sierra Leone unless they face the facts and tell their children their wrong doing!

    2. Paivy,

      I think President Taylor is living rent free in your head. You just can not go a nano-second without thinking about this innocent man. Taylor needs not to pay mortgage, rent, or any bills for that matter in your head because, he is living for free. Issa Sessay apologizing to his people has nothing to do with Liberia’s beloved President, President Taylor.

  2. Bye Issa, your apologies accepted, but you need to repent to your God for what you did in the past, and what you have just done to the people of Sierra Leone. You have betrayed the people by your lies over and over again on simple record that you had opportunity to make straight. It would have satisfied the people had you admitted the truth in the whole matter that you know very well happened than this “taylor never knew what went on in the RUF.” How are you going to sleep over what you have just done? Right, the Sierra Leoneans will surely forgive you and rally to free you from your DUNGEON. Have a wonderful time in your rehabilitation unit, maybe you might earn your GED while in there so you can write a memoir on your short pathetic existence!

    1. JFmenjor

      The western governments also knew what was going on in SL and Liberia, but did nothing to bring peace. Ct and Issa worked actively to bring peace in the end, even the prosecution doesn’t deny this fact.
      War happens, the real tragedy is that we do not learn the triggers of war in Africa and how to avoid those triggers.

  3. Mr Sesay’s concluding testimony is really funny. He is talking about the people of sierra Leone seeing the perpetrators around them. But the big question is who made them to be perpetrators? Do you want the people to once again rebel against their own relatives? The days for the people taking such insightful and untimely apology into consideration are over, afterwards you brought the so – called ideology of liberating Sierra Leone in the bid to beef – up your criminal enterprise to enrich yourself. You are in jail today but your enterprise is still operation as arm robbery and other crimes are now the order of the day in Sierra Leone. Most of these perpetrators you are now referring to were going about their normal activities before you started your arm campaign in 1991. You abducted and trained them. What they trained you in camp Namah in Liberia, is what you implemented when you entered Sierra Leone. And what you trained the perpetrators you are talking about was what they implemented for 10 years. Am happy you apologizes to the people of Sierra Leone although your instigating message of reminding the people of perpetrators are around them, will not be heard. The people are happy for your role in disarming the RUF but are not also happy for your failure of taking care of your own Ex – combat as your interest was only in disarmament and not proper reintegration which has coursed anarch for various communitties in Sierra Leone.

    1. Mohamed, Kanneh,

      What you have written is between you and Mr. Sesay. However, President Taylor has nothing to do with it. You can reel Issa all you want. That’s your problem, we can care less.

  4. If Omar Bashir ever goes to liberia or Sierra Leone….he will find himself in the next cell from Mr Taylor in the hague….

    all in the the good wit of our great ignorant deviants of the region….Bunch of European slaves!!!!!
    Always ready to sell their people to European.


    1. CEE, you sound like Charles Gankay Taylor in this piece. Taylor is probably whinning about that too! You’re right. If Bashir comes to Liberia, we will turn him in too. We will not habour criminals that have murdered their own people like you would, as it seems clearly, with taylor. This is the type of mentality the Europeans would love to hear from Africans, CEE. You already sold many of your brothers to America and Europe, if you are not awared, because many now live in these parts of the world in semi-slavery. Many are in refugee camps all over West Africa. Do you not know this? Shame..please find something else to blame and leave the Europeans alone..this is your own African mentality. This is your own cruelty to your own destiny, CEE. This is what you inherited from your ancestors!

    2. Cen,

      President Taylor is the first and last African leader these white powers have ever put their hands on. However, they will not touch Sudan’s Omar Bashir, Zambawe’s Robert Mugabe, Ethopia’s Magetus Halomeriam, and etc. Notwithstanding, they can redeem themselves by freeing this innocent man, President Taylor from this inherently flawed court and fake prosecution. However, if they do that, this fake International justice will gain little leverage and respectability. But if they don’t, and convict this innocent man on these false evidences, they should just say farewell to this fake court.

  5. Here is another lie the prosecution offered in their cross examination of Issa Sesay. Mr. Koumjian put before Issa Sesay that Charles Taylor had given him “$15, 000” during Issa visit, to meet the head of states in Liberia, to discuss the leadership problem in the RUF at that time. Issa denied that he was given such money, then Mr. Koumjian read a portion of Taylor’s testimony and outrightly lied in open court that, “Mr Sesay, Charles Taylor was testifying that he regularly gave you $5,000 to $7,000 when he met with you. Is that true?” Issa denied this, and Koumjain said that Taylor is a lair. But lets unpack the deception that Koumjain put to the witness. Here are the facts:

    Taylor was asked by lead counsel Courtney Griffiths (QC) on , 19 AUGUST 2009 OPEN SESSION, Page 27196. Griffiths quoted a prosecution witness as the background in putting his question to Mr. Taylor.

    Q. And the witness goes on: “And in that case, he, Charles Taylor, will continue to assist the RUF as he was doing before.” Did you say that?
    A. Never, never would I have said that. Never.
    Q. “From there he gave Issa $15,000 US and Issa returned home.” Did you?
    A. I did give Issa Sesay and his delegation some money on that trip, as is usual. I had done it with every delegation. We do that in Africa. That’s our style, and we are not western Presidents. You come to visit us – Issa Sesay came with a delegation; I did give Issa Sesay some money —
    Q. How much?
    A. I’m not too sure. It could have been probably in the neighbourhood of $5,000 to $7,000. I don’t remember the exact amount, but I would give money on these trips, yes.

    First Flag: Taylor said , “I did give Issa Sesay and his delegation some money on that trip.” Note the words, “Issa Sesay and his delegation some money on that trip.” So Taylor is clearly speaking here to “that trip” and giving “Issa Sesay and his delegation some money,” not the lied that Koumjian stated in open court. Secondly, Mr. Taylor said, “I’m not too sure. It could have been probably in the neighbourhood of $5,000 to $7,000. I don’t remember the exact amount.” Again, we see that Taylor statement is consistent with Issa Sesay that Mr. Taylor give the whole delegation money amounting between $5000 to $7000. This was Issa response in open court on August 23, 2010:

    “A. Well, during the meeting with the Heads of States, they gave us allowances when we went but we were not given $7,000. That was not given to me alone but with the commanders with whom I went. Everybody was given his own envelope.” So Issa says that he was not given the money alone and it was given in evelopes. So lets go back to Taylor testimony on 19 August 2009. Taylor had this to say:

    Q. And help us, the money that you gave to Issa Sesay, was that in a clandestine midnight meeting?
    A. No, no, no, no, no, no. No. This is – when – the delegation, before they left, I gave them this money, and I am sure they had bought small items in Monrovia. This was no secret, and in the presence of – at this time I met Issa the morning of the 27th, if I am not mistaken, because the Heads of State left – some of them left that evening; some left the next morning. I met him the next morning with most members of the delegation, about three or four other persons came along, and I gave them money in an envelope so they could do some shopping before returning.

    Two issues are address in Mr. Taylor’s response on 19 August 2009:
    1. Taylor said that the money was given after the heads of states left, which is also consistent with Issa’s testimony and opposite the lies that Koumjain was stating in court.
    2. Taylor said this, “I gave them money in an envelope so they could do some shopping before returning” Note that Taylor said, “”I gave them money” and the money was given “in an envelope.” Again, we continue to see that Taylor’s testimony matches with issa Sesay because Issa said that he was not given money alone, and the money was given in envelope. The prosecution is exposed again for intentionally misleading the court and the witness. The defense needs to object to these misleading information in open court as the prosecution put these kinds of outright lies to defense witnesses.

  6. TF1-567, a prosecution witness testified that Taylor gave ammunitions to Issa Sesay following his meeting with the heads of states. But another prosecution witness who was part of the activities directly involving Issa Sesay visit to Liberia at that time had this to say:

    Q. “Q. Did he take anything back to Sierra Leone with him from Monrovia?
    A. Issa bought drinks using the money Charles Taylor had given to him and some other things and they were loaded in the chopper, but he was not given anything else from Monrovia to be brought to Sierra Leone.”

    So Charles Taylor did not give ammunition to Issa Sesay according to a prosecution eye witness account.
    Page 27200

    1. King Gray,

      Excellent points raised. These prosecution witnesses continue to put forward a compelling case for the defense by evidence of their contradictions. Thank you prosecution witnesses including Naomi Campbell, Moses Blah, and etc. Mr. Koumjian and Ms. Hollis, go right ahead and bring some more people to testify on your behalf and don’t stop, because the more you bring them, the more they expose your lies and fake case.

      By the way, Tracey or Alpha, can the prosecution still bring some more people to testify on their behalf even though, they have already rested their case? Folks, be advised this question is addressed to Tracey or Alpha. I will however, prefer if you don’t answer because I will like their take on it first.

      1. Jose,
        The question as to whether the prosecution can still bring more people to testify is an important one. The Rules of the Court and the practice of international tribunals allow the prosecution to bring evidence in rebuttal after the closure of the defense case. If this should happen, prosecutors will need to make an application to the judges just like they did recently when they were allowed to reopen their case with the testimonies of Naomi Campbell et al. However, at a recent Status Conference in The Hague where a timeline was set for the closure of the defense case, the judges asked prosecutors to indicate whether they have plans to bring in evidence in rebuttal after the closure of the defense case and the Chief Prosecutor Brenda Hollis told the judges that as things are right now, they do not intend to bring any rebuttal evidence. While it is unlikely for them to do so, the door remains open for that in case circumstances warrant such, she said. So the conclusion is that while prosecutors can call evidence in rebuttal with an application for such to the judges, it is unlikely for them to do so right now as they have indicated. It must also be noted that while prosecutors can decide whether to bring in such rebuttal evidence, it will be for the judges to decide whether they have sufficient grounds to do so.

        Hope this explanation helps.

    2. Aye! Mr. Gray”The king of Analysis”
      Pekin, they people way kay you ooh. Ha you acting so? This time you did it in simple ABC. Even though they will still not understand….

Comments are closed.