Charles Taylor’s former Vice President Moses Blah ordered the execution of a Sierra Leonean rebel commander in Liberia who was already a subject of an indictment issued by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2003, a former radio operator in Charles Taylor’s Special Security Services (SSS) unit today told the Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague.
When notorious Revolutionary United Front (RUF) commander Sam Bockarie was executed while entering Liberia from Ivory Coast in 2003, allegations were made that his execution had been ordered by Mr. Taylor.
Giving his account of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Bockarie’s death, defense witness DCT-008 told the court that in 2003, a radio operator using “the call sign Lima Tango told me that Sam Bockarie had been killed as he was trying to enter Liberia with armed men.”
Prosecution witnesses have testified before the Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague that the order to execute Mr. Bockarie was handed down from Mr. Taylor to his SSS Director Benjamin Yeaten, who took men to the Liberia-Ivory Coast border and executed Mr. Bockarie along with his bodyguards and family members. When Mr. Blah testified in 2008, he told the court that he was in Nimba County when Mr. Boackerie was executed, and Mr. Yeaten had met him there and told him of an operation that they had just executed. When Mr. Yeaten took him to his vehicle, Mr. Blah said he saw the corpse of Mr. Bockarie at the back of the truck. He explained that when he took Mr. Bockarie’s remains to Monrovia and informed Mr. Taylor about it, the former Liberian president told him that it was a military operation and there was no need for Mr. Blah to get involved.
Mr. Taylor, during his testimony, denied these claims and told the court that he had only sent Mr. Blah to stop Mr. Bockarie from entering into Liberia with armed men and to have him arrested. It was Mr. Blah’s handling of the situation had led to the death of the RUF commander. Today, DCT-008 corroborated Mr. Taylor’s account.
“What Lima Tango told me was that Sam Bockarie had a group of armed men, uncountable number of armed men, and he was trying to return to Liberia but at this time, the Liberia security tried to stop him and at this time, the group [Liberian security] was led by Moses Blah,” DCT-008 told the court.
“He Moses Blah was ordered to arrest Sam Bockarie but when they got there, Sam Bockarie resisted arrest, and he [Blah] said, ‘Do not waste time with that man, if he resists arrest, just kill him and bring his body to me’ and so they killed him and took the body to him [Blah].”
“He [Blah] brought the body to Monrovia and took it to the Striker Funeral Home,” he added.
Prosecutors allege that Mr. Bockarie was killed on his return from Ivory Coast after being sent to fight in that country by Mr. Taylor. When Mr. Bockarie was returning to Liberia with men whom he had commanded in Ivory Coast and with a Special Court for Sierra Leone indictment already issued, Mr. Taylor ordered his execution to cover any tracks of his close relationship with the former Sierra Leonean rebel commander, prosecutors allege. Mr. Taylor has dismissed these allegations as lies.
When asked today to tell the court what the Liberian government said about the death of Mr. Boackerie, DCT-008 explained, “What I heard from the government through the defense minister…was that Sam Bockarie, after he had left Liberia, attempted to come to Liberia with a fighting force, which the Government of Liberia wanted to stop and when he opened fire on the government security, they killed him.”
DCT-008 also spoke about the circumstances surrounding the death of Daniel Tamba, aka Jungle, who according to prosecutors was Mr. Taylor’s liaison with the RUF in Sierra Leone. Prosecutors say that when Jungle later returned to Liberia, Mr. Taylor ordered his execution, and he was shot in the back by his own comrades who were acting on orders handed down by Mr. Taylor to SSS Director Mr. Yeaten. Defense witnesses have said that Jungle was a member of the RUF who had a close relationship with Mr. Yeaten without Mr. Taylor’s knowledge. DCT-008 today testified that after the disarmament in Liberia, Jungle was one of the Liberian members of the RUF who refused to be disarmed in Sierra Leone and instead returned to Liberia, where they became part of Mr. Taylor’s security forces.
Explaining his account of how Jungle died in Liberia, DCT-008 today said, “What I heard about his death was that he died by a friendly fire, from a friendly gun.”
“He was engaging the enemy forces, he was hit by a BZT at the back. While the BZT was giving them cover, the BZT mistakenly hit him in the back,” he said.
When asked about Mr. Yeaten’s reaction to Jungle’s death, the witness said, “What I observed was that after this had happened…Ben [Yeaten] came to Monrovia constantly crying that he had lost Jungle. He was very sad.”
The witness also today gave an extensive account of radio communications between the RUF in Sierra Leone and “Base One,” the radio that was stationed at Mr. Yeaten’s residence in Liberia. The witness spoke about how radio operators in Liberia including Mr. Yeaten’s radio operator called Sun Light communicated with RUF radio operators, who included Memunatu Deen, Sebatu, and Dauda Aruna Fornie. These communications were based on the relationship that existed between Mr. Yeaten and Mr. Bockarie, and these contacts were not to Mr. Taylor’s knowledge, the witness said.
He added that when RUF commander Mr. Bockarie left Sierra Leone and relocated to Liberia in late 1999, all communications between Mr. Yeaten’s operators and the RUF ceased.
DCT-008’s testimony continues on Tuesday.