Issa Sesay Disputes Prosecution Evidence of RUF Insiders, Says RUF Fighters Saw Special Court As A Means Of Making Money

Today, the former interim leader of the Sierra Leonean rebel group that Charles Taylor is accused of providing support for during Sierra Leone’s 11 year civil conflict spent hours disputing the evidence of prosecution witnesses, telling Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague that members of his rebel group made up stories against Mr. Taylor and that many of them lied because they saw the Special Court for Sierra Leone as a place where they could make money by giving false testimonies.

As he continues to distance Mr. Taylor from the activities of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group in Sierra Leone, Issa Hassan Sesay refuted the evidence of several former RUF fighters.  These former fighters, in their testimonies against Mr. Taylor, previously told the Special Court for Sierra Leone judges that, among other things, the former Liberian president received diamonds from RUF commanders, including Mr. Sesay, in return for arms, that it was Mr. Taylor who appointed Mr. Sesay as interim leader of the RUF, and that when RUF rebels abducted UN peacekeepers in Sierra Leone in May 2000, it was Mr. Taylor who mandated Mr. Sesay to release the peacekeepers because the RUF was under his (Mr. Taylor’s) control. Today, Mr. Sesay dismissed these as made-up stories.

Responding to a prosecution witness’s testimony that he made several trips to Monrovia in 2000 during which he secured arms and ammunition from Mr. Taylor, Mr. Sesay told the judges that “this is a made-up story.”

“I know that our RUF people, most of them saw the Special Court as a place to make money, so this is a made up story,” Mr. Sesay said.

A prosecution witness, who testified in 2008, told the court that when RUF leader Foday Sankoh was arrested by the government of Sierra Leone in 2000 following the abduction of peacekeepers by the RUF, Mr. Taylor invited Mr. Sesay to visit Liberia on two occasions in May 2000. The first visit, according to the prosecution witness was because Mr. Taylor wanted to know what had happened to Mr. Sankoh, and the second visit was when Mr. Taylor instructed Mr. Sesay to release the peacekeepers. Mr. Sesay today dismissed these accounts as lies, saying that in the month of May 2000, he only made one visit to Liberia and that during said visit, Mr. Taylor was not concerned about what had happened to Mr. Sankoh but rather was more focused on the release of the peacekeepers.

“This witness is lying because I went to Monrovia once in May to discuss the release of the peacekeepers,” Mr. Sesay told the court.

“So the first time that Mr. Taylor called me, it was to discuss the release of the peacekeepers, it was not about Mr. Sankoh’s arrest in Freetown. That is a lie,” he added.

The prosecution witness in 2008 also told the court that Mr. Taylor told Mr. Sesay in 2000 that he (Taylor) will be made Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) if he secured the release of the peacekeepers. He promised that if Mr. Sesay helped to make this possible by releasing the peacekeepers, he (Taylor) would help the RUF in their struggle to take over Sierra Leone.

When asked today by lead counsel for Mr. Taylor, Courtenay Griffiths, whether Mr. Taylor had suggested “that his appointment as ECOWAS Chairman was dependent on that outcome,” Mr. Sesay said “No, he did not tell me that.”

He also said that Mr. Taylor did not make any promises to him.

Asked again whether Mr. Taylor’s discussion with him was “in a form of a bargain…if you do this for me, I’ll do this for you,” Mr. Sesay said “No.”

“It was not a negotiation, it was not a bargain…to say there were preconditions put down for the release of the peacekeepers, no,” Mr. Sesay said.

“When I went, the way he was speaking to me, he looked unhappy…for me, he brought the understanding that we cannot fight the UN and to hold the peacekeepers will be a problem for the RUF…I had no other option but to release the peacekeepers, because I was trying to avoid other problems,” Mr. Sesay explained.

When asked whether he was going to Monrovia because Mr. Taylor was his boss, Mr. Sesay said “No.”

“Mr. Taylor was not my boss, my boss was Foday Sankoh…Mr. Taylor was never my boss, I had never taken instructions from him,” Mr. Sesay said.

“If any other person had contacted me for the release of the peacekeepers, I wouldn’t have had any other option but to release them,” he added.

Mr. Sesay’s testimony continues on Tuesday.


  1. Oh well, there you have it folks, lies upon lies. This is my understanding fellow bloggers, John brown say Issa seysay say, Peter paul say Issa Sesay say. Well, Issa sesay himself say ( I Issa Sesay say) they are all paid agents, what a way to go mr. Sesay…. bravo. Damn, so this whole case was a “chopping speed uh” in other words, this was a way to milk the cow I.e UN being the cow. Wow, a complete honey train.







    1. The time for Ms Campbell to testify is right around the corner. Ms Campbell’s testimony is very crucial for the prosecution. This is a big one and the last straw for the prosecution. I am not sure why the prosecution thinks that Ms Campbell’s testimony is going to make any difference to the already existing facts. If she (Ms Campbell) collaborate her testimony inline with the prosecution what weight does it really have on the trial? She (Ms Campbell) will testify that President Taylor did not physically put diamond in her hands rather, send his men to delivery the diamond. Conversely, President Taylor has denied giving diamond to Ms Campbell. He says, she says that’s the prosecution strongest evidence in this trial.

      Ms Campbell’s testimony perhaps, would benefit the prosecution if she (Ms Campbell) should testify that President Taylor did indeed personally give her the diamond. But there were no exchanged of diamond in the first place, so this scenario failed to prove the norms.

    2. Hi Grebo,
      Thanks for these very good concerns. In my view this case could have come to an end by using those very disarmed guns to identify the dealers, and subsequently indicating the blood diamond tracks. this would have also indicated the ships or planes that transported them and the destination can also be known.
      I am very show that the prosecution did all of these but did not link CT. But again as the little guys need to earn some money so also is the big guys like david crane and his likes.

      Just to remind you all, the campbell situation will delay this trial as we can see the defense need time to prepare to cross.

      Again let me say thanks for your smart thoughts.

  2. This is an exchange with one of the prosecution witnesses who did not have the guts to disclose his name. He was questioned by one of the prosecutor on May 21, 2008 and this is what he had to say in summary. That AFRC under Johnny Paul Koroma captured Freetown and overthrew the government. Following that , Johnny Paul made contacts with Foday Sankoh in Nigeria for the RUF to join the AFRC in Freetown. Now , does it make sense according to other prosecution witnesses that both the AFRC and RUF had planned the capturing of Freetown . If that was true, then why would Johnny Paul be saying that the RUF would be coming to join them in Freetown? Why did both AFRC and RUF not go to Freetown together? These are some of the clear lies and contradiction of the prosecution witnesses:

    Q. Page 10441, please:
    “Q. Sir, you indicated that Johnny Paul Koroma called
    Foday Sankoh. How do you know that?
    A. We were in the office. All of us were in the office,
    because at that time we were the security to him. We did
    not trust anybody to be closer to him because when we
    released him he was the most senior officer among us. We
    were in the office when he called. After calling, they
    were talking on the phone, because it was a land line.
    From there, he said he got Pa Sankoh and Pa Sankoh had
    promised the RUF would come and join us and he would send
    somebody to come and meet us.
    Q. Where was the office with the land line where you heard
    the call?
    A. At that time, it was in the office of the late Hassan
    Conteh, who was the chief of the defence staff at that
    And then he goes on to describe where that office was.
    And then he goes on, line 29: “After the telephone
    conversation, that is Johnny Paul Koroma calling Sankoh, he told
    us that he had spoken to Foday Sankoh and said Foday Sankoh had
    said he would send somebody who will come to meet us, then the
    RUF would eventually come and join us. So within 72 hours –
    within 48 hours, the person whom he said came and met us, Gibril
    Massaquoi, he brought with him telephone numbers, and the RUF
    came and joined us.”

    1. Momo Dahn,
      I think you got the sequence of the facts wrong. What the prosecution said was that the freetown invasion which occurred in 1999 was jointly carried out by the RUF and the AFRC. this invasion was the one after the AFRC has been disloged from freetown by ECOMOG in 1998 and Johney Paul has been forcefully removed from power. The RUF and the Defence in this case has denied the involvement of the RUF in that invasion. However when the AFRC took power in 1997, they did not “invade” freetown because they were SLA solders who carried out a coup to overthrow the elcted government of Tejan Kabah. Infact JP Koroma was in prision at the time of the coup. it was the coup plotters that released him from prision immediately after the coup and made him leader of the junta.

      So while I agree with you that the prosecution arguments in this case makes no sense, the sequence of event you presented in your comments was wrong. the AFRC governemnt invited the RUF to join them in Freetown to form the junta in 1997 but the freetown invasion took place in 1999 after the AFRC has been dislodged from power in freetown.

  3. what would Courtenay Griffith hopes to acheive with this convicted felon Issa Sesay? who during the early phase of his own trial had offered through is defense team headed by Mr.Charles Taku & Lois Mbafor, a deal to testified against Charles Taylor for a reduce sentence, which was rejected by prosecution team lead by Mr. Peter Harrison and Reginal Fynn, a mano ah mano that is a now public records and one only has to click on transcripts from his own trial ” the people versus Issa Sesay & the RUF”. I am also mindful, here as the CT supporters has claimed that Griffith is the new arrival of Perry Mason, but his stargies to do darmage control are exploitable and will be done when Griffith decides to turn Issa Sesay over to the people, for an opportunity of a cross examination of his testimonies.

    1. Ziggy Salis,
      Where did you get your facts from? go and read the transcripts of the Trial-within-a-trial that was held during Issa Sessay’s case and you will see the falsehood of this version of events that you have presented in this forum. it was the prosecution that offered Issa Sessay a deal to testify as an insider witness against Charles Taylor and Issa Sessay refused. Get your facts right!

  4. It is imperative that the Special Court judges render justice without fear or favor simply, because it’s the right thing to do. Our judges are also human and at times emotions may have an effect on their immediately decisions but when it’s all said and done judges will apply the law.

    Maybe there is one positive thing that I like about this court. Take for example,” If” the evidence is not there to convict President Taylor and he (Taylor) is acquitted send a message to other leaders wanted for human right abuses but are afraid to come forward because they believe they may not get a fair trial.

    It’s wrong to take away a person’s liberty based on allegations. It’s equally wrong for anybody to committed atrocities and don’t get punished. This is where justice comes into play. The court will have to decide what is relevant vs. not relevant.

    If the evidence is there, the judges Must convict. Equally so, if the evidence is not there, the judges Must acquit.

    What’s the big deal?

    1. Big B,
      The big deal is the people that go around accusing and prosecuting people belongs to countries that are the biggest violators of human right.For example what Charles Taylor is accused of is new to the Africa continent,a leader of an african country committing war crime in another country is more akeen to the very people prosecuting,the irony is they are doing it as we speak and are still hoping to prosecute few leaders especially in the africa continent,However made up.

      The template to jailed an africa leader who refuse to conform will be like this,the CIA/M15 created a civil unrest in the country using pressure groups which can be created ten for a penny in africa,the leader crackdown on the pressure group few people got killed,A case is file against the leader a warrant for his arrest issued.The leader can be handed over by his people whiles in office or when he left office he will be hunted down and brought to europe for trial.I fear that will be the fate of an african leader who fail to follow the script in the future,so it is very important for us as african to think very deeply of the implications if cases like this are allowed to set a precedent.

      I do not condone impunity and i am in full support for a war crime court in liberia,it seems to me we are in a time where Satan is been placed incharge of punishing evil doers.

      The world is a very sick place fellars.

  5. Naomi legal team has asked that she be given protective measures against the western media which includes a blanket ban on the disclosure of any information relating to her appearance, except for those revealed in open court. You may wonder why, but the reason is simple. The so called media lies too much without regard to individual safety or security.

    Harris K Johnson

  6. Hi all,

    Thanks for keeping debates very much alive and hot here. I have been away for quite some time now, but thanks be toGod that I’m back. Thanks so much to Tracy and Alpha.

    Now on the issue, why does Mr. Sesay want us to believe that he only is speaking the truth and the others lied. In the first place, why was Mr. Taylor “angry” with him for taking the hostages? Just look at this (“When I went, the way he was speaking to me, he looked unhappy…for me, he brought the understanding that we cannot fight the UN and to hold the peacekeepers will be a problem for the RUF…I had no other option but to release the peacekeepers, because I was trying to avoid other problems,” ) I think this only means that Mr. Taylor could provide support or was providing support to fight the other wars but could not help with war against the UN.

    I am sure Mr. Sesay has corroborated the prosecution with this statement. Keep it up Mr Sesay!! I am sure more revelations will come.

    Christopher D. Sankolo

    1. Sankolo,

      Welcome. But let me ask you, would President Obama smile with a rebel leader that have taken UN Peace Keeper hostage? I think all peace loving people should be mad at such thing, and Mr.Taylor is of exception mr.

      Harris K Johnson

        1. Solomon Davies,

          Yes, Mr. Taylor is a peace loving man. That is why over 80+5% Liberian voters voted him in as president in 1997. Mr. Taylor does what he has to do when he has to do it. In short he fights when necessary and preaches peace when peace comes his way.

          Harris K Johnson

        2. Harris K Johnson,

          With all due respect, you are either joking about the fact that CT is a peaceful, loving man or you are just extremely naive. And I quote: ”That is why over 80+5% Liberian voters voted him in as president in 1997.” You cannot actually believe that those elections were done fairly. This to state an example.
          Let me make it clear though, i am not posting this to judge you, I just happen to be surprised, shocked even by your comments.
          If you think CT is a peaceful man Mr Johnson, you’ll be in quite a shock if you knew how this world is really being run.

  7. I am in a dilema here and I need help from my brothers/sisters Alpha, Tracey, J. Fallah, Big B ect. ect. ect. Considering my limitations when it comes to law, I therefore seek assistance in this light:

    1. There are claims/counter claims from prosecution team and defence team respectively. Therefore which yard stick judges will use to assertain wether prosecution/defence claims are valid or not valid.

    2. On what foundation judges will render final verdict i.e guilty or not guilty being that prosecution has claimed XYZ and defence has counter claim XYZ.

    I should be grateful if any one can help me out.

    1. Joe3,
      No one can say exactly what specific things the judges will consider in delivering their verdict. The judges have legal officers who help them with research and analysing the entire evidence. What i can say is that the judges will make a through assessment of all the evidence that has been prosented, assess which witnesses were credible enough for their accounts to be relied on and how the testimonies of those credible witnesses were corroborated by other witnesses. At the end of the day, it will be for the prosecution to prove the case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The defense just has to prove on the balance of probability. These burdens are different with the prosecution having the greater burden. So it will for the judges to determine which team has discharged its own burden well.

      I hope this explanation helps. If you have further questions, feel free to let me know.

    2. Joe3
      Maybe I can give my layman thoughts. I think the judges should decide based on the facts, not third party who was not there say that Peter told Paul and Paul told Mary. Issa Sesay is a direct witness who is speaking on personal and direct experience , not third person say.

      Because, if the judges decide based on they say then no side will win this case.

  8. I only want the judges to know the true so JUSTICE CAN BE SERVE for my people in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Issa Hassan Sesay just tell the true, you ready got your time to serve and you get nothing to lose here.

    1. Duala, don’t worry about Isa Sesay. He is a “broken chair” you cannot lean on him! That convict is not going to repent neither is the accused, not until they meet the Almighty! But I will pray for their souls to rot in eternity..Jfallahmenjor.

  9. Ziggy Salis,
    “what would Courtenay Griffith hopes to acheive with this convicted felon Issa Sesay? who during the early phase of his own trial had offered through is defense team headed by Mr.Charles Taku & Lois Mbafor, a deal to testified against Charles Taylor for a reduce sentence, which was rejected by prosecution team lead by Mr. Peter Harrison and Reginal Fynn, a mano ah mano that is a now public records and one only has to click on transcripts from his own trial ” the people versus Issa Sesay & the RUF”
    Bro, this is a very good information. Can you please provide the link so that supporters of justice and victims of Taylor’s brutalities can see how unrepentant and remorseless these criminals remain and also for supporters for Taylor to see that they are living on false hope.
    Again, thank brother and remains bless

  10. @ Duala
    Your point is well received. “Sesay has his time already.” What would be his motivation to lie here? It seems he has nothing to gain or lose.
    @ fallah I’m not sure I follow your logic.
    @ Alpha
    As I understand the prosecution has to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt…period. The defense’ job is to raise reasonable doubt…it is not a burden so to speak.
    Please advise what you mean when you say “The defense just has to prove on the balance of probability.” balance of probability as to what? Also, kindly cite the statute that places a burden on the defense to “prove the balance of probability?”
    It seems to me that your explanation is that both the prosecution and the defense must meet their burdens for a not guilty verdict. As I am familiar with criminal trials generally. The prosecution can fail to meet their burden before the first defense witness takes the stand.

    1. Cen,
      Again, my apologies for the late response to this question. It has been very busy on my end and i have missed out on a few comments lately. Now to your question proper, it is true that the defense is not obliged to prove anything and it is for the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. The defense can decide not to do anything and leave all the burden on the prosecution. In that case, if the prosecution cannot prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, then the defense can ask for an acquittal of the accused. Now you’ll recall that after the conclusion of the prosecution’s case, defense lawyers made an application for a judgment of acquittal on the grounds that the prosecution had not discharged its burden and had not proven the case against Mr. Taylor. The judges said no. According to the judges, based on the prosecution evidence, there was indeed a case for Mr. Taylor to answer and it is on that basis that Mr. Taylor is presently conducting his defense. Like i said, the defense does not need to prove anything but in law, it is a fact that “he who asserts must prove.” Mr. Taylor has made certain assertions such as the fact that he was a peace maker in the Sierra Leonean conflict. He is surely leading evidence to prove that he was indeed a peace maker. The burden to prove such does not amount to the burden that the prosecution carries. Mr. Taylor does not need to prove his assertion beyond reasonable doubt but just on a balance of probability. The balance of probability burden is a lesser burden that applies mostly in civil cases but when it applies in criminal cases, it rests just on the defense and not the prosecution. Mr. Taylor can ofcourse decide not to prove anything (even on a balance of probability) and just focus on pointing doubts in the prosecution evidence. If he succeeds in doing that, he can still get an acquittal. Whatever the case, the prosecution has the higher burden and that burden must be discharged before there can get a conviction.

      I hope this explanation helps.

  11. @ Fallah
    ps You can lean on a broken chair. Just place the chair so and you can lean on it…lol.
    God bless

  12. @ Joe3

    You do not have to be well versed on the law to pass judgement on a criminal defendant. You just have to have common sense. In a fair trial, the defendant is judged either by a jury of their peers or learned judge(s)
    Additionally, in one word CREDIBILITY!. The judges will render their verdict based on the credibility of the witnesses and the credibility of the documents. Please remember the saying “THIS IS AFRICA! The trial may not be taking place in Africa or judged by African judges. However, the documents and witnesses are of AFRICAN origin.

    In closing, it is more probable than not that some of the witnesses were motivated by the money to be gained. In this circumstantial case, it would be impossible for anyone not privy to the testimony of the secret witnesses to assess the fariness of the verdict.

    @ Alpha Could you post the statute that permits secret testimony and what weight it is given?

    1. Cen,
      My apologies for not responding to this question. It has been really busy on my end and sometimes when so much work gets in the way, it becomes difficult to give an immediate response to every question. To answer your question, i’ll need to get a clear idea of what you mean by “secret testimony.” Can you please give a better explanation of what you mean so that i’ll give a proper response to your question?

      1. My Q … can you post the statute that permits witnesses to testify in chambers or in disguise. what weight is given to that testimony?

  13. Dear Helen,

    I received a comment from you today, which I cannot publish. If you can reformulate the first paragraph to fit with our policy for comments, I will happily publish it. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  14. I am sick of the Western World playing with Africans. Like many have already said, why can’t the prosecutors bring to the stand those who sold arms to Charles Taylor. Why can’t they bring to the stand those who bought the blood diamond. I am a victim of both wars (Sierra Leone and Liberia). And people like me know how well Taylor was armed and how he sent those arms to Sierra Leone to kill people. People who sell arms to rebels need to be expose so that they can’t stop such evil.

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