Prosecutors Question Issa Sesay About Sierra Leone’s Diamonds

Prosecutors today asked Charles Taylor’s 19th witness, the former interim leader of the Sierra Leonean rebel group that Mr. Taylor is accused of providing support for, to account to the people of Sierra Leone what his rebel group did with the country’s diamonds and whether the war in Sierra Leone was about diamonds.

Issa Hassan Sesay, the former interim leader of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group moved into the second day of his cross-examination where among many other things, the discussion moved into what the RUF did with Sierra Leone’s diamond resources. Prosecution counsel Nicholas Koumjian read portions of the RUF anthem in which the rebel group questioned the government of Sierra Leone about the country’s diamond resources.

“Where are our diamonds…RUF is hungry to know where they are,” reads a portion of the anthem that was quoted in court today.

When asked afterwards whether “the war in Sierra Leone was a war about diamonds,” Mr. Sesay said, “No.”

“It was not a war about diamonds because from 1991 to 1997, the RUF was not occupying diamond areas,” Mr. Sesay responded.

When asked whether this situation changed  after 1997, Mr. Sesay again said, “No.”

“If it was a war about diamonds, I wouldn’t have disarmed in the diamond areas,” he added.

Mr. Koumjian read a portion of a November 2000 newspaper that quoted Mr. Taylor as saying, “Yes, I think that the war in Sierra Leone is a war about diamonds but not for Liberia to take those diamonds.”

In response to this statement, Mr. Sesay said, “I wouldn’t agree because the war in Sierra Leone was not about diamonds.”

When Mr. Sesay was asked to account to the people of Sierra Leone what he did with the country’s diamonds, Mr. Sesay explained that he sold the diamonds and the proceeds were used to take care of RUF members who were also Sierra Leoneans.

“The diamonds that I got I used to sell and used the money to take care of the RUF…The RUF soldiers that I took care of, they were Sierra Leoneans,” he said.

In response to a question as to the number of “stones” [diamonds] that he received while he was in control of the RUF, Mr. Sesay said, “I can’t remember the exact number of stones I received.”

He also said that he cannot recall the exact amount of money that he obtained from the sale of the diamonds that were mined by the RUF.

“You can’t account because the bulk of the diamonds went to Charles Taylor, isn’t it?” Mr. Koumjian put to Mr. Sesay.

“Well, as far as money was concerned, the diamonds I used to receive I used to sell, I did not give diamonds to Mr. Taylor,” Mr. Sesay responded.

Mr. Koumjian also read a portion of the report submitted to the court by a prosecution expert witness, who testified in 2008. In the report, the expert witness estimated that proceeds from diamond sales during the period of the RUF’s occupation of the mining areas in Sierra Leone could have amounted to millions of dollars. Mr. Koumjian then pushed Mr. Sesay further on what could have happened to the diamonds from Sierra Leone.

“What happened to all the diamonds in Kono and Tongo Field [both diamond mining towns in Sierra Leone]…you took them to Charles Taylor,” Mr. Koumjian said.

“No sir. These estimates that they are making are exaggerations, I never saw this kind of diamonds…I said I was not taking diamonds to Charles Taylor. The diamonds that they were mining, I used to sell to take care of the RUF,” Mr. Sesay explained.

Also read in court today was a portion of the evidence of a previous prosecution witness Abu Keita, a former member of the RUF, who said that civilians were beaten and harassed if they were found in possession of diamonds in Kono. Mr. Sesay said that this was never the case.

“That is not true…the atmosphere in Kono was nice, and there was no harassment of civilians,” Mr. Sesay said.

Prosecutors allege that the RUF subjected civilians in diamond mining towns to forced labor in order to work as miners. Some of these civilians were killed when they could not work as miners, prosecutors allege. It is further alleged that the diamonds, once mined, were taken to Mr. Taylor in Liberia by RUF commanders, including Mr. Sesay. Mr. Taylor has denied receiving diamonds from RUF rebels, and in his testimony as a defense witness for Mr. Taylor, Mr. Sesay has also denied taking diamonds to Mr. Taylor in Liberia.

Prosecutors also today put to Mr. Sesay that himself and RUF commander Sam Bockarie looked at Mr. Taylor as a father figure in their lives and Mr. Taylor took them to be his sons. Prosecutors highlighted the crimes committed by Mr. Bockarie in Sierra Leone and his public pronouncements about being a “ruthless commander.” Even with such pronouncements and reports of Mr. Bockarie’s atrocities in Sierra Leone, Mr. Taylor still took him to be his son, Mr. Koumjian said in court.

Mr. Koumjian read a portion of Mr. Taylor’s testimony in which the former Liberian president told the court how he liked Mr. Bockarie after he was confronted with evidence that he ordered the execution of Mr. Bockarie.

“I never wanted that boy dead, I liked him like a son. I never wanted him dead. I never would have handed him to Kabbah [former Sierra Leonean president]…I loved that boy,” Mr. Taylor said in 2009.

“That’s what Charles Taylor said about Sam Bockarie, the man who did all this evil and threatened a campaign of evil to kill all living things,” Mr. Koumjian said after reading the statement.

“Well, I don’t know, that is what Charles Taylor said, that was his opinion,” Mr. Sesay responded.

Mr. Koumjian also pointed out that when Mr. Bockarie left the RUF and relocated to Liberia, Mr. Taylor gave him a huge salary because of the relationship that existed between them.

“Sam Bockarie had a salary of 1000 USD a month when the average Liberian is living on less than one USD a day…that’s how a father treats a son,” Mr. Koumjian said.

Mr. Sesay responded that he never knew that Mr. Bockarie was receiving 1000 USD per month while in Liberia.

Mr. Sesay’s testimony continues on Monday.


  1. Expecting the truth from a convicted murderer like Issa Sesay is like expecting to find virgins among prostitutes.

    1. @ Vanie
      even a broke clock is wrong 2 times a day. If Sesay confirmed what the prosecution is trying to prove, i’m sure you would eat your words.

  2. Great job, Mr. Koumjian. Keep it simple and corner this liar in his own web of deceits and lying tongue. He will slip and continue to get not only confused,but mixed up with facts and denials! I love your manners of approach to this semi-human, lacking integrity of mordern Homo sapiens, in his psychological approach to civilization, to say the least! Issa is among the lowest of Africans and has always lived in this barbaric fantasy world that finally earned him a half century prison term that, probabaly, never going to change his barnaric views about “moral thoughts” nor what “truths” really supposed to mean to mankind! This man is not worth living and his thoughts are lower than my house pets! My dog knows the difference between good and bad and therefore won’t wet my carpet; Issa doesn’t seem to have that intelligence, I want to assume, having listened to this “character” for three miserable weeks!

    1. fallah,

      You described another human thought as lower than a dog? Well, your thoughts are more stupid than Issa’s, because he remembered events that took place some fifteen and more years back. But unlike you, you have failed to even remember what when wrong in your bed last night.

      Harris K Johnson

    2. Hi Fallah

      You are getting all wrong here. Sesay is speaking the truth. Prosecution has alleged that President Taylor is a component part of the RUF, and its diamond war. Sesay is or was a rank leader of the RUF. It is worth believing if he said Taylor did not receive any diamond from SL. Prosecution has failed to link Taylor to crimes.

      Sesay is doing a good job in his testimony


  3. And what did we learn today that we haven’t heard about……Really, which one of those questions relate to the charges??? Mr. Koumjain must be wondering HOW TO BREAK Mr. Sesay…….I say GOOD LUCK.

    1. Noko4,
      When I read Prosecution supporters rant and rave about “how well” Mr Koumjian is doing, I begin to wonder what prompts such optimism. As yet there has been no smoking gun and using Mr Sesay to refine the prosecution case, will not take the prosecution anywhere. I think the prosecution should focus on showing that Mr Sesay’s version of events is not likely to be true and that testimonies of Isaac Mongor, Zigzag Marzah, Abu Keita and Vermuyan Sharrif are more believable that that of Issa Sesay instead of carrying out character assasination of Issa Sessay. the fact that Issa belonged to a group that carried out terrible attrocities, the fact that he became the leader of that group and the fact that he has been convicted of crimes against humanity due to his role in that group, does make him a less credible witness. He is the one in the best possition to tell the world what the RUF did with its diamonds. – which is realy what Charles Taylor is in court for. So far the prosecution has not provided that LINK between RUF diamonds and Charles Taylor.

      1. Sam,
        The TACTIC is to chop Mr. Sesay at the kneels…but what they failed and failing to accept is there are DOCUMENTS to backup some of his words. Even Madame E, the witness before him, backup some of what he is saying…..The prosecutors have yet, sad to say, have yet to produce a FACTUAL LINK.

        If they feel that Mr. Taylor appointed Mr. Sesay because of some IN THE DARK RELATIONSHIP, all of the leaders of ECOWAS are still alive…..why don’t they get statements from them??? That will SOLVE in my view most of the drama in this case but they won’t because there are DOCUMENTS to back that up also.

        I think Mr. Crane and Mr Rapp were FOOLED into bringing charges before even looking at the evidences they had on hand…….FIVE BILLIONS statement put out there and up til today’s date, NOT A SINGLE DEPOSITE SLIP or PHOTO OF ANYONE OPENING AN ACCOUNT ON BEHALF OF MR TAYLOR.

        Plus, the prosecutors truly believed Mr. Taylor was going to lay dead but from the upset of this case while he was in Freetown, something should have told them, he is ready to fight….the charges went from 15 to 11….why didn’t change the TIME FRAME also…back it up from ’90 thru ’02??

        Then witnesses that even a desk clerk could tell they were NOT BEEN TRUTHFUL….HEARSAY and nothing more, collecting and storing of the evidences….log sheets not matching up and this should have been the FINEST EXAMPLE of an int’l court……

        They have lost this case and hopeing for a MIRACLE. I strongly believe there is a DEAL in the making……Mr. Taylor will be let go but have to stay away from West Africa……Mr. Taylor on the other hand is saying, NO!!. In keeping with his words, “BY GOD’S WILLING, I’LL BE BACK”.

        Again, if this comes to judgement my view is the two females judges will vote NOT GUILTY and the lone male judge will vote GUILTY….leaving it up for appeal. At that level, the chances are SLIM for Mr. Taylor since it looks like to me, that bench has been BRAINWASHED or CORRUPTED.

  4. Please prosecutor if this case is about diamonds,please note that Liberia also rich with diamonds and Taylor was president of Liberia,please show the world video,picture or voice recording of Taylor in SierraLonne,gaving orders or with arms or diamonds.sassey said he never gave Taylor please proof him wroung,with strong evidence and not they say,I say or u say.

  5. My readers, what we have to do is to be very very careful with this proceedings because Charles Taylor was a president of a Country and he was indicted for war crimes. can we see more evidence in this case. what the prosecutors have to do is to summit more evidence to the court. like producing vedeo clips and materials so that we can see and believe that “yes” Charles Taylor took part in the war in Sierra Leone.

    we are watching and we will follow this proceedings till the end.

  6. Give me a break! If this war in Sierra Leone was not about diamonds, why would these two comrades; Issa and taylor decide to contradict each other?’ When asked whether this situation changed after 1997, Mr. Sesay again said, “No.”

    “If it was a war about diamonds, I wouldn’t have disarmed in the diamond areas,” he added.

    Mr. Koumjian read a portion of a November 2000 newspaper that quoted Mr. Taylor as saying, “Yes, I think that the war in Sierra Leone is a war about diamonds but not for Liberia to take those diamonds.” Silly, isn’t it, for two best comrades, with similar tastes and interests to have different views on behavior, common among them, over planned objective? The objective, both had, seemed the quest to control and have these stones whether they admit or not, Noko5, Cee, Sam Jose, Helen, and the host of support group..This is all I have to say about this until I hear your take as usual!

    1. Fallah,
      I do agree with you that the war in Sierra Leone was for diamonds but the question is that, was it diamonds for Liberia or Liberians? Of course not! Instead, the war for diamonds in Sierra Leone was sponsor by the former mother of Sierra Leone ( Britain) whose diamonds partnership with the diamonds company in Canada, who later hired former Soldiers from other Countries to fight in Sierra Leone and restore Kabah to power.

    2. Fallah,
      Was Mr Taylor part of the RUF at that time? how do you expect him to give the true motive of the RUF when he is not a member? he is merely expressing his opinion at the time about what he like everyone else thinks the war in Sl was about. The real members of the RUF and infact a former leader of the group -who is inthe best position to say- has come out to say the war of the RUF in SL was not about diamonds.

    3. Fallah,
      I believe Mr. Taylor was looking at the WHOLE as in MACRO rather than MICRO or PART OF. Diamond only came into place when RUF needed FUNDS to carryout her goals….

  7. Fallah note that Taylor was president when the interview took place,so if he speak,he speak on behalf of Liberia,you simply say Liberia went for SierraLonne diamonds and forget that Liberia have diamonds,please gave me video evidence,and please hold sassey and the ruf responsible and stop making the west,use ur country as a skip goat,Liberian want to hear the truth about their war.

  8. maybe posters can help me understand something. those who think he’s guilty, if a witness says something that is damaging to taylor, the witness is telling the truth. but if the same witness says something that helps taylor, then that same witness is a liar.

    the same goes for those who think taylor didn’t do it. how does that make sense?

  9. Jose Rodriguez, Jocone and the pro-Taylor gangs,
    The faulty fundamental premise upon which you guys arguments are based is what is making your arguments nonsensical.
    No one who understand the meaning and mandates of the Special Court for Sierra Leone would be making the foolish suggestion that it should also try Madam Sirleaf, Sawyer and other purported violators of human rights in Liberia. It is sad that people who claim to be intelligent and educated will think that Taylor be made to account for his role in the destruction and pillage of Sierra Leone deprived the Liberian people of making Taylor to account for the atrocious he committed in that Country.
    Someone, whom logical analysis seems not to be his forte, asked the unenlightened question why there was no special court for Northern Ireland. If only this guy would have taken a little time to educate himself on how and why Special Courts are formed, he wouldn’t display such high level of ignorance.
    Moreover, such a question and question like why Bush and Blair are not be tried for war crimes are not for the people of Sierra or those interested in justice for the people of Sierra Leone and this site is really not the proper forum for addressing those questions. Our friend can privately ask Courtenay Griffiths why, despite Mr. Griffiths knowing these evil deeds of his own country, he had never lead a campaign to bring the British government to book and it is only when the people of Sierra Leone need justice that we are now being told about the evils of the West.

    1. Vanie,
      I have NOT heard of anyone opposite of you asking that Mr. Sawyer and Pres. Johnson-Sirleaf be also put on the stand for Sierra Leone….where are you getting such thought from??

    2. Vanie,
      You’re very intellegent guy! I enjoyed reading your post! You were very direct and concise in your statements. You also brought up some points I had never though about, specifically about the the lead defense. Nice read.

  10. I have heard on this forum people saying how the Liberian people love Taylor and how his government was the one of the “best” and how his ideas were revolutionary. My question is , why is it that we have not seen any memeber of this govt or NPFL testifying on his behave. By that I mean senior members by the way.

    People in revolution are usually bounded by ideas and convictions and indeed if this was case, maybe some of the “revolutionaries” should be heading to hague to provide evidence on behave of their “comrade”, like sesay is doing in open court. Maybe Sesay and Taylor are more close in thinking than most people appreciate, if not why should he bother to show up, after all he is already convicted. By the way the word trying to clear an innocent man does not wash here becuae Issa has already been convicted of brutalising innocent people. So his feeling/leaning to Taylor may not be so humanitarian after all.

    Taylor did not exist in vaccum, he had a justice, attorney General and defense ministers. Oh I forgot the NSA, police director etc. Where are they?. Are they afraid they will be cornered becuase they know papay is not telling the truth. Instead Issa Sesay is the highest profile individual brought so far for Taylor’s defense in open court.

    Every single high ranking official from Taylor’s govt. who had appeared at this tribunal did not vindicate him, this included his vice president and close confidant. A man he left in charge when he left Liberia. Why is sesay so eager to appear on Taylor’s behave?.

    Taylor has a tough case to get out of. I think he will a miracle to get out of this one but then again maybe miracle do happen.

    1. This is a very good question, and an especially important one given the reluctance of the current Liberian government to condemn Taylor. It’s the defense which is painting Taylor os such a loved revolutionary. Why haven’t they brought any high ranking members of Taylor’s former government to testify?

      1. Eagle & Paivy,
        What is this trial about? is it about Liberia? what does he need senior members of the Liberian government or even NPFL for in this case? this case is about SL and the RUF and he has brought many very senior members of the RUF and even its most senior surviving leader to testify on his behalf. what else do you want him to do? remember that the burden of proof is not on him, its on the prosecution so he only needs to call witnesses to address the prosecution case against him, which he is doing very well.

    2. Eagle Eye returns,
      The reason you don’t see alot of Taylor’s senior officials is because this trial is about Sierra Leone not Liberia. You would be one of the first to condemn a JT Richardson or Cyril Allen if they were called to testify. I have first hand info that all Mr. Taylor’s associates have been willing to testify including Benjamin Yeaten. However please be reminded that the burden of proof is on the prosecution not the defense.

  11. Justin Collins:

    Wellcome oh buddy to this blog, but could you kindly declare your intention for or against? This is a zone of fire either for Taylorist or you support the Guiltylist.


  12. George Flomo:

    One doesn’t have to gather video footage to establish if you are a perpetrator of a crime, but there are others investigative techniques that are used. For example Allen Yancy that was hanged by the late President of Liberia, William R. Tolbert for ritualistic killings was not convicted because of video footage but scientific and investigative methods were applied. Murder, fraud and other crimes are solved using these modern techniques.

    Case in point, the prosecution alleged that Taylor give Naomi diamonds, Naomi did admit receiving diamonds, but from two men, two female witnesses said it was Taylor that gave the diamonds. Now the diamonds will be tested for its origin by the South African Police, this will determine where the diamonds actually came from Sierra Leone. In some countries video footage are not allowed in court because of technology, they can be simply be tailor.

  13. I know the prosecution is trying to push their motive. In my opinion, the fact that Liberia is rich in diamonds and no proceeds from the sell of diamond have not been linked to Mr. Taylor, is adding doubt about the prosecution version of Mr. Taylor motive to support the RUF. In addition, I think Mr. Taylor motives are the only part of their case they continue to struggle with. During Mr. Taylor testimony, he mentioned his past relationship with the RUF was strictly for providing security to the Liberian/Sierra Leonine border. I thought it was an admission of a possible motive to continue/renew support for the RUF. Most of the time an individual initial purpose can be noble until greed, hate, or a need for survival is introduced. I guess the RUF were initially under funded liberators. I know Mr. Sesay understands that a war cost and whatever funds/fuels a war, eventually becomes what the war is about.

  14. Justice lib,those diamonds u talking about,are not from crime scene,Campbell diamonds was gift and it been thirteen years,who u think will believe it the seem diamonds?

  15. The issue of Liberia having diamonds is true and nobody can deny that. However, I want those pro-Taylor supporters to know that the diamonds in Sierra Leone differ greately in value from those in Liberia.
    In the West African sub-region, it is only Sierra Leone that has gem as compared to South Africa, Namebia, Angola and DRC. This is the most expensive diamond in the world. Liberia diamond is industrial and not gem.
    Please don’t compare diamonds from Sierra Leone to those in Liberia, they are of no match in any form. The international community that supports the trial of Charles Taylor is also aware of his involvement in our diamonds and the carnage that followed.
    Let us sit and waite and see how the verdict is going to be concluded,
    Tracey, please let me make this observation. Harris K Johnson called Jfallah stupid in his post on the 16/08/10 and you indeed posted it in your web for public view. To me, it is unacceptable and should not be tolerated, where by pro-taylor will be lossing their temper to abuse people. I received the same uncivilized behavior from Noko5. If they are not ready to read other peoples opinions, let them just skip it or rather they just shotup and keep quite than to expose their inhuman behaviors to others who are well mannered and cultured.
    I thank you and God bless you.

    1. Faud,
      Are you a GEOLOGIST??? If not, can you please tell us where you are getting your THEORY from?? If you are, can you please provide a study or document??

      1. Fuad,

        The moderators of this site, I believe, would have not posted any comment of mine to you which was uncivilized. “JUST TO CORRECT YOU”. Haven’t you read several posts from your buddy Fallah, suggesting people being silly, stupid or calling some defence witnesses dogs? Wo are you to infere into what I say? Look let me just NOTE this. The fact of the matter that you call others with opposing view, Taylor supporter can technically be seen as offensive, insaulting and irresponsible. So stop throwing stone,cuz you definitely live in a glass house. HINT TO THE WISE IS SUFFICIENT..
        Just to touch your illusion about diamons from Sierraleone versus the ones from Liberia a little, you need to post technical datas to substantiate what I see as your immagination. The espression seem interesting, I like to read it too…I am sure others will be interested also.,

  16. Faud u trying to say Liberia diamonds is not value,I think u wroung,they hide Liberia diamonds so they can steal it,Liberia,SierraLonne,guinea and ivorycoast,they all have the seem soil,so u can find the seem stuff in those place,so don’t try to fool me,Taylor had access to Liberia diamonds and that close ur case.

  17. Fuad,
    Let me be a fools advocate; How about maybe us thinking that, the diamonds from South Africa could be logically different from the ones that come from Liberia and Sierraleone combine..JUST FROM A NONE SIENTIFIC THOUGHT.. I mean a laymans view..Hello.. Are you there…

  18. Guys

    I am greatly surprise that prosecution will be asking Sesay about diamonds, based on expert witness testimony. President Taylor has sent an open challenge to the world to locate any account in his name or his interest, untomatically he is guilty. Prosecution has failed to establish any such link. the logic here is that, if the expert witness claim that President Taylor received diamonds from SL amounting to millions fo dollars, where is the account. Taylor trial is a witch hunt.


Comments are closed.