DCT-008 Concludes His Testimony And Could Be The Final Witness In the Charles Taylor Trial

The defense witness who concluded his testimony this week could be the final witness to give oral evidence in the Charles Taylor trial, defense lawyers for the former Liberian president indicated on Wednesday as the witness concluded his evidence.

DCT-008, a Liberian national who served as a radio operator in the Special Security Services (SSS) unit of Mr. Taylor’s government in Liberia, is the 114th witness who has testified in Mr. Taylor’s trial in The Hague. Of those witnesses, 94 testified for the prosecution while the remaining 20 testified for Mr. Taylor.

Earlier in the week, defense lawyers indicated that DCT-008 might be the final witness to give oral testimony as a defense witness for Mr. Taylor. As the witness concluded his testimony on Wednesday, the judges asked defense lawyers whether they had anything to say about the conclusion of their case. Defense counsel for Mr. Taylor, Terry Munyard, addressed the court and told the judges that the defense wants the court to have a status conference on Monday, September 13. Before the status conference, the team will meet with Mr. Taylor and get instructions from him on the way forward, he said.

He concluded, “At the moment, we are not anticipating calling any further live evidence, should that change, we will let the parties know.”

DCT-008’s testimony focused mainly on radio communications that took place between Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in Sierra Leone and members of Mr. Taylor’s security apparatus in Liberia. Prosecutors have alleged that these radio communications took place with Mr. Taylor’s involvement and approval, and through these radio communications, RUF rebels updated Mr. Taylor on their activities and the former Liberian president gave the Sierra Leonean rebels instructions and facilitated arms transfers for use in Sierra Leone’s bloody conflict. Mr. Taylor has denied these allegations, telling the Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague that members of his security forces could have had close relationships with Sierra Leonean rebels and that through such relationships, arms and ammunition could have been traded between Liberia and Sierra Leone without his knowledge.

In DCT-008’s testimony, he has said the radio communications and the diamond and arms trade that took place between Liberia and Sierra Leone were based solely on the friendship that existed between RUF commander Sam Bockarie and SSS Director Benjamin Yeaten. The witness also denied certain allegations that have been made by prosecutors, including that the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) used children for combat purposes during the Liberian conflict under a unit called the Small Boys Unit (SBU).

Prosecutors allege that the SBU comprised of children, who were forcefully conscripted and used for combat purposes by Mr. Taylor’s rebel forces in Liberia. These children did not only fight in frontlines, but were also used to man NPFL checkpoints and served as bodyguards to NPFL rebel commanders, prosecutors say. It is also alleged that this practice was replicated by RUF rebels in Sierra Leone, who Mr. Taylor is alleged to have controlled and supported.

In his testimony as a defense witness for Mr. Taylor, DCT-008 told the court that the NPFL did not use children in combat or to man checkpoints. According to the witness, commanders only lived with their younger brothers, who helped them perform domestic chores, and these were the ones called SBUs. They neither took part in combat, nor were they made to man checkpoints or to serve as bodyguards to rebel commanders, the witness said.

On Monday, during the cross-examination of the witness, Chief Prosecutor Brenda Hollis challenged the witness on the NPFL’s use of SBUs.

When asked whether “it is true that the NPFL did indeed have a unit called SBU,” DCT-008 said, “No.”

When the prosecutor stated that “these SBUs were used at checkpoints,” the witness said, “No.”

“My testimony is that the NPFL did not have any unit called the SBU. The SBU was the name given to those young boys who were with their big brothers and sisters, but they were not part of the NPFL,” DCT-008 said.

“They were not soldiers, they were not gun carriers,” he added.

Ms. Hollis read a portion of the statement made to defense lawyers by Mr. Taylor’s first witness, Yanks Smythe, a Gambian member of the NPFL who later attained Liberian citizenship and was appointed Liberian ambassador to Libya and Tunisia. In the statement, Mr. Smythe was quoted as saying to defense lawyers that the “SBUs were underaged but part of the NPFL rank.”

When this was presented to the witness with a suggestion that he also knew of the SBUs being part of the NPFL, DCT-008 said, “I don’t know that, I don’t know of a unit called SBU and there was no unit in the NPFL called SBU.”

Put to him again that Mr. Smythe said in his statement that “SBUs will bear arms to protect gates or checkpoints but not to go to the frontlines,” the witness said, “I don’t know that.”

The witness also refuted allegations that Mr. Taylor personally had SBU’s assigned to him, telling the court, “Mr. Taylor to my knowledge never had SBU’s around him.”

Ms. Hollis also quoted John T. Richardson, a former member of the NPFL and National Security Adviser to Mr. Taylor who in a 1994 news interview said, “The NPFL used children to fight for their own protection.”

The witness still insisted, “I am not aware of that.”

On Tuesday, as prosecutors concluded his cross-examination, the witness  disagreed with prosecutors on several issues, including the manner in which the disarmament of fighting forces was conducted in Liberia, allegations of Mr. Taylor’s reliance on militias rather than the Liberian army, and the relationship that existed between RUF commander Mr. Bockarie and SSS Director Mr. Yeaten.

Prosecutors allege that when the disarmament process started in Liberia in the mid 1990s, Mr. Taylor’s NPFL rebel group did not turn in all their weapons, and the weapons they kept were part of those given to RUF rebels who used them to commit atrocities in Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor has denied these allegations.

In his testimony on Tuesday, DCT-008 insisted that the NPFL turned in all their weapons to Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) peacekeepers, who were coordinating the disarmament program in Liberia.

“I know that the NPFL disarmed. Even myself, I disarmed to ECOMOG,” the witness told the court.

When noted by the Ms. Hollis that the NPFL turned in only fractions of their weapons, the witness responded, “To my knowledge, the NPFL turned over every weapon…it was not a joke, it was real.”

Ms. Hollis referenced a news article that quoted Mr. Taylor’s former Defense Minister Daniel Chea that the disarmament process in Liberia was a fiasco.

When this was put to the witness, he responded thus: “I believe that the NPFL fully disarmed to the peacekeepers…so if he [Chea] went on to say it was a fiasco, that was his opinion.”

“But what I know is that the disarmament went on very well, that is why we had elections.”

Ms. Hollis also asserted that because Mr. Taylor did not trust the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), he relied on private militias, which were controlled from the Executive Mansion. These militias, Ms. Hollis said, were notorious for committing crimes against civilians. The witness denied these suggestions.

“He relied on the national security of the Republic of Liberia,” the witness said, and ”Charles Taylor to my knowledge never controlled any militia from the Executive Mansion,” he added.

When noted that Mr. Taylor controlled his militia groups just like the SSS, the witness said, “He never ran the SSS. The SSS were security assigned to the Executive Mansion and the first family.”

Ms. Hollis quoted Mr. Chea again, who in the same interview where he spoke about the disarmament process said, “Mr. Taylor had his own suspicions of the army, he transferred most of the duties of the army to his own militias. I thought that was a mistake.”

“President Taylor had his own disjointed militia that he ran from the Executive Mansion. Who will be in a better position to know about Charles Taylor’s militia, you or Mr. Chea,” Ms. Hollis asked the witness.

In response, he said, “To my knowledge, the president did not control militia group or militia from the Executive Mansion.”

The witness also insisted, like he has done throughout his testimony, that Mr. Taylor and his government did not have any relationship with the RUF, but rather, it was SSS Director Mr. Yeaten who used his friendship with RUF commander Mr. Bockarie to trade arms and ammunition with Sierra Leonean rebels.

According to the witness, Samson Wai, a bodyguard to Mr. Yeaten was the person who coordinated efforts with Daniel Tamba (Jungle) on Mr. Yeaten’s instructions to transport arms and ammunition to the RUF. The witness has stated that Jungle was a member of the RUF, a claim which goes contrary to prosecution claims that Jungle was a member of the SSS.

In response to a suggestion from Ms. Hollis that Jungle, Samson, Mr. Yeaten, and others “were members of the SSS carrying out security duties in relation to the rebels in Sierra Leone…at the instance of Charles Taylor,” the witness said, “Jungle was not a member of the SSS. Samson was a member of the SSS and a bodyguard to Benjamin Yeaten…They did this at the instance of Benjamin Yeaten, and Mr. Taylor did not know about this.”

The witness spoke extensively about radio communications that took place between Mr. Yeaten’s radio communications set in Liberia and those of RUF radio stations in Sierra Leone. When Ms. Hollis asked him whether there were no loyal radio operators who could have monitored these communications and made them known to Mr. Taylor, the witness said that such a thing never happened.

“And your story is that Benjamin Yeaten was able to do this without Mr. Taylor or anybody loyal to him knowing about it?” Ms. Hollis questioned the witness.

“I said this happened without Mr. Taylor’s knowledge,” the witness responded.

In concluding his cross-examination, the witness denied suggestions that he has come to the court with an intention to lie and protect Mr. Taylor.

“This is not what I intended to do. This is the truth that I have come to explain to this court. It is not my version, it is reality,” he said.

Earlier in the on Tuesday, the judges issued their oral decision on the defense motion that prosecutors be ordered to disclose statements made to Global Witness by defense witness DCT-097, which defense lawyers say contain exculpatory evidence pointing to Mr. Taylor’s innocence, and that prosecutors also be made to disclose details of payments made to the witness when he was a potential prosecution witness, payments that defense lawyers say amounted to about 30,000 USD.

Delivering the judgment of the Trial Chamber, Presiding Judge, Justice Julia Sebutinde, ordered that the Chamber dismisses Part A of the defense application relating to the statement made by DCT-097 to Global Witness, and grants Part B of the motion regarding the payments that were made to the witness by prosecutors.

The prosecution was ordered to disclose to the defense:

a. All payments/benefits to DCT-097.

b. All documents relating to the payments.

c. Provide explanation for such payments.

On Wednesday, the witness concluded his testimony after being re-examined by defense lawyers  for Mr. Taylor during which the he tried to clarify certain issues that had come up during his cross-examination.

The witness clarified issues relating to the use of various floors of the Executive Mansion in Liberia while Mr. Taylor was president. During his cross-examination, prosecutors suggested to him that Mr. Taylor used the the 8th floor of the Executive Mansion to coordinate operations with RUF rebels in Sierra Leone. The witness denied this, saying that Mr. Taylor never lived on the 8th floor.

Explaining what he knew about the 8th floor, DCT-008 said, “On the 8th floor, that was where the presidents, starting from [William] Tolbert to [Samuel] Doe, they had their residence there but during the war, we were told that the place was ransacked and all the things that were there were looted by ECOMOG.”

“According to the story that I heard for the Mansion, it happened that when they [ECOMOG] were in control of Monrovia, they were in control of the Mansion, and so they used that opportunity to loot the place so nobody could see them,” the witness added.

The witness explained that the 7th floor housed radio communications equipment and the 6th floor was the presidential kitchen. He said he never heard that the SSS used the 5th floor of the Mansion for radio communications.

The witness also tried to clarify issues relating to the use of the word “principal” in radio communications. According to a previous prosecution witness, the language used by radio operators whenever RUF commanders wanted to talk to Liberian officials was “my principal wants to talk to your principal.” DCT-008 has said in his testimony that radio operators used the word “master” rather than “principal” as the latter could have made it easy for people monitoring the communications to know what was going on.

When asked to tell the court why they used “master” rather than “principal,” the witness explained, “The reason was that the term principal, even within the Government of Liberia radio communications system, we referred to the commander of certain radio stations as principal and the term principal in Liberia means head of an institution.”

“So if the term principal is used, anybody who had been listening on the Government of Liberia side will know that there is an operator on the Liberian side and the Sierra Leone side.”

When he was responding to questions from the judges, the witness discussed the arms purchase that SSS Director Mr. Yeaten undertook for the RUF.

Justice Richard Lussick asked the witness that when “Benjamin Yeaten sent people to buy arms and ammunition from the LPC [Liberian Peace Council] and ULIMO [United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia], where did he get the money from?”

In response, the witness said, “I did not say he sent men to buy arms from the LPC or ULIMO. I said those areas were controlled by LPC and ULIMO. To answer your question, I don’t know where he got the money.”

The witness has said that Mr. Yeaten’s radio operators communicated regularly with RUF radio operators and such contacts were not known by other radio operators working for the Liberian government.

Justice Lussick therefore asked the witness whether he used to monitor other calls made by other radio operators.

“As a radio operator, provided I stand on the frequency, I could monitor any calls…any operator could do that, even during the war, LURD [Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy] used to monitor our communications and we used to do the same,” he said.

He agreed with Justice Lussick that he would not know if somebody else was monitoring his communications.

As SSS Director Mr. Yeatenhas taken center stage in this trial as the main person who was in contact with RUF rebels and having worked as a radio operator for Mr. Yeaten, Justice Teresa Doherty asked the witness whether Mr. Yeaten is still alive.

“I don’t know, since he left Liberia in 2003, I have not got any information about him…I do not know whether he is alive and even if he is alive, I do not know where he is now.”

The trial of Mr. Taylor will resume on Monday with a status conference to determine when and how defense lawyers will close Mr. Taylor’s defense.


  1. Palvy
    My suggestion about Benjamin Yeaten absence from this trial might be due to many factors. One being that the Charles Taylor defense team did not liked what he had to say.Recollections are that Charles Taylor was caught in a lie during his testimonies regarding Yeaten. When asked about what was done to punish Yeaten for the killings of Sam Bockarie an indictee by the SCSL & his men in Nimba. He said Yeaten was not responsible and was never punished. But his own witness and right hand man Yankubah Samateh aka Yank Smythe testified under oaths that Yeaten was infact punished by Charles Taylor for the killings of Sam Bockarie. Another of Charles Taylor’s accounts of Bockarie & Yeaten was that Bockarie during his attempted re entry into Liberia from the Ivory coast; had refused to disarmed and a fire fight erupted and Bockarie was killed.Another lied by Charles Taylor as was exposed by his V.P & another of his right hand men,Moses Blah. Mr. Blah testified that he actually saw Sam Bockarie alive! and in a pickup truck with Yeaten and his SSS tugs, headed for a palm farm, and the second time around, he ( Blah ) saw Bockarie dead body at the back of the same truck,when Yeaten invited him for a view of the body.OH! do not forget that Yeaten is also implicated in the killings of Sam Dokie and his family, for which he is currently sued by the surviving families in a Liberian court and an arrest warrant was issued few years ago. It all boils down to Charles Taylor’s lies, which came very cheap due to an opportunity provided by his ill faith/advice defense lead by Griffith.Lies and contradictions in a trial of this magnitude leads to guilt and GUILTY it is.

    1. Ziggy Silas,
      What does the killing of Sam Bockarie have to do with Charles Taylor’s 11 count indictment ? I guess if Issa Sesay had been killed you would be saying Issa would have implicated Mr. Taylor if he was alive. It has been documented that the corrupt prosecutor David Crane tried to have Benjamin Yeaten kidnapped from Togo. When this failed they arm twisted the Liberian government to issue an arrest warrant for Yeatin. Maybe you can tell the court where Yeatin is now.

    2. Ziggy,
      Didn’t some of the prosecutors witnesses tell this court that he was killed while trying to RE-ENTER Liberia?? So where do you factor those testimonies since Mr. Taylor is LACKING creditability on that issue?? Mr. Blah told this court he didn’t know how Mr. Bockarie’s body ended at the funeral home but document was produced that his Chief of Staff, Mr. Len Eugene Nagbe, was the one that took the body there. How did Mr. Nagbe get a hold of the body if Mr. Blah didn’t know??

      But in case you don’t want to factor these into the equation, Mr. Yeatan is WANTED by this court, plus Liberia for the Sam Dokie’s death.

  2. Let me break this down for readers digest:”In DCT-008′s testimony, he has said the radio communications and the diamond and arms trade that took place between Liberia and Sierra Leone were based solely on the friendship that existed between RUF commander Sam Bockarie and SSS Director Benjamin Yeaten.” There is a French proverb; ‘a friend of my friend, is my friend indeed’ and therefore, the criminal enterprises between taylor and RUF took place through this “web” of friendships, that the Prosecution has said, time and again, existed!. What else proof do we really need here? Videos? Audios? Photo copies of friendships taking place? Come on..who in their rightful mind will believe that the “inner notorious sss’ would have a cordial relationship with RUF and unknown to The commander of Chief, taylor? Nonesense! This is all I have to say about that!

    1. Fallah,
      Is that your reason for believeing Mr. Taylor knew?? A = B; B = C so therefore C =A but know also A =B; B does not = C so therefore C does not = A.

      1. Noko4, if A is associative property of B, and B being an associative property of C, then it should follow that A,B,and C are associated! Don’t you think so, NOKO4? Simple logic..you do not need calculus here. Simple logic is all that is needed,dude.

  3. Are the Burkinabe,Ivorian and Libyan outside the jurisdiction of these Anglosaxon prosecutors,because according to the evidence given by the top RUF bandits the most significant support they recieved came from the aforementioned countries using liberia,Ghana and other african countries as a transit with benjamin yeaten miniscule support dressed as Mr Taylor’s by these prosecutors (which we are supposed to be focusing on) compared to all the other actors.

    Is this the european Africa sphere of influence thing in working ,the english punishing their own but will have to take permission from France to query the burkinabe and ivorian.Libya is obviously proven to be a tough nut to crack!!

    1. where are we coming from with this ‘Anglosaxon’ thing, Cee? I suggest that our personal hatreds for the Anglosaxon-decents don’t blind our main objective of how ‘justice’ should get interpreted in our African society. It sounds very silly for one to not only condem, but fails to suggest a replacement of idea that would be better. I hear all this ‘Anglosaxon rhetorics from some on this site, but I have yet to hear from the same bloggers their version of African systems that would be better and applicable to the fundamental improvements of basic human rights, that includes, food, shelter, and safety! Cee, your African system seems to lack all these simple basics, if you don’t mind me calling your attention! Tell me which of these basic rights a majority of your African brothers and sisters enjoyed under the RUF and NPFL? Besides, what would you suggest we replace the school curriculum of Africa with, since you hate anglosaxon version not to mention its court systems! Boy, Cee, you need a lot of personal curriculum vitae to attack others, especially from whom you have benefited greatly from!

      1. Jfallahmenjor,

        I’m quite sure you did not comprehend Cee’s comment very well that’s why you posted such cabbage that’s has no relevance. The manner in which you repond shows how you are confused in your head and therefore should be treated with levity.

        Please boy don’t take me out of context.

        1. Thanks Joe3 but your coment is not understood, and therefore won’t be addressed by me. I know where ‘you coming from.’ you seem angry in your response instead of intellectual debate. Thanks anyway because I am sure you comprehend more than you show in your writings.

  4. Is the trial of former leaders only an african thing?. What did this court do when Botha of Appartheid south Africa do when he was no more in power. What are they saying about Bush and the english people in Middle east. How many people are they presently killing in the DRC. Who are arming soldiers in the DRC. They WEST should stop pretending and claiming that africans are still in the dark. History will remain to tell the stories of the WESTERN WORLD of today and the past. Carles Taylor was armed by the WEST to do what ever they claim today he did against humainity. God is the only one to deliver justice in this world.

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