Prosecutors today continued the cross-examination of a Liberian member of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group, Sam Flomo Kolleh who commenced his evidence last week as Charles Taylor’s final defense witness.
As he was questioned today by prosecution counsel Nicholas Koumjian, Mr. Kolleh told the court that he never knew who the Director of Mr. Taylor’s Special Security Service (SSS) Benjamin Yeaten was. Even though many witness have spoken about Mr. Yeaten, with allegations that he had close ties with RUF rebels, especially RUF commander Sam Bockarie, Mr. Kolleh insisted today that he never knew who the former Liberian rebel commander was. The witness has agreed that he was the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to Mr. Bockarie but denies any knowledge of Mr. Yeaten.
“I did not know Benjamin Yeaten,” Mr. Kolleh said today.
Mr. Koumjian pointed to the witness that he had been told that Mr. Yeaten was responsible for the execution of RUF commanders Mr. Bockarie and Superman in Liberia. While the witness agreed that the said information was given to him by one Pa Moriba, a former RUF member who later joined Mr. Taylor’s Anti Terrorist Unit (ATU), the witness said he did not ask questions about who Mr. Yeaten was.
“You did know who Benjamin Yeaten was…isn’t that true?” Mr. Koumjian asked the witness.
“I did not know Benjamin Yeaten. The time that Pa Moriba spoke to me about Benjamin Yeaten was not war time, it was after election time in Liberia,” Mr. Kolleh responded.
When asked whether he asked Pa Moriba who Mr. Yeaten was, the witness said “i told you i did not ask him.”
Asked again whether he “never heard of Benjamin Yeaten and who he was,” Mr. Kolleh again said “No. sir.”
As Mr. Koumjian attempted to ask the witness about events in Liberia especially after RUF commander Mr. Bockarie had left Sierra Leone and relocated to Liberia with several rebel forces loyal to him, Mr. Kolleh said that he had not followed Mr. Bockarie to Liberia and so cannot say anything about what obtained outside Sierra Leone.
“I told you that if you ask me any question about Liberia, i am far from it. I did not go to Liberia. If you ask me about Sierra Leone, i can tell you but for Liberia, i am far away from it,” he said.
The witness also denied prosecution allegations that in 2003, he had gone to Liberia to inform Mr. Taylor’s men that prosecutors had made contact with him.
“I did not go to Liberia in 2003,” he said.
When put to him that he had taken steps to recruit witnesses to testify for Mr. Taylor, the witness said that that was never the case.
Mr. Koumjian pointed out that the witness was the person who referred a former Liberian member of the RUF who has already testified for Mr. Taylor, John Vincent to defense lawyers. The witness denied this assertion.
“Did you refer John Vincent to the defense,” Mr. Koumjian asked the witness.
“No,” the witness responded.
Mr. Koumjian referenced a portion of Mr. Vincent’s testimony of April 1 2010 in which Mr. Vincent said that he “met Sam Kolleh and he said that he had been in touch with the defense.”
According to Mr. Vincent in his testimony, after discussing details of the case against Mr. Taylor, Mr. Kolleh told him that he needed to speak with the defense.
He [Mr. Kolleh] said that if that is the case, that the defense will need you too,” Mr. Vincent told the court during his evidence in April 2010 as he referenced his discussion with Mr. Kolleh.
When this was put to Mr. Kolleh today in court, he said that “I don’t know what John Vincent said here, what i am saying here is what i know. I did not talk to John Vincent.”
Mr. Kolleh’s cross-examination continues on Tuesday.