Charles Taylor’s Final Witness, A Liberian Member of the RUF, Begins His Testimony

Today, a Liberian member of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group commenced his testimony as the final defense witness for former Liberian president Charles Taylor.

The witness, Sam Flomo Kolleh, in his testimony spoke about several issues including his background, how he was abducted by rebel forces in Liberia during that country’s civil conflict, his participation in the war in Sierra Leone, and the actions of the RUF in securing ammunition from the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy(ULIMO) rebel group, a former rival armed faction to Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group. The witness also refuted the evidence of prosecution witnesses about Mr. Taylor’s alleged association with RUF rebels in Sierra Leone.

Speaking about his background, Mr. Kolleh said that he was a university student in Liberia when Mr. Taylor’s NPFL rebel group invaded the country in 1989. On a day when he went out to look for food, he said he was “intercepted by NPFL rebels”  and after spending about two months with the group’s commander called Arthur, he was later taken to Camp Naama where he underwent military training with the RUF. The training, he said was conducted at a portion of Camp Naama called “Crab Hole.”  Many other witnesses have testified about being trained by the RUF at “Crab Hole.”

After the training, the witness said he invaded Sierra Leone in 1991 together with other RUF fighters.

Speaking of their movement into Sierra Leone, Mr. Kolleh said, “It was one morning that they brought a truck and I was on board the second truck.”

“The second truck went straight to Bomi Hills and then to Bo Waterside. On the 3rd of April [1991], we entered into Sierra Leone,” he said.

When asked what prompted the RUF fighters to leave Camp Naama for Sierra Leone at the time they did, the witness explained that the RUF’s leader, Foday Sankoh, was subjected to arrest by NPFL Special Forces because he was training men to fight in Sierra Leone without their knowledge.

“We were on the base [Camp Naama] at one time one Anthony, one Special Forces Anthony Menkunagbe, arrested Foday Sankoh…that they heard that he’s training people to go to Sierra Leone …and Sankoh tried to deny, he was put under house arrest for nearly three to four, five hours and I don’t know, we were all asked to fall out, to leave the area,” Mr. Kolleh said.

He added, “After that, we were hurriedly ordered to leave by Sankoh.”

Mr. Kolleh explained that when the RUF invaded Sierra Leone in 1991, the group comprised of both Sierra Leoneans and Liberians, but after some disagreement between the rebels from both Sierra Leone and Liberia, those from Liberia were forcefully driven out of the country and returned to Liberia.

When asked why he had been allowed to stay with the RUF in Sierra Leone even though he was a Liberian, the witness said, “I am a Liberian but I was trained directly by Foday Sankoh.”

“These people were not trained by Sankoh, and so we did not allow them to stay in our midst,” he added.

He said that other Liberians who were allowed to stay with the RUF in Sierra Leone included Rocky CO, Monica Pearson, Fatu Gbemo, Napan Weawea, Base Marine, Isaac Mongo, Pa Moriba, and Jungle.

Prosecutors have made several allegations including that Mr. Taylor helped to train RUF rebels at Camp Naama in Liberia before they invaded Sierra Leone in 1991 and that while in Sierra Leone, the rebels received substantial support such as supply of arms and ammunition from Mr. Taylor.

Mr. Taylor has denied these allegations.

On the issue of arms and ammunition, Mr. Kolleh testified that sometime in 1996, the RUF, through one of its main commanders, Sam Bockarie, travelled to Liberia and bought ammunition from ULIMO rebels who had been fighting against Mr. Taylor in Liberia.

The ammunition that was brought from ULIMO was transported by some RUF bodyguards from Liberia to Sierra Leone. This, he said, happened in his presence. The witness also identified a copy of a group photograph taken with Mr. Bockarie and the bodyguards who went to collect the ammunition from ULIMO.

After this initial purchase, the witness said that “some ULIMO fighters were bringing ammunition individually…this was just individuals bringing ammunition and given compensation for it.”

He said that “some even crossed from ULIMO and joined the RUF.” Those ULIMO fighters who joined the RUF included Abu Keita, who later became a commander in the RUF and testified against Mr. Taylor in The Hague in 2008, telling the court that it was Mr. Taylor who sent him to join the RUF.

The witness also refuted allegations by the prosecution that it was the RUF that invaded Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown in January 1999.

Mr. Kolleh said that the invasion of Freetown was solely undertaken by members of the Sierra Leone Army (SLA), who had been forced out of power by West African peacekeepers after they had overthrown the democratic government of Sierra Leone in 1997.

The witness explained that the RUF had its independent plan to invade Freetown, and RUF commander Mr. Bockarie had given instructions to other RUF commanders Rambo, Issa Sesay, and Morris Kallon to attack Freetown. The RUF forces, he said, could not enter Freetown.

“No RUF forces entered Freetown in January 1999,” the witness said.

Prosecutors claim that the arms and ammunition used by the RUF to attack Freetown were provided by Mr. Taylor as part of a grand plan to take control of the country’s mining towns and the capital. Mr. Taylor has denied these allegations.

When put to him that RUF commander Mr. Bockarie was on BBC telling the world that his men had entered Freetown in January 1999, Mr. Kolleh said that “he [Bockarie] was just a flamboyant person…his forces were not in Freetown.”

Mr. Kolleh’s evidence continues on Wednesday.


  1. Thank God sam kolleh happens to be the last witness to seal taylor’s fate! I cannot understand Sam’s reinforced lies about taylor not knowing about this particular training, right to his nose, in Naama. It is like saying ‘the Ivorian government’ did not know that taylor launched his rebellion from the Ivory Coast in 1989 against Samuel Doe’s government! I just hope he gets his lies to a point where it becomes not only annoying to the Judges, but obvious enough to seal taylor’s final fate! Seriously, this is rediculous and very silly this guy was brought here in the first place. I had expected this guy to come out with something new that would have doubts in the minds of the Judges about taylor not being part of any crimes in sierra Leone. Not this garbage about How RUF got amunitions and how Sankoh got arrested for few hours and thus having sam, the Liberian mercinary, being driven to Bomi Hills, via invasion of Sierra, but taylor not knowing anything about all this rubbish going on in his backyard! Nonsense, is all I can say about Defense final fiaco!

      1. Fallah,
        We’ve all made these simple errors and I believe everyone here understands maturely. Please stop being distractive..lets move on. Now, what do you say Taylor did more then what you did, during your april 14, 1979 invation that give rise to the 1980 coupe, 1985 invasion, 1990 war, up to last attacks by your colleagues from MODEL and LURD… SPEAK BOSSMAN..

        1. NOKO5, The April 14th Rice Demonstration that left 45 dead by use of excessive force by the Liberian Police, has been delt with. Those responsible paid the price in April 1980. Perhaps you were very young to know this but we are now dealing with another criminal acts against the same people. This time we are certain because we have those responsible in custody! That is the different this time around! I am sure fallah would not be a free man if he had been involved. I hope hatred for fallah does not consume you in your youthful days. For fallah, he has lived a ripe age and cares less if he departs today! That is why I fear no man on earth like many of you fear taylor!

    1. jfallahmenjor,

      You stated in your comment above that ‘I had expected this guy to come out with something new that would have doubts in the minds of the Judges about taylor not being part of any crimes in sierra Leone.’ its not up to the defense to place doubts in the minds of the judges…The prosecution has the burden of proving Taylor’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Whether you think Taylor is guilty of all the things alleged in the indictment or not, the prosecution has done a poor job… The have paraded and exploided several hundred witnesses that have been raped and had limbs cut off, but they have not done enough to establish a connection between the RUF and Charles Taylor.

      Even if we took the defense evidence out of the picture all together and just considered what the Prosecution has put up as evidence. Their case falls flat…This is my point of view objectively as a trained lawyer.

      As far as my thoughts on guilt or innocence, I believe CT is guilty of committing attrocities against Liberians for sure and he probably has some involvement with the attrocities that took place in SL. But, with the evidence that has been presented he should not be convicted…Thats a real shame especially for all the victims.

      I do think the west has probably grossly exagerrated his involvement, because thats what the west does…We hang people out to dry when it serves our own interest. The US and UK could not control Taylor the way they wanted to so here we are are the Hague. Im curious to see if the judges have enough courage to at least declare some sort of a mistrial for lack of evidence. Even if they don’t let him go free. They should send the prosecution back to square one…

      1. 11-3-2010

        Just curious, what are you basing your personal feelings on regarding CT commiting atrocities in Liberia? The media, personal observation, personal experience, etc.?

        Also, were you trained in the US?
        What would be the basis for a mistrial, in your opinion? Why not an acquital?

        1. Cen,

          This trial is based on the atrocities in SL only…At least that has been my understanding. When I mentioned Liberia in my comments above I was stating my personal opinion of CT’s involvement. I do not have any personal involvement in SL or Liberia per se. But, I have assisted people fom SL and Liberia who have sought Asylum in the US and hearing their stories piqued my interest in the conflicts in both countries and I have been following the events taking place in SL and Liberia for several years.

          Based on these experiences I have formed my own legal opnion from watching this trial which is objective….Its easy to see the prosecution has not done well…I have also formed my own personal opinions about CT and his involvement in the atrocities committed in SL and Liberia.

          I don’t think he will be acquitted because of politics, plain and simple. It would cause a lot of instability in the West African Region if he is acquitted and allowed to walk free. But, a conviction would be disingenuous. Yes, I was trained in the US.

  2. The re-entries of names like Anthony Menkunagbe, who along with Dupor Markazon, were members of Charles Taylor’s special forces and under his orders, had spearheaded the initial & successful RUF entry into Sierra Leone. Testimonies on both sides by Moses Blah & Yank Smythe, supported prosecution claim of Charles Taylor’s influence on this subject. This is another desperate attempt by Griffith to prolong what is already on records. enought is enought. this subject is noting new in this case. This man has over implicated himself, and no darmage control will save Charles Taylor form QUILTY.

    1. The re-entry of the name Anthony Menkunagbe, who was the NPFL commander of that area, who knew of Sankoh training of Sierra Leonean, arrested Sankoh and who was executed by the NPFL for trying to overthrow the NPFL leadership with some Sierra Leonean. Bring up question about what Menkunagbe involvement was with Sankoh and the invasion of Sierra Leone.

      1. Ken, don’t you also, forget that Anthony Menkunnagbe, may have been executed for tempering with Sankoh, in the first place! Anthony realized too late, perhaps, that Sankoh had obtained a ‘green light’ from higher ups to proceed with whatever he was doing in the part of Liberia, called Naama! That is what we observers clearly believe happened! Ken, you will argue just like other support members of taylor from now to judgement day that all the evidence agaist taylor is here-says, or fabrications by the West and UK, the facts remain intacked!

    2. Ziggy Salis,

      President Taylor himself has said what this witness is reinforcing of the defunct NPFL involvement with the RUF in 1991. What is in this thing you just don’t understand? How clearer can this thing be? Yes, Taylor and his NPFL were involved with the RUF from 1991-1992. President Taylor said it. The question is, why your intellectually superior and nuanced lawyers in persons of David Crane, Stephen Rapp, and the entire prosecution team miserably failed to indict him from the inception of the Sierra Leanean conflict as oppose to November of 1996? Please answer this question. If you don’t know, say I don’t know. Depending on what you say, I may or may not help you in answering this simple question.

  3. 11-3-2010
    Mr. Kolleh testimony was very interesting and appeared to be credible. The content of his testimony begs the issue about allowing secret witness to give secret testimony. I am sorry, I don’t buy the need for any one to testify in secret or for any testimony to be withheld from the public.

  4. 11-3-2010
    The prosecution’s motion for Mr. Kolleh’s statements to the defense is a distraction and a fishing expedition.

  5. 11-3-2010

    I am following the DRC trials. To my disappointment, they are replete with secret witness testimony etc. You know my feelings on this subject. 🙁
    peace and blessings my friend.

  6. What an interesting read from a European newspaper. This is not what some would term pro-Taylor cheering squad:,1518,726896,00.html#ref=rss

    “Stephen Rapp, the chief prosecutor in the Taylor trial until a year ago and now an advisor in the United States State Department, must already regret the bold statement he made after the defense had submitted its evidence: “It has been demonstrated that it is possible to prosecute a former chief of state in a trial that is fair and efficient, even where the indictment covers wide-ranging crimes.””

    “Rapp’s self-praise was “overstated and entirely premature,” experts at the University of California, Berkeley, who have monitored and analyzed the trial for years, said recently. In a study, the international law experts accuse the judges and prosecutors in the case of making serious mistakes. They characterize the often insensitive treatment of victims who were willing to testify as “surprising and disappointing” and the prosecutors’ financial payments to key witnesses as irritating.”

    “According to the Berkeley study, the “excessive delay” of the apparently overwhelmed court in reaching important interim decisions can be attributed to the “apparent violation of the defendant’s fair trial rights.” The defendant as a victim of an overly zealous judiciary? The gray-haired man, wearing cufflinks in the shape of the African continent, can lean back and relax.”

    1. King Gray,

      I’ve just read the website that you provided. The entire piece was spectacular. However, if I don’t remember anything from what I read, I will always remember the part that says”nothing seems to stick to this defendant.” Folks, according to Spiegel Online International, a European base group says, “nothing seems to stick on the defendant.” There you have it folks. I will strongly recommend this must read website that King Gray has successfully posted for consumption by the general public. Good job King Gray.

  7. King Gray,
    Thanks for this link. All people on this site should read this article. Fallah, Ziggy, Al, Ms TEage what more needs to be said. If Taylor is found guilty we know it is not because of justice.

  8. Alpha,
    Do you know when this witness testimony transcript will be posted? Did this witness testify to his encounter with David Crane?

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