Liberian RUF Member Continues Testimony; Cross-Examination Begins

Dear Readers – Ms. Judith Armatta is a lawyer, journalist, and human rights advocate who has previously monitored the trial of Slobodan Milosevic on behalf of the Coalition for International Justice.  She will be reporting on the trial of Charles Taylor this week in place of our regular monitor, Mr. Alpha Sesay.  We hope you find her reports helpful. 

Today, Sam Flomo Kolleh, a.k.a. Sam Mustapha Karome, a Liberian member of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the last witness for the accused Charles Taylor, completed his direct testimony and the prosecution began cross-examination.

The direct examination appeared designed to address potential credibility problems of the witness, who admits falsifying his identity and other matters in three interviews with prosecution investigators and before Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In those venues, he claimed his name was Sam Mustapha Karome, as well as lying about his date and place of birth. When questioned about it, Mr. Kolleh said he did it because he feared being arrested by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

On cross-examination, however, the prosecutor pointed out that, at the time he lied to investigators, the Special Court had arrested only four men. Mr. Kolleh insisted he was neither afraid of nor trying to protect the accused, Mr. Charles Taylor. He was trying to protect himself, though he denies any wrongdoing. The prosecutor read from a press release by Global Witness about a Briefing Document, identified as “Liberia’s Logs of War,” which provides another reason for a name change: “Sam Kolleh, Liberian, close associate of Charles Taylor, now in Sierra Leone and has changed his name to Sam Karome to appear Sierra Leonean.” Mr. Kolleh responded that he had no idea about this document, and his testimony before the TRC was not public.

Additionally, Mr. Kolleh lied to the TRC and prosecution investigators when he said he was captured in Sierra Leone and Sierra Leone’s RUF trained him to fight, not Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) in Liberia, where he was in fact captured, trained, and became a member of the RUF.  The witness has said that the commander called Arthur led him to the RUF for training. Moreover, Arthur, who initially captured Mr. Kolleh, was an officer in the NPFL, not the RUF, as he formerly claimed. This supports the close connection between the NPFL and the RUF, which the prosecution claims operated together under the control or influence of Mr. Taylor.   

Mr. Kolleh also made accusations against the prosecution, claiming they attempted to bribe him if he would implicate Mr. Taylor in the exchange of Liberian arms for Sierra Leonean diamonds and, thereby, supporting the war and its atrocities in Sierra Leone. Answering defense counsel, he asserted that Special Court investigator Chris Bomford sought him out privately with an offer to place 90,000 USD in an account in his name if he would tie Mr. Taylor to the arms for diamonds scheme.

That was the carrot, but the witness claimed the stick was wielded by former Special Court Chief Prosecutor David Crane, who allegedly threatened him with prison if he refused to cooperate. Mr. Kolleh testified that Mr. Crane began an interview by stating, “I want the truth: diamonds to Taylor; arms to the RUF. Are you ready to cooperate?” Mr. Crane allegedly followed this up by handing the witness a card showing a tall policeman holding open a cell door with a message for kids on the reverse side, “If you choose not to listen to your parents, you will have no choice but to listen to me.” Mr. Kolleh took that to mean that if he failed to cooperate he would join his former comrades in jail.

To buttress his claim, Mr. Kolleh said the prosecution investigators questioned him about diamonds a number of times during his first interview. On cross-examination, however, the prosecutor presented the 173 page transcript of the interview. An electronic search revealed that the witness raised the issue of diamonds himself near the end of the interview when the investigators asked if there was anything he would like to add. Also, Mr. Kolleh’s earlier assertion that the interview focused on diamonds and Charles Taylor was contradicted by a search of the transcript which failed to turn up any reference to Mr. Taylor.

Mr. Kolleh also told the court that a former radio operator for the RUF, who testified for the prosecution, stated on the radio that he had no choice but to testify against Charles Taylor. He was in jail, and he had to be free.

On direct examination, the witness testified that heavy weapons and equipment could not have been transported from Sierra Leone to Liberia because the ferry necessary to transport them over a river was not working. And, rather than being supplied by the NPFL, weapons came from the ULIMO, a group opposed to Taylor’s NPFL, and by seizing arms from the enemy.

Mr. Kolleh seemed confused about his importance in the events at issue. While claiming to be a senior officer in the RUF with responsibility for transporting diamonds and overseeing part of the extraction operation, he said the diamond trade was top secret and only top commanders knew about it of which he was not one. Still, he shared their knowledge and was trusted to transport diamonds.

When questioned about the RUF’s recruitment, training, and use of child soldiers, Mr. Kolleh admitted that they had a Small Boys Unit (SBU), but said he could not discern their ages from appearances and had never asked.

Tomorrow, the prosecution will continue and likely conclude its cross-examination of Mr. Kolleh, to be followed by defense counsel’s redirect, if any.



    “Taylor’s lust for diamonds is the link prosecutors have tried to establish. So far, however, they have not managed to offer convincing proof of this crime story in public court hearings. The most important witness, former RUF commandant Foday Sankoh, one of Taylor’s comrades from the wild days, died of a stroke years ago.”

    “His successor in the RUF, Issa Sesay, testified as a witness for the defense in The Hague. Despite days of cross-examination Sesay, who has already been sentenced to a 52-year prison term and therefore has nothing to lose, continued to insist that Taylor had had nothing to do with the arms shipments to the RUF.”

  2. “Many problems stem from the fact that the prosecution relied on the UN’s political verdict. A 2000 UN report had drawn the investigators’ attention to the Liberian president in the first place. According to the document from New York, there was “unequivocal and overwhelming evidence that Liberia has been actively supporting the RUF at all levels.””

    “But there was actually no evidence. For example, the UN report cited, as evidence of Taylor’s alleged personal involvement in the arms trade, the fact that weapons that were — presumably — bound for Sierra Leone had been flown to Liberia on a plane belonging to one of Taylor’s business associates. This is certainly suspicious, but it isn’t evidence.’,1518,726896,00.html#ref=rss

    1. This speigel article is the biggest load of fiction that has ever been published on the taylor trial. I mean in complete fairness, one is entitled to his own opinions but not his own facts. Some of you may have problems that Taylor is on trial and the politics related to that. But in terms of evidence, so far this case is overwhelming when measured up against any similar cases at the other tribunals. This article simply misrepresents so much it is impossible to write everything. But in short, there are 3,4,5 witnesses from various vantage points always corroborating many of the same things…whether it is weapons shipments, communciations or most of all….Taylor’s relationship to Sam Bockarie and Bockarie’s connection to the crimes in the Indictment. I am actually curious as to whether the “journalists” who wrote this were paid? I would hope even Taylor supporters would recognize that this is not journalism and doesnt serve their interests to simply misrepresent so many facts about the trial. How many witnesses corroborated that trip that Bockarie took to Burkina Faso that was organized by Taylor to get those weapons that resulted in Freetown’s destruction?! It wasnt just a UN report. Dammit these authors should be ashamed of themselves….

      1. Bundu,
        If we haven’t learned anything from the trial we have learned that the RUF did not invade Freetown. You are the one who is trying to be entitled to your own facts.

        1. Um wrong….Gullit was taking orders from Bockarie,,,,it was a country wide offensive by the AFRC/RUF and once Saj Musa was knocked off it was Bockarie’s ball game…6 or more witnesses corroborate the order from Bockarie to Gullit to “burn the whole f____ing place” upon withdrawel…..sorry it is you that is insistent on grasping at the defence’s oversimplified and untrue narrative as to what really happened.

      2. Bundu,


        1. The only ones fooled are those that would actually swallow that taylor was a “peace maker” in the Sierra leone conflict…that is the height of gullibility. As I said before, too bad the Nobel committee overlooked his “peaceful” initiatives like sending Sam Bockarie back to Sierra leone with a load of weapons in late 1998 and almost retaking the entire country…..

      3. Dear Bundu,

        What you apparently have failed to grasp from the pleadings of the defense; the prosecution rehearsed its witnesses. I would think that it would be impossible for Issa Sesay to corroborate Mr. Taylor’s testimony while setting in jail. Issa Sesay testified that members of the RUF were coming forth as witnesses because the prosecution was paying them.

        Even if Mr. Taylor is guilty; in a fair and impartial court; bribery cannot stand!

        Take care,


  3. My people, this case is clearly a “UN’s political verdict.” TOTAL TOTAL NONSENSE due to the master mentality of those who hold a false view that they are superior human beings. A conviction of Taylor based on false evidences wil not assist international justice .

    1. 11-4-2010
      @ Shelby
      This is the first witness to testify about threats, intimidation and coercion by the prosecution side. Also, the witness testified about being told he could give tesimony without revealing his identity.

      1. He also testified about giving false information to the prosecution. This the defence contends gives an indication about the motives of prosecution witnesses and hence the credibility of their evidence.

    2. Shelby Grossman,
      What makes him special is him corrobarting other written testimony about the corrupt nature of the prosecution. Bribing and intimidation by the prosecutiors and their investigators.

    3. Ms. Grossman,

      Correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to recall that you are a graduate scholar at Harvard. Judging from your prior post, I strongly weighed you analysis and synthesis. Now for you not to be able to evaluate the importance of this witness to this trial makes me curious.

      However, to comment on your concern, the defense has more or less completed its array of witnesses. What Griffiths and team are doing now is to expose the prosecution’s misdeal in the administration of justice and handling of trial. The message that the Griffiths team is sending here is that the prosecution was involved in quid pro quo practices. You scratch my back and I scratch yours. In other words you give me information and I give you money and protection.

      In my view this is unacceptable in legal practice. If it happened in one instance we can extrapolate to other instances.

      I hope this helped.

  4. First thing first; Welcome abode Ms. Armatta. My take is that defense witness Sam Flomo Kolleh, a.k.a Sam Mustapha Koroma, was caught in multiples of lies/ contradictions today. This was another ill advice attempt by Griffith to put the prosecution on trial, but has instead backfire; And doesn’t look good for Charles Taylor.Enought is enought QUILTY it is….

  5. Ms. Judith Armatta,
    This Witness was a potential prosecution witness and was a contact in this case, Prosecution vs. Charles G. Taylor. The prosecution team interviewed the witness more then once we can only assume it was or would be about Mr. Taylor. The prosecution produced a 175-page transcript of the interview, which failed to turn up any reference to Mr. Taylor. Can you give us any hint to why the prosecution team did not ask this witness/contact one single thing about Mr. Taylor during these interviews? Since he was contacted by the prosecution office about Mr. Taylor case.

    The transcript of the interview did stated Mr. Kolleh said “you ask me about diamonds in the first interview but no more,” this is my interpretation. The prosecution had full knowledge that Mr. Kolleh was a senior officer in the RUF with responsibility for transporting diamonds. Can you give us any hint to why the prosecution did not ask one thing about his role in transporting diamonds for the RUF during these interviews? Since the electronic search revealed that the witness raised the issue of diamonds himself near the end of the interview. What was the purpose of the prosecution contacting this person for this trial?

    It makes Mr. Kolleh, even through he lied about his name, birthplace, who capture him and other issues of little important at this stage in the trial. Make him creditable on his accusations against the prosecution, to bribe him if he would implicate Mr. Taylor in the exchange of arms for diamonds. It also supports the Defense Motion Requesting an Investigation into Contempt of Court by the Office of the Prosecution and its Investigators. The prosecution buttress of Mr. Kolleh accusations against them is very unbelievable.

    1. 11-4-2010
      @ Ken
      Your questions are interesting.
      I don’t have a problem about Kolleh changing his name as the situation dictated. I would bet the farm that the secret witnesses have changed their names as the situation dictated. Moreover, who would testify before any TRC now that they know it can be used to impeach them in a formal court.
      Lastly, I feel the last witness brings home the inherent problem with all of the witnesses on both sides. How can any one determine guilt when almost all the witnesses had a motive to lie.
      However, I beleive Kolleh because it takes a lot of guts to accuse members on the prosecution side with witness intimidation in open court. Besides, what does Kolleh gain from his testimony? The fact that an immediate investigation has not begun makes a mockery of the ICC and the “Rule of Law” (oops ….the “SL court “)


      1. Dear cen,

        This court would not be possible without the UN (ICC); it was the UN who orchestrated the indictments in 2000.

        Take care,


  6. In my opinion, the defense team has sealed the prosecution team tomb. The prosecution sealed their own tomb with their last nail, when they produce a 175 page transcript of the interview of a once would be potential prosecution witness or contact in this trial without asking one single question about Mr. Taylor. I see there is something wrong with that picture, can anyone else see it.

    1. 11-4-2010
      @ Ken
      I suspect that the transcript is not complete or has been redacted to exclude questions about CT.

  7. Wow, listen to this;” Mr. Kolleh lied to the TRC and prosecution investigators when he said he was captured in Sierra Leone and Sierra Leone’s RUF trained him to fight, not Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) in Liberia, where he was in fact captured, trained, and became a member of the RUF.” This is what I am talking about, NOKO5, Joe3, Jose Rodriguez, and others, when I stated that this seems a pattern of all taylor’s witnesses from the beginning to the end! Lairs, manipulators, greed, and masters of deception, it appears! How can this man be beliavable in the first place, when he has several names, different accounts about his role play, both in the NPFL and RUF, and then claiming he did not lie, or he lied only to protect himself? well, I said this is the final straw that will break the camel’s back!

    1. 11-4-2010
      @ Falllah
      I would beleive Kolleh who changed his name and story as the situation dictated OVER any one who did not testify in open court or who hid their identity.
      In fact, Kolleh had the guts to say in open court that he was offered financial incentives to give false testimony.

  8. Ms. Judith Armatta,
    Mr. Kolleh was not confused about his importance in the events at issue. The prosecution was the one that was confused. Mr. Kolleh said he was a senior officer in the RUF with the responsibility of transporting diamonds for the RUF. He never said he was a top commander in the RUF. Brockia, Sasay and other were the top commanders, which Mr. Kolleh was assign with, too transport the RUF diamonds, he stated. Mr. Kolleh had knowledge to some part of the diamond trade, and yes, he was trusted to transport diamonds, that was his job, to transport the diamond from one point to other point. Mr. Kolleh, did not share all the knowledge of the diamonds trade. Mr. Kolleh said he would get the diamonds from a commander or who ever he named, transport them to a point and give them to someone else, who ever he named, who took control of the diamonds. The diamonds after that, Mr. Kolleh said he did not know where they actual went too. Mr. Kolleh said that was information for the top commander, which he was not.

    Mr. Kolleh claim the prosecution was going to give him 90,000USD if he said he handed Mr. Taylor those diamond he was transporting for the RUF. Which sound truer then the prosecution contacting and interviewing him about Mr. Taylor’s case and not mentioning Mr. Taylor or diamonds during the interview? According to the prosecutor 173 page transcript of the interview.

      1. Cen yes… but those of us who love justice take our time to watch the trial live or to read the transcript to get a true picture of what transpired in court rather than the opinion of our new summary writer. I think she should just summarise what happened rather than drawing inferences for us.

  9. Ms. Judith Armatta,
    I disagree that the direct examination appeared designed to address potential credibility problems of the witness. Direct examination appears to me to be designe to address the Defense Motion Requesting an Investigation into Contempt of Court by the Office of the Prosecution and its Investigators. Mr. Kolleh lying about the use of his real name, birthplace, who capture him, is of little importance at this stage in the trial. What are important are the reasons the prosecution contacted this person in connection with Mr. Taylor trial and interviewed him without asking one single question about Mr. Taylor or the diamond trade he was involved in. According to the prosecutor 173 page transcript of the interview.

    Global Witness is not a creditable source for information especially that it has come out they lost or destroyed important statements taken from DCT-032, who was also once a potential prosecution witness who claim he was bribe by the prosecution to implicate Mr. Taylor to the RUF/ARFC.

    1. Ken, it would be more appropriate for us to be careful about attacks on moderators and reporters, in general, just because we disagree with their reporting of events as the heard them in the court of Justice. I am sure Ken, you understand that Ms Armatta is not just a free-lance journalist, picked to report on this high profile case, but a Journalist who is familiar and has experience in reporting on these kinds of trials. I am sorry the taylor camp is definitely going to have issues as i can see by you and other just on this first report by Armatta. Also, Ken, you need to learn from past that winnings and all these attacks will change nothing nor intimidate the moderators nor journalists! Neither is it going to change the decision of the High Court Of Sierra Leone!

      1. jfallahmenjor,
        Disagreeing with someone does not mean you are attacking. Ms. Judith Armatta being a lawyer, journalist, and human rights advocate, I hope will have no issues with a few questions about her summary or opinions she wrote.

  10. This witness is not credible, and is inflicting serious damage on the defence .
    As Always Wadi’The Zima’

  11. This is not a summary but an opinion. I think it is best to leave the readers to form their own opinion rather than expressing an opinion in the form of a SUMMARY!

  12. Point of correction Ms Judith, The Arthur referred to by Mr Kolleh was not described as an officer but as an NPFL soldier. Do report as it is stated in the court. Thanks.

      1. Dear cen,

        I placed a post at; On November 4, 2010 at 3:52 pm criticizing the summary and it has not been published as of yet.

        I have posted a comment to Alpha Sesay and Taegin Stevenson and there has been no response. Taegin Stevenson claims that she has not seen the post; however, I am notified that ”Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

        I even responded to jfallahmenjor concerning his post on October 29, 2010 at 7:42 pm; there are not posted

        I am not sure of these American female lawyers.


        1. Dear Taegin Stevenson,

          Please accept my apposite apology concerning what I believed was your refusal to publish my post in the October 22, 2010, daily summary addressed to Alpha Sesay on October 22, 2010 at 8:49 pm. He has yet to responded; however, my apology is essential.

          Nevertheless, you have not responded to my post of October 15, 2010, with reference to who you are?

          Thank you,


          1. Dear Sekou,

            Thank you for your comment. I have not responded to you post of October 15, 2010 because it is important to keep the discussion focused on the issues relating to the trial rather than the moderators and monitors. You can find a brief description of my background on the “Who We Are” page –



        1. 11-5-2010
          Greetings Sekou

          You should be able to link into the DRC case on the ICC link below.

          I am not surprised that your posts have not been published. I started to date my posts and copy to my desk top because of the lost post problem.
          LOL at your reference to American lawyers…after all american lawyers can be slippery folks. However, it was my understanding that some of the moderators were distinguished graduates from SL.

          Sekou your posts are brilliant, concise and diplomatic. For that reason some people can’t handle what you have to say because it does not fit into there scheme(s).
          May I suggest that you re post at the end of the new summary?

          Good luck my friend

  13. I am yet to know what this coss examination is trying to get at. This is like an endless fishing trip. Saying that I am more aware of the war than before.

  14. Ms. Judith,
    Welcome madame, but do you mind if I ask? What was your reporting ratings, during the Milosevec trial? Just would you rate yourself…..

  15. Ken
    You make a crucial observation of what the transcript read that Mr. Kolleh said “you ask me about diamonds in the first interview but no more.” This goes to the heart of Mr. Kolleh evidence that the prosecution failed to record all of his statements during his interview; and it also demonstrates that the Kolleh is credible in his assertion that the prosecution initially pressured him to lied about his involvement with giving Mr. Taylor diamonds.

    That once the prosecution could not compelled Mr. Kolleh to lie about diamonds involving Mr. Taylor, they terminated their line of questioning Mr. Kolleh and subsequently dropped Mr. Kolleh from their witness list.

    The defense calling Kolleh on the stand is simply to further dent the prosecution case and put the prosecution of public record that their case is based on lies and deception.

    1. 11-4-2010
      I agree that the prosecution has not made a full and complete disclosure of the questioning of this witness. In fact, it seems beyond the pale that the prosecution would not have asked any questions of Mr. Kolleh about CT.
      @ Armatta
      I expected more from you considering the preamble about your credentials. Remember, you are a lawyer first and your reputation is all you have. Good luck in completing this assignment.


      1. cen,
        I totally agree that the prosecution has not made a full disclosure of the interview of this witness. Mr. Kolleh was the prosecution-protected witness TF 1273. It is a mind twister why in his interview with the OTP they did not ask or let Mr. Kolleh talk about Mr. Taylor or Diamonds.

    2. King Gray,
      I totally agree it does goes to the heart of Mr. Kolleh evidence that the prosecution failed to record all of his statements during his interview. Mr. Kolleh said he told them about Mr. Taylor, but because it was not what they wanted, they did not write it down. The 173 pages interview transcript is strong proof that it happen the way Mr. Kolleh told the court. Because Mr. Kolleh was the prosecution-protected witness, TF 1273 no matter what name he used during the interview. If the judges rule in favor of the defense on their motion, I think that all the prosecution witness will come under investigation, especially those who mention Mr. Kolleh in their testimony.

  16. 11-4-2010
    @bnker et al
    Here is a short link about taxing the Chinese. The article also touches on how the undervaluing of their(Chinese) currency can be detrimental to other countries. For those who don’t see the writing on the wall about China’s role in Liberia and the region of SL, this may help.

    ps, the link is posted on the web site of White & Case, an interational law firm that provides research assistance to this blog.

    1. Dear cen,

      It is interesting to see the dept some of the people on this site has.

      The real question is; where is the Chinese placing their money?

      The difference between the Americans and the Russians was; the Russians would build you a compound; whereas the Americans would place money in your individual bank account.

      As Hugh Ramopolo Masekela would have it; where does the gold go? I don’t want to talk about the diamond! You can rest for sure that the people in Liberia and Sierra Leone who are receiving the money has no concern for the common herd.

      The Chinese’s are also relocating its people to undeveloped countries. There have been complaints in Tanzania concerning Chinese merchants who are selling Chinese made goods for less than what the Tanzanians can sell their product for. The Tanzanians and Chinese’s relationship go back further than the 70’s when the Chinese where training the ANC and Namibians; I knew a Namibian woman fighter they trained. There was as you remember the killing of a Black South African by two Chinese’s in Liberia; what the legal outcome was I am not sure.

      Take care,


    1. Cen,
      Should african be weary of China based on assessment supplied by the west..and the fox news co-operation?

      I think a low chinese currency and a lower western currecies will be good for africa.I will say devaluation devaluation all round, except for african countries and other poor countries whose currencies have suffered in the hands of the corrupt and unfair western rating agencies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. 11=8=2010

        No, any developing country should be cautious about doing any business with any over populated country or developed country. Cee, the truth is painful especially when people can’t see beyond the glittery gifts China “gave” Liberia. Remember, nothing in this world is free.
        Moreover, base your caution on common sense rooted in a strong educational base. If you feel it serves you better, then ignore the steps the West have taken to defend against China UNDER valuing their currency.

  17. 11-5-2010
    @ et al
    I will give Ms Armatta credit for one thing…it seems the posts are being published faster since she took over. However, I remain concerned about the lost posts of Sekou.

  18. Cen,
    I lean with you on the matter of Sekous’ lost post . This is untolerable and we need that post to read…I mean now..please

Comments are closed.