Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Charles Taylor Did Not Know About Benjamin Yeaten's Friendship With RUF Commander Sam Bockarie, Liberian Radio Operator Says

- Alpha Sesay

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor had no knowledge that his Director of Special Security Services had a close friendship with a Sierra Leonean rebel commander in 1998, a Liberian national testifying on behalf of Mr. Taylor told the Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague today.

The witness, who worked as a radio operator in the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group and later in Mr. Taylor's Executive Mansion under the Special Security Services (SSS) division, is testifying with partial protective measures and is only identified by the pseudonym DCT-008.

Today, he told the court about the communications that took place between the radio station installed at the residence of Benjamin Yeaten, who was Director of the SSS, and Revolutionary United Front (RUF) commander Sam Bockarie's radio station installed at the RUF headquarters in Buedu, eastern Sierra Leone. The witness told the court that Mr. Taylor did not know about the contact and friendship that existed between Mr. Yeaten and Mr. Bockarie.

Several prosecution witnesses, including former RUF radio operators, have testified about radio communications between Mr. Bockarie and Mr. Yeaten. These communications were facilitated through Mr. Bockarie's radio operator called Sellay and a radio operator named Sunlight, who operated a radio at Mr. Yeaten's residence in Liberia, prosecution witnesses have said.

They further told the court that Mr. Taylor had knowledge of these contacts, and it was through Mr. Yeaten that Mr. Taylor facilitated most of his communications and assistance to RUF commanders. Today, the witness, a former radio operator in Liberia, said this was not the case.

Explaining the nature of the radio contact that took place between Mr. Yeaten and the RUF, the witness told the court that "while Sunlight was operating the radio at the SSS Director's day, Samson came along with...Daniel Tamba, also called Jungle."

"Samson introduced Daniel Tamba to Sunlight saying the Chief [Yeaten] said I should bring this fellow to you so he can call Sierra Leone. He is a member of the RUF and he is one of [RUF leader Foday] Sankoh's boys...Jungle gave a piece of paper to Sunlight with a call sign for the RUF operator Sellay."

Samson, the witness said, was a former NPFL fighter, who was also one of the officers working under Mr. Yeaten in the SSS.

According to DCT-008, "[Samson] also said he had taken Jungle to the Executive Mansion for Jungle to communicate with the RUF in Sierra Leone."

He said that Samson had been working with another radio operator at the Executive Mansion called William Jimmy, who helped them communicate secretly with the RUF in Sierra Leone.

"Samson said they were hiding it and the [Liberian] government did not know about it, not even the president," the witness said.

When Sunlight discussed this with Mr. Yeaten, the SSS Director gave his consent to the contact with the RUF, telling Sunlight that nobody knew of such relationship that he had with the RUF.

"After the communication, when Benjamin Yeaten came home that evening, Sunlight told Benjamin Yeaten that Samson brought Jungle here so that Sunlight will connect him to Sierra Leone, and then Benjamin Yeaten told Sunlight that I have a friend in Sierra Leone and you should allow him to communicate with Sierra Leone anytime they come here," the witness explained.

"Later, I got to know that [the friend] was Sam Bockarie," he added.

When asked whether "Charles Taylor [was] aware of this," the witness said, "No."

"Charles Taylor did not know because Benjamin Yeaten told Sunlight that what I have told you should be kept to yourself and you must not share it with any other government radio operator...because this relationship between Sam Bockarie and myself, the president does not know about it and you should keep it to yourself," the witness explained.

The witness said Mr. Yeaten added in his discussion with Sunlight that "if this information gets to anyone and the president knows about it, he will deal with me and I'll be finished."

"That's how I came to know that the president did not know about it," he said.

When asked about the nature of the friendship that existed between Mr. Yeaten and Mr. Bockarie, the witness said, "The friendship was so cordial, they were very close.

In response to allegations that RUF commanders, including Mr. Bockarie, made regular trips to Liberia and returned with arms and ammunition to Sierra Leone and that members of Mr. Taylor's security apparatus had close links with RUF commanders, Mr. Taylor has told the court that as president of Liberia, he could not have known all the things that members of his security forces or his government did. These men could have had independent relationships or arms trade with the RUF without his knowledge, Mr. Taylor has stated.

Today, the witness corroborated Mr. Taylor's account when he told the court that Mr. Taylor did not know about the relationship that existed between the RUF members and Liberian security forces, including Mr. Yeaten and Samson.

Today's witness was interposed in place of Issa Hassan Sesay, the former interim leader of the RUF, who has been testifying on behalf of Mr. Taylor for the past several weeks. Mr. Sesay could not be in court today because he had a dentist appointment. If Mr. Sesay is available tomorrow, then prosecutors will continue his cross-examination. If he is absent, DCT-008 will continue his testimony for the defense.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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