Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Prosecutors Conclude the Cross-Examination of DCT-008

Alpha Sesay
Source: allAfrica.com

Prosecutors today concluded the cross-examination of Charles Taylor's 20th defense witness, a Liberian national who served as a radio operator in the Special Security Services (SSS) of Mr. Taylor's government in Liberia.

The witness, DCT-008, in his cross-examination 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 Revolutionary United Front (RUF) commander Sam Bockarie and SSS Director Benjamin Yeaten.


Prosecutors allege that when the disarmament process started in Liberia in the mid 1990s, Mr. Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (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 today, 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 Chief Prosecutor Brenda 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 right through 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.

As his cross-examination was concluded, 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 morning, 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.

As prosecutors concluded the cross-examination of DCT-008, defense lawyers commenced the re-examination of the witness few minutes before court adjourned for the day. The re-examination of the witness continues on Tuesday.

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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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