Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Last Witness Concludes His Testimony, Defense to Officially Close Their Case On Friday

By Alpha Sesay


Sam Flomo Kolleh, a Liberian national and former member of Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group, concluded his evidence today in The Hague as the last live witness in the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor.

The conclusion of Mr. Kolleh's evidence paves the way for defense lawyers to officially close Mr. Taylor's defense on Friday, November 12, 2010.

Mr. Kolleh's evidence, which commenced last week Monday, focused on rebutting prosecution evidence that Mr. Taylor was responsible for providing support to RUF rebels in Sierra Leone during that country's 11 year civil conflict. Mr. Kolleh also alleged that he had been intimated and bribed by prosecutors for him to tell lies against Mr. Taylor.

Under cross-examination, prosecutors have tried to establish that Mr. Kolleh lied in the statements he made to prosecutors before he became a defense witness and that allegations that he was coerced to tell lies against Mr. Taylor are false. Mr. Kolleh denied the prosecution claims, telling the court that when he met with prosecutors, he gave false information about his name and participation in the war because he was afraid that he would be prosecuted.

As prosecution counsel Nicholas Koumjian concluded the witness's cross-examination today, he emphasized that Mr. Taylor was responsible for the war that took place in Sierra Leone, an assertion that the witness denied.

"The war in Sierra Leone was promoted by the man who set up Camp know who that man was and it was Charles Taylor, don't you?" Mr. Koumjian asked the witness.

"No sir," the witness responded.

In reference to a statement earlier on made by the witness that "the war in Sierra Leone was not made by human beings, it was made by God," Mr. Koumjian put to the witness that "It was a human being - Charles Taylor, that made all that possible," to which the witness responded, "No sir."

Mr. Koumjian also pressed the witness about the statements he made to prosecutors, saying that the witness had lied in order to protect Mr. Taylor. In his statement to prosecutors, the witness said that his name was Sam Mustapha Koroma and that he was not captured by Mr. Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebels in Liberia but rather by RUF rebels in Sierra Leone under the command of a man named Tunkara. In his present testimony, he has said that his real name is "Sam Flomo Kolleh" and that he was captured by NPFL rebels in Liberia and trained at Camp Naama before the invasion of Sierra Leone.

"I told you earlier on that I was scared. That's why I changed my name. I've told you this over three different times," Mr. Kolleh said when put to him that he had lied about his name to Prosecutors.

"You lied in all of your interviews with the prosecution by saying, not the truth that you were captured by the NPFL in Liberia, but that you were captured by Tunkara in Sierra Leone?" Mr. Koumjian asked witness again.

In his response, the witness said, "I told you I lied because of fear."

When put to him that he lied in order to protect Mr. Taylor, the witness said, "No, that was not the reason."

Mr. Koumjian also pointed out that in his first meeting with defense lawyers for Mr. Taylor, the witness did not tell them that he had been threatened and bribed by prosecutors to lie against Mr. Taylor.

"That's something you have made up since May 2010 as the case has become more desperate for the defence," Mr. Koumjian said.

"No." the witness responded.

As he was reexamined by Mr. Taylor's defense counsel, Terry Munyard, the witness denied any relationship with Mr. Taylor as alleged in a report of the non-governmental organization Global Witness.

Mr. Munyard read that in the Global Witness report of 2002 to 2003, it is stated, "A Liberian by the name of Sam Kolleh, a close associate to Charles Taylor has changed his name to Sam Koroma to appear Sierra Leonean."

When asked by Mr. Munyard whether he is a "close associate to Charles Taylor," the witness said, "No sir," adding that he has "never met Mr. Taylor in person before."

The witness reiterated that he only changed his name because of fear and on the question of why he specifically chose that name "Sam Mustapha Koroma," he said, "It was the name of my step-father...a Sierra Leonean."

As the witness made his exit from the court room, both prosecution and defense lawyers filed several documents to be admitted into evidence.

The trial is adjourned until Friday, November 12, for the formal closure of the defense case.

Mr. Kolleh is the 21st witness to have testified for Mr. Taylor, after prosecutors had presented more than 90 witness to testify against the former Liberian president. The testimonies of prosecution witnesses dealt with the crimes that were committed in Sierra Leone by RUF rebels and Mr. Taylor's alleged support to the RUF rebels and his alleged involvement in planning and implementing a campaign of terror in Sierra Leone. This, according to prosecutors forms part of a joint criminal enterprise that was formed by Mr. Taylor and rebel forces in Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor's 21 witnesses have made attempts to rebut the evidence of prosecution witnesses and establish that his involvement in the conflict in Sierra Leone was only for peaceful purposes in that West African country.

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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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