Trial Day 6: Aspects of NPFL Command and Control
Witness 16: Mark Huband
The government’s first witness for the day, Mark Huband, told the jury that he currently runs a strategic intelligence company in the United Kingdom, serving other multinational companies. He testified that he has a degree in history and a post-graduate degree in journalism, and characterized his company as a global “network of individuals who research details of concern” to their clients.
Huband testified that in September 1989, he moved from London to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, because he wanted to be a foreign correspondent. For the two years prior, he said, he worked in London for a local London paper and a regional paper based in Wales. Huband explained that he moved to Abidjan as a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times (“FT”), covering Francophone West Africa, although his remit also included some English-speaking areas. He characterized his position as one with “geographical leeway, led by the stories the FT was interested in,” such as financial or business stories.
Huband told the jury that at that time, he was based in Ivory Coast because Ivory Coast was the biggest cocoa producer in the world, as well as a major coffee producer, facts which were of interest to the FT’s business focus. The witness explained that he became interested in the regional, cultural, political, and social life of West Africa, but that the focus of the FT was narrower.
The witness testified that in early January of 1990, while working for the FT, he took the opportunity to go to Liberia. He had recently been in the United Kingdom, and while there learned of the incursion into Northern Liberia; he described his interest in pursuing the story. Huband testified that a few days after his return to Abidjan from London, he flew to Monrovia to learn more about what the incursion led to, and what lay behind it.
The day after arriving in Monrovia, Huband said, he approached the Ministry of Information for a press pass; he then proceeded to Sanniquellie in Nimba County by taxi with another correspondent. Huband told the jury that the journey revealed to him something about the character of the country, the government, and the presence of Armed Forces of Liberia (“AFL”) checkpoints on the road north. He confirmed that these AFL checkpoints were not manned by child soldiers, but noted that at many of the checkpoints, money changed hands to ensure passage. According to Huband, the taxi driver viewed facilitating the exchange and travel through the checkpoints as part of his role. Huband recalled that at one point, an AFL soldier wanted a ride to Sanniquellie, and so jumped into the taxi to journey with them.
In Sanniquellie, the witness saw many soldiers and people milling around. He stated that as he had never been there before, he could not compare the feeling in town to that before the excursion. He testified that when he arrived, he and the other correspondents went to a government office to see if they could speak to anyone about the incursion. Huband saw an American soldier with a group of AFL soldiers at the building, and followed the American into the government building to speak with him. The American went into a room with the AFL soldiers prior to speaking to Huband. Huband confirmed that he knew the soldier was American based on the badge and identification on his jacket.
Huband asked the American soldier, “Are you assisting the AFL?” He said the soldier described his presence in Sanniquellie as part of a “cooperation agreement between the United States and the AFL,” or “the United States and Liberia.” Huband stated that the soldier said he was in Sanniquellie in an advisory capacity. Huband confirmed that on that trip, he did not see any rebels in Nimba County. After staying for one night in Sanniquellie, he and the other correspondent returned to Monrovia, and then Huband flew back to Abidjan.
The witness told the jury that he returned to Liberia in April 1990, after he was contacted in Abidjan by the Sunday Correspondent, a London newspaper, asking him if he was interested in covering Liberia. He explained that the FT had not suggested he go to Liberia, and was not encouraging of it. Huband went because he was a “young reporter looking for stories” who was “keen and wanted to go,” but he “did not tell the FT that he went.” He testified that on about April 3 or April 4, the FT learned he was in Liberia, so his editor – Huband’s direct superior – told him he should cover the story from the angle of the effect on an iron ore mine on the Liberian border with Guinea. Huband explained that this mine was in the far north of the country, in Nimba County, and was connected by railroad to the coast. He said that the trip was arranged by his editor via the company’s London office.
Huband testified that on April 4, he drove to the port city of Buchanan, south of Monrovia, where the iron ore was transported to the port by train. He was to travel from Buchanan on the train’s reverse journey, back to the mine at the border. The witness stated that on the train with him was an accountant who was going to start a job at the mine; otherwise, the train was empty, except for the engine driver in a different cab. He described the train as an enormous “goods train,” pulled by three engines, that travelled slowly despite its empty wagons.
Huband testified that as the train neared Ganta in Nimba County, at about 8:00a.m., it passed below a small bridge. He knew it was about 8:00 in the morning because the train left Buchanan at 6:00a.m., and had been traveling for about two hours. Huband said that after passing under the bridge, he heard gunfire, although he did not know what it was for a few seconds; the train came to a rapid halt. He was leaning against a window, and noticed the accountant was lying on the floor and beckoning for Huband to join him. Huband left the window and joined the accountant on the floor, he said, at which point the window he had been learning against shattered completed. The witness recalled that he realized the train was being attacked, so he lay flat on the floor with his bag over him. He stated that the train did not start moving again.
The witness testified that as he lay on the floor, there was a lull in the gunfire, and he heard nothing but the hissing sound of the train’s breaks. After a delay of about a minute, he said, he heard footsteps on the track or aggregate beside the track. The accountant stood up in a half crouch to look out the rear window, and said, “They’re coming.” Then there was intense gunfire, and all the windows in the cab shattered. The witness did not know who was meant by “they.”
When the gunfire stopped, Huband said, he fleetingly saw a face at what had been the train’s window. He and the accountant began a whispered conversation about how “they,” the attackers, knew that Huband and the accountant were in the cab, and it was probably best if they tried to get out. The accountant stood and opened the doors at the front of the cap which led to a gangway around the train, and the two of them walked slowly along the gangway because they did not want to startle whomever awaited them.
Huband testified that when they walked around the train, he saw armed people whom he assumed had attacked the train. He described them as eight or nine people, all male, aged from their mid-teens until their mid-20s. He said that all of them had AK-47s but were not in military uniforms, and they were quite jumpy. They screamed “get out” and “throw your bags down.” According to Huband, when he and the accountant came down the ladder from the gangway platform to the tracks, they were ordered to strip to their underwear and their bags were rifled through; he remembered that valuables like passports and cameras were taken. After this action the armed men calmed down slightly, he said.
The witness stated that when the two were dressed again, they moved away from the track, and quickly, they observed a low flying aircraft. He testified that the armed men told him, “That’s the government, the government knows the train was attacked.” Within minutes, he said, the aircraft left the area, and he and the accountant were ushered toward a dirt road. He clarified that although he was not forced to go with the men, they told him “We go now,” and it seemed like a good idea.
The group walked down the verge on either side of the dirt road and came into a more forested area, Huband said. He remembered walking for about an hour before being led off the road down a path into a thicker area of forest. He estimated that this was at about 10:30 or 11:00a.m., and that it had become quite hot. He said the group continued for a short while and then stopped again, and that he did not know where they were going. He told the jury that he was not in the mood to ask questions, because he did not know if he would survive.
According to Huband, there was suddenly a “very mysterious moment” where the group came under fire. He had no idea who was firing, but speculated that it was maybe the AFL. He told the jury that the moment was significant because everyone in the group dispersed, some going forward and some backward. The witness and the accountant sprinted away from the firing into the thicker forest, and realized they had become separated from the others, but had no idea where they were. Huband testified that they retraced their steps, following the path and the skins of fruit they had eaten and thrown aside. They went back to the road and started to head toward the train.
Then they saw another group of armed men ahead, Huband said. He testified that these men – a different group from the prior group – had a “mixed response” to the two outsiders, and that one in particular was very jumpy. They were all armed similarly to the men at the train tracks, carrying AK-47s. The one that was very aggressive asked why the two outsiders had been on the train, Huband said, and demanded to see identification. Huband characterized the interaction as “very unnerving,” until a slightly older man sitting beside the road introduced himself, and calmed the situation.
Huband testified that he continued with this group away from the train along the road. He specifically recalled that one man carried his bag, for which he was very grateful. He said that eventually they came to a truck camouflaged underneath branches, and they all got into it and drove for a short while.
The armed group took Huband and the accountant to a large village that he said he thought was approximately 20-30 minutes away from where they had started. He recalled that the village was “full of young people,” and that he learned it was named Seklepie. He observed that the thing that struck him first about the village was the way it was occupied by armed young men, and stated that it “belonged to them.”
The witness stated that he spoke to a man he later learned was named Peter, who was in charge military, and who told him he would be taken to meet Charles Taylor, the NPFL leader. Huband remembered one or two dead bodies lying out in the road, one with legs still inside its trousers and with the rest of the body decomposed; he vividly remembered that all that was left of the rest of the body was its spine sticking out. The witness clarified that the “armed young people” he saw in the town were young teens aged 13 or 14, perhaps up to their early 20s. He characterized these armed people as not “absolutely children.”
Huband stated that he was in Seklepie for the rest of the afternoon, and that he did not observe military exercises, but recalled a lively moment in the afternoon when many of the young armed people got inside a closed armored truck. The witness testified that he was told they were “going off to fight.”
Huband recalled that at one point, he was questioned by an administrator who was suspicious of him for having a press card issued by the government of Liberia. The witness said that this administrator thought Huband was working for the government, and that Huband had to explain that journalists must get press passes in order to operate in the country. He estimated that this interrogation lasted ten minutes before he went back to sit down with a person identifiable as the commander of the forces in Seklepie.
At about 6:00 p.m., Huband said, he and the accountant left in a four-wheel drive car for what seemed a long journey along country roads, to reach a place that he learned was called Gborplay, the headquarters of the NPFL. The witness stated that the car arrived around midnight, and he and the accountant were shown to a round straw hut to sleep. Before he slept, the witness saw people around, but he followed the orders to go inside the hut and so did not see more at that time.
Huband testified that someone knocked on the door early in the morning, and Huband was escorted by two young men to the building in front of the hut. He recalled that there were two female armed guards on the door of the building, and said their faces were covered, but that based on their physique, he thought they were young. He told the jury that inside the building was a settee, low chairs, a low table, and some people. He testified that one was a man in white traditional dress who identified himself as Charles Taylor, and one was in Western clothes. Taylor introduced this other man as Samuel Dokie.
According to Huband, the conversation at the meeting covered a range of topics. He testified that Taylor initially asked him to sit down, and then apologized for not having scrambled eggs to offer him; Taylor then put half of his own porridge on a plate for Huband. Huband recalled Taylor saying it was lucky that the NPFL did not carry out their original plan, which was to use mortars to attack the train and blow it off the track. He recalled Taylor saying the iron ore company was warned of the likelihood of attack three days before the attack was carried out.
According to Huband, Taylor knew he was a journalist, because Huband had told it to fighters in the first village and to his drivers on the way to Gborplay. The witness “quite vividly” recalled Dokie being less sympathetic to his situation than Taylor; Huband stated that Taylor felt it was better to have a living young reporter than a dead one, but that there was a difference in tone from Dokie.
The witness remembered Taylor leaving the room and returning wearing camouflage trousers and a safari jacket, and describing the fight against Samuel Doe as a “civilian uprising.” Huband stated that they discussed Doe’s government before proceeding outside and observing rows of NPFL fighters chanting, “Major Taylor, he’s our leader.” The witness was not sure if this scene was contrived for his own particular benefit, although he clearly recalled Taylor inspecting the forces.
The witness confirmed that his conversation with Taylor focused on the Doe government and “the reasons this was taking place.” He recalled Taylor using the word “shame” to describe the sitting government.
After Taylor led Huband to inspect the troops, Huband said, he showed him a big anti-aircraft gun that the NPFL had captured. Huband stated that he talked to the gunner while Taylor went back into the building. Huband testified that as a reporter, he was always looking around, but that in this situation, he did not want to “wander off” and be accused of spying, so he stayed where put.
Huband testified that Taylor asked for Huband’s FT business card because he said he wanted “to get your name right,” and that he also asked for the number of the British embassy in Abidjan to tell them that Huband was “in safe hands.”
The witness stated that although one or two troops were in military uniforms in Gborplay, the majority of clothes varied. He recalled many were armed, but the arms varied. He also recalled that the ages of the troops varied. He remembered seeing older men with single-barreled shotguns, while others had AK-47s. Huband further recalled that there were both men and women at Gborplay.
Huban stated that when Taylor re-emerged, he told Huband he was “free to go,” but then paused and said, “On the other hand, you might be interested to stay and have a look around.” Huband testified that he stayed, and toured the area with Dokie. Taylor told Dokie to find a car and guards, and shortly Huband left with them to see the area in a 4x4, with Dokie in front next to the driver, an armed guard next to Huband, and two more armed guards in the back.
Huband did not know where the car was going, but stated that eventually they went south and eventually arrived in Butuo, where the incursion started. He stated there was a checkpoint at the start of the village, and said it was guarded by the old men of the village with single-barreled shotguns. Huband described the checkpoint as “makeshift,” a rope across the road tied with rags to better mark it. He stated that the people there knew who Dokie was, so their car was given access immediately.
Huband described an open ground in the town where NPFL fighters were lined up. He testified that Dokie told them that any fighter found raping anyone would be shot. He stated that Dokie was clear on the issue of discipline. Huband testified that Dokie asked Huband if he wanted to address the fighters, but Huband declined.
The witness testified that he next went down to Tapita, where he met Elmer Johnson. He recalled that Johnson was introduced by Dokie or introduced himself, and that Huband was told that Johnson was overseeing the military operation based in Tapita. He described Johnson as tall, with glasses, and a clean-shaven chubby face. Huband stated that he later learned Johnson had made an attempt in the early 1980s to overthrow Samuel Doe, and in that attempt had lost an eye. Huband said he wore a false eye that was immediately noticeable.
Huband recalled that he chatted with Johnson on two occasions. He remembered that he did not have an immediate opportunity, because Johnson chatted with Dokie in the main square where an attempt was going on to empty the tank of a gas station was going on, because the fuel was needed. He stated that Johnson knew about the attack on the train and how Huband got there, so at first they exchanged a few words. Later, while spending the night in a Catholic mission in Tapita, Huband said, he and Johnson talked about Johnson’s attempt to overthrow Doe in 1983 or 1984, and about the provenance and training of the NPFL.
The witness told the jury that he later learned the extent to which the NPFL had already trained in Libya, and about the involvement of Burkina Faso. He stated that at this point in the war there were rumors of Libya’s involvement.
The next morning, Huband said, he witnessed a group of NPFL fighters singing a song to the tune of “O Susanna.” The words had been adapted to “Going off to the battlefront, don’t you cry for me.”
Huband recalled that on his third night with the NPFL, he stayed in another small village, and ultimately returned to Gborplay. This was followed by a long formal interview with Taylor in Gborplay the next morning.
According to Huband, the accountant stated that as there was now “no job at the mine,” he would join the NPFL. Huband recalled there was the opportunity for a private conversation between them, and he confirmed that the employee had not been pushed into joining. Huband recalled seeing him many months later, still with the NPFL.
Huband testified that he then crossed the river that separated Liberia from Ivory Coast, via a ferry on a rope. He thought Dokie was on the ferry too. On the other side, the witness said, he was met by Ivorian soldiers and a British embassy official, and was taken back to Abidjan. He believed his return to Ivory Coast to be on April 10 or 11. He noted that he is still friends with the editor who sent him on the train to the iron ore mine.
Huband testified that a few days later he received a phone call from a man who identified himself as Thomas Woewiyu. Huband recalled that he introduced himself as a “supporter of the NPFL,” and that he told Huband he was calling from New Jersey. Huband said Woewiyu wanted to arrange a press conference with Charles Taylor in Liberia. The witness told Woewiyu that there were journalists in Abidjan who would be interested to come along to such a press conference.
The prosecution showed the witness a map, and Huband identified the railroad on which the train was attacked, and the road along which he walked with the armed group.
Huband testified that overall, he had two or three calls with Woewiyu, with about three days in between each one. He recalled discussing with Woewiyu who Huband should liaise with in the north west of Ivory Coast to plan the crossing into Liberia. He stated that Woewiyu gave Huband a name and phone number to contact directly.
Huband recalled eight or nine journalists besides himself traveling to the Liberian press conference from Abidjan. He stated that they traveled to Danané, a town close to the Liberian border, to the house of the person with whom Huband had arranged their travel. They drove to an isolated part of the border. Huband explained that the border was shut and the Ivorian government was “sensitive about the situation,” so they did not want to be seen helping journalists get into Liberia. Huband recalled driving to a field and then wading across the river to reach Liberia.
A minibus was waiting to take the group to Tapita, which Huband stated was much the same as before, although possibly with fewer armed people. He recalled learning the battlefield had moved south. He testified that the group was taken to the same Baptist mission he stayed in before, which had a radio station attached. He identified the mission as the location of the Taylor press conference.
Huband remembered passing Dokie on the road, and said that when he waved, Dokie did not acknowledge him. He did not know if Dokie was at the press conference, and thought that Woewiyu was not there either. He remembered Taylor was the focus, and that his wife Agnes was with him.
The journalists stayed in Tapita that night, Huband said, and the following day went to a small village about 25 minutes south, before returning to Tapita. The witness recalled having brief contact with Elmer Johnson beside a road; when Huband asked how everything was going, Johnson told him it was “all going very well.”
The witness testified that he returned to Liberia in late May or early June 1990. Huband said that before the press conference, The Guardian newspaper had asked him if he would like to go back, as the newspaper wanted more coverage of the war. Huband explained that The Guardian is a more general paper and was more interested than the FT in the types of news Huband wanted to cover.
According to Huband, by the time he returned, it was clear that Liberia was in the midst of a full-scale war. He crossed the river to Tapita, he said, and headed to Buchanan. He recalled that by then the port city of Buchanan had been seized by the NPFL from the government, and Huband said there were more checkpoints to pass through when traveling
Huband described the checkpoints as usually “a challenge” and “quite fraught.” He said this was one of the few places younger fighters would interact with “outsiders,” as there was no business travel and the AFL had already committed atrocities and left. He described the young fighters as “suspicious” of “people like me” or other “outsiders.” He testified that he sensed there was much drinking going on at these checkpoints, as well as the “smoking of stuff,” although he did not see it
Huband characterized the atmosphere of checkpoints as tense and aggressive. He said that although no journalists were killed in that period, one never knew how a checkpoint crossing would go. He recalled older people who manned checkpoints having shot guns, and younger people having AK-47s. He stated that as the war progressed, those manning the checkpoints got younger and younger, and said that he thought this was because they were left behind while the older men went to fight.
The witness recalled seeing dead bodies on the same visit to Liberia where he attended Taylor’s press conference. He said that because the group of journalists wanted to “see more,” there were able to go south of Tapita. He recalled some of the journalists with him as from Agence-France Press, the New York Times, the Associated Press, Reuters, and the BBC. He told the jury that international journalists wanted to be able to write about as much as possible, so they moved closer to the fighting and saw horrible signs of combat in the village south of Tapita. He specifically recalled seeing 20 to 30 bodies piled up and dumped behind a hut, and described them as “clearly civilian,” including women in civilian clothes and children.
When Huband went back to Liberia in May or June 1990 to report what was then taking place, he was taken all the way south to Buchanan through checkpoints. He told the jury Buchanan had just been taken by the NPFL, and the trip was a “real eye-opener” because of the behavior of the NPFL. He described the NPFL as a civilian army run by a corps of people with military training in Libya, and said there was a variety of discipline already, but that what was striking about Buchanan was that it had been ransacked by the NPFL.
Huband testified that he had not seen such behavior before in the NPFL conquering of a large town. He described the streets strewn with debris, and shops clearly broken into. He said the shopkeepers were still there, very worried about themselves and their businesses. He particularly remembered that the Lebanese shopkeepers were terrified about what would happen to them and their property. Huband characterized the “immediately apparent” atmosphere as “very tense.”
Huband stated that he was given rooms in a deserted part of the iron ore company’s large residential compound in Buchanan. He stated that the expat employees had left the country, and the Liberian employees had fled.
He told the jury that he stayed in Buchanan for three or four days, during which he had contract with Dokie several times. He recalled Dokie coming to reassure the Lebanese businesspeople while Huband was visiting them, reassuring them that they were not the enemy of the NPFL, and instead were considered friends of Liberia. However, Huband recalled Dokie issuing a “veiled threat” to the Lebanese, telling them that if they left the country, it would be difficult to return. Huband stated that Dokie left an official note to the NPFL fighters on the door of a Lebanese businessperson, telling the NPFL fighters not to harm the house’s inhabitants; the next day, Huband said, the NPFL fighters ripped it off the door. Huband reiterated that he was struck by how the NPFL’s discipline was becoming a “real issue,” and said there was a “change in tone” from his earliest dealings with them.
Huband testified to the NPFL’s hierarchy. He said that Taylor was at its head, and told the jury that there was a strong sense of the NPFL’s military structure based on its training of soldiers, parades, and its dispatching of people to other places. The witness confirmed that he saw soldiers dispatched from place to place himself.
While Huband was in Buchanan, he said, “it emerged that the NPFL had lost track of Elmer Johnson.” Huband recalled that Johnson was referred to as having been in Buchanan, but that Dokie was now “clearly anxious” about not knowing where he was. The witness felt he could ask Dokie about his anxiety, given that they had met a number of times.
Huband recalled that when he was being driven in a car with Dokie from Buchanan to Roberts International Airport, they saw a blue pickup beside the road that had been attacked. Johnson’s body was found next to it. Huband testified that Dokie was very upset and shocked, even subdued; Huband said there were no tears, just silence. Dokie referred to Johnson as something like a hero, if not in those precise words, and Dokie emphasized his own relationship with Johnson. Huband explained that Dokie and Johnson both joined Taylor in January 1990, and their bond was cemented then.
The witness testified that he returned to Buchanan, and the following day he and the other journalists received a note saying that they were invited to Johnson’s burial. He thought this was June 7, and said the burial was to be at the LAC rubber plantation at 10:00a.m.; the journalists received the note after 10:00a.m., too late to attend the funeral. Later that day they learned their presence was again requested at the LAC plantation, about 25 minutes from Buchanan. Huband told the jury that “LAC” was the Liberian Agricultural Company.
Huband recalled that it was getting dark when the journalists set off from Buchanan, having been told they would meet with Charles Taylor at LAC that evening. He described the situation as in Buchanan as “strange,” and stated that there was shooting early on that day. Huband said that the area was meant to be under NPFL control, but when he asked there was shooting, he did not get an answer. He described a “sense of uncertainty.”
Huband recalled that the journey to LAC was tense. He testified that he passed through two checkpoints to get to LAC. The first was “not too bad,” but at the second, there was a lot of shouting. He remembered the second checkpoint was manned by 13- or 14-year-olds, all armed with AK-47s, who demanded identification. Huband told the jury that when the checkpoints were like that, they were “unnerving.” He said that in this case, the atmosphere was added to because it was dark and raining heavily, so that the people manning the checkpoint could not see into vehicles easily. He thought the checkpoint might have been lit by a paraffin lamp.
Huband stated that although the LAC plantation was mostly covered in rubber trees, there were some residential properties. He recalled that on arriving at LAC, he and the other journalists went to a bungalow on the edge of an open area that he thought might have been a golf course. Inside, it was gloomy, although Charles Taylor was visible. Huband described the room as simple, just a settee and chairs and maybe a picture on the wall. He stated that one or two people were standing, and the rest were sitting. He recalled that Dokie was present in civilian clothes, to the left of the settee where Taylor was sitting. Taylor was not in military clothes; Huband stated that he never saw Taylor in military clothes.
The witness said he asked Taylor about Johnson, and recalled that Taylor replied, “Elmer Johnson was not my special military advisor. He was just assigned one battalion of the NPFL.”
Huband testified that Taylor was not alone on the settee. Woewiyu sat with him, in military fatigues and a hat. The witness recalled that Woewiyu had an AK-47 between his legs.
Huband recalled that his questions focused on Jonson initially, because he wanted a sense of what effect Johnson’s death had on Taylor. After asking his questions and receiving Taylor’s response disclaiming Johnson’s status, Taylor talked to the journalists about the way they were reporting. Huband explained that there was a delay in how quickly Taylor could read what Huband and the others wrote, as he did not have a satellite phone. He recalled Taylor saying, “You’re lucky there’s a free press here.” Huband believed Taylor was displeased with the press coverage of the ransacking of Buchanan.
Huband testified that he saw Woewiyu again during the region’s first attempt to organize peace talks in Sierra Leone. He recalled the talks beginning June 12, 1990, and stated he therefore next saw Woewiyu on June 10 or 11.
Huband recalled returning to Buchanan after the June 7 meeting, and then going back to LAC the next day to see Dokie. When told Dokie was at Tapita, Huband said, he drove there with two CNN journalists who then went on to Ivory Coast. The witness stated that when he found Dokie in Tapita, he told Dokie he wanted to stay longer in Liberia, and the two drove on to Gborplay. He recalled that in Gborplay, Dokie had a brief conversation with Taylor, who wanted him to go to the peace talks in Sierra Leone.
In the same car, Huband and Dokie then drove the distance to Bong Mines, southwest of Gborplay in central Liberia. Huband explained that there were a number of expats at the mine and that most of them were German, so the German air force had agreed to evacuate them to Freetown, Sierra Leone. The NPFL delegation to the peace talks would travel in the same aircraft. Huband said the group travelled to Freetown in a C130 military aircraft. The witness recalled seeing Woewiyu taken to Freetown as a delegate, wearing a suit and tie.
The witness thought that in Freetown, there were four NPFL delegates. He recalled Dokie and Woewiyu by name, but not the others. He recalled going with them by helicopter shuttle from the Freetown airport to the other side of the bay. Huband testified that he understood Woewiyu to be the head of the four-person NPFL delegation. He told the jury that the key focus of the talks was that the NPFL wanted Samuel Doe to leave Liberia; he recalled that Doe himself had various conditions, and that the two sides could not reconcile so the talks collapsed by about June 15.
Huband noted that he might have been included on the list of NPFL delegates, in order to secure a spot on the plane. He confirmed that he acted as a journalist during the talks, and said the NPFL did not seek him out while there.
The witness testified that he next saw Woewiyu in March 1991 at the All Liberia Conference in the outskirts of Monrovia, where he saw Woewiyu again leading the NPFL delegation. Huband stated that by this time, the conflict had spilled over into Sierra Leone. He said that the NPFL was accused of giving facilities to those responsible for what was happening in Sierra Leone, and their reputation soured. Huband stated that the distrust between parties was cemented, and the peace talks collapsed.
Huband testified that when he had seen Woewiyu sat beside Taylor with an AK-47 between his legs, Woewiyu had been on Taylor’s right.
On cross-examination, the witness confirmed that he first met the government agents and prosecutors in London in 2016, and again in 2018.
Huband confirmed that by the third time he went to Liberia, it would be fair to say a full-scale war was occurring. He confirmed that his impression of the NPFL in Buchanan differed from his previous impressions. He confirmed that it would be undisciplined of troops to rape anyone, as Dokie was commanding the troops not to do in April 1990 in Butuo. He confirmed that the behavior in Buchanan was the first time he had felt there was a lack of discipline, and that he had not seen that behavior before. Huband said that another sign of indiscipline was when the NPFL fighters ripped down Dokie’s note on the Lebanese shop.
The witness confirmed that he saw Woewiyu on three occasions in Liberia: at the LAC plantation on the evening after Johnson was killed, in June 1990; when flying to peace talks in Sierra Leone on the German military aircraft; and in March of 1991 at the All Liberia Conference.
The witness stated that he later learned Johnson had trained as a U.S. soldier, and part of the United States invasion of Grenada in 1982. The witness stated that he did not know anything about Johnson’s military skills, but that Johnson had experience that others did not.
Huband testified that Woewiyu “fumbled” with the AK-47 between his legs, and said that he did not look like someone who was highly skilled in handling guns.
On a brief re-direct examination, the witness confirmed that he did not live in Liberia, and stated that he took “long trips” there of one to two weeks. He explained that he traveled a lot to cover the West Africa region, returning “home” to Abidjan for perhaps a week out of a month. He stated that besides Liberia, he might also go to countries including Mali, Gabon, or Nigeria.
Huban confirmed that, as far as fumbling with an AK-47, it was an AK-47 that was between Woewiyu’s legs.
Witness 17: Gerald Rose
The next witness for the prosecution, Gerald Rose, told the jury he arrived in Philadelphia by train, and stated that his ticket was paid for by the United States Attorney’s office. He stated that his hotel and per diem expenses were also covered.
The witness testified that he served in the U.S. Army for 25 years, beginning as an enlisted man and ending as a Colonel in the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He stated that he served in Vietnam, Korea, and throughout the United States. He described his military education at the Command and General Staff School, and also at the Army War College. He described being detailed from the Joint Chiefs to a short posting in the Department of State, and said that a year later he was invited “by Dr. Kissinger’s people” to apply for a job there; he then served 17 years in the State Department, beginning in 1977.
The witness stated that he began his State Department career as the Executive Director of the Department of Medical Services, and then went on to five overseas postings. These postings were in Kinshasa, in what was then Zaire; Pretoria, South Africa; Lagos, Nigeria; Khartoum, Sudan; and lastly in Monrovia as the Deputy Chief of Mission. He stated that he held this last post from August of 1991 until the end of September, 1993. He described the Deputy Chief of Mission as the “alter ego” or “number two” for the ambassador, and said that the United States did not officially recognize the then-government of Liberia, so the ambassador at the time was called the “Chief of Mission.”
According to Rose, the government when he arrived in Liberia was IGNU, the Interim Government for National Unity. He described the situation prior to his departure for Monrovia as including a defensive perimeter by ECOMOG around Monrovia, a state of affairs which had continued for almost two years by that point. The witness confirmed that Charles Taylor was the leader of the NPFL, and that he controlled all the other territory in Monrovia.
Prior to Rose taking up his post, he said he had a “read-in” period of three or four weeks in which to read as much as possible about his new post, and meet as many people as possible. He told the jury he had a lunch with Woewiyu very early in the reading period, and that he understood Woewiyu to be the Minister of Defense and the spokesperson for the NPFL. Woewiyu told Rose about the goals and aspirations of the NPFL. Rose noted that Woewiyu “impressed him very much” because he was so articulate and well-educated. However, Rose noted that he was also glib, and that he reminded Rose of a car salesman.
Rose said that Woewiyu was “selling” the mission of the NPFL, and that he did a good job. According to Rose, the NPFL’s mission was to assume power over the government, remove the corrupt Doe government, and establish a better form of government, although he noted the NPFL did not say who would run it.
The witness said that after he arrived in Monrovia, there was an interregnum of “no peace, no war” with ECOMOG. He testified that in this time, he met three times with Charles Taylor at Taylor’s headquarters in Gbarnga, and said he also attended a ceremony in an auditorium upcountry with Taylor’s wife. He described the process of arranging these meetings by radio, calling them “always pre-arranged” between the embassy and Taylor’s people. He noted that during this interregnum period, the NPFL seized additional territory near the border with Sierra Leone.
Rose testified that he would go from Monrovia to Gbarnga to meet with Taylor, and that this was a significant distance passing through both ECOMOG and NPFL checkpoints. He said that at the ECOMOG checkpoint, they knew his car and his American flag, and everything was convenient. He testified that about a half mile onward was the first NPFL checkpoints, where there was a little more hassle. He testified that there would then be an additional one to three checkpoints manned by the SBU, which were “more problematic.” He confirmed that “SBU” meant “Small Boys Unit.”
Rose described these SBU checkpoints as always manned by young boy fighters. He told the jury that the young boy fighters were “not soldiers,” so he declined to use the word “soldiers” for the boys. He noted the boys were often drugged, and that it was difficult to judge how they might react when he came through the checkpoint. He characterized the experience as “unpleasant.” The witness testified that the SBU boys manning checkpoints ranged in age from about eight to 14 or 15 years old.
The witness described one “very problematic” exchange that he experienced at an ad hoc checkpoint. He stated that usually, he did not have to get out of the car; however, at this checkpoint, he was forced out by a rude boy armed with an AK-47. The witness described him as demanding, and said he shoved the AK-47 against the witness’s body. Rose said that the boy was very angry. Rose testified that he told the boy he had an appointment with the boy’s “big boss” Taylor; he told the boy it would be “bad for him” if Rose did not get to the big boss on time. Rose said this boy was 10 or 11, and knew who Taylor was and who the “big boss” was.
Charles Taylor’s headquarters in Gbarnga were in a large building on a rise, the witness said. It had two perimeters, one outer and one inner, both manned by the SBU.
The witness recalled that his first meeting with Taylor was a “greeting meeting” to allow the men to get to know each other, as Rose was the primary interlocutor with Taylor at the time. He stated that the meeting lasted about 25 minutes, and that he was left with an “extraordinary impression” of Taylor’s articulation, poise, charisma, and confidence. The witness noted these characteristics were also important to Woewiyu.
Rose stated that “the problem with what Taylor and Woewiyu were selling” was that Rose already knew Taylor was a fugitive. Rose told the jury that Taylor absconded with $1 million from Liberia to the United States, and was awaiting extradition in the U.S. when he escaped and returned to Liberia. Rose said this was sometime in the 1970s, when one of the most hated enemies of the U.S. was Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, who later trained and financed Taylor’s fighters. “This told me that what Taylor and Woewiyu said was not true,” Rose stated.
The witness testified that from his arrival until October 1992, there was little conflict. He characterized what fighting occurred in that period as “military exercises.”
Taylor did not discuss ECOMOG much with Rose, according to the witness. Their basic discussions were about Taylor, or about Taylor and the United States. Rose recalled that while he was the Deputy Chief of Mission, Senegalese peacekeepers serving with ECOMOG were kidnapped by the NPFL. He recalled that he contacted Taylor’s people on the radio, and made a strong plea to the NPFL to release the Senegalese peacekeepers, and told the NPFL that it would be in the NPFL’s best interest to release them. Rose recalled that when the kidnapped soldiers were released, the Senegalese peacekeepers withdrew from ECOMOG. Rose testified that based on his conversations with Taylor, the NPFL viewed ECOMOG as its “mortal enemy,” and felt that ECOMOG had stopped the NPFL from the 1989 dream of seizing Monrovia.
Rose testified that he was in Monrovia during Operation Octopus. He told the jury that he first became aware something was going on early in the morning, when he received a phone call from a Marine security guard, telling him that “all hell had broken loose” and the Ambassador was coming to the embassy. Rose could hear artillery fire, he said. He drove the quarter mile to the embassy through an ECOMOG checkpoint, and reported to the State Department that the conflict had resumed in a strong manner. According to Rose, he did not experience being attacked by artillery rounds in Liberia prior to Octopus. Rose said that a mortar round that landed in the residential area did no damage.
Rose testified that the artillery fire was coming from the NPFL-occupied area of Monrovia. He said the high point of intensity was in the first here days of the offensive, after which the lines were stagnant for three weeks. He said that ECOMOG then drove the NPFL back at least as far as the original lines and in some cases further, after which he could move around a significant distance inside the perimeter.
Rose confirmed that the NPFL got “very close” to capturing Monrovia, getting as far as Bushrod Island in the main avenue of attack, two miles from downtown Monrovia. He told the jury that the NPFL was repulsed at the Nigerian ECOMOG headquarters, where the commander rallied his forces and made a counter-attack, pushing the NPFL out of the overrun Nigerian compound and halting their advance.
Rose specifically confirmed that the NPFL had command and control over its military forces. He said that although it was not the same as the command and control within the U.S. Army, it was “really quite effective.” He described the NPFL as having radio contract with all or virtually all units, and said that pictures of the SBU normally show children carrying radios as well as AK-47s. He stated that Taylor obviously set the overall goals or aims of the NPFL, but Rose described how the NPFL also had ministries to conduct the affairs of implementing Taylor’s guidelines.
The witness confirmed that he knew the five humanitarian aid workers who were killed during Operation Octopus, and who were suspected of collaborating with ECOMOG and who were killed because of it. He stated that he met them after his arrival in Liberia, and continued to meet with them in a social context. He said that he saw them at the embassy every Friday.
On cross-examination, Rose confirmed that he first met Woewiyu in the United States. Rose described Woewiyu contacting the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, and said that the Liberia Desk Officer briefed Rose as to who Woewiyu was, and arranged for a lunch meeting in Roslyn, Virginia.
Rose did not remember another meeting with Woewiyu. Rose did not remember talking to Woewiyu again. Rose agreed that it was fair to say he dealt with Taylor directly, or with J.T. Richardson. Rose confirmed that he never met Woewiyu in Liberia.
Rose stated that the “interregnum” was “not full-scale fighting,” and said it continued until Operation Octopus began on October 15, 1992. He confirmed that during that period, there was relative calm in Monrovia, with everyday business going on. He did not know if the calm pervaded the rest of the country, because that was NPGL terrain. He stated that he traveled to NPFL terrain when he visited Taylor in Gbarnga, and also on a trip to the Firestone plantation, which was in NPFL territory at the time. Rose stated that he went to Firestone to meet General Domingo of the NPFL. He stated that on that visit, he was accompanied by an American employee of the Firestone plantation.
Rose testified that he did not know with whom he spoke by radio about the kidnapped Senegalese troops. He stated he did not know if it was “cause and effect” that the troops were released after he spoke with the NPFL about them on the radio.
On re-direct, the witness confirmed the name of the Liberian Desk Officer at the State Department. Rose could not recall if a large group of Senegalese peacekeepers was taken captive by the NPFL and killed.
Witness 18: “F”
The government’s next witness testified that he was born in Lofa County in Northern Liberia, and lived there for half his life before coming to the United States in 2000. He told the jury that he graduated from high school in Liberia, from college in Canada in 1997, and then from the University of Phoenix.
The witness testified that he was in Liberia during the Liberian First Civil War, and that he listened to the radio every afternoon of the war. F testified that he was “very familiar” with two voices he heard on the BBC program “Focus on Africa:” Charles Taylor, “leader of the revolution;” and Thomas Woewiyu, “spokesperson of the NPFL.” He stated that Woewiyu caught his attention when the witness heard him say on the radio, “The only good Krahn man is a dead Krahn man.”
F recalled seeing Woewiyu later in the war in approximately 1994, when F was working for the Salvation Army. He described seeing Woewiyu at the Mount Barclay checkpoint while the witness was passing though the checkpoint in the course of fulfilling his duties. He noted being afraid at the checkpoint; a Nigerian contingent of ECOMOG was there, and Woewiyu’s bodyguards began “taking positions.” F remembered the ECOMOG soldiers saying that his group had to leave. F also recalled that Woewiyu had about 15 bodyguards, three of whom were in their early twenties, and the rest of whom were between the ages of 8-14 years old. F confirmed that they were all “fully armed to the teeth.”
F stated that he then saw Woewiyu a few months later in Kakata, again while the witness was carrying out his Salvation Army duties. He believed that this was in June 1994. He said he saw the same children from the SBU or Special Forces acting as Woewiyu’s bodyguards whom he had seen previously with Woewiyu at Mount Barclay. F testified that in Kakata, Woewiyu was standing between two vehicles at the police station in the middle of town. He was fueling from an ECOMOG tank to his own vehicle, and talking to an ECOMOG commander there. F jumped in his jeep and left.
The third time the witness saw Woewiyu was in May 1995, when Woewiyu was in the camp, and the witness saw the NPFL “going all over the place.” F testified that he drove to Harbel and parked his car in the middle of the street at the Cotton Tree checkpoint. The witness saw the ECOMOG commander, Woewiyu, and J.T. Richardson standing in the street shouting. He noted that the children there could barely half-open their eyes. The witness stated that they were armed and had been taking drugs. The witness identified Woewiyu in a photograph.
On cross-examination, the witness confirmed that the first time he saw Woewiyu was in March 1994. He stated that he did not follow who was then the interim president, but that he knew Taylor still had his NPFL soldiers. He stated that if he were right, Taylor did not come to Monrovia to be president until September 1995, but that he was not sure about that fact.
The witness confirmed that the first time he saw Woewiyu, Woewiyu was talking to an ECOMOG captain, but was not fighting ECOMOG. The armed child soldiers were not fighting ECOMOG either. The witness confirmed that the second time he saw Woewiyu, at the police station in Kakata, Woewiyu was again talking to ECOMOG but not fighting. The witness testified that he observed the discussion for 10-15 minutes.
F stated that he knew that in 1994, Woewiyu was part of the NPFL-CRC. He looked at a photograph of leaders of factions, and recognized Boley of the LPC; the AFL Chief of Staff; Roosevelt Johnson, who broke away with others of the Krahn ethnic group, and was part of ULIMO-J.
F confirmed that the child soldiers he saw at the checkpoint at Cotton Tree were intimidating, and that he was nervous at the time. He confirmed that they did not shoot at him or strike him, but they did keep their guns pointed, saying, “Do not get too close to Woewiyu.”
On re-direct, the witness agreed that all the leaders in the photograph of the factions were members of fighting groups. He testified that Woewiyu was the “number two man in the NPFL.” He said that he knew all the factions fought separately and distinctly, but stated he did not follow the political aspect of the coalition against Taylor.
Witness 19: Gregory Stemn
The government’s last witness for the afternoon was the Liberian photojournalist Gregory Stemn. He stated that he was from Bushrod Island in Liberia, and identified himself as a member of the Kru ethnic group. He stated that he completed high school in Liberia, before beginning to study at the University of Liberia, where he could not finish because of the war. He said he later studied photojournalism in New York.
Stemn told the jury that he was a member of the Press Club in high school, and began to work at what was then the only independent newspaper in Liberia as a “cub reporter.” He said that he loved sports and so began as a sports photographer, but then his boss could not be present at a political photography assignment, so sent Stemn to the Executive Mansion in his place. The editor then told Stemn to stay in that role. Stemn was the political photographer for the Daily Observer from 1986-1990. The witness identified a photograph he took at the Executive Mansion, just before Doe’s election, showing Doe receiving a copy of the Liberian Constitution from Dr. Amos Sawyer.
Stemn testified that while Doe was the president, the city had electricity, not 100%, but enough to walk between streets and go into any corner of Monrovia at night without fear. He acknowledged that Doe built the roads, including the one to the Sierra Leone border, and said Doe maintained the roads as well. He said there was running water in the period before Doe’s overthrow. He then testified that in the present day, after the war, Liberia is still struggling with its electricity and water, and said the roads upcountry are very bad.
Stemn confirmed that he was not a supporter of Doe, and told the jury that he suffered as an independent journalist under Doe. He stated that the freedom of speech was not supported in that era, and said that the Daily Observer offices were burned down, and its workers were arrested.
Stemn testified that he first saw the effects of the war when he was assigned to go to Nimba County, and had the opportunity to go in with the Red Cross to see displaced people. There were two reporters with him from the same newspaper.
According to Stemn, Taylor was a major player in Doe’s government. He was appointed as the Director General of the General Services Administration by Doe, and also served as Deputy Minister of Commerce; Stemn observed him once while he held that role. The witness was shown and recognized photograph he took of Charles Taylor and Prince Johnson.
The witness confirmed that he was not present at the first interfaith-organized peace talk at the U.S. embassy in Sierra Leone, but that he did attend the second meeting. He took a taxi to Sierra Leone, but then the meeting did not happen, and Stemn had a very difficult time returning. He described people crossing from Liberia to Sierra Leone, and said it took a long time to enter Liberia. He described the meeting in Sierra Leone as between groups of Krahns and Mandingos, who joined ULIMO factions; he noted that at the border, the people he would see most often trying to flee were Krahns or former government officials. Many told him not to go back to Liberia.
The witness stated that he observed mainly AFL checkpoints at this time, and said the NPFL checkpoints were on “the other side.” At some of these NPFL checkpoints, Stemn saw bodies decomposing on the road.
When Stemn was living on Bushrod Island in Monrovia, he would make his way to the center of town with a camera. He described crossing the bridge over the river between Monrovia and Bushrod Island. He said the Daily Observer office closed because of the war, and that although some of his colleagues left the country, he stayed on as a freelancer. He said that he occasionally helped Elizabeth Blunt and other foreign journalists, and he also produced the Torchlight Newspaper.
Stemn testified that at the time of Samuel Doe’s death in September 1990, the war was “very intense.” The NPFL controlled a large section of Liberia, he said, and the center of Monrovia was controlled by the AFL, and Bushrod Island by Prince Johnson and the INPFL. He stated that the NPFL controlled Lofa County, Gbarnga, and Cape Mount.
Stemn stated that he went into NPFL territory two times before Doe was killed, and that he passed through “terrifying” checkpoints. He saw human skulls and intestines in the middle of the road like a basket. He testified that most of the fighters at the checkpoints where child soldiers, and that most people regarded them as more quick to kill. He confirmed that he came into contact with them because he took many pictures of them, and said their age range was from 9-15, and that they were well-armed. Stemn said he was frightened of the child soldiers because they could shoot at any time; their eyes were red like they were on drugs. He said that the child soldiers asked who you were and where you were from, and whether you had a pass. “They looked at you like the enemy,” or a spy, because you were from a different area, he said.
Stemn testified that he saw a man “taken from the line” because he was Krahn. Although he did not see what happened to the man, he heard shots. He stated that when a journalist covers a story, he cannot interfere.
Stemn testified that he was familiar with ECOMOG. He recognized a photo he took of a rescue mission by ECOMOG, and pointed out the camouflage uniforms and white helmets of the ECOMOG soldiers in the photograph as typical of their dress at that time. He stated that the ECOMOG soldiers arrived in Liberia under heavy fire, by ship, landing in August at Freeport in Monrovia. He observed this from Bushrod Island. The witness identified a photograph of the peacekeepers arriving by boat.
The witness recognized a photograph he took of a child soldier in 1990 at a checkpoint near Harbel and the Firestone plantation, where fighters were assembled. He testified that the child was part of the NPFL, and stressed that the NPFL was the “biggest fighting force” of the war. He recalled taking the photograph at a general muster that brought all the NPFL troops together.
Stemn testified that he recalled September 9, 1990, as the date Doe was captured at Freeport in Monrovia by Prince Johnson and the INPFL. According to Stemn, he saw unedited videotape of what happened to Doe, shot by a radio station president in Monrovia. He testified that the tape showed Prince Johnson’s men torturing Doe, and Prince Johnson being fed by a woman and drinking a Budweiser. Stemn testified that Doe begged for mercy as a soldier stood on Doe’s shoulders and cut off his ears. Stemn said that Doe begged for his life, saying, “You have won the battle, let bygones be bygones,” but Prince Johnson responded, “I told you one day I will fuck you up.”
Stemn testified that on September 10, 1990, he saw Doe’s body at a clinic in Bushrod Island where it lay on display. To enter the clinic, he told the jury, everyone had to lift their hands to surrender. He stated that the soldiers there knew him from the newspaper, so they let him in. He testified that he took a photograph of the body, and described Doe’s head as “scraped off,” and said his ears and toes were cut off, as were a portion of his fingers, hands, and penis. He stated that some men there were putting their pistols on Doe’s penis and taking photographs.
According to Stemn, the war intensified after Doe was killed, because every fighting force wanted their own territory. He confirmed that child soldiers were still used in 1991, and identified a photograph he took of a child soldier at the Mount Barclay checkpoint in 1991. He said this was at the NPFL checkpoint in the “buffer zone.”
Stemn described “confidence building” between ECOMOG on one side and the NPFL on the other. He said the purpose was to allow peacekeepers to deploy inside NPFL territory, to allow the people there to have confidence in them, and confidence in free movement and that peace was coming. He stated that each such visit involved NPFL officials getting in touch with ECOMOG. He recognized a photograph he took at one such event where Woewiyu spoke. The witness identified Woewiyu as the Defense Spokesperson, but confirmed he also knew Woewiyu was the Minister of Defense of the NPFL. He noted that the “confidence building” event photograph showed Woewiyu greeting an American official from the U.S. Embassy, but Stemn did not know the American’s name. Stemn stated that the fighting did not stop despite the confidence building,
Stemn recalled the six Senegalese ECOMOG soldiers killed and buried in the heart of Lofa County. He said the Senegalese ECOMOG troops were “sponsored” by the U.S., and that after the negotiations to get their bodies back, their bodies had to be exhumed.
Stemn described going to NPFL territory and needing a pass and permission to do so. He stated that most of the media coverage was concentrated in Monrovia.
After Doe’s death, Stemn said, most of the NPFL fighters he saw looked frightening. He testified that the way they dressed made him afraid, with the men wearing wigs and women’s clothes, and that they were all armed. He said he went through checkpoints during this time, and said they were the most frightening of all, because they were decorated with human skulls and decomposing bodies. He confirmed that the checkpoint guards still asked the same questions, like “Where are you going?”
The witness recognized a photograph of Martina Johnson, and identified her as a frontline commander during Operation Octopus. The witness did not know her unit’s name, but stated that she commanded artillery. Stemn stated that he took the photograph during a disarmament, when the truck Martina Johnson was in was moved into Lofa County. He testified that he saw the artillery truck once before, looking across the bridge from Bushrod Island to where it used to launch.
“Octopus was the first time I was really displaced,” the witness said. He had to move because of the fighting and the heavy fire at Bushrod Island. Stemn stated that actual combat went on at this time, as the NPFL came through Mount Coffee and the water tower area and attacked the INPFL. He said the fighting was very heavy at night and into the morning, and ECOMOG had to withdraw. Many people were displaced.
Stemn stated that the peacekeepers did not know the area well, but that they were joined by a Special Forces group trained under the interim government; that group helped calm the area. He testified that the NPFL was pushed back to its base, and that the INPFL was overrun all the way back, such that Prince Johnson took cover with ECOMOG.
Stemn testified that J. T. Richardson was the commander in charge of Octopus, and was the architect on which the operation rested.
After two or three days, Stemn said, he was able to venture out from the high school to which he was displaced, and return home with his family. According to Stemn, the peacekeepers said it would be good to return home, in case of looting. He confirmed that the fighting did not continue in central Monrovia, but said that it was intense and that the peacekeepers used this opportunity to drive the NPFL back to their base.
The witness recognized other photographs he took of child soldiers with the NPFL and ECOMOG, including another at Mount Barclay.
After Octopus, the conflict continued, Stemn said. He characterized 1993 as “skirmishes,” and 1994 as a ceasefire that was mostly holding but “not 100%.” He recognized a photograph he took at Roberts International Airport of Koko Dennis – later, “General One Foot,” called that because of his limp – and one of the arrival of representatives of the U.N. Secretary General and U.N.D.P., and then one of the Chief of Staff of the interim government.
Stemn confirmed that he attended most of the peace conferences, and he identified a photo he took at one in the Ivory Coast. He recognized the Security Services head for the interim government, Taylor, Woewiyu, Sawyer (the Interim President), and a protocol coordinator for the Ivory Coast government. He stated that the photograph was taken as the delegates were leaving the hall. Stemn was also shown a photograph in which he recognized Grace Minor, now a Senator of Montserrado County. Stemn recognized another photograph he took, identifying Taylor; Woewiyu, who he thought might then be the Labor Minister; Minor; and Gus Kouwenhoven.
According to Stemn, he went to the site of a peace conference four times, and the agreement was always signed and broken. He stated that he also went to Geneva for another meeting hosted between Taylor and the interim government. The witness recognized a photograph he took in Geneva, of Woewiyu the “defense spokesperson” with two others: Brownie Samukai, the Chief of Police of the interim government; and Philip Banks, the Minister of Justice for the interim government. He did not know the year it was taken, although he knew it was during the conference in Geneva.
The witness described a conference in Abuja, Nigeria, which brought Taylor to Monrovia. He explained that various unity conferences had occurred, including the first time faction leaders met to talk peace on their own soil. He was shown a photograph, and identified it as Woewiyu being greeted by the leader of ECOMOG at the All Liberia Conference. The witness confirmed that Woewiyu represented the NPFL at these conferences. Stemn was then shown another photograph and recognized it as the NPFL delegation to the conference, which included Woewiyu and the legal counsel for the NPFL. The witness identified another photograph that showed Woewiyu and other delegates leaving the conference hall after the day’s meetings.
Stemn testified that after the unity conference, the fighting subsided but that it did not stop. He stated that it continued after Taylor was elected.
The witness was shown a photograph of a group of faction leaders. He identified Woewiyu and Dokie of the NPFL; Francois Massaquoi, of the Lofa Defense Force; George Boley, of the Liberia Peace Council; the head of the AFL; and Roosevelt Johnson. He stated that these men formed a coalition together but were later afraid when Dokie was killed that Taylor would hunt them. The witness cannot describe if they actually fought together. He identified “Woewiyu and others” as the head of the CRC, but stated that he did not know if CRC members used weapons, and said that he knew they fought politically while other groups were still fighting.
Stemn confirmed that he knows James Fasuekoi, and said he was a colleague.
On cross-examination, the witness testified that many of his photographs are available in a book, and that his archives are also available. He did not know how many pictures he took in Liberia, or whether the photographs were used in the TRC. He did not remember giving an interview to the Daily Maverick about the TRC using his photographs. He explained that he makes his photographs available to anyone who asks, so long as they credit him. He stated his belief that “they should be published for people to see what happened.”
The witness did not know if his photographs were used in the immigration trial against Boley held in New York in 2010. He did not know how many photographs of Boley he took.
Trial will resume tomorrow with the continued cross-examination of Gregory Stemn.