Trial Day 7: Ethnic Persecution Testimony
Witness 19: Gregory Stemn, Continued
Trial continued Wednesday morning with the cross-examination of Gregory Stemn, the Liberian photojournalist who founded the Torchlight newspaper during the war.
The witness testified that while he was a photojournalist in Liberia, he had his camera with him most of the time. He stated that he took numerous pictures during the war, and that the library of his photographs is available on his personal website. He testified that these pictures are not for sale; if anyone asks to use them, he grants access. He confirmed that he shared them with government prosecutors.
The witness confirmed that in one of the photographs of six faction leaders that he was shown yesterday, Woewiyu appears alongside three members of the Krahn tribe.
On a brief re-direct examination, the witness confirmed that his photographs are widely available in a book he published seven years ago, available on Amazon for anyone who wants to buy it.
Witness 20: “B”
The prosecution’s next witness, B, testified that he was born in Monrovia, Montserrado County, but spent much of his childhood in Zwedruh in Grand Gedeh County; he stayed in Grand Gedeh until 1983. The witness stated that he has 12 siblings.
B went to elementary school in Grand Gedeh County, before moving to Kakata in Margibi County to attend a boarding high school. While there, he played football (soccer), including with a teammate who went on to “notoriety in Liberia” for his football abilities. B graduated from high school in 1988, and went on to the University of Liberia, where he studied chemistry and biology. He testified that his studies were interrupted by the war. The witness stated that he is now a citizen of the United States, working as a financial analyst.
The witness identified himself as a member of the Krahn ethnic group, and explained that his father was a Krahn and his mother a Grebo. He stated that he was familiar with the language and customs of both tribes.
B testified that he first heard of the war on December 24, 1989, while en route to Monrovia from Nimba County. He was traveling by bus with his local football team. On the way to Monrovia, he said, the bus driver fell asleep at the wheel and overran a checkpoint manned by Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers. B stated that there were about 60 people on the bus, and none were injured.
According to B, when the bus ran the checkpoint, it was stopped at gunpoint and the passengers were detained there. He confirmed this was an unusual reaction to persons going through an AFL checkpoint. B stated that normally the AFL soldiers at checkpoints had arms and guns, but that night there were more people at the checkpoint than usual, and the checkpoint was more active than usual. He testified that the soldiers told his group that there was a possible rebel attack pending, and the soldiers were debating whether his group were rebels who were disguised. The group was detained at the checkpoint overnight.
The witness described the following day, when his team had to prove that they were a legitimate team and not rebels in disguise. He said that a call was made to the Superintendent of Margibi County, who verified that they were a true team from Margibi, so the bus was allowed to leave and the team went back to Kakata. B told the jury that he did not stay in Kakata long, because of his experience at the checkpoint, and that he went back to Monrovia to his family.
B said that he returned to Kakata on May 26, his school’s “Gala Day” celebrating its anniversary. He testified that on arriving in Kakata as an alumnus looking forward to festive activities, he instead observed women and children running “helter-skelter,” and described the whole town as “amok.” The witness said that he started to hear gunfire from the north, from the borderlands region toward Gbarnga; he said that everyone knew that serious fighting was coming and they had to escape. The witness stated that he left in what was “probably the last possible taxi” in Kakata.
At the time, B said, he was living in Monrovia with his family; his parents and his siblings were together in the house. They lived in the neighborhood of Caldwell, which he described as more or less middle class. The neighborhood was made up of government officials and working families, and he characterized it as “very quiet and peaceful.” B told the jury that the neighborhood was ethnically mixed, with almost every tribe represented, and that everyone got along very well.
According to B, shortly after May 26, his family woke to find that almost their entire compound was empty and that most of their neighbors had left. He stated that those left were a few families from the Krahn tribe, and a Pakistani family that lived a few yards away from his own house. He said that he did not know then why everyone had left, but there had been chatter of the war coming. The war was already in Kakata, which is only 45 miles from Kakata to Monrovia.
The witness stated that he later found out about a flyer that appeared in his neighborhood, saying that people that had to leave the compound because it was going to be used as base. He was told that the flyer stated if someone was a Krahn or from another targeted group, they would be killed. He testified that his family did not receive the flyer. B told the jury that everyone became afraid, and had to make a decision for safety; the boys slept at their own house, and because one of his sisters was a classmate of a Pakistani girl, his sisters slept at the Pakistani family’s house for a few days.
According to B, a neighbor decided to move his children to the neighbor’s farm in Grand Cape Mount County; the neighbor was the Director of the Cabinet of Doe’s government at the time. B stated that the neighbor’s family also did not receive the flyer. The witness stated that the neighbor was originally from Grand Cape Mount County in the west of Liberia near the Sierra Leone border, and that his idea was to move his family to his farm until the situation calmed down in Monrovia. The children of the two families were very friendly, B said, and started to cry, so the neighbor approached B’s parents and offered to “take your kids along for two weeks or so” in order for the children to be together; the neighbor said that he would bring the children back when things shortly subsided. B stated that the families packed bags of clothing, on the understanding they would be going to vacation for a few days on the farm, but “two weeks turned into eternity.”
B testified that on the farm, he met workers who took care of it with their families, and said that there were other small towns nearby, so other displaced people had also come to seek refuge there. He confirmed that the stay on the farm was longer than two weeks, as the situation in Monrovia was not improving, so they could not come back. He recalled that they had to listen to the BBC to learn the situation in Monrovia, and said that he stayed on the farm from May 29 or so until the end of June.
B recalled hearing an individual identified as Thomas Woewiyu on the radio over the course of war. He recalled that when he first heard about Woewiyu on the radio, Woewiyu was identified as the Defense Spokesperson for the NPFL and granted interviews to the two major BBC reporters, Robin White and Elizabeth Blunt. B explained to the jury that the “BBC was the major source of information for everyone in that situation.” B specifically remembered hearing Woewiyu’s voice on the radio in one of his interviews, stating that the “good Krahn man is the dead one.”
The witness confirmed that in general, he stayed on the farm from May until the end of November, but that he did not stay there continuously; at the end of June, he briefly left. He stated that they had a meeting because they were running out of food, as they had only taken two weeks’ worth and had been at the farm for over five weeks. He explained that the group of people there was “literally” more “than the farm could take.” At the time, the farm’s rice crop was germinating, and would not be ready for harvest until September or October, but this was still June. Because his brothers and sisters were at the farm and running out of food, B decided to go back to Monrovia to find his father and get more food to sustain his family members on the farm. He stated that on July 2, he took a car to Monrovia.
B told the jury that upon his arrival at Duwalla and the Caldwell intersection, fighting broke out. He said that was the day Prince Johnson’s forces had taken over Freeport in Monrovia, and B said he was caught in between Freeport and trying to get to the other side. He confirmed that he was coming toward the Caldwell Junction and his car had entered Duwalla Market when everyone jumped out and ran.
B testified that the fighting lasted for 1.5 hours between the AFL and Prince Johnson’s INPFL. He said that he followed one of the running groups and jumped into a house nearby, and hid under a bed; he remembered that the 1.5 hours felt like an eternity because it was his first time having gunfire in his ears, and he did not know what to expect or what would happen. B said he was not alone in the house, as maybe 25 had rushed inside; when the firefight subsided, the owner of house told them all to “go their merry way.”
B did not know what to do, so he followed a group because he heard someone say there was a police center nearby at the Voice of America (“VoA”) facility. They had a big station in Brewerville roughly eight miles from Duwalla. B stated that he joined a group and walked there; when he arrived, he saw a big yard and many displaced people.
While at VoA, B ran into his high school friend who now played for the national team and was well known throughout Liberia: “Everyone knew his name.” The witness confirmed they were roommates at the boarding school. B testified that he was very happy to see his friend, and felt at least “some amount of hope and comfort, because at that point in time, people were not being friends with the Krahn ethnic group,” but when his friend saw him, they embraced. He already knew B’s origin and knew what the situation was, B said, so the two decided to work together to reach safety.
B’s friend told him that because the friend was already known as a big football star, he would give B one of his jerseys to wear and would himself wear the other, and would walk in front of B because people knew his place. The plan was for B’s friend to “more or less shield” B, B said. He testified that his friend said they needed to leave because the fighting was going to get intense, and that the friend suggested finding a way across the border to Freetown.
On the first day, B recalled, they walked from Brewerville to a little town and slept, and on the following morning reached their first major interaction with NPFL rebels at Clay. He testified that the checkpoint at Clay was “very, very frightening.” He said Clay used to be an official government checkpoint for the AFL, but now was taken over by the NPFL. He said it was manned by boys 12-14 years old, who carried AK-47s and stopped the whole group of civilians. B confirmed that he was not alone with his friend, as many people were walking away from the war toward the southern end of Liberia.
B described the physical aspect of the checkpoint as a piece of rope across the street, and said there were fresh human heads with blood draining from them on a piece of stake in the middle of road.
The witness described a process of walking up to within 1000 feet of the checkpoint, and a child shouting out, “Halt!” He said everyone would stop, then the child would tell them to advance and they would walk until 500 feet lay between them and him. The witness recalled there were roughly three or four NPFL soldiers at the checkpoint, but that the NPFL had another group in the building farther down from the checkpoint. He confirmed that the checkpoint was on a main road where children were patrolling.
The witness testified that when someone came to the middle area in front of the checkpoint, the soldiers would ask their name, and once it was called, they would then ask the person’s tribe. If they came from an acceptable tribe, he said, they were told to pass. If they were Krahn or Mandingo, they were pulled to one side. The witness testified that he saw this happen, and that it even happened to him. As part of his plan with his friend, he said, he was prepared based on the fact that he had already heard the NPFL would ask for Krahns or government officials: since B could speak Grebo, the friends had planned that he would say he was Grebo.
B testified that his friend was Bassa, and was allowed to pass ahead; when B said he himself was Grebo, a soldier told him, “Every Krahn wants to be Grebo and Kru and so forth. Step aside.” B told the jury that he did step aside, and was waiting for his fate when his friend who had passed was recognized by NPFL rebels ahead, but was so frightened that he could only keep saying, “My brother, my brother.” According to B, when a rebel asked what was happening, the friend told the rebels, who B said “must have been a higher rank than the one at the gate,” because the one at the gate was told to bring B over. The rebels wanted the two men to stay, but the friend told them the two had to leave.
Next, the friends got to a checkpoint in the town of Gutrie, which looked almost the same as Clay, according to B. He said it had the same “decorations” of heads, and that there was a soldier there famous for killing people. The soldiers again stopped them, B said, and tried to convince them to stay. He testified that because the friends did not want to push the soldiers, they decided to stay the night. He confirmed that the soldiers wanted to recruit them to fight, and did not know B was a Krahn. He said they reached that checkpoint late at night, and he and his friend did not want to try to fight back because that could also lead to death. They decided they would continue their journey in the morning, “when no one was focusing on us.”
B testified that early in the morning, he heard crying. He stated a woman was crying because the NPFL had taken her husband. B said that 15 feet away from him, the NPFL shot the man, saying the couple was Mandingo. He recalled that it was common for the NPFL rebel soldiers to call people “Mandingo dogs” or “Krahn dogs.” He confirmed that he very clearly saw the man get shot; the first thing he heard was a soldier crying “Step aside,” and the next thing he saw was the man shot in front of his wife and children. B stated that the man was shot by a very young boy 14 years old or so; he was an NPFL soldier.
B said that later on in the morning, at maybe 10:00a.m. or 11:00a.m., they got another man and took him to the Gutrie football field. There, the NPFL rebel soldiers called the whole group together, and shot the man; B testified they said it was meant as a deterrent for anyone trying to keep Krahns or Mandingos safe. He said that as a Krahn, who knew the situation was not safe, so he had no option but to keep walking.
At the Robertsville Junction checkpoint, B said, they met a former schoolmate who was so happy to see B that she almost called him by his middle name, which would expose him as a Krahn. He explained that was the name he was popularly known by in high school. He described having to literally rush to her to cover her mouth; she cried when she realized that what she had been about to do would cause his death. B recalled telling her she couldn’t cry, and that he wanted to continue.
At the next checkpoint, B said, another NPFL soldier tried to convince the friends to stay, wanting to convert them to fighters. B described the soldier lecturing them about why the revolution was happening, but they knew they were not going to join. He described the checkpoint’s appearance as the same as the first checkpoints he encountered. He said that the further they went, the more deadly the checkpoints became; B thought he would be killed.
B reiterated that the checkpoints were places where people would be killed. He described how they would be “picked up” from the line waiting to pass, and soldiers sitting on the side of the road would direct the soldiers manning the checkpoint, saying “Carry him.” Then the witness would hear gunfire. He stated that the bodies were not buried right away, but were instead placed in the middle of the town for people to see.
Eventually, B said, he and his friend disagreed about where to go and B had to make a choice. The friend wanted to go to Freetown, but B’s siblings were not too far away. He said he left and went back for his family. The two stayed at the town where they eventually parted for some time, B said, and then the same things started to happen, “people dying here and there.” It was 12 miles to the farmland, and B said he went to join the rest of his siblings.
According to B, the farm when he returned was a different place from the farm he had left. It was “very quiet,” and everyone was worried, because they did not know what to expect. He said his siblings had not known if he had survived, and when he rejoined them, he explained what he had seen along the way. On the following day, rebels came to town in their car with their commander, and B said he and his brothers ran into the forest because they knew only rebels had cars; the sisters stayed in town with the rest of the family. He testified that he stayed there until November 28, when they heard a ceasefire was signed in Monrovia, and he decide he should go search for his parents so the family could begin a transition back to their life in Monrovia.
The witness testified that he went to Monrovia to search for his parents, but the NPFL had announced on the radio that no one would be allowed from their territory back to Monrovia; if someone was caught trying to reach Monrovia, they would be killed. When the witness reached the last checkpoint leading to Monrovia, he said, a female commander there ordered him to be arrested because she determined he was going to Monrovia, and that was a crime in NPFL territory. He testified that he was tied up and beaten, and the NPFL tried to get a confession from him that he was going to Monrovia; when he did not say it, they threw him in a makeshift prison. He confirmed that the NPFL did not know he was Krahn, as they had gone through a “filtering” and felt there were no Krahns or Mandingos in their midst, but they still did not allow people from their territory back to Monrovia. The witness described how he spent a few days in prison before they let him go because he did some work for them by going to fetch water and food, as well as cooking for them.
B said he had to stay in the town for about a week to prove he was not leaving to go to Monrovia. He described sneaking out after a while, and told the jury that the distance from the checkpoint to the ECOMOG buffer zone was about 1000 feet. Once in the hands of ECOMOG, he said, you would be put on a truck and ECOMOG would send you to Monrovia.
B testified that in Monrovia, he found his father in military barracks, and his condition was so bad that he was literally dying of starvation. B’s father could barely sit up, B said, and could only lie down on a recliner. He was surviving on tea.
According to B, it took over a year for his family to fully reunite, because not everyone could come together. He wanted to go back to his siblings because he was the oldest, and he felt guilty that he left then in a very difficult situation, but his father and the rest of his family members decided they had to make a decision. He recalled them telling him that at least he was alive and that he had to stay with them in Monrovia, hoping that one day something good would happen and his siblings would join them. They “had to keep hope alive,” B said.
After recounting his journey, the witness used a map to trace his route for the jury.
On cross-examination, the witness confirmed that he did not see the flyer distributed in his neighborhood, but that according to the information he received, it did not say if the neighborhood was to become an INPFL or a Taylor base, only that it was to be a base. He testified that he did not previously tell government agents that the flyer named Prince Johnson.
Witness 5: Herman J. Cohen, Continued
Herman J. Cohen then returned to the stand for his cross-examination. His direct examination occurred on Day 3 of the trial.
On cross-examination, he confirmed that he ended his service as the Undersecretary for African Affairs in 1993, and said that he was replaced in April after the Clinton administration came in. He testified that he was then sent on detail to the World Bank, where he worked on Africa until November 1993, when he retired from the State Department and the World Bank kept him on.
Cohen confirmed that his role with the World Bank focused totally on Africa. He described his duties, which centered on a new program that was starting up called the ‘Global Coalition for Africa.’ He said the purpose was to develop a dialogue between donor nations and Africa so as to encourage good governance, and that this was the first time the World Bank did something in politics; he was asked to be part of team. Cohen stated that he dealt with several countries, and did not know if he ever dealt specifically with Liberia for the World Bank.
The witness testified that he later went to see Charles Taylor not as an employee of the World Bank, but as a civilian. He said he was invited by a shipping registry company that financed his trip, and he went as a private citizen and Taylor asked him to look around and give advice. He said he did this without salary. Cohen confirmed that he ultimately gave Taylor some advice on how might be able to get financial help for development. Cohen said he had a “complete run of government without asking permission,” and that he found a Deputy Minister of Finance who had a wonderful plan on economic recovery. He recalled telling Taylor that the Deputy had a wonderful program, and that Cohen then said goodbye and went home.
Cohen confirmed that part of what the World Band needed was to have an outside accountant look at how money was spent. He testified that he never saw an indication that his advice was followed by Taylor.
Cohen agreed that he “kept tabs on” the happenings in Liberia, even after his service with the State Department. He stated that he thought Liberians referred to the First Civil War and the Second Civil War, but was not sure. He agreed that in 2003 there was ultimately a peace accord after which fighting stopped. He agreed that one requirement of this peace accord was that Charles Taylor go into exile in Nigeria.
Cohen confirmed that another provision of the peace accord was the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (“TRC”). He understood that it followed the template of South Africa in 1994, which was to “talk everything out.” He said people would tell what they did and confess, and they would decide on forgiveness. He confirmed that the TRC also named some people who could be prosecuted. Cohen stated that he did not know if the United States gave money for the TRC.
Cohen confirmed that when he said “talk everything out,” he meant that the TRC took testimony. He did not remember if testimony was taken in Liberia. He did not know if the testimony must be given publicly or could be given confidentially. He stated that he did not read the report from the TRC.
The witness confirmed that he voluntarily testified in front of the TRC in Monrovia. He confirmed he did not have to go and that there was no subpoena. According to Cohen, this took place in St. Paul, Minnesota, at Hamline University, where several commissioners from the TRC had come to take testimony from individuals.
Cohen confirmed there is a large group of Liberians in the U.S., across the East Coast and especially in St. Paul. He agreed that the group who emigrated to the U.S. were called the “diaspora” by Liberians inside Liberia, and that the diaspora had some impact during the conflict on U.S. policy makers.
The witness confirmed that Woewiyu was not just part of the diaspora, but also part of the United Liberian Association in America, and had testified before a Congressional committee about what was going on under Doe’s government. The witness did not know the timing of this testimony.
The witness confirmed that his testimony in front of the TRC focused on the U.S. role throughout the period leading up to the conflict and then after, as it was the only thing he was qualified to talk about.
Cohen agreed that the one thing he expressed regret about during his testimony was an effort made to broker the departure of Doe from Liberia in the spring of 1990. He agreed that something had been worked out where a U.S. plane was to pick up Doe, to take him to Sierra Leone and ultimately to Togo as an exile. Cohen confirmed this was something he spent time trying to make happen, and testified that virtually at the eleventh hour, word came from the White House that he should back off; he was given an order not to pursue, and to stop all efforts at mediation of the conference. Cohen recalled that he was told, “Do not take charge of the problem,” and that he expressed his regret to the commissioners from Liberia.
Cohen stated that he did not remember the specific point at which reparations came up in questions from the commissioners. He did not recall a commissioner expressing the opinion that the U.S. had a moral responsibility to pay reparations, but did recall suggesting Liberia look to Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso for reparations. He explained that Burkina Faso had provided a large amount of financial support and armament to the NPFL, and that it was a transit point for Libyan arms. He explained that Ivory Coast nominally took a neutral stance, but that the NPFL were able to use it for a staging ground.
The witness did not remember ever seeing a list of people the TRC recommended for prosecution.
On re-direct, the witness stated that he believes Libya should not be given reparations for their role, but that in his opinion Libya should give reparations, as Libya trained the rebels and provided the arms that were trafficked through Burkina Faso. He confirmed that Libya provided all the arms for Taylor’s army.
The witness confirmed that it was the U.S. policy to leave Liberians like Woewiyu and the NPFL leadership to make peace. He confirmed that after Doe was removed, the NPFL fought ECOMOG, and subsequently ULIMO. He could not count for the jury how many peace or unity conferences there were before 2003, but said there were “quite a few.” He confirmed that throughout the peace process, the NPFL kept fighting.
Witness 21: “C”
Witness C was born in Monrovia, and grew up both there and in Grand Gedeh. She stated that she is one of the sisters of Witness B. She stated that she attended elementary school in Grand Gedeh, and high school first in Duwalla and then Monrovia, as her las year or so of high school was interrupted by the war. C stated that she is now living in the United States as a banker, and said she had to take time off from the probation period of her new job to come here to testify.
The witness testified that she was living in Caldwell when the war started in 1989, and that it was an ethnically mixed community. C said there were approximately four Krahn families in the same compound where she lived, and they did not know division at the time. She told the jury that they did not only play with Krahn children while growing up.
The witness said the outside world reached her community because they were constantly listening to the news on radio and television, and also received news by word of mouth. She recalled listening to a morning show but also news because it kept her informed; she remembered listening to the BBC.
After the war started, C said, she sometimes heard representatives of the NPFL speaking on the BBC via radio on BBC. She recalled someone identifying himself as Woewiyu speaking on the BBC, and that he said “the good Krahn man is the dead one.” She told the jury that hearing this made her feel “turned off,” and that it “took away her spirit,” because she did not understand what it meant. C told the jury that in the country she grew up knowing, “We loved each other and did not see division.” She explained that her parents did not bring her up that way, as they were Christians who prized treating everyone equally. “That meant a whole lot to me,” C said.
C stated that her father was the Joint Security Chief of Doe’s government, and her mother was a librarian.
C testified that in the spring of 1990, on the eve of Easter, her family had gone to sleep like on a regular Saturday. She said that normally her father was at work at night because he oversaw border lines and the joint security divisions at night.
According to C, when the family woke up, the entire compound was empty except for themselves, a few families from the same county, and one military officer and his family. In the entire compound of three different sections, she said, everyone was gone except for just four Krahn families, a Pakistani family, and one other. She said that before that morning, she had experienced a change in how her neighbors were treating her. She said they were growing stand-offish, and did not want to mix considering the information on Krahns they were hearing. C said her neighbors started backing away and not being as friendly as they used to be, and although they did not say why, she noted they were not distancing themselves from Grebos or Krus.
The witness described her surprise at waking up in the morning and seeing everyone gone, as the compound was normally lively. C said she would see her neighbors as early as 6:00a.m., going about doing their business or with the lights on getting ready to cook. “It was completely dead and empty.” She told the jury that she did not know what was going on, but later found out. She described her family not knowing how get through this night or another without people around, as it put them in an insecure position.
C confirmed that she travelled to the farm of the same neighbor previously described by her brother, Witness B. She identified the neighbor as a member of the Vai tribe. She acknowledged that he had people taking care of the farm working and living there, and said that when the group arrived from Monrovia, there were probably about 36 people or so staying there
C’s first contact with the NPFL occurred when they came on her family friend’s farm and said he was hosting people from the Krahn ethnic group, she said. C testified that the NPFL commander ordered them to be put outside so they could be killed. She explained that she had come from taking a brief nap and was on a little porch area with the family friend’s wife when she heard a vehicle coming up the hill. She said that the NPFL fighters came in one pickup truck, and that the commander was wearing green military pants and a red t-shirt and had a string tied around his head with something in the middle of the string. She stated there were about four or five people other than the commander, and that all of the group was armed. She confirmed that the commander identified himself as the commander, and said he was with the NPFL.
C testified that when the pickup arrived, the Superintendent of the Marketing Association for those who had business in the local markets was tied up in the back of the truck. According to C, the NPFL commander said they would tie C up just like the Superintendent, and that the NPFL would take them to be killed because they were Krahns. She recalled the commander saying that someone told him there were Krahns hiding on the farm.
C testified that she was tied up alongside her sister, “like a duck where you tie the wings together.” She demonstrated the “duck fa tabae” style to the jury, and explained that victims were tied at the arms with their chest protruding. She said it felt as if her chest were going to break apart. “My spirit left my body,” she said, clearly emotional. “I felt empty. I felt I could see myself standing in front looking at me in the car tied up.” The process was painful, she said, and used a plain brown rope tied really tight. The witness showed the jury her right arm, saying the rope left her with scars because it cut her skin. She said that each time she sees her scar, she feels the rope on her right arm.
C’s sister was also tied up and placed in the back of the pickup truck, C said, as well as the family friend because he was accused of harboring Krahn children and had been the Director of the Cabinet in Doe’s government. She confirmed that when this happened she was going on 18 years old, and that her sister had a four-year age difference. She was told that whether or not the sisters were Krahn, they would be killed; the NPFL fighters also told her that there as an RPG launcher at the back of neck, and she should not shake because it would blow her up.
While C was in the pickup, she said, she told a soldier that they were Grebo, not a Krahn in hiding. She testified that she spoke English to the soldier, and that he got another soldier who spoke Grebo to talk to the sisters. She explained that Grebo is her mother’s dialect, and that her father is Krahn, which in Liberia – because tribal membership passed through the father – was enough to make her guilty. C said that the Grebo-speaking fighter said she “speaks like a proper Grebo girl;” the witness explained that she spoke “seaside” Grebo, because that’s where her mother was from. Th Grebo-speaking fighter told the commander he thought she was actually Grebo, but by this time the NPFL fighters were looting everything they could, including food and clothing.
C described how the NPFL fighters made an effort to drive away after they had looted all they possible could, but the truck would not start. She said that when they tried again it still would not start, so all the people who were tied up were unloaded. At that point, the ignition worked, she said; when they were loaded in again, it would not start. They did this a third time, C said, but after the third time, were convinced God was not ready for the captives to die. The commander told them the group would come back, and that if anyone on the farm at that moment were not there during the future inspection, the NPFL would kill everyone on the farm.
True to their word, the same NPFL group and commander came back about one and a half or two weeks later. When they came back, she said, they rounded up every man, and took food and everything else they could. She described the fighters forcing victims to fall to the ground without being allowed to break their fall in any way. C said that this abuse was known as “felling the tree,” and described the NPFL punishing people as much as they could.
C said that the NPFL was still looking for Krahns but also wanted to loot things, “so if they could get both, it would be great.” She recalled that at this point, the wife of the family friend said to the fighters, “Do you think I would risk my family’s lives to have Krahn people on the farm? If I know you are looking for them, why would I have them here? Am I that stupid?” C stated the soldiers left after they looted.
C confirmed that not all 30 people living on the farm gathered this second time. She said that during this period, civilians did not drive, so all cars that were heard were actually rebels, so when someone heard a car coming, everyone ran into swamps or bushes as far away as they could get.
The witness described how eventually the decision was made to leave the farm, as one of the family friend’s children was not doing well. She stated that the war had a psychological impact on the child, and he stopped talking or eating, and consistently looked sick. C said they did not know what was going on with him.
The witness stated that eventually the group made it to Sierra Leone, where they stayed in a town and were occasionally supported by the UNHCR, which gave supplies to newcomers and sometimes also gave money to help feed the siblings. She said that the family friend went on to Freetown, but that she encountered the NPFL in Sierra Leone, in April of that same year. She said that the rebels who came to Sierra Leone from Liberia were the same type of people who rounded others up previously, and so she tried to get back to Monrovia to reconnect with her parents.
The witness described the rebels coming over the border to Sierra Leone and attacking; many had guns and were dressed up in red t-shirts or whatever clothes they could find. She said they came in pickup trucks, zooming through towns and rounding up people. C said they had to go in the bushes again off the road to get to another village at a little distance from where they were, and someone had to go up to the road and check if it was safe to go back to Liberia. She recalled that those doing the shooting were little boys, between 8-10 years old.
The witness testified that she made it back to Monrovia eventually, and finished high school there. At the time, the interim government was in power.
There was no cross-examination of Witness C.
Witness 22: “A”
Witness A testified that he was born in the port city of Harper in Maryland County, and grew up in Monrovia on Bushrod Island. He told the jury he is a Grebo. The witness testified that he went to high school on Bushrod Island, where he developed an interest in journalism and pursued it through the University of Liberia, taking courses there in journalism and English. He told the jury that he then began his career in journalism, working for the Daily Observer, the Sun Times News, the Standard, and a Catholic radio station prior to the war.
When A learned that war had broken out, he said, he was at the airport in San Francisco. He was on an international exchange program and his escort bought a newspaper and said, “Look! War in your country! Are you sure you want to go back?” The witness replied that he did, and told the jury that he arrived at Roberts International Airport on April 1, 1990. He is sure of the date because, as he told the jury, he loves wrestling and that was one of the biggest WWE WrestleMania shows, so it is etched in his mind.
A testified that back in Monrovia, he resumed his work as a journalist with the Catholic Herald. At that time, A said, Samuel Doe was president. A said that in the following months, as the war intensified, he continued his work. He stated that during that time, the government provided the typical services usual in a normal environment – radio, lights, and water – and the civil society functioned. Everyone went to work. He said that the point at which food and sanitation gradually became a problem in Monrovia was August 1990.
A testified that his neighborhood had run out of food so he needed to go to Bushrod Island to look for food, which was a safe environment for him because he grew up there. Near the maternity hospital, he saw a long line of people at a checkpoint run by the AFL, he said. A stated that everyone had to show their identification, which included where they were born; he said that the AFL noticed someone was from Nimba County, pulled him from the checkpoint line, and shot him. The witness affirmed that he saw this himself.
The witness testified that during this time, he was arrested by members of the Doe government. One morning before August 1990, he said, he left home to go to work, and when he got out of his taxi, he was whisked into a waiting car and sped off to Doe’s Executive Mansion. A told the jury that it was a natural thing for anyone to ask why they were arrested, and when he told them he was a journalist, they wanted him to show his identification, but for once he did not have it in his pocket. To them it seemed like he was lying, and A said he was kept there for hours. Once someone recognized him as a journalist, but when he asked to be let go, he was told, “No.” A said that Doe’s press secretary would recognize him, as the Executive Mansion was part of his beat, but he was again refused. Eventually the press secretary was called and the witness was released.
A testified that he began working for the Associated Press and the BBC around 1991, just a week apart. He said his normal beat was to cover the situation of the war, supplying the agencies with what happened each day. He stated that he did not leave Monrovia every day, but that when the NPFL eventually agreed to confidence-building measures and relaxed the checkpoints, he sometimes left Monrovia. Before that, he said, he got out of Monrovia as far as Bushrod Island, but did not go further because it was dangerous for anyone to get out at the time as there were usually checkpoints.
The witness clarified that “confidence measures” were designed to bridge the gap between the sides, and bridge the division in the country. He said that people in Monrovia were holed up. He said his nickname for Monrovia was the “big rock where people live,” as it has no farmland; in his view, the confidence-building was designed to relax the checkpoints so food would flow into Monrovia from the interior of country. He confirmed that the interior was all controlled by the NPFL, and was referred to as “Taylorland.”
According to A, he was eventually able to travel to Taylorland because of the confidence-building, and went when Taylor’s officials sent to Monrovia for experienced journalists to tell their side of the story. A stated that it was natural for journalists to go, as they wanted to see how the NPFL lived and what they were doing in Taylorland. The NPFL’s Liberian press liaison would let the Monrovian journalists know to come and visit, A said.
The first time A traveled outside Monrovia after the confidence-building measures, he said, the press liaison came to get the journalists and take them in a vehicle to Gbarnga where the NPFL had its headquarters. A testified that before arriving, the liaison turned off the road to a place called “CARI,” the Central Agricultural Research Institute. The witness confirmed that the liaison had a driver, but controlled the car himself. A said he had been to CARI during “normal times,” and that it was a research institution. A had been there more than once, so he had an idea of where they were.
A recalled the liaison, when he turned off the main highway to the road that led to the house, telling the journalists they would make a short stop. Lights came on, A said, and it was his first view of child soldiers, because they were all over the yard. A described the house as a five-bedroom bungalow with palm trees in yard. It was nighttime, and because “guys in power had anything they wanted,” they had generators to power their lights.
A testified that the child soldiers looked and acted drugged. He said they wore wigs. Some carried guns that looked bigger than they were; A estimated the youngest to be 10 years old. A described the car he was in as parked “very close” to the house’s porch.
A testified that a gentleman he later got to know as Tom Woewiyu emerged from the building. A said he exchanged a few words with the press liaison, who then got back in the car and the group proceeded to Gbarnga, where they stayed overnight. The next day, A stated, they all went to meet with Taylor. It was the first time A saw him in person. A recalled that the journalists had been told that Taylor wanted them to come see how he lived and how he controlled the area, and how people lived normal lives under NPFL control.
The witness described coming into Taylor’s office, and Taylor recognized one of the women with A as a distant relation. A remembered that on this first trip, Taylor gave a speech about how Liberia needed to move forward. Looking back, A said, Taylor always gave a speech, because it was intended to make you accept him for what he was. He noted that Taylor offered the journalists food and they went into a huge dining room, before getting back in their car.
The witness recalled passed through major checkpoints like Mount Barclay, 15 Gate, Kakata, and Gbarnga, as well as many others. He said that 15 Gate is very near to Kakata, but farther from Monrovia. 15 Gate is considered part of Harbel, west of the main location. They called the last checkpoint “Iron Gate,” A said; it was the last gate before someone entered Gbarnga to head into Executive Mansion. It was manned by child soldiers.
Being a journalist, A said, the children’s commanders would not give him the information he wanted to use. Instead, he would get information from the child soldiers by bribing them with cigarettes; he would regularly travel with packs of cigarettes to give away.
The witness noted that he did not travel to and from Gbarnga by himself. He said he needed some sense of protection, because he was going among people who carried guns and who used them without any semblance of civil society. Even though he was a journalist and ready to “brave the storm,” he said, he was human as well and wanted a sense of protection. He would go to Gbarnga either with a group of journalists, or wait for the press liaison to reappear. Even when with the group of journalists, he said, he usually used cover like the U.N. or relief agencies.
A described a particular trip to Gbarnga where the liaison picked the journalists up at their hotel and took them to the Executive Mansion; it was apparently Taylor’s birthday. He said there were lots of people in the room at the Mansion, and one was Woewiyu. The witness said this was a larger room than that where he first met Taylor, and that Isaac Musa, other NPFL commanders, and several other people were also there. He said the journalists were not told it was Taylor’s birthday celebration before they arrived. He said that Monrovia was a small place, so when the chance came to get out, they felt obliged to go and get the stories.
A said that he wanted “the story behind the story,” so Taylor told the story of how he left jail in the United States and went back to Africa. A recalled that Taylor stood up in front of the assembly to tell the story, and that Woewiyu was a central figure. He recalled Woewiyu sitting on the right-hand side of Taylor. The witness identified Isaac Musa as a general in Taylor’s armed forces, and recalled Musa climbing the stairs to enter the main building and being disarmed. A said that Musa was asked to surrender his weapons, by Taylor’s child soldier bodyguards at the door. The witness confirmed that he did not have contact himself with Woewiyu at this event.
A testified that subsequently, Woewiyu came to Monrovia on one of the confidence-building trips, and his entourage pointed out A, saying, “Chief, this is the BBC guy.” He recalled that they always called Woewiyu “Chief.” He stated that Woewiyu turned to him and said thank you, because “all your stories are helping us because they pinpoint where the enemies are.” The witness explained that at that time, “the enemy” was AFL and ECOMOG. He realized that Woewiyu was referring to the witness’s mentioning distances in his stories. He told the jury that describing the distance between the NPFL and ECOMOG was a common practice to provide more detail in stories. However, when he got away from Woewiyu, he repeated it to his friends and stopped doing it.
The witness was shown a map of Bong County and identified the main highway linking Monrovia to Gbarnga. He was also shown, and recognized, a photo of CARI. He used a photo of a bungalow to show the jury where the car from which he could clearly see child soldiers was; he pointed it out next to the porch. The witness was shown a photograph of the room where he met Taylor, and indicated where Taylor stood and where Woewiyu sat beside him. The witness was shown a photo and indicated Musa and Woewiyu. He indicated the defendant when asked if he saw Woewiyu in the courtroom.
A testified that he saw Woewiyu come to Monrovia on many occasions, including when he came to join the other group of rebels who, by this time, claimed they had broken away from Taylor. He did not know the year. He remembered a national unity conference in Monrovia, and said it was before Woewiyu broke away. The witness covered the conference. Shown a photograph previously admitted, he named members of the NPFL delegation to the national unity conference.
The witness testified that he was present in Monrovia during Operation Octopus, and still listened to the BBC at that time. He recalled Woewiyu being accused by BBC journalists in London of shelling Monrovia indiscriminately. He recalled Woewiyu replying that the NPFL was not doing that, but rather a “surgical operation.” The shelling did not appear to the witness to be surgical; he told the jury that the house two houses away from his was shelled, and that explained that his neighborhood was not a military barracks.
On cross-examination, the witness confirmed he lives in the United States. He did not know where the witness was speaking from when he discussed “surgical strikes,” whether inside or outside Liberia. When asked whether he questioned if Woewiyu was telling the truth or if Woewiyu knew for sure what happened, the witness replied that he questioned if Woewiyu was telling the truth.
When shown a photograph, the witness did not know if it was at a meeting discussing the ceasefire from 1991.
The witness stated that he only knew about the fighting in the areas he covered prior to Operation Octopus. He confirmed that from spring 1991 until October 1992, there was no fighting in the area of Monrovia he was covering, and that it was safe to move around the city due to the ECOMOG forces. The witness agreed that at that time, the person nominally in charge of the Liberian government was Sawyer. The witness indicated that he covered him for the BBC if he made news; but that he rarely made news.
At one point, A saw W at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia during the period when there was not fighting on the road between Monrovia and Gbarnga, which the witness said was “thanks to ECOMOG.” A said that Woewiyu always traveled with bodyguards, but did not come to Monrovia with child soldiers.
The witness confirmed that he was arrested by Doe. He confirmed that he saw a man shot at an AFL checkpoint, as the AFL then controlled the city. He placed the death to a month before Doe was shot.
The witness confirmed that he passed through several checkpoints because there were myriads of rebel factions. He passed through ULIMO and INPFL, but did not pass through a LURD checkpoint, as he was out of Liberia at that point. He confirmed that there were child soldiers at all of them.
The witness stated that he read about the TRC from afar. He did not know when it was in operation. He stated that he did not offer to testify before the TRC. He agreed that it met outside Liberia in several meetings in U.S. cities. A did not consider going to testify, although he would have if asked but no one asked.
On re-direct, A confirmed he never saw child soldiers at AFL or ECOMOG checkpoints
The witness confirmed that the military operation known as Octopus took several weeks to compete. He did not know the day it started. When in Monrovia during Octopus, he said, you could see fighter jets overhead and could hear bombs dropping. The NPFL had control of Harbel at that time.
The witness stated that he remembered Robin White very well, and was played a BBC radio broadcast of “Focus on Africa” from November 3, 1992. In it, the presenter states that the NPFL has reported ECOMOG bombs, and interviews a man identified as Woewiyu, who said he was there at the time. Woewiyu stressed that it was not a military zone, and when pressed about his own presence at the site, Woewiyu said he was just passing through, and was “not a military installation” in himself. After the witness heard the recording, he recalled that Woewiyu was on the ground in Liberia during the operation.
Witness 23: “AA”
Witness AA testified that he is from Gbarnga in Bong County, and identified himself as a member of the Mandingo tribe, and a Muslim. He stated that his mother was Kpelle. He sells scrap for a living, and before the war he was a miner. His father was also a miner, the witness said, so AA grew up in that trade. Prior to the war, he left Gbarnga and came to Monrovia, taking his mother, his two wives, and his children.
AA testified that he was in Monrovia when the war started, but did not stay there. In 1991, he said, everyone thought it was a week or a month’s issue, because they had never seen such a thing or had experience of it. According to A, at the end of 1991 his mother told him to take her back to the family farm, located 25 miles from Gbarnga. He said his mother wanted to go to the farm because the war was frightening; AA obeyed, because “our religion says we should save our mother first before we save our father.”
AA stated that the took a car from Monrovia to Gbarnga, passing through many checkpoints that were all controlled by the NPFL at that time. He said there were sometimes human skulls at the checkpoints, and sometimes the NPFL would put a head on the number plate in front of a car; he stated the NPFL would also sometimes kill people, cut open their stomach, and take out their intestines to tie together and put across the road as a checkpoint.
AA told the checkpoint guards he was a Kpelle, he said, because if he told them he was Mandingo, they would kill him. He told the jury that the NPFL announced it was after Mandingos, Krahns, and AFL soldiers. He described how the NPFL fighters would check a person’s legs for boot marks, and if you had the marks, they would say you were a soldier even if you were not. They would kill you either way, he said.
The witness testified that there were some adults many the checkpoints, but mostly he saw children aged 10-15 years old. He said they were called the “SBU,” and some dragged their guns behind them. The witness said he heard the fighters ask “What are you?” and no one said Mandingo, Krahn, or AFL because “it was Judgement Day for you if said so.”
The witness saw many people pulled out of line at checkpoints. The fighters called to the crowd to get in single file, AA said, and then would come and say they were not satisfied. AA said that people could cry and beg but it did not matter; the NPFL fighters did whatever they wanted to do, and he personally witnessed them killing people and taking out their intestines. Sometimes he saw fighters performing what was called the “VIP treatment,” when a captive’s wrists were tied, he was laid down, and heavy objects like car engines were placed on top of him until he was pressed to death. The witness recalled that if someone tried to intercede, they would be told to leave the person alone because he was “being given the VIP treatment.”
The witness confirmed that two wives are allowed in his religion.
The witness recalled 25-30 checkpoints between Monrovia and Gbarnga, and explained that each group of NPFL fighters had their own checkpoints, and that at that time, the whole area was controlled by the NPFL
AA reached Gbarnga safely with his mother, he said, and met a friend there. He said that he stopped at the mosque his grandfather helped build, which was not far from where AA lived, and that is where he saw his friend. The witness explained that although he resided in Monrovia at that time, he said he “lived” in Bong County because out of the whole world, it is Bong County he knows best. AA said his friend shook his hand and asked where AA was going, and at that time AA’s heart was beating because he thought he might be killed or beaten; if his friend revealed AA to be a Mandingo, AA was “finished.”
AA testified that he explained he was bringing his mother to her farm, and his friend exclaimed over the distance and asked AA why he did not go by a different route. AA told his friend he was scared to do that, because Bong County was where AA was born and anyone could identify him and point at him as a Mandingo, and he would be killed. AA testified that his friend said his uncle was Sam Dokie of the NPFL, who could ease AA’s journey. Since his friend guaranteed AA’s safety, AA agreed to the friend’s plan.
AA explained that his major issue was that he needed rice, which he told to his friend. The friend suggested that they Doe for help, AA said, so they went to Doe’s home. AA was nervous, but on arrival, they learned Dokie was not there. AA stated that Dokie’s wife told them that Dokie had gone to Tom Woewiyu’s house, and the friend wanted to go there and get help. AA told the jury that he was feeling a little more confident by then nothing would happen to him, so they went to Woewiyu’s house, near where Taylor had his mansion, by the road that goes to Far East.
AA said that the two went to Woewiyu’s house and learned the men had gone out, so they waited. He stated that he did not know Woewiyu at that time. He noticed men arriving in a Nissan Jeep colored red and white, and said that when it parked, all the soldiers around stood at attention and saluted them. All the way from the checkpoint to his home, all the soldiers standing were saluting.
After Woewiyu and Dokie arrived, AA said, his friend said they should wait. Both NPFL men went to have a meal, which AA recalled was soup. After the meal, he told the jury, he introduced himself to Dokie, and after talking, Dokie gave AA three bags of rice. AA stated that he had left his mother at the mosque, but that he now went with her and the bags of rice to the farm.
The witness confirmed that they passed through many checkpoints on the way from Gbarnga to the farm; the same kinds of killings and abuse occurred that he had already seen at other checkpoints. He told the jury that the little children at the checkpoints were there because they did not understand anything and did not have regard for human beings. He explained that he referred to Taylor and the NPFL as “the government” because they were in power in Gbarnga. He stated that sometimes the NPFL leadership was referred to as NPRAG, although he does not know what it stands for; that is that the NPFL fighters said to call them.
The witness stated that Taylor was the president and Woewiyu the Defense Minister.
The witness stated that he reached the farm with his mother, but after some time, his mother began to miss her grandchildren. In 1991, almost 1992, she told AA to bring her grandchildren to the farm. AA noted that war was coming and she could not see it, but that for Muslims, “heaven is right under the feet of our mothers. So I was compelled to do it and I went.”
When returning to Monrovia, AA said, he went through the same kind of thing as on his initial journey, but this time he had his mother’s blessings with him. He said that when he reached Gbarnga, he was advised that he had to have a pass. He purchased one, and on pass it was written “NPFL” and they put a scorpion stamp on it. The witness identified the scorpion stamp as the same on a document shown to the jury, and said that as long as had the pass, things were easier for him. However, he still told everyone he was Kpelle and spoke with a Kpelle dialect.
The witness arrived in Monrovia in a pickup that was unloaded and then taken by NPFL troops who said they were taking people to the warfront. AA was told “civilians are nothing,” so they should get off the truck. He spent two or three days before trying to reach his old neighborhood, and could not go there directly. He noted that everyone in the country was worried because the NPFL was gaining more ground and almost all the country was under their control, so “everyone had to be careful.”
The witness went home and was told his children were not there, so he went to look for them in a different part of the city. He testified that he never knew anything like Octopus was going to happen, but suddenly he saw ECOMOG troops coming and people running all over the place. He continued by different roads, he said, to Dry Rice Market; there was an NPFL checkpoint nearby.
The witness got to the checkpoint and everyone was told to stand in line. The same sort of questions were asked, and this checkpoint was manned by many younger child soldiers, which the witness believed is because “they could not really think that well.” AA said he wanted to get in line but the soldiers said he must leave it. Martina Johnson appeared, and the witness recognized a photograph of her. She directed the line to be more straight and shot a pistol to indicate it. She wanted the line to be straight like the bullet’s path. The witness noted that a bullet went past his ear.
The witness testified that “Mandingo pepper soup” is an order to kill. He reiterated that whether someone is Mandingo or not, what matters is if they say you are Mandingo. They said a lot of people in that line were Mandingo.
After interacted with Martina Johnson, AA said, he fell to ground and thought would die. Yet he recovered, and the soldiers said he should get in line. The same soldiers from the SBU had bayonets on the front of their guns. The witness knew that if he did not get up and identify himself, he would be killed. The witness identified the scar from his knife wound in a picture.
AA testified that for two or three days, he moved dead bodies at the checkpoint. “It was more than forcing me because the alternative was they would just kill me.” There were lots of people at the checkpoint. Aa stated that the body movers had to open up a little well nearby, and put the dead bodies in the well
The witness was shown a photograph he recognized as one of Dokie and W and Boley and the AFL leader
On cross-examination, AA agreed that it was a “very difficult trip” from Monrovia to Gbarnga and the farm, and took roughly about a week. AA did not know the month, but believed he left the farm sometime around September 1992. He cannot remember the length of his stay, but knows he left in September because that’s what he saw when they stamped it on his pass.
AA confirmed Samuel Dokie’s house was in Gbarnga, and said the “whole city” was for the NPDL, so they could take any house they wanted. AA noted that Dokie was born in Nimba County, and “because of the power of the gun they became owners of Bong County.”
AA confirmed that the mosque in his town was built by his grandfather, and had been present a long time. He stated that he did not pray at the five proscribed times while en route, because he was traveling. He stated that he did not know about the mosque in Gbarnga, because he was not in charge of it. He stated that he did not know if the mosque was a secret place, and said he never went to pray there; he confirmed that there were more than five mosques in the county.
The witness confirmed that in Gbarnga, most Muslims are Mandingo, but that there are some other tribes like the Kpelle as well.
The witness stated that the distance from the mosque to Dokie’s house, on foot, was about 15-20 minutes. He confirmed that they then went to Woewiyu’s house, which was not more than an hour away. He reiterated that he did not want to go there in the first place, and that he did not go there because of Woewiyu, but instead to talk to Dokie and ask for help. AA stated that he did not speak to Woewiyu and he was afraid, because there were lots of SBU boys there.
On re-direct, AA affirmed that a bag of rice is heavy, and that rice was called “gold dust” at that time. AA testified that his friend and another boy helped him to carry the bags.
The witness stated that he never saw a Mandingo in Gbarnga at that time
Witness 24: “V”
The witness identified himself as a Mandingo by tribe and a Muslim, and told the jury that he was born in Bakiedou, in Lofa County. He said that he attended Arabic School, where he learned to read the Quran. He is a farmer of rice, coffee, and cocoa. He stated that his whole family is from Bakiedou, and that he had six siblings, but one passed away. The witness said that his mother was blind.
V testified that Bakiedou is largely a Mandingo village, and that different tribes are from different places. The witness recalled that this was also true in 1990.
V stated that the town leadership was set up with a town chief, the sectionate chief, the clan chief, and the parliament chief. His older brother was the town chief, he said.
The witness testified that in July 1990, he heard the war was in Nimba Country; the rebels had entered Nimba. At the time, he said, his family was farming. The witness recalled that the white man in Zorzor warned them that the rebels were coming, and that they had attacked the nearby town of Salayea, 40 minutes away by car. V recalled that the white man came on Tuesday to Bakiedou and called on V’s brother, and said to him as the town chief, “Tell your people the rebels are coming and they are looking for Mandingos.”
V reiterated that at that time, all the people in Bakiedou were Mandingo. He said that when the war entered Liberia, all of them originally from Bakiedou came back home. Some were in Monrovia, Nimba, or other towns; they returned.
V stated that after his brother was warned on Tuesday, he called everybody in the town together on Wednesday. V recalled that his brother told the townspeople what the white man said, that rebels were coming and killing Mandingos. He asked the elders, “What should we do?” and people said, “This is our home. We don’t know any other place.” Bakiedou planned that when the rebels came, the town would tell them, “We are not in politics, we are Muslims.”
The witness confirmed that the rebel group was Taylor’s NPFL.
On Thursday, V testified, the rebels came. He told the jury that they had on differently colored clothes, and were armed. He said they were small children. When they came, he said, they surrounded men, and one of them fired; they started rounding up or collecting people and took them to the town hall. He recalled that they took many people. The witness stated that this was around 10:00a.m.
According to V, “Different tribes were among us, but they asked who was Loma and who was Kpelle, and took them out so that only Mandingos were left.” At that time, the Mandingos from the village were sitting on the ground outside of the town hall. Young man were calling to each other in the NPFL language. One among them had civilian clothes, V said, and he took off his clothes, including his trousers and the second shirt he had under his military clothes.
The witness said his mother was in the kitchen at this time, but that somebody held her hand and took her to town hall.
The man that took his clothes off said he was Quiwonkpa’s brother, but he never said his real name.
V testified that when all the Mandingo townspeople were outside the town hall, the rebels told everybody to go inside. V remembered his brother the chief went to meet them and gave them money and a cow; the NPFL then said “All women should leave” because the men were going to have a meeting. V did not recall the NPFL saying anything about the cow or dollars.
The witness said his mother left with the other women because she was blind, but then V corrected himself and said that she did not leave, and instead stayed in the town hall. He wanted to take her out, he said, but was told that she should stay.
The witness remembered that after the town presented the money and the cow to the NPFL, the NPFL said, “Who in here does not have bullets in their gun? They should go.” Then they gave bullets to the people without them. He said the NPFL soldiers said “We do not trust them” and “Those people who gave us money and cow, we do not trust them, they are our enemies. Kill all of them.” He testified that the NPFL fighters then opened fire and started killing people. He confirmed that no Mandingo inside the hall was armed, and that there were no soldiers disguised among them.
V testified that when the NPFL opened fire, he was in the town hall. He told the jury that he was shot in the hand, the hip, through the leg, and at the top of his head. He stated that his mother was shot through her shoulder at such an angle that the bullet emerged through her chest. She died right there, he said; his father was pierced in the chest and also died. His older brother the chief was also caught in chest and died. The witness testified that 137 people were killed right on the spot.
According to V, some of those who went into hiding in the bush when they heard gunfire started checking around after the fire ended. One of his brothers came to the town hall and V lifted his head. He described the bodies lying where they fell, and himself among them. When his brother wanted to run away, V said, he caught him and asked to be taken to a different place.
V personally saw dead bodies outside the town hall and around the town. Those that came from hiding in the bushes also went around town and saw bodies. V told his brother to take V to some corner of a house and then go inform people where he was. He slept there, and then headed to Guinea.
The witness identified a photograph of his hand. He testified that after his injuries, he spent two months recuperating in a hospital in Guinea. He also identified pictures of the scars on his legs. He pointed to himself to show the jury where precisely the wounds occurred. The witness also identified a number of photographs from Bakiedou, including of the town hall and of the marker of the collective buried remains of the massacre victims.
The prosecutor told the witness that the prosecutor accidentally said the massacre occurred on July 11, not July 12. The witness stated he did not know the exact date of the massacre, but did know that it occurred on a Thursday. The prosecutor stated July 12 was a Thursday.
There was no cross examination.
Trial will resume tomorrow morning; a number of additional government witnesses are expected to testify.