Trial Day 8: Persecution, Child Soldiers, and BBC Broadcasts

Legal Monitoring of the Woewiyu case

Trial Day 8: Persecution, Child Soldiers, and BBC Broadcasts

Witness 25: “W”

Trial began on Thursday morning with the testimony of Witness W, who told the jury that he was born in Bakiedou in Lofa County in 1972.  He testified that he grew up in Bakiedou, and that he is a Mandingo who practices Islam.  He confirmed that not all Mandingos are Muslim, nor are all Muslims in Liberia from the Mandingo tribe.  He said that of the tribes in Liberia, some of them practice Islam, including the Vai, Gola, and Gbandi. 

The witness testified that he went to school in Bakiedou, stopping in the twelfth grade.  His mother had a business selling small goods, and his father was an Islamic teacher.  The witness said that he had two siblings, a brother and a sister.  The witness stated that he is currently a commercial driver living in Bakiedou.

W recalled that the day the NPFL fighters came to Bakiedou was a Thursday, July 12, 1990.  He said that on the Thursday morning between 9:00 a.m.  and 10:00 a.m., he saw men and women coming with guns, and they attacked the town.  “They started to kill people,” W said.  He told the jury that some of the people with guns were adults, and some were children.  He said that they were dressed in civilian clothes, some of which had “NPFL” written on them; some were wearing red headbands.

The witness testified that the NPFL soldiers started to kill people who started to run from them.  The witness explained that he was in the town and saw this.  He told the jury that he was initially inside his house and started to run, but the NPFL fighters grabbed him.  According to W, two men took him to the town hall.  He explained that a “town hall” in Liberia is an area where people gather for meetings, and is also known as a “palaver hut.”

After the NPFL started bringing townspeople to the town hall, W said, they told the town crier to go and call everybody else in town to come.  He confirmed that the job of the town crier was to call people to come when there was a meeting.  After the crier went and called them, W said, more people came.  He described the townspeople sitting in front of the hall at first, but it was the rainy season and began to rain, so the NPFL asked everyone to go inside the town hall.  At this time the NPFL were around the civilians; some were around the town killing people, and some surrounded the townspeople. 

W stated that there appeared to be someone in charge, although the commander did not identify himself by name.  W recalled that the commander said he was a relative of the late Quiwonkpa, the Gio soldier killed by Doe.

W testified that the town chief was brought into the town hall.  W explained that in his tradition, when you have a stranger, you welcome them.  He told the jury that the town chief welcomed the NPFL with money and a cow, but that the NPFL commander reacted with thanks, but said the NPFL was not satisfied, and wanted to kill the townspeople.  The commander said, “We are not satisfied with you people.  We will still kill you.” Then, the soldiers began to shoot. 

According to W, before the shooting began, the NPFL said they wanted to have a meeting with the men of the town.  They told the women to leave the town hall, and held the meeting with the town chief with only men of the town present.  W stated that when the only woman left in the hall was a very old blind woman, the NPFL started to shoot at people.  He stated that the NPFL were standing in the town hall when they began shooting.  The witness fell, and “everyone else was falling too.”  W said he was wounded on his thigh and his hand.  He did not know how long the shooting continued.

The witness testified that when the shooting stopped, the NPFL left, so he got up and went to his house.  He stood up in the witness box and indicated to the jury where he had been shot in the thigh and arm.  “As I’m talking, I have a bullet in my arm,” he said, and showed the place in his arm where the bullet rests.

According to the witness, before he went home, he stood up in the town hall and he saw dead bodies.  He said that when he stood up in the hall, some people were alive, but wounded, like him; “they were fighting for their lives.”  He testified that he also saw dead bodies on his way home, and specifically remembered one man who had been shot in the stomach and whose intestines were coming out, who was asking for water to drink.  The witness said that he also saw children crying for their mothers.  W testified that 137 people were killed in Bakiedou, including his older brother, who was killed inside the town hall.

W told the jury that after he returned home, he traveled to Guinea for treatment of his gunshot wounds.  He said that his mother took him in a vehicle, as the distance from Bakiedou to the Guinea border was a three hour walk.  He said he stayed in Guinea for seven years, along with the other Mandingos of Bakiedou: “everyone fled to Guinea.”  He testified that they only returned in 1997, around the time of the election in Liberia.

The witness recalled meeting with prosecutors and investigators, and taking photos of his wounds.  He reviewed a photograph of his leg and identified the wounds where a bullet had entered and exited his leg; the photograph clearly showed his wounds, healed but still readily visible. 

There was no cross-examination of Witness W.

Witness 26: “BB”

Witness testified that she was from Todee in Montserrado County, and was born in 1980.  She said her father was Mende and her mother was Kpelle.  Her mother used to sell cooked food and beverages, and her father was a farmer who cut palm.  BB told the jury that she had two older brothers, Momo and Prince.  One of them was two years older than her.

When the witness was 12 years old, she said, the soldiers came.  They were dressed in colorful clothes and had guns.  She recalled hearing that the soldiers’ leader’s name was Tom Woewiyu.

BB testified that one morning, her mother was cooking in the kitchen and the soldiers came to ask where BB’s two brothers were.  BB said that her mother told the soldiers they were inside.  The witness remembered that at that time, soldiers were running around town.  She testified that they caught her brothers and some other boys as well.  She explained that when she said “caught,” she meant the soldiers took her brothers and tied them.  BB told the jury that her mother’s reaction was to cry and beg the soldiers for the boys; BB’s father was begging too.  She recalled that the soldiers said, “if you want to beg, go to the boss man.” She testified that the “boss man” was Tom Woewiyu.

According to the witness, she went with her parents to go to talk to Woewiyu.  They went to the next town over to get to where Woewiyu was.  She described Woewiyu as inside in a room, with “his boys” outside.  When Woewiyu came outside, BB said, he was dressed in short trousers with a white t-shirt.

BB testified that when she and her parents reached Woewiyu’s building, “his boys” went inside to inform him before he came outside.  She described how her mother and father begged Woewiyu for their sons, but testified that Woewiyu did not say anything, and went back inside.  She recalled her mother saying, “My two boys, they are my hope. I beg you.”  She remembered her father was begging Woewiyu too, and her mother was crying.  “The boss man didn’t say anything.  He went back inside,” BB said.

BB remembered that Woewiyu then got dressed and reemerged in a jacket and trousers.  She remembered his jacket was brown, with short sleeves.  She testified that he left, taking “his boys” with him, and telling the boys, “Take care of the men.”

BB testified that she never saw her brothers again.

There was no cross-examination of Witness BB.

Witness 27: “HH”

Witness HH testified that he is from Margibi County, and told the jury he is not a member of a particular tribe, as his father was Americo-Liberian and his mother was a Bassa woman.  He stated that his father held many positions in the Doe government, including as the Deputy Managing Director of Telecommunications, the Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Transport, and a Board Chair at National Social Security.

HH told the jury that he received a Bachelor’s in Public Administration and Management from the University of Liberia, and now has a construction firm in Liberia that does general contracting on roads and public buildings.

HH testified that in 1990, he lived with his father in Redlight in Paynesville, and his mother lived in Gardnersville.  He said that July 9, his eleventh birthday, was the day the NPFL rebels entered Redlight.  He knew they were from the NPFL because there was only one warring faction at the time.  HH said that he heard “huge gunfire,” and everyone hid inside because “it was their first time to hear gunfire.”  He confirmed the fighting was between the AFL and NPFL, and lasted for several hours.

Eventually, the rebel soldiers said all the townspeople should “get behind them” after they captured the town.  HH testified that after the fighting had moved ahead, the rebels knocked on doors and said to go to the Fendell Agriculture Campus of the University of Liberia, and to Omega, which was the satellite station the Americans had at the time.  All of the people started to go, HH said; he went alone by himself because he did not see his family.

After he left Redlight, he got to place called “Coca-Cola Factory,” a bottling factory.  HH testified that there was a checkpoint there, and that he saw dead bodies all over the place.  The soldiers were yelling to get in a single file get in line.  He said that some of the rebels were adults and some were his age; they were carrying guns.  There were bodies lying on the ground.  The rebels said to get in a single file line, and asked about civilians’ tribe, and whether they were a security person or in the army.

HH stated that the rebels were probably asking because if you were a Krahn or an AFL soldier or security personnel, you had to be executed.  “That was the system at the time.”  HH said he was not one of them; he was “just a kid trying to find my parents.”

HH testified that the checkpoint was a rope crossing the road, and beside it were people with guns.  He said it was “very scary” because there were bodies lying in the road.  He confirmed this was an NPFL checkpoint, as the NPFL was in control everywhere.  He confirmed that those guarding the checkpoint were “all ages and sizes,” including “men and kids of my age.”

The witness recalled the NPFL taking people out of line and taking them away for interrogation, although he did not see what the rebels did to them at that time.  He was only concerned with how to reconnect with his family; HH said that even if they were going to die, he just wanted to be together.

HH passed through the checkpoint, he said, and saw a huge group, so he followed them.  They passed through the Omega checkpoint and started going toward Mount Barclay, “on and on” until they got to another town in Margibi.  HH walked, and saw many dead bodies, including a woman flat on her stomach with a child crying on her back.  He said that no one could rescue the child, because at that time, if you went to rescue the baby, you would be branded as a Krahn or something else, and told, “Why do you go to rescue the baby when you don’t know who the mother is? You must have some relationship with the mother, so we will kill you like her.”  He said the child “had to cry and die.”

In the town, HH said, he met a woman and her husband who said “he was my father,” after the witness said who his father was.  They acted as guardians to HH because his own father had helped the couple in the past; they called him “a nice man.”  At the time, HH could only speak English, not and tribal dialect.  He said that Bassa people controlled the town, and he learned Bassa from contact with the woman.

HH described the war continuing and the shortage of food.  He said there was no food everywhere, with people eating cabbage in tiny sections because they could not find rice – a staple – or bread.  HH recalled that they started to leave the town to pass through checkpoints at night, because if they went in the daytime there was a likelihood that they would not get through, so they snuck through the bush at night to find food.  HH testified that he walked from the town to Harbel several times to find food, saying they would go and get things to sell to sustain themselves.  This lasted for four or five months.

HH explained that he then met a boy after the INPFL captured Fendell.  According to HH, the boy said he saw HH’s father at Fendell, so the witness decided to follow the boy back there.  HH stated that at the time, he had only one option, which was to reconnect with his family.  He testified that when he saw them, he ran to them and was “so happy.”  He said that fortunately, he was able to bring rice to share at Fendell.  He explained that he got there by car with the boy who used to live in his community; when he saw HH, he brought him to his father.  HH stated that the boy was one of Prince Johnson’s rebels at the time.

A day or two after HH was reunited with his father, the NPFL re-captured Fendell, and a relief truck brought in rice and distributed it.  Rice was allocated to family heads depending on size of family; the witness recalled that the bishop of the church was distributing rice.  He explained that family heads talked to those in control of the CRS truck, which was going back to Buchanan.  They asked for a ride to be carried to Buchanan.  HH’s father talked to the bishop, and the witness’s family went to Buchanan.

HH testified that “Fendell was always terrifying,” a place where, if you were taking a bath in a creek, you saw bodies in the water.  There were “dead bodies all over the place,” he said.  “No one wanted to be there.”  HH said it was a displaced persons camp, where people were living in campus buildings, and occupying the lobbies and classrooms.  The witness gestured to the front of the courtroom and said you would find 100 people lying in an area of that size.  He stated that the place was “so terrifying, so everyone wanted to leave, but were afraid to go through checkpoints.”  Therefore, when a relief truck came, people would talk to the driver and would ask for a ride.  HH said it was safer to travel in a relief truck or a military truck, so if you wanted to be stationed somewhere else, you could talk to them and then ride along.

The witness said his family went to Buchanan and it was also terrifying, as people were dead, and others were running up and down.  He saw rebels with guns on their shoulders.  He said that this was his first time knowing that at least he was not hearing launching sounds, so it was a little bit better.

HH confirmed that this was still in 1990, and that Buchanan was then controlled by the NPFL.  According to the witness, he saw Cyril Allen.  He stated that as a child he did not know Allen’s rank or position, but heard him referred to as “Special Forces.”  HH stated that there were bodyguards who guarded NPFL officers, including “SBU carrying arms.”  He said that younger and older people carried arms, and some wore t-shirts with symbols or drawing of a scorpion.  HH stated that if you saw a rebel, you focused on something else so as not be caught, or else the rebels would take you from your parents.  He confirmed that children were grabbed and taken to a training based to be a rebel soldier. 

HH recalled seeing Isaac Musa, and Thomas Woewiyu in Buchanan, as well as many other Special Forces personnel.  He said that when they came, they were referred to as “Special Forces,” and if you saw a convoy coming, you knew it was Special Forces.  He testified that every one of them had bodyguards and moved in convoys.  He confirmed that Woewiyu had bodyguards, a mix of kids and adults.  HH stated that rebels did not have a special age; if an older person was not mindful, he said, a 10-year-old at ten years old with a gun on his shoulder would tell an old man to sit on the ground.  The witness said “it was the most common thing, to have a boy giving orders.”

HH testified that he stayed in Buchanan until ECOMOG entered Monrovia, and the family heard the news, so people were trying to find their way back to the capital.  While in Buchanan he carried loads or did small things for people for compensation, he said, which allowed him to ask for a ride to Monrovia.  He explained that you had to ride with rebels to get to Monrovia, because they were the only ones doing transportation at the time, and it would be safe.  He said you paid them to get back to Monrovia, and the rate was very inflated.  If someone could not pay, they could not go to the safe zone.

The witness was shown a photograph of six leaders of rebel factions, and identified Woewiyu and Samuel Dokie.

When HH got back to the Monrovia area, he said, he went to Gardnersville where his mother lived.  He explained that his parents got divorced before the war.  If you walked, it took two hours to get between Gardnersville and Paynesville, but you could get a ride between them for 70 Liberian dollars, which was the equivalent to 50 American cents.

The witness testified that he lived with his mother in Gardnersville until October 15, 1992, when Octopus began.  HH said this was the first time he saw one person literally shooting another person; through 1990 he saw bodies, but 1992 was when he saw the act of shooting before his own eyes.

The witness recalled waking up on October 15, and his mother said they needed to go to the market to get food.  Before they got there, HH said, they heard gunfire all over the place and people said it was the rebels attacking ECOMOG.  He testified that after three or four hours, the rebels had taken over the entire place and he saw soldiers everywhere.  He told the jury that it was “so deadly and so crazy,” because although it was not that long a battle, there was “a lot of killing.”  The witness stated that he personally saw people get shot about 20-25 times.

After several days, HH said, he and his mother could not stay any longer in the community.  They moved by road to have the protection of being near other people; if they were far from the road, they would be raped or harmed.  The witness said he was 13 or 14 at the time, so he remembered it all clearly.

HH and his mother came to a checkpoint where many rebels were sitting “and carrying on dangerous activities.”  He said that if they were not satisfied with someone’s answers to their questions, they pushed the person to one side and shot them.  He described the checkpoint as a rope across the road with a red cloth, near a big house where a general lived.  He said that every fighter, who left the front line went to the house with what they looted, and they raped women there.  They “brought people and whatever they wanted, they did there.”

The witness described the questions asked at the checkpoint, including who are you, where are you from, and what dialect do you speak.  He said that sometimes the guards would say someone looked suspicious or like “reconnaissance,” or like one of their targets.  He did not know what they meant by “reconnaissance,” but recalled the guards saying those people were their target.  He noted the guards also searched for those who looked like Krahn man.  He testified that when they said someone was “reconnaissance,” they “did not take long investigating.”  He described how, by the time a second guard came to see why the first guard was asking someone questions, the person would be shot.  He testified that he saw this “continuously” as “a day to day thing,” and that his mother was afraid and they walked all the way to another community because it was too terrible.  HH stated that the Patience Shop Checkpoint was close to them, and they wanted to be closer because sometimes the fighters would then befriend you. 

HH testified that the fighters were travelers about their dialects because the NPFL was concerned about ECOMOG and peacekeepers.  He explained that “dialect meant many different things.”  Dialects were initially used to identify ethnic groups.  However, by this point, the NPFL was looking for dialects from Ghanaians, Sierra Leoneans, Nigerians, and other ECOMOG countries.  He confirmed that in 1990, the NPFL used dialects when looking for Krahns, but in 1992 the NPFL used dialects when looking for ECOMOG.

HH testified they stayed in that area for maybe a month until his mother said they needed to go, and they went to another community until Octopus subsided.  He said they went to the Shoe Factory community, and that was the area where they were before in Nyanford Town in the Gardnersville area was near a main road to Gbarnga, Buchanan, and Nimba, which was why many things happened there.  He confirmed that he saw bad things happen every day, sometimes four or six times a day.

The witness was shown a partial map of Liberia, and identified for the jury where he lived with his mother prior to Octopus.

On cross-examination, the witness confirmed that when he was 11 years old and living in Buchanan before ECOMOG came to Monrovia, he saw children with guns, but no one asked him to join the SBU or the NPFL, or tried to make him join the SBU or the NPFL.  He confirmed that when Octopus happened, he had turned 13, and again no one asked him to join or tried to make him join the NPFL.

The witness did not remember how long he was at Shoe Factory, explaining that he was a “kid under the protection of my mother.  If she said stay, stay.  If she said go, go.”

The witness confirmed that at the Patience Shop checkpoint, when the NPFL was looking for the dialects of various ECOMOG soldiers, they were trying to find infiltrators.

On re-direct, the witness described the NPFL trying to find connivers.  HH observed that they would not talk to suspected connivers long; they would simply shoot.  He confirmed that he did everything he could to avoid recruitment, and was always under the guardianship of an adult.  He was never a single child moving around by himself; someone was always guarding him.

The witness stated that NPFL commanders on the ground in Octopus often had “scary names.”  He stated that he saw Martina Johnson, General Lion, and many others.  He was familiar with the name “Mosquito,” identifying it as belonging to Christopher Vambo, who he said was the Chief of Staff at the time.  HH noted that soldiers would salute Mosquito.

Witness 28: “Z”

The final witness of the afternoon, Z, testified that she was born in Kelebi in Bong County and grew up there, living with her mother.  She told the jury she did not go to school.  Her father lived in Gbarnga, she said.  The witness identified herself as of the Loma and Kpelle tribes, and said that her father’s tribe is Loma, from Lofa County. Z told the jury that she supports herself by “making gardens,” and still lives in Kelebi.  She said that she grew up with one sibling, Paul, a small boy who was younger than she was; the rest of her siblings lived at Firestone. 

The witness said that, early in1990, she was not living in Kelebi.  When the war came, she was in Monrovia with an older sister, but left when it became intense.  At first the witness went to Gbarnga in Bong County and stayed with her father, but then she went back to Kelebi because her mother was there.  She confirmed that she moved back to Kelebi with Paul.

Z testified that at that time, the NPFL was in control in Kelebi.  The witness recalled that during Octopus, on a Saturday – the witness knew the day because it was a market day in Kelebi – her brother went from fishing to the market.  Fishing “was the only job he did most of the time.”  She told the jury, “He was a boy who used to stutter, so when he was coming with his fish, they took the fish from him.  That’s how I decided to go to the market.”  Z said that a woman asked where Z was going and when she said the market, the woman told her, “They’ve already arrested your brother.”

The witness confirmed that her brother was a fisherman who used to fish with his friends up the river to support himself.  She said that when she heard something had happened to Paul, she was at the house.  She was getting ready to go to the market and a lady told Z, “Your brother has been arrested.” Z said that she asked the woman why, and the woman said, “They say he is a ULIMO suspect, he is recognizance.”

Z decided to go to the market, she said, where she saw a group of people, “soldiers upon soldiers.”  She confirmed that the soldiers were NPFL fighters.  She went to check for Paul, and “saw fish they took from him.”  Z testified that when she asked the soldiers for Paul, they said they did not know him.  Z insisted “my brother is here,” and said he was “in the kitchen” and she told the soldiers to “put him down.”

Z confirmed that the soldiers had many guns.  She confirmed that she asked them “What happened?  Is my brother here?”  She told the jury that the soldiers said Paul was not there, so she continued standing there; she did not know where Paul was, but knew he was with them.  She stated that all of this happened right in the middle of town.

Z said she saw two women who also had children who had been arrested in the same way.  She went over to them and they “all got together.”

When the witness was asked if she was told the boys were arrestees, she said the NPFL soldiers had said there were “people in the kitchen.”  Z explained that in Liberia, a “kitchen” is where people keep rice in an attic.  She said that you do not cook in a kitchen.  She said that when the soldiers told her “they have prisoners in kitchen,” Z asked to see to see if Paul was there.  She testified that the soldiers said no, because they had to wait for orders from the Defense Minister.  Z said that she and the other women decided to wait for him. 

She testified that when the Defense Minister arrived, she heard the soldiers say, “Defense Minister, Defense Minister.” She saw him arrive, and saw him in the kitchen.  The witness said she was not sure how he arrived; if he brought a vehicle, she said, maybe he left it on the highway.  Z testified that she learned the Defense Minister’s name when the soldiers said, “Tom Woewiyu.”

Z stated that after Woewiyu arrived, he sat on a table under a kitchen.  She explained that the kitchen where Paul was had another kitchen next to it.  Z demonstrated the distance from Woewiyu to where the boys were held in the other kitchen, as equivalent to the distance between the witness box and approximately two feet in front of the defense table.  She said that Woewiyu was in that larger kitchen with many soldiers around him; she confirmed that the soldiers had guns.

Z testified that she and the two women were begging Woewiyu, because the soldiers said “the big man had come,” and by “the big man,” they meant Woewiyu the Defense Minister.  She said the soldiers did not allow the women to reach Woewiyu, and were standing between them.  Z recalled that the women said to Woewiyu, “Chief, we are begging for our children.  They are not reconnaissance people.  They are citizens of this town.”

Z stated that at that time, the soldiers were bringing Paul and the other boys outside.  She stated that the soldiers who were there had commanders who gave them orders to bring the prisoners down from the attic, because their boss had come.  Z said the soldiers had a commander in Kelebi, and the soldiers said the boss wanted to see the prisoners.  She confirmed that the boss who wanted to see them was Woewiyu.

Z testified that the soldiers brought the prisoners to Woewiyu, while the women continued to beg and were crying.  Z said that the other two prisoners with Paul were an older boy and a small boy.  She said that when the women begged Woewiyu, he said nothing and the soldiers did not give the women the option to get closer to him, but the women kept begging.  She recalled that Woewiyu said to the women, “The people said these are reconnaissance people.  What are you guys doing with them?”  Z stated that she did not have anything to say because she did not have power.  Then Woewiyu said, in reference to the prisoners, “Take them away.  I don’t want to see them.”

Z stated that during the time of the war, when someone said “I don’t want to see them,” it meant “kill them.”  The next thing would be killing.  She testified that when Woewiyu said that, the NPFL soldiers took Paul and the other two boys away.  She said she and the other two women were still crying and begging, but Woewiyu’s reaction while the boys were being taken away “was nothing.”  The witness did not “see him do anything.”  Woewiyu “did not take any action.” She said that the soldiers then took Paul along the road toward Molonkpalan.

Z testified that while he was living in Kelebi, Paul used to go fishing every day.  She never saw him with a gun, and never saw him with rebels.  She stated that Paul was someone who was very quiet; to even talk was very difficult for him, because of his stutter.  Z testified that after Paul was taken away, Z never saw him again.

There was no cross-examination of Witness Z.

BBC Broadcasts

Government prosecutors played for the jury a series of BBC broadcasts recorded between 1990-1994.  The broadcasts were mainly from the Focus on Africa and Network Africa programs.  All of them contained audio statements made in his own voice by a man identified within the broadcasts as Thomas Woewiyu.  Among the almost two dozen broadcasts played for the jury, dated by the prosecution, were the following:

  • June 1, 1990: The broadcaster reported that Samuel Doe would not run for president again, and had issued his resignation.  Woewiyu was identified as a spokesman for the NPFL living in the United States, and said that Doe’s resignation was “not an acceptable offer.”  Woewiyu then said that the only offer from Doe that would make sense would be his surrender to the NPFL and to Liberia to stand for prosecution; otherwise, Woewiyu said, Doe should “do himself a favor by getting out of the country.”  Woewiyu said the atrocities committed by “Doe’s people” were made under Doe’s instructions.  “We will get him out,” Woewiyu said.  When the BBC reporter asked if the NPFL was changing its conditions for peace, Woewiyu responded that they always wanted Doe’s immediate resignation; waiting a year for Doe to resign was not good enough.  The BBC reporter identified Woewiyu as “On the line from Washington.”
  • June 21, 1990: The BBC identified the “NPFL chief negotiator” at peace talks in Sierra Leone as Woewiyu.  Woewiyu said Doe’s offers meant nothing to the NPFL, and added that “there is no government left in Liberia.”  Woewiyu rejected the BBC characterization of Doe’s peace offers as “reasonable.”  When the BBC asked if there would be another round of peace talks, Woewiyu said the NPFL controlled 90% of the land and 99% of the people, and so they were in a position “not to allow [Doe] to leave the country any longer, if that’s what he wants.”  Woewiyu rejected the notion of a ceasefire and said there was no change in NPFL strategy and no change in wanting to remove Doe.  “We will be taking the capital,” he said, and added that the NPFL could close the roads out of Monrovia whenever they wanted.  Woewiyu said the NPFL told Doe he could leave unharmed and had nothing else to offer him; he told Doe to “leave now or it’s too late.”  Woewiyu discussed peace talks to be held the next week, which the NPFL was committed to attend.
  • June 25, 1990: The reporter stated that peace talks were to resume in Sierra Leone, but the NPFL had not arrived.  The reporter said Woewiyu was speaking from the Ivory Coast, and Woewiyu said the NPFL would not engage in peace talks, because Doe was not ready to leave power.  Woewiyu stated that the NPFL would “proceed with our own plan of action” to go to Monrovia, and indicated that the NPFL already had a government to put in place in the days to come, called “NPRAG.”  Woewiyu said that people outside NPFL were part of NPRAG.  He told the BBC that the “war started a long time ago, and is just going to continue until this comes to an end.”
  • July 3, 1990: The BBC reported that NPFL troops were moving to Monrovia.  Water and power was cut off, and international phones and were cut.  Woewiyu, speaking from the United States, identified the NPFL assault as the “final campaign” and “last effort,” after which Liberian people would have something else to talk about.  He said that the NPFL had “close to 15 thousand armed men.”  He described the NPFL covering every road in and out of Monrovia, and said that the only other way out of the peninsular city was by the ocean, but indicated that the NPFL had boats offshore to stop anyone who fled by that route.  Woewiyu spoke of his desire to prosecute Doe.  The NPFL had “provided an opportunity for Doe” to leave, he said, and indicated that the “effort is not to let Doe go, but to have him.”  Woewiyu said that, if the Americans could not extricate Doe, “we’ll get him.”
  • August 14, 1990: The BBC reported that Prince Johnson was dead, and the NPFL claimed responsibility.  Woewiyu described the place of the death and urged INPFL fighters to join the NPFL, because the “best way to go is all of us to work together.”  When asked if it was more important to kill Prince Johnson than to kill Doe, Woewiyu said no, but that Prince Johnson did need to be put under control.
  • January 25, 1991: The BBC reported the American Ambassador to Liberia expressed disappointment with the various factions for failing to come to peace talks.  Woewiyu spoke from “rebel headquarters in Gbarnga,” and discussed setting up an interim government.  Woewiyu said the NPFL was committed to a ceasefire, but blamed ECOMOG for human rights violations and the dangerous security situation, as well as catering to the “Sawyer government.”  Woewiyu confirmed that he made a mistake about the death of Prince Johnson.
  • March 28, 1991: The BBC identified Woewiyu as the “NPFL spokesman” and said he called from Taylor’s headquarters in Gbarnga.  Woewiyu said the NPFL did not walk out of a recent peace conference, and that he was not worried by people booing him.  He said he was not worried, because the people booing had been planted in the audience.
  • June 3, 1992: The BBC reported hearing that Senegalese ECOMOG peacekeepers were kidnapped by the NPFL.  Woewiyu denied the allegations, and said the firefight in which the peacekeepers were supposedly captured was very tense, so it was not easy to readily assess the situation on ground.
  • November 28, 1992: The BBC identified “defense spokesman” Woewiyu speaking from Gbarnga at the NPFL headquarters; he said ECOMOG had plans to destroy Liberia.  Woewiyu characterized ECOMOG’s attacks as completely unprovoked, and not based on the location of actual NPFL troops.  He described civilian deaths after ECOMOG bombardment.
  • May 4, 1993: Woewiyu was identified as “Taylor’s Defense Minister” and spoke about reports that he had “quit the rebel movement.”  “That information is wrong,” Woewiyu said to Robin White in London.  Woewiyu stated that his supposed leaving of the NPFL was merely an ECOMOG rumor published in a Nigerian paper.  He said that he was “of one mind” with Taylor, and told the BBC that the NPFL was getting stronger based on the violence of ECOMOG.  He said that he “spoke to my people this morning, and the reports from ECOMOG are false” that ECOMOG had captured a strategic village.
  • August 13, 1990: The BBC indicated that within the next few days, ECOMOG would move into Liberia.  ECOMOG discussed that they had heard reports that not everyone on the ground would greet them peacefully.  “NPFL spokesman” Woewiyu said that the NPFL would take any action necessary to protect its cause, and stated that ECOMOG was “rammed down their throats.”
  • August 23, 1990: Woewiyu said a ceasefire could be reached if the other parties would come to the table.  However, he said, the NPFL “would continue bloodshed, if someone sends ECOMOG in there,” because the NPFL had the will power and spirit to “protect national integrity and sovereignty.”  Woewiyu said the NPFL was suspicious of the Guinean forces because Guineans were Mandingos; he indicated there were difficulties with the Mandingos in Liberia.  Woewiyu was reported as being in Banjul, Gambia.
  • August 24, 1990: Woewiyu said the NPFL would fight ECOMOG “to the last man.”  Woewiyu said he had been in Liberia for a few weeks, and stated that Sierra Leone and other ECOMOG countries were satisfying their own egos, rather than helping Liberia.
  • August 27, 1990: Woewiyu said Liberia was “attacked” by Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Gambia, and characterized ECOMOG’s actions as an “invasion.” The BBC called him a “rebel spokesman.”
  • August 29, 1990: The BBC reported that Taylor was getting direct help from Libya and Burkina Faso, and identified Woewiyu as the NPFL Defense Minister.  Woewiyu called ECOMOG “hooligans,” and stressed that ECOMOG did not belong in Liberia.  He said that other countries had told him they would send ECOMOG peacekeepers only if there was a total ceasefire, but would not send peacekeepers based on how ECOMOG was currently operating.  He named Ghana, Guinea, and Sierra Leone as “aggressors.”
  • September 10, 1990: Elizabeth Blunt reported on the likely death of Doe, saying he had arrived at Prince Johnson’s headquarters alive, but that his body was said to be now on display.  Woewiyu characterized ECOMOG as interlopers.
  • September 10, 1990: Woewiyu said the NPFL’s goal regarding ECOMOG was to “pull back” ECOMOG in Liberia, and in fact to “obliterate” it.
  • September 19, 1990: Woewiyu named Ghana, Guinea, and Sierra Leone as an aggressive and invading force.  He said the NPFL had “no reason to give up” and would keep fighting back against ECOMOG, and that ECOMOG’s “type of aggression can only strengthen our resolve.”  He described civilian deaths wrought by ECOMOG.  Woewiyu said that “Ghana declared war on Liberia.”  He talked about Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, saying that the NPFL had a right to look to “friends and other countries” when Liberia’s sovereignty was threatened.  He said he had asked for help and had received offers of help and “better arms” from “unnamed countries.”  He said it was time to “call it off” when Doe was killed, but that “you cannot cooperate with someone who comes in your home with arms.”
  • September 29, 1990: Woewiyu was identified as being in New York.  He said that anyone who approached Liberia without NPFL permission would be fired on.  He referred to ECOMOG as being in Sierra Leone.
  • June 9, 1993: The BBC reported on the murder of approximately 300 civilians in Harbel, and said the survivors blamed the NPFL.  The BBC identified the NPFL “defense spokesman” and “Defense Minister” Woewiyu, speaking from Abidjan.  Woewiyu blamed ECOMOG, saying ECOMOG undertook “genocidal activities” and was taking sides in the conflict.  Woewiyu said the NPFL forces had “no reason” to kill the 300 civilians, and that many of them might be his own relatives, as they were from his home town.
  • September 7, 1994: The BBC stated it was receiving reports that Taylor had been removed from the NPFL leadership, and identified “former defense spokesman” Woewiyu as saying he replaced Taylor within the NPFL leadership.  Woewiyu said he was appointed as the NPFL’s new leader by the Central Revolutionary Council, because Taylor had no control over the troops.  Woewiyu said Taylor left Liberia and told the NPFL that “everyone is on their own, to do what they should do.”  Woewiyu stated that Taylor did not have troops outside of the NPFL.  Woewiyu stated the NPFL had joined in a coalition with all the other fighting forces in Liberia to see calm and tranquility restored in Gbarnga.  Woewiyu said that, while he himself was not in Gbarnga, he was “in touch with the people on the ground.”  He said fighting was going on between NPFL troops Taylor had pitted against each other.



The third week of the trial of Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu ended on Thursday when the defense rested its case.

Witness 32: Marsilina “Marsha” Eikerenkoetter, Continued

Trial began Monday morning with a discussion of the evidence and witnesses that will be presented this week.

The second week of the trial of Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu ended on Thursday with the presentation of dramatic evidence by the prosecution.

The first week of the trial of Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu ended on Thursday with emotional testimony from the government’s witnesses.  Over the course of the week, the jury heard fro

When trial resumed on Wednesday morning, one of the jurors was not present.  That juror was recused and replaced with an alternate.

Trial officially began today in the federal prosecution of Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, the former Minister of Defense for Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (“NPFL”