ULIMO’s Alieu Kosiah Denies Cannibalistic Killing During Civil War in Liberia
Bellinzona, Switzerland – Among the list of charges dogging Alieu Kosiah, is that at the height of the Liberian civil war, as a warlord with the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy(ULIMO), he was involved in killing civilians, rape and the alleged eating pieces of a schoolteacher’s heart.
Fighting off the charges on the third day of his trial for war crimes in the Swiss city of Bellinzona, Monday, a defiant Kosiah was adamant that he never engaged in such an act.
Pointing to the court of all-white judges, prosecutor and lawyers, Mr. Kosiah asked: “Can any white man eat human heart raw? It has to be cooked first. Does that make sense? If you say someone eat human heart, go and buy a raw cow meat and see who will eat it.”
The alleged act of cannibalism involved the death of Saah Ndeminin, who was allegedly killed during the height of the Liberian civil war in a cannibalistic fashion.
Denies Eating Human Heart
Pressed by the victims’ lawyers Monday, Kosiah denied knowing Ndeminin and only heard about him at the time of his arrest.
Mr. Kosiah, 45, was arrested in Switzerland in 2014 and the indictment accuses him of participating in the killing of 18 civilians. Mr. Kosiah’s lawyers claim that he was not present in Lofa County when the alleged crimes took place.
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland on March 22, 2019, presented an indictment against Kosiah to the Federal Criminal Court, accusing him of violations of the laws of war as a member of a military faction in the 1989-1996 Liberian war.
The Court dismissed the complaint accusing him of participation in a massacre committed by the ULIMO but he has been detained in pre-trial until the start of the trial last week.
In what is becoming a regular occurrence for Kosiah at this trial, the accused once again broke down in tears before lamenting: “Maybe you people see me as a criminal but I’m not.”
Kosiah threw pointed jabs at the prosecutor and the victims’ lawyers, claiming that allegations that he ate Ndeminin’s heart as a total lie.
Projecting himself as the victim, Mr. Kosiah accused the victims’ lawyers of being part of a conspiracy.
Asked why would anyone make false accusations against him regarding the eating of human heart, MR. Kosiah declared: “Because I’m a Mandingo and they are Kissi.”
The former ULIMO warlord Claimed that the person who made the allegations against him does not know him by photo. “This is not justice, but a mockery,”Kosiah declared.
Mr. Kosiah became emotional and once again broke down in tears, and raising his voice before being urged to calm down by the judges for the outburst.
Mr. Kosiah went on to demands apologies from the Swiss government for wrongly putting him on trial for participation in a war in which he says he never killed anyone, much less ate a human heart.
Mr. Kosiah accused the Swiss government of kidnaping him and ruining his life. “They have destroyed my life, I have been unfairly treated.”
‘I Simply Took Orders’
Mr. Kosiah went all out to dismiss the charges against him by stating that he simply took orders from his superiors, but never give orders to others to anyone to commit atrocities.
Struggling with inconsistencies, Mr. Kosiah acknowledged that he was a member of the platoon with the rank of sergeant. “I had no men under my control, I simply took orders orders from superiors but did not give orders.”
According to Mr. Kosiah every platoon had a squad leader, with the operation officer, which he was, receiving orders from his bosses, the commanders.
Mr. Kosiah named General Douboyah, Capt. Pepper and Salt and Abbas Kanneh as leaders of the platoon which led the capture of Camp Todee. Mr. Kosiah said General Dobubutah had his first role in the plantoon when he joined ULIMO.
Capt. Pepper was a deputy Commander to Capt. Jungle Jaba, Commander of the Alligator Battalion.
Mr. Kosiah told the court Monday that he was a Deputy Commander to Omaru Kanneth.
He said when ULIMO when ULIMO arrived in Liberia from Sierra Leone, the rebels were less discipline, as opposed to when they were in Sierra Leone. Mr. Kosiah put the initial number of the group at 100 although he said he cannot remember the exact number.
‘First to Capture Todee’
Mr. Kosiah however boasted that he was the first to capture Todee, nodding his head in apparent zest.
“I had about 100 men under my command at the time,” he said.
Camp Todee was the scene of some of the most feared battles of the civil war where Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia fighters are also believed responsible for the massacre more than 200 civilians in separate incidents in Montserrado and Margibi counties, north of Monrovia. ULIMO were also accused of preying on civilians in the area.
Asked what was his rank at the time; Mr. Kosiah said the ranks did not correspond with specific functions and that they were different from assignments
He said he was only trying to explain to the prosecutors why assignments are greater then ranks, but that ranks always prevail.
Mr. Kosiah explained: “For example, if I go to an area as a high-ranking officer, I will be given courtesy, but the commander in said area has the final say on what goes on there. “I never had any other rank than Col.”
The ‘Big Man’ Mystique
Asked whether he was a big man in ULIMO, Mr. Kosiah said, “Big Man is relative”. For example he said, fGeneral Alhjaji Kromah, political chairman, Roosevelt Johnson, Chief of Staff, Joe Harry, First Field Commander and General Douboyah were the ranking members in ULIMO. Mr. Kosiah acknowledged that while he was a commander, he did not consider himself as big man.
Asked to recall how many months he spent with ULIMO, Mr. Kosiah said his brain is not a computer to remember all his activities. “I am a human being – and after 27 years, it is impossible to remember everything.”
Mr. Kosiah said Abbass Kanneh, Omaru Kenneh and Pepper and Salt were his immediate bosses/commanders.
He denied taking initials or rebel names during the war and claims he only took orders, but admitted proposing to his commanders, like Omaru Kanneh, when he suggested that they should not cross the river in Todee because they had already lost 8 men from other groups.
Mr. Kosiah explained that he gave the advice to his superiors because commanders had last orders and admitted that he was sent to reinforce PYJ(not senator Prince Y. Johnson) in Belenerfai by Gen. Doumoyan.
Declaring that he spent all his time on the front line, Mr. Kosiah said the “big men were in offices, pick ups, jeeps because they were afraid to die.
Asked about the infamous H and H slang referenced to ULIMO at the height of the war, Mr. Kosiah said the term referred to was for Headquarters & Headquarters. He explained that the the function was to manage and keep food and other supplies. “The H & H had the keys for the warehouse.
He averred that the commander is fully responsible for his actions, than the doer as he sought to escape responsibility for what happened during the war. He compares or likens it to two people going to a night club and one drinking coco coal and another drinking alcohol.
Commander Not to Blame
Mr. Kosiah told the court that the commander should not be held responsible for what his soldiers did, because the commander was not present when atrocities were committed.
Mr. Kosiah said his understanding of order is how to fight, where to place the men and how to lay the arms down. He explained that on the battlefront, he always checked that his orders were executed but added that a commander should discipline his solder if something goes wrong.
Asked about his alleged role in the Zebra and Alligator Battalions, Mr. Kosiah acknowledged that he was a member of the Alligator battalion but noted that the Zebra Battalion was created by a smaller group to deviate from the National Patriotic Front of Liberia.
When the group first entered Liberia, it was just a group, but later transformed into a battalion. “That was in 1992.” Mr. Kosiah named Vanmuyah Sheriff as the Zebra commander but says he was confused as to who was the commander of Alligator.
He named one Samura Kamara as the overall commander for the group when they entered Liberia and no one argued with Kamara, who he says was the acting deputy field commander.
Mr. Korsiah said he missed the capture of Lofa Bride by ULIMO because he was sick. He acknowledged that he was sent to Zorzor as commander and was made BIO, Battalion, investigating Officer for a month and then resent as regional commander for Zorzor around 1995.
Mr. Kosiah however explained that he did not know when exactly they (ULIMO) captured Lofa.
Reminded of answers he provided the investigators that Lofa was captured in 1993, Kosiah now says, he could not say when exactly at the moment as he struggled, telling the victims’ Lawyers that he was confused and was not taking notes.
He repeatedly said he’s not a computer. As he was pushed further by the Judges on when ULIMO captured Lofa, Mr. Kosiah struggled for answers.
He dismissed suggestions that he had bodyguards following him around. Instead he said, the hanger-ons were simply people who liked him and followed him. “Jah, Jata Kollie, saah, Tweah, Aligatoor, Papa, Lamine and Basah—these were all his bodyguards. Papa was the youngest.
He was between 12-13 years old.
He said the bodyguard ages ranged from 15 – 25.
He clarified that the ULIMO rebellion was not a national army. “My bodyguards were like everyone fighting for themselves but they had confidence in themselves.
Mr. Kosiah said he only had two names during the war – Coach Kosiah and Physical Cash. He said during the war in Liberia he wore camouflage but in Sierra Leone, he wore uniform and described the
G3 as his favorite weapon although he said he sometimes used the AK47.
Kosiah who said he was in ULIMO from 1991 to 1996, said he had a pistol, but that it was in Todee and could not recall carrying a knife.
He claimed that his right hand had a problem, but that his solders fixed it.
Asked whether he received a salary during that time, he said, he did not but said he did receive money from General Alhaji Kromah once in a while.
Asked where Kromah got the money from to give him, Mr. Kosiah laughed off before telling the court, the question belonged to Kromah.
On the issue of how they survived, Mr. Kosiah said housing was not a problem for the rebels. “We lived in in Mandingo houses and barracks. We had food supplies from Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Kosiah said he was in Sept. 9, 1990 when Doe was killed. In the same 1990, he explained, he fled to Sierra Leone but cannot remember the exact time.
Says particularly, he was involved with the whole civil war in Liberia and admitted fighting in Sierra Leone as well.
Between the period he went to Guinea, he was a civilian, but says he is unsure about the exact time.
Asked how much training he had to undergo before joining ULIMO, Kosiah said he was already a soldier by the time he joined ULIMO, so he didn’t need a military training.
Mr. Kosiah recalled that he only remembers filing in a form, but can’t remember all the details
He put on the form. He also said he could not remember whether he received any feedback after he filled in the form.