Monrovia – A witness at the ongoing war crimes trial of ex-Sierra Leonean rebel leader, Gibril Massaquoi has told the Finnish court hearing the case that Massaquoi was a spy on the then Liberian President, Charles Taylor.
By Mae Azango, New Narratives Senior Correspondent
The witness, who claimed he was an ex-Major General of Strike Force Marine of Taylor’s forces alleged Massaquoi fed LURD with information about Taylor.
“I told Taylor that Massaquoi was spying on him for LURD but he did not believe me but he kept an eye on us until he found out Massaquoi was a spy,” said the witness codenamed “X 3” to protect him from reprisals.
The witness said he was not the only one who told Taylor about the alleged act.
“Even the late Sam Bockarie, (Gen. Mosquito) also told Taylor that Massaquoi was not a good man. Taylor sent out an arrest warrant for Massaquoi, for being a spy but before the arrest warrant came, I was already looking for Massaquoi for killing the civilians. But what blessed that man that day, I did not see him, because if I had seen him, we won’t be discussing this issue. He had a girlfriend called Lucy Gibson at Taylor’s white Flower residence, and she was the person who told Massaquoi to escape because Taylor was looking for him to kill him.”
The witness said Massaquoi’s girlfriend was then arrested and while in custody, confirmed that Massaquoi had fled.
Sounding authoritative and fearless, he accused RUF fighters of doing “wickedness” in Sierra Leone, yet in Liberia they were embraced. He expressed disappointment over the Sierra Leoneans’ failure to return the love Liberians had shown them, but were feeding LURD with information.
The witness also particularly accused Massaquoi of killing about 65 civilians at Waterside after one of his top commanders (Salome) was killed by the LURD rebels.
“People who did wickedness in my country I want them to face justice, even if it is me, I should face justice,” he said.
He said he got to know Massaquoi when President Taylor sent for Massaquoi to come to Liberia, and since then Massaquoi never went back to Sierra Leone, but was given an assignment.
He said the first time he met Massaquoi was when he went to pick him up from Bo Waterside, but could not remember the actual date, adding that it may likely be in April or May. The witness claimed that at the time he went to pick up Massaquoi, he was controlling Taylor’s forces at the Clay to Bo Waterside Corridors.
“The second time I met him was when they sent me to pick him up from his home opposite YWCA, and the third time I saw him, was when he did the execution of the civilians and we were already looking for him because Taylor had given the mandate to arrest him. That was the last time I saw him. I don’t even know where he is now.”
The court returned to Liberia for a second time when it became clear that dozens of witnesses in the first hearing here in March were referring to battles that took place in 2003, outside the dates the indictment had originally listed for Massaquoi’s alleged crimes.
Massaquoi, 51, is standing trial in Finland where he was living under an immunity deal with the Special Court for Sierra Leone when he was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity during Liberia’s second civil war.
The inconsistency of witness’s statements has been a major problem for the defense and prosecution cases. They continued in today’s hearing.
During the cross examinations, the defense team asked if he still has the photos he claimed to have taken along with Massaquoi, Sam Bockarie (alias General Mosquito) and Superman, but he said his little sister took the album and it was later damaged by the rain.
Asked where the photo with Massaquoi was taken, he said it was on Randall Street, before reaching the overhead bridge on Front Street, down town Monrovia. The Finnish police had earlier quoted the witness in their report as saying that he took the photo along with Massaquoi in Vai Town. He also said they took many photos together in several places including Vai Town; something he vividly remembered because it was the time they pushed the LURD forces back, and the pictures were taken to celebrate their victory.
The second witness, called by the Prosecution claimed to be one of Taylor’s trusted Generals; heading the unit called the Wild Geese. His group, he claimed, was stationed in Chocolate City and the Stockton Creek Bridge.
Just as the first witness, he also claimed to have brought Angel Gabriel from the Bo Waterside Border to Monrovia. According to him, Massaquoi was made General to place Sam Bockarie when he died. Repeating previous witnesses’ testimonies, he accused Massaquoi of ordering the killing of over hundred civilians in three stores in Waterside in 2003.
“Gibril gave the order to shoot in the store, on June 9, 2003 and LURD was trying to cross the Bridge to enter Monrovia, but by then civilians were not giving chance,” the witness, 45 testified.
“They were always looting. So, he warned them three times not to cross the road when the BZT pickup was coming, but they all crossed and jump into the store. And the RUF who we call Aggbah boys, started shooting and killing the civilians in the store.”
The witness said he was not on the scene when it happened, “but received a call to hurry to Water side because it was not easy.”
“When I got there, they said the Aggbah boys had killed over 100 persons in the store. I asked for the commander who was Massaquoi but by then Gibril had already left and gone back to the E.J. Roye Building. When I arrived at the E J Roye Building, I went up, and the first person I met was Yeatan (Benjamin), and when I saw Massaquoi, I jumped on him to fight but Yeaten stopped us.
In his description, he said the first killing spot was a biscuit store near the old Housing Bank, the second store was located on Front Street, near Family Bakery, and the third on Water Street.
My intention was to stop and attack the Sierra Leonean also, but my deputy called ‘Long Range, told me to not attack the Aggbah because they were helping us. After massaquoi and I nearly fought, it was a month before the war stopped. After that I did not see Massaquoi again.”
The trial continues today with several witnesses appearing.