Charles Taylor yesterday told the Special Court in The Hague, The Netherlands that he never planned or took part in the plan to invade Sierra Leone. He denied allegations made by certain prosecution witnesses that he was part of a meeting where the invasion of Sierra Leone was discussed.
Taylor said “I played no part in whatsoever in organizing the RUF; I had no knowledge that there was a group who called themselves RUF that was planning to invade Sierra Leone.”
He said that he tried to convince Momoh that he was not part of the invasion but Momoh was not convinced and this ended the cordial relationship with them.
The witness said that he told president Momoh that he never sent a tanker and troops for the invasion, but Momoh could not believe this as he had been informed by the international community that he [Taylor] was part of the invasion.
In his evidence he denied the allegation that, he was asked by Foday Sankoh to assist him in the invasion of Sierra Leone.
“Even if Sankoh had asked me for any assistance I would not have done it against a friend and Sankoh did not have the credential and power for me to help him.”
He said that he only got the information about the invasion of Sierra Leone through the BBC Focus on Africa programme and he was disturbed about it.
Questioned about his action after the RUF invaded Sierra Leone, the witness said that the moment he became aware of the invasion and the role of other Liberians he immediately ordered the closure of the borders between Liberia and Sierra Leone to ensure that there was no entry of arms from Sierra Leone to Liberia.
Charles Taylor also denied the allegation by the prosecution that he was aware of Sierra Leoneans being trained in Liberia at Camp Nama.
He said that training was indeed going on in Camp Nama and that several West African groups were part of the training but could not tell whether Sierra Leoneans were part of those in the training camp. He also denied the allegation that he was aware that Sankoh took people from Sierra Leone to be trained at Camp Nama.
Charles Taylor told the court that former president of Sierra Leone Ahmed Tejan Kabbah made arrangement for Sierra Leoneans to be trained in Libya and this arrangement was made through Ghana.
The witness also said that this group of Sierra Leoneans was called the Sierra Leonean Pan African Movement and it was headed by one Alie Kabbah a relative of Tejan Kabbah. And that he was told by the leader that they were groups of student from Fourah bay College.
By Betty Milton and Judy Vue