RUF leader testifies at Charles Taylor trial

14 July 2010 by -

Former rebel leader Issa Hassan Sesay last week told the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) that his Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group was not controlled by Charles Taylor. He also denied giving diamonds to the former Liberian president.

By Thijs Bouwknegt, The Hague

Former rebel leader Issa Hassan Sesay last week told the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) that his Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group was not controlled by Charles Taylor. He also denied giving diamonds to the former Liberian president.

By Thijs Bouwknegt, The Hague

Sesay is serving a 52-year sentence in Rwanda after the SCSL convicted him of war crimes and crimes against humanity last year. But on July 5th the former RUF commander appeared once more before the court as a surprise witness for the defence in the case against Taylor.

“Has Charles Taylor ever been in charge of the RUF?” asked Taylor’s lawyer Courtenay Griffiths. “As far as I know, no,” Sesay replied. “Have you ever given diamonds to Charles Taylor?” Griffiths continued. “No, I do not remember having given diamonds to Mr. Charles Taylor,” the 40-year-old former rebel replied.

Sesay also said he had no knowledge of RUF founder Foday Sankoh or leading commander Sam Bockarie giving Taylor gems, a claim prosecution witnesses made before the court. They “never told me that,” Sesay said.

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