Taylor betrayed by his own

04 February 2008 by Thierry Cruvellier

The prosecutor continues to present testimony from the "insiders"—former Liberians or Sierra Leoneans who claim to have worked for the former president of Liberia. After three weeks of public arguments, the trial of Charles Taylor was moved behind closed doors on January 24. But before that happened, the public had been able to hear a witness who linked Taylor to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone—Abu Keita, a former leader of the Liberian armed group Ulimo-K like a previous witness, Varmuyan Sherif.

Keita doesn't know how to read, but he was deputy chief of staff of this rebellion mounted in 1990 against Taylor, who would share the power with him starting in 1994. Following a thwarted conspiracy against Taylor in September 1998, Keita was put in prison in Monrovia. It was his friend Sherif, who had become a member of the special security services, who came to have him released. The price for Keita's rehabilitation was to go into Taylor's service. His mission: to join the Sierra Leonean rebellion of the United Revolutionary Front (RUF). In a matter of hours, Keita went from being a suspect in an attempted coup d'état to being invited to the home of Benjamin Yeaten, Taylor's right-hand man and head of the security services. There he met, among others, Sam Bockarie (alias Mosquito), the RUF commander, and Eddie Kanneh, a renegade from the Sierra Leonean army who called himself "the liaison officer for the diamond business between Sierra Leone and Liberia". Keita testified, "Yeaten said he wanted a stand-by force in Sierra Leone, and I would be the commander of this force. He said I should be based in Sierra Leone with Sam Bockarie.

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