Liberia: Defense Witness Contradicts Rebel Commander’s Claim he Was Not in Civilian Areas in Paris Court

Photo description: Kunti Kamara’s defense lawyers talking

PARIS, France – One of former Ulimo rebel commander Kunti Kamara’s own witnesses contradicted his testimony in Kamara’s appeal of his 2022 conviction for war crimes here on Wednesday. Abraham Jusuf Kromah, also a former Ulimo commander, was called by the defense to testify about Kamara’s actions in the war but he appeared to do his case more harm than good.

Kromah appeared via video link from Monrovia. He may risk charges himself if he were to come to France. Kromah told the court that he knew Kamara’s girlfriend at the time Kamara was in Foya, Lofa County in Liberia when Ulimo controlled the county between 1993 and 1994. He told the court that Kamara’ girlfriend was pregnant and that she was around 15 years old and living in Kolahun. Kromah said he saw her on three occasions when she visited Kamara’s home in Foya on the days Kamara was back from the battlefront in Manikoma.

“Kunti was not married, but I used to see one small pregnant girl who was pregnant for him that used to come from Kolahun to him in Foya.”

Kamara had earlier told the court that he was not based in Foya, but instead at the battlefront and would only go to Foya on a few occasions. This testimony about his pregnant girlfriend may undermine Kamara’s claim in the jurors’ minds.

At the start of Kamara’s war crimes appeal earlier this month, his lawyers had drawn a new line of defense claiming that their client, was underage at the time he participated in the Ulimo war in Foya. They have put his age at 15 years in 1993 when Ulimo captured Foya. That would mean his trial would need to be moved to the juvenile system in France.

Kromah may have helped that case by telling the court that he did not know Kamara’s age at the time but that he was very young, younger than Kormah’s smallest brother. Kromah said he drove Kamara and two other child soldiers to leave the battlefront and go back home to Foya because they were too small to be in the midst of such tense a battle. That might be hard for the jury to believe given Kamara had told the court that he was a battlefront commander.

Kromah claimed Kamara was one of the three child soldiers during their reign. The others were, Mohammed Keita, whose war name was, “Pregnant Monkey”, and the third whose name he said he could not remember, was assigned to Alieu Kosiah, the Ulimo commander convicted of war crimes in Switzerland in 2021.

Kamara has denied that Ulimo used child soldiers.

The nine witnesses who have come from Foya to testify before the French court, have given accounts of the horrors they said Ulimo brought upon Foya. They said Ulimo had human heads, skulls and intestines placed on sticks and used at checkpoints. Kamara had told the court that they were all makeup stories and lies.

When the president of the judge, asked Kromah what he knew about human parts used by Ulimo at checkpoints, Kromah again contradicted Kamara saying Ulimo used human heads and skulls to signal a deter their enemies and scare anyone entering their controlled territories.

“When we captured somewhere, we used to place human skulls on sticks at the entry to scare our enemies,” he said. “It was a sign of danger.”

He did not agree that his faction used human intestines at their checkpoints.

“The way human being pupu sting like that, which soldier in his normal mind will take a human being intestine to make it as a gate?” he asked.

Before the judge adjourned Wednesday’s hearing, the president of the court asked Kamara to respond to the three women raped victims who testified yesterday and today in-camera – meaning without outside observers including press. Kamara registered that he was sorry for their incident but said he had no hand in it.

 “I have sisters and brothers and I love my sisters more than my brother, so I am sorry for what happened to them,” he said. “But I have no knowledge all what they are talking about today or tomorrow.”

Kamara has accused the international justice advocates, Civitas Maxima and its Liberian partner, the Global Justice and Research Project of having putting witnesses together to fabricate lies against him, Kosiah and other Liberia warlords have been interview abroad. 

The trial continues Thursday.

This story was a collaboration with FrontPage Africa as part of the West Africa Justice Reporting Project.