General News of Thursday, 12 February 2004

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Rawlings At NRC: Transcript

I Jerry John Rawlings swear by the almighty God that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Please give ur full name Rawlings :Jerry john rawlings

Where do u live Rawlings :At the ridge What work do u do Rawlings :Laughs. Currently I am unemployed

When did u enlist in the army? Rawlings :A year I left school. I guess that must have been in 1967

Sir as u are aware, you have been subpoenaed to produce certain evidence to this commission.

Rawlings :Yes I am aware.

The commission has received evidence from Mr Riad Hoziafeh that he filmed the interrogation and executions of certain persons. The commission now request that you produce to it these filmed recordings made by Riad at the interrogation and killing of Coporal Halidu Gyiwa, Lance Corporal Andrews Banfo Sarkodie Addo and others at the air force base, Accra on or about March 1984.

Rawlings: If that was his claim, the closest I came to seeing anything near to what you are describing was to an interrogation of one dissident group. Prior to that was when one of them was brought from the Brong Ahafo region. Then there was Malik on the floor, I am talking about the tape. The next scene was, what do you call it?

Question: Sir, the commission is asking that you produce it if you have it in your custody.

Rawlings : I am trying to tell you that I don?t have it. I am telling you what I know about it. I have seen excerpts but I cannot produce it. It could either be with late Warrant Officer Tetteh. Between him, the security apparatus or Ghana Broadcasting, I don?t know.

Question: Sir Kindly go ahead and tell us what you saw.

Rawlings: Yes. It must have been an interrogation of one of the dissident groups and I watched t straight for about four, five minutes about plots and plans, about who landed and who provided equipments and all that. But I was a little too busy so I switched it off and told the late warrant officer to close it up.

Question: Sir can you tell the commission who authorised the filming of these interrogation and killings.

Rawlings: It could have been anyone but I know I was one of the key figures in authorising Riad because in those days we didn?t have enough machinery within the broadcasting corporation to film the things happening around the country. And he was the only one who had a video equipment in those days so he proved very useful in those days. So it wasn?t just a question film and activities around the country but most importantly some of these intelligence issues like you mentioned.

Question: And where was he required to keep the tapes? In whose custody?

Rawlings: Some of them like social and developmental sector no doubt ended up with the broadcasting corporation some of which were actually used. Those that had to do with intelligence must have been with the BNI outfit. There was one very personal thing that I showed interest and wanted to see. One of our fighter aircrafts dropped a bomb somewhere, landed on the runway, the aircraft couldn?t stop so the pilot had to eject. I asked him to film that for me as thoroughly as possible for me. That might still be in my possession but those that has social implications ended up at GBC. In this respect, I would say it was most unfortunate that a fire incident occurred at the Broadcasting house at a certain period of time, which was the second. Whatever interpretation to put to that, that is another question. If you want to analyse it, we can talk about it some other time.

Question: You haven?t stated specifically. You believe it may be with the BNI, late RSM Tetteh or with the GBC.

Rawlings: If you are talking about the one Mr Hoziafeh mentioned on the alleged air force interrogation, I remember I told RSM Tetteh to send it back to whoever.

Question: Do u remember those who you saw in those films?

Rawlings: I remember when the plane landed, I saw a number of soldiers on board. I remember jack bebli was the one who was carrying Gyiwa off the aircraft. As he got down the aircraft, there was another one who had been captured. I think that was Malik who was lying on a stretcher.

Question: Do you know why he was lying on a stretcher

Rawlings : He must have been wounded because it was an encounter.

Please go on.

Rawlings: I was more interested in what the dissidents had to say. I was more interested in the manipulators, the plots and plans, who are the hidden people with hidden motives and who was trying to use these soldiers as a pawn. I thought I could find out a few things in the process of the interrogation. But somewhere, three minutes, four minutes into the thing, I just told WO Tetteh to switch off.

Question: Do you know of any interrogations and executions that may have been filmed by Mr Hoziafeh?

Rawlings : That is what I heard. Executions may have taken place but I did not see it. Like I said because I did not have the time, I could not go beyond the three, five minutes that so I didn?t actually see anything.

Question: Is there any particular reason why WO Tetteh would be asked to keep such films?

Rawlings: He was my number two man. He was very reliable and disciplined. You could call him my personal assistant.

Question: In respect of these particular video recording, is there anything that you would like to tell the commission?

Rawlings : Lots of them

Question: Please go ahead

Rawlings: No if you have specific questions I would deal with them.

Question: Secondly, Sir, the commission has evidence given by Naval Commander Assasi Gyimah and he states that you have in your custody an audio recording made by your self on the day of the execution of Joacquim Amarteikwei. And that you recorded this just before the execution sometime in 1983. Your excellency is that correct?

Rawlings: That is correct.

Question: Do you have that audio tape in your possession?

Rawlings: I did.

Question: You did?

Rawlings: I did.

Question: Since you say it was in your possession, for what period?

Rawlings: From the point you were talking about but when that thing got missing I cannot say. I am saying so because when Captain Tsikata-I don?t know how many months, how many years later was involved in that case in the UK, he needed it to tender in as evidence but I called RSM Tetteh, he looked everywhere and I looked everywhere but we couldn?t find it. Yet it was so important an evidence he needed to tend in at that time.

Question: Are you saying it was in the custody of RSM Tetteh?

Rawlings: It could have been. It could have been in the custody of RSM Tetteh, it could have been in my custody but we just couldn?t find it.

Question: Do you recall the time at which you started searching ad couldn?t find.

Rawlings: That was when Tsikata needed it as evidence in his case against the Independent newspaper in London.

Question: Now can you tell the commission the content of the tape?

Rawlings: I cannot quote him but I can give you what he said in essence. Let me put it this way. Amarteikwei did what I thought was noble. I had known Amarteikwei as a very dedicated person, as a disciplined person, as a person who was not a liar, not a thief and one who commanded a lot of respect. For him to have involved in the misuse of soldiers to do what he did when we came into office

Question: Sir with respect, if I could draw you back

Rawlings: Ahhhaaa. Don?t because I am building it up.

Question: Okay.

Rawlings : For him to have been engaged in the misuse of soldiers to do what he did when we came into office and worse of all to use the name of an innocent person was most painful not only for me but for us all. It was heinous enough for him to have done those two things. Why he had to use Kojo Tsikata?s name I don?t understand but I can only surmise. For me because of the respect I had for him, I wanted him to cleanse his spirit, his soul before he meets his creator and who else could do it but himself. The inevitable is gonna happen. He has been found out. He had everything and anything to do with the judges murder and we were gonna exact the ultimate penalty and for me, I thought it was an opportunity for Amarteikwei to cleanse his soul and spirit before he meets his creator. Not only that but I am not gonna have an innocent man, my wife kids and me leave with such a fabrication of killing somebody. I asked Assasi Gyimah to do that but when Amarteiwkei refused, I had to do it myself. So I got the tape myself and followed the convoy from whoever to the point where he was tied. I approached him that he had personalised an issue. I told him he had hurt all of us by doing what he did. I asked him to let us have the ultimate truth before he meets his creator, restore some ofmy respect before you go, to cleanse all of us and I was glad when he vindicated Kojo Tsikata.

Question: And you recall what his words were, at least in essence?

Rawlings : Yeah I mean he pronounced the innocence of Captain Tsikata and asked for forgiveness. Infact a day after, I remember inviting a number of journalists and played the tape to them Kojo Yankah who was editor of the Graphic then published the content which was not the intention. I reproached him because that was not the moment. Because sometimes if truth is not told at the appropriate moment in the appropriate context, people put question marks and doubts over it.

Question: Do you know if any copies were made at that time or it was just the original?

Rawlings: I don?t know but I doubt it. If anybody was carrying a tape among the press when I met them, I have no idea. Apart from that I never made it known but I believe I played it to Kojo Tsikata and some of our members.

Question: Finally is there anything further you have to say about the tapes and all that.

Rawlings: A lot but I am wondering if it shouldn?t be later. You?ve got to appreciate the degree of tension at that time. Civillians were dying, there was danger to our men who were trying to restore then. You?ve listened to Adjei Boadi, Asaasi Gyimah, you?ve listened to Nkwantabisa, this honourable man lawyer Adumuah Bossman and Captain Tsikata. A good number of the experiences should give you an idea of the explosive nature at that time. When you are talking about a coup, a coup is a coup. In a coup, the command structure stays in place. A revolt erupts the bottom and it takes time to restore control. It can be very destructive. That is a different matter but for now, let us deal with the pertinent issues you are interested in.

Question: Alright. I am satisfied so I would hand you over to the chair.

Rawlings : No are you satisfied?

Question: Yes I am. You don?t have the tapes both video and audio.

Rawlings: I don?t but I have dozens of recordings but if you people are interested you are welcome. They are mouldy. They would spoil your machine but if you people are interested in, you can come. Because nothing hurts me more than the manner the films that depicted the times were burnt in the fire at broadcasting. Why do we want to distort what happened then?

Question: Sir for now we are interested in what we subpoenaed you about.

Rawlings: Alright.

Chairman of commission: We have no question for you so we thank you for coming.

Rawlings : Oh Sir, why? (Laughing)

Chairman: Silence please, we asked you to produce specific tapes but you say you don?t have them so there is not need to ask you any questions. If we need you we would call you.

Oh Sir, How? Thank you.