11:05 – Defense argues arms deliveries to RUF impossible with ECOMOG presence; witness says ECOMOG officers bribed by Taylor

9:30 (10:00 with the half-hour delay in video/audio): Court has been called to order.

Lead Defense Counsel Courtenay Griffiths continues his cross-examination of prosecution witness Joseph D. “Zigzag” Marzah:

Def: Yesterday when we adjourned, I was asking about shipments and arms you said were brought to Liberia by air and sea. You said one source of arms was Taiwan?

Wit: I did not tell you about a particular area. I said RIA and Buchanan Port.

Def: You said one of the sources was Taiwan?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Who told you that?

Wit: Benjamin Yeaten.

Def: Did Taylor tell you that?

Wit: Yes, Taylor only mentioned Burkina and a European country.

Def: When and where did you have this conversation with Taylor?

Wit: On so many times, he had confidence in me. We had so many societies together. In Harbel Hill, Gbarnga, and Monrovia.

Pros: Did the witness say poro societies?

Wit: I said poro society.

Def: Given you’re telling us that you had such a close relationship with the president at such high levels, let me ask you. Taylor was a member of the council of state chaired by Ruth Sando Perry in 1996?

Wit: Yes.

Def: All other members of the warring factions were also represented on the council?

Wit: yes.

Def: At that time in 1996 there were 20,000 peacekeeping soldiers throughout Liberia?

Wit: I can’t give the exact number now. It was not on record.

Def: You would have us believe you were operating at the highest levels of government. This is the kind of fact you should know. Were there not 20,000 peacekeapers in 1996?

Wit: While in Monrovia during the interim government, I was busy on so many occasions. I cannot give the full number of men assigned there.

Def: It was a large force?

Wit: It was plenty.

Def: Those soldiers manned all airports, seaports and border entries from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast?

Wit: Not all those areas. Those at the airport were biased against Taylor. We used to get ammos from them because the Nigerians there used to sell weapons to our chief. When the ammos came overnight, Taylor sometimes called me, Yeaten, Tuoh, [others] he would give us a container of money. We gave it to the ECOMOG commander, Victor, assigned to White Flower. Then we went to the airport to get our ammo.

Def: There were ECOMOG troops at RIA?

Wit: Not just there, some were assigned at White Flower. They used to get money from Taylor. They used to liaise with us to get our arms and ammo.

Def: Let’s concentrate on Roberts International Airport. Were there Nigerian troops stationed there? Yes or no?

Wit: Make it clear. In the 1990s, Nigerian troops were assigned. Later they withdrew.

Def: In 1996-1997 when you told investigators you took arms from RIA, were there Nigerian troops at the airport?

Wit: Yes.

Def: How many?

Wit: About the size of a company. They were mixed up with Ghanaians. When we received ammos, they wouldn’t allow the Ghanaians inside the fence. The Nigerians took over the night shift.

Def: It was through bribery?

Wit: Yes.

Def: You personally bribed them?

Wit: The money was given to us, then we gave it to Victor, the Nigerian officer assigned to Taylor.

Def: Where did you get the money from?

Wit: From Taylor’s house, White Flower. He gave the money to Victor to the airport.

Def: What’s Victor’s full name?

Wit: That’s the name I recall. Even through the black deal during the disarmament, he helped us take ammo from Taylor’s house to hide it from ECOMOG.

Def: You said yesterday you made numerous trips to RIA, today you say it involved bribery of a senior Nigerian officer. What’s his name?

Wit: Victor. That’s what I remember. It was something that happened a long time ago. I can’t remember his full name.

Def: What rank was he in the Nigerian forces?

Wit: Captain Victor.

Def: Captain Victor, a Nigerian soldier, whose full name you cannot remember, correct? Can you give us any other identifying details of that man?

Wit: He used to dress in a military uniform, so it is hard to identify him among a group. The time they made an attempt on us at the mansion, he was even hit by a bullet.

Def: An attack on what place?

Wit: At the mansion during the 6-man council government.

Def: Where was he stationed?

Wit: He was assigned with a car every day. He was assigned with Charles Taylor. I never knew his residence.

Def: Why not?

Wit: For security. When he was hit, he was replaced. I never had to know where he lived.

Def: You said you were third in command in Liberia…

Pros: The witness never said that.

Def: Yesterday you said the only people above you were Taylor and Yeaten, you remember that.

Wit: (to judges) The lawyer shouldn’t offend me. (to Griffiths) Repeat the question and do not offend me.

Def: Mr. Marzah, did you tell us yesterday that the only two people above you in terms of importance were Taylor and Yeaten?

Wit: Yes, through our poro society.

Def: How is it you didn’t know where this captain was living?

Wit: I was not to know the area. I was not due to know all the security houses. I was close to these two people through the poro society. Even with Taylor, we ate human beings.

Def: Are you fixated on eating human beings?

Prosecution objects. Judges tell Griffiths not to be facetious.

Def: This discussion about RIA and the bribery, why didn’t you tell the prosecution about this?

Wit: There were so many problems. I’m answering questions. When the questions come, I will think about them.

Def: You were asked about this before. You said earlier in an interview that you made hundreds of trips to the airport. Why didn’t you mention the bribery.

Wit: It was not for me to go through it bit by bit. I answer the questions.

Def: Speaking of peacekeepers, such troops manned checkpoints on all major and minor roads throughout the country, didn’t they?

Wit: Yes, there were checkpoints, but there were close contacts by Taylor, who gave them money through Victor. Sometimes arms were transferred in an ECOMOG car, a jeep. ECOMOG would not check their own vehicle.

Def: There were checkpoints?

Wit: Yes.

Def: They were manned by non-Liberian troops?

Wit: Some were ECOMOG, some were Liberians. When there was the 6-man council was trying to be technical, Taylor liaised through Victor. ECOMOG dissolved the Liberian checkpoints and only ECOMOG checkpoints remained.

Def: So there were ECOMOG troops at checkpoints throughout 1996-1997?

Wit: Yes.

Def: And at those checkpoints, all vehicles were searched?

Wit: Ordinary vehicles were searched. ECOMOG mobiles were not searched. Those ECOMOG mobiles carried arms and ammo.

Def: So in 1996-1997, you used ECOMOG vehicles.

Wit: Sometimes we moved at night and we didn’t use ECOMOG vehicles. At Taylor’s orders we could execute ECOMOG, so they made no problems. We used ECOMOG vehicles to take weapons from the airport to White Flower. From White Flower, I went in the two yellow trucks and Victor accompanied me to Bong County. We controlled ECOMOG in Lofa County.

Def: You’re telling us that Nigerian troops were conniving with Taylor to evade the arms embargo?

Wit: Yes.

Def: And they did that throughout 1996-1997?

Wit: Yes, during the period of the interim government.

Def: From White Flower to the border with Sierra Leone, you had to go through ECOMOG checkpoints?

Wit: Before I moved off from White Flower, I would be escorted by ECOMOG troops. From 1996, when Lofa was captured by ULIMO, they used to escort me up to [??] at night.

Def: So you were protected by ECOMOG soldiers?

Wit: Yes, by the directive of Charles Taylor.

Def: So the transport of arms into Liberia and onwards to the RUF, that was done with the full connivance and knowledge of ECOMOG?

Wit: Yes, at the time they were victims for the first time. When we received orders from Taylor, they realized our wit. They received money from him and they escorted us to Nimba in order to help us through.

Def: Why didn’t you mention a word of this to prosecutors during the many conversations you had with them?

Wit: From your questions, it lets me recall those behaviours.

Def: At the time of the council of state, there was an attempt to disarm all of the combatants?

Wit: At that time they were disarmed and the six-man council. And one white man helped us through Taylor. He helped us fortify Taylor’s security and we all had pistols.

Def: Generally in Liberia there was a process of disarmament?

Wit: Yes.

Def: And the only persons permitted to carry arms were the peacekeepers?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Also at that time, Taylor lived at Mamba Point, opposite the US embassy compound?

Wit: He only spent about 2-3 months at that place. We still possessed arms.

Def: He lived at Mamba Point at that point?

Wit: He was there at that time, but later moved to the old White Flower.

Def: The reason why I’ve asked about ECOMOG, is I suggest it would have been impossible for you to transport arms through Liberia to the RUF. That’s the truth, isn’t it?

Wit: I’m telling you the truth. We were still in possession of firearms with consent of some of the ECOMOG staff.

Def: In the disarmament process, all the arms collected were destroyed by ECOMOG.

Wit: They destroyed the ugly ones only. Victor made it possible for us to take the effective ones and bury them at Shefflin Highway, and even move some to Gbarnga. They only burned the ugly ones.

Def: Arms were destroyed by ECOMOG?

Wit: Some arms, but not all the weapons.

Def: Those were destroyed under UN supervision?

Wit: What I know, I personally saw the ECOMOG troops. I don’t know if it was UN. I only know it was ECOMOG troops.

Def: It was the same Victor who allowed Taylor to keep the arms buried in Liberia. It was the same Victor?

Wit: Yes. But not all the ECOMOG contingents were concerned. it was through Victor and a few staff that we were allowed to bury the arms.

Def: Can you tell us as much as you can about Victor?

Wit: Since Victor was shot at the mansion and he was released from there, I have never seen him.

Def: Can you give us any other details about him?

Wit: Victor assisted us to get some arms for us, through Charles Taylor.

Def: Describe him for me.

Wit: You are more bulky than Victor.

Def: Is he about my height?

Wit: You are taller than the man a little. He was a slim man. Victor came up to here (indicates just over his shoulder) In boots, he head came maybe to my ear.

Def: Long hair?

Wit: No, he was a clean guy, always had his head shaved. No dirty man can sit with him.

Def: What complexion. As dark as me? Darker than me?

Wit: Almost like you, a little darker?

Def: Anything else you can tell us?

Wit: Ask me questions and I will try to help.

[Griffiths consults privately with Charles Taylor.]

Def: Does the name Victor Malu mean anything to you?

Wit: No. I didn’t say Victor Malu. That Victor Malu is different from the captain I am talking about.

Def: Malu was the general in charge of peacekeepers in Liberia. It wasn’t that Victor?

Wit: General Victor is different. The captain assigned to Taylor is different.

Def: You did know Victor Malu?

Wit: Yes, I knew him a long time ago.

Def: Gen. Victor Malu commanded ECOMOG troops in 1996-1997, is that right?

Wit: There were many ECOMOG generals in command. I can’t recall exactly. Victor Malu was an ECOMOG commander.

Def: At the time you say you were transporting arms through Liberia to the RUF, who commanded ECOMOG troops?

Wit: There were so many Nigerian commanders. Victor Malu was there. There were so many Nigerians, including Ghanians. The one assigned directly to Taylor is the one I described.

Def: There were also Ghanaians, Guineans in the peacekeeping force?

Wti: Yes.

Def: Uganda?

Wit: I don’t know. I knew the Nigerians, Ghanaians, Guineans and Sierra Leoneans.

Def: The bribery involved the Ghanaians, Guineans and the other troops as well?

Wit: I can’t say that. The man at Roberts Field was a major. He received the money. I don’t remember his name.

Def: So Victor organized the bribery from RIA to Monrovia and from Monrovia to Sierra Leone?

Wit: Yes.

Def: So someone at the rank of captain was able to bribe soldiers throughout Liberia?

Wit: I don’t know.

Def: You told us you were escorted by ECOMOG troops from Monrovia all the way to Nimba. Who was in charge of that bribery.

Wit: The company commander.

Def: Give us a name.

Wit: I told you Victor. I can’t give you the names of all the Nigerian people. Their names are difficult. You can ask Charles Taylor. It is Victor that I know.

Def: I suggest to you is that this account you gave to the investigators and prosecutors about 100s of runs taking arms to Sierra Leone – I suggest that’s a lie.

Wit: It’s true. It’s above 100 trips. Sierra Leoneans and people from Lofa saw me. I made over 100 trips.

Def: I suggest the transport of arms would have been impossible in 1996-1997 given the presence of ECOMOG troops in Liberia.

Wit: Not only in 1996-1997. There were arms in 1991 and after Taylor became president too.

Def: I suggest you deliberately manufactured that account for your own purposes, perhaps financial gain.

Wit: I’m not working for money. I’m telling the truth so there can be peace with our neighboring countries. I cannot lie after taking an oath on the Bible.

Def: On Wednesday, you told us about a trip made by RUF members to Burkina Faso to buy arms. When was that?

Wit: I told you on Wednesday that on the time I used to carry arms and ammo to Mosquito, I brought some diamonds back in jars. Mosquito, Mike Lamin and others showed me a big diamond. Taylor was impressed and he even gave us money. He gave me more than a thousand.

Def: Do you recall RUF members going to Burkina Faso to purchase arms?

Wit: Yes, through Taylor’s recommendation. He sent Musa Sesay with them – Bockarie, Mike Lamin and Eddie Kanneh.

Def: When?

Wit: I don’t know.

Def: They all went together?

Wit: I was expecting them to come back with arms. A few days later the arms came when we were in a nightclub and we went to the airport.

Def: How were those arms paid for?

Wit: I was not there. But I knew they were going for arms. After we brought these diamonds, he sent them to get arms. Mosquito told me the trip was successful.

Def: Do you know Magburaka in Sierra Leone?

Wit: Yes. I know [a series of locations in Sierra Leone]

Def: Do you know of an airfield at Magburaka?

Wti: No.

Def: Do you know of flights from Burkina Faso carrying arms into Magburaka?

Wit: I can’t tell. I was not there all the time.

Def: If one were in the northeastern part of Sierra Leone when the RUF was active, which would be the nearest international airport to you?

Wit: I don’t know. The only place I know that they had the football field was in Kailahun, where a helicopter came to collect me.

Def: There’s an international airport in Freetown called Lungi, isn’t there?

Wit: Yes, I saw that one when I was coming here.

Def: Do you know Roberts Airfield?

Wit: Yes, even my wife is from there.

Def: If you were a member of the RUF and wanted to fly to Burkina Faso, which airport would you have to use because of the war?

Wit: At times you would use a car through Ivory Coast. At times you use RIA. At times you use Spriggs Field in Monrovia.

Def: Could I if I were RUF, could I have gone to Lungi to take a flight?

Wit: It could be that if you connive with the Freetown government like the way Gibril Massaquoi did. But it’s not possible as RUF member to fly over the enemies and then use a plane from Lungi airport.

Def: (to judges) Yesterday I raised a matter that would be sensitive. I’ve come to that point.

Judge Doherty: Does prosecution object?

Prosecutor Koumjian: We also request a private session.

Judge Doherty: Court will now enter a private session.

Griffiths: The public should know that this private session shouldn’t need to last more than ten minutes or so.

Court has now gone into private session. This account will resume when it is again in open session.