10:30 (11:00 with the video/audio delay): Court is back in session.
Presiding Judge Teresa Doherty apologizes that it took longer than expected to deliberate. She announces the ruling. The judges bear in mind the rules and precedents cited, and the fundamental obligation of the right to a fair trial, in particular rule 17e of the Rules of Procedures and Evidence. The accused has not heard the evidence of the prospective witness. It is not in the interests of justice to grant the prosecution’s motion, and it is refused. Prosecution may limit its own examination of the witness as it sees fit.
Prosecutor Nick Koumjian calls the next witness, who will be testifying in Liberian English, and openly. Protective measures will be rescinded for his testimony.
The witness is a tall man with close-shaven hair; he is wearing a gray suit with a light shirt and a tie that has red and white diagonal stripes. He is sworn in on the Bible.
Through a series of questions from Prosecutor Nick Koumjian, the new witness relates the following:
Wit: My name is Joseph D. Marzah, commonly known as Zigzag Marzah. I was born on June 7, 1958 in Nimba County, Liberia. I speak Gio and Liberian English. I am a member of the Gio tribe. I was in the military. I joined the army in 1978. It was the infantry, at Camp Shefflin. That was the Armed Forces of Liberia. I was in the AFL from 1978 until 1985, when I went into exile. That was during the Doe regime when he was carrying out atrocities in Nimba. I fled to Ivory Coast. I was in a displaced camp in Ivory Coast. I was there from 1985 until I returned during the civil crisis. I returned along with Prince Johnson’s group. We were about 17. I was recruited by him in Ivory Coast. He said we had a leader named Charles Taylor and we should come and redeem our country. I met Prince Johnson at Camp Shefflin before when he was First Leftenant. The second time I met him was in Ivory Coast, when he said there was a new leader there to protect us. I did not meet Charles Taylor in Ivory Coast. Johnson told me Taylor was in Burkina Faso. He would come after we entered Liberia. We entered on December 24, 1989 and at that time we were at Botou. We were then based in Blantou. Another base was in Tiaplay, while we were fighting the AFL in Kamplay (sp?). A conflict erupted between the Special Forces and Johnson’s forces.
The first time I saw Charles Taylor was in Borplay. The remaining special forces arrested me and Prince Johnson and took us to Borplay. They put us in a container and started burning it. Maduna Bwua was in there with me. We were all of Johnson’s group. At the orders of Taylor, they stopped the fire and took six of us out who survived. About 20 died from the heat. I was grateful to Taylor for saving us. I let Taylor feel at all times that he had saved my life and I would fight any enemy of his. Nobody was punished for setting the fire on the container.
The Special Forces were those trained in Libya and Burkina Faso by Charles Taylor. The organization that entered Liberia did not have a name at first. We called ourselves freedom fighters. After Taylor’s arrival in Borplay, we took the name NPFL – the National Patriotic Front of Liberia.
Pros: After you pledged loyalty to Taylor, what assignments did you get.
Wit: I was assigned to the first battalion under Alfred Mieh, also called Godfather.
Pros: Did you see fighting with the first battalion?
Wit: Yes, we went with Special Forces under Edward Milain (sp?), we fought in Lower Nimba and we captured Tapeta.
Pros: How long were you with the NPFL or its successor organizations?
Wit: I will say the truth. I was with the NPFL from the start to the end, up to 2003.
Pros: Have you seen many battles with the NPFL and its successor organizations?
Wit: Yes, I fought in so many areas. I don’t think there was any county in Liberia where I did not fight.
Pros: You were at first with Prince Johnson’s forces. Can you compare how Johnson’s forces and the NPFL treated civilians?
Wit: Yes, during Prince Johnson’s administration, there was no authority to go and harass civilians, or even to rape and to loot. When you joined Prince Johnson, if at any time he saw something strange with you, you would either be executed or reprimanded. He said we were only fighting soldiers to overthrow Doe.
Pros: How did that compare with the NPFL?
Wit: When our leader himself, Taylor, was present in Liberia, there were more opportunities for us. We could loot, rape. What you got was for you to be courageous and battle for him. I am talking about Charles Taylor.
Pros: Before Taylor’s election as president, were the NPFL soldiers paid any salary?
Wit: No. We had go ahead that whatever we captured was for us. So we were encouraged to battle.
Pros: Were there any tactics used to create fear in opponents and among civilians?
Wit: Yes, when I was with NPFL, from Tapeta to Grand Bassa, sometimes we set ambushes. There was no rescue for any civilian. You took a human head and put it on your car bumper. So people were afraid and the enemy would be afraid.
Pros: Was there any practice you used at checkpoints to create fear?
Wit: Yes. Any checkpoint, we used human intestines, we put heads on sticks for people to be afraid. When the person is executed, the stomach is split and you use the intestine as a rope. You tie it to the other side, across the road where the MPs would sit. You put the head on a stick by the checkpoint, facing the area where you were going to battle. The intestine is long. Sometimes you used two intestines. You remove the shit from it and tie them together, and tie it across the road.
Pros: Do you know if Charles Taylor ever passed these checkpoints that had these displays?
Wit: Yes, he was aware. He made us understand that you have to play with human blood so that enemies would be afraid.
Pros: Were you with Taylor at some of these checkpoints when he was there?
Wit: We had to welcome him after every battle, and he would see our various checkpoints. At Buchanan Highway he saw more than 8 checkpoints.
Pros: Do you know Foday Sankoh?
Wit: Yes. I saw Foday Sankoh after Taylor released us from the container – about five days later. He introduced Sankoh and some others to us as his colleagues.
Pros: What did Taylor say to you when he introduced Sankoh?
Wit: He said he was one of the senior men assigned with him. We were all to go overthrow Doe.
Pros: Did Taylor ever give you an assignment with Sankoh?
Wit: Yes. We were at Margibi, when Sierra Leonean forces used the AFL to fight against us. Sankoh was about to go to Sierra Leone to become a leader. Sankoh had forces from Liberia at Shefflin, mixed with Sierra Leoneans. Sankoh was to take over the government in Freetown. Later I was relieved from my post and sent there to see Sankoh at a place commonly called Combat Camp – at Visalah (sp?).
Pros: In Liberian English, do you sometimes refer to Sierra Leone as “Freetown”?
Wit: Yes, we refer to the whole of Sierra Leone as Freetown.
Pros: Who relieved you from your post and sent you to see Foday Sankoh?
Wit: That was directed by Charles Taylor, after Special Forces had gone to Freetown and failed. The Freetown forces had pushed them back to Foya.
Pros: How well did Taylor know you at that time?
Wit: (laughs) I am the single Zigzag Marzah. There is no second one. I am competent. He had trust in me.
Pros: When you went to Visalah, what happened?
Wit: At the time, most of the Special Forces were there. Sam Bockarie was a small boy at the time.
Pros: Had a group already entered Sierra Leone?
Wit: They entered, but they couldn’t make it. I was ordered along with other men to go back into Sierra Leone.
Pros: Did you enter Sierra Leone?
Pros: Did you ever see Foday Sankoh there?
Wit: (laughs) Yes.
Pros: Tell us about the first time.
Wit: We captured Koindu, and as far as Beudu. He came to see us where we had captured.
Pros: What did you observe Sankoh to do when he arrived?
Wit: (laughs) Sankoh was a woman man. When he saw where the destruction had taken place, he started crying. He cried over bodies. I immediately went to the radio room and called Charles Taylor to lodge Sankoh’s complaint for him not to confuse the forces. He as a leader cannot cry over destruction. Sankoh saw the corpses of soldiers and civilians, and houses burned down.
Pros: Who did you call on the radio?
Wit: I called Charles Taylor, our leader. I told him about Sankoh’s behavior. He was supposed to be a leader. He should not look at the first battle and start crying.
Pros: How did Taylor respond?
Wit: Over the radio at that time, some of the Sierra Leonean told Sankoh that I was complaining. Taylor told me to continue the operation, and that Sankoh would get used to it.
Pros: How long were you in Sierra Leone?
Wit: At that time, I spent three or four months.
Pros: What year was it that you went into Sierra Leone?
Wit: It was 1991. I can’t recall the days we entered. I spent a few months before they sent for me to go to Shefflin Highway in Liberia.
Pros: What were your assignments after your return to Liberia?
Wit: I was assigned to the first battalion. We established combat units. Augustine Weah was to go as far as Monrovia.
Pros: what other assignments did you have within the NPFL and its successors?
Wit: I served in nearly all units within the NPFL (lists many different units, including the “Death Squad”). I was just an operational man for Charles Taylor.
Pros: What was the “Death Squad”?
Wit: It was purposely there for executions. Soldiers who did not obey Taylor were executed. I did performed executions twice. I was ordered by Charles Taylor. There was a constitutional government governing the state and people should not do things without Taylor’s order.
Pros: Did you perform any other missions to Sierra Leone?
Wit: (laughs) The instruction I received from Charles Taylor was that there should be no consideration for the forces in Sierra Leone. I should perform.
Pros: I’m asking about times after 1991. Was there a time when ULIMO forces occupied Lofa County in Liberia?
Wit: When ULIMO forces occupied Lofa County, the government of Sierra Leone opened the roads to Koindu, so there was no way to go through to Sierra Leone.
Court is adjourning for half an hour, for the mid-morning break. It will resume at 12:00. with the video/audio delay, our account will resume at 12:30.