2:04 – Defense confronts prosecution witness with inconsistent prior statements

The proceedings have resumed following the mid-morning break.

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

Def: Before we adjourned, I was asking about your eating habits. If I understand your account, you played an important role in killing Superman?

Wit: Yes, at the direction of Charles Taylor.

Def: Did you kill a man called AFRC Rambo?

Wit: No, he was killed by Eddie Kanneh on Taylor’s instructions for him not to reveal information to JPK. He killed him on Camp Shefflin Highway.

Def: (refers to document)

[brief disruption in audio from the courtroom]

Def: With regard to the account you gave yesterday about the president of Liberia engaging of a pregnant woman on the beach outside White Flower (refers to document). We’re looking at a record made of an interview conducted with you in February 2008. In that interview, you said this: “There was a woman who was believed to be from ULIMO-J who was killed on the orders of and in the presence of Charles Taylor. She was arrested in Monrovia and taken to the beach behind the old White Flower by Taylor’s men. This happened before Taylor became president and before the transitional government. Taylor ordered the pregnant woman to be stripped naked and put in a pit. Those present included Yeaten and the witness. As she was being covered by sand, the woman looked up at Taylor and pleaded with him to release her. The witness and others continued to pour sand over her until she was completely buried. After this a white sheep was put over the pit and the witness and others tore meat off the sheep.” Is that true?

Wit: Yes, but the woman was not specifically from ULIMO-J.

Def: Would you agree that an even like this is very dramatic?

Wit: Yes, it’s bad. But it was Taylor’s ceremony for his presidency.

Def: Why did it take you two years to remember this dramatic act and mention it to the prosecution?

Wit: Just imagine, to rule a country for over 14-15 years, there were so many events. I can’t remember them all at the same time.

Def: Had you ever done this on any other occasion?

Wit: The one I remember is what I have explained.

Def: You appreciated when you first spoke to the prosecution, they wanted to hear about all the bad things Taylor had done.

Wit: All the activities of Taylor I cannot recall. I have explained the ones I remember.

Def: How did it take you two years to remember something like this?

Wit: As you are talking, I’m remembering some more even that what I have explained. If there are any other questions for me to remember some more, then I will explain in detail.

Def: Why did it take you so long to remember this?

Wit: As chief of operations, I had so many problems on my hands in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Def: To test the veracity of this account – whether you are telling the truth: Is it true that you tore the meat off the live sheep?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Did you use knives?

Wit: No, bare hands. We fought over it as a guerilla ceremony.

Def: How many people were present around this white sheep?

Wit: The sheep was used as his presidential ceremony – for the other five councilors to be afraid of him.

Def: How many people were present?

Wit: It was not four or five men. It was a group of people at the time. Bulldog was not yet the aide d’campe – he was just a bodyguard. Yeaten, Sandoh Johnson, Joe Tuah, I was there, (lists others).

Def: Whose son is Sandoh Johnson supposed to be?

Wit: We who were the target commanders were supposed to be there.

Judge Doherty: Whose son is Sandoh Johnson?

Wit: I don’t know his mother and father.

Def: On your reckoning, would it be fair to say there was a group of 10-12 people?

Wit: More than that. It was a ceremony. To fight a raw animal, it’s a culture from way back in our tradition. If you are lucky, you will get a piece.

Def: Were you lucky?

Wit: I had a piece. It was not a piece to cook or roast.

Def: So, you got a piece. The second part of my testimony is this. How did they manage to cut up and tear the sheep apart without knives?

Wit: (laughs) When we’re talking about the warrior ceremony, even some people were wounded on their bodies. Mr. lawyer, you’re supposed to know – you’re from Africa.

Def: I’m from Kingston, Jamaica, that’s why I’m asking for your assistance.

Wit: From way back, before they go to war, they would kill an animal. That happened at White Flower after this woman was buried alive.

Def: How do you tear up a furry animal with your bare hands?

Wit: We were just fighting over it. To even get a piece, it was a war. To even get a piece, you were lucky.

Def: I suggest this is a lie. Taylor was never present with you at any such ceremony.

Wit: I’m telling you the truth.

Def: I suggest it’s a figment of your imagination.

Wit: (laughs) I’m telling you the living truth. There’s Charles Taylor sitting there. Ask him.

Def: You joined the Liberian armed forces as a recruit in 1978, didn’t you?

Wit: Yes.

Def: You were age 17 at the time?

Wit: No, I was 19. I was born in 1958.

Def: (refers to document) This is a record made an investigator in March 2006: “The witness stated that he joined the Liberian army in 1978 at the age of 17.” Is that right?

Wit: It is wrong. I was born on June 7, 1958. I joined the army in 1978. Calculate the years.

Def: You were sent by Doe’s government to Israel for specialized training?

Wit: Yes.

Def: How long were you in Israel?

Wit: I spent 90 days there.

Def: What kind of training?

Wit: Infantry training – to be an executive mansion guard for Doe. At the time, Taylor too was a major in the Armed Forces of Liberia.

Def: (references document) Would you agree there’s nothing controversial about the type of training you received in Israel? Nothing you need to hide?

Wit: Why should I hide what I did in Israel. I was trained for the executive mansion guard. We used a red badge on our uniform in Liberia. Later, in 1985, I went away.

Def: (references document) “Witness declined to describe the nature of training in Israel, other than to say it was specialized.” Why were you so coy about this with the investigators? Was there anything about the training in Israel that you were reluctant to talk about?

Wit: There was no extra clandestine training. We learned to use weapons, VIP protection, etc.

Def: There was nothing secret about the training?

Wit: Nothing.

Def: Where we see that the investigators have recorded, “witness declined to discuss nature of training”, why didn’t you want to tell them?

Wit: Because at the time, I had all my documents and certificates from Israel. So there was nothing for me to explain. I only showed them my documents.

Def: Apart from within Liberia and within Israel, did you receive any other training in any other foreign country?

Wit: No. When Taylor came, I took no training anymore. The AFL sent me to Israel for training.

Def: You joined the Liberian armed forces in 1978. You must have received training in Liberia?

Wit: At the time I joined, I was staying with the late Richard Henry. From there, he made the recommendation. He took me to Camp Shefflin. From there, he said “I want my son to be a soldier.” He was Speaker of the House under Tubman. That’s how I joined. When Doe took over, he sent us for proper training in Israel.

Def: Did you receive any training at all within Liberia?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Apart from Israel and Liberia, did you do any military training in any other country?

Wit: No.

Def: I don’t want to be accused by anyone of misleading you. Did you do any military training in any other country besides Israel and Liberia?

Wit: No.

Def: (references document) “Witness stated that he had met Foday Sankoh in Burkina Faso in late 1986, being introduced by Charles Taylor. Witness part of a group training in Burkina Faso.” Is that the truth?

Wit: No. I made a clarification to the prosecution that this statement was not true.

Def: At a later date, you corrected that?

Wit: When they read the statement to me, I told them no. Sankoh was introduced to me in Liberia after Taylor crossed.

Def: “Witness stated that he had met Foday Sankoh in Burkina Faso in late 1986, being introduced by Charles Taylor. Witness had been a group of NPFL combatants training Burkina Faso. Training commander identified as Capt. Mohammed. Two white male S. Africans also provided training at the base. Training directed at basic infantry skills.” Where did the investigator get all of that detail from?

Wit: I did mention the two white S. Africans that were training at the anti-artillery base in Batala (sp?). Sankoh was introduced to me in Borplay after Taylor’s arrival. I did not see Burkina Faso.

Def: Where did they get the name Capt. Mohamed from?

Wit: Sometimes they do not understand my English and they make mistakes.

Def: There was an interpreter present. Where did they get the detail about the name of the base?

Wit: I don’t know about this. What I know is what I have explained. I’m telling the truth.

Def: I have to press you for an answer.

Judge Doherty interrupts to say that the document doesn’t make clear that an interpreter was present.

Def: A Mr. Sesay was present.

Prosecution: He’s a Sierra Leonean investigator.

Def: Even without an interpreter, where did the investigators get all of this detail from?

Wit: I don’t know about this.

Def: Apparently “Tajora” is a Libyan name. Did you ever train in Libya?

Wit: No. I was trained in Liberia and Israel.

Def: Following your training in Israel, you became a SATU officer, didn’t you. What is SATU?

Wit: It was Doe’s mansion guard battalion, assigned at the mansion after the training. Just how Taylor had the ATU.

Def: You were a member of that specialist unit?

Wit: I remember that unit. I have my certificates. You can see the names of those who trained us.

Def: Beginning in Jan 2006, did you at any stage give them any documents that were in your possession?

Wit: Only my training certificate. I turned over pictures.

Def: You gave them your training records?

Wit: I showed them, but did not give them to them.

Def: You showed them photographs?

Wit: I told them I didn’t want my certificate to be photographed. They didn’t photograph it. The pictures concerning Sierra Leone and parts of Liberia, they were serious about them. They photographed them and returned them to me.

Def: You didn’t give them anything else?

Wit: I had some papers with me. I believe they photographed it, but I can’t recall.

Def: So you had documents and photos that investigators and prosecutors photocopied?

Wit: When Rob asked me if I had documents from Charles Taylor, I said yes. But later, I didn’t carry my documents with me. Only my certificates and pictures.

Def: Apart from your certificates and photographs, did you provide any other documents to the prosecution?

Wit: I showed Rob some papers on which I signed for some materials in Monrovia. Later I left to go to the residence. Whether he photocopied it or not I can’t tell. I came back the following day, and they returned the pictures to me.

Def: Forget about photos and certificates. If I understand, you gave to investigators written documentation about materials you received in Monrovia?

Wit: I can’t remember that.

Def: What was the material you spoke of a couple of minutes ago?

Wit: Ammos and arms.

Def: Did you give to investigators, written documentation with reference to arms and ammunition you had received?

Wit: I can’t remember that. When I was there, there were some activities I was dissatisfied with, so I decided to go back home.

Def: In any event, you ended up as one of Doe’s bodyguards?

Wit: I was not a bodyguard.

Def: Doe was a Krahn, wasn’t he, and you’re a Gio?

Wit: Yes.

Def: There came a time when there was a time to overturn Doe’s government?

Wit: Yes, due to his attitude. It was correct. He was a bad man. That’s why we attempted to overthrow him. It was justified. We made the attempt twice.

Def: Following the attempt by Thomas Quiwonkpa to stage a coup against Doe, Doe carried out a rein of terror in Nimba County, didn’t he?

Wit: Yes, he was doing bad things.

Def: He cut off people’s heads and put them on poles. Is that right?

Wit: It’s not right. That’s why we fought him.

Def: Did Doe’s supporters and troops cut off people’s heads and put them on poles?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Was your own father not executed by Doe?

Wit: Not my father, but the sister that was next to me. My father died a long time ago. They executed my sister in the Lutheran Church.

Def: You hated Doe?

Wit: Exactly.

Def: You were afraid you might be killed, so you fled to Ivory Coast, where you met Prince Johnson?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Why did you then join the NPFL?

Wit: I joined Prince Johnson so that we could overthrow Doe so we could return home. And he was still killing our people.

Def: You thought the NPFL project was justified?

Wit: At that time there was no NPFL. We were freedom fighters.

Def: You thought it was justified, and the only way to overthrow Doe was through armed struggle?

Wit: Yes.

Def: I want to deal with one detail. Yesterday, when prosecution asked you, you said, “I first met Taylor in Borplay after I was put in a burning container. I was then taken in a wheelbarrow to Taylor.” Is that correct?

Wit: Repeat the question.

Def: Yesterday you said you first met Taylor in Borplay. You were put in a container that was burned. Taylor was walking passed and ordered the container open. You were taken in a wheelbarrow to see him. Is that correct?

Wit: Yes.

Def: (references document) “In 1985, while still in Ivory Coast, witness met Prince Johnson. Witness stated that Johnson recruited him to join the NPFL and in 1986 personally introduced him to Charles Taylor.” Did you meet him when you were released from a container, or were you introduced to him by Prince Johnson in Ivory Coast? Which is right?

Wit: I left Liberia in 1985 after the coup. In 1986, I met Prince Johnson. I had seen Taylor before in Monrovia, when he was head of the GSA. I didn’t see him in Ivory Coast. I saw him the second time in Borplay when I was released from the container.

Def: The document suggests you first saw Taylor in Ivory Coast.

Wit: No, it was Johnson who talked about Taylor. I didn’t see him there.

Def: When someone is locked in a metal container with fire on top of it, it’s the kind of event you remember?

Wti: Yes. That’s why I was so grateful to him.

Def: Then why did you say you first met Taylor in Ivory Coast, and not a burning container?

Wit: I am misquoted in the document.

Def: Why is there no mention of the container, or the fire, or the wheelbarrow in this paragraph?

Wit: I mentioned about putting me in a container. That’s why I was grateful to him.

Def: Why is there no mention of this container in this document?

Wit: You should ask the prosecutor because I did mention that.

Def: How is it that mention is made of the Ivory Coast when you never met Taylor there?

Wit: I don’t know that. What I know is what I explained.

Def: Where did the reference in that paragraph to the Ivory Coast come from?

Wit: This Ivory Coast mention here – I did mention my exile there when I met Prince Johnson. I did not say I met Taylor there.

Def: Then it goes on to say: “witness later entered Liberia as a member of the NPFL” So you told them that you met him in Ivory Coast. Where did they get this from if not from you?

Wit: The things I did not say, I will not agree with them here. I did not even say NPFL – at that time we were freedom fighters.

Judge Doherty: That’s not the question. The question is where mention of Ivory Coast came from.

Wit: I mentioned Ivory Coast and how I met Prince Johnson there, who told me about Charles Taylor. Taylor came to Borplay and talked about revolution.

Def: (references another interview, from March 2006): “Witness stated that Doe was afraid of another coup attempt by soldiers who were Mano or Gio. Witness deserted and returned to Nimba County. Upon his return he stayed two days before continuing to Ivory Coast at the end of the rainy season in 1984. At this time, Doe loyalists in the army were arresting any able-bodied male Nimba resident who could be seen as a threat. Witness crossed border and went to Danane, then Bouake, staying until 1985. In that year, he met Johnson, who had also deserted from the Liberian army and sought refuge in Ivory Coast along with other ex-soldiers from Nimba. Witness says was contacted by Johnson and told about an organization being formed to fight and free Liberia from the Doe regime. He and 37 others bet with Johnson at Beneville (sp?) (in a later interview, you corrected that name – but it was still in Ivory Coast). Witness stated that all but five were for former soldiers. Others had property in Monrovia confiscated by the Doe regime. He and 37 others met with Johnson at Beneville (sp?) in Ivory Coast. Witness stated that all but five were former Liberian army officers. Others were property owners from Nimba County who had land or property from Monrovia confiscated from them by the Doe regime. Johnson told group there was someone who could lead them back to Liberia. He introduced Charles Taylor. Meeting took place on Dec 30, 1988. Three months later, Johnson called group back together, stated that old man would talk with whole group one-by-one.” You say again you were introduced to him in Ivory Coast. How did you repeat the same erroneous information twice in two interviews within a month?

Wit: I explained about the coups against Doe. The 1983 coup was different.

Judge Doherty: That answer doesn’t have anything to do with the question.

Wit: We tried more than one coup. There was an attempt in 1983. In 1985, during the Quiwonkpa coup – that is when I left for Ivory Coast.

Judge Doherty: That is not what Counsel is asking. He asks why you said one thing before and another thing here.

Wit: He should ask shorter questions.

Def: In January 2006, you told investigators you met Taylor in Ivory Coast. Same thing in March 2006. Why are you now telling us you met him in Borplay?

Wit: I did not tell them I met Taylor in Ivory Coast. I met Johnson there.

Def: How is it that the investigators recorded that same information on two separate occasions?

Wit: I can’t say. I did not see Taylor in Ivory Coast. I only saw him in Borplay.

Def: Do you have an explanation for how the investigators recorded the same wrong information twice in just over a month?

Wit: I don’t know.

Def: Yesterday, again, you told us this: “Foday Sankoh, I saw for the first time after CT released us from the container. Taylor introduced Sankoh to us as his colleague.” Correct?

Wit: Yes. I met Sankoh the first time in Borplay. There was a border point through which he and Taylor entered.

Def: (references document) Why then did you tell prosecutors in Jan 2006 : “Witness states he met Sankoh in Burikina Faso”?

Wit: No. I’m telling you what I know about. If they didn’t understand my English, that was their own business. I met Sankoh in Borplay. I made that point of correction to the prosecution.

Def: You told that man there (indicates Koumjian) that this part about Sankoh in Burkina Faso being wrong?

Wit: I told him.

Def: That man over there told you he would tell us that this should be corrected?

Wit: Yes. What I know I told to him. I did not meet Sankoh in Burkina Faso or Ivory Coast.

Def: (references another document) On another page, you told them you met Sankoh that you met Sankoh in Ivory Coast. Which is right. Did you meet Sankoh in Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast or Borplay?

Wit: I told you, I met Sankoh and Taylor for the first time in Borplay.

Def: So not only did they get it wrong when they said you met him in Burkina Faso, they also got it wrong when they said you met him in Ivory Coast.

Wit: I never went to Burkina Faso.

Def: Is it a lie, or did they write it down incorrectly?

Wit: I cannot take an oath on the Bible and then lie.

Def: Is the answer that the investigators got it wrong?

Wit: It’s a mistake. Yes.

Def: You said Borplay, and they recorded it as Burkina Faso?

Wit: I said Borplay.

Def: You even gave a date when it took place, Dec 30, 1988. How did they get it so wrong?

Wit: I can’t tell. I can’t read or write.

The witness is escorted out for the lunch break.

The court is now dealing with an urgent prosecution motion filed yesterday. The motion is a confidential witness protection motion. Judge Doherty asks Defense whether they’ve had time to review the motion and whether they object to it. Defense counsel Morris Anyah says that defense would like to respond to the motion because it does not consent to it. The motion affects the next witnesses being called by the prosecution. Anyah says only two of those ten witnesses are affected by this motion, so that the motion is not that urgent.

Court adjourns for lunch. Proceedings will resume at 2:30. With the video/audio delay, this account will resume at 3:00.