5:00 – Defense: “Zigzag” Marzah wasn’t senior enough to take orders from Taylor

Court is back in session following lunch.

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

Def: (referencing document) Can you tell us what Sankoh’s intention was when he formed the RUF?

Wit: Before the introduction of Foday Sankoh, we never knew about the RUF. Taylor and Sankoh arranged that he was going to Sierra Leone to have a war there. Taylor sent Sankoh to take complete control over Sierra Leone and fight against the government, so that the forces of Freetown would not continue to help the forces of Doe to fight against us.

Def: (referencing document): “The operation was for Sankoh to become president of Sierra Leone by overthrowing the government. Taylor would get something in return for helping.” So that was Sankoh’s intention, to overthrow the government?

Wit: It was Taylor’s intention, who sent him there.

Def: Then why isn’t that in this paragraph?

Wit: I did explain to the prosecutor that the purpose Taylor sent him for was to go and become president of Sierra Leone, and moreover that the forces of Freetown would no longer attack us.

Def: You agree, when Sierra Leone was invaded, the intention was to overthrow the government?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Returning to the invasion of Liberia. Following the incursion by revolutionary fighters and formation of the NPFL, a dispute arose, and Prince Johnson broke off to form the Independent NPFL, is that right?

Wit: Yes, Prince Johnson left because he escaped death.

Def: And it’s right, isn’t it, that President Doe was executed by Johnson’s NPFL?

Wit: Yes, due to Taylor’s actions, which caused Johnson to kill Doe.

Def: What did Charles Taylor do to get the INPFL to kill Doe?

Wit: Prince Johnson was not the battlegroup for the freedom fighters. He was not appointed by Charles Taylor. The late William Obie was appointed by Taylor. Obie was considered a coward, so Johnson took the initiative to cross with us on Dec 24th. When Johnson sent a letter about the good job the special forces did, these same special forces opened the envelope and told Taylor that Johnson wanted to take his position. Taylor ordered him executed. That’s when Johnson split. That’s how Johnson established the INPFL. In the case of the arrest of Doe, he was happy to put the case of Doe to Charles Taylor, so that he could interview Doe about the atrocities during his time. The boys of Prince Johnson were happy. They were about to go to Gbarnga. Taylor ordered us, and me personally, to execute the men. Johnson was afraid and the next day, Doe was executed.

Def: Did Taylor order Doe’s execution?

Wit: No.

Def: (references document): “In 1991, Marzah, along with a number of other NPFL combat commanders, Atubatu, Hungry Lion, Enosi Ewon, Yassir Arafat, Paul B. Harry, Morris Kalubu and Anthony K?[lists several names] were called to Harbel Hill outside Monrovia for a meeting at the Firestone plantation. The meeting was called by Taylor. When he arrived, he met Sankoh, who was with at least 15 other Sierra Leonean soldiers. Witness stated the Sierra Leoneans told them they disappeared during the Momoh presidency. Taylor said the meeting was to set an agenda for Sankoh to take power in Sierra Leone. Witness said all were NPFL, and the term RUF was never used. Witness and others were told that by sending Sankoh to Sierra Leone, the SL army would not be able to help the AFL fight against the NPFL.” Correct?

Wit: Yes, it’s correct.

Def: You said that the NPFL was justified in invading Liberia to overthrow Doe?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Whilst the NPFL were justifiably seeking to overthrow Doe, the Sierra Leonean joined on the side of the Liberian army, and that was causing problems for the NPFL’s justified attempt to overthrow Doe?

Wit: Yes.

Def: When Sierra Leone was invaded, that was in order to protect the revolution in Liberia, wasn’t it?

Wit: Yes, and also to take over the government in Sierra Leone.

Def: Special Forces were those members of the RUF/NPFL who had been trained in Liberia?

Wit: A majority of the Special Forces were trained in Burkina. They came in with Taylor. The group of NPFL along with those who came in with Charles Taylor came in before Sierra Leoneans could be recruited.

Def: What about the Vanguards?

Wit: There was another Liberian group. Before that, every…

Def: Were the Vanguards those trained at Camp Nama?

Wit: No, they were the ones who were mining for themselves in Freetown. They didn’t want to report to Sankoh, so Sankoh turned them over to Taylor and they all were executed. There were 162 of them.

Def: Who were the junior commandos?

Wit: The vanguards were those who did not take orders. We were all junior commandos. The group they killed at Nama…

Def: Is it not right that there was a hierarchy between the special forces, vanguards and junior commandos?

Wit: No. Those who did not abide by the orders were vanguards. It meant “outlaws”.

Def: It was not the case that the Special Forces were at the top of the pecking order?

Wit: No. No Special Forces were called Vanguards.

Def: I want to ask about names. Do you remember an officer named Cooper Woyah?

Wit: I know him. He was at Bropleh.

Def: Do you know a Special Forces member named Edward Mehln?

Wit: He was my first battalion commander.

Def: So Edward Mehln was a special forces officer?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Solomon Siawah?

Wit: No, Solomon Salameh (sp?), he was one of the special forces.

[Griffiths consults privately with Charles Taylor.]

Def: Solomon Siaweh (sp?) You know him?

Wit: Yes, I know him.

Def: What about Joe Tuoh?

Wit: He was a Special Forces. He’s now spearheading a rebellion in Ivory Coast.

Def: What about Peter Siadeh (sp?)

Wit: Peter Sepeteh (sp?) was one of the Special Forces.

Def: What about Alfred Mehn? (sp?)

Wit: Yes, he was called Godfather.

Def: What about John Gubbay?

Wit: I know him.

Def: Samuel Varney?

Wit: yes.

Def: Tiagen Wantee?

Wit: He was ambassador in Guinea.

Def: Do you agree that all of these individuals were much more senior to you in the NPFL?

Wit: Yes, they were my most senior officers.

Def: After the invasion of Sierra Leone, there was friction between the Sierra Leoneans and Liberians?

Wit: Yes.

Def: And there was a falling out between Sankoh and Taylor?

Wit: No, the dispute was only between the junior commandos who didn’t follow instructions- the vanguards. They were executed.

Def: Shortly after that friction developed, ULIMO invaded Liberia, didn’t it?

Wit: It was not the dispute that caused ULIMO to invade Liberia.

Def: Was it at about the same time?

Wit: No. The problem that happened at the frontline happened before ULIMO could exist.

Def: After ULIMO invaded, ULIMO took control of Lofa County?

Wit: Yes. At the time, the Sierra Leonean government had taken complete control, then ULIMO took control of Lofa.

Def: So the NPFL was cut off from the RUF?

Wit: Yes. The supply line was cut completely. The RUF was in bushes, but still in touch with Taylor.

Def: When ULIMO invaded, they used to put human heads on sticks too?

Wit: I don’t know about ULIMO activity.

Def: After the election in 1997 which saw Taylor democratically elected as president of Liberia, what was your role within the Liberian government?

Wit: I was assigned directly to transport arms and ammunition to Freetown and take my salary from the SS.

Def: Were you an orderly to Benjamin Yeaten?

Wit: Not to Yeaten per se, but directly under Charles Taylor. Taylor said that any instruction from Ben were his instructions.

Def: Do you know Varmuyan Sherif?

Wit: Yes, very well.

Def: Were you more or less senior than Varmuyan Sherif after Taylor’s election.

Wit: Only Yeaten was more senior. Sherif was not my underman, but all of them gave me full respect due to my position.

Def: The person you knew as Sherif – what was his role after Taylor’s election?

Wit: Varmuyan Sherif was fighting for ULIMO-J. Later all of them submitted themselves. He was appointed by Taylor as a close bodyguard at the mansion.

Def: Was he in the SSS?

Wit: Yes, a full colonel.

Def: What was your rank?

Wit: I didn’t have a specific rank. I was chief of operations. A time came when they called me provost marshal general.

Def: You didn’t have a rank?

Wit: I was a full colonel after Taylor initially made me a captain.

Def: After Taylor’s election as president, what rank did you have then?

Wit: After the election I was serving as full colonel at the executive mansion, but on the military field, I was a major general.

Def: Did you remain a major general and colonel?

Wit: I was only a colonel for salary purposes for Taylor. I stayed a major general.

Def: When were you a captain?

Wit: At the time when Ben executed Sam Dokie. I was not there. When I came back, I was annoyed and used provocative language against Ben. Taylor said I should be dismissed. Three days later they said I was a captain.

Def: You were demoted?

Wit: Yes.

Def: So it would be wrong to describe you as an orderly to Benjamin Yeaten?

Wit: Benjamin was SS Director. But down to Defense Minister and all, everyone was subjected to him.

Def: Would it be right to describe you as an orderly to Benjamin Yeaten?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Would it be right to describe you as Yeaten’s bodyguard?

Wit: No. I took instructions from Yeaten, but I was not a bodyguard to Ben.

Def: I suggest is that you were never in such a high position in Liberia or the NPFL, to ever take orders from Charles Taylor.

Wit: (laughs) When something’s funny, I always laugh.

Def: I suggest you were never of such a rank to take orders directly from Charles Taylor.

Wit: I took orders from Charles Taylor from time immemorial up until the end of the NPFL. I’m telling the truth.

Def: What town were you born in, in Nimba County?

Wit: I was born in Soesenlay.

Def: Is it right that between 1990, when you joined the NPFL, you lived in Gbarnga, Kakata, Bong County?

Wit: I went where I was ordered.

Def: Were you driven from Nimba County for bad behavior?

Wit: No, I have lived there since the war began.

Def: Would you agree that you joined the NPFL in late 1990?

Wit: I told you when you joined the NPFL. I was one of those who crossed with Prince Johnson.

Def: Were you with Paul Wehyee at Firestone Plantation in Margibi County?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Is it right that in 1993, you became part of the Jungle Fire Unit in the NPFL?

Wit: Yes. It was a special operation until for Taylor anywhere there was a serious obstacle. Yeaten headed it.

Def: Is it right that you were then assigned as MP commander in Tapeta in Nimba County, under a commander called Straightly By the Board (sp?)?

Wit: No.

Def: Were you assigned as MP commander in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County?

Wit: No, I only went there to disarm ECOMOG troops.

Def: Were you arrested in 1993 by Col Gbor Vaye and Gbajulue (sp?) in Tapeta for unnecessary harassment of civilians?

Wit: No. What I remember is Christopher Varmoh’s younger brother who was in grand Gedeh…

Def: Were you at any stage put in jail?

Wit: Recently, in the early part of 2003, Benjamin arrested me when he attempted to rape my wife. Our leader, Charles Taylor, intervened. He wanted to cause damage and he did.

Def: Were you ever arrested for harassment of civilians?

Wit: No

Def: Whilst a member of the Jungle Fire Unit, were you ever deployed to Lofa County to fight ULIMO?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Were you expelled from the Jungle Fire Unit for cannibalism?

Wit: No. Yeaten told me to go to Freetown on Taylor’s orders.

Def: Were you expelled from the Jungle Fire Unit?

Wit: No. I served in most of the units of the NPFL.

Def: There was a time when you ceased being a member of the Jungle Fire Unit.

Wit: There were times I fought with them.

Def: Did you ever leave the unit?

Wit: No, it existed until the peace talks.

Def: You never left?

Wit: I was sent to Sierra Leone to bring back RUF.

Def: You left the Jungle Fire Unit and were assigned to the Army Division in Bomi County?

Wit: That’s a lie.

Def: Were you arrested and jailed for six months for acts unbecoming a soldier?

Wit: No. It was only Ben who detained me in Monrovia when he tried to rape my wife. Taylor freed me.

Def: At the time of the LURD invasion, you were in prison?

Wit: No.

Def: You were only released from prison after the outbreak of the LURD invasion?

Wit: No.

Def: Yesterday you told us that you would mostly need to sign a paper whenever you were to be given arms – you would give it to Kai (sp?), who would take it to Taylor. Correct?

Wit: Yes.

Def: (references document): “The witness stated that he was in possession of copies of the manifests he signed for the weapons and ammunition and was prepared to turn these over to the Office of the Prosecutor.” Did you tell them this?

Wit: Yes. But later, I came back and told them that most of the documents in my home were destroyed.

Def: At one stage earlier in your questioning, it appeared that you suggested you gave such documentation to them. Have you ever given them such documentation?

Wit: I showed them some papers, but mostly they were concerned for documents about Sierra Leone.

Def: What documents were you talking about when you said there were manifests for the weapons and ammunition?

Wit: I was talking about the document that assigned me from Liberia to Freetown.

Def: Where are those documents now.

Wit: They were destroyed since 2003. I was never at my home, I was at the warfront.

Def: When did you go home?

Wit: I went back to my home in 2003.

Def: So why did you tell prosecutors in 2006 that you had the documents, if they had been destroyed three years earlier?

Wit: I thought some of the documents would be in Monrovia. Those documents were destroyed. The ones I showed to them were not related to Sierra Leone.

Def: In Feb 2006, did you have those documents in your possession.

Wit: No.

Def: What were you hoping to gain by telling investigators that you had them?

Wit: I was hoping I still had them where I was living.

Def: If they were burned, why did you tell them you had them?

Wit: I came to Monrovia when Stinga called for me. I had hope that some of the people in the community might have taken some things from my house to save them. But when I went back I learned everything was destroyed. I told the investigators, if I found the documents, I would bring them for them.

Def: Did you tell the investigators you had these documents in order to make yourself look like a big witness?

Wit: Yes, I am important. I told them I would look for the documents.

Def: You knew that if you told them this, you increased your importance as a witness, didn’t you?

Wit: Yes.

Def: (addressing judges) There may be an issue in the next question that may need to be asked in closed session. I can deal with matter generally now, and come back later to the sensitive aspect in closed session.

Pros: We may now have the same problem because of how he just described the process.

Defense explains again and prosecution accepts.

Def: You told investigators that when you handed over arms to people in Sierra Leone, that person would have to sign a receipt for the arms and ammunition. Is that right?

Wit: Yes.

Def: Where are those receipts now?

Wit: The government that we were running, everything went by procedure. I gave the receipts to G4 Moses, who gave them to Kai, who took them to Taylor.

Def: When you received material at White Flower or anywhere, you were given documentation?

Wit: Before I went to White Flower, I would only sign for the ammunition and leave the documents with the G4. When I took them from there, they would give me a document, and the RUF commanders would sign that they received them from me. I would take back the document.

Def: [reviews this procedure again] Is that right?

Wit: Yes.

Def: If that’s right, you would be left with any documents to give to anyone. So which documents were burned in your house?

Wit: It came a time when I was highly trusted, so that any time I took arms or ammo, and Bockarie signed. Moses would not take the documents. Taylor would confirm the delivery by radio. I had up to 15 documents in my possession.

Def: Under what circumstances would you end up with documents in your possession?

Wit: When Taylor had trust in somebody, and after he spoke with Mosquito, he didn’t care about paper.

Def: Then why did you have any documentation to hand over. What documentation did you have to hand over?

Wit: If LURD didn’t destroy my house, I would have the documents to show the prosecutor. I had documents in my possession. Sometimes I was never asked to hand in the documents.

Def: Yesterday you told us this: After ULIMO disarmed, I made many trips to Sierra Leone. At the time Mosquito was there up to the time Issa was in charge. I made 20-40 trips.

Wit: Yes. More than that.

Def: So your arms-carrying trips to Sierra Leone started in about 1996?

Wit: I started transporting arms when ULIMO was in Lofa and when the government of Sierra Leone took over. That’s when I started passing arms through Guinea.

Def: Can you remember when the first time was that you took arms to Sierra Leone?

Wit: The first arms I carried was the first time we were called to Sierra Leone. Taylor sent for us to go back for the second phase. After ULIMO took over Lofa County and the SL government took over Freetown, there was no way to supply the RUF. So he told me to take arms with kola nuts to pass through Guinea.

Def: Can you give me the year?

Wit: I told you that since the first phase, when we were first moving, that was the time.

Def: Apart from the initial NPFL/RUF invasion of Sierra Leone, when was the first time you transported arms to Sierra Leone?

Wit: After the invasion, at that time Eddie Kanneh and all of the others were with us. I can’t recall the dates and the year.

Def: (references document): This is a record of an interview you in March 2006: “The witness stated that the first time he shipped or transported arms and ammunition from Liberia to Sierra Leone was in late 1996.” Is that true or false?

Wit: That is false. It was before this time – from the second phase, when we entered to Koindu and Beudu.

Def: Did you make your first shipment of arms and ammunition from Liberia to Sierra Leone in late 1996?

Wit: That’s true. I started transporting arms and ammunition from 1991 until the people closed the road and ULIMO took over. I started in 1996 again. That was the third phase you’re talking about. The white people who took the statement had difficulty understanding me.

Def: On the next day you said the same thing to them again. (References document): “He stated that from late 1996 he was personally involved in up to three shipments a month from Taylor’s White Flower in Monrovia.” True or false?

Wit: True, from White Flower, but they don’t mention the times from Gbarnga.

Def: Why is it that in your first interview in January 2006 (references document): “witness further stated that he himself was on at least 20 runs from Liberia to Sierra Leone. These occurred in 1996/1997. Witness stated he had no further Sierra Leone-related activity from 1998 on.” Is all of that true or false?

Wit: It’s true. But they forgot about Gbarnga, before we could enter Monrovia. They only based it on 1996-1997. That’s not my complete statement.

Def: The arms you were transporting: how did they get into Liberia?

Wit: We used to go to the airport to receive it. That’s where the Russian air cargo plane used to come. Once a plane had an accident and there was a lot of damage. Taylor stopped all international security from going there. Some used to come through Ivory Coast.

Def: How many flights carrying arms do you know about coming into Roberts International Airfield?

Wit: Many times. Sometimes when the flight comes, it will take a month or two or three months, then it will come again. I saw it nine different times, including the one Mosquito went and collected. That made it ten.

Def: You recall 9 flights?

Wit: At times I was at the front and the flight came in my absence. I’m telling you the ones I know of.

Def: So you know of about ten or so?

Wit: The ten did not come within one year. I can’t be on the scene all the time. Sometimes I received some through Buchanan port.

Def: I’m asking how many flights you were present at.

Wit: Up to ten. Most of the arms I used after that I received at Buchanan port from one white man.

Def: How many flights into RIA were you involved with?

Wit: All in all, about ten.

Def: (references document) “Witness stated that he was involved in over 100 trips with arms and ammunition that were flown into Roberts International and taken from Shefflin.”

Wit: The trips I made with those weapons, it was more than 100 plus trips.

Def: It would be wrong to say you were involved in more than 100 trips of arms and ammunition to Roberts International?

Wit: I experienced about ten. I made over a hundred trips with the weapons. Most came through Buchanan port.

Def: Is it right you were never involved in over 100 trips of ammunition flown into Roberts International airport?

Wit: I made trips to Freetown – over 100. There were so many times. When I myself went into the plane. There was a ship at Grand Bassa, and I made over 20-30 trips from there.

Def: What grade did you reach in school?

Wit: I didn’t go to school.

Def: I suggest you’re lying about that. You say that Doe sent an illiterate man all the way to Israel to train. How did you read the training manuals?

Wit: I have a natural brain. I have stayed long with the Congo people and I speak some English, which may lead you to think I can read and write.

Def: How did you cope with the training in Israel if you couldn’t read or write.

Wit: My being to Israel was because I’m very intelligent in doing anything. I can’t read and write at all. Those who know me know that. But when you see me dressed in a suit, you think I’m a minister. I have a natural brain.

Def: Then how did you spell the name of the village where you were born?

Wit: The name of my village has nothing to do with the investigation.

Def: Please spell it.

Wit: S-e-n-l-a-y. Senlay. It’s my birth town. From time immemorial, even my church put this on my document.

Judge Sebutinde: Can you count?

Wit: Yes, sometimes I can count above 75. I can count.

Judge Sebutinde: If you took 100 and subtracted 10, what would you have left?

Wit: Let me make sure.

Judge Sebutinde: I want to be sure that when you say 100, you literally mean 100 and not “many”.

Wit: 1-0-0 means you did things plenty of times.

Def: Arms were shipped into Liberia into Roberts International airport and Buchanan port?

Wit: Yes.

Def: You collected arms from both locations and took them to be stored in Monrovia?

Wit: Not to a store, to my president, Charles Taylor’s houre.

Def: Where were the arms coming from that came to Roberts International Airport?

Wit: I heard from Yeaten when he came with the white man, he said some came from Burkina, some from the white people’s country. Some was from Libya. The white man came from the chaser from America. He came to inspect the old World War I building by the airport, for it to be renovated. I heard that.

Def: Did you hear about arms coming from anywhere else?

Wit: Yes, these three areas I have named. During Octopus, they brought some kind of arms in a big truck. Taylor said it came from Ivory Coast. He himself was driving it.

Def: You were told where these arms originated from, and you told us Libya, Burkina Faso and the United States. Did you hear of arms coming from anywhere else?

Wit: No.

Def: (references document): “When asked the source of the weapons, the witness said, from all over Europe, but declined to say how he knew this.” Who told you that?

Wit: The first time I knew Europe was this trip I’ve made. I considered Europe to be America.

Def: Who told you the arms came from Europe.

Wit: Benjamin Yeaten, Joe Tuoh, [another man].

Def: Why did you tell me two minutes ago that the deliveries only came from

Wit: America is the same thing as Europe. The white people’s home I know is America. This is the first time I came to the other side.

Def: All white people are the same?

Wit: I thought you were African. I don’t know if there are black people in America.

Def: Libya, Burkina Faso, America, Europe, anywhere else? [references document]: “witness stated Taiwanese used to send arms, ammunition and uniforms”

Wit: Yes. I’m sorry I forgot about that one. Yes.

Court is adjourning the day.


  1. Although I believe the defense is showing inconsitencies in Zizag’s statements. These acts of canibalism which he mentions is what people who feel Taylor is guilty want to hear. I personally do not believe Taylor would instruct his fighters to eat their victims. However this might be hard for the defense to disprove. This Zigzag is a sadist plane and simple and he ate people on his on accord.

  2. Zigzag” Marzah come of as being one of those tribal zoe or witch doctor who saw and seized the oppunity to practice its craft. Just like he thought Mr. Griffin was an African and knew all about this African tradition of killing, cooking and eating human beings, some may forget that Taylor too was not brought up with these kind of African traditions. So it become hard to believe that Zigzag” Marzah did these evil acts on orders from Taylor. Zigzag” Marzah who enjoyed doing these evil acts, with no regert also claim it is an African tradition and his connection to the Poro Sociality justified his actions

Comments are closed.