Defense Witness Says Prosecution Witnesses Lied, Says Charles Taylor Did Not Have Child Soldiers

Charles Taylor’s first defense witness said that prosecution witnesses lied when they testified that the former Liberian president recruited and used children for combat purposes in Liberia.

Yanks Smythe, whose cross-examination by prosecutors started today, has spent the week rebutting prosecution evidence against Mr. Taylor who is charged on 11-counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone between 1996 and 2002. Mr. Taylor, who is never said to have been present in Sierra Leone during the civil conflict, is alleged to have supported Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels through the supply of arms and ammunition as well as the planning of specific operations which were launched against the civilian population of Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor has denied all the allegations against him.

In seeking to prove that Mr. Taylor established control over rebel forces in both Liberia and Sierra Leone, prosecutors have led evidence to show that the modes of operation by Mr. Taylor’s rebel forces in Liberia were reflective of how RUF rebels conducted themselves in Sierra Leone. One such area that prosecutors have focused on is the recruitment of child soldiers, trying to prove that just as the former president used child soldiers in Liberia, he similarly encouraged RUF rebels to do same in Sierra Leone. Indeed, during the presentation of the prosecution’s case, several witnesses, including Mr. Taylor’s former vice president Moses Blah, testified that child soldiers were used by Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia, and that some served as bodyguards to the former president and other NPFL commanders. Mr. Taylor’s witness today said otherwise.

“There were never child soldiers as part of the security of Charles Taylor,” Mr. Smythe said.

Prosecution counsel Nicholas Koumjian, who conducted the cross-examination of the witness, pressed further.

“Mr. Witness, I’ve read to you the testimony of Moses Blah, Stephen Smith the journalist and Vamunya Sherif, is it your testimony that all of these sources talking about child soldiers were lying and you are telling the truth?” Mr. Koumjian asked the witness.

“As far as I am concerned, they are lying and I am telling the truth,” the witness responded.

Also in his cross-examination today, Mr. Smythe denied prosecution assertions that Mr. Taylor’s action in enlisting Gambians into his NPFL rebel group was part of his plan to later provide assistance to Gambian rebels in order to destabilize their own country (Gambia). The witness insisted that Gambians only joined the NPFL to provide security for Mr. Taylor after Prince Johnson had led a break-away faction from the NPFL. Defense counsel Mr. Koumjian asked why the Gambians had decided to protect Mr. Taylor as against Mr. Johnson.

“Now why did you feel you wanted to help Charles Taylor against Prince Johnson? Why did you want to be on one side of that Liberian dispute as opposed to the other?” Mr. Koumjian asked the witness.

“Who is Prince Johnson, I don’t know Prince Johnson to be anybody for me to provide security for him. We went in there to provide security for Mr. Taylor because of the fact that Prince Johnson and some other Special Forces had broken-away from him,” the witness responded.

“Well sir, you didn’t know Charles Taylor, did you?” Mr. Koumjian pushed further.

In his response, the witness said “I knew Charles Taylor.”

When asked how many times he had spoken to Mr. Taylor before joining him in Liberia, the witness said that “I talked to him when I came to Burkina, I talked to him once, twice, I saw him and we spoke.”

Prosecutors have alleged that Mr. Taylor was involved in a common plan with Sierra Leonean and Gambian rebel leaders to destabilize West Africa. It was in pursuit of this agenda that Mr. Taylor provided support to leader of the RUF, Foday Sankoh, when his rebel group attacked Sierra Leone in 1991 — and was to do same to Gambian dissident leader Dr. Kukua Sambasanja, prosecutors have alleged. Mr. Smythe denied these assertions today.

Today’s cross-examination saw some heated exchanges between Mr. Koumjian and the witness, as the prosecutor sought to know the witness’ sources of income in Liberia. On some occasions, the witness refused to answer the prosecutor’s question but the intervention of the presiding judge Justice Julia Sebutinde obliged the witness to answer.

Mr. Smythe’s cross-examination continues on Monday.


    1. Hi Tracey,

      Just checking, did I miss Alpha’s report on how the people of Sierra Leone felt about the trial? To the best of my knowledge, Alpha traveled to Free Town in December 09 to ascertained information on how the people of Sierra Leone felt about the trial.

      I hate to speculate, but please excuse me in this instance. The reason for the delay, is due to the fact that the responses were not favorable to the prosecution? Most critics would say that if the feedbacks were in favor of the prosecution, Alpha would have published it during the same week upon his returned.

      How would you respond to those critics?

      1. Hi Big B — actually we have his report waiting and ready to post soon after a final round of edits. We did have to go back to get responses from the outreach section in answer to some of the issues raised by people Alpha interviewed. I am glad you remembered it — it is on it’s way and hopefully this week will be posted.

        Also, I think we will be receiving the legal analysis about hearsay from our law professor friend very soon too.

        Keep watching this space!


  1. Well folks,

    I believe in the defense first witness statement against the prosecution mentality challenged, hearsay, no documentary evidence witnesses testimony.

    1. Well folks,

      I believe in the defense first witness statement against the prosecution mentally challenged, hearsay, no documentary evidence witnesses testimony. I take Mr. Smythe testimony over the paid and lying prosecution witnesses.

    1. Noko4,

      They’re quick to score against Kounjiam team. What kind of goalkeeper Koumjian has? This other goalkeeper is a “draw bucket”. By the time you know it, net hold it. Koumjian better change that leaking goalkeeper who is spoiling his game and standing in the middle of the goalpost with some thick sweater on as if to say he is cold.

  2. Well, it was an interested week for this trial. But was mr. Symthe really telling the truth as he claimed. Where Gambians in Liberia just to provide security for Mr. Taylor? Why only Mr. Taylor, when there were sevral others NPFL leaders? Was there no child soldier serving as bodygaurd for Ghankay Taylor? Who is telling the truth, Mr. Symhe or Mr. Moses Blah?
    Well, let’s watch and see where the truth lies.

    1. Orjay,
      Are you truly following this trial?? Just in case you didn’t see or read WHY the Gambians were guarding Mr. Taylor….NPFL splitted into two groups and his friend, Dr. Manni suggested the help and Mr. Taylor took the offer.

      No there weren’t any SMALL BOY UNIT gaurding Mr. Taylor and I don’t believe anyone testifying for either side has said such. The question was/is…were there SMALL BOY or UNDER AGE BOYS fighting on behave of NPFL?? Yes if you ask me but were they SANCTIONED by Mr. Taylor?? NO!!! Even Mr. Blah didn’t say NPFL had such a unit within her fighting force but more of relatives or orphans hanging around.

  3. Tracy,

    Although I made the decision to not really participate in this forum because I did not want to feel as if I was being censored, I have still visited the page faithfully and have followed the daily feed and I’ve also read the comments from other bloggers. I decided that …..”you know what I can really rather be censored or maybe not then to not responde”. This post really prompted me to change that decision…

    1. Ms Teage — how glad I am to hear from you, really! I have truly missed your contributions here as you bring such vibrancy to the debate. I do wish you would return to us as I am sure I am not alone when I say your contributions are sorely missed.

      On the censorship issue, I do hope you can read my post on comments: in short (though please read the full policy) the research I did indicated that under the rubric of “fair comment” on a matter of public importance (which this trial is), there is a broad range of speech allowed as long as it is framed clearly as opinion — which your contributions always were. In fact, I think you made it explicit in almost every post that it was your opinion that you were expressing and that it was up to the judges to decide on issues of guilt or innocence. What is not allowed is allegations of fact eg “Mr. X is a murderer” but under the law, one can say that “In my opinion, Mr. X is a murderer because of y and z.” It is a fine distinction, but it does balance both the right to freedom of expression, with the right to reputation. You can find the full policy explained here:

      I hope that makes you feel as though you can rejoin us again. We would love to hear more from you and as always, I remain happy to discuss any concerns about this policy with you.


    2. Teage,

      Welcome back. Long time to call no show. Anyways, Glad to have you with us. Today, I will spare you my usual response. Happy to hear from you ma’am.

      1. Rodriguez,
        I never ‘spare’ my opinion for your sake or anybody elses sake. If I had the opportunity to share my opinion of Taylor with even Taylor I would… so you don’t have to ‘spare’ your opinion for my sake. As always if I feel your opinion is relevant to the issue being discussed and not another attempt to defend Taylor at whatever means necessary, then I will certainly responde if I feel its not relevant I simply read it and skipp over it. So please don’t feel like you have to ‘spare’ me….from your opinions, even if I don’t agree they are YOUR OPINION.

        Thanks for the warm welcome.
        – Regards

  4. Its not the prosecution witness that is doing the lying but this defense witness…
    Charles Taylor absolutlely used child soldiers for his war in Liberia…I can go as far as saying that even Charles Taylor supporters on this site know that very well!!
    Kimme Weeks a good friend and a Liberian humanitairan who’s organization is currently in 7 African nationa, who has is compared to world changers such as Nelson Mandela and ML King JR. can attest to Taylor use of child soldiers. When Mr. Weeks was 14 years, after writing 17 proposals (and being rejected) to start a disarment program for child soldiers Mr. Weeks 18th proposal was accepted and Mr. Weeks was started a program to disarm child soldiers. Many child soldiers where being disarmed and the program was very successful..until Mr. weeks discovered that Taylor was training child soldiers in Gbarnga. Mr. Weeks wrote a report and it was released to the international community. The Boss himself ordered Mr. Weeks me killed, and his NPFL boys went to carry out the hit…the only thing that saved Mr. Weeks when the npfl boys came was the fact that they were looking for adult Mr. Week when Mr. Weeks was only 14 yrs. Because of this event America gave Mr. Weeks Asylum…

    Give me a break this witness is a liar just like the Liar he is trying to defend Lying Taylor.
    Liberians who lived through the civil whether they publicly deny it or not KNOW that this liar name Taylor used children soldier.
    One of the most absurd testimony I’ve to date.

    1. Ms Teage,
      Please STOP confusing the issue….this SMALL UNIT was NEVER EVER sanctioned by Mr. Taylor or NPFL….both the prosecutor and defense witnesses have told us how those UNDER AGE BOYS got involved in the war.

      Some followed their older relatives and became HELPERS; other were orphans and attached themself to whoever they felt comfortable around. Did they act under INSTRUCTIONS from Mr. Taylor??? NO!!!!

      1. Noko 4,
        I need to say the same to you…not only did Charles Taylor have child soldier but I believe he along with many other of his general personally recruited them trained them armed them and drugged them to fight….
        I find it shameful and disgraceful of you to actually make such a bogus claim as ‘they followed their older brothers’ to pardon Taylors actions of training innocent children. To me this act is one of the painful and devastating realities of the sensless war this madman and many others waged in Liberia. Maybe you don’t remember the accounts of the hundreds of child soldiers who passed through Pheobe hospital/morgue shortly after the 90 war…Accounts of your Taylor coming to villages bringing goodies and leaving with peoples sons and even daughters. Come on tell that story you just wrote to someone who doesn’t know the truth. I submit to you that Taylor was aware that children were being used and did nothing for 14 years to stop it because it was him who ordered it startin in 89. SBU child soldiers child rebel etc…Taylor used them. For all the people who know Taylor very well how many of you remember the incident in early 1991 on cuttington when one of Charles Taylors general daughter a girl about 8 year old girl picked up her dads buretta and was playing with it and mistakenly blew of her head…the general I speak of lived not too far from the late D. Museleng Coopers house and close to father Jelico Brights episcopal church….How many of you were there that day when your boss man came to give his condolences and he came with his entourage of SBU…Come on Noko4 save your speech about confusing the issues for someone else better yet yourself. This is one of the worse things that could have happen to a child and it happened in our country sadly its still happening in our continent (Joseph KonY LRA)….This is a touchy subject for me and its just appaling for you to tell me that these children ‘followed love ones’.
        BY THE WAY THE WHOLE EVERYBODY IS LYING on Taylor act is gettin old..seriously

  5. Msteage,
    Welcome back! Why didn’t Kimmie Weeks go and testify if you are so sure he has all the facts. Do you know that Kimmie Weeks and his mother Estina N’tow seeked refuge in Mr. Taylor’s territrory at Findel during the war ? If I had a dime for everyone who claimed Mr. Taylor was trying to kill them and was given asylum by the United States I would be a millionaire. So I don’t want to hear about that. Yes Kimmie has done good work and he should be congratulated but he is no expert on whether the N.P.F.L. had child soldiers or not.

    1. Helen,
      As I stated to Rodriguez many Taylor supporters are willing to defend Taylor at what ever means necessary including making everyone else into a liar and claiming Taylor is the only truthful party..And so the conspiracy theory goes on….you have no proof that Mr. Weeks is ‘lying’ about the events that lead to him leaving Liberia…but in the comment you made you are insinuating that Mr. Weeks lied about this event to come to Ameria…as you have no proof of this. I think its best if you don’t try to make Mr. Weeks out to be a liar… he is not here to defend himself….the issue here is not Mr. Weeks its a witness making claims that are false….So please stick to the issue and leave the character of Mr. Weeks out of this.

  6. Thank you Aki.

    Many of these people in trying to seek asylum claimed that Taylor was trying to kill them. we all know the drill. That was what the international community wanted to hear so people give it to them.

    Mr Taylor probably had never even heard of Kimmie Weeks at the time but yet he could claim that the man sent people to kill him. Does he really think if Taylor was that kind of person and really wanted to kill him, it would have mattered if he was a child or not. Let them give us a break here.

    The lies are just too much now.

    1. Helen,
      I always tell them to THANK Mr. Taylor also….as EVIL or WICKY the situation was, many many Liberians are now benefitting from the war; 95 percent of the present crew in the Western world wouldn’t and couldn’t have had the opportunity to be where they are.

      And that’s the FACT!!!!

      1. Noko4,
        You really have out done yourself this time you know I would have choose a normal childhood any day over America…..You think it was fun getting news that my uncle was burned alive or another was tortured and murder, or loosing so many people in the war, all of this was worth going to the western world? Many people who are now in the western world probaly went to school or vacationed in the western world….This is one of the most cruel, unintellient…sensless comments I’ve read from you. While were thanking Charles Taylor for our asylum statuses given by the almighty western world can we thank him for the child soldiers he allowed to fight for him and the over 300000 of our relatives who are mostly in mass unmarked graves tooo……..
        WOW…you Taylorist never cease to amaze me……

        1. Ms. Teage,

          Where did you get that number from, “300000”? By the way, how do you read this number? Please put it in words for me. NO CASE TEAGE.

  7. Hi Tracey,

    I posted something last week and it has not been posted as yet. Is there a reason for this?

    1. Helen – to the best of my knowledge, I have posted everything I have received from you. Would you mind resubmitting your post and I will moderate it asap.

  8. Wow Aki, really…. I never said Kimmie Weeks had all the facts….i am giving one example for why I’m calling this witness a liar. Mr. Weeks is busy saving the lives of thousand of women and children through his tireless effort. My comment was not made so that any personal attacks or any form of hatred can be directed to Mr. Weeks my comment was not about Mr. Weeks it is about this witness being a liar. By the way not every Liberiam concern or consume themself with bring this Ex-convict/former Liberian prez to justice….so that is why Mr. Weeks is not testifying….hope that answers all your questions.
    This witness is liar and so its Taylor as I said before if you lived in Liberia during the war you know and I know Taylor/NPFL use child soldiers..its ok for this witness to say Taylor is not involved in Sierra Leone neither did he use any child soldiers in S.L but its absurd for him to say Taylor didn’t use child soldiers in Liberia…….that is a ‘bold face lie’

    Ofcourse I knew that you were going to say that he was lying…lol even though Mr. Weeks told his story even before Taylor even left Liberia. I lived in Fendell during the war too and NPFL rebels came every night and took hundreds of refugees and we never saw them again..they also searched stole every valuable we had.

    Why are you trying to be deceptive Kimmie and his mother stayed at fendall as did many other refugee are u claiming that Taylor protected him? And you know that Kimmie stayed at Fendell SEVEN years before he fled for his life.
    Whay is the correlation between Mr.Weeks staying at Fendell and Taylor sending people to kill him seven years later for informing the internation community of Taylors dirty little secret? please let me know?

    And I think you know by now that I’m not concerned at all with what you want to hear or don’t want to hear…hence MY Opinion…
    – Cheers

    1. Ms Teage,

      I can see you are really here to promote your friend Kimmie weeks right. Well I do not just surmise that his story is untrue, i know so. I know the man very well and also know the story. You ned to go back and recheck the story told you by your friend. I was also at Fendell for a period and know that certain things did happen but not with the complicity of Mr Taylor or by any instructions from him. I was also aware of Taylor coming to Fendell to reassure the people and in many cases disciplined the soldiers for any misconduct. Do you deny this?

      1. I’m not sure how this became about me promoting Mr. Weeks. You all always amaze me with your leap of logics…. I even contemplated not using his name and I wish I had listened to my instinct. You clearly missed the point I was trying to make…when I mentioned Mr. Weeks. You have twisted everything around to some how make it about Mr. Weeks and my personal support (WHAT??????) I most definitely promote Mr. Weeks…in other ways this was absolutly not an attempt to support him…
        By the way You know and I know that you DO NOT know the whole entire story and that you were not there when Mr. Weeks printed that report SEVEN years AFTER Fendall, you managed to some how digress from 1997 which is the time period I was speaking about to 1990 when Mr. Weeks was 7 yrs old….im not even sure what 1990 Fendal has to do with a 1997 report written to the international community by 14 year old Weeks. But when you are ready to discuss the real issue I brought up and not my support for Mr. Weeks then we can have a real conversation…until then this will be my last response to you…

  9. Tracy,
    Thank you very much for the clarification…exactly what you clarified was my concern, that is if I was explicitly expressing my opinion why would there be a legal remification for the site. I have no problem with specifically stating that my postings are my personal opinion

    1. Ms. Teage — Does this mean you are rejoining us again? I’m thrilled you are back, if that is the case. You add a lot to our discussion and I think I am not alone in saying that we missed your presence here on the site. Welcome back.

  10. Another day on the horizon again, that we had to unearth some of the lies that comes from Taylor’s witness. As we usually say in Liberia “CAT LICK YOUR FACE” the interpretation for this often refers to someone who is a blatant liar.

    In case you don’t know Taylor himself has admitted to the used of child soldier but in a very corny manner. Where in this world will a soldier take his entire family with him to manned check post according to testimonies from Taylor? He admitted in court that fighters used to take along family members to cook and performed other duties while on the front line.
    What sense does it make?

    There are lots of NGO presently in Liberia that is homing and caring for child soldiers. To name a few Don Bosco Homes, Brighter Future Rescue Center located in Buchanan.

    The used of child soldiers was an outcry in the international community during the reign of Taylor. Who were the SBU commonly referred to Small Boys Unit, which forms part of his elite forces?

    Just how cat lick Taylor’s face so with his witness.

    1. Justice Lib,
      If all what you have said about Taylor using child soldiers is true. My question is how come none of these former Liberian child soldiers went to testify against Mr. Taylor ?

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