Readers: You are famous beyond this website!

Dear Readers,

I was speaking with Frank Sainworla, a Liberian journalist with West Africa Democracy Radio, this morning. He does great weekly radio programming on the Charles Taylor trial.

One of the really innovative things that Frank does is to read out readers’ comments from this blog on his radio show as he gives updates about the trial.  He also has the voices of the judges and the prosecutors and defense team from the courtroom included in his show so that his listeners get a real sense of what is happening inside the trial.

Frank does a really fabulous job in reporting on the trial and keeping it interesting for readers who want to learn more about this trial but who don’t have access to the internet as often as we do here — if you are interested to hear his reports which are then sent to other radio stations in the region, you can listen to them here:

You might just hear your comments being read out on radio!

A big congratulations from our team here to Frank for all his hard work in keeping listeners in West Africa posted about the trial, and including your voices, readers, into the conversations that are happening in Liberia and Sierra Leone separately from this site too.


  1. The things that happened in Sierra Leone and Liberia were horrible; the charges against Mr. Taylor are serious; But the comments on this site are just special. Thanks to all the contributors regardless of the camp that they are in. For me, Alpha Sesay is my man. Day in and out, he covers this trial with professionalism. He writes as he hears.

    Now that Mr. Taylor has completed his testimony, the question is how things stand so far since the trial began.

    Based on what I have been reading through Mr. Sesay, the prosecution provided a lot of witnesses that alledgedly connected the defendent directly to providing arms to RUF, the exchange of money for diamonds, and occasions when Mr. Taylor applied his control over the rebels.

    When Mr. Taylor was called to testify for himself, I was looking to see if he would be more credible than the prosecution witnesses. I also wondered if it was a good strategy.

    The prosecution goal was never to get Mr. Taylor to impeach himself on the witness stand. He is too smart a man for that. Based on what I have been reading, the prosecution spent all the time making sure to challenge his credibility. The question this time is: Did they get their wish? This is where I have really enjoyed the back and forth among his backers and distractors.

    There are many defense witnesses that would follow in the next few months. However, Its all going to come down to the credibility of the prosecution witnesses versus Mr. Taylor. Under this senerio, I would caution Taylor supporters, that they have reasons for concern. It almost looks like the burden of proof shifted. I think that the defense need to prove his innocense during the next phase of the trial.

    May the truth prevail

    1. Dear Edward Roberts,

      Thanks so much for your note – I agree, the conversation among readers here is special and unique. This site is so fortunate to have so many active commentators who discuss the trial in a way that is always interesting daily.

      And I cannot agree with you more on Alpha — he has done an outstanding job throughout this trial in bringing us the news from the courtroom in a professional and balanced way — and in a way that I always think is interesting to read. I’m glad to hear that his talents and diligence are appreciated by readers.

      You also raised a point worthy of discussion in your final paragraph — you suggested that the burden of proof has shifted and the defense now needed to prove Mr. Taylor’s innocence. Under the law governing this trial, Mr. Taylor still does not have to prove his innocence, but instead his burden is to try and create a reasonable doubt in the minds of the judges about the prosecution’s case. However, perhaps you are making a more subtle point — that is (at least as I understand your comment) that Mr. Taylor has not yet managed to convince you that there is a reasonable doubt about his alleged guilt as argued by the prosecutors. And as a result, his defense team will need to ramp up efforts to try to create that doubt in the coming months — have I understood you correctly?


      1. Tracey
        Thanks for your summary. The last point that I am trying to make is that the impression of the prosecution team not doing their job is far from reality. From what I was reading on these pages, Taylors supporters expected the cross exammination to be about proving his guilt beyond reasonable doubt; his destractors are looking for a slam dunk. It is not what any of us expected. When he decided to testify for himself, which is couragous, he also risked stacking his credibility against the other witnesses.

        From my readings, his credibility was exposed especially when it came to the money and some of the characters that were involved. How can a president who cares about his country apoint an ambassador- at – Large without knowing anything about that person; How can you spend millions of dollars, without knowing the specifics; How can you plot to bust internationally imposed sanctions and expect to be trusted with what you say; Why was it so important for the rebels from Sierra Leone to become citizens of Liberia and to join the ATU, a unit that has such vital national security obligations???? I can go on and on, but I must also recognize that he is fighting for his freedom.

        There may be good reasons for all of these questions. I was hoping that the redirect would address them. Now I hope the coming witnesses will.

        May the truth prevail

        1. Hi Edward — yes, you are right: those are important questions — I think many on this site would like to see those questions answered during the defense case too.

        2. Edward Roberts,
          Thanks for the compliments. However, some of us who got no legal back ground heard from the horses mouth( DE JUDGES) that the burden of proof lies on the prosecution..thanks so far brother..

        3. Edward Roberts,

          I believe what you stated above is a matter of opinion. You believe that the prosecution did a good job, and the view of many others is that they did not prove any guilt. I am of the opinion that they did not prove the guilt of the accused in any way. they came far short of doing this.

          I agree it was very courageous of Mr Taylor to take the stand in hisown defence. That is where my agreement with you ends. Regarding the appointment of an Ambassador at Large, I need to point out that under the Liberian law which continues even today, the Ambassador at Large does not have to be known personally by the President.

          All that is required is for the necessary recommendation to be made by the relevant institution of government to the Foreign Ministry who is then responsible for vetting and verifying that this individual who is reccommended is one who can forwar the immage of the country either through improved relations or economically or in some other tantamount way.

          Once this has been ascertained, the recommendation is made to the president who gives the instruction for this appointment to be made subject to approval of the legislature. The president therefore does not have to personally know this individual; but acts upon recommendation by other advisers, ministers and senior aids.

          Why do you people think that the rules that govern other nations do not apply to our country? You forget that Mr Taylor was the president who did not have to know all the minute details of every transaction in the country. He was the leader with a strategic oversight of the affairs of state.

          This goes for the issues regarding the bank account as well. As for the busting of sanctions, did you expect the government to sit back and allow an invading force being funded and armed externally to come into the country and murder the citizens of Liberia without finding a means to defend itself?

          What gives the UN the right to stop a nation from defending itself especially twhen that country is under attack? Are they justified in barring a nation state from defending its citizens? the answer is a resounding NO. Under Article 51 of the UN Charter every nation state hs the right of self defence. The first defining criteria of a nation state is its ability to protect and defend its citizens and its territorial integrity. The UN resolutions cannot supercede national laws. Under the national laws of Liberia, there is a need to protect the citizens. Therefore Mr. Taylor was only doing what he took his oath of office to do.

          Your issue should be why the UN decided to keep an arms embargo in place when a new president was elected in Liberia. Can you see the UN imposin an arms embargo on the US, UK or any of ther allies? Definitely not. Despite all the atrocities that have occurred during the Israeli Gaza conflict, have they put in place an arms embargo? NO. They would not because Israel is an ally.

          The UN would need to start dealing fairly if they want to maintain their credibility amongst developing countries. The rules are only put in place to keep small nations in check while other nations are allowed to pretty much do things unimpeded.

          There was nothing wrong with Mr Taylor defending his people and country. He should be infact applauded for that. I was one who nearly got killed by the LURD forces and had it not been for the intervention of the government forces at the time. I was saved in the nick of time. Had it not been for those arms brought in by Mr Taylor, I would not be here today. I was being killed simply because I refused to join them. i hope you can appreciate this.

          It is good and fine for the UN and people outside the range of fire to make comment about arms embargoes and the observance of such, however were they to have been been a victim of the invasion, it would be a different story. Most embargoes are put into place by bureaucrats living in western capitals who are completely removed form the reality of the suffering of the individual these embargoes affect.

          What is the purpose of an embargo when inocent civilians are being killed by an invading force? Who is supposed to protect us the civilians if our countries and governments are barred by the UN from protecting us?

          Now as to the incorporating of the former RUF into the ATU, I find this a strategic move at the time especially because Liberia was under a major rebel incursion. First of all let’s examine what was happening at the time, there was a request made for Mr Taylor to assist with the peace process in SL. These former rebels were extracted out of SL in the interest of peace. They were in exile in Liberia. What do you propose these men should have been done with?

          Usually when a person is given asylum, they are allowed to participate in any sector in the country of exile. In this regard even in the US army, many ex-NPFL and ex-AFL soldiers joined and served in Iraq. why is it a problem when it happens in Liberia?

          These were soldiers who had seen active fighting who would not need to go through any extensive training. It was thus likely that they could become a part of the ATU or other fighting force in another country. One rational is that soldier who return from war sometimes can become restless and can sometimes become mischeivous. They could even become soldiers of fortune and possibly used against the government.

          I believe the incorporating of these men meant that they were kept under the radar and in some structured supervised state where they could not have cause any havoc or instability. This I believe was the thought process at the time when the decision was taken.

          It makes a lot of sense both militarily and logically in my mind that in the prevailing circunstances of impending war that all available personnel be utilized to help ward off the LURD rebels.

          As to your opinion of the justness or rightness of this action, that remains debatable. Maybe now looking back it may not meet the approval of some but as we know hindsight 20-20. No one knew at the time that there would have been war crimes charges brought against these individuals as the Lome Accord had already granted armesty to all of those who were engaged in the war in SL. So pray tell me why shouldn’t these men have been incorporated in the military?

          Right now a lot of people can sit outside of the conflict and pass opinions, however I experienced the effects of the LURD invasion and know of their brutality. I am therefore fullyin support of the government’s right to self defence when faced with an attack. I also as a citizen of Liberia fully concur with the mandate given to the then persident to use whatever menans available to him to protect and defend the citizens and territorial integrity of Liberia.

    2. Edward Roberts,
      This is an interesting post by you. Please give us your opinions on the prosectuion witnesses that have had their rent, medical, children school fees, phone cards etc. paid for by the court. If you were unemployed or impoverished would this not be an insentive for you to come and testify to what the prosecution wants you to say ? Please keep in mind that the same insentives have not been given to the defense witnesses.

      1. Aki,

        These are very strong claims made by you. I admire your audacity.

        How did you come by such information in the first place that many of us have missed? Can you justify your claims with evidentiary support for us to read and become familiar with what the prosecution team is doing? Any website to visit? Any transcripts on this website having such information that we can research and read? I will appreciate your help, Aki.


        1. Davenport,

          I don’t know when you started watching this trial. But for some of us who have been watching this trial know there were expenses paid by the prosecution to their witnesses. Aki is 100% correct. The prosecution and its witnesses may not consider this as a bribe. But some, including myself, consider as a bribe. Even during Zigzag Marzah cross examination by Griffiths, Marzah admitted receiving money from the prosecution to cover his expenses. But the amount was little to him. Because he and his wife have a large palm and rubber farm.

          Davenport, the prosecution witnesses damaged the prosecution chances of winning this fake case; as the result of either contradicting their previous statement or another prosecution witness cancelling the other.

        2. Davenport,

          The fact of what I stated is nothing new. The Defense in the early part of the proscecution’s case questioned the witnesses on this and yes rent, medical bills, school fees etc. were paid on the witnesses behalf.

        3. Jose,

          I have been around for quiet sometime but maybe I missed Zigzag Marzah’s testimony. Will it be fair to give my more detail on this claim? If you can point us to the date the transcript of Zigzag was posted and date Zigzag’s video link was posted on this blog, I will be helpful as we want to read the details.

          In the meantime, Tracey and Alpha, could you chip in and assist with this request for materials from your archives? Please help, if you can.


          1. Hi Davenport.Noko7 — first, I am sorry in the delay in publishing your post (and others) from yesterday. I was travelling and tried to moderate from the airport, but was unsuccessful.

            On your question, I think Zig Zag Marzah testified around 12-14 March 2008, and Mr Taylor rebutted his testimony during his direct examination around 29-30 September, 2009, if I have it correct (please let me know if I haven’t and I will go back and check again) — the transcripts can be found here:


    3. Eddie,
      How can you take a person to court and DO NOT addressed any of the charges?? Yes, NOT ONE. If the prosecutors did, I might have missed it so please help me out. How can one convict someone when the CORE of your cross is/was based on issues that didn’t add to the charges?? If this case was about Liberia, most of us that feel he is in the WRONG court will be waiting outside with rope to hang him. Maybe you should be reminded this case was based on a TIME FRAME…..from ’96 to ’02.

      I almost fell off my seat….the prosecutors WITNESSES were MORE CREDIBLE than Mr. Taylor??? Apart from the EXPERT WITNESSES which ones are you speaking about?? If the prosecutors’ witness were so CREDIBLE why would they have to ask for time to introduce FRESH EVIDENCES which mounted to WASTE OF TIME???

      Again one of the MOST telling in this case was when the LAST WITNESS told this court who chopped of his limbs; not the RUF supported and controlled by Mr. Taylor as told but the ARMY OF THE SIERRA LEONE GOV’T headed by Pres. Kabbah.

  2. Wow!

    This is indeed interesting.

    I need to ‘watch my tongue’ (this is a Liberia saying) henceforward because folks beyond this blogging community are listening to our comments.

    Peace to the brother, Frank.

  3. Tracey and Alpha,

    Thank you guys for your hard work. And thanks to this radio program show that is taking comments from this website to inform other people around the world.

    Tracey and Alpha, I know you guys are lawyers. But what I don’t know, is whether you are defense or prosecution lawyers. Now my question to both of you is this. Did you learn anything new from this trial? Does this trial have any impact on your career in terms of how to prosecute or defend? Knowing what you know now, will you have taken different route from your original approach you had in prosecuting or defending when this case started?

  4. Tracey,
    Where is Frank at the moment, and which radio stations is he reading our comments on? I presonally know Frank very well. I’m not sure if he’s stay with the Catholic radio station in Monrovia. Can you please find out for us?


    Harris K Johnson

    1. Hi Harris,
      I believe Frank is stationed in Senegal at the moment at West African Democracy Radio and I know for sure he broadcasts into community radio stations in Sierra Leone but I am not sure about Liberia. Next time I speak to Frank, I will ask him of a list of radio stations that he broadcasts into in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

      1. Thanks, Tracey,
        Please say hi to Frank on my behalf. Frank used to visit me on my hospital bed in 2001 when I was involved in a road motor accident with is former boss Rennie, who at one time managed the Catholic run radio station in Monrovia. I was ridding a motor bike when a land rover jeep driven by Rennie crushed into me. I narrowly escape death though the grace of God. I was ammitted at the S.D.A. Cooper Hospital in Monrovia. Frank was always with his boss whenever he came to visit me. I remember him very well.


        1. Harris — I am so sorry to hear about your accident, and I am so glad you got through it and are well again. I hope you have no lasting injuries from that terrible accident.

          I am glad to hear that Frank came to visit you and that you are crossing paths with him here again, albeit remotely through the website.


  5. I hope Frank was reading my score card and telling the people of Sierra Leone the ILL SERVE they are getting in the Hague.

  6. Hi Tracey:

    I do appreciate the level and concern of journalist wanting to take this trial to the masses, I personally know Frank from my days at the Press Union of Liberia.

    We that comment on this site, I would suggest that these comments remain here. Liberia is not a country that is blessed with more mature minds that people do understand and respect diversity of opinions simply because of the high illiteracy rate.

    During our civil conflict people who worked for government and were not decision makers were simply killed.

    If comments from this site should go to a third party I think those individuals should be informed, so that they know how far their comments have reach and be prepared for any eventuality.

    I think individuals should be asked and given approval before comments are used by another party or else you will soon be on trial too, (just kidding)


    1. Hi Justice Lib,

      You raise an important point: if I understand you correctly, you are concerned about security implications for people whose comments are read over the radio?

      There are two points I would like to raise in response, and a question.

      First, these comments are already in the public realm and they can be (and are) accessed by people around the world. People from a range of countries read this site every week. Secondly, a lot of people who do comment on this site do not use their real names, but a screen name. So my sense is that Frank is simply putting the comments which are already in the public domain into a different format, and often those comments do not reveal the real identity of the person making them.

      But I do take your concern seriously and my question would be this: given that these comments are already in the public realm and we have no control over how they are used once they are made public (there may be radio stations in Australia or in South Africa, for example, that may also use these comments) it is hard to police their use. So in light of this, might we ask readers and commenters think about creating precautions for ourselves to the extent we are worried about these issues that you raise — for instance, would this concern not be alleviated by people using screen names which do not reveal their true identity?

      I do look forward to hearing from you on this, and from other readers who may also have opinions on this too.


    2. Justice LIB

      If a man/woman is afraid of the implication his words may cause, that individual should only speak in the private of their homes or become a politician. You can’t fear simple minded people because you are having an opinionate conversation. A simple minded person will hate you and may want to harm you because you are successful, intelligent, or pretty and the list goes on. It’s racist organization (KKK, White Supremacist, etc.) in the world which has public dialogues and I guarantee you get violent thoughts. Some one will always disagrees with you and will want to act on their emotions. So brother say what you feel and let the world know it. If they try to harm you, they will eventually have to answer to someone. Ultimately, they will have to answer to God. This site has a strict policy about respecting others. In my opinion if a person reads something from this site and try to harm the person whom wrote the post. That individual is not mentally stable and it’s not because of this site. It’s more due to a mental defect. So maybe local internet providers needs to screen their customer to ensure they are mentally stable enough to use the internet (just joking but it would be a good idea).

  7. I believe Frank should go ahead with his duties as Journalist and not to listen to these new fears about revelations of writers on this site! It is our responsibility to avoid giving true identity on this blog, in the first place, and not to go on bragging as some have done,in saying things like;”taylor’s right hand man’s Yeaten, was my wife’s cousin” or chales taylor is my second cousine and is related to me,noko 10!” or things like “please extend my greetings to so so person when you visit Liberia…and etc etc!” These are things I observed on this site: Imaturity, arrogance, heartlessness, vain glory, hatred,trabalism,sectionalism,bigotery, and many more from many who are for or against taylor!

    1. Hi J Fallah Menjor — I do agree with you that the best way to avoid security concerns is to hide our true identity on this site if that is a worry for people whose comments might be read on the radio. In terms of security precautions, this might be as simple as using a screen name, or when referring to family or friends or other relationships, thinking about whether one is giving away so much information in one’s post that it narrows the pool of possible commenters down to a few that are specifically identifiable as individuals.

  8. Tracey,
    Can you ask Frank to please let us know on this site some of the many comments he has read to the public? I think this will impress some of us on this site that our voices are heard in far away places. If you don’t mind, please let Frank know my email address.


    Harris K Johnson

  9. . Fallah Menjor,
    I’m not sure that you really know me as you think. By me telling Tracey that Frank visited me in hospital does not sound that I was the only accident victim ammitted in S.D. A. Cooper Hospital at that time. I’m not hidding my identity in any way. This why I’m using my full name on this puplic forum. If you wish to know me better I’m authourizing Tracey to share my email address with you whenever you want. Have a blessed day.


    Harris K Johnson

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