Charles Taylor wanted power to empower the Liberian people to develop their country, a defense witness told Special Court for Sierra Leone judges today.
“Charles Taylor wanted power, control his people and to empower them with the authority to develop their country in Liberia,” the witness said today as he testified about the former president’s motivation to wage a rebel war in the West African country of Liberia.
The witness, only identified by pseudonym number DCT-125 started his testimony yesterday. The witness is testifying as a protected witness whose identity cannot be disclosed to the general public. When he started giving his evidence yesterday, the witness’ testimony was heard mostly in private session to the exclusion of the general public. In his testimony today, the witness testified in open session but with voice and image distortion, meaning, no one can identify his face and voice.
The witness described himself as a founding member of the Mataba: that is, the “Libyan Bureau” which provided military and ideological training for revolutionaries from different parts of the world. Testifying about the character of Mr. Taylor, the witness described the former Liberian president as a very secretive person and an “intellectual bourgeois capitalist” — a description which drew a smile from the very attentive Mr. Taylor.
The witness said that like Mr. Taylor, he is a Pan-Africanist who was trained in Libya alongside other revolutionaries from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) and many other countries with an aim of liberating Africans from “neo-colonialism.”
Reading from the Mataba manifesto, the witness told the court that the document called on all revolutionaries around the world to come together and fight against “state sponsored terrorism.”
Mr. Taylor is accused of providing support to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a Sierra Leonean rebel group which prosecutors say committed heinous crimes in Sierra Leone such as rape, murder and “terrorizing the civilian population.” Some prosecution witnesses also testified before Special Court for Sierra Leone judges that with Mr. Taylor’s involvement, terrorist operatives from the fundamentalist group Al Qaeda visited Liberia and RUF controlled territories in Sierra Leone. Defense counsel for Mr. Taylor, Courtenay Griffiths, today asked the witness the Mataba’s position on terrorism.
“The Mataba, according to our aim and objectives, is not a terrorist organization. The Mataba is a combination of all revolutionary forces to device strategies to face imperialism and its allies wherever they are,” the witness said.
Prosecutors have alleged that Mr. Taylor met with RUF leader Foday Sankoh at the Mataba in Libya in the mid to late 1980s and that the two men formed a common plan to destabilize the West African sub-region through assistance to each other in their respective wars in Liberian and Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor has denied these assertions, insisting that he never met Mr. Sankoh in Libya. He has denied providing support to RUF rebels in Sierra Leone.
There will be no hearings on Friday and Monday as the court room will be used for other trials conducted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Witness DCT-125’s testimony will continue on Tuesday.