Prosecution witness and former member of Charles Taylor’s rebel group, Joseph Zig Zag Marzah, did not have a sound mind, he took drugs, he was never close to Mr. Taylor, and he is a liar, Mr. Taylor’s 11th defense witness told Special Court for Sierra Leone judges today in The Hague.
Mr. Timan Edward Zammy, a former commander in Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group concluded his direct-examination today, telling judges that his former colleague in the NPFL, Mr. Marzah, who testified against Mr. Taylor in 2008, lied when he told the court that he (Marzah) was very close to Mr. Taylor. Mr. Marzah in his 2008 testimony told the judges that Mr. Taylor assigned him to the First Battalion of the NPFL in the early days of the war in Liberia. Mr. Marzah also said that when Mr. Taylor became president of Liberia in 1997, he (Taylor) sent him to transport arms and ammunition for Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in Sierra Leone in exchange for diamonds and that on occasions, he shared food with the former president during which time they feasted on human intestines and other body parts. Mr. Taylor in his testimony regarded Mr. Marzah’s testimony as disgusting. He said that Mr. Marzah was an illiterate, was not of a sound mind, was a mere orderly to Benjamin Yeaten, the then Director of Mr. Taylor’s Special Security Services (SSS), and therefore would never have even come close to him while he was president. Today, Mr. Zammy shared similar sentiments about Mr. Marzah.
“Zig Zag Marzah is not a sound person. When Marzah was with Benjamin Yeaten, he used to take drugs and they tied him and threw him into dirty water,” the witness said as he described Mr. Marzah.
“Zig Zag Marzah was just a dirty man in the NPFL. We later came to know that he was not sound. Marzah lies like someone I will not be able to describe,” said Mr. Zammy.
The witness added that as a mere bodyguard, Mr. Marzah was not even allowed to go close to his immediate boss, Mr. Yeaten, the Director of the SSS.
“Benjamin Yeaten did not allow him to go close to him. He was always in the Kitchen. That is what I know about him,” he said.
During Mr. Marzah’s 2008 testimony against Mr. Taylor, he did a great deal to support prosecution charges against Mr. Taylor that the former Liberian president provided support to RUF rebels in Sierra Leone. Mr. Zammy, on his part today told the court that Mr. Marzahis not credible and should not be relied on to say the truth.
“All what Marzah has said is a lie. I do not believe him. Marzah is a liar,” the witness said.
On Mr. Marzah’s account that Mr. Taylor appointed him to the First Battalion Unit of the NPFL, Mr. Zammy, who served as commander for the same battalion for a one month period said that Mr. Marzah was never a part of that unit.
“Zig Zag Marzah was not appointed into any battalion by Mr. Taylor,” Mr. Zammy asserted.
Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber Julia Sebutinde, who became concerned by the witness’s assertion, asked him whether his claim that Mr. Marzah was never appointed to the First Battalion by Mr. Taylor was based on the one month he spent as commander of the battalion.
The witness said that while he was head of that battalion in 1990, Mr. Marzah was never assigned there. He added that even after his departure, Mr. Marzah was way down the NPFL hierarchy for him to have received appointment into a battalion directly from Mr. Taylor.
The witness also refuted Mr. Marzah’s claims that he (Marzah) was a close associate to Mr. Taylor who dined with the former president and who Mr. Taylor sent on special operations.
“Marzah was way down the line. He was not even close to Mr. Taylor. Marzah would not even go close to Mr. Taylor for any appointment,” the witness explained.
Mr. Zammy, in his testimony today, refuted another aspect of Mr. Marzah’s account in his 2008 testimony that the NPFL would kill civilians, display their heads on car bumpers, and use their intestines to make check points as a means of instilling fear in civilians.
“It’s a lie. It never even happened. It’s a great lie. Nobody put human skulls on vehicles. It’s a lie,” Mr. Zammy asserted.
On the use of human intestines to make check points, Mr. Zammy said that “nobody ever used intestines as check points. It’s a lie.”
Prosecutors commenced Mr. Zammy’s cross-examination immediately after the conclusion of his direct testimony.
Also in court today, the judges refuted claims in the Liberian media that Mr. Taylor was absent in court on Monday because he had severe heart problems and that the court had refused him medical treatment. Mr. Taylor was present in court on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Charles Taylor trial today held its last proceedings in the ICC premises. The conduct of the trial will now move on to the newly established court premises of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in The Hague. Thursday and Friday will be used to test equipment in the STL court room and therefore the trial of Mr. Taylor will only resume on Monday.
Mr. Zammy’s cross-examination continues on Monday.