Prosecutors Say Witness Lied To The Liberian TRC About His NPFL History

Prosecutors today sought to impeach the credibility of Charles Taylor’s defense witness by pointing out that he has not been truthful about how he was recruited into Mr. Taylor’s Liberian rebel group, as well as the positions he claims to have held in the rebel group during the early days of the Liberian conflict.

Timan Edward Zammy, a former member of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) has spent more than a week testifying for Mr. Taylor, focusing his testimony mainly on the conduct of the NPFL in Liberia and refuting claims that the Liberian rebel group was best known for committing heinous crimes against civilians. Prosecutors say that the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group–a group which Mr. Taylor is accused of supporting in Sierra Leone–copied their tactics from the NPFL. Mr. Zammy has said that civilians were protected in areas under NPFL control. As his cross-examination continued today, prosecutors focused mainly on pointing out areas in the witness’s testimony where they believe he has not been truthful.

One area of focus today was Mr. Zammy’s account about how he was recruited into the NPFL. What he has told Special Court for Sierra Leone judges is different from what he told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Liberia. During his direct-examination last week, Mr. Zammy told the court that he was recruited into the NPFL in the 1980s by one Alfred Mehn, popularly known in the NPFL as the “God Father.” Prosecution counsel Katherine Howarth pointed out to the witness that he had told the Liberian TRC that it was Mr. Taylor who recruited him into the NPFL while he was in Ivory Coast. Noting the discrepancy, the witness said that his testimony before the TRC was a mistake.

“So when you told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that Charles Taylor recruited you from the Ivory Coast, you got that wrong, correct?” Ms. Howarth asked the witness.

“It is not wrong, it is an error. I am repeating it, it’s an error, it’s a mistake,” the witness responded.

Asked directly whether he was saying that he had “made a mistake when giving evidence to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” the witness said “yes.”

“A mistake is not a lie, a mistake is allowed to be made, anybody can make a mistake,” Mr. Zammy said.

Ms. Howarth also pressed the witness hard on his evidence in direct-examination that in 1991, Mr. Taylor appointed him as Battalion Commander for the sixth Battalion of the NPFL, which was stationed in Bomi Hills. Ms. Howarth pointed out that other defense witnesses who testified about the NPFL command structure did not mention Mr. Zammy’s name as Commander of the sixth Battalion. These defense witnesses included Yanks Smythe, Karnah Edward Mineh and Mr. Taylor himself.

“Yanks Smythe does not mention you as sixth Battalion commander,” Ms. Howarth told the witness.

“Yes, he does not mention me but I was sixth Battalion commander in 1991. Maybe he does not know,” Mr. Zammy said.

In Mr. Smythe’s testimony, he said that the sixth Battalion commander in 1991 was Mr. Oliver Varney. Mr. Zammy insisted that Mr. Smythe probably made a mistake, insisting that he succeeded Mr. Varney as the sixth Battalion commander.

Another defense witness Mr. Mineh also testified that Mr. Varney was sixth Battalion commander. Mr. Zammy insisted that these witnesses were mistaken.

“This is a mistake. It was in 1990 that Oliver Varney was Battalion Commander and I succeeded him,” the witness said.

Reading from a January 2010 transcript, Ms. Howarth again pointed out that Mr. Taylor, while he testified on his own behalf, only referred to Mr. Zammy as “an Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) officer” and as “one of the Special Forces.”

“This is all he [Taylor] had to say about you. He doesn’t mention you as sixth Battalion commander. Another defense witness Yanks Smythe does not mention you as sixth Battalion commander and your one time friend Edward Mineh does not mention you as sixth Battalion commander. Were you actually sixth Battalion commander?” Mr. Howarth asked the witness.

“I will not tell lies. I served as sixth Battalion Commander in 1991…I was commander of the sixth Battalion from February 1991 to November 1991,” the witness responded.

Ms. Howarth also pointed out to the witness that he failed to tell the TRC that he served as sixth Battalion of the NPFL and that when he made statements to defense lawyers in Liberia, he also did not tell them that he occupied such a position. The witness explained that at the TRC, they did not ask him about any command positions that he occupied and that when he spoke with defense lawyers, he told them that he indeed was the sixth Battalion commander in 1991.

Prosecutors believe that pointing these flaws in Mr. Zammy’s testimony will impeach his credibility and make him a witness whose account cannot be relied on.

Mr. Zammy’s cross-examination continues tomorrow.


  1. Tracey and Alpha,
    Please let us know why the trial was not broadcast on today Monday May 17th ?

    1. Aki — the SCSL just moved to the Lebanon Tribunal premises today — our link to the trial should be updated and no longer go to the ICC. Can you please let me know if you still have trouble viewing it tomorrow?


        1. Hi Noko4 — yes, Alpha noticed the same thing and has checked with the SCSL. Hopefully it will be a glitch that will be ironed out soon. Do let me know if there are still problems in the coming days.

  2. Jose Rodriguez and Dire-hard Supporters of Taylor,
    You guys are reading too much into the issue of the errata.
    Apparently, in desperation you are quickly making conclusion without investigation and losing sight of the meaning of the word ‘ERRATA’.
    According to an errata is
    a list of errors and their corrections inserted, usually on a separate page or slip of paper, in a book or other publication; corrigenda.
    First, you need not be a rocket scientist in order to see that only a fool will attempt tempering with a document through errata.
    Second, only a fool will temper with a document and still be the first to call attention to his/her tempering publicly.
    Let not have dislike for investigation and let stop coming up with rash judgement when even common sense betrays our claims. Let be careful the words will utter, for these very words may one day come back to hunt us.

    1. Hi Morris — yes, you are right in your description. An errata is simply a correction to the transcript due to translation errors, which is also meant to be transmitted to all parties when it is issued.

    2. Morris Kanneh,
      I read your so-call post and found that you have got, not the least comprehension of what the basis of our argument is. Or in my view you also failed to understand the Judges claim. Like you rightly stated, the choice of english or grama used is so so simple to be understood. DO NOT NEED JOHN GLEN FOR ANY INTERPRATATIONS. No body on this site needs to know where the definations of any word could be found. Just so you know for the future, the Judge had problem with people tempering with said court documents out of court hours. Accordingly, she stated, it is illegal, and thats what we are talking about,that’s our problem..ok thank you. We are not looking for dictions….BUT JUSTICE….

    3. Morris,
      We are NOT betting on it but why was it done in the DARKNESS if was OK to do???

  3. Well people, the distortion of facts and the attempt to confuse this witness with frivolous and unsubstantiated suggestions by the prosecution during cross examination does not in anyway help the prosecution to prove its case.

    First of all the prosecution accused the witness of not telling defence lawyers about his position as commander in the sixth battalion in the NPFL simply because it is not in the witness’s summary provided to them by the defence. The fact is that the prosecution does not have the witness’s statements which are currently with the defence so they cannot validly say that he did not tell them. the witnesses on many occasions insisted that it was in his statement that he made to the defence. But the prosecution quoted from the witness’ summary and then claimed that since his assertions were not in the summary then he did not tell them. I am sure this assertion will be turned on its head during re-exam. The curious thing about this claim about the witness being 6th battalion commander is that even his position as 1st and then 2nd battalion commander were not also in the summary but the prosecution did not accuss him of lying in those instances they only accussed him about lying on his claim to be 6th battalion commander on the strength of the fact that it is not in the witness summary.

    Also on the allegation that his name was not mentioned by other defence witness as being battalion commander in 1991. the fact is that in more than one instance in this trial it has being shown that assignments in the NPFL changes often within the year. so If Mr Zimay replaced oliver varney in 1991 as battalion commander, it does not mean that Oliver Varney was not battalion commander in that year. that is oliver varney was battion commander in 1991 AND the witness was also battalion commander in that year. so I do not see any inconsistency there. Witnesses are required to answer the specific questions they were asked and on many occassions during this trial witnesses had been stopped from derailing from the answer to the questions they were asked so a witness is not supposed to give an answer more than what is required to answer the specific question he was asked.

  4. If anyone has ever question the need to bring these murderers and rapists to justice, today testimony by that barefaced liar and murderer has answered that question.
    For this witness to deny that civilians were maltreated by the NPFL show how conscienceless these murderers remain.

  5. Zigzag Marzah claimed to have joined the NPFL on the 3rd of January 1990. This was what he told the TRC in Liberia. Now, if this is the case, how did he invade the country with them on the “24th” of December as he says to the Sierra Leone court. He also made many outrageous and fictional claims at the TRC that you’ll only believe such things only happen in his own make believe world.

  6. It was an error, but it wasn’t wrong?
    Either Taylor recruited you or the other person did…..if you said Taylor while under oath and said another person at another time under oath…you were… WRONG at one of those tetimoney and you LIED at one of those testimony…..
    That was not an error your mouth intentionally spoke those words and this witness made no intention to ‘correct’ that error…this is what a lie is not a mistake….
    I feel like these witnesses think that they’re smart and everyone else including the judges are stupid. Nice try though!

    1. Ms Teage,
      Under whose instruction was Godfather recruiting people? who was Godfather’s boss?

    2. Ha ha ha ha…..Like Ms Nancy Doe said long time ago…”WHAT TO DOES”

      So that is your excuse Ms Teage??

    3. Ms. Teage,
      Human error is natural..we are in the real world..To lie is different from making an error. He might have made an error, but definitely, did not lie.

  7. Mr. Zammy, you are right, I am a living witness. You succeeded Mr. Varney in 1991. Please make the jugdes to understand. May God bless you as you continue your testimony.


  8. Tracey,
    Yes I am able to view the trial on today Tuesday. Could you let the court know that the audio coming out is very low. maybe the court microphones need to be turned up. Please delete my post from above.

    1. Hi Aki — indeed – Alpha also had problems with the sound and alerted the SCSL today. Hopefully it will be fixed soon.

  9. Good job prosecutor, these guys don’t know how to lie it seems like a lot their response was a mistake, but no one is buying it, Taylor is toast, how come his own witnesses including him (Taylor) can’t remember who was the 1st battalion commander. What a shame

  10. What is the real contradiction here in this witness statement? The prosecution is hanging on dry leaves. Generally, Oliver Varney was very popular in Liberia so whenever anyone discusses the Liberian war, Oliver Varney’s name will be called as the commander of the sixth battalion. This Zammy fellow and many other former NPFL special forces are not popularly known.

    So the real question that should asked: who took over from Oliver Varney if not this witness? Because it would seems that someone had to be in charge of the sixth battalion when Oliver Varney was not there? So who was in charge? Let the prosecution answer this question.

    Then the prosecution is shamelessly using the very TRC Report in a back door fashion when the main sponsor of this website Mr. George Soros is opposed to the implementation of the Liberian TRC Report. What a hypocrisy on the part of these people. If the witness said that Taylor recruited him in the “1980’s”, did the TRC people asked the witness how , when exactly and how he was recruited by Charles Taylor? The witness could have been speaking at the time in general terms since he was a special forces commado who was trained in Libya under the command of Taylor. The prosecution should find something serious to discredit this witness and not such jumbo mombo!!!

    1. I’m not sure Lav. Maybe its some teething problems with the feed — hopefully things will be ironed out in the coming days. I know Alpha has raised some of the problems with the SCSL.


  11. I’m confuse of this whole trial.Why? because Liberian people did not carry Taylor to the Hague,then while it is that the whole is base on Liberia rather than Sierra Leone.It is not fair to take Mr.Brown to court for stealing and then start to judge him killing.Let the judges focus on what happen in Sierra leone and forget about Liberia issue.The Liberians themselves will take Taylor to court if they know that he committed crimes.

    1. Delta,
      Your analogies are not adding up. If u took Mr. Brown to court for alledgedly stealing and he denies stealing it is ok to say well 5 years ago Mr. Brown was caught stealing from X. Taylor is accused of crimes against humanity…him and his crazed derranged psycho NPFL…committed many crimes against civilians in Liberia…since most of the evidence is circumstantial i.e witnesses account they are using Liberia to draw a parallel between acts committed in Liberia and alleged acts in Sierra Leone that he’s accused of. The prosecutor will be dumb to not use Liberia to help build a case. Hasn’t anyone here follow a trail where an accused had previously committed an act and it was brough up in court to help prove the accused is guilty of the current act? Like the girl who was kidnapped for 18 years and repeatedly raped and bore 2 children for her captor…the peretrator had previously raped a young lady..and prosecutors are relying on her testimony to help prove that the perve is guilty. This happens ALL the time.
      Goodness gracious…are yall serious about this ‘why is the prosecution bringing up Liberia? ill tell u why because it will help prove their case…its that simple.

      1. Teage,

        prove the 11 counts first by providing concrete evidence first, than you can probably talk about something different. But the prosecution has not proven anything about the 11 courts. Where are the diamonds, for example, that this innocent man allegedly took from Sierra Leone? Up to present, they, the prosecution, have not proved the allegation. However, they know that they have not proven it. That is why they are trying so hard to bring in Super Model Campbell through subpoena to testify, even though, they have rested their case. NO CASE TEAGE. Teage, where have you seen this kind of justice? I think it in this KANGAROO COURT.

        1. Jose Rodriguez,
          Here we go again with prove this and prove that, oh goodness……….It never ends. I will leave the proving to the prosecutor as theyve done a lot of that already…..aight, great!

  12. Every one want to hang mr. Taylor is he the only fought this war my himself?what about the one that prisident now ?they all help him .he left alone.every one free.

  13. In your comments you state that there was not court session on May 17th and thus this one is listed as being May 18th, however there was a session on the 17, 18 and 19 of May.

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