Areas controlled by Charles Taylor’s rebel forces were the safest zones for civilians during the Liberian conflict, according to a witness testifying in defense of the former Liberian president today.
Timan Edward Zammy, a former commander in the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group, also dismissed as “lies” claims that the NPFL was involved in looting civilian property, killing of civilians, rape and sexual slavery – at least in his area.
“Civilians came to NPFL controlled areas because it was only the NPFL areas that were safe,” Mr. Zammy said.
When put to him that the NPFL committed more crimes that any of the other rebel factions during the Liberian conflict, Mr. Zammy responded that such an assertion was wrong.
“No. NPFL was the best for civilians compared to all other factions because NPFL areas were the only place where they could move freely and were taken care of,” he said.
Prosecution counsel, Katherine Howarth, accused the witness of downplaying heinous crimes such as rape, sexual slavery and the killing of civilians which she said were committed by NPFL rebels, of which the witness was a commander.
Asked specifically whether he saw or heard of NPFL rebels committing these crimes, Mr. Zammy said he neither saw nor heard of such crimes being committed by NPFL rebels.
On allegations of looting, the witness asserted that “no NPFL soldier looted,” and when asked about crimes of rape and sexual slavery, he said that “I did not see it. If I saw it, I would have said it. I did not see it and so my answer is no.”
“I only know that soldiers who were enemies to us were killed and not civilians,” Mr. Zammy said.
When pressed with reports of more abuses allegedly committed by NPFL rebels against the civilian population of Liberia, the witness clarified that his knowledge of NPFL conduct was limited to places which were under his control.
“I am not saying that within the whole of Liberia there was no violation, I am talking about my controlled area. I did not control Grand Jida, I did not control Lofa. The things that happened there I can’t tell. But within my controlled areas is what I am talking about,” he explained.
Ms. Howarth pointed out that the Liberian TRC report documented the killing of over 28,000 civilians and that the said report ranked the NPFL as the worst of the warring factions in Liberia as far as the commission of crimes was concerned. Mr. Zammy dismissed the TRC report as incorrect, insisting that the Chairman of the TRC, Jeremy Verdier, was biased since he had previously accused the NPFL of victimizing him.
“The TRC report is not correct. Members of the TRC, even the chairman said he was victimized by the NPFL. What do you expect him to say about the NPFL?” the witness asked.
“The chairman was supposed to be neutral but if he makes such a comment about the NPFL, what do you expect him to say? The TRC report is not correct,” he insisted.
Mr. Zammy denied allegations that Mr. Taylor and his NPFL commanders used children for combat purposes under the title of Small Boys Unit (SBU). Mr. Taylor himself in his testimony denied these allegations, saying that small boys were made to stay with commanders with whom they were related and that some small boys who had been orphaned by the war were taken by commanders who treated them as their own children. Today, Mr. Zammy corroborated Mr. Taylor’s account, telling the court that he (Zammy) personally rescued some young children who eventually stayed in his household. He said that the children in the SBU sometimes wore military fatigue but this was done “just for fun.”
The defense also called their next witness, a Liberian national and former radio operator and Colonel in the NPFL, Joseph Menson Dehmie. Mr. Dehmie said he was also nicknamed “Bearcat” by his colleagues in the NPFL.
Mr. Dehmie told the court that he joined the NPFL willingly because he wanted to be part of a revolution to remove the government of former Liberian leader Samuel Kayan Doe from power — a government which he accused of oppressing the Liberian people and persecuting the people of the Gio and Manor tribes in the country.
“I became a member of the NPFL purposely to participate in the removal of the dictatorial and oppressive regime of Samuel Kayan Doe,” Mr. Dehmie said.
Mr. Taylor is on trial for allegedly supporting Revolutionary United Front rebels in Sierra Leone. His trial is being conducted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone sitting in The Hague. Mr. Dehmie is the twelfth witness who has testified for Mr. Taylor.
Mr. Dehmie’s testimony continues tomorrow.
TRACY, I AM SICK AND TIRED OF BEING SICK AND TIRED. THIS TRIAL IS MAKING ME SICK TO THE STOMACH. IT MAKES ME WANT TO THROW UP.
THE LATEST MOVE BY A STAFFER (S) OF THE COURT, WHO HE/SHE IS A PART OF THE REGISTERY SAME AS THE PROSECUTION TO KNOWINGLY AND INTENTIONALLY CHANGED TESTIMONIES OF WITNESSES UNDER OATH WITH MALICE, WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE COURT IS A FELONY. THIS GOES TO ILLUSTRATE THAT THE PROSECUTION WILL DO ANY THING UNDER THE SUN TO WIN.
TRACY, IF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IN THE UNITED STATES, A STENOGRAPHER ALTERING COURT RECORDS WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE COURT, THE CASE WOULD HAVE BEEN DISMISSED OR A GUILTY VERDICT WILL BE HANDED DOWN IF THE DEFENSE WAS AT FAULT. THOSE INVOLVED WILL BE PROSECUTED. THIS IS NOT A UNITED STATES COURT, RATHER, A KINGROO COURT, WHICH HAS AMERICANS AND BRITISH ACTORS.
THE TRIAL IS TINTED UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. NOBODY REALLY KNOW THE EXTEND OF THE DAMAGE. HOW MANY WITNESSES TESTIMONIES WERE CHANGED? WHAT ABOUT THE DOCUMENS THAT WERE PLACED INTO EVIDENCE? THOSE TOO COULD HAVE BEEN TEMPERED WITH.
BY JUDGE SEBUTINDE MERELY STATING THAT SHE HOPES IT DOESN’T HAPPEN AGAIN, IS A SLAP ON THE WRIST.
THE ONLY THING LEFT FOR THE PROSECUTION TO DO, IS TO GET ONE OF THE SECURITY OFFICERS TO SHOOT PRESIDENT TAYLOR IN THE HEAD, AND SAY THAT THE GUN WENT OFF BY MISTAKE.
Hi Big B,
Sorry to hear you are so frustrated with the trial.
There has been a lot of discussion here about erratas. Perhaps it might be helpful here in first just discussing erratas and their role in the SCSL without taking a position on what happened the other day with Justice Sebutinde. I think it important that we have a common base for discussing the issue and understanding what an errata is in the context of the trial.
Erratas are really just corrections to the record when a mistake in translation is discovered – they do not change the substance of the text but instead correct mistranslations. When a correction (or errata) to the transcript is made, all parties – including the judges – are supposed to be informed and receive a copy of each errata as a matter of practice. They are quite commonly used in the Special Court and made to ensure accuracy in the transcript and a matching record between the videoed version of testimony and the written record.
Thanks for your diplomatic explanation for the meaning of erratas. However, we can not dismiss or failed not to take a position on what Judge Sebutinde stated. After all, she’s the judge and knows best. Call it what ever you wish, sugar coat all you want, the bottom line the act is illegal.
A serious crime has been committed; those who are liable should be prosecuted to the fullest, because if it was the other way around, President Taylor would have been fried.
We agreed that erratas are commonly used in kangaroo court (Special Court), but it should be done at least with the consent of all parties-including the judges, and they must receive a copy of the erratas. Nobody has the right to unanimously changed court records as he/she sees faith. It’s out right wrong and illegal. PERIOD!
Tracey, give me a break!
Tracy when corrections totaly changes the testimony of the witness from what it originally is on the record, it cannot be taken lightly and I totaly support the serious stance the presiding judge took on the matter. However I think it is too early to arrive at a conclusion at this stage. Personally I am doing a research on the issue and owing to the fact that the registrar of the court has made a submission on the issue – which I am currently studying, I will make my views on the issue known after completing my investigation.
There is not way to change the lies zigzag told per Erratas . Prince Johnson was never arrested or detained by anyone. ZigZag lie about that and he very very strongly lie about everything else he testify to under oath. The prosecution knew full well this witness ZigZag was lying.
YOU’re making too much out of nothing
Your frustration is understandable especially when evidence or transcripts are tampered with. What cannot be establish is on whose behalf was this done, or was this just a bone headed mistake? The judges cannot conclude the trial because it wasn’t clear which side tried to manipulate the evidence. A court stenographer is neither a defense representative or prosecution representative. They are part of the court, who is neutral.
Nevertheless, one of you (Taylor supporters) finally shares our frustration when somebody under oath deliberatedly lies or alters the truth: All the defense witnesses including Taylor have been lying about the abuses metted out to civilians during the civil wars. So if i may play by your legal standard, Taylor and all the defense witnesses should face a new trial for perjury after this one.
The prosecution is way more civil than to kill Taylor. He is been accorded a free and fair trial he denied so many people. Taylor was the one who administered jungle justice through kangaroo court. Can he provide transcripts of the trials he carried out during the NPFL’s reign that led to the summary executions of civilians and his own commanders he accused of treason as stated during this trial by him and his cohorts? Taylor and his cronies should SHUT UP and stop lecturing people about the” RULE OF LAW.”
I don’t care on whose behalf the illegal act was committed in favor of. That’s why an investigation is needed to ascertained the fact. Maybe, the defense witnesses are lying under oath, but don’t forget the prosecution witnesses were paid to lie under oath.
what does the abuses metted out to civilians during the liberian civil war got to do with this trial? is Taylor on trial for crimes committed in Liberia now? I thought this whole trial is about Sierra Leone.
You must not have been reading my past posts or else you have gotten the correlation of the Liberian conflict to the Sierra Leonean conflict by now.
pliz, tell me why people are trying to defend this Taylor guy, this man shld go and die in prison, pliz don let this guy out coz he is even dangerous to himself.
It will be an injustice for Taylor to be send to prison for this false case that he’s facing! The falsehood in this case is so large that the proscution is going as far sa changing the testimonies of witnesses who had testified in this case! Is that how Justice is done? As that you want to come here and talk about sending him prison and he should die there? Do you really believed that Mr. Taylor did give the level of support to the RUF for which he’s accused? You got to be kidding me! Where is the billions of dollars the prosecution said Mr. Taylor got from the sale of Sierra Leonean diamonds? Liberia have a lot of diamonds, doesn’t she?
why is it that all diamond sole from Liberia during the presidency of Mr. Taylor turn to come from Sierra Leone? The danger is even worst than ever before because other Countries will not allow their leaders to face this kind of falsehood called Justice; therefore, their Leaders will stay n office until they die; that’s the danger not Mr. Taylor. Where is General Butt Naked today? He who told the World that he killed over 20,000 people in Liberia, many of whom were children because he and his men used to drink the blood of young children before going to fight!
Did RUF commander, ISSA SASEY ever told the prosecution or the people of Sierra Leone that Mr. Taylor order he and the RUF to cut the hands of their people? I don’t think he did! If this case is infact true why is the prosecution changing the testimonies of witnesses with or without the concerned of the court? I used to hate Mr. Taylor but this trial has changed my positions and my way thinking when it comes to Justice because it’s not for all but the very few!
These testimonies get more and morw outrageoud by the week….
Any way he was in al ultra-Universe where he was commander of the six batallion of rebels K.A NPFL…so I’m not shocked….still outraged……
What can really be said about these testimonies, but lies, lies and more lies?
What about the testimony of Zigzag Marzah? A self confessed mass murderer and carnibal has he suddenly become a saint? interestingly, no defence witness has been accussed so far of personally engaging in any mass killing or act of carniballism.
You seem a very complex person, one whom even the best psychoanalysts will find difficult to understand. Here you are so sick and tired and want to throw up for mere ERRATA but you are very healthy, lively and kicking and leaping with joy at the display of ignoramuses and acute illiterates as Commanders and echelon of your great patriotic and nationalistic movement, the NPFL.
Is Taylor suggesting to us that his organization was so intellectually and academically bankrupt to the extent that those ignoramuses and acute illiterates held such high positions?
Taylor need to save Liberia and Liberians further disgrace by confessing his evil deeds and accept his fate.
Bringing ignoramuses in there to say rubbish and further drag the memories of our lovely those lives were taken away in cold blood into the mud will not only not help Taylor’s cause but will further divide our people and bring Liberia into further public ridicule and odium.
My bro you have me cricking up when I read your comment. In the nature I am not a complex person at all. But we are dealing here with the rule of law. As I stated before, there is a difference between what is legally right vs. what is morally right.
President Taylor may be morally wrong on the one hand, but on the other hand, legally right. So, the prosecution can’t depend on evidences that are morally wrong to prove a legal case.
Yes, I am a very complex person when it comes to the rule of law, the right of the accused.
NPFL rebels did not loot?…LOL!!..Now I have to give Zammy the Comedian of the Year Award! I was only a teenager back then, but I vividly remember NPFL rebels, after they took over the Duport Road area, “driving” away with cars from the neighborhood, and I put driving in quotes here because most of those plunders didn’t even know how to drive!
Oh but I guess I shouldn’t call them “plunderers,” since according to Zammy’s account, that was beneath his made-up version of some non-looting, non-civilian-killing NPFL force that he served in. Well then, in the comedic spirit that Zammy has entertained us with, I guess they were only “borrowing” those people’s cars….
I was a resident of Duport whose father’s house was looted on the 6th of july 1990. Cars, foods and personal effects were taken away. My family and i survived because we were forewarned by someone who was in the meeting the previous night when they decided to attack us. They drove in a pick up truck that they looted from the late Stubblefield’s yard. They did not knock on our door to investigate whatever prior information they got. They entered my yard shooting through the house for over ten minutes before thet eventually entered and found no one inside and began looting. These personal stories are not needed here, but when perpertrators like the defense witnesses insult our sufferings, then we have to remind them that some of us victims that survived are still around and will not sit supinely while they erased our nightmares.
My comrade, don’t let these people tell you otherwise to what you are a firsthand witness.
Well people, having gone through the relevant parts of the transcripts affected by the errata issued by the Chief of languages of the court, and having gone through the relevant parts of the transcripts which covered the cross examination of Mr Marzah on his arrest by the special forces and his being subsequestly placed in a container along with others in Gborplay, Also having carefully read the submission of the registrar of the court about the procedures of the court to implement erratas to court transcripts and the attached documents, I have expressed my views about the issue below:
To start with it is obvious that the errata has completely changed the understanding of the evidence the witness gave. According to the transcript before the errata was issued, the witness said: “My very first time to meet our leader Mr Taylor, was in Gborplay at that time. The remaining special forces were there and the remaining special forces arrested me and took me to Gborplay. I was not alone. My self and Prince Johnson they took us there and they kept us in an old car box that appeared like a container, and they were lighting fire – lighting fire on top of the container and whilst it was burning we were shaking inside the container and at that time some of our friends had already died.” However the correction sought reads :”Hmm…my very first time to meet our leader Major Taylor, was in Gborplay at that time. The remaining special forces arrested me and took me to Gborplay. Not me alone we were many who were serving Prince Johnson. They carried us there and kept us in an old car box what looked like a container. They were making fire hearth on top of the car I mean on top of the container.Whilst he was patrolling, we were shaking in the container. At the time, some of our friends had already died.” So while the original transcript claimed that Prince Johnson was arrested along with Zigzag Marzah by the special forces, the correction claimed rather that it was some of those serving Prince Johnson that were arrested along with Zigzag Marzah.
Having said this, while I do not think that there is a deliberate attempt by the prosecution to mislead the court by “tempering” with the record, I think this whole missunderstanding about how the errata surfaced was caused by lack of addequate communication between the parties and the relevant arms of the court. because obviously the defence is not aware of such an errata and the judges too obviously are not aware given their reaction to the “discovery”. Of course both the prosecution and the defence have a right to request for any part of the record to be corrected if they have reason to believe that their is an error in translation of a typographical error. In which case they have to follow the due process which obviously they did (See appendix A of the submissions of the registrar pg 28814 – 28818).
So people, as far as we the pro Taylor people are concerned, wether Zigzag Marzah said Prince Johnson was also arrested or not or weather only the followers of prince Johnson were arrested, it does not prove the prosecution case. The defence has succeeded to do serious damage to the credibility and the sanity of Zigzag Mazarh that all the prosecution can do now- owing to the fact that the prosecution has seriously relied on Zigzag Marzarh’s testimony to prove its case, is just damage limitation. The number of witnesses that have come before the court to testify contrary to what Zigzag Marzarh has said are just too many and their credibility cannot be disputed since he Zigzag Marzah directly mentioned some of them in his testimony.
I know Ms Teage, any truth from the defence is a liebut you have fogotten to know that persecution lack evidence against President Taylor. The persecution still have not proven the 11 counts levy against this innocent man.
Welcome Dehmine, please tell them more about the so called radio station call Sky One which was allegedly operated from RIA. I will tell your friend air wolf that you have gone to see the Pa-Pay and to also debunk if not destroy all of the lies about Charles Taylor radio contact with RUF. Radio Operator sees Radio Operator, Radio Operator hide!!
Harris K Johnson
This is the result of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf sponsored war:
Nice clip….I started viewing it and will continue later…
Where are you? Stop watching us from the corner…
Friends, let’s be honest. The defense is taking advantage of the fact that, outside of the TRC, there is very little direct evidence linking Taylor and the NPFL to the atrocities in Liberia and Sierra Leone (actually there is, however, since it is scattered over several entities, it is difficult to obtain quickly.) The defense knows that without a systematic account of what happened, the prosecution is forced to rely on eyewitness accounts, which the defense can then challenge on the basis of the witnesses’ perceived illiteracy.
So what is your point? why didnt you lecture the prosecution on the best way to proceed with their case instead of allowing them to fumble in embarrassment in this fake case? Even you can see the difference between prosecution witnesses and defence witnesses with regard to how they fared under cross examination. Many of the prosecution witnesses under cross examination denied many of the statements they made to prosecutors infact Zigzag Marzah pointedly accussed the prosecution of tampering with his statement and witholding some documents he gave to them from the defence forcing prosecutor Nickolas Koumjian to defend himself before the court and in effect deny that the witness gave him any of those documents.
As the trial moves on with the slow pace, without any serious and tangible against Taylor, he is beginning to look like a victim like Hinga Norman
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