CHARLES Taylor’s former vice-president and his brief successor as Liberia’s leader testified Monday that he never saw Taylor engage in cannibalism or heard him order his fighters to eat their slain enemies.
But Moses Blah refused to rule out the possibility that Taylor ate human flesh or ordered his troops to do so.
In March, a witness told the Special Court for Sierra Leone that Taylor ordered fighters in his National Patriotic Front of Liberia to eat their enemies as a way of striking terror into his opponents.
Joseph ‘Zigzag’ Marzah, who described himself as Taylor’s chief of operations and head of a death squad before the accused became president, said African peacekeepers and even United Nations personnel were killed and eaten on the battlefield by his militiamen.
He also said he had sat with Taylor as he ate a human liver.
Blah, who said his own cousin was killed and cannibalised in 1985 by forces loyal to former Liberian dictator Samuel Doe, told judges Monday that he had “never heard such an order from Taylor” but he could not vouch for every second of Taylor’s time.
Taylor has pleaded not guilty to murder, rape, torture and enlisting child soldiers during Sierra Leone’s 10-year civil war, which ended in 2002. He is accused of pulling the rebels’ strings from his headquarters in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia.
Blah, 61, was speaking Monday under cross examination by Taylor’s lawyer, Courtenay Griffiths.
In testimony last week, he told the court he saw one of Taylor’s fighters in Liberia roasting and eating a man’s hands.
Blah acknowledged Monday that he had received thousands of dollars from the court and immunity from prosecution by investigators who questioned him about Taylor’s rule.
He said the money was to help him cover medical, travel and security costs. He has told the court he has a heart condition and that his family has received death threats as a result of his decision to testify against Taylor.
Despite the financial support and immunity, Blah had to be subpoenaed to testify.
Taylor’s trial is being held in a courtroom rented from the International Criminal Court in The Hague because of fears prosecuting him in Sierra Leone could spark new violence.
Blah was Liberia’s vice president in Taylor’s regime and is the highest ranking official to take the stand at Taylor’s trial. – BBC Online.