Taylor Trial: Gruesome Accounts of Mutilation Continue

Tales of human skulls, entrails at checkpoints dominated day of testimony.


April 8, 2008— -- Tales of human skulls and entrails posted at checkpoints dominated another gruesome testimony against former president of Liberia Charles Taylor.

Taylor's militia carved the letters "RUF," the militia's initials, into civilians' chests and burned them alive or amputated their limbs, according to the testimony of Isaac Mongor, a former militia brigadier, whose last day on the witness stand was yesterday.

Mongor testified the militia posted human heads on sticks and used human intestines as ropes at checkpoints, and said that Taylor drove through these checkpoints and knew about these atrocities.

The defense's cross-examination highlighted inconsistent accounts from the witness and challenged that Mongor was lying.

At one point, Judge Julia Sebutinde expressed frustration with Mongor, saying, "Every time he's asked a question we get a slightly different answer."

Taylor, who served as Liberia's president from 1997 to 2003, is charged by the Special Court for Sierra Leone with 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone during the country's roughly 10-year conflict that officially ended in 2002.

The case is being tried at The Hague instead of in Sierra Leone to reduce chances of sparking unrest in the West African state or in neighboring Liberia.

Taylor, the first former African head of state to appear before an international war crimes tribunal, has denied all of the 11 charges against him.

Last month a former militia commander testified that Taylor ordered his militias to eat the flesh of captured enemies and U.N. soldiers. "[We] throw your head away, your intestines, we take it and put it in a pot and cook it and eat it," explained Joseph "Zigzag" Marzah, who claimed to be one of Taylor's inner circle and ate the organs of enemies together with Taylor.

Taylor's lead counsel, Courtenay Griffiths Q.C., told ABC News that Marzah's testimony lacked credibility. "Marzah repeatedly left the room to send and receive text messages on his mobile phone during the testimony," said Griffiths.

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