Accessibility links

Breaking News

Militia Commander Testifies at War Crimes Trial of Liberia's Taylor


A man who described himself as a death squad commander loyal to Liberia's former President Charles Taylor described grisly terror tactics during testimony Wednesday at Taylor's war crimes trial in the Hague.

Joseph Marzah, also known as "Zigzag" told the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone that Taylor encouraged his fighters to, in Marzah's words, "play with human blood." He said Taylor ordered rebels to kill men, women and babies.

Marzah said death squad fighters terrorized the local population by displaying body parts, including human heads, at roadblocks. He also said he smuggled weapons and diamonds for Taylor.

The former president is accused of orchestrating atrocities during the civil war in Sierra Leone, including rape, murder and the conscription of child soldiers. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The 59-year-old Taylor is the first former African head of state to appear before an international war crimes tribunal.

The trial was moved from Sierra Leone to The Hague to reduce the chances of sparking unrest in the west African state or in neighboring Liberia.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.