A prosecution lawyer in the trial of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor has referred to the RUF as a “terrorist army”. Speaking in court at The Hague on Monday at the trial of Mr Taylor Nicholas Koumjiam said the RUF was created “exactly in the image of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia which Mr Taylor headed.
It comes as lawyers representing the former Liberian President Charles Taylor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone have lost a key motion.
The lawyers wanted to block new evidence of atrocities committed in Sierra Leone allegedly by the RUF and the AFRC rebels and blamed on Mr Taylor.
Defence lawyer, Morris Anyah‘s objection to admitting new evidence of atrocities in Koinadugu District as contained in the testimony of the 23rd Prosecution witness Alimamy Bobson Sesay, was overruled Monday.
According to Sesay, RUF fighters and their AFRC allies burned down a village in the northern district and burned alive a Sierra Leonean government soldier captured in battle.
“According to what I saw, [the captured soldier] screamed to death” after he had been hung head down and a hood over his head set on fire and left to burn to death.
Taylor’s lawyer, Anyah argued the new revelations were not part of the initial charges against his client and should not be admitted in the middle of the trial.
He continued: “With respect to crimes against humanity… to say that this evidence is relevant to notice, placing our client on notice vis-a-vis the widespread or systematic nature of the attacks in Sierra Leone is misplaced. They have charged Kono District, they have charged Koinadugu District, they have charged the entire area around Freetown. All we are proposing is that any allegations of atrocities, as far as notice is concerned, be limited to those areas. The amount of atrocities and evidence they have adduced so far is large enough to place anybody on the face of the earth on notice. Why do they need to now go to Koinadugu District?”
Responding to this, Prosecution lawyer Nicholas Koumjiam argues that these atrocities were related to allegations against Taylor and it was up to the Judges to use their discretion to admit in evidence.
Koumjiam went on that “All of these crimes are relevant to that fundamental element to all of these charges… Furthermore, because of the accused’s position it’s very important, it’s a critical element in our case, to prove that the accused had notice of the atrocities that were going on and it is…It is our case that in fact the evidence shows that the atrocities that were going on in Sierra Leone were so widespread during the time of the indictment and also, critically for our case, prior to the indictment period, that throughout the indictment period the accused, Charles Taylor, was aware of atrocities occurring by the RUF.”
The defence lawyer added that “…the RUF, which later allied itself with the AFRC, was a terrorist army created by Charles Taylor, controlled by Charles Taylor, created exactly in the image of his forces in Liberia which committed a pattern of terrorists acts and that all of this is relevant to the fundamental element of the intent of the accused, his notice of the crimes and his, in fact, intent that atrocities and terror be carried out in Sierra Leone.” The Court agreed with the Prosecution lawyer and presiding Judge Theresa Doherty said though the atrocities were not initially included in the indictment against Taylor, they were pertinent to the trial.