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Former Liberia militia commander testifies at Taylor war crimes trial

[JURIST] A former militia commander testified Wednesday before the Special Court for Sierra Leone [official website] at the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], describing scare tactics used by Taylor to intimidate the population and frighten his enemies. Joseph Marzah said that Taylor had ordered him to kill civilians and told him that the way to instill fear into enemies was to "play with human blood." Marzah also testified that he had been involved in an abortive assassination attempt ordered by Taylor on then-Liberian President Samuel Doe [profile]. AP has more. The Mail and Guardian has additional coverage.

Taylor is generally deemed responsible for masterminding and funding intertwined civil wars in Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone through the sale of so-called "blood diamonds." He has been charged [indictment, PDF; summary] by the SCSL with 11 counts of crimes against humanity, violations of the Geneva Conventions, and other violations of international humanitarian law. The specific counts include murder, rape, and the use of child soldiers. His trial, moved to The Hague for security reasons, resumed [JURIST report] in January after a multiple-month delay to allow Taylor's defense team more time to prepare.

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