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14.05.2008 Africa

Taylor s number two man testifies

By BBC
Taylor s number two man testifies


The war crimes trial of the former Liberian President Charles Taylor is hearing evidence from the man who was once his deputy.

Moses Blah fought alongside Mr Taylor in the country s civil war and is being seen as a key witness at the long-running proceedings in the Hague.

Charles Taylor is on trial accused of backing rebels who committed atrocities in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Moses Blah joined Mr Taylor in 1989 to wage war against President Samuel Doe.

Mr Blah became Vice President of Liberia in 2000. He succeeded Charles Taylor as president after Mr Taylor was forced into exile in 2003.

However, he was only Liberian president for two months, until October 2003, when a United Nations-backed transitional government, headed by Gyude Bryant, was sworn in.

"I m not going to crucify him - he s my former boss," Moses Blah told the BBC s Focus on Africa programme before travelling to the Hague.

"I have nothing personal against President Taylor - we worked together almost like brothers; we had a revolution going together, so I don t think I m going to betray him," he added.

A lawyer representing Mr Taylor, Terry Munyard, told the BBC his client was not worried about Mr Blah s evidence and if he told the truth there was nothing to fear.

During Sierra Leone s decade-long civil war, which officially ended in 2002, tens of thousands of people died and thousands more were mutilated, raped and had limbs amputated.

Mr Taylor s case has been transferred from Sierra Leone to the Hague for security reasons, although it is still being conducted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Charles Taylor denies 11 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Source: BBC

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