Former Liberian President Charles Taylor, on Trial at the hague has testified on Thursday that Liberian senator Prince Johnson killed the country’s former president, Samuel K Doe, in 1990. Johnson, a former warlord turned politician, has publicly denied killing Doe, despite a well-publicised video of him drinking Budweiser beer as he ordered his men to cut off the former president’s ears. Taylor, another former warlord who led a revolution to oust Doe in 1989-90 and was elected president in 1997, is defending himself against 11 charges of supporting a campaign of terror by rebels in Sierra Leone’s 1991-2002 civil war.
He said Johnson caught Doe in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, around September 1990.
“Prince Johnson captures Doe alive and subsequently kills him,” Taylor told judges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Speaking to Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation last year, Johnson acknowledged his forces held Doe but said others, whom he did not identify, were responsible for his death.
Taylor described Johnson as a professional soldier and disciplinarian who sometimes “went a little overboard”.
Johnson and Taylor originally were allies in a rebel movement seeking to oust Doe’s corrupt military regime, but Taylor said Johnson set up his own splinter group of rebels and was being hunted by Taylor’s forces at the time of Doe’s death.
Earlier this month, Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended Taylor, Johnson and six other former warlords be prosecuted for crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the West African country’s civil war.
Back-to-back civil wars in Liberia lasted from 1989 to 2003, killed an estimated 250 000 and displaced millions.
Liberia’s post-war government setup the truth commission, modelled on the one in post-apartheid South Africa, inviting both victims and perpetrators to retell their version of events. But critics have said that the commission is toothless and argue that the country needs a war crimes court so that those most responsible for atrocities can face justice.
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