Former Liberian President Charles Taylor clashed with a war crimes trial attorney Tuesday just minutes after she began cross-examining him about his repeated denials of responsibility for atrocities by rebels during Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war.

Prosecutors at the Special Court for Sierra Leone finally got their chance Tuesday to question Taylor. He spent 13 weeks as a witness in his own defense, rejecting allegations that, from his presidential mansion in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, he armed, trained and commanded rebels who murdered and mutilated thousands of civilians during the 1992-2002 conflict.