LIBERIA: Second Defense Witness In ‘Mercenary’ Trial Takes Stand

The second defense witness in the ongoing ‘mercenary’ trial, Ophoree Diah, on Monday denied going to Ivory Coast to fight as alleged by the Liberian Government. He also denied ever going to the Ivory Coast.

Diah claimed that the Government ‘concocted lies’ against him about his alleged  involvement in the Ivorian conflict, but admitted fighting for the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO) during the civil conflict.

He said due to constraints and threats t his life, he fled the country on September 18, 1999 to reside in neighboring Guinea.

He said because he was being pursued by agents of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) in Guinea, he returned to Liberia in 2001and joined the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), where he served as Deputy Chief of Staff up to the end of the civil war in 2003.

“Not knowing about any call for my arrest for involvement in the ambush of seven United Nations peace keepers, coupled with the fighting in neighboring Ivory Coast, I alerted the police after my house was set ablaze by an unknown man on which occasion I was arrested by officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP),” Diah told the court.

According to the Liberia News Agency, Diah said he later obtained a clearance from the Liberia National Police stating that he was not involved in the Ivorian conflict.

According to him, the clearance protected him from any citizen who perceived him to have been involved in mercenary acts in Ivory Coast.

Five of the 18 alleged mercenaries were on Monday, May 12, 2014 set free by Criminal Court “D” following the failure of the prosecution to provide clues of their involvement in the alleged mercenary scheme.

The defense team will continue the presentation of their case on Tuesday, May 20 at the court in Monrovia.

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