Let Justice Prevail In The Spirit of TRC Not Amnesty

By: Josephus M. Gray – Paris, France/ Email: graymoses@yahoo.com/

grayAn inscription in a gigantic letters on the wall of the Temple of Justice on the Capitol Hill reads: Let Justice Be Done to All. This in print doesn’t need further interpretation either explanation, it simply means all human beings within the terrain limit of the Republic are equal under the Law.  But is this the reality of present day Liberia? Does everyone  in the country received or treated equally  and fairly under our law? Or is justice only for certain group of persons? To a greater extend, the answer largely unquestionably as dozen of perpetrators of human rights violations and other humane crimes remains unpunished despite of the recommendations of the once Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Let take a movement of silence to pay homage to  the victims of these gruesome crimes rest in peace.

          While this country craves for genuine justice, which serves as the solid foundation for reliable and dependable peace; it is incumbent upon the men and women of the National Legislature to capture the reflection of how justice has fully sustained peace in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Kenya and other parts of the world and so shall it be in Liberia, not allowing sympathy to ruin the avenue of genuine justice; justice for the many murdered in cold blood. Other countries have done it, why not in Liberia? Let Justice Prevail In The Spirit of TRC Not Impunity.

Liberian Courts are unable, even if willing, to render credible justice that protects the due process rights of both the accused and victims  given the level of corruption that engulfed the judicial system and the collapse of some legal institutions. Liberia owes a duty under both international humanitarian and human rights law to investigate and prosecute the heinous crimes, including torture, rape and extra-judicial killings of innocent civilians, committed in the country by the ex-warring parties in the course of 14 years of brutal conflict.

  Assuming that Liberia owes a duty to punish the grave crimes committed on its territory, this article then evaluates the options for prosecution, starting with the possible use of Liberian Courts with  the full backing of the United Nations and the International Community while the article also documents humane atrocities and exposes the perpetrators of these gross violations.

The various ex- armed factions targeted civilians and were responsible for massacres and systematic human rights abuses, and none of which was fighting for any recognizable cause or ideology.Tens of thousands of innocent Liberians have been brutally murdered in cold blood by armed factions that fought to have state power by force. The war was also characterized by the extensive use of child soldiers, boys younger than fifteen years old who were easy prey for all the factions.

In the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), our leaders need to display the confidence reposed in them by the people through their votes to bring to book all those responsible for the depopulation of the nation over the 14 years civil war to answer to the role they played in the long disturbing bloodbath. Justice is indeed precious and beneficial, but where it is being delayed, obviously what is implied is then that the latter is also being denied;  the issue of TRC’s recommendations must be addressed once and for all.

Despite the screaming, wailing and psychological scheming on the parts of those who mirrored the pathetic mass displacement, massive destructions of lives and properties including mayhem, carnage and callous tortures; there is no positive sign that these perpetrators responsible for the depopulation of the nation over the 14 years civil war will be brought to book under the law to answer to the role they played in the long troubling carnage.

Early this year, Members of the Liberian Senate could not arrive at a decision on whether the body should deliberate or not on recommendations contained in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report.  The spilt among the senators  followed the submission of a Progress Report by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on the more than 200 recommendations of the TRC.

 April 12, 1980 – Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe, with only a few years of schooling to his name, staged a bloody coup d’etat, murdering civilian president William R. Tolbert on grounds of rampant corruption and mismanagement. April 22, 1980 – Army officers publicly stripped and drilled or executed 13 government officials by firing squad at a beach side military barrack in the capital, Monrovia.

Most of those executed were from the educated elite; however, the then Ministers of Finance and Information, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Dr. Edwin McClaim, through the mercy of the Most High survived, with Madam Johnson-Sirleaf fleeing the country and Dr. McClaim followed later.. While former President Samuel Doe on September 9, 1990  the was captured and tortured to death than rebel leader Prince Johnson’s disbanded INPFL  rebel fighters.

The Liberian civil war can be roughly divided into two main epochs. The first ran from 1989 to 1990 and saw fighting largely between the AFL under former President Samuel Doe on the one hand, and rebel militia under the leadership of the NPFL and its various splinter and opposition groups.   The second period was from 2000 to 2003 during which Charles Taylor, having ‘won’ disputed elections in 1997, converted his former rebel force into a ragtag army, and fought for control of territory and the survival of his government against the newly formed LURD and MODEL rebel factions.

          During both periods, all parties to the conflict adopted a deliberate policy  of  targeting unarmed civilians who were killed, raped, tortured and sexually violated on a routine bases. Liberia’s warring factions seriously violated international human rights and humanitarian law and that those responsible ought to be held accountable for their actions.

Liberian Courts are unable, even if willing, to render credible justice that protects the due process rights of both the accused and victims  given the level of corruption that engulfed the judicial system and the collapse of legal institutions and the paucity of financial, human and material resources in post -conflict Liberia.  According to Human Rights Watch, both the former governments of Liberia and Liberian rebel forces are responsible for violations of international humanitarian law amounting to war crimes and other serious human rights abuses.

The Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) troops and rebel groups such as the defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) and its splinter groups including the disbanded Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), erstwhile United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO), Liberia Peace Council (LPC) and Lofa Defense Force (LDF) deliberately targeted civilians and committed large-scale torture, extra-judicial killings, rape, looting and destruction of civilian property without military necessity or justification, conscription of civilians especially children, and other gross human rights violations.

This cycle of violence and intimidation of civilians continued after Charles Taylor, leader of the obsolete NPFL, was elected president in 1997 following disputed multi-party elections. Indeed a fresh wave of fighting broke out with the advent in 2000 of a group calling itself Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) which vowed to oust Taylor from power by force of arms. LURD later gave birth to another splinter group – the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) in 2003.

 The former President (Charles Ghankay Taylor) was found guilty in Leidschendam on April 26, 2012 by the Special Court for Sierra Leone which unanimously ruled that he was guilty of all 11 counts of “aiding and abetting” war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is currently serving a serving a 50-year sentence after his appeal was rejected, with the court ruling that his guilt had been proved beyond doubt.

The son of the former President was sentenced in January 2009, to 97 years in prison in a landmark torture case stemming out of a U.S. investigation into arms trafficking in Liberia. ”Chuckie” was convicted in October of leading a campaign of torture against people opposed to his father’s rule. Although he wasn’t charged with killing any of them, his indictment alleged that he killed at least one of the seven victims.

 George Boley, about 67, the former leader of the Liberian Peace Council (LPC) who committed human rights abuses during the civil war in the 1990s, was deported to Liberia from the United States of America (USa0 in March 2012, capping an effort by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to investigate the case and win the former warlord’s removal from the United States.

 Following the deportation of George Boley,  a US judge said evidence shows that the ex-Liberian Peace Council leader had been involved in killings and recruited children was grounds for his removal. But Mr. Boley, who was in custody prior to his deportation  denies the accusations. Around a quarter of a million people died during Liberia’s 1989-2003 conflict.

Another ex-warlord,  Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu was arrested in America  and detained, but was later granted bail. He was accused by the US court of lying on a 2006 application for U.S. citizenship while Martina Johnson, the NPFL Frontline Commander was picked up in Belgium for her alleged role in wartime atrocities.    A former commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), a rebel group that fought against Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front for Liberia (NPFL) in Liberia’s first civil war was arrested November 2014 for his alleged implication in war crimes committed between 1993 and 1995 in Lofa County, Liberia.

The TRC recommendations, among others call for some 21 people being investigated and prosecuted for economic crimes along with 19 corporations, institutions, and state actors.  Another 52 people were recommended for public sanction and being barred from holding public office for thirty years (30) while 54 other individuals and entities were recommended for war crimes prosecution. An additional 36 people were identified as perpetrators, but the TRC recommended that they should not be prosecuted because they “cooperated with the TRC process, admitted to the crimes committed and spoke truthfully before the Commission and expressed remorse for their prior actions during the war,” the reported noted.

Despite the TRC recommendations, Liberia has appeared reluctant to implement the findings or at least tackle the next phase of the process in which the legal system was expected to conduct its own investigations into the actions of those people listed by the TRC’s report.

According to TRC Act, the president must report to the Legislature on the implementation of the TRC’s recommendations three months after the delivery of the report, and thereafter every three months.  If the TRC’s recommendations are not being followed, the president must show cause to the Legislature why this is not the case. Highlights of the 14 Year-Ugly Past

The Lutheran Church Massacre

The massacre in the Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church in Sinkor, Monrovia, during the early days of the Liberian-Civil War is also one of the most brutal massacres. This was the largest Lutheran congregation in the country with three services held every Sunday. During July and early August, over 900 people sought shelter here. On Sunday, July 29, 1990, at about 7 PM, over 200 soldiers from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), headed by an infamous Liberian named Charles Julu, invaded the church, murdered 600 innocent Liberian civilians — mostly Gios and Manos, including many women with children –, and wounded 150 others.

A survivor recounted what had happened: “The soldiers shot the door open, and took all the food they could see inside, and they killed the woman who had the key to the [church’s] warehouse, after raping her. Guards stood at the gate and we stayed inside. Nobody could leave, and then it got dark, and the soldiers came back the same night… There were around 200 [AFL] soldiers who came in. And they began cutting a boy with a knife, and they cut and cut everybody with their knives and machetes.”

Five Catholic Nuns

A TRC report further revealed that in October 1992 during the infamous “Operation Octopus” launched by NPFL,  five Catholic Nuns were slain in in Gardnersville,Montserrado County by ex-rebel fighters Christopher Varmo and Edward Wowah while during the April 6 Factional fighting in Monrovia, over 700 persons got killed.

Other Massacres in Monrovia

According to TRC report, in 1990: George Dweh eliminated the Johnny Nah family in Monrovia. On August 2, 1990: GeorgeDweh led a group of AFL soldiers to the JFK hospital and massacred 250 persons, most of whom were Gios and Manos ethnic groups. Zmajority of them were seeking refuge at the hospital compound while others were arrested at the gate that was placed on the boulevard at the hospital entrance.

Samuel Saye Dokie and Family

Some of the highlights of the 14 year-ugly past includes the murder in Gbarnga, Bong County, on November 28, 1997 of an opposition politician and former Deputy Speaker of the TLA, Samuel Saye Dokie, who, along with his wife Janet, his sister Serena and nephew Emmanuel Voker were arrested at a security checkpoint in Gbarnga while en route to Sanniquellie, Nimba County to attend a wedding.  Benjamin Yeaten who is still at large despite allegedly named as committing scores of killings during the civil war. It was alleged that the ex-SSS Director, Benjamin Yeaten ordered their arrest. Following their arrest, Mr. Dokie was brought to Monrovia for investigation and subsequently taken back to Gbarnga.

According to information gathered from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) public hearings years ago, among other things revealed that three days later, after the opposition politician went missing, the charred bodies of the Dokies were discovered. The Taylor’s regime said it never ordered the arrest of Mr. Dokie.  However, SSS Director, Benjamin Yeaten, admitted ordering Mr. Dokie’s arrest, but denied ordering his killings. Mr. Yeaten was temporarily relieved of his post to assist in the investigation, but due to what the then Taylor’s government described as lack of evidence resulted to Mr. Yeaten’s reinstatement.

The Death of Jackson F. Doe

Murder in Zorgowee Town, Nimba County on October 20, 1991: Paul Vaye, Henry Kerdiah, George Mansuo and George Karsuo arrested Jackson F. Doe in Buchanan,Grand Bassa County, on the orders of Charles Taylor and murdered him in the Nimba Town of Zorgowee.

Massacre at Carter Camp

      On June 6, 1993 NPFL rebel fighters under the cover of darkness reportedly slaughtered close to 600 residents of the Carter camp in Margibi County. The victims include men, women and children in cold blood while the victims were said to be buried on the outskirts of the camp where the fearful and painful incident took place. However, an international commission named and styled Wako Commission blamed the AFL and Black for the massacres.

Also on December 26, 1992: Joseph Zackor, alias “Gen. Zack”, Nixon Gaye, Francis Duanna and men assigned with them reportedly massacred 35 persons at the Firestone Plantations, division No. 31 while escaping the ULIMO incursion in Kakata. Information indicates a summary execution at the Horton’s Farm in Kakata, Margibi County in October 1992, with Martina Johnson, former NPFL artillery commander ordering the execution of 23 persons arrested in Bong Mines as suspected fighters of disbanded ULIMO.

 The Cow Field Massacre in Cow Field

Other reports gathered from the hearings in Bong County in April 2008 show that about 48 civilians were allegedly massacred by Paul Vaye, Sam Lartee and other soldiers of the NPFL, while the victims were asleep at their home. An NPFL former combatant who also testified said NPFL was responsible for the massacre of 48 civilians. Witness M. Allen Nicholas, who is known within the ranks of the Taylor’s forces as “Arab Devil,” said the NPFL’s fighters that carried out the massacre were led by the late Nixon Gaye. This is an apparent vindication of the Armed Forces of Liberia that was loyal to President Samuel Doe. Allen Nicholas, the “Arab Devil”, also blamed the Duport Road Massacre on the NPFL but denied that he participated.

In October 1996, other gruesome killings took place in Seyon Town, Bushrod Island with three ex-combatants who, having lured the market women from the Freeport of Monrovia where they had gone to buy rice and bulgur wheat slaughtered the two women; Doris Dekeh and Louis (surname not known). The perpetrators, after murdering the victims, sprinkled kerosene on their remains, covered them with tires and set them ablaze.

On June 28, 1998, Nowai Flomo, a market woman, disappeared from her residence in Kpelle Town, near ELWA Junction in the Paynesville district, outside Monrovia. She was allegedly abducted from her house at about 11:00am by nine officers of the SSS, led by one David Daniel, who had gone to visit Ms. Gormie Jartu, a housemate of Ms. Flomo.   The SSS officers allegedly murdered her after an exchange of words over the manner in which the security personnel drove into the yard. Her corpse is yet to be found. The police later released all those arrested in connection with the disappearance for what the police termed “lack of evidence”.

1998 Camp Johnson Road Massacre

According to the resident in the Camp Johnson Road Area, on September 18, 1998, State Security forces attacked Gen. Roosevelt Johnson, a former warring faction leader, on Camp Johnson Road. The government within 24 hours gave three different reasons for the invasion, which eyewitness accounts say, claimed the lives of over 100 persons. But the Taylor’s brutal regime at that time put the casualty figures at 53.  The government first said that its security forces went to evict illegal occupants in private houses when they came under attack. Massacre in the Episcopal Church, Camp Johnson Road, Monrovia, on September 19, 1998 reported by National Human Rights Commission’s Report published October 13, 1998.

Schiefflin Highway

Also, on Schiefflin Highway on September 19, 1998, one Mark Guahn murdered reportedly 13 persons of the Khran ethnic group. They were reportedly arrested in Monrovia on charges of being supporters of Gen. Roosevelt Johnson. Murder at ELWA junction, Paynesville on September 28, 1999 Eyewitness accounts: Henrique Cassell, Deputy Commissioner of Immigration and brother-in-law of President Taylor allegedly shot and killed Papa George, a taxi driver, at the Gulf Filling station at the ELWA junction in Paynesville.

   Summary Execution in Bong

According to another witness, on May 11, 1993, Saar Gbollie allegedly executed 17 persons in Bong County while serving as deputy MP Commander for the disbanded NPFL Executive Mansion Presidential Guard Force. The victims were arrested in Lofa on suspicion of being ULIMO fighters.

Another report obtained from the TRC hearings shows that in February 1994, Siafa Normah again ordered the execution of 15 men in Kpakolokuya Town, Bong County during his tenure as army chief of staff of the dissolved NPFL. While a report from Bong County also revealed that in May 1994, Andrew Koah, Alosius Sackie, Gaye Getteh, Saturday Tuah, J.J. Doeh, and Marcus Seebo tied 19 men in a Tarpolin and had them hung over a pile of fire until they died.

The perpetrators were said to have acted on the orders of Cassius Jacobs, a former infamous rebel general. It was also reported at the TRC hearings that in September 1994, LPC fighters massacred about 300 persons when they fled the fighting between ULIMO – K and NPFL in Gbarnga while in the same month, LPC allegedly massacred over 100 persons at Phebe Hospital. In October 1994, a former NPFL fighter, Saturday Tuah ordered one Junior Vaye to dump the wife and children of James Glasco in the St. John River in Beilah during the fall of Gbarnga to ULIMO.

Massacre in Lofa County.

          Besides, collaborating reports from TRC revealed that on January 2, 1993 18 persons were executed in Voinjama by NPFL fighters while the blood of the victims was drained into a white bucket for ritual purposes. In 1993, six Senegalese ECOMOG soldiers were murdered by Oliver Varnie, Timothy Mulbah and Joe Doe in Vahun, Lofa County on the alleged order of Charles Taylor. Also, in Zorzor, Lofa County, Apolo Jayswen, a former front line commander for disbanded ULIMO reportedly murdered 69 POWs of NPFL in Lofa in 1994. In January, 2000, another massacre was carried out in Bawon Town, Zorzor District, Lofa County by armed militiamen who massacred 18 persons of the Mandingo ethnic group. Massacre in Zorzor,Lofa County in May 1991: Mangouhb Menior of the NPFL murdered 16 persons of the Mandingo and Gbandi ethnic groups in Zorzor. The victims were accused of being enemies of the revolution launched by Charles Taylor. Menlor was temporarily detained by Isaac Musa and later released on parole.

Massacre in Nimba County

 In August 1993, a notorious NPFL general, Matthew Cheplay, commander of “Wild Geese” and his men reportedly executed 21 persons in Ganta while en route to Sinoe and wanted to loot fuel from a trader. This incident claimed the lives of William Gensee, the wife, and three children of Samuel Luogon. A group of NPFL soldiers led by Dominic Sayeh and Bleh Vah in November 1994, Nimba County, killed 176 persons at the Send at Crossing Point in Nimba County.

 The victims were of the Bassa ethnic group while in Ganta, November 11, 1994, General Liberty killed 21 unarmed boys in Ganta during the fall of Gbarnga.  He accused them of being disguised ULIMO fighters. While another massacre in Tappita, Nimba County on September 27, 1995 reveals that former general Jack the Rebel of the disbanded NPFL acting upon the alleged order of Charles G. Taylor killed 105 persons in Tappita. According to reports, these people were killed because they refused to give up their only sawmill in their town.

Some other massacres in Nimba

Massacre in Yarsonnoh, Nimba County in Feb. 1990: A group of AFL soldiers led by Capt. James Celly, Hon. Donzo, Commissioner residing in Ganta, killed 71 persons in Yarsonnoh and burned 52 houses in that town. Massacre in Ganta,Nimba County in Feb. 1990: A group of AFL soldiers headed by Edwin Voker, Commissioner of Sacleapea Mah, Vakaba Bility and Mr. Biabia entered Karnwee,Nimba County and arrested 18 young men under the guise of being NPFL facilitators. The victims were taken to Ganta and murdered. Massacre inNimba County in March 1990: Paul Vaye, George Mansuo, Tarkpor Gweh and men assigned with them arrested Moses Duopue, Stephen Daniels and some of their family members and killed them in Tiaplay,Nimba County. They allegedly acted on the orders of the then Maj. Charles Taylor.

Massacre in Margibi

Summary Execution at Horton’s Farm, Kakata,Margibi County in October 1992: Martina Johnson, NPFL artillery commander ordered the execution of 23 person arrested in Bong Mines as suspected fighters of ULIMO. Massacre in firestone, Margibi county on December 26, 1992: Joseph Zackor, alias “Gen. Zack”, Nixon Gayor, Francis Duanna and men assigned with them massacred 35 persons at the Firestone Plantations, division No. 31 while escaping the ULIMO incursion in Kakata. Massacre in Kakata –Bong Mines Highway in 1991: An NPFL fighter code named “Mike Tyson” placed 73 person in a house and burned them to death in a place called “compound” on the Kakata – Bong Mines Highway. The victims arrested as suspected ULIMO fighters.

Massacre in River Gee

          Several other witnesses told TRC hearing in Fish Town, River Gee County that in 2003 militiamen loyal to former President Charles Taylor rounded up 369 inhabitants of Glaro and witnesses appearing before the TRC at ongoing Public Hearings in Fish Town City, River Gee County, said were ordered by former NPFL Southeastern Commander General William Sumo; the TRC hearing also accused former Superintendent of Maryland County, Senator Dan Morrais.

 Massacre in Grand Bassa

The TRC hearing in Buchanan also speaks of killings and brutality against civilians by NPFL and MODEL fighters. According to the reports, on August 19, 1993 former NPFL General, Coo-coo Dennis reportedly ordered the execution of 26 persons in LAC, Grand Bassa County after the victims were accused of being supporters of  LPC while in October 1994, Chinese Japper, another NPFL’s Commander under Coco Dennis, allegedly murdered 186 persons in Grand  Bassa.

 Massacre in Sinoe County

Also in 1993, Mr. David Swen was quoted by The National Newspaper in its December 19, 1996 edition, Vol. #62 that more than 100 humans’ skeletons were discovered at the Francis J. Grant Hospital in Greenville, Sinoe County. According to Mr. David Swen, the acting hospital administrator at the hospital, the skeletons were of people taken captive by LPC in 1993. They were discovered when the hospital staff went in to access their facilities after ECOMOG was deployed in 1996.

Massacre in Rivercess County

On January 15, 1994 reported by the Daily News Newspaper Vol. 3 # 24: The NPFL fighters killed 232 persons after they were accused of being supporters of the LPC. The fighters were said to have entered the town at about 3:00am and began slaughtering the occupants of the houses marked by the LPC.

Mass Murders  in Maryland

Maryland was no exception; the stories were the same just like happenings in other parts of the country. LPC fighters on April 5, 1995 slaughtered Mr. Abraham K. Gray, a Kru Governor of Maryland and 21 others of the Kru ethnic group. The Prior to his death in the hands of rebel fighters of the disbanded LPC, Mr. Gray received respect from the residents and citizens of the county owing to his leadership style. Another witness told the hearings that LPC fighters slaughtered her mother by cutting the victim’s throat halfway until her death. He is the father of Josephus Moses Gray. The LPC according to reports, also killed over 150 persons, both in Harper District and Pleebo District, including other towns and Villages alone the Harper-Pleebo Highway.

     During TRC hearings in the county in March 2008, a former employee of the Port of Harper alleged that NPFL Special Forces Commanders led by former President Moses Blah ordered him shot after they broke into containers at the port and looted several vehicles in 1990. Maximillian N. Jah, Sr., now an amputee and former employee of the port’s warehouse department said in tears. Jah told the hearings that fighters of the Liberia Peace Council (LPC) wantonly killed civilians and subjected nearly a dozen elderly men and women to slave labor. Viola P. Jones, one of the elderly captives, said the LPC, following its capture of Harper City rounded up more than 10 elderly men and women and forced them to pound rice, fetch water and cut firewood daily.  Viola, a resident of Harper explained that they were also forced to bury dead bodies following summary executions.

 Murder in Grand Kru County

The inhabitants of several towns and villages in Grand Kru County Tuesday told TRC that the ghastly account of atrocities committed by various factions in the county during the civil war. During the hearings, the witnesses said fighters of the NPFL, MODEL and LPC, three former warring factions which occupied the county at various intervals, committed atrocities ranging from summary executions, forced labor and torture.  Samuel Kloteh Wesseh, 35, said fighters of the NPFL led by one General Samuel Mehn summarily executed dozens of ethnic Khrans in Glaro Town, Grand Gedeh County now River Gee County after they urged them to return to their towns and villages.

The 1996 Sinje Massacre in Cape Mount

Massacre in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County on March 28, 1996, about 150 civilians were killed and many were injured while about 1000 civilians escaped the bloodbath. But other reports put the number at 25 to 48 while more killings in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County took place in September 1996. Unidentified fighters reportedly killed nine prominent citizens of Robertsport, report says the fighters claimed that their victims gave money to another armed group to attack their positions.

The Death of President Doe

A conspiracy theory has been linked to the captured and subsequent killing of the late President Samuel Kanyon Doe on September 9, 1990 at the Freeport of Monrovia. During TRC hearings in Grand Gedeh, a soldier of the then elite Special Anti Terrorist Unit (SATU) says the late President Samuel Kanyon Doe was captured by INPFL leader Prince Johnson in the presence of the then ECOMOG Force Commander General Arnold Quinoo. Testifying at the ongoing Public Hearings, Officer Jeff Neewray said he was among military and security officers who escorted President Doe to the Freeport of Monrovia on September 9, 1990, where he was captured and subsequently killed by the INPFL. He said President Doe was arrested before the eye of General Arnold Quinoo.

          He told the hearings that while en route to the Freeport of Monrovia where President Doe had apparently gone to go into exile in Nigeria, their convoy was stopped and searched at a checkpoint in Vai Town manned by ECOMOG soldiers who disarmed them saying that weapons were not allowed to enter the Port, Neewray testified.  Neewray who said he was driving one of the vehicles in the president’s convoy said behind his car was an American vehicle and then the presidential motorcade of Doe. He explained that immediately upon arrival in the Freeport of Monrovia, General Harrison Pennue followed.

He said when they entered the Freeport of Monrovia there was an unusual air of silence at which time he sensed something conspiratorial. “At the port after we entered you could even hear the sound of a pin if you dropped it,” he continued.  At the Freeport, he explained, the president handed a list containing names to General Quinoo who complained that it contained huge numbers of people that could not be evacuated. It was while in conversation with General Quinoo on the stairs about the number of people to travel that, Prince Johnson arrived and immediately held President Doe by the back of his shirt and took him away by force in the presence of the General who turned his back and walked from the scene into his office. I believed this was orchestrated, Neewray told the hearings.

Following that, Neewray said there was a heavy and a sporadic discharge of gunfire mowing down to death several of his colleagues saying he believed that the arms used by Johnson’s men were the once seized from them by the peacekeepers. He said he survived when he dropped among the dead and pretended  to be dead too. He said he used his pistol to kill two of the INPFL soldiers who were making sure that all of them were dead. Neewray said he was convinced that General Johnson was acknowledged about the presence of Doe at the Freeport of Monrovia by ECOMOG.

President Samuel Kanyon Doe was captured and killed on September 9, 1990 by the INPFL under the command of Prince Johnson, now a senator. Mr. Johnson has repeatedly insisted that Doe’s death caused by pains suffered after he was tortured, saying that the ex-president rammed his head against a wall while in captivity.

While the government is applauded for the reconciliation process in the country, the government should consider that there would be no true reconciliation to melt broken wounds and pains caused by the war if the perpetrators of these humane crimes and gross human rights violations are not brought to book and punish. Other countries have done it, why not in Liberia? Let Justice Prevail In The Spirit of TRC Not Impunity. To conclude, I will like to laud the media and other research whose publication and materials helped to document and exposed these unpunished atrocities while the victims continues to grave in their places of perpetual rest. Let Justice Be Done to All.

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About Cholo Brooks 16097 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.