Survivors of Liberia’s civil war massacre react to news of US trial

By Darlington Porkpa in Monrovia ~RFI~

Rufus Kartee, 52, in front an unfinished building in Paynesville, Libera where he lives, bearing the scars of Liberia’s Civil War. © RFI/Darlington Porkpa

Lawyers representing victims of one of the deadliest massacres in Liberia presented evidence to a judge in the United States this week for the prosecution of Colonel Moses Thomas, the former head of an elite unit within the Armed Forces of Liberia.

Thomas is accused of being responsible for the Lutheran Church massacres in 1990.

Lawyers from the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) for four of the victims are asking the court in the US state of Philadelphia to find Thomas liable for crimes against humanity. They also want the victims to be awarded damages.

In July 1990, the single worst atrocity of the Liberian Civil War occurred at the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and an estimated 600 people—mainly women and children—were shot and chopped to death by soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).

The civilians, predominantly from the Gios and Manos ethnic groups had gone to seek refuge in the church’s compound on 14th Street in the Sinkor neighborhood, Monrovia, as the war reached the capital.

Rufus Kartee, 52, was 21 and in the church compound sheltering from the violence in the capital when the massacre began. Recounting his ordeal to RFI, Kartee said he preferred to die instead of living in pain and agony for several years.

“On the night of July 29, we heard a scuffle at the gate of the church and later we saw soldiers wearing face masks forcibly entering,” said Kartee.

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