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 ECOMOG force commander General Arnold Quinoo.
Testifying at the ongoing Public Hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia Wednesday, officer Jeff Neewray said he was among the 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 captured in the presence of General Arnold Quinoo.
Witness Jeff Neewray
While en route to the Freeport of Monrovia, where President Doe had apparently gone to go into exile in Nigeria, Neewray said their convoy was stopped and searched at the main entrance of the Freeport of Monrovia by ECOMOG soldiers who disarmed them saying that weapons were not allowed to enter the port.
Neewray, whosaid he was driving one of the vehicles in the president's convoy, explained that behind his car was an American van 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 there was an unusual air of silence, at which time he sensed something conspiratorial. "In 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 General Prince Johnson arrived, immediately held President Doe by the back of his shirt and took him away forcibly 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.
TRC commissioners listen to witnesses
Following that, Neewray said there was heavy and sporadic discharge of gunfire, killing several of his colleagues. He believed the arms used by Johnson's men were the ones seized by the peacekeepers.
He said he survived by dropping among the dead and pretending too to be dead. He said he used his pistol to kill two of the INPFL fighters 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 port by ECOMOG.
Also testifying Wednesday, Dortohy Mulbah said fighters of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) entered her town, Zoweeta, Bong County in October 1994, and massacred scores of innocent civilians.
Witness Dorothy Mulbah
She said the fighters were led by General Gonda and wore red cloths on their faces. She said those killed included her aunt, Goma Kollie, uncle, Nah Kollie, father, Cooper Mulbah, mother, Gomayee, and her friend, Rebecca, who died after she was raped by 17 of the fighters.
Another witness, Armstrong Nagbe, claimed he and others were arrested in 1990 when they went to the port in search of food near the Freeport of Monrovia by INPFL fighters.
Nagbe said he was about to be executed behind a house, when an ECOMOG soldier arrived on the scene and saved his life.
"I was shot several times by the INPFL rebels, but the bullets could not penetrate my body before I was saved by the peacekeeper," Nagbe said.
He claimed that he was also arrested in 1990 in Larkpazee, taken to the house of General Siafa Norman on the Old Road and detained in a bathroom where several people were killed during the April 6, 1996 Monrovia fighting.
Nagbe, 40, said at General Siafa Norman's house they were regularly flogged, saying, "I was just lucky to escape one day." However, he did not know what became of those left behind in captivity.
The first female youth appearing before the TRC, Sando Vincent, recounted how her mother and others were executed by government militia forces on the Mahair River Bridge on the highway to Tubmanburg in July 2000.
The hearings in the Centennial Pavilion
She said when government forces retook the town from the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) in July 2000, scores of people were arrested on the grounds that they were sympathizers of the rebels.
Vincent, 17, said the massacre was led by Generals Benjamin Yeaten and Zizah Mazah. She said that when LURD retreated to Lofa County, government troops asked every civilian to assemble at the parking station in Tubmanburg claiming that they would bring them to Monrovia for safety.
With streamed of tears flowing from her eyes, Vincent said that at the parking garage, a vehicle arrived and began to haul people under the pretext of taken them to Monrovia, but the civilians, among whom were her mother and younger brother, were taken to be summarily executed at Mahair River. She said the bodies of those killed were thrown into the river.