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Ex Police Officer Recounts November 12 Horrors...Wilfred Clarke Ordered Me Arrested Or Shot

Montserrado County, Liberia
17 April, 2009
Categorized as pertaining to: Hearings

An ex officer of the Liberia National Police told commissioners of Liberia's Truth Commission how former police director Wilfred Clarke ordered him arrested or killed after the November 12, 1985 failed coup of General Thomas Quiwonkpah.

A transcript of Retired Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Smith testimony recently revealed contrary claims to former Director Clarke's testimony that he was arrested by a group of police officers on the morning of the failed coup.

According to Smith, on the morning of the coup, Mr. Clarke voluntarily summoned him to his (Clarke's) residence to escort him to the Executive Mansion where he intended to meet General Quiwonkpah. He said that after Clarke boarded the police van they also picked up then Minister of National Security, Patrick Minikon before they all headed for the Executive Mansion.

"I remember when we were getting close before you get to the City Hall, maybe about four to five houses, something like that; and he said to me, all that I need now is to see Quiwonkpa face-to-face. Once I see Quiwonkpa face-to-face, everything will be fine with me Jimmy; and everything will be fine. So, I said okay, I have nothing against that. I had never met Quiwonkpa before and I knew nothing about Quiwonkpa. And the director continued to say that even the job that I got now, it was Quiwonkpa who, either arranged for me to get the job or made way for me to get the job. He said he got this director position because of Quiwonkpa," he explained.

But to their bewilderment, he continued, when the reached the Executive Mansion it was Samuel Doe that was in charge instead of General Quiwonkpah. Mr. Smith said that on the grounds of the Mansion was General Edward Smith, who informed Messrs Clarke and Minikon that Doe was still in charge.

"When we got there, who you could see standing out there? General Smith. General Smith was then the Executive Manson ground Battalion Commander. General Smith used to be of the Krahn tribe and he worked for the Doe Government. So, why would General Smith be standing out here, when it suppose to be Quiwonkpa's Government? So, something was happening and at that point the bus came to a final stop. I was the first to jump down. General Smith knew me, and he said to me Jimmy, what are you doing here? So I said to him, I brought the Director. He's in the bus. He came out of the bus and shook General Smith's hand and then Minikom followed. And we stood up there talking general issues about what was going on. And at one point he told Clarke, go through that second door there; I think he said to the fact, "the old man is in there," which we knew at the time was Doe."

He said when Clarke and Minikon went into the building to meet President Doe, he drove from the grounds of the Executive Mansion to the headquarters of the Liberia National Police before boarding a commercial vehicle for his home in 72nd, Paynesville.

"So when he said it to Clarke, Clarke turned around headed towards Doe, Minicom followed him; both went on, I did not enter. I stood right there with General Smith for a little while talking about what was happening and what I had seen out there, and so and so. So at that point I told General Smith well, I need to go to the Headquarters. So, we got back; before we got back on the bus, he said to me Jimmy, things are not all right yet, and I don't want you running up and down. So be careful. And in fact, let me send few soldiers with you. So he sent three soldiers with us, and the soldiers got on the bus and we drove from the Executive Manson through the Bassa community and headed towards the Police Headquarters."

But he explained that later that evening he heard orders from Mr. Clarke on the police radio that he should be shot on sight before he called another senior police officer to turn himself in.

Mr. Smith added that during his detention at the LNP cell he was informed by Mr. Clarke that President Doe had ordered that he be sent to the Executive Mansion. He said that he and other police officers including late deputy National Security Minister John Yormie were marched naked to the grounds of the Mansion where mass executions of those accused of involvement in the coup were taking place.

He said from the Executive Mansion they were later that night transferred to the Post Stockade military prison at the Barclay Training Center where the mass executions continued under the command of then PRC man Harrison Pennue and Alfred Glay.

Smith said at one point he and other prisoners were marched out of their cells and ordered to kneel down before a squad of executioners but their executions was halted by then acting commanding general Rudolph Kolako.

"They took us there, kneeled us down, not blind footed. I think it was about seven or nine soldiers; these soldiers appeared that you could see that they were killers. If you have seen a death squad, then you know what I'm talking about. And they had us kneel down, and the mouths of their guns were all pointing to us. And the execution was to start. What I remember at the time was, Pennue would say something, and then he would speak in his Krahn dialect. And he would speak in his dialect and he would swing the tail of a cow, eh elephant; eh, something like that, you know; I don't know what kind of ritual was that, and he will say, one and he will shake, shake, shake, and say two and shake, shake, shake talk, talk."

"I believe he counted to three that day. There was no spirit in any of us at that point. And this voice came, a very powerful voice, that said hold it! And that voice, we didn't know where the voice came from. But as the others fellows were there with me, none of us missed that voice. That voice was so powerful. HOLD IT! And what we realized later was that eh, the acting commander general, general Kolako. People had gone to his office and told him that killing that was going on in Post Stockade and he wanted to put stop to it. So, he was running coming. Apparently he knew my group was down there. We were in the third group that day they execute. And it took us a little while to come to our senses and hear what was going. But anyway, general Kolako arrived. He had group of solders behind him too with guns. When he got there, there was argument going on between him and Pennon."

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