The April 1, 1985 assassination attempt on then Head of State Samuel K. Doe by Lieutenant Colonel Moses M.D. Flazamington grew out of his involvement in economic crimes, a former senior security investigator said.
On April 1, 1985, Liberians were awakened by the shocking news of an assassination attempt on the life of Doe by Flazamington, then deputy commander of the Executive Mansion Guard Battalion (EMG). According to Doe, Flazamington opened fire on a jeep he and two security guards were riding in with a Caliber 50 machine gun, fatally wounding one of the guards.
Since the revelation of the plot and the execution of Flazamington several theories have emerged some with doubts about the truthfulness of the plot. But more than two decades after the incident, a witness appearing before Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has linked what became widely known as the "Flazamingtonic Act" to the commission of economic crimes.
Francois Junius, one of the investigators who grilled Lt. Col. Flazamington after he was arrested told commissioners of the TRC Saturday that the plot was planned and executed by the officer after President Doe ordered an investigation into a rice scandal he was involved in.
Mr. Junius, now an official of the General Auditing Commission (GAC) said Flazamington was responsible to receive rice supplies on behalf of the staff of the Executive Mansion who paid monthly for the supply. But he said payments made were not deposited at the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation and were converted to the personal use of Flazamington and the commander of the EMG, General Emmanuel Saye.
Mr. Junius said after a complaint was filed by the LPMC to PRC Chairman Doe, he angrily ordered that those involved in the scam be sent to the Belle Yallah maximum prison in Lofa County, an order that led to Flazamington's assassination plot.
"By 1985 or 1984, the PRC started a policy that the LPMC should supply rice to government employees and that government entities must ensure that the employees got the rice on credit. Moses Flazamington was responsible to receive rice on behalf of Executive Mansion staff. He received the rice regularly and they paid for it but payment made to Flazamington did not reached the LPMC and instead he and his boss General Emmanuel Saye, commander of the EMG purchased a 30 seat bus from the proceeds and the bus was commercialized."
He explained that after security forces commenced the enforcement of Doe's order, on the morning of April 1, 1995, while the PRC Chair was driving into the Executive Mansion, Flazamington opened fire on his jeep with a 50 caliber machine gun. He said following the first volley of gun shots, one of the bodyguards only named as Ross jumped out of the vehicle to flee, but the assassin fired on them using his 45 pistol wounding him in his spinal cord.
Doe, he said escaped the scene unhurt and later called Flazamington on a radio communication set informing him of his involvement in the plot.
He said during security investigation at the Ministry of National Defense headed by Minister Gray D. Allison, Flazamington admitted to planning and executing the assassination but implicated four politicians who he said paid him the sum of US$250,000 each. Mr. Junius named the politicians as Gabriel Baccus Matthews, Gabriel Kpolleh, Tuan Wreh and Jackson F. Doe.
But Mr. Junius said Flazamington later confessed during the course of the investigation that he lied on the politicians and that no one gave him money to execute the assassination plot.
"On April 4 Flazamington said I am ready to confess. I can see the angels coming for me and they are dressed in white. They say if I say the truth, the truth will set me free. One of the big security men said Flazamington shut up "as far as we are concern you are the late Flazamington." But Gray D. Allison responded "I am the head of this hearing and nobody has the right to tell Flazamington to shut up" and he asked him to go ahead with his confession."
At that point, Mr. Junius said, Flazamington requested that the government support his children and Allison replied "Consider it done."
He added that during Flazamington's confession he admitted that he lied on Baccus Matthews because of his belief that if one is in trouble and you confess his name the case will be prolonged.
He said Flazamington then requested the release of all politicians and officers arrested in connection with the plot, saying, "because I planned it alone, that's why I did not succeed."
Junius said Lt. Col. Flazamington admitted that the whole assassination plot grew out of the rice scandal and requested investigators to hold his boss Gen. Saye in connection with the plot although he did not planned it along with him.
Under the theme: "Economic Crimes, Corruption and the Conflict in Liberia: Policy Options for an Emerging Democracy and sustainable peace," the weeklong hearing addressed the contribution of economic crimes to the conflict including corruption and the illicit exploitation of natural resources.
The hearing also discussed the correlation between the extractive industry and the fueling of the conflict and appropriate policies aimed at reversing the unauthorized exploitation of the natural resources by individuals, groups and the government for purposes external to the national good.
Pursuant to the TRC Act of 2005, the commission is mandated to investigate gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law as well as abuses that occurred, including massacres, sexual violations, murder, extra-judicial killings and economic crimes, such as the exploitation of natural or public resources to perpetuate armed conflicts during the period January 1979 to October 14, 2003.
The commission is mandated to determine whether these were isolated incidents or part of a systematic pattern; establishing the antecedents, circumstances, factors and context of such violations and abuses; and determining those responsible for the commission of the violations and abuses and their motives as well as their impact on victims.