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Doe Said Tolbert Had Dug Our Graves...Chea Cheapoo

People's Redemption Council (PRC) junta leader Samuel K. Doe informed imprisoned members of the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) on April 12, 1980 that the government of President William R. Tolbert dug graves to bury them, former chief justice Chea Cheapoo said.

Counselor Cheapoo said Master Sergeant Doe told him, Oscar Quiah, George Boley and veteran politician Gabriel Baccus Matthews shortly following their release from the Post Stockade that he and other soldiers had dug graves for the politicians at the Camp Schiefflin Military Barracks on the Monrovia-Robertsfield Highway.

He said the coup leader told them that the government was planning to prosecute them and an obvious guilty verdict would have been rendered leading to their eventual execution.

Master Sergeant Doe, Cllr. Cheapoo explained, informed them that it was due to the Tolbert's administration decision to execute them that the April 12, 1980 military coup was staged.

"Doe informed us that they were not happy with the government's decision to execute us so they staged the coup to release us," he said.

Cheapoo was testifying Tuesday at the ongoing TRC Thematic and Institutional Public Inquiry Hearings at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion on Ashmun Street in Monrovia.
He dispelled rumors that the imprisoned PAL members had complicity in the planning and execution of the coup.

"We did not know anything about the planning of the coup. We only knew about a coup when the soldiers came to the Post Stockade to release us. We did not connive with the army. We could not connive with the same people that flogged us during our days in prison. We feared and hated them," Cheapoo who was released from detention to become the junta's first Minister of Justice said.

Under the theme: "Understanding the Conflict Through its Principal Events and Actors," the ongoing hearings will address the root causes of the conflict, including its military and political dimensions.

The hearings are focused on events between 1979 and 2003 and the national and external actors that helped to shape those events.

The TRC was agreed upon in the August 2003 peace agreement and created by the TRC Act of 2005.

The TRC was established to "promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation," and at the same time make it possible to hold perpetrators accountable for gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law that occurred in Liberia between January 1979 and October 2003.

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