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Grand Kru Inhabitants Recount Stories of Atrocities

February 19, 2008

BARCLAYVILLE (TRC)?Inhabitants of several towns and villages in Grand Kru County Tuesday told commissioners of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission ghastly accounts of atrocities committed by various factions in the county during the civil war.

They testified as witnesses at Day Two of the ongoing TRC Public Hearings at the Barclayville Central High School, Barclayville City, and Grand Kru County.

During the hearings, witnesses said fighters of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) and the Liberia Peace Council (LPC), three former warring factions that occupied the county at various intervals, committed atrocities ranging from summary executions to forced labor and torture.

Samuel Kloteh Wesseh, 35, said fighters of the NPFL led by General Samuel Mehn summarily executed dozens of ethnic Krahns in Glaro Town, Grand Gedeh County, now River Gee County, after urging them to return to their towns and villages.

Wesseh, now a resident of Dubu Town, Trihn District, Grand Kru County said after the NPFL captured the town, the inhabitants fled into the bushes, but the fighters appealed to them to return, only to begin a campaign of summary executions.

Mr. Wesseh said he fled the area after the executions became prevalent, saying, "I was afraid because of the scale with which the fighters used to bring in the people and asked the town people to assemble to witness the executions."

He said fighters of MODEL also flogged him severely after they held him captive and urged him to join them. He said the MODEL fighters led by Cheayee Wollie conscripted several youth of the area and looted inhabitants' belongings.

Dembo Mono, another witness said a commander of the LPC only identified as "Last Order" summarily executed Mono's brother, Patrick Monu. He said fighters of the faction also held his six-months pregnant wife, Cecelia Segbeh, captive for three months, adding that, following her release from captivity his newborn child died of a complicated illness.

Momo claimed a fighter of the LPC, identified only as "John John," flogged him and other inhabitants mercilessly as the fighter compelled them to mine gold for him.

Joseph Wesseh Kieh of Sasstown said NPFL fighters led by General William B. Toe flogged his father to death when he refused their order to join other inhabitants to clean the town.

Kieh said his father was taken to the rebels' command post nearby where their commander Gen. Toe was based. Kief explained that his father was beaten and his lifeless body abandoned by the roadside.

He also said his house was destroyed by fighters of the LPC when they captured the town in July 1995.

The Kru Governor of Braclayville, Joseph J. Nimene, said fighters of the NPFL acting on the orders of Gen. Toe mercilessly flogged his son resulting into his death. He claimed the fighters also tied his wife and poured pepper water in her eye.

Mr. Nimene said during their occupation of the town, the fighters tied and held several inhabitants captives in exchanged for ransom. "When they entered our town they first requested our cattle. But when the cattle were all finished they started to torture and mistreat us," he said.

Also testifying, Jenkins B. Nah of Behwan, Trihn District said fighters of the LPC killed three inhabitants of the town when they were fleeing into the bush after the group captured the area. He named two of those killed as Moses Toe and Moses Jarbo.

Nah also said NPFL Gen. Toe ordered fighters under his command to tie and hold captives several civilians including women and the elderly after they protested for the removal of a checkpoint where the fighters were engaged in extortion, which was on the road to the market.

Lucy Nyema, 35, now a resident of Behwan town, said fighters of the NPFL shot and killed her brother Peter Nah in Zwedru in 1990, after they requested the city's inhabitants to return to their homes.

She also accused Gen. Toe of harassing and intimidating inhabitants of the town of Behwan where she later resided after leaving Zwedru.

One of Tuesday's witnesses, Alex Toe Sieh said NPFL Gen. Toe ordered the execution of Otis Weah, the bodyguard of Paul Doe, who was the popular head of the "Citizens Defense Force." He said Gen. Toe decided to attack and eliminate supporters of Paul Doe because he was becoming powerful among the area's inhabitants.

Sieh said he was also tied and held captive by the NPFL fighters upon the orders of Gen. Toe.

The TRC is an independent body set up to investigate the root causes of the Liberian crisis, document human rights violations, review the history of Liberia, and put all human rights abuses that occurred during the period from 1979 to 2003 on record. The TRC mandate is to also identify victims and perpetrators and make recommendations on amnesty, prosecution and reparation.

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