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More Victims Testify At TRC Public Hearings

TRC Hearings Day Ten

January 23, 2008

MONROVIA (TRC)?The nationwide public hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia entered its 10th day in Monrovia on Wednesday, with more witnesses testifying to their horrible experiences during the country's civil conflict.

Richelieu Bowen taking the stand said on October 12th, 1990, he was arrested at the Careysburg gate on allegations of being on a reconnaissance mission for the defunct Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL).

Bowen, 61, said a rocket was fired at a house on the University of Liberia Fendell Campus, where he and others took refuge. His nephew, Bono Gibson, was killed, and particles of the rocket entered Bowen's body while he was in the bathroom. This, according to the witness, made him handicapped.

Bowen, a professional electrical engineer said though he did not know which group was responsible for the launching of the rocket, the leader of the IMPFL, General Prince Y. Johnson, visited Bowen at Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town and gave him L$35. From this gesture, he deduced that Prince Y. Johnson's forces were responsible for the launching of the rocket.

The second witness, Tarnue Johnson, said that when the civil war started, he and his nephew were on their farm, but to their surprise, while fetching water early in the morning, they were stopped by ULIMO, taken back to the town and jailed. Narrating his ordeal, Johnson said the next day, his right hand and two ears were cutoff with a dull cutlass by the ULIMO fighters.

Old man Tarnue, 68, said the following day on November 10, 1993 an ULIMO commander only identified as Sekou, ordered the amputation of his right hand and the cutting off of his two ears because of his tribal background as a Lorma. He was told by the fighters to go to Guinea and tell the Lorma people displaced in Guinea that Lofa County is now owned by the Mandingos.

However, he disclosed that he is prepared to forgive commander Seoku because both of them are from the same town.

The third witness to appear for the day, Oretha Williams, said prior to the civil war, she and her mother were residing in West Point. But as the war raged and Monrovia became ungovernable, they decied to leave for Kakata.

Williams, 24, now an orphan, said that while en route to Kakata, her mother and other people were executed after they were arrested at the onset of the 1990 civil war.

Oretha Williams, who could not remember the perpetrators, only described them to be wearing jeans, trousers and red T-shirts, described a horrific scene where men's penises were also cut off after they were asked to undress.

Another witness, Samuel Vonleh, testifying before the Commissioners and audience, said his father was killed in front of him by fighters of the defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) in Tappita on September 27, 1995, Vonleh affirmed that the perpetrators are still alive.

Vonleh, 29, said his father was executed upon the orders of General John Kpalleh, a then-Strike Force Commander of the Front. He disclosed that his father was shot twice in the stomach while they were sitting in the kitchen.

Explaining his ordeal before the TRC hearings, James Kerkula, the fifth witness, recounted how his brother-in-law, Bangalee Fofana, and his son were executed at a checkpoint in Careyburg, lower Montserrado County while heading to Kakata on September 27, 1990. He stated that upon arrival at the checkpoint, they saw several executed bodies laying in a pool of blood in the valley.

Kerkula said Fofana and one of his sons were killed by rebels of the defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), having identified them as Mandingos from among the exodus of people trekking to Kakata, Margibi County for refuge.

Kerkula, 47, said Fofana's wife, Louis Sengbe, is a relative of his who was arrested, raped for three days by the NPFL rebels and is now handicapped. He believes that General Isaac Musa was aware of what happened at the time.

The next witness, Prince Boakai Perry, explained how he and his brother were arrested and taken into the rubber bush in Gba, Grand Cape Mount County. There his brother was executed by government forces under the (NPFL/militia) command of Zizah Mazah in 2003.

Perry, 25, said that during the conflict he and his brother used to trade between Grand Cape Mount and Monrovia, but unfortunately for them, while on a business trip one day, they were arrested at a checkpoint in Gba and taken behind a house, where they were beaten before being taken to Zizah Mazah, who was in the rubber bush. It was at this point that "my brother was shot with a silver pistol by Mazah." Perry said he escaped through the assistance of one of the fighters, and he was able to see Maza killing his brother while peeping through a hole in the kitchen, where he was being kept by his rescuer.

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