Press Releases

Seven Witnesses Testify Amidst Growing Youth Interest

TRC Hearings Day Seven

January 17, 2008

MONROVIA (TRC)?The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Public Hearings continued Thursday with seven witnesses testifying amidst growing youth interest.

At the Centennial Memorial Pavilion, dozens of secondary and university school students thronged to listen to accounts of horrible atrocities, committed by various factions in Liberia's decade and half civil war.

Mr. James Kabah, an elderly man who survived the July 20, 2002 Mahel River Bridge massacre on the Tubmanburg highway, revealed that government troops under the command of General Roland Duo carried out the killings of over 350 civilians, including babies.

Kabah, 73, said Tubmanburg was under the control of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), but following its capture by government troops, the LURD went to various communities, asking everybody to assemble in front of a house where their names were recorded by General Karnga.

Kabah recalled that after the exercise, they were given farina and sugar before being taken away. He added that 10 persons per trip boarded a white pick-up under the guise of heading to Monrovia. He was among the occupants for the fourth trip to the Mahel River Bridge.

Kabbah disclosed that when they arrived there, they discovered dead bodies lying around the bridge that were ordered dumped into the river by General Roland Duo.

Another witness, Philip Zoedua, said that the massacre of 570 people in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County was carried out by the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO) faction of Alhaji Kromah, which accused victims of being National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) sympathizers.

Zoedua, 32, said he and others were in Kanka about eight miles from Sinje when the incursion stated, but they later moved to the ECOMOG base in Tubmanburg. However, gripped by fear when the peacekeepers decided to pull out, he said they returned to Sinje.

Zoedua, whose uncle, Varney Zudua, his wife and other relatives were among those who were executed, said the summary killings were carried out by Generals Sando Jackson, alias "Battle Front Jackson," Zizah Mazah and Wright of the ULIMO-K faction. Zoedua said that during the killings, Sinje was densely populated with refugees who came from surrounding villages and towns.

Mannah Massaley, whose father was among the first group of people executed at the Mahel River Bridge under the command of General Roland Duo, corroborated James Kabah's testimony.

Massaley said on July 19, 2002 after government troops captured Tubmanburg from the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebels who had apparently run out of ammunitions, they asked everybody to assemble in front of a house on top of the hill.

He said they were locked up in a house and told to keep quiet on grounds that they were moving them to Monrovia for safety not knowing their intention to execute them for being alleged LURD sympathizers.

Massaley, whose mother was allegedly among those executed in a village near Tubmanburg under the command of General Duo, said his younger brother Joseph Massaley was present but was later taken away by Duo to live with him. He said that in 2005 their uncle came across Joseph in Monrovia and took him back to Tubmanburg.

The witness claimed he was almost executed under the Mahel River Bridge by General Duo's troops but was saved by General Vanmuyah Sheriff, who was en route to Tubmanburg to deploy troops.

The fourth witness, name withheld, accused soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) of carrying out mass killings in Nimba County in 1985, after an abortive coup plot by the late General Thomas Quiwonkpa. The witness said the killings took place when the soldiers, most of them of the Krahn ethnic group under the command of General Charles Julu, then chief of the LAMCO Plant Protection Force, were in search of the late General Quinwonkpa.

The witness said he saw soldiers on board AFL army trucks set houses on fire in Zorgbowee, the hometown of the late Gen. Quiwonkpah. The witness said there are two mass graves presently in the heart of Zorgbowee Town where victims of the massacre are buried.

Although he did not witness killings in the aftermath of the 1983 Nimba raid, the witness claimed that people, including his brother, were tortured and beaten by the soldiers.

He added that in 1990, when the NPFL attacked Nimba, claiming it had come to redeem the people, several persons, mainly youth, were encouraged by the elders to join the rebels ranks.

Another witness, Gbassey Kamara said that in 1991 his town was attacked by group of men, who referred to themselves as "Freedom Fighters," demanded two residents of the Mandingo tribe and executed them.

Kamara, 34, said that following the killings, the group went to Gold Camp, a town dominated by ethnic Krahns, and massacred the residents. He said the NPFL men who carried out the killings were under the command of a General named "Kpelle Boy."

Kamara further explained that in 1994, when the ULIMO rebel faction split into two, the defunct ULIMO-K faction headed by Alhaji Kromah took control and committed numerous atrocities, accusing the residents of being NPFL sympathizers.

The sixth witness, Saa Jimmy, said that when ULIMO-K captured Foya, Lofa County, they carried out looting and summary executions. The people, he said were used as slave laborers to carry heavy loads, including vehicle engines, on their heads to the Liberian/Guinean border at Solomba.

Jimmy, who claimed he is now impotent from torture, said his father was killed in his presence when he complained of being extremely weary while carrying heavy bundles of the rebel's loots to the border. Jimmy said his grandfather, grandmother, step-father and other relatives were in a house when it was set ablaze by the rebels, thus burning the family alive.

Thursday's last witness, Collins Chelley, a former employee of the National Bureau of Investigation said that in July 2002 he was accused by NBI Director Ramsey Moore of secretly taking detained journalist Hassan Bility to the American Embassy in Mamba Point for photographs. A charged he denied.

He said that as a result of the allegation, he was arrested and detained at an underground cell at the Executive Mansion where he was tortured by investigators Robert Beer and Peter Teah for 75 days. Chelley said he was later transferred to the MP headquarters at the Barclay Training Center (BTC). He claimed he worked eight years for the NBI assigned in the Internal Security Division (ISD).

Cclic This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This had been the official website of the Liberian TRC. The Commission ended operation
in 2010. This website is maintained by the Georgia Institute of Technology.