Press Releases

Witness: Moses Blah Participated In Sam Bockarie's Killing

Montserrado County, Liberia
31 January, 2009
Categorized as pertaining to: Hearings

Monrovia, February 1, 2009: Former Vice President Moses Blah took part in the murder of RUF commander Sam Bockarie, a witness told commissioners of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Mohammed Sheriff, a senior commander of the defunct Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU) of exiled President Charles Taylor said Blah conspired and participated in the killing of Bockarie in the town of Tiaplay in Nimba County.

Sheriff said the late Sierra Leonean rebel commander was murdered upon the orders of then President Taylor who was informed that Bockarie was conspiring against him.

He said an order was passed to General Benjamin Yeaten to recall Bockarie who was fighting alongside dissident forces fighting the Government of La Cote D' Ivoire.

"Bockarie and his men came across the border into Liberia based on the order and when he reached the Town of Tiaplay, Yeaten invited him to have meal with him and Moses Blah, the former vice president," he explained.

Mr. Sheriff was testifying recently at the ongoing public hearings of the TRC at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia.

"After an order came to Ivory Coast by the President Charles Taylor through General Yeaten, everybody was surprised at the order to retreat. We all were taken to Tiaplay in a town called Bloh together with Sam Bockarie and his families. An order was given for us to be tied and Sam Bockarie was called upon to go and eat together with the Vice President Moses Blah, Gen. Yeaten and Joe Tuah."

After eating, Sheriff explained, Yeaten told Bockarie to escort them to an unknown destination somewhere in the forest, where he was swept down by group of Yeaten and Blah bodyguards and beaten to death. He said the Sierra Leonean rebel commander was later shot to prove that he was killed in an exchange of gunfire.

He said following the death of Bockarie, Yeaten ordered his (Bockarie's) senior bodyguard, Gen. Salami "to sex his wife" to death. He said Yeaten's bodyguards then killed the RUF commander's mother and children.

"He was beaten to death and fired; Gen. Salami sexed his wife (Mama Hawa) to death; killed his mother (Mama Fatu) and his son, Corporal."

Sheriff said they were then released and Bockarie's body was transported to Monrovia "in order to create a camouflage that he was ambushed."

"They then left men down to Tiaplay to execute men loyal to the late Gen. Sam Bockarie. They were even over 700 men that were killed on that day," he said.

He explained also that in Monrovia, wounded fighters loyal to Bockarie who were hospitalized were loaded into three trucks and executed somewhere along the Bomi Highway to conceal evidence after the agitated for remuneration to return to Sierra Leone.

Sheriff said the government also hunted and eliminated other Sierra Leonean fighters that were residing in other parts of Monrovia as part of its campaign to "destroy evidence."

During his appearance before the TRC last year, Mr. Blah said that he only knew about Bockarie's death when Gen. Yeaten stopped over in his town while enroute to Monrovia and showed him his corpse.

Blah: "Yeaten was passing through the town one day when he came and told me they had just come from an operation. Yeaten told me chief we just came from an operation so come and see. When I looked in the pickup I saw the body of Bockarie lying down in a pool of blood."

Liberia is recovering from years of conflict that was characterized by horrific human rights violations, including arbitrary killings, use of child combatants, rape and sexual violence, separation of families, and looting and destruction of properties. Out of a population of 3 million, an estimated 300,000 Liberians were killed, with as many as 1.5 million displaced.

Under the theme: "Understanding the Conflict Through its Principal Events and Actors," the ongoing hearings are addressing 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.

Signed: _______________________
Mambu James Kpargoi
Media & Information Officer

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