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"I Am A Clean Man With No Blood Stains On My Hand"...Dreaded Former Rebel Commander Tells The TRC

Montserrado County, Liberia
10 December, 2008
Categorized as pertaining to: Hearings

A former dreaded commander of Charles Taylor's defunct NPFL and government Thursday denied allegations of atrocities and human rights violations against him.

Rebel General Marcus Hargrave was the latest war actor appearing before Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to join a chorus of denials of massive human rights violations by fighters of the former warring factions during the country's decade and a half civil conflict.

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.

But scores of key military and political actors appearing before the TRC have denied responsibilities of atrocities the latest Gen. Hargrave.

"When other people were doing destruction, that's the time I was making friends. As far as I am concern, I am a clean man. Thousands of people can attest that I am a clean man who has no blood stain on my hands," he said while responding to allegation by witnesses of the execution of 42 civilians on the Johnson Street Bridge in July 2003 for looting on orders of feared General Benjamin Yeaten.

The witness was also responding to allegation of executing about 68 amputees' government militiamen in 2003 at "Combat Camp" on the outskirt of Monrovia under the guise of taking them there for salary payments.

But the former bodyguard of Yeaten said: "I have done nothing. I want to see my accusers to stand in front of me right here to prove their allegations."

With the spate of denials from these key war actors, one question lingering on the minds of most Liberians is how could nearly 300,000 Liberians died in an arm conflict with no perpetrator to take responsibility for their deaths.

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.

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