Press Releases

Saah Gborlie Denies Allegations Of Atrocities...Urges TRC To Interview Charles Taylor & Others

Montserrado County, Liberia
19 November, 2008
Categorized as pertaining to: Hearings

The man who served as deputy director of police in the regime of President Charles Taylor has denied ever committing atrocities during Liberia's years of civil conflict.

Saah Gborlie, now a member of the House of Representatives told commissioners of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to direct inquiries into alleged atrocities committed by the defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), the group he served as a combatant and the government of Mr. Taylor to the detained former President who is presently facing trial on war crimes charges in The Hague.

"The best person to be questioned if you had to invoke the doctrine of greatest responsibility and that of the appropriate authority of government is the head of the group or government at that time. The TRC has a lot of resources to visit The Hague and discuss with Mr. Taylor."

"Never in my life would I have ever ordered the execution of people which is against the Geneva Convention. I have never done that and will never do that. I never did that. At that time I was looking after my family," Representative Gborlie responded to commissioners' inquiries of alleged atrocities he committed.

Mr. Gborlie was testifying Thursday at the ongoing public hearings of the TRC at Monrovia's historic Centennial Memorial Pavilion.

He denied ever serving as frontline commander of the defunct rebel movement but admitted fighting as a combatant. "I was never a frontline commander and did not participate in anything like committing atrocities."

But Mr. Gborlie quoting provisions of the act of legislature that created the TRC demanded that he wanted to face his accusers in front of the commission, saying that he hopes that he will have the opportunity to face his accusers so that justice can prevail.

Referring to himself as "a mere gun totter," Gborlie urged the TRC to invite top NPFL officials including the front's former defense spokesman Tom Woewiyu to obtain substantive accounts of the faction's formation and activities.

During his testimony, the lawmaker denied participation in a range of alleged atrocities including the execution of 17 prisoners of war in Lofa County, the Phebe Massacre and the 2000 raid of officers of the Special Operations Division (SOD) on the campus of the University of Liberia.

He again said he could not respond to alleged atrocities that might have been committed by the SOD because he was not the highest authority in the police at that time. Mr. Gborlie told the commission to refer such inquiries to those who were in charge of the force.

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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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.