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President Taylor Ordered My Execution...Moses Blah Explains Ordeal

A teary former president Moses Blah told commissioners of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission how former President Charles Taylor ordered his execution following his (Taylor) indictment by the United Nations backed Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Blah said following the unsealing of Taylor's indictment in the Ghanaian Capitol, Accra, he received a call from the chief of mission of the United States Embassy expressing security concerns that band of the then Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU) could go on the rampage.

Mr. Blah said following the return of President Taylor from Ghana he was summoned to his Congo Town "White Flower" residence before the full cabinet where Taylor accused him of plotting to overthrow his government assuring him of dire consequences.

"You wanted to overthrow my government right? Your carry this man. You pa your own finished tonight," Blah, who was then vice president quoted Taylor as saying.

He was testifying Monday at the ongoing TRC Contemporary History of Conflict Thematic and Institutional Inquiry Public Hearing at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia.

Mr. Blah said following the interaction with Taylor, he was whisked off to the residence of Mr. Joe Tuah where he was detained, surrounded by 50 Sierra Leonean fighters.

Weeping profusely, Blah explained how the fighters psychologically tortured him during his detention by squeezing him in a room. He said while in detention, he heard the fighters saying, "we will carry the vice president home tonight on Robertsfield Highway."
"I have to slow down because it brings tears to my eyes. Some of these stories can always bring tears to me because they are very pitiful," a weeping Blah said.

He said his imprisonment was a scheme by the president because he did not want to fulfill an earlier promise to give him US$1 million dollars as a compromise to resign and engage in business to allow then House Speaker Nyundueh Monokomna to ascend to the position of vice president.

"Taylor promised to give me 1 million dollars to let Nyundueh become vice president, so that when he leaves Nyundueh can take over. But I think he decided to put me in jail because he did not want to gave me the money," Blah, a Special Forces commando of Taylor's defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) said.
On June 4, 2003, the Special Court for Sierra Leone issued an arrest warrant against Charles Taylor. When the warrant was issued, Mr. Taylor was traveling to Ghana for talks with Liberian rebel groups to end a four-year civil war that has destabilized West Africa.
The indictment against Mr. Taylor had been issued on March 7, 2003, but was kept sealed until the Special Court Prosecutor saw in Mr. Taylor's trip an opportunity to apprehend him. The warrant was served on the authorities of Ghana, and transmitted to Interpol.
At the opening of the peace conference in Accra, in the presence of numerous African leaders, Mr. Taylor announced that he would step down by the end of his mandate in January 2004. Just after being applauded, he left the conference abruptly and boarded a Ghanaian plane to fly back to Liberia. Ghanaian authorities did not apprehend him.
Mr. Blah explained how a bodyguard of Mr. Taylor told him while in detention ghastly stories of circumstances surrounding the arrest and murder of former deputy ministers of National Security and Public Works, John Yormie and Isaac Vaye.

Mr. Blah said he was told stories of how Yormie was brought before Mr. Taylor for interrogation and when he emerged from there he was thrown in waiting pickup with his eyes and body very bloody. He said the bodyguard, who is his cousin also confided in him that Mr. Vaye was also killed because according to Taylor's men, the engineer "could not see the devil and go free."

A one time ambassador to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Mr. Blah said he was told by President Taylor during interrogation that Yormie was arrested because he and others were transporting arms across the frontier with the Ivory Coast to topple his government.

Quoting rumors, he said Yormie and Vaye were taken to Nimba County where they were killed. He dispelled reports that both men were arrested for the same crime he was accused of.

Mr. Blah confirmed reports that the NPFL conscripted under aged children as combatants into its ranks.

Under the theme: "Understanding the Conflict Through its Principal Events and Actors," the ongoing hearings will address 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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