Charles Taylor executed Liberian politicians whom he perceived as threats to his political ambitions, killed rebels who failed to carry out his orders, and persecuted human rights activists who opposed his policies, prosecutors alleged today at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor denied the allegations.
Lead prosecution counsel, Brenda Hollis, today questioned Mr. Taylor about the execution of several Liberian politicians including Jackson Doe, Gabriel Kpolleh, Moses Duopoe and Samuel Dokie. These men, Ms. Hollis alleged, were executed on the orders of Mr. Taylor. Mr. Taylor dismissed these allegations as stories made up by Tom Woweiyu, another rebel leader with broke ranks with the former Liberian president but later joined Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Party (NPP) Government.
“After we broke up, after Tom Woweiyu formed a rebel group and attacked the NPFL [National Patriotic Front of Liberia] and broke away in 1994, “ Mr. Taylor said. “Tom Woweiyu made a lot of wild allegations that later he apologized for, I forgave him, and brought him into my government.”
“I am aware of the nonsense he wrote. He later apologized and I brought him into my government . He became senator from the NPP,” Mr. Taylor said.
After denying allegations that he executed Gabriel Kpolleh, whom he allegedly saw as threat to his power, Mr. Taylor also referred to allegations that he killed Jackson Doe as another story by Mr. Woweiyu.
“Mr. Taylor, you were also responsible for the killing of Jackson F. Doe, weren’t you?” Ms. Hollis asked Mr. Taylor.
“That is not correct. That’s Tom Woweiyu again. That is not correct. Jackson Doe was a very well respected man,” Mr. Taylor responded.
Mr. Jackson Doe, a former Liberian politician is reported to have won democratic elections against then Liberian president, Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe. The elections, reports indicate, were rigged against Mr. Jackson Doe. Mr. Taylor’s NPFL has previously stated that one of the reasons for its fighting in Liberia was to reverse the election victory that was stolen by Sergeant Samuel K. Doe at Mr. Jackson Doe’s expense. According to other reports, Mr. Taylor later killed Mr. Jackson Doe in order to eliminate any threat to his power. Mr. Taylor has denied these allegations.
Mr. Taylor was also questioned about the death of Mr. Samuel Dokie, another politician who was reportedly executed with his family. Ms. Hollis asked Mr. Taylor whether any action was taken against those who committed those murders.
“Was Benjamin Yeaten ever arrested for the killing of the Dokies?” Ms. Hollis asked Mr. Taylor.
“No, Benjamin Yeaten was not arrested,” Mr. Taylor said. “Those that were involved I think were arrested.”
“Benjamin Yeaten – I said that he had asked for Dokie to be arrested and brought to Monrovia, according to reports, but those that went to carry out the orders went beyond the orders and I think that those were the people that were sought,” Mr. Taylor said.
Mr. Taylor also denied allegations that he had ordered the execution of some of his rebel commanders, including Oliver Varnie and Sam Larto. These commanders, Ms. Hollis alleged, were executed because they had failed to carry out Mr. Taylor’s orders. Mr. Taylor denied the accusation, saying that they were executed because they had been involved in subversive operations.
Mr. Taylor explained that Mr. Varney was executed “because he was part of a group that planned to overthrow the leadership of the NPFL.”
On the execution of Mr. Larto, Mr. Taylor explained that he was executed because he had been involved in the killing of civilians. Ms. Hollis suggested that Mr. Larto was killed because Mr. Taylor was concerned that he had connived against him. Mr. Taylor responded that while it was true that Mr. Larto had connived against him, the main reason for his execution was because he was involved in the killing of those civilians. He added that Mr. Larto was tried and convicted before he was executed.
As in the past several days, Ms. Hollis again today accused Mr. Taylor of persecuting human rights advocates who were critical of his government.
One person who is said to have gone into hiding, allegedly to escape arrest by Mr. Taylor’s government, was one Mr. Adebayo. Mr. Adebayo, Ms. Hollis said, “went into hiding after the Liberian Watch for Human Rights issued a statement describing the ATU [Anti Terrorist Unit] as unconstitutional.” The group, Ms. Hollis said, had called for the disbandment of the ATU. Mr. Taylor responded that he had no idea of such an incident and that he did not even know Mr. Adebayo.
“I have no recollection of anybody calling on me called Adebayo—that’s not even a Liberian name — to dissolve the ATU. I don’t have any recollection of that,” Mr. Taylor said.
Mr. Taylor insisted that he had no idea that the Liberian police had gone after Mr. Adebayo after the Director of the Liberian Police, Paul Mulba, had said that Mr. Adebayo will be “apprehended to answer.”
Mr. Taylor also said he did not recall knowing a James Torh, a human rights activist who had been forced to go into hiding because his organization, The Focus, had become critical of Mr. Taylor’s government. The former president further denied knowledge of the arrest of another human rights activist, Aloysious Toe, who had criticized the actions of Mr. Taylor’s son, Chuckie Taylor. Mr. Taylor Jr., who was head of his father’s ATU, has been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment in a United States court for crimes of torture committed in Liberia. Mr. Toe later went into hiding, Ms. Hollis told the court today.
Prosecutors have been questioning Mr. Taylor about his actions as head of the NPFL and as president of Liberia. While those actions are not the subject of the charges against Mr. Taylor, prosecutors seek to establish that the former president’s actions in his own country were reflective of the actions of Sierra Leonean rebels, who Mr. Taylor is accused of supporting.
Mr. Taylor’s cross-examination continues tomorrow.