The Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Harrison S. Karnwea, Sr., last Friday challenged anyone to produce evidence that his name is being listed on the war crimes list for Liberia.
The FDA boss, in a strongly worded statement, said “I did not participate in any bloodletting activities or fight any war as claimed by a local newspaper in its front page story on Thursday, March 5, 2015, insinuating that they obtained the list from “classified” documents, but failed to contact the accused prior to the publication.
“I am not a murderer and therefore I challenge anybody who is making such allegation to put his or her evidence together to prove me guilty before a competent court of jurisdiction.”
The newspaper, in its
Thursday, March 5th edition, under the caption; “Culture of Impunity Unlikely,” quoted sources as saying that a team documenting war crimes is in Liberia in search of vital information of a “war crimes” list, named Harrison S. Karnwea, Sr., as one of those on the list.
But, addressing a press conference last Friday, Karnwea said, “I’m throwing the challenge back at the group that is reportedly documenting evidence against me to hurry up and present it to the appropriate people that will expedite the establishment of the war crimes court, so as to establish who the evil doers are before it is too late.”
He continued, “In the absence of a war crimes court to receive the report, examine and charge me, I consider the tactics of [this newspaper[ as a smear campaign to drag my hard earned reputation in the mud.”
He added, “I welcome any and all war crimes inquiry or court for Liberia to investigate and bring to justice people who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
“I have always thought that such an enquiry will deter would-be trouble makers,” he added.
Asked whether he had any plan against the newspaper, Karnwea in a friendly tone responded that for obvious reasons, “I would not go beyond this press conference. But, the publisher did not give me the opportunity to address the allegations against me before the publication; I think this is completely contrary to good journalism.”
According to Mr. Karnwea, Liberians should stop denigrating everybody, noting, “If you can’t find anything productive to write about, you are not forced to tarnish the reputation of anybody, especially good people in the society.”
As to whether the report was troubling, he said, “It is troubling because of the position I am occupying and if such news coming from Liberia portraying me as an evil doer then that should be troubling to anyone. But my records are clean. I never fought any war.”
According to him, the story was given to the paper by people he thought wanted “to besmear my hard earned reputation.”
“I think somebody somewhere is seeing me as an obstacle and wants to besmear my character, or I may be doing well to the extent that somebody is worried about me,” he averred.
Explaining about his whereabouts during the country’s 14-year civil crisis, the former Minister of Internal Affairs recounted, “I lived in only two places during the entire length of the civil crisis and it will be very easy to compile evidence of whatever role I played during the war.”
Naming the areas where he resided, he said, “I went to Maryland to work for the defunct Agriculture and Cooperative Development Bank (ACDB) in late 1989 when the war broke out. It met me there.”
“I remained there jumping from one point to the other (until) I returned to my home in Nimba County. Most of the people who were in Pleebo, Maryland County are still there and are my living witnesses as to whatever I may have done during the war,” he added.
After leaving Maryland, he said, “I returned to Nimba County and worked at Cocopa Rubber Plantation up to 2003, as a general manager, until I became Superintendent of the county. I left office as Superintendent on April 14, 2006 and returned to Maryland on April 18, to manage the Cavalla Rubber Planation.”
“Later,” he recounted, “I returned to Nimba to manage Cocopa in 2008, where I was until the President nominated me to serve as Minister of Internal Affairs in April 2010.
“My confirmation hearing was held in the joint Chambers of the National Legislature, where I received overwhelming endorsement.”
The former Nimba County Superintendent has therefore called on the management of the newspaper in question to learn always to contact anyone accused through their “classified documents” before going to press, or else they will be practicing “yellow journalism.”