Ellen, Weah, Others to Answer to War Crimes Charges in US Court

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Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Liberian Americans, identified as Rev. Mahn Coaley and Pastor Torli Harlan Krua have filed a lawsuit against former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and others in the District Court of Massachusetts in the United States on account of their alleged roles in the 1990 war that took more than 200,000 lives and displaced countless more.

Others named in the suit include President George Manneh Weah, former President Charles Taylor, Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu and Richard V. Spencer, secretary of the Navy, USA.

The Court’s summons, a copy of which is in the possession of the Daily Observer, has given the defendants 21 days as of March 26 this year to file a response and serve their motions on the plaintiffs or their attorney and failure to respond, the summons said, default judgment will be entered against the defendants for the relief demanded by the complainants.

Meanwhile, the former chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Cllr. Jerome Verdier, responding to a VOA Day Break Africa report on the case, welcomed the civil lawsuit against former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf specifically .

“I welcome the lawsuit against former President Sirleaf in the Federal District of Boston, Massachusetts for her alleged role as an international fundraiser for Charles Taylor’s former NPFL,” Cllr. Verdier said.

He told the VOA that the lawsuit against Madam Sirleaf is a reminder to African leaders to govern well so that when they leave power there will be no need for accountability.

About the TRC’s efforts to get Madam Sirleaf to testify, Verdier said, “It was difficult getting her to appear before the TRC but she eventually did. She had her time and day at the Commission but she lied to the Commission on the role she played in helping to foster the war,” he said.

Cllr. Jerome J. Verdier, former Chair, Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission

When queried as to whether he agreed with Sirleaf that her assistance to former President Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) was on humanitarian purposes, Verdier said “The former President believes that she did nothing wrong by sponsoring a war effort that killed over 200,000 Liberians.

“She thinks that is justifiable but, being involved in sponsoring a war that destroyed a country and polarized it at different lines, but we think differently.”

He added “Those are immoral acts and they are wrong, no matter what explanation she gives. Whether her intention for supporting the war was based on morality or vengeance, we know that over 200,000 people lost their lives, more than a million were displaced and a million more sought refuge in other countries.”

Cllr. Verdier said institutions have been destroyed but at the TRC Sirleaf ‘lied’ that she supported Mr. Taylor with US$10,000 and her support was for humanitarian purposes.

“We have evidence of greater support that she gave towards the war effort. During Charles Taylor’s testimony at the sponsored Special War Crimes Court for Sierra Leone, it came out that Madam Sirleaf was more than a fund giver.

“She was the principal fundraiser for the NPFL and this was long since affirmed by Sirleaf during her testimony at the US Congress on her support to the war in Liberia,” he said.

Cllr. Verdier noted it was discovered that Madam Sirleaf called on the U.S. Congress and the entire U.S. Government to give full support to Charles Taylor.

“Additionally, we have found out that she worked on the recruitment of child soldiers. She encouraged thousands of children to volunteer to fight alongside Taylor and, as it is, we believe that it is a war crime,” he said.

According to Verdier whether former President Sirleaf’s gesture was for good intention, she is liable for war crimes because she allegedly helped in the recruitment of child soldiers into the armed service and those children used the guns given them to destroy lives and properties.

“She is a war criminal. She lied to TRC by trying to minimize her role and participation in the war efforts. For this reason, we at the TRC found her liable the way we did,” Cllr. Verdier said.

He added that even though the TRC made some recommendations to which Madam Sirleaf should have adhered, “she failed to make any progress on the recommendations and so she now stands in the category of all other accused of war crimes.”

Continuing, he said, “On the reverse, African leaders should be conscious of their actions and mindful of the will of the people. Let them be mindful and govern well so that when they leave office there will not be issues of this kind against them.”

Neither the Liberian government nor a spokesperson of Sirleaf was immediately available for comment but President Sirleaf reportedly told a local radio station last week that she did nothing wrong during the Liberian civil war to be charged with war crimes.

Author

  • David S. Menjor is a Liberian journalist whose work, mainly in the print media has given so much meaning to the world of balanced and credible mass communication. David is married and interestingly he is also knowledgeable in the area of education since he has received some primary teacher training from the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI). David, after leaving Radio Five, a broadcast media outlet, in 2016, he took on the challenge to venture into the print media affairs with the Dailly Observer Newspaper. Since then he has created his own enviable space. He is a student at the University of Liberia.

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David S. Menjor is a Liberian journalist whose work, mainly in the print media has given so much meaning to the world of balanced and credible mass communication. David is married and interestingly he is also knowledgeable in the area of education since he has received some primary teacher training from the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI). David, after leaving Radio Five, a broadcast media outlet, in 2016, he took on the challenge to venture into the print media affairs with the Dailly Observer Newspaper. Since then he has created his own enviable space. He is a student at the University of Liberia.

27 COMMENTS

    • How will a war crime court be establish when the Leader of the country and his party that once toll casket on their head is against the establishment of a war crime court.

  1. I am flabbergasted that at last, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is coming out about Madam Johnson-Sirleaf’s extensive involvement in the Liberian uncivil war. Or, maybe the truth about Madam Johnson-Sirleaf’s nefarious involvement was well-known, but because of her position as a president, she could not be summoned in a real court of law. My question is this: If Madam Johnson-Sirleaf was profoundly involved in the bloody Liberian conflict, why was she given an opportunity to serve the second time as a president? Or even the very first time? It’s a shame. The country of Liberia seems to be followed by dishonorable stories always. And please, may it be totally false that our current president, Mr Weah was involved in the 14-year Liberian conflict in a negative way. Of course, Weah used his wealth to sponsor the Lone Star team of Liberia. That’s positive! Why is he being dragged in court?

  2. My late mother will rejoice in her grave, as soon these War Criminals are brought to book. This is the time the West need to BE FAIR they what happen to the loss of lives and destruction of properties in poor Liberia. Former Madam President must be brought to book

  3. Thank God for Jesus that this criminal will now be brought to justice. The souls of our relatives who were forced to their graves, will rejoice that Ellen is at least going to pay price for their death. Better late than never! I can imagine how fearful she feels right now with her heart hangs in her throat. She thought after killing all of our people, she could manipulate her way to envade justice. But this is not true. Justice is going to prevail. Once again thank God for Jesus!

  4. Thank God for Jesus that this criminal will now be brought to justice. The souls of our relatives who were forced to their graves, will rejoice that Ellen is at least going to pay price for their death. Better late than never! I can imagine how fearful she feels right now with her heart hangs in her throat. She thought after killing all of our people, she could manipulate her way to envade justice. But this is not true, justice is about to prevail. Once again, thank for Jesus!

  5. It would be extremely useful for Mr Jerome Verdier and others with factual information to testify at the forthcoming Boston trial of Ellen Sirleaf on charges of war crimes, etc. After participating with Taylor, Sawyer, and others in committing genocide and other gross atrocities in Liberia, Sirleaf thought by going around the world purchasing and collecting all sorts of fake and undeserved accolades she could escape prosecution. But no such “luck”; alas it is time for them to face justice. The children of Liberia deserve nothing less.

  6. To all Liberian aboard and home, don’t be quick to Judge that our former President Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will be guilty of War crime and others, American Jurisdiction systems different from that of the so-called one In Liberia. no one Is above the laws In America. Some of our so called police officers and soldiers were committing war crime against their own Liberian who they disliked.If,so Madam Sirleaf had has committed war crime against her own fellow Liberian, WHY the world bodies wouldn’t had elected her for the Noble prize, only people with high Integrity and humanity can be elected go these high profile places. While some of us were running to neighboring countries for shelter to be place on refugee status madam Sirleaf and the late Bishop Michael France were appealing to than the former United states President George Bush asking for help in order to outcast so called President Charles Taylor from Liberia to Nigeria before he was arrested and brought to the Hare to be Integrated.

  7. There is no mention of the other rebel leaders like Prince Johnson and his lieutenants, George Boley, Konneh, Kromah and their deputies. This is one sided and will not work, name all that committed atrocities specifically from Nimba, Grand Gedeh etc.

  8. let the trust be told to all people and there can be peace joy and forgiviness to our Liberian people in America and all over the world the true is the way to go as a nation. people have to go before the law of this world our people die and was kill and they had to run for there lifes and those peoples are still out there to this day

  9. Is Madam Sirleaf to face trial in American Court? Wow! it is interesting. “The Fox has been left to take care of the hen house”. Now, let we Liberians, ask ourselves, how did Taylor broke away from Plymouth maximum penitentiary in November 1985, rearrested in Ghana twice, and served 6 months and 8 months respectively. Who were instrumental in releasing Mr. Taylor from Plymouth? Why did the American Government warned Taylor to ‘get out of America as soon as possible’, when out of prison, in the wake of the Qwionkpah Invasion, in 1985. Who did Mr. Kodjo Tcshikada (the Ghanaian military intelligent chief under Jerry Rawlings) accused Taylor of working for at the time? When these questions are answer, then Liberians will know actually that whatever trial, if not a FARCE, is anything but a real trial. It may be a PR (Public Relation), to make it looks like, ‘Oh, even Ellen herself has face trial’. I will only be convinced if she’s is trialed in an African court. As Mr. Taylor was been grilled at the Hague for his Pan African view, other perpetrators were sitting at the high seat of power in Liberia.

  10. The News about the civic lawsuit is a delightful ones. However, i am a bit shock not to see the name of Prince Y.Johnson, whose was one of the main executors of the war not among the first list. I understand that there are others names included in the lawsuit, but Mr.Johnson name should has being on the top as well. i am also encouraging Rev. Mahn and Pastor.Torli not to give up the fight for justice for our people whose lives were cut short due to Selfish, Greed, and Unpatriotic approach to take power. Let it be known to those that murder our people and walking in the street of Monrovia, that one day Justice will knock on their door steps. Therefore, they should be prepared to answer to the court of law.

    • That is what I want to know too. There are other people in the house and senate or were in the senate and house whose names are not in the Lawsuit. Is it picking and choosing Lawsuit. What happen to some of the names mention in the TRC., including Butt naked who kill so many people in and around Liberia. I also believe that the crime was committed in Liberia, so it will be good if the lawsuit took place in Liberia where you could have local people use for discovery. I also believe that this is a PR-public relation sham, when you sue Joe Blow in America, when you know well that Joe Blow committed the Crimes in Africa.

  11. Can the Liberian Observe publish a copy of the summons and complaint? I am interested in understanding the basis of jurisdiction and standing in this case.

    • Me too, Aloysius, I want see this other summons before even considering how this other frivolous case will proceed. I always thought only courts with international jurisdictions could try or handle cases like this, not knowing any justice of the peace court could handle them too. I puah.

  12. If the Daily Observer Newspaper or some of its employees are found to be involved in storytelling, the readership will sink overnight. A copy of the summons which the Daily Observer claims to have (see the 3rd paragraph above) may not be released to the media or to the general public because of legal reasons. On the other hand, if a copy of the summons was given to a leading News Paper company such as the Daily Observer and if not illegally obtained, the summons could be released for public viewership. It’s up to the stakeholders of the Daily Observer establishment.

    I agree. I hope that the so-called summons is not fatuous. Otherwise, Daily Observer will be viewed with skepticism as it relates to telling the whole truth. I am doubtful that Johnson-Sirleaf will appear in court in Massachusetts. She is not above the law. I guess the only way in which the veracity of the summons could be put to a test will be when Johnson-Sirleaf physically appears in court. Let’s hope that Johnson-Sirleaf’s day will come.

  13. Why is Weah name mention in the lawsuit, if it’s true? Was Weah ever involved in the uncivil war, besides coming to Liberia in other to play soccer? Please enlighten me somebody.

  14. JUSTICE MUST PREVAIL. There can be no true reconciliation without JUSTICE. Ellen must pay the price for supporting a project that killed over 200,000 Liberians, destroyed every fabric of the society and the displacement of over a million of our compatriots.

  15. The inclusion of president Weah in this lawsuit is a plan by some group to undermine his administration; however, we are watching.

  16. BRYAN HANCILES
    I always tell people that God is a God that deals with issues at his will.Am a Christian not a church goer I read my bible and am living by the word. the book of ecceleciates says what shall it profit a man if u gain the whole world and loose your soul again it says there is time for everything,what ever u sowe u shall reap.now judgement is about to start in our nation so please those of u who want to start defending sine of those named mentioned please am warning u please don’t trust no one one trust yourself because u know about yourself God is ready now the blood of our mothers,fathers,brothers,sisters, uncles,aunties children who die because of greedy and satanic people is crying ready to come out to speak.have been asking God to act since I have no one in this whole world I trust only JESUS am happy may God strengthen those seeking to bring justice and may God kill all those who may want to stop justice

  17. I really don’t know what planet you guys are living on. But for your information, courts in the United States have no jurisdiction over matters in Liberia. We always want America to do for us what we Liberians are capable of doing for ourselves. The plaintiffs would have better filed their lawsuit in Liberia where the atrocities occurred, not in an American court. And by the way counselor Verdier, a lot of people lied to your commission. I have watched most of those testimonies, and far as I am concern, your witnesses took the entire TRC process for a joke! The so-called lawsuit in itself is selective-the very reason why it is hard for Liberians to establish a war crime court. Instead of dealing with the facts, everyone has his or her own biases. My question here is, what happened to all those other people who raped, tortured and murdered innocent people in Liberia, and are now passing around town, some serving in high government positions and even teaching in our schools?

  18. Comment:The bible says what you sow is what you will reap. during the days of matilda newport, thousand of our native warriors were fool and killed to stop the native of having their own traditional kings, and to reduce our population, 1990, we heard Ellen Sirleaf saying Taylor must level the mansion and in three days she will build it, on BBC live, she is involve totally, any Liberian that support Ellen that person is a coward, and doesnot care about our people that died, God is slow but he is sure. I saw a magazine in exile with picture of ellen with a gun in her hand with army uniform on her.

  19. this too is Liberia,
    indeed the mother land will never fall as expected by some others evil doers.
    I do hereby agreed and support the establishment of war crime court in Liberia.

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