Authorities in River Gee County, southeast Liberia have told The NewDawn of the arrest and subsequent charge with “suspicion of mercenarism” of three former rebel generals for allegedly “mobilizing ex-fighters going to neighboring Ivory Coast to fight.”
River Gee County Superintendent Phillip Jah, confirmed on Sunday, 17 May that the alleged generals charged and held in custody in Fish Town for “suspicion of mercenarism” include former MODEL Inspector Powell Solo, c.k.a. “General Power”; ex-Model General Dennis Slayah, c.k.a. “Charles Ble Goude”; and ex-MODEL Field Commander Augustine Vleyee, c.k.a. “Bush Dog”.
The NewDawn has been following up hints from a source in River Gee that joint security operatives had arrested three former MODEL generals, who claimed they were running a “covert” operation for the National Security Agency or NSA at Liberia’s border with Ivory Coast in the southeast to “discourage former ex-combatants from taking part in Ivory Coast’s civil war.”
Excluding this latest case with the three ex-rebel generals, 13 other Liberians, who were convicted in 2014 for mercenarism in Ivory Coast, are awaiting Supreme Court’s opinion on an appeal, seeking to reverse a lower court’s life sentence against them.
Mr. Jah confirmed the arrest and charging of those he said were Ex-MODEL generals (Movement for Democracy in Liberia) in a follow-up via mobile phone to what a NewDawn’s source in River Gee had confided last week.
Besides the three that were confirmed to be in custody in Fish Town, he said another former NPFL (National Patriotic Front of Liberia) General Paye N. Suah, who was allegedly linked to the Glarro Town massacre in River Gee during the MODEL war ‘managed to escape the region unnoticed.’
Top police authorities in Monrovia have confirmed the arrest of the ex-rebel generals on condition of anonymity, but said they were not speaking further on the situation as investigations were still ongoing.
This paper was hinted that without the concern of county authorities, the former fighters claiming to be running a covert operation entered the border town in Weabo District, saying, they had package for the ex-fighters they were mobilizing “to discourage” from going to Ivory Coast.
Giving the alleged suspicious nature of their movement and mission in area, the source said residents alerted Weabo District Superintendent, Harry Quiah, who immediately arrested the suspects in Weabo, Swroken Town, near the border with Ivory Coast and turned them over to the Joint Security in Fish Town for questioning on 16 May.
Quoting security information, the source hinted that the suspects were feared to be trying to mobilize men in the southeastern region of Liberia to fight in Ivory Coast, purposely to disturb the neighboring country’s pending election expected sometime this year.
The source further named another suspect, who fled unnoticed, in person of James N. Kpaquoi. James is an alleged former body guard to ex-President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast, who was arrested after a controversial presidential poll by French forces and in November 2011 taken to the International Criminal Court in The Hage.
While the alleged ex-rebel generals were in Weabo, Swroken, the source said they allegedly acted as motorcyclists in the region, riding new motorbikes.
When contacted, Weabo District Superintendent Harry Quiah confirmed the information, saying when he sent for the three men, they allegedly told him they had gone to his district to discourage people from going into Ivory Coast to fight.
But he said they failed to show him documents that they were employees of the NSA from Monrovia to authenticate whether they were on covert operations sanctioned by the state security agency.
County Superintendent Phillip Jah said, the suspects were arrested because they saw no magnitude in what they were saying, and have been placed behind bars on “suspicion of mercenarism.”
He said there was information that a team of officers from the Liberia National Police was being dispatched to the county concerning the situation, saying, the suspects may be transferred from Fish Town to Monrovia.
But the Police, speaking on condition of anonymity said, they were not aware of plans to transfer the suspects, though they confirmed the arrest.
For his part, River Gee County Attorney Wesseh A. Wesseh, when contacted, said he was busy with a rape case and could not provide details on the three ex-fighters.
By Winston W. Parley – Edited by Jonathan Browne