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Benjamin Yeatan trial lingers

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As the debate for a war crimes court lingers on here, a docket containing the indictment of jailed ex-president Charles Ghankay Taylor’s ruthless chief bodyguard Benjamin Yeatan, continues to gather dust 10 years after he was charged in absentia for murder.

Yeatan, known as P40 for his ruthlessness was indicted in 2008 during the regime of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for the murders of former Internal Affairs Minister Samuel Dokie and his family in 1997 and former Deputy National Security Minister for Operations John W. Yormie and former Deputy Public Works Minister for Technical Services Isaac Vaye in 2003.

He was last heard of roaming the West African sub-region, but not much have been heard of him since the sentencing of his godfather Taylor in a British cell for aiding and abetting former rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone. And also specifically planning the bloody attack on Freetown in 1999.
The idleness of the case come at a time Liberians are squared off in a debate over the establishment of a war crimes court here to prosecute war criminals.

The government of Mr. Weah appears to be mute over the establishment of the court, against the wishes of some Liberians who think Yeatan and others like him who allegedly committed atrocious crimes here during the country’s more than two decades brutal civil war should not go with impunity.

Arguments in the corridors of the Weah administration does not seem to be pointing to such endeavor either, as some officials continue to argue that the establishment of the court here will bring with it further financial burden for a country already facing harsh economic challenges.

As if the arguments of those officials were not enough, Mr. Weah’s Vice President, Mrs. Jewel Howard Taylor is the estranged wife of jailed ex-president Taylor. And like her, many of former president Taylor’s loyalist supported Mr. Weah during the 2017 presidential campaign.

However, prosecutors are alleging that on the night of 5 June 2003, defendant Yeatan sent for victim Yormie over claims that he was needed by ex-President Taylor.

According to the indictment, victim Yormie was taken from his residence along with victim Vaye on 5 June 2003 in a light blue jeep marked 1249 -BC and an SSS vehicle with license plate SSS 18.

Prosecutors say the two former deputy ministers Yormie and Vaye were taken under escort by two armed men identified as Junior Nyantee and Banana (Aide de Camp to the President) to SSS Director Yeatan.

In addition to being head of the presidential guard SSS which is now called the Executive Protection Service (EPS), prosecutors say Yeatan was also “Frontline Commander” and referred to as General during the Taylor era.

Victims Yormie and Vaye were supposedly to be taken to Mr. Taylor, but prosecutors indicate that the victims were instead killed on the orders and directives of General Yeatan by three members of the elite battle front group the Special Forces.

On the alleged orders of General Yeatan, victims Vaye and Yormie were tied and taken along the Nimba County highway around the CNC – Camp used by Yeatan as a military base, according to prosecutors.

The indictment says Yormie and Vaye were then shot by Yeatan’s special forces, but prosecutors further claim that Yeatan personally shot Yormie’s head in the CNC area at a crossroad between Biipa and Bainlakpala in Nimba County.

Following the killings, victims Yormie and Vaye’s dead bodies were said to have been deposited in a well around the LPRC Oil Terminal Sub – station in Ganta, Nimba County.

Prosecutors say former President Taylor allegedly acknowledged the deaths of Yormie and Vaye and sent his Vice President, late Moses Blah along with Harrison Narnway and Prince Myers to inform the deceased’s widows of their husbands’ deaths.

Prior to their death news, prosecutors say Yeatan had on 7 June 2003 informed Yormie and Vaye’s wives in the presence of other residents of Nimba County that the two arrested men were in his custody, assuring that he would release them on 8 June 2003.

Yormie and Vaye were never seen alive by their families, but were instead killed on Yeatan’s orders, according to prosecutors.

Besides, the alleged killing of Yormie and Vaye, prosecutors say General Yeatan had earlier killed and ordered the killing of Mr. Samuel Dokie, his wife Janet Dokie and other relatives in November 1997 in Bong County.

Mr. Dokie and his family were said to be going to Nimba County to attend a wedding a relative when General Yeatan allegedly killed them.

Mr. Yeatan was indicted in 2008 during the first term of former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s 12 – year rule, but he is yet to face trial relating to these accusations even up to seven months now into President George Manneh Weah’s administration.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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