A former Military Police commander of the defunct rebels National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) in Gbarnga, Bong County, Richard Saah Gbolie says he regrets his role in the 14 years of civil war in Liberia, his first expression of remorse since the brutal civil war ended here more than two decades ago.
The disbanded NPFL was commanded by jailed ex-president Charles Taylor, who is serving a 50-year sentence in Britain for aiding and abetting former RUF rebels in Sierra Leone.Mr. Gbolie, a former lawmaker of Margibi County, also regrets war came to a country that was once peaceful and enjoyed coexistence among its citizens.
His comments are in direct response to allegation levied against him by Montserrado County Electoral District#4 Representative Roustonlyn Dennis, that Gbolie, during his days in Gbarnga, Bong County many innocent people died in cells under his control.
Gbolie commanded the defunct NPFL Military Police in Gbarnga, Bong County, where Mr. Taylor had his main base.Addressing a news conference Wednesday, 26 September at his residence in the commercial district of Paynesville outside Monrovia, the ex-rebel commander claims at no time soldiers confined in his custody died, threatening to take legal action against Representative Dennis to substantiate her allegation.
Gbolie, rather infuriated, says he’s going to court to claim defamation of character, stressing that his action could well commence a War Crimes Court in Liberia, as being requested by many Liberians, particularly victims of atrocities.
Representative Dennis had phoned on a local talk show, ordering Mr. Gbolie to shut up on grounds that he does not have moral grounds to comment on Monday’s peaceful protest by groups of Liberians leading the campaign, “Bring Back Our Money.”
The protesters, who petitioned the United Nations, the African Union, ECOWAS, the European Union and the United States Embassy in Monrovia, are calling on the International Community to prevail on the Liberian authorities to produce containers and bags of newly printed Liberian bank notes, totaling about 16 Billion that alleged went missing from the Freeport of Monrovia and the Roberts International Airport, respectively.
Rep. Dennis insisted that Gbolie keeps quite because of his alleged ‘deadly role’ in the civil wars especially, in Bong County where he (Gbolie) was in charge of prison compound and inmates died on a daily basis.
The ex-rebel commander, who had turned to farming since, laments “Enough is enough! She will prove allegations against me. She has to prove before the court to show case where I killed people and detained people and they died in prison. This is grave accusation that should be proven and I think the establishment of the War Crimes Court will start with us. My action will put to an end the widespread lies and ramous about me.”
Gbolie claims he and all Liberians have regretted the war era on grounds that the bloody hostilities did not change anything; instead, it was used to put brothers at each other, and family against family.Commenting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report and mounting calls for the establishment of War Crimes Court, he says the TRC report is a trash that only belongs to the dustbin.
According to him, the process of the TRC was more political than reconciliatory because the commission did more harm than good, noting the TRC process failed to reconcile Liberians.He argues if anyone or ex-warlord should be carried before a War Crimes Court, an independent commission should be established to gather evidence.
The first Liberian civil war was an internal conflict from 1989 until 1997. The conflict killed about 250,000 people and eventually led to intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and subsequently the United Nations. The peace did not last long, and in 1999 the Second Liberian Civil War broke out, ended in September 2003 with a truce brokered in Accra, Ghana, among key warring parties and civil society groups.
Ex-warlords and former fighters in Liberia are totally against calls for the establishment of war and economic crimes court for the country to bring perpetrators of heinous crimes and crimes against humanity to book.
They continue to issue threats of a return to conflict if such court were established, comments many say are mere scare tactics to escape justice.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne