AS CHARLES TAYLOR TAKES THE STAND - MORE LIKE HIM CLOAKED IN "DEMOCRATIC" ROBES MUST BE SANCTIONED. THE CASE FOR A CLOSER LOOK AT THE ERNEST BAI KOROMA SET-UP IN SIERRA LEONE
Liberia's former President and warlord in the West African sub-region Charles Taylor takes the witness stand for the first time on Tuesday July 13, 2009 as his defence team opens up their challenge to allegations by the Prosecuting Team of the Special Court for Sierra Leone sitting in the Hague. Charles Taylor faces eleven counts relating to war crimes and has been alleged to have had direct links with armed groups in Sierra Leone that committed massive human rights violations in Sierra Leone's brutal war between rebel and government forces.
The court has so far succeeded in nailing the chief actors within the renegade AFRC, (Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu) the Civil Defence Forces headed by the late Chief Hinga Norman (who was also on trial but died before conclusion) and Foday Sankoh's RUF.
Charles Taylor's trial in the Hague (held there for security reasons) is sending a message to all Heads of State that being in power is no excuse for committing violations against their own or any group of people within or without the country.
The trial and conviction of former AFRC operatives by the court goes to show in no small manner that the AFRC was indeed a massive human rights abusing set-up that must be condemned by all yearning for peace and security not only within the borders of Sierra Leone but elsewhere. Indeed as the rights group Amnesty International noted after their conviction, this is not the end of the story for the victims.
And that is why the Sierra Herald finds it difficult to appreciate the close links (bed fellows) between the present government in Sierra Leone headed by Ernest Bai Koroma and key members and operatives of the human rights abusing AFRC junta headed by Johnny Paul Koroma. Indeed it is no secret that if he had his way, Ernest Bai Koroma would have loved to see an end to the operations of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and would have had his friends and associates in the former AFRC freed!!!!
Take the case of one Christian Kargbo who is now Ernest Bai Koroma's (and hence the country's) representative to the European Union in Brussels. It was under his watch that massive looting of the bank's vaults were carried out and he was complicit in the sacking of that institution's resources in funding the activities of the AFRC. A decree issued by the illegal and unrecognised junta of Johnny Paul Koroma dated 7th July 1997 empowered Christian Kargbo to take over the Governorship of the country's banker of bankers thus setting into motion a pillaging process that enabled the massive looting of the bank's coffers.
Kemoh Fadika aka waju-waju is his and the country's ambassador to Iran at present. This was the man who took upon himself to lead an AFRC-sponsored delegation to neighbouring Guinea with the main aim of convincing the then Head of State, Lansana Conte to recognise the pariah junta of Johnny Paul Koroma. He failed and came back empty-handed to report to his superiors in the AFRC.
Within the present armed forces where a vengeful Defence minister of a Palor Conteh had promised friends that he was going to revenge for his uncle (instead of allowing the man's memory to rest in peace), the likes of Nelson Williams and Samuel (S O Williams) Williams still rule the roost.
The late Maxwell Kobi, the General who helped oust the wretched and human rights abusing AFRC is on record as warning Nelson Williams during the AFRC terror campaign against civilians that he would be better advised to behave himself as a true son of the soil and put a halt to the abuses being hurled on the civilian population. Samuel Williams is also on record as telling ECOMOG on the ground at Jui some thirteen miles from Freetown in 1997 that should they attempt to move in to remove them, "Freetown would be razed to the ground".
Evidence on the ground show that this was what was attempted by the fleeing AFRC/RUF as they got dislodged from the capital both in 1998 and in 1999 after the massive murders and killings of the January 1999 invasion!!!
Editors of newspapers that were pro-AFRC junta, identified by both the public and media watchers within and outside the country are now overnight "diplomats" with former Torchlight editor Seaka Tarawallie now his very own Press Secretary!!!
Notorious AFRC/RUF junta apologist and the "Lord Haw-Haw" of the illegal regime Allieu Kamara is now a part of Ernest Bai Koroma's so-called "Attitudinal Change" circus wagon!!!. This was the man who after his masters in the AFRC had murdered the people of Mabaylla in early September was to later confess that he relied on what he was told by his masters in the junta!!!
It is no secret that his personal bodyguards and security detail were handpicked by Ernest Bai Koroma bypassing laid-down and tested rules regarding such appointments. This detail contains the notorious Leatherboot who was clearly photographed quite recently attacking individuals and properties belonging to the opposition. And it is worth noting too, that Leatherboot embarked on this action against the opposition after the arrival of Ernest Bai Koroma in Freetown following an overseas trip - thus lending credence to reports that he ordered the raid on the opposition SLPP headquarters.
Such reward of persons known or unknown who were a part of the AFRC/RUF machinery using state resources can clearly be seen as an effort by Ernest Bai Koroma to poke a finger into the eyes of the Special Court and that is why the Sierra Herald is calling for a mechanism be put in place that would try all those who in one way or the other fed the evil machinations of the junta. It can also be seen as a slap in the face of surviving victims and relations of all those who lost lives and limbs in the AFRC/RUF terror campaigns against the civilian population for their refusal to support the illegal junta.
Ernest Bai Koroma's open affiliation with members of the notorious and vile human rights abusing and war criminal enterprise of the AFRC/RUF should be of concern to the members of the international community who had helped bring some semblance of law and order to war-ravaged Sierra Leone.
The Sierra Herald looks forward to the day when Ernest Bai Koroma will face the music of justice for crimes committed against the people of Sierra Leone.