- The former Liberian President has been accused of starving to death two Nigerian journalists Tayo Awotunsin and Krees Imobibie in 1990.
This information was revealed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) by a witness, Marie Vah, currently a nurse at the Minneapolis Hospital in the United States. She recounted how the two journalists died at the hands of Mr Taylor's defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebels under mysterious circumstances.
Captured and kept in a makeship prison in the NPFL Gbanga headquarters in central Liberia, the journalists "looked like walking skeletons," the TRC was told. Mrs Vah and a friend had traveled to Liberia from the US in 1990 in search of relatives only to be detained on the orders of the former rebel leader.
Marie Vah is one of several persons who testified at the Diaspora hearing at Hamline University in Minnesota. She said they were denied food during their brief imprisonment alongside the journalist who "looked so emaciated."
"The condition I saw them in, I don’t think they survived long after we left the jail," she said.
In August 1990, Awotunsin and Imobibie mysteriously disappeared in Monrovia while covering Liberia's civil war. Following deep controversy over the whereabouts of Mr. Awotunsin and Immobibie, journalists of Champion and Guardian newspapers respectively, the former spokesman of the NPFL, Tom Woewiyu, confirmed that they died under rebel custody.
Mr Taylor is currently being tried on several counts of war crimes, including crimes against humanity, on his role in fueling the decade-long civil war in the neighbouring Sierra Leone. For security reasons, the UN Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone moved the former Liberian leader to the Hague for trial.
TRC was established by the Liberian government to heal the many wounds caused by the West African country's 14-year civil war. But one of the former civil warlords, Prince Johnson, who led a breakaway faction of the rebel NPFL [Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia], on February refused to appear before the commission, stressing that unless "those who instigated the 1980 coup d'etat and killed President William appeared."
The current Senator of Nimba County asked why he should appear before the commission when he was yet to be accused of anything yet.
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