TRC News Release, St. Paul
Then Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, George E. S. Boley led soldiers to the private home of President William R. Tolbert following the April 12, 1980 coup and looted unspecified amounts of cash and valuables, a witness told commissioners of Liberia’s Truth Commission in St.Paul,Minnesota.
The witness said that Boley upon the orders of then People’s Redemption Council (PRC) junta leader Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe stormed the slain president’s Bentol residence where they force Tolbert’s butler Patrick Tuazama to provide the combination numbers of his safe and made away with money and other valuables.
Contained in several bags, the witness said the items were taken to Mr. Doe at the Executive Mansion.
Testifying Wednesday at ongoing public hearings of the TRC at Hamlin University in the United States city of St. Paul, Minnesota, retired Captain Samuel Kalongo Luo, an assistant minister of Agriculture during the junta’s rule, said Boley riding the slain president’s Jaguar commanded the soldiers who included Doe’s Aide Camp he identified as General Saye.
Luo who said he was a confidant of the coup leader during the early days of the junta said following the looting Boley told him and members of the PRC the bags contained papers of the murdered president.
Although he did not disclose that exact amount of cash in the bags, the witness said he and other junta members only realized that the bags contained money when Gen. Saye told them.
“We did not know that the bags contained money until one day Gen. Saye told us: “Your sitting down here the people na take all that heavy money alone. The money they got is too plenty,” Mr. Luo said.
He said following the disclosure rancor developed amongst members of the junta with the vice chairman Thomas Weh Syen contending that Doe make full disclosure of what was contained in the bags.
Mr. Luo said that Weh Syen who was in a state of discontent following Saye’s disclosure vowed to deal with the matter harshly if Chairman Doe failed to make the disclosures.
“Thomas Weh Syen demanded the money from Doe saying repeatedly that if Doe did not gave him his share of the money it would not be easy. Weh Syen was pushing Doe too hard for this money business,” Luo said.
Mr. Luo said he believe it was the conflict over the money that led to confusion among the two junta leaders leading to the arrest and execution of Weh Syen and others under the guise that they were planning a coup plot.
Meanwhile, a daughter of slain president Tolbert, Mrs. Wilhelmina Villareal Tolbert-Holder told TRC commissioners Wednesday Boley and Chea Cheapoo told she and other daughters of president Tolbert under house arrest after the coup that they were the once to decide their fate.
Mrs. Tolbert-Holder, who testified Wednesday, said Boley and Cheapoo made several visits to soldiers and security men assigned around their residence during their three weeks house arrest and told them they would remain under house custody until they decide what to do with them.
She said during one of those visits, Mr. Boley told them that Tolbert sent him to school and provided him a scholarship to further his education in the United States.
Boley who was the leader of the defunct Liberia Peace Council (LPC), one of several warring factions accused of gruesome atrocities and human rights violations during the Liberian civil conflict is believed to be a confidant of Doe after the military takeover. Following the coup he served as the first Minister of State for Presidential Affairs.
One and a half million of Liberia’s citizens fled the country during the 27-year conflict, many of whom settled in the United States. The hearings here in Minnesota mark the first time in history that any truth commission has ever systematically sought to include its Diaspora citizens into the process of national healing.
Each day of the hearings, the commission will hear testimony from Liberians who fled to the United States, focusing on their experiences during the civil war, in flight, in refugee camps, and as they established new lives here.
The Advocates for Human Rights, based in Minneapolis, is assisting with coordination and implementation of the hearings.
The Advocates for Human Rights was founded in 1983 by a group of Minnesota lawyers who recognized the community’s unique spirit of social justice as an opportunity to promote and protect human rights in the United States and around the world. The mission of The Advocates for Human Rights is to implement international human rights standards to promote civil society and reinforce the rule of law.
The organization has produced more than 50 reports documenting human rights practices in more than 25 countries; educated over 10,000 students and community members on human rights issues; provided legal representation and assistance to over 3,000 disadvantaged individuals and families and works with partners overseas and in the United States to restore and protect human rights. The Advocates for Human Rights holds Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.
The TRC was agreed upon in the August 2003 peace agreement and created by the TRC Act of 2005. The TRC was established to “promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation,” and at the same time make it possible to hold perpetrators accountable for gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law that occurred in Liberia between January 1979 and October 2003.