The man who is believed to have captured and killed former
Liberian President Samuel Doe at the start of the country's civil war in 1990
has made his long-awaited appearance before the country's Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to explain his role in the war. Prince Johnson says he
told the TRC that Doe's body was cremated and his ashes thrown into a river.
But Doe's family led by Jackson Doe, the late president's brother is claiming
that Johnson and his Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL)
rebels committed cannibalism.
But Johnson, who is now senior senator
from Nimba County, told VOA he's not a cannibal.
told Liberians and the international community that when Doe died on the base
because of series of injuries he was embalmed for 25 years and buried. But
along the way, months or a year two later, there was a dirty propaganda that
was propagated from the Amos Sawyer (former interim president) camp that we did
not bury Doe, that we ate Doe. And of course we from Nimba are not cannibals,"
disprove what he called propaganda, Johnson said he instructed his deputy
commander Samuel Varnii to use a bulldozer to break the vault in which Doe's
body had been placed and exhume Doe's body to prove it had been buried there.
they brought the body of Doe, and it was as hard as a rock, and international
journalists took photographs of Samuel Doe after which it was decided by
consensus that Doe should not be reburied in the grave but should be burnt and
the ashes be thrown into the river. And that is exactly what we did," he said.
said people from his region of Nimba County are not cannibals, a direct
response to allegations by the Doe family that he and members of his
Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) rebels ate Doe's body.
Nimbaians are not cannibals. Even if I was a cannibal, I did not eat Doe
because he was embalmed with chemicals for 25 years. So if they can eat human
beings with chemicals, we don't eat human beings with chemicals," Johnson said.
an interview with VOA weeks before his appearance before the Truth Commission,
Johnson said he had reconciled with the Doe family in Nigeria about the death
of President Doe. Now Johnson said he did not tell the family what he told the
TRC concerning his treatment of Doe's body.
reconciled in Nigeria, the question of what happened to Doe, where was Doe was
not asked. It was not important to them at that time. When I came to Liberia
and Jackson Doe (Doe's brother) and I were moving back and forth talking
together at official ceremonies and so forth, he did not ask, not until I got
to the TRC," Johnson said.
government sources told VOA that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been
trying to reconcile both the Doe and Johnson families. Johnson himself says the
way forward is to forget the past.
killed a lot of people in this country that got no graves. They killed Thomas
Quiwonkpa, no grave, they killed Weh Syen no grave, they killed so many people
at Lutheran Church no grave, there was massacre of the people of Nimba County
in this country, no graves. So the way forward is to forget the past, is to
reconcile despite the bitterness because people lost people on all sides. So
let us just forget the past. That's the way forward," he said.
said Liberia's future would be doomed if Liberians chose to return to their
laid he should not be blamed for any killings he might have committed because
he said the country was at war. On the other hand, he blamed the late Samuel
Doe for killing many innocent people.
"There was a war in this country. Mine
was war. When Thomas Quiwonkpa (led an attempted coup in 1985) came to this
country with a bloodless coup no one was killed. When coup failed the afternoon
of November 12, 1985, the reprisal was the bloodiest reprisal in the history of
Liberia, and the bloodiest reprisal was carried out by the regime of Doe upon
the orders of Samuel Doe himself. So why should we talk about one Samuel Doe?
Why don't we talk about great men and women and children of this country that
were slaughtered in cold blood," Johnson said.