There’s growing confusion regarding the fate of the family of Sierra Leonean rebel commander Sam Bockarie.
Sierra Leone’s ambassador to Liberia, Patrick Foyah, is commenting on reports that forces loyal to Liberian President Charles Taylor have eliminated Sam Bockarie’s family. The Liberian government recently announced its troops had killed the rebel commander in a firefight near the Ivorian border.
Accusations have been aimed at some state security personnel over the disappearance of Gen. Bockarie’s wife, mother, children and other close family members. Before the reported death of Sam Bockarie two weeks ago, the family resided in the northern Paynesville suburb of Monrovia. The ambassador of Sierra Leone to Liberia, Patrick Foyah, tells the VOA his government has protested to the government of Liberia about reports that Sam Bockarie’s family must have been killed following his death two weeks ago.
He says, “As an ambassador, it’s my responsibility to also secure the interest of my people in this country. Sam Bockarie’s family are Sierra Leoneans. The mom, the dad, the children all Sierra Leoneans. So if hear rumors like that I should act appropriately. And I’ve done that by writing an official letter to the foreign ministry, expressing concern over this rumor… and asking to either deny or confirm this rumor by making it possible for me to have audience with family of Sam Bockarie”.
Ambassador Foyah says it would be improper for him to give credence to reports that Sam Bockarie’s family has been eliminated until the government in Liberia fails to produce them alive and well as requested.
He says, “ I have made official request like I said to you earlier that I would like to meet these people. The rumor is very persistent, from the Liberian people, from the Sierra Leoneans, from the international community; and even the Liberian government officials are hearing this rumor. And I’m sure they will like end this to rest and the only way to put this rest is to make available the family to me to identify them; to have a talk with them and to tell the whole world that the rumor is not true and that the family are alive and kicking”.
The Sierra Leonean ambassador says given this persistent rumor on the fate of Sam Bockarie’s family, he hopes the Liberian government will act quickly to make them available. Ambassador Foyah says he has also registered Freetown’s concern with Monrovia for the repatriation of Sam Bockarie’s body as requested by the Sierra Leonean special court.
Last week, David Crane, chief prosecutor for Sierra Leone's special court, demanded forensic proof that Sam Bockarie is actually dead. The court has accused Liberian President Charles Taylor of orchestrating the killing of Sam Bockarie to prevent him from revealing information on Mr. Taylor's alleged involvement in Sierra Leone's civil war.