The leader of the former Liberian Peace Council, one of the many factions in Liberia's 14-year-old civil war has sued the U.S.-based Advocates for Human Rights group for defamation.
George Boley, who served as Minister of State for Presidential Affairs under President Samuel Doe, was accused by a witness testifying before the Truth Commission earlier this year of looting unspecified amounts of cash and valuables from the private home of President William R. Tolbert following the April 12, 1980 coup. His Liberian Peace Council is also accused of committing various crimes during the Liberian conflict.
Boley told VOA the Advocates for Human Rights has defamed his character.
"I did file a complaint in the federal court in Minneapolis, Minnesota against the human rights group known as the Advocates for Human Rights in Minnesota. If you recall, back in 2006 in November, the deputy director of that organization was on Minnesota Public Radio, along with Jerome Verdier, chairman of the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) in Liberia. And without reason, without regards for the truth announced to the world that I George Boley am in custody in the United States, along with Chuckie Taylor (the convicted son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor) for crimes committed in Liberia, human rights violation, which is really baseless and untrue. So I just filed a lawsuit for defamation," he said.
Boley said he sent a letter to the organization in December 2006 asking to correct what he called a huge mistake, but he said the group did not acknowledge his letter.
Asked if he is seeking monetary damage in his lawsuit, Boley said that issue would be decided by the court.
"No amount of money can repair the damage. To even classify me with the lights of Chuckie Taylor, I mean what are these people talking about? Do they really know what they are talking about? These are the people we believe are working with our TRC in Liberia. I mean I want the damage repaired, in whatever way it has to be repaired. It has to be repaired. And I think talking to you and letting people know that these people are not infallible, and that they do make mistakes. And when they speak they don't speak authoritatively, I think it's very important," he said.
Boley admitted he took part in the Liberian conflict but denied violating human rights or committing any crimes against humanity.
"Every Liberian took part in the conflict, whether it's through thought, through actions, through whatever can be done to restore peace. Let's be very frank, I know there is a lot of disinformation about what I did, what role I played. In fact people say the LPC did this, the LPC did that. The Liberia Peace Council was founded in 1990 as an instrument of seeking political settlement for the Liberian crisis. I have never been in any position; I've never given any instruction to do anything in violation of human rights. I've not been in the field; I've not given any instruction to violate anybody's rights," Boley said.
Boley said he would be willing to testify before the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission about what he knows took place during the conflict if he is invited to appear.
"I don't have a problem with that. Once invited I'll make myself available. If you read the transcript of my press conference in January of 2008 in Monrovia, I have said I'm available. In fact I endorsed the TRC. I welcomed it. I think it's a good thing, and once called upon, I'm prepared to present myself and give my side of the story, what I know from 1979 and 2003 and maybe more. But I haven't received any invitation," Boley said.
Boley said he was not sure whether by suing the Advocates for Human Rights he was also suing the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, giving that the fact that the rights group works in partnership with the TRC.
"I don't know the legality. They (the Advocates for Human Rights) are the implementing partners for the TRC. I'm not sure the TRC authorized them to do that. We'll find that out when the trial begins," Boley said.Boley said he doesn't know when his case, which he said is before a U.S. federal court in Minneapolis, would begin.