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World Crimes Suspect’s Ally Heads Security Sector

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Liberian President Joseph Boakai has placed in charge of the country’s national security and governance, the ally of the West African nation’s main war crimes suspect, landing fresh blow to local and international efforts seeking justice for hundreds of thousands of war victims.

Cooper Kruah is the country’s new Justice Minister and Attorney General. Kruah is the political ally and Chairman of Senator Prince Johnson party – t he movement for Democracy and Reconstruction.

Johnson’s MDR is key coalition partner to the ruling Unity Party and is widely credited for the party’s 2023 electoral success.

Vice President Jeremiah Koung of the MDR and Senator Johnson pressured Boakai into making the appointment, according to inside sources.

Boakai had concluded naming enterprising young lawyer Jonathan Massaquoi as the Attorney General, but his nomination was withdrawn overnight. Perhaps, one account holds.

Senator Johnson, seeking to exert influence, may be attempting to appoint an attorney general who could act as a shield, potentially hindering or impeding the establishment of the war crimes tribunal.

Boakai appears to be strict for the establishment of Wars and Economic Crimes Court here for perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Kruah as Justice Minister is the administration official responsible to roll out the UP campaign agenda of fighting corruption and putting on trial war time actors accused of human rights violations.

The Ministry of Justice is an organization within the Liberian government responsible for providing “effective, efficient and excellent public safety and legal services which promote the rule of law, ensure the safety and security of the public and uphold the interest of the government and people of the Republic of Liberia.”

The Attorney General oversees and direct prosecution and is the chair of the joint security and sit on the national Security Council next to the President.

Since the end of the Liberian civil war in 2003 and the return of democracy, Prince Yormie Johnson, the notorious warlord of the 1990s has used his dominance in vote rich Nimba County to cut political deals, playing a spoiler role to advantage a leading presidential candidate.

The U.S. government sanctioned Liberia’s ex-warlord and current senator Prince Yormie Johnson for alleged corruption.

The sanctions against Johnson come under the Global Magnitsky Act, which authorizes the U.S. government to sanction those it sees as human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the U.S.

Johnson was responsible for the slaying in 1990 of President Samuel Doe, who had been captured by his forces during the country’s 14-year civil war. Johnson sipped beer as he watched his men torture and mutilate Doe who begged in vain for mercy in a widely circulated video.

Now a trusted political ally of President Joseph Boakai, Johnson is accused in a U.S. embassy statement of large-scale corruption.

“As a senator, Johnson has been involved in pay-for-play funding with government ministries and organizations for personal enrichment,” a statement issued by the U.S. embassy said. “As part of the scheme, upon receiving funding from the government of Liberia, the involved government ministries and organizations launder a portion of the funding for return to the involved participants.”

The scheme involves millions of dollars, according to the embassy statement.

Johnson also receives an undeserved salary from the Liberian government as a salaried intelligence source yet he does not provide any form of intelligence reporting, alleged the U.S. statement. He is being paid in order to maintain domestic stability, according to the statement.

“Johnson has also offered the sale of votes in multiple Liberian elections in exchange for money,” it said.

Johnson denounced the sanctions, telling The Associated Press on Friday that the U.S. statement of allegations against him “is vague” because it does not present “facts” that he had been involved in corruption.

A former officer in the Armed Forces of Liberia, Johnson allied himself with Charles Taylor‘s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group when it launched the First Liberian Civil War in 1989 to overthrown President Samuel Doe.

During the civil war, Johnson was notorious for killing anyone who opposed or criticised his actions. When Hare Krishna devotees, who were distributing food to starving people in Monrovia in the midst of the chaos of the civil war, sent him a letter begging him to stop killing people, he personally orchestrated the murder of Hladini devi dasi—born Linda Jury—and five of her students on the bank of the Saint Paul River on the night of Thursday, 13 September 1990.

 

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