Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Liberia charges general, ex-speaker with treason

MONROVIA, July 20 (Reuters) - Liberia has charged a former armed forces chief and an ex-speaker of the National Assembly with treason over a plot to smuggle weapons into the West African country, a senior official said on Friday. General Charles Julu, who led a 1994 coup attempt during Liberia's 1989-2003 civil war, was detained on Tuesday along with former colonel Andrew Dorbor for subversive activities against the state. During questioning on Friday, Dorbor named Julu and George Koukou, a former speaker of the National Assembly during a post-war transitional government, as leaders of the plot. "The two men have been formally charged with treason by the court," Deputy Communications Minister Gabriel William told Reuters, without giving further details of what the weapons were to be used for. "Treason is not a bailable offence ... They will remain in custody until they and their lawyers go to the legal process." A video tape made public by Liberian authorities on Friday showed Dorbor and Julu's cousin, Efraim Junior Gaye, holding discussions with an Ivorian military officer on how to transport weapons from Ivory Coast to Liberia. Liberian intelligence services recorded the video last month, after monitoring the alleged plotters since the start of the year. Dorbor told investigators in the presence of journalists that Julu, a former presidential guard commander under slain Liberian Presidential Samuel Doe, had liaised with him while he was negotiating for arms in Ivory Coast. Liberia's on-off civil war ended in 2003, when an interim government backed by United Nations peacekeepers took over the devastated West African country after former warlord and President Charles Taylor went into exile. The war had killed some 200,000 people and displaced a third of Liberia's 3 million people. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf took office early last year after winning historic post-war elections in 2005, replacing the transitional government of Gyude Bryant. Taylor is now on trial in The Hague for war crimes related to an inter-linked civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone. Although a U.N. peacekeeping contingent remains in Liberia and Johnson-Sirleaf's rule has been relatively stable, the government has previously denounced what it has called subversive activities, but there have been no convictions.

Liberia charges general, ex-speaker with treason | Reuters