Liberian police holding top mercenary
By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI, Associated Press June 14, 2011
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — A notorious mercenary known as “Bob Marley” who is accused of leading massacres in Ivory Coast to help that country’s tyrannical leader secure his slipping grip on power is in police custody in his native Liberia, officials said Tuesday.
National Liberian Police Spokesman George Bardu said the self-proclaimed general was arrested several weeks ago along with about 10 of his fighters in the pocket of southeastern Liberia where he went to hide after the fall of his employer, Ivory Coast’s strongman Laurent Gbagbo.
Marley was the leader of the mercenaries hired to help Gbagbo, who lost last year’s presidential election and then used force to stay in office for five violent months. Early in the conflict, Gbagbo recruited mercenaries from Liberia because he did not trust the regular army whose soldiers defected en masse when troops aiming to install democratically elected president Alassane Ouattara fought their way to the capital.
Liberia National Police Chief Marc Amblard said Marley, whose nom de guerre is a reference to his voluminous dreadlocks, and the other men have been charged with ‘mercenarism.’
Nelson Chineh, the magistrate in whose court the men are to face the charge, said they had been transported to Liberia’s capital of Monrovia after being initially held in Zwedru.
An official close to the investigation who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the press said that Marley was released soon after being arrested. He was re-arrested in late May after Ivorian officials put pressure on their Liberian counterparts.
“The arrest of Bob Marley sends a strong signal, marking a first step towards justice,” said Matt Wells, a researcher in the Africa division of Human Rights Watch, and the author of a report on the crimes committed in Ivory Coast. “We credibly implicated him in leading massacres in which a total of more than 100 people were executed.”
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