The Mysterious Death of a Fugitive

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 7, 2003

Sam Bockarie
Reports from Liberia indicate that Taylor's trusted RUF partner has been killed in Liberia. Sam Bockarie, alias Mosquito, fled Sierra Leone during a struggle between him and Foday Sankoh and sought refuge in Liberia. The government of Sierra Leone immediately requested the extradition of Mr. Bockarie but to no avail. Similar requests for the extradition of Mr. Bockarie for "safekeeping" were made by ECOWAS' leaders but without any success. At the beginning of the year 2001, Mr. Charles Taylor told the Sierra Leone government and ECOWAS that as a result of his new policy of "disengagement", he had expelled Sam Bockarie and all persons associated with the RUF rebel group from Liberia.

Commenting on Mr. Taylor's claims that Mr. Bockarie and RUF members had been expelled, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan once wrote: "I share the dismay expressed by the ECOWAS Mission regarding the untidy manner in which the Government handled the expulsion of RUF members, in particular Sam Bockarie. Unverified information reaching the Secretariat indicate that Bockarie is still living in Liberia and that the Government of Liberia has not severed it relations with RUF in Sierra Leone. This information seems to corroborate UNAMSIL's observation..."

Since Mr. Taylor made that statement, several reports by the UN Panel of Experts, Global Witness, etc. indicate that Sam Bockarie was still living in Liberia. He had become a senior member of Taylor's dreaded ATU and was connected with the notorious Gbatala base headed by Chucky Taylor. On December 20, this paper reported Taylor's involvement in the Ivorian conflict, evidenced by the fact that about ninety percent of the fighters in Danane were ATU, RUF and former NPFL fighters under the command of Cocoo Dennis. The article also spoke of the involvement of Sam Bockarie and Benjamin Yeaten, Director of Taylor's personal bodyguards (Special Security Service).

But as a new Liberian rebel group known as the Movement for Democracy in Liberia mounts pressure and threatens Taylor's pepperbush (the logging industry), Mr. Taylor decided to sue for peace. Convinced that the new group is supported by the Gbagbo regime in the Ivory Coast, he, via President Eyadema of Togo, arranged a meeting with President Gbagbo. The Eyadema meeting brought together both Taylor and Gbagbo in Togo. In a bid to make peace with the Gbagbo regime in the Ivory Coast, Mr. Taylor is said to have engineered the murder of Ivorian rebel leader Felix Doh. His go-to man for the task of killing his former friend Felix Doh was Sam Bockarie. After the assassination of Mr. Doh, Bockarie was driven back into Liberia by the Ivorian rebels. He is said to have fled Danane with over 300 vehicles that were sold in Nimba County at about US$500.00 per car.

But the killing of Doh, which put Bockarie back in the headlines did not make Mr. Taylor's problems evaporate. Recently, the judge of the Special Court in Sierra Leone, Dr. White, said that he had evidence that Mr. Charles Taylor was harboring Sam Mosquito Bockarie and Johnny Paul Koroma in Liberia. The judge also threatened to use the UN system to have Mr. Taylor arrested if he did not turn the men over to the court. As expected the Taylor regime denied that the two wanted men were in Liberia.

Despite the denial, there is fear in Taylor's inner circle about the threat from Judge White. Turning Bockarie over to the court is not his problem. His real problem is what Bockarie will say in court that will implicate him (Taylor). He feels that unlike Foday Sankoh who is playing dumb in court, Bockarie will talk. So he decided to erase the evidence. Contrary to the government claims that Mr. Bockarie entered Liberia and was killed while resisting arrest, it is believed that Mr. Bockarie was actually living in Nimba County, Liberia, and that he was lured into coming to Monrovia and was eventually killed.

Mr. Johnny Paul Koroma, another fugitive wanted by the Court in Sierra Leone may be purged next. Will this stop Judge White from indicting Mr. Taylor? Time will tell!