Liberia: Former Rebel Commander Confirms Human Beings Killed, Cut into Pieces, and Sold in Wheelbarrow in Foya in French Court

PARIS, France – “Fine Boy” Kamara was one of the most notorious leaders of the Ulimo rebel group when it terrorized the town of Foya, Lofa County in Liberia between 1993 and 1994. On Tuesday he became a witness, appearing via a video link from Monrovia in the appeal of fellow Ulimo commander Kunti Kamara (no relation) of his 2022 war conviction here for crimes including rape, cannibalism, torture and murder.  

Kamara’s lawyer had requested Fine Boy give an account of Ulimo’s actions in Foya and Kamara’s role. Kamara has always insisted he was a frontline commander and spent little time with civilians in towns.   

Fine Boy confirmed accounts by earlier witnesses that another Ulimo fighter named as Ugly Boy had killed a man suspected of being a rebel with Charles Taylor’s rebel faction, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, and butchered him into pieces, had his parts placed in a wheelbarrow, and sold across Foya. One witness testified that she had been forced to buy, cook and eat the meat.

“I will tell this court the truth because I am fasting,” he said of the observance of the Muslim tradition of Ramadan. “In Ulimo, there were some bad, bad and disgruntled soldiers who were doing their own thing and not following the rules.”

“Because of the ill-treatment and harassment of civilians, he and I battled and we never had a good relationship, and because of that, Ugly Boy and I became enemies,” Fine Boy told the court. “Ugly Boy almost killed me.”

One of the civil parties testifies before the French court

Fine Boy told the court that he joined Ulimo in 1992 in Macenta, Guinea from where their leaders later led them into Liberia.

“The message they preached to us was that we were coming back to open our mosques and that’s how I joined Ulimo to come back to Liberia because life was too hard for me in Guinea,” Fine Boy said.

He said his other motivations for joining the faction were revenge for the murder of his uncle by the NPFL and to protect himself and his family.

Fine Boy said, while in Foya, their faction came under heavy attack by the Sierra Leonean rebel group the Revolutionary United Front. A batch of Ulimo back-up forces joined them in Foya to aid them in pushing back the RUF which had links with the NPFL. He added that Kamara was among the Ulimo forces that entered Foya to aid them.

“When we captured Foya, Foya was empty. Most of the people were in the bush. As we patrolled in the bushes, the civilians started coming out into Foya Town. Ulimo soldiers brought most of them from the bush and some came willingly on their own.”

When Fine Boy joined the Ulimo faction at the time they entered Foya, he replaced Ugly Boy as the new “Deputy S2” – the role served as the liaison between Ulimo and the civilians at the time.

Fine Boy said Ugly Boy’s removal came due to the many complaints from the civilians against Ugly Boy accusing him of harassment, threats, and rape.

Fine Boy confirmed that Kamara was a battlefront commander contending with the RUF at the various borders after RUF invaded Foya, but he said Kamara would go back to Foya from the front at different times and was be based in there the days he was not on the frontline.  

Fine Boy denied ever seeing atrocities committed with his own eyes but multiple witnesses have described seeing him commit atrocities. Were Fine Boy to have obtained asylum in Europe, as Kamara did, he may well be sitting in a court himself.

Fine Boy confirmed that in retaliation for the death of rebel leader Mamie Wata’s brother he heard that Ugly Boy collected a young man Ugly Boy claimed was an NPFL rebel and had him killed, cut into pieces, and the victim’s body parts placed into a wheelbarrow with Ugly Boy demanding the civilians buy the human remains or risk being killed if they refused.

Fine Boy told the court this news forced him to go out to put a stop to Ugly Boy  – one of the things that brought a big split between them.

“One day I was sitting in the office and a group of civilians came to me and said Ugly Boy had put human parts in a wheelbarrow for them to buy and eat it, so we got up and went there to stop him from those behaviors. We took the parts from him, and we buried the bodies, and I filed a complaint against him,” Fine Boy said.

Fine Boy said he could not confirm or deny other acts of torture, violence, forced labor, and killings that went on in other parts of Foya by other Ulimo soldiers.

In 2021 Fine Boy was one of the witnesses who testified before the Federal Criminal Court in Switzerland when Alieu Kosiah, another Ulimo commander, was being tried for atrocities committed in Foya. Kosiah was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to 20 years in prison in Switzerland.

Many of the witnesses who had testified in both Kamara and Kosiah’s trials told the court of the trauma they continue to suffer from the deaths of their loved ones and the horrors they said they witnessed during the war in Lofa.

Two of Tuesday’s witnesses, both women, said they still live with the trauma of things that happened to them during the wars. They requested the judge hear them “in camera”, meaning with no witnesses, for their privacy.  Only the judges, jury, civil parties, and lawyers were allowed inside the courtroom.

Before the two women’s in-camera testimonies, the court heard Christian Ballouard, a psychologist share with the court his analysis of three civil parties who have told the court that they continue to suffer from trauma after the Liberian wars and what happened to their relatives. We are withholding the identities of these witnesses to protect them from retaliation.

The psychologist said he had found found the victims were suffering trauma and physical effects. Ballouard said he spoke with the civil parties in private at separate times and locations adding that he did not detect signs of falsehood, but he registered that the victims still suffered from some form of trauma. Ballouard acknowledged some inconsistencies in dates and times provided by parties’ testimonies, something he said could be due to other factors.

The trial continues Wednesday.

This story was a collaboration with FrontPage Africa as part of the West Africa Justice Reporting Project.