Atrocities, witchcraft, superstition and ritualistic cannibalism during Liberia’s First Civil War (1989-1997)

A former ULIMO commander stands trial in France accused of war crimes, human rights violations, murder and cannibalism.

The rebel fighters pictured here are not related to the story below

For shortness sake reference is made to Civitas Maxima’s monitoring of the arrest and trial of Kunti Kamara, a former ULIMO commander who was arrested in France in 2018. Kunti Kamara is accused of war crimes and human rights violations including torture, rape, murder and cannibalism committed during Liberia’s first civil war (1989-1997) in Foya, Lofa County, Liberia. His trial started in Paris/France on October 10.

Ritualistic activities including ritual murder and acts of cannibalism are well-known in Liberia. This site has reported frequently on ritual murder cases, the discovery of mutilated bodies, and unexplained disappearances which allegedly are linked to ritualistic activities. Election periods and the back-to-back civil wars (1989-1997; 1999-2003) are notorious peaks in the occurrence of ritual murders.

As far back as the 1970s, President William Tolbert (1971-1980) condemned ritualistic murders (‘An eye for an eye‘) and refused to grant clemency to seven convicted ritual murderers in what was perhaps Liberia’s most notorious ritual murder case (‘the Harper Seven‘). In 2005, the Head of the LNTG, Gyude Bryant, warned presidential candidates not to commit ritual murders to boost their chances. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2006-2018) on more than one occasion spoke out against ritualistic murders. In 2017 people in Bong County protested against the ‘election year ritual killings’. More recently, during the Weah Administration (2018 – present), Liberia is again confronted with a wave of mysterious deaths, unexplained disappearances and ritual murders which has led politicians, religious leaders, civilians, to condemn these practices, urging President Weah to act.

Kunti Kamara is not the first or only rebel commander who’s being accused of ritual murder and cannibalism. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission mentions in its 2009 Final Report that hundreds of Liberians were murdered for ritual purposes during the two civil wars. In his book The Mask of Anarchy (1999), the late Stephen Ellis accuses the leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) who started Liberia’s first civil war, Charles Taylor, of drinking human blood during a juju ritual. Also Gibril Massaquoi, a RUF commander in neighboring Sierra Leone and a key-witness in the SCSL trial of warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor, was accused of murder for ritual purposes, but acquitted in April (2022).
(webmaster FVDK).

“I would never eat human heart” –
Kunti Kamara denies accusation before a French War Crimes court

Published: October 18, 2022
By: Prue Clarke, Front Page Africa – Monrovia, Liberia

PARIS, France – The former Ulimo commander Kunti Kamara, on trial here for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia’s civil wars, had his first chance to make a substantive response to the allegations made against him in the first five days of this trial.

Under questioning from the judges, civilian lawyers and prosecution lawyers Kamara denied all the accusations that victims have made against him of torture, rape, murder of civilians and “barbarism” in the town of Foya in Lofa County, Liberia between 1993 and 1994.

Kamara told the nine-person jury and four alternates that the accusations of cannibalism – that he roasted and ate the heart of a civilian who had allegedly reported his crimes to international observers – made him sick.

“Since I was arrested nothing bothered me in the trial like what they’re talking about now. Eating human beings,” Kamara said. “Even if I spend 100 years in jail I will not admit to eating a human being’s heart. Each time I hear it I want to vomit.”

“Since I was born until today I never eat pork,” said Kamara a Muslim. “Why should I eat human being heart? I have nothing to say. I am innocent. I don’t know them today. I don’t know them tomorrow.”

Kamara denied that he had ever knew anyone who had said they ate human heart including in rituals of the Poro, a traditional African society.

“Since I was small that is a rumor in the ear,” he said of Poro human sacrifice and consumption of human flesh. “But I never met anyone who said they ate heart.”

Kamara insisted that the Ulimo committed no atrocities against civilians in the four-month period he was with them in Foya though he conceded Ulimo may have committed atrocities elsewhere during the war.

He said Ulimo in Foya was under the ultimate command of Ulimo Commander Dekau. Kamara said his mandate was only as battalion commander in charge of platoons “on the frontlines”. He denied any leadership role in the town over civilians.

Kamara acknowledged Ulimo fighters that victims have identified in this trial “Ugly Boy”, “Fine Boy” and Alieu Kosiah, convicted of war crimes in Switzerland in 2021, were all with him in Foya but Kamara claimed he hardly ever saw them.

Kamara blamed the accusations that have brought him to trial here were part of a “plot” orchestrated by “a clique” led by Fayah Williams, the late deputy director at Global Justice and Research Project, the Liberian justice activists.

TRC Commissioner Massa Washington is interviewed by New Narratives’ Anthony Stephens after her testimony at the Paris trial

Late in the evening Massa Washington, the former commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, gave a powerful testimony that could prove decisive in the trial.

It was designed to answer questions that jurors may have had about whether they should be passing judgement on a Liberian for crimes committed 30 years ago in a country a long way away. That was a question French journalists were asking eachother on the sidelines of the trial.

“These trials are important because they give them people of Liberia justice,” an emotional Washington told the jury. “They give us hope that one day we’ll be able to get justice with our own judges, our own prosecutors, on our own soil. In the meantime we are grateful that some of the people who committed these gross violations of human rights who are in this country, in the US, in every country in the world where they find them they can try to bring them to justice. In the absence of our government addressing accountability these trials are the Liberian people have.”

Washington thanked the jury.

“It sends a message that we belong to the universal human race,” Washington said. “It says that the world has not forgotten Liberia. It says that we all share that common human dignity. We have the same needs. We feel the same pain. We thank you for the opportunity to tell some of these stories. I hope this has provided an important clarification for why this trial is important.”

Washington told some of the horrors she had personally witnessed as a journalist in Monrovia during the first civil war. The jury was riveted by her testimony which made clear that the testimony they were hearing from witnesses here was just a fraction of the myriad atrocities that had been committed during the war. She told of rapes of girls as young as five and of elderly women. She said her work with women made it clear to her than many of the elderly women had not come forward to the TRC hearings because of the stigma.

She told the story of an 82-year-old woman who told her she was made a war wife.

“’I was raped all the time by boys who could have been my grandchildren,’” Massa quoted the woman as saying. “Her story is just one story that represents thousands of stories. The rebels were so bad that when people were on checkpoints trying to get away from the fighting the rebels were raping the wives in front of the husbands. They even forced sons to have sex with mothers in front of the family to destroy the men. They took the young girls away.”

Earlier in the day the fifth victim to testify against Kamara detailed the alleged torture, killing and cannibalism of a schoolteacher in Foya that all victims have claimed was directed by the defendant.

He also talked more broadly of the suffering of people in Lofa during Ulimo’s occupation of the town. His telling of the experience of the women he had planned to marry was a harrowing example of the broader suffering of the people.

“M. was my girlfriend and Ugly Boy took her as a sex slave,” the victim told the Paris court talking of the now deceased perpetrator that many victims have alleged was Kamara’s lieutenant who followed his orders to commit many of the crimes. The court has ordered press to withhold victims’ names for their security.

“This was another blow to me,” the victim told the court. ”I really planned to marry her. The first time I saw her after the war, it was painful, but it had happened. She was not at fault. I saw her but the stigma was too heavy. I could no longer take her as a wife. By tradition anyone who takes a wife after that is easily rejected from society. In addition, because of her time as a sex slave, she conceived. I am feeling it for her now because her situation is too deplorable.”

The trial continues Tuesday with more testimonies from victims about the murder of a woman in Lofa.

This story is a collaboration with New Narratives as part of the West Africa Justice Reporting Project. 

Source: Liberia: “I would never eat human heart” Kamara Tells War Crimes Court as TRC Commissioner Washington Makes a Powerful Case for the Legitimacy of the French Trial

And:

Liberia: “You are Kundi. You killed my sister”
A third victim identifies Kamara as perpetrator in War Crimes Trial

The three judges in the trial of Kunti Kamara in Paris, France (Credit: Leslie Lumeh/New Narratives)

Published: October 19, 2022
By: Anthony Stephens and Prue Clarke with New Narratives, Front Page Africa – Monrovia,

PARIS, France – On Tuesday a third victim identified Kunti Kamara, on trial for torture, cannibalism and crimes against humanity in the Paris Court, as “Co Kundi” the rebel commander who allegedly committed atrocities in Foya, Lofa County, Liberia.

The man was one of four plaintiffs who have brought the case against Kamara here in Paris, France where Kamara was living when he was arrested in 2019 after French investigators built a case against him.

“You are Kundi,” the man said turning to look at Kamara directly, barely containing his obvious emotion and rage. The plaintiff pointed at Kamara who was sitting behind his lawyers in a protective glass case. “I know you very well. You the one that killed my sister.”

The now elderly man told the court Kamara arrived at his house in Foya in late 1993 after the man’s sister’s baby had died. He alleged Kamara gave the family $L100 for their pain.

Soon after that Kamara allegedly ordered the victim’s sick and half naked sister – the mother of the child – dragged from the house. He accused her of witchcraft. The victim said Kamara and his troops had taken over the house for themselves and already had his wife, son and mother in custody at the time. Kamara did not know the man, who was standing with a crowd, was a member of the family.

The victim was overcome with tears as told the court that he had watched as Kamara put three bullets in his sister’s head.

Within months the man’s mother was also dead from illness. The victim blamed Kunti for the grief the murder of his sister had caused her.

“She cried every day,” he said. “So she became sick from not seeing my sister.”

The lawyer for the civil parties asked the victim if he had anything to say to Kamara but he took the opportunity to issue a warning to the judges instead.

“I’m very happy to see all the officers to take care of Kundi,” he said pointing to the court officers who accompany the defendant at all times. “This government should not leave Kundi to come back to Liberia.”

Kamara rejected all the allegations as he has done consistently throughout this trial.

“I’m just shocked,” an agitated Kamara told the president of the court Thierry Fusina. “I don’t know him. These people, it’s my first time to see them in my life. I don’t know them! They are lying on me. I’m not a criminal.”

Earlier in the day another witness to the alleged murder of the sick woman accused of witchcraft gave evidence that appeared to contradict testimony that he gave to an earlier investigating judge in the case.

Source: Liberia: “You Are Kundi. You Killed My Sister” – A Third Victim Identifies Kamara as Perpetrator in War Crimes Trial

Nigeria: a woman in Ondo State escapes from her abductors, other kidnapped ladies fall victim to a ritual killing network

Warning: the story below contains graphic details which may upset the reader.

A 24-year-old lady from Warri, Delta State, has escaped from a den of ritual killers after being lured with a fake lucrative job offer abroad. After spending nine months in the bush where her abductors impregnated her she managed to escape. Other women who also had been kidnapped were not so lucky. After being raped, some women died of hunger and diseases, some were ritually murdered by their abductors who also used their babies for ritualistic purposes.

The article makes no mention of any arrest. Abductions are rife in Nigeria, both for purposes of demanding a ransom and for ritualistic purposes. According to the article, citing the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, an estimated 750,000 to one million persons are trafficked annually in Nigeria. Some 75% of those trafficked are taken across the states, 23% within states while 2% are moved outside the country, mostly to places in Europe and in Asia. Un unknown number of them is killed for ritual purposes in Nigeria (‘money rituals’).
(webmaster FVDK). 

Nigerian Woman Lured With Fake Italian Job Ends Up In Ritualists’ Den In Ondo, Impregnated By Abductors

Published: November 30, 2021
By: Sahara Reporters, New York

Mercy was made to believe that the salary was good and that they could pay for the travel expenses when they reached Italy and had started earning.

A 24-year-old lady simply identified as Mercy, who is based in Warri, Delta State, has escaped from a den of ritual killers after being lured with a fake lucrative job offer in Italy.

SaharaReporters learnt that the victim, who lost her father as a baby and was abandoned by her mother at 11 months, was told by a friend that there was a woman in Lagos State ready to sponsor them to Italy to work as sales attendants in stores and stewards for rich clients.

Mercy was made to believe that the salary was good and that they could pay for the travel expenses when they reached Italy and had started earning.

Desperate for a new life away from Warri where she endured an abusive relationship that produced a son, the 24-year-old lady did not inform her guardian, Maureen, before leaving for Lagos State in October 2020 with her friend, who was also lured and tricked to believe the trip was real.

Their journey to Italy was to start immediately after they arrived in Lagos and met with the sponsor of their trip.

But things took a different turn when Mercy and her friend, who is now deceased, finally linked up with team members of the woman that was to take them to Europe in a house around Surulere, a Lagos suburb.

“Mercy and her friend were given laced juice to drink when they arrived at the place they were to meet with the person, who promised to take them to Italy. They became unconscious for hours and only realised that they were in danger when they found themselves in a forest.

“Mercy summoned the courage to ask the men who had guns to take them out of the place but they beat her so much that she fainted,” Eriyo told SaharaReporters on Tuesday.

The days that followed that period were hellish for Mercy and the other ladies, who found themselves in the forest and at the receiving end of the cruelty dished out by the gun-wielding men.

Apart from being subjected to several hours of rape daily, the victims of the abduction and ritual killing network were made to endure hunger for several days.

They were only given two slices of bread once in three days and made to drink from a dirty pond inside the forest.

Mercy and many of the victims fell sick at various times while in captivity with some of them dying in the process.

“Many of the young ladies lured by this syndicate died of hunger and diseases from the dirty water they drank while in the forest.

“Their body parts were sold to ritualists who constantly demanded such. A lady who got pregnant and delivered there died but the baby survived. The gang used the innocent child for rituals along with the mother’s body.

“The place was a forest of death where no victim ever came out alive. The area was fortified and watched by members of this syndicate who all had sophisticated guns with them,” Eriyo added.

After spending around nine months inside this den, Mercy, her late friend and two others summoned the courage to escape from the place despite the presence of the gun-wielding men in various sections of the forest.

One day, after those guarding the place, were excessively high on drugs and alcohol and had dozed off, a handful of the victims escaped from the place. 

They walked for three days inside the forest before getting to an expressway where a truck driver transporting food items to Lagos reluctantly carried them in his vehicle to the city.

The friend, who introduced the Italy trip to Mercy, did not make it out of the forest – she died while they were escaping from the place.

“Mercy is still in shock over everything she went through inside that forest. She returned to Warri last Thursday and gave birth by Caesarean section on Sunday.

“She was impregnated by her captors, who took turns to rape her and other ladies in the bush. Others like her who got pregnant in that forest and delivered there had their babies collected from them for ritual purposes.

“The trauma and pain are still fresh for her because many times she screams from her sleep, afraid that those people in the forest would come back to take her. The situation is affecting her mentally.

“She needs a lot of help to overcome the pain. I am trying my best to support her in ways I can but she needs great help.

“She is still in the hospital after giving birth by CS. Her health is of great concern to us because she has high blood pressure at the moment. She needs urgent assistance and intervention in various forms,” Eriyo said.

Trafficking in persons in Nigeria has been a major issue for years with the government failing to tackle the situation to a halt despite public outcry.

While in the past ladies were mostly taken to Italy, Spain and other European countries for prostitution, these days such persons after being lured by the syndicate in this illicit business, end up as sex slaves in Asian countries or killed for ritual purposes in Nigeria.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, an estimated 750,000 to one million persons are trafficked annually in Nigeria.

The organisation went on to say that over 75 per cent of those trafficked are taken across the states, 23 per cent within states while two per cent are moved outside the country.

Source: Nigerian Woman Lured With Fake Italian Job Ends Up In Ritualists’ Den In Ondo, Impregnated By Abductors

Liberia: adolescent girl tortured, accused of witchcraft

I’ve hesitated to include the article below on this blog – partly because of the gruesome nature of the described act, partly because of the graphic description of the treatment, obviously a form of torture, which family members inflicted upon a girl they accused of witchcraft and being responsible for the death of an uncle.

Eventually I decided to reproduce the article here and to share it with a larger audience. The reason why I choose to do so is because witchcraft lies at the bottom of their repulsive behavior. This site is focusing on superstition and everything which relates to it in a criminal way: ritualistic acts, ritual murders, ‘money rituals’ (Nigeria), muti murders (in Southern Africa), and – indeed – witchcraft. The fact that the ultimate victim, a young and innocent girl, was maltreated and tortured was another reason for drawing attention to this incident. Unfortunately, rape is a daily crime in Liberia and most perpetrators get away with their crimes. In Liberia, impunity seems to be the rule, and not the rule of law.

Therefore, again a warning: the following article contains graphic details of a form of torture (webmaster FVDK).

Liberia: Adolescent Girl Sodomized After Being Thrown Out for Witchcraft

Published: July 3, 2020
By: FrontPage Africa 

MONROVIA – A girl believed in her late teens has been sexually assaulted in her anus after she was thrown out of her family in Omega Tower Community on accusation on her being witchcraft.

According to a source close to the family, the incident occurred on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 night when she was asleep.

The girl (name withheld) was discovered early Wednesday morning lying helpless on the main road that links Montserrado to Margibi, crying for rescue.

Some community members felt pity for her, took her from the street, gave her food and water. They at the same time called the Women and Children Division of the Liberia National Police to take the survivor to hospital for treatment.

Her current condition has left community members blaming her family for neglecting her and throwing her out of the house after alleging that she confessed killing her 25 years old uncle (name withheld) in May of this year after a brief period of illness.           

A family source interviewed by this paper narrated that after the death of the uncle, the survivor and her partners were tortured and beaten badly on grounds that they are responsible for his death. This, according to the source, caused her mother and father to escape with her other siblings leaving her at the mercy of the family.

“During the night when her uncle died,” the eyewitness said, “that child was beaten by his family and a man who claimed to be a big man in the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA) at which time they broke one of her legs.”

“After all the torture, they still threw her out of the house, they forgot to even take into consideration the danger it poses to her health, not only the aspect of rape.”  

“I do not know why people find pleasure in accusing innocent children of the act of witchcraft when, in fact, there is no way they can prove their accusations,” the eyewitness said in pity.

The eyewitness said after the death of the survivor’s uncle the family members brought a native doctor who said that girl and her partners were responsible for his death.

“After the native doctor was brought here, the family said that the girl confessed that she and her partners killed her uncle because he means them with food,” the eyewitness said.

The eyewitness expressed deep frustration in said aptitude adding that “I do not know who the man that did such a wicked act to a child in such condition.”

According to the eyewitness, the LNP Children Division was able to take the child to the hospital.

“What we are praying for now is not just the treatment of the child but an investigation being done to bring the perpetrator to justice and even the family because they were the ones who exposed her to such danger.”            

In Liberia, rape has become the order of the day with few out of many girls who have suffered such horrible acts from their male counterparts are lucky to get the needed justice.

With many perpetrators understanding that the justice system is very weak, they go ahead to sexually abused girls and walk in the street with impunity.

Source: Liberia: Adolescent Girl Sodomized After Being Thrown Out for Witchcraft