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LIBERIA: Two ministers killed over June coup attempt against Taylor

MONROVIA, 16 July 2003 (IRIN) - The families of two deputy ministers who were apparently killed by government fighters in June for their alleged involvement in a failed coup to depose President Charles Taylor, have demanded that the government release the bodies and conduct a full inquiry.

At a meeting of people from Liberia's northern Nimba county in Monrovia on Tuesday, elders reported that Vice-President Moses Blah had confirmed the deaths of John Yormie, the deputy minister of national security and Isaac Vaye, the deputy minister of public works.

Blah was dismissed by Taylor and placed under house arrest for his alleged part in the 4 June coup attempt, but was later reinstated. Taylor alleged that several military commanders and senior government figures tried to overthrow him while he was out of the country attending the opening of peace talks with two rebel movements in Accra.

Cynthia Yormie, who burst into tears on hearing of her husband's death, told reporters: "It is unfair for my husband to be killed like this. All we want now is for the government to give us his body so we can have a descent burial".

She added: "We received information that General Benjamin Yeaten killed both John and Isaac in Nimba on Friday June 6."

Yeaten is the General Frontline Commander of Liberian government forces and, like Blah and the two dead ministers, is a native of Nimba county. He was linked in December 1997 to the brutal killing of Samuel Saye Dokie, an opposition politician from Nimba county, and three of his family members.

Sarah Vaye said: "Only God will revenge for us. Let Charles Taylor give me my husband body. He was a quiet man who worked very hard for Taylor."

The BBC said Taylor told parliament on Tuesday that Yormie and Vaye were both dead without explaining how they had died.

Both men had been followers of former warlord Prince Yormie Johnson, who now lives in exile in Nigeria. Johnson headed the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) from 1990-92 after breaking away from Taylor's own rebel movement, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia.

On September 9, 1990, Johnson captured former Liberian President Samuel Doe and filmed a video of his torture and execution.

Yormie, the deputy security minister who was apparently killed last month, was among those who participated in Doe's killing.

In an interview with the South African Sunday Times on 7 June, Johnson, now a 44-year old church preacher in Lagos, said he regretted killing Doe, but was still interested in ruling Liberia.

"I regret it. I thought that after Doe's death there would be a democratic administration to provide good governance," he told the newspaper.

"But the government we have in Liberia now is the worst in our history. If I knew it would be like this, I would have preferred Doe to be there than to remove Doe violently and put a monster in his place," Prince Johnson said.

Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict



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