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Thursday, June 20, 2024

HASSAN BILITY RESPONDS TO ACCUSATIONS OF MANIPULATING WITNESSES IN WAR CRIMES CASES

Date:

MONROVIA, LIBERIA – Hassan Bility, Executive Director of the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), has issued a robust rebuttal to recent allegations that his organization engaged in witness coaching and paying in connection with war crimes trials. Bility asserts that these allegations are baseless and stem from a smear campaign orchestrated by individuals with dubious motives.

In a recent development, Bility responded to allegations of witness coaching made by the International Justice Group (IJG) and others. IJG, a US-based organization, recently wrote a letter to the Minister of Justice of Liberia, urging the commissioning of an investigation into Bility and his collaborators regarding their alleged involvement in paying and coaching witnesses in war crimes cases.

The head of the IJG, former Liberian TRC Boss Cllr. Jerome Verdier, accuses Hassan Bility’s GJRP, along with civil society groups Civitas Maxima and the Center for Justice and Accountability, of being involved in witness coaching. In a communication addressed to the Liberian Justice Minister dated May 12, 2024, Verdier calls for an investigation of his civil society counterparts, stating that they are involved in advocacy with a significant appearance of impropriety bordering on fraud, criminality, gross miscarriage of justice, and other acts that have adversely and irreparably affected the livelihoods of several individuals in Liberia and abroad.

The IJG emphasizes that at a crucial juncture when the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in Liberia is nearing fruition, there should be no room for individuals like Bility and others who could potentially undermine the integrity of the process.

Defending GJRP’s Integrity

Bility categorically denies the allegations, describing them as a “distortion of the fact” by a group led by Dr. Allen White, a registered lobbyist and former investigator at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. According to Bility, White, Jerome Verdier, and Alvin Smith lack understanding of GJRP’s operations. He emphasizes that GJRP works with various jurisdictional authorities, which employ their own investigation methods. Bility highlights a case where the British Metropolitan Police’s War Crimes Unit requested and funded witness travel to Ghana, underscoring that it was not a GJRP decision.

Refuting Claims of Fake Witnesses

Bility vehemently denies that GJRP has ever provided authorities with a “fake witness.” He describes these claims as “ridiculously outrageous” and attributes them to a group of detractors attempting to tarnish GJRP’s reputation. Bility points out that in the trial of Gibril Massaquoi, the Finnish Court found evidence of witness coaching by Allen White, not GJRP. White allegedly coached witnesses, including Ansu Kromah, a former ULIMO rebel soldier, leading the Finnish Court to summon White for interfering with witnesses, a summons he refused to honor.

Motivations Behind the Allegations

Bility outlines several reasons for the unfounded allegations:

Dr. Allen White’s Request: Bility claimed that Dr. Allen White requested GJRP to drop the case against Gibril Massaquoi, citing Massaquoi’s role in helping to imprison former President Charles Taylor. Bility said he refused, emphasizing GJRP’s commitment to impartial justice.

Lack of Advocacy Record: Bility said the IJG, led by White and Verdier, lacks any record of contemporary justice advocacy. He claims their envy of GJRP’s successes has led them to attempt to discredit the organization.

Influence on Liberian Government: Bility accuses White and his associates of attempting to influence Liberian President Boakai and the legislature through lobbying, aiming to commercialize justice for victims.

Ongoing Judicial Process

Bility clarifies that the ongoing case is still under judicial consideration, thus he cannot comment on its substance. He notes that the investigation was conducted by the London Metropolitan Police, who gathered evidence independently in Liberia. The decision to go to trial was made by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and the case was dismissed on technical grounds, not due to a lack of evidence.

Commitment to Justice

Bility reaffirms GJRP’s commitment to a Liberian-led war crimes court, emphasizing the organization’s integrity and international recognition. He urges President Boakai to avoid influence from lobbyists and to ensure that justice efforts remain genuine and victim-focused.

About GJRP

The GJRP, a legally registered non-governmental organization, boasts internationally trained investigators and a record of facilitating arrests and convictions of Liberian war criminals across Europe and the United States. Bility asserts that the GJRP operates with transparency and adherence to international standards, unlike the organization led by White and Verdier, which he claims has no achievements in the field of justice.

Conclusion

Hassan Bility’s detailed response underscores his unwavering stance against the allegations, reaffirming GJRP’s dedication to justice for war crimes victims. He calls on the Liberian government and the international community to support genuine efforts to establish a war crimes court free from external influence and lobbying.

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Smart News Liberia is an online news outlet and a product of Smart Media Group Inc. Our website, smartnewsliberia.com, covers a broad spectrum of news content. For inquiries or information, you can reach us at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or email us at smartnewsliberia@gmail.com or info@smartnewsliberia.com.

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