Three top defence ministry officials suspended

Monrovia- Liberia (PANA) -- Three top officials of the Liberian defence ministry have been suspended and ordered probed by president Charles Taylor, state radio said Friday.
Deputy ministers Sylvanus Williams and Austen Clarke and assistant minister for coast guard affairs, Johnson Leaman, allegedly misapplied a consignment of fish and shrimps seized from a Greek vessel.
The justice ministry would probe them, the report said.
It said the three men were requested by the defence minister to investigate the Greek boat's collision with a Liberian coast guard patrol boat late May in Liberian territorial waters.
However, while the probe went on, the men allegedly confiscated a quantity of fish and shrimp from the foreign vessel and later put them on the local market for sale.
The officials were said to have claimed they had sent the fish and shrimps to the war front in northern Liberia for the soldiers engaging dissidents there.
Taylor, apparently not happy with the explanation, ordered a full investigation into the matter and called for the prosecution of those found guilty by the justice ministry.
Taylor has directed that repair of the Greek vessel, F-V Orca-1, be under-written by the Liberian government.
The Liberian leader has also expressed "regrets" to the Greek government for the "unfortunate" incident involving a vessel from that country, the report said.
The suspension of the three officials comes at a time when the government is battling dissidents in the north of the country.
Already, the commanding general of the Liberian army, General John Tarnue, has been under house arrest for some three weeks now in connection with the arrest of some Liberian security officials in Sierra Leone.
The men are reported to have gone into that country upon the orders of Tarnue to retrieve a commercial truck caught up in Sierra Leone after Liberia unilaterally closed its border with that country.
This marks the second house arrest of the US-trained general in less than a year.
Defence minister Daniel Chea has himself been put under house arrest on orders of president Taylor, at least once.

08 june 2001 18:01:00

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