Liberia: ‘General’ Bill Horace, Commander in Charles Taylor’s NPFL, Gunned Down in Canada
London, Ontario – William Bill Horace, a former General, in Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front rebel movement is dead. Horace, was gunned down at a home in London, Ontario.
Horace was reportedly shot following an early morning home invasion in the Clarke Road and Gore Road area.
Police Yet to Name Victim
Police in London, Ontario have not named Horace as the victim; but friends and family members have confirmed to FrontPageAfrica that it was Horace. “At this point we’re unable to confirm the identity of the deceased or any other details of this investigation. The investigation is in the preliminary stages. When we have further information an updated release will be sent out”, Kimberly Flett, Relief Media Officer told FrontPageAfrica via email Sunday.
A CTV report Sunday reported an incident which occurred around 4:45 a.m. Sunday, when they were called about some suspicious individuals entering a home in the area of Pochard Lane and Woodfern Road.
“The killing of Mr. Bill Horace is sad and regretable. Even though Mr. Horace stood accused of committing war related crimes in Liberia, during Liberia’s first civil war, this is really not what we wanted. He was never tried and found guilty. My sympathies to his family. I hope the Canadian authorities find his killers and bring them to justice. Having said that, I wish to call on the Liberian Government to wake up from its slumber and inaction to begin to hold the high Priests of war, who murdered hundreds of thousands of Liberians and non- Liberians in their quest for political power.Mr. Hassan Bility, Founder and Director of the Global Justice & Research Project
The people fled the area shortly after police were called. Once on scene, police located a male who had suffered a gunshot wound and has since been pronounced dead.
The London Free Press quoted an eyewitness who identified the victim as Bill.
A neighbour, quoted by CTV News says he saw four males in hoodies in the area around 4:20 a.m and heard one shot and then a woman scream. He said the four males jumped into two vehicles and sped off.
Friends and family members are unsure what may have led to Horace’s execution-style killing.
Horace has for years been under investigation by Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program, a collaborative unit consisting of the RCMP, the Department of Justice, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, and the Canada Border Services Agency.
He fought in the NPFL, a militia founded and led by Taylor, the former president of Liberia who in May 2012 was sentenced to 50 years in prison by a United Nations-backed war crimes court.
Horace was accused of involvement in the Décor operation, a rubber plantation on the outskirts of Pleebo, Maryland County which led to the killings of more than 60 people as well as the killing of Robert Hoff, aka ‘Ray Hay’ in Sinoe. Hoff was a logging magnate generally known amongst Southeasterners. He was an American, whose wife currently lives in England, UK. Other crimes he was accused of include rape and torture.
GJRP: Sympathies to Family, But…
Mr. Hassan Bility, Founder and Director of the Global Justice & Research Project, a non-governmental organization dedicated to the documentation of war crime atrocities in Liberia and to assisting victims in pursuit of justice for these crimes, told FrontPageAfrica Sunday that the killing is regrettable and hopes Canadian authorities find Horace’s killers.
Said Bility: “The killing of Mr. Bill Horace is sad and regretable. Even though Mr. Horace stood accused of committing war related crimes in Liberia, during Liberia’s first civil war, this is really not what we wanted. He was never tried and found guilty. My sympathies to his family. I hope the Canadian authorities find his killers and bring them to justice. Having said that, I wish to call on the Liberian Government to wake up from its slumber and inaction to begin to hold the high Priests of war, who murdered hundreds of thousands of Liberians and non- Liberians in their quest for political power. These quack revolutionaries, filled with greed and consumed by disrespect for all laws of war and human rights, must not, and will not, be allowed to get away with blood on their hands. This is a responsibility the Liberian Government must take seriously. The time has now come for the liberian electorate to play their part- to reject warlords who want to hold elective positions in Liberia.”
Horace was the subject of an extensive report in the Canada-based McClean Magazine in March 2010.
McClean reported that witnesses testified during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission implicated Horace and men under his command in horrendous atrocities.
Horace was born around 1971, and grew up in the Liberian port city of Buchanan, in Grand Bassa County. He and his family fled their hometown when the NPFL advanced on Buchanan in the spring of 1990. They sought shelter in the capital, Monrovia.
Soon Monrovia itself was under siege. Residents starved and were brutalized by the three main warring factions: the NPFL, a breakaway rebel group that called itself the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), and government armed forces still loyal to the country’s president, Samuel Doe, a corrupt and undemocratic thug. A Nigerian-led military force, the Economic Community Monitoring Group, was deployed by a coalition of West African states to restore order, but failed.
Horace Acknowledged NPFL Ties in ‘09
Horace arrived in Canada about a decade ago. When first contacted by Maclean’s in 2009, Horace admitted membership in the NPFL but rebuffed or ignored subsequent attempts to interview him. None of the allegations against him has been proven in court. “Yes, I was with NPFL. Of course I was NPFL,” he said during a brief telephone conversation, referring to the National Patriotic Front of Liberia by its initials. Horace said he would speak about his time in the NPFL at a later date, but then ignored numerous messages left on his phone or with his former wife. Reached by phone this January, he refused to discuss his past and said his lawyer would call,” the magazine reported.
One of Horace’s alleged victims, a man named John Harmon, told Maclean’s about a day in 1993 when Horace and men under his commander confronted Harmon and other hungry civilians who were foraging for oil palm fruit at an abandoned plantation near the town of Pleebo, close to the border with Ivory Coast.
“They came and accused us of looting and therefore said we should be executed,” said Harmon. “Twenty-one were executed in all fashions. They were shot. They were beheaded. Some were nailed to the cross, like my brother, Steve. He was nailed to the cross and then later shot.”
Harmon told McClean that the victims took a long time to die. “We cried. We tried to talk to [Horace]. People came, some of our relatives came, and they were on the spot begging him while the executions were going on. It is a horrible thing to talk about.”
Despite War Crimes Act, Canada Unlikely to Prosecute
Harmon said he was saved by the intervention of another NPFL commander named Turtle Bone.
According to McClean, Harmon’s story was corroborated by two witnesses who gave statements to Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission—though one of the two recalled that the alleged massacre occurred in 1992.
“Everyone around here used to go to the big palm nut farm to cut palm and make oil to eat and sell,” one witness told the commission. “Gen. Bill Horace and his men were passing. They entered the plantation and accused us of looting the place. He then ordered his men to arrest people. They started chasing us, and everybody was running all over the place. They then started firing at us. I first saw one woman fall.
The bullet hit her on the head. Her husband was crying. Then one of the other fighters shot him also.”
Under Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, anyone who has committed gross human rights violations can be criminally charged, regardless of their legal status in Canada or where the alleged atrocities took place. An individual can be held accountable for crimes he personally committed, or for those carried out by subordinates.
FrontPageAfrica has learned that Horace was undergoing investigation for possible deportation to Liberia prior to his death.
In 2000, Canada put in place the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, become the first country in the world to incorporate the obligations of the Rome Statute into its national laws. The country was then able to ratify the Rome Statute on July 9, 2000.
In January 2016, Cindor Reeves, brother-in-law of former President Taylor, widely credited with taking down and stopping the trade in blood diamonds, was deported to Liberia from Canada where criminal charges are exceedingly rare in war crimes cases.
In Canada, suspects are more likely to be deported than charged. The standard of proof is lower, as are the financial costs involved. Since the act was passed more than a decade ago, two people have been prosecuted and one convicted.