The Associated press is reporting that Liberian Officials have confirmed the presence in Liberia of mass graves which are believed to hold the remains of people massacred during the civil war. A team headed by Jerome Verdier, chairman of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the national commission investigating human rights violations during the country's 2 decades of civil war visited the four villages where the graves are located. Among the villages "some of the survivors narrated horrible and gruesome stories of the atrocities committed against them by various warring factions during the Liberian conflict.Verdier said villagers told his team they wanted the bodies exhumed and reburied. He said while that was not his commission's role, it would try to help villagers who want to give proper burials to those massacred. The smallest grave the commission visited held 78 bodies; the largest contained as many as 500, according to Verdier.
Liberia's truth commission, patterned after a similar commission established in 1995 to examine human rights abuses in South Africa, offers victims an opportunity to air their grievances and create a historical record.
It cannot conduct criminal trials, but can recommend that some people be prosecuted.
Some 250,000 Liberians are believed to have been killed in the fighting between 1990 and 2003, when former President Charles Taylor bowed to international pressure and went into exile. He is now imprisoned in The Hague, Netherlands, awaiting trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.