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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

Sama Banya Defends former German Ambassador Karl Prinz
By Dr. Sama Banya (with introduction by Awareness Times)
Jun 17, 2009, 17:18
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In 1994, at the height of Sierra Leones Brutal War which was funded and sponsored by the then-greatest enemy of Sierra Leone, Rebel Leader Charles Taylor; The German Ambassador, Karl Prinz, without informing his Host Country Sierra Leone, traveled to Liberia where he Socialised with Charles Taylor inside Taylor's Rebel Headquarters Base & Accepted Gift(s) from the Warlord

DR. SAMA BANYA DEFENDS HIM BELOW

LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF AWARENESS TIMES
From Dr. Sama S. Banya (PUAWUI)
I refer to an article which appeared in the Awareness Times of Monday June 15 entitled 'Charles Taylor Had Crowned The German Ambassador'. I admire the fearless candour with which you and your columnists write from time to time and also give you credit because you have never failed to bring out the virtues of both President Koroma and his amiable consort Sia Nyama as well as the high marks of some ministers and government functionaries. You have at the same time brought out the occasional follies of the SLPP. I must however take issue with you over the contents of the above referenced article as it pertains to the visit of former German Ambassador Karl Prinzs to Charles Taylor then factional rebel leader in Liberia at his base in Gbanga.

In the first place Gbanga was and is not in a Liberia forest, but a city in the heart of the country which Charles Taylor had made his headquarter. In the second place Ambassador Karl Prinz did not sneak into Liberia nor could his action be described as cavorting with Charles Taylor. Thirdly and most importantly, the German government did not have an Ambassador in Monrovia and the German Ambassador to Sierra Leone had oversight of the Embassy there and of the situation in the country. I dont believe this was a secret at the time.

There was a cultural evening at the Ambassadors return on the day of his return; it was a fairly crowded affair as social events staged by the Envoy and his very charming wife Anna always attracted lots of their friends. On the particular evening Karl gave an account of his most recent visit to Liberia and of how he and others joined the then American Assistant Under-Secretary of State for Africa, I cant recall now whether it was Chester Crocker, and they all traveled up to Gbanga. We were not told of the discussions but Karl Prinz had on a country cloth woven gown which Taylor had presented to him and the other envoys who traveled up for the day.

Ambassador Prinz could not while at Gbanga, "have secretly visited" Charles Taylor because that was the purpose of the group visit. That during the secret visit to Liberias jungles Ambassador was given lots of as-yet-undisclosed gifts/emoluments, then he was crowned as a Paramount Chief by Charles Taylor may be mere speculation on your part. Ambassador Prinz had oversight of his countrys interests in Liberia.

He had not been assigned there by the NPRC and I repeat could not have sneaked meaning secretly, back into Sierra Leone. The Ambassador was everywhere including attending a joint political rally organized by the Economics department at Fourah Bay College. When Julius Spencer was arrested for publishing an article which had appeared in a Swedish newspaper about Strassers fortune and asked the NPRC for comments, he was immediately arrested and whished off to Pademba Road prison and later charged to court. Karl Prinz was very furious and not only condemned the action but endeavoured to get him released but to no avail. Then he was threatened with expulsion and a few of us braved it enough to warn the regime against such action which we knew would damage our relations with the German government, a very active donor partner. Our ambassador in Bonn at the time tried in vain to alert our government that the Ambassadors activities were endorsed by his government but no one listened.

When Karl Prinz was departing from government wharf, there was not a single Foreign office personnel to see him off. What followed is now history. Former President Tejan-Kabbah made mending fences with the German government the first priority of his Foreign policy. As a postscript, the German government posted Ambassador Karl Prinz to the Republic of Korea, ROK as deputy Ambassador; later on to the Republic of Male. Since then he has served in Guinea and Sierra Leone and in between, headed the West and Eastern horn of Africa division in the German Foreign office. I was a witness to much of the events and I can state categorically that Ambassador Prinz is certainly not the villain that your article has tried to portray him. Berlin Town was one of the four Houses of the Bo School at its foundation 1906. At the outbreak of the first world war in 1914 Manchester replaced the name Berlin. In the 1990s OBBA tried with Ambassador Karl Prinzs help to recreate a Berlin Town and had even invited him as Guest Speaker at our Speech and Prize-Giving Day ceremony. We resisted the NPRCs pressure to cancel the invitation until the Ambassador himself withdrew with regret. We got Charles Margai to substitute him at short notice and what a marvelous job he did too.


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