Liberia: General Bill Horace - Warlord in Denial Resulted in Deadly Climax

London, Ont — In his application for permanent residence in Canada, Bill Chambers Horrace, known to many during the heydays of the Liberian civil war as a general in Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia told Canadian authorities that From the age of 17, he worked as a chaplain in the Liberian army of the National Patriotic Reconstruction Assembly Government (NPRAG).

Horrace, 44, was killed early last Sunday morning. The investigation has revealed that four suspects arrived at 232 Pochard Lane in two vehicles at 4:40 am, on June 21, 2020. The suspects forcibly entered the home where a physical altercation occurred which culminated with the victim being shot by one of the suspects. Other family members were inside of the home at the time of the incident.

Officers responded to a 9-1-1 call in relation to this incident, locating the victim who had suffered a gunshot wound. The victim was transported to hospital by Paramedic Services where he was pronounced deceased. The suspects involved fled the scene prior to police arrival. The suspects are described as:

Last week, London, Ontario Police Service charged 22 year-old Keiron Gregory of North York, Ontario, in connection with the home invasion and homicide that took place on Pochard Lane on June 21, 2020.

Mr. Gregory is charged with one count of Second Degree Murder by way of warrant of arrest issued on June 25, 2020. His whereabouts are unknown however it is believed he may be in the Greater Toronto Area. Anyone with information with respect to his whereabouts is asked to contact the London Police Service or their local police service.

According to London, Ontario police, all four suspects are still outstanding, and the incident remains under investigation: The first, a male, Black, 6 feet tall, thin build, wearing a black hospital-style mask, grey sweat pants and a hooded sweatshirt; second, a male, Black, wearing a black hospital-style mask and a hooded sweatshirt with a red strip down the arm; third, a male, Black, wearing a black hospital-style mask and a hooded sweatshirt; and four, a male, Black, very light complexion, short with a thin build, short braids and grey sweatpants.

Trailed of Unanswered Questions

Horrace's death has left a trail of questions regarding his ties to the NPFL and the mystery surrounding a hard-knock life resulting in counterfeit money charges.

In Canadian immigration documents including several pages of Mr. Horrace's application, the former NPFL General claimed that on his last assignment, he had a disagreement with the military commander, General Saye. "Civilians had been complaining of harassment and abuses by military officers. When Mr. Horrace complained multiple times to the General to take action to stop the abuses, the General had him arrested and detained for voicing his concerns. He was released from detention but ordered to the battlefront. He was not trained for battle; he was only a chaplin. He argued with the General but eventually relented out of fear of being arrested again."

Horrace continued: "The night before the army trucks were scheduled to leave for the battlefront, Mr. Horrace escaped to Bong Mines. He soon learned that the General had charged him with mutiny and "different intentions" (desertion) and the penalty for these military offences included death."

Horrace's testimony pales into comparison to what many who testified during the Truth & Reconciliation Commission remembered.

'His Name Was Mention' at TRC

Massa Washington, a veteran journalist who covered Liberia's civil war and a commissioner of the defunct Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) says throughout the TRC hearing, Horace was described as one of the "very notorious NPFL war generals" of convicted President Charles Taylor.

Speaking to the BBC's Focus on Africa last week, Washington said Horace carried out most of his war activities in the southeastern region of Liberia and allegedly committed some of the most atrocious crimes in that part of Liberia during the conflict. "He murdered whole families, shot people to death, behead people; he and his men were involved in the rape of women, opening pregnant women's stomach; he was allegedly involved with the massacre of people. I specifically remember one massacre in River Gbeh which is now River Gee County - his name was also mentioned as one of the key perpetrators involved in that massacre."

According to her, the killing of the Horace does not come as a welcoming news to many Liberians who suffered untold sufferings at his hands or command. She said he was listed in the TRC report to face justice and his demise without prosecution is justice denied for hundreds of Liberians. "His passing - I don't think it's a very good news for Liberians, especially his victims because justice has not been served in this case. He's dead and gone, he's not going to face the war crimes court, he's not going to account on this earth for the wickedness that he's done," she said.

In his filings to Canadian immigration, says he fled Liberia first to the Ivory Coast and then to Europe. He spent two years in Spain as an asylum-seeker. "In Spain, he met Mabinty Karmara, who was there as a refugee claimant from Sierra Leone. Mabinty and Mr. Horrace had two daughters together. Mr. Horrace and Mabinty separated and she relocated to Sweden with their daughters. Mr. Horrace has always remained in close contact with Mabinty and his daughters and he financially supports them," according to the report.

Mr. Horrace arrived in Canada on August 2, 2002 and made a refugee claim against Liberia at the port-of-entry. His identity was established and he was found eligible to proceed with a refugee claim. His refugee claim was referred to the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board.

According to the filings, Mr. Horrace's claim was based on his fear of being unjustly arrested for mutiny or for desertion from the NPRAG military and the potential death sentence or life-threatening conditions he would face in Liberian prison.

On September 21, 2005, the RPD determined that Mr. Horrace was excluded from the application of the definition of Convention refugee pursuant to Article 1F(a) of the the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees based on involvement in the NPRAG military.

On May 24th, 2006, the Court granted a leave application to review the September 21, 2005 decision of the RPD.

On August 21, 2006, Mr. Horrace and the Department of Justice jointly withdrew the Federal Court application on the basis of a consent order for a de novo determination on his claim for refugee protection. As such, the exclusion decision ceased to have any effect.

Exclusion was not an issue at Mr. Horrace's de novo hearing at the RPD. The Minister had intervened in the case but his representative withdrew the Article 1F(a) exclusion allegation due to a lack of evidence. The RPD proceeded to assess whether or not Mr. Horrace was a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection (inclusion assessment). His refugee claim was refused on September 26, 2008.

The determinative issue was a political change in circumstances in Liberia. An application for leave and judicial review of the de novo RPD decision was dismissed at Federal Court.

Mr. Horrace remained in Canada because there was an administrative deferral on removals to Liberia at that time.

Mr. Horrace submitted an application for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds in April 2009, before the administrative deferral of removals to Liberia ended in July 2009. He included all the details of his past and current circumstances with his initial H&C application and subsequent updates.

NPFL Link Denied

Despite his struggles, Mr. Horrace worked very hard to establish a successful life in Canada. According to his filings for permanent residency, he co- opened a hair salon in Toronto, which he recently sold for a profit. He also worked as a front-line worker for the Salvation Army, with a primary focus on helping Toronto's homeless populations. In 2007, he began an import/export business for farming equipment. He continues to work in this business to date.

Horrace also began a program to become qualified as a pastor in Canada at Tyndale College and Seminary, an evangelical school that trains ministers. He was not able to complete the program because one of the requirements was to undertake an international "mission" internship in South America or Africa and he was not able to leave Canada because his pending H&C and PRRA applications. Without the required qualifications, he is could not work as a pastor in Canada but he remains a god-fearing man and he attends church every Sunday.

On March 25th, 2010, an article from Maclean's Magazine was published, which alleged that Mr. Horrace was a general in the National Patriotic Front of Liberia and that he was responsible for war crimes. Maclean's acknowledged the sources conflicted in their account of the details and that the allegations were not proven in Court. Maclean's published a second article on June 25, 2012. Mr. Horrace maintains that the allegations contained in the articles are false.

In September 2011, over a year and half after the first Maclean's article was published, senior immigration officer, Cameron Ruthven, made decisions on both of Mr. Horrace's PRRA and H&C applications.

Mr. Horrace's PRRA application was refused. Senior officer Ruthven found that there was insufficient objective evidence to demonstrate that country conditions had changed significantly since the RPD decision in order to justify a positive risk assessment. Within that decision, the officer also found that Mr. Horrace was not inadmissible on grounds of security or violating human or international rights.

Senior officer Ruthven granted Mr. Horrace's request for an exemption on the H&C grounds and, as such, his permanent residence application was "approved-in- principle".

After receiving the positive H&C decision, Mr. Horrace complied with all requests from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), now Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). As time passed, Mr. Horrace made numerous requests for status updates in the hopes of obtaining a final decision on his application.

Mr. Horrace learned through a request under the Access to Information and Privacy Acts (ATIP request) that even though the senior officer who decided his H&C and PRRA found him admissible, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) independently launched an investigation into a possible inadmissibility on security grounds.

On February 9th, 2012, Mr. Horrace was interviewed by a CBSA officer regarding the allegations contained in the Maclean's article. He was questioned for approximately four hours. Mr. Horrace explained that his past was exactly as he had detailed previously and that the allegations in the article were false. During the interrogation, he was also asked if he had ever been in the United States.

Mr. Horrace explained that he had not. The officer informed him that there was a "Bill Horrace" who was detained in the United States and showed him a picture. The officer asked whether the person in the photograph was him or if he knew the man. Mr. Horrace stated that the picture was clearly not him. At the end of the interview, Mr. Horrace was informed that he would be called back into CBSA if there were any further questions. He was never called back in.

Mr. Horrace's permanent residence application continued to be held up pending a security assessment. He states that the delay has caused him significant financial, emotional, and psychological stress. It has restricted his ability to travel to visit his daughters in Sweden or to sponsor them to join him in Canada. His lack of status has also hindering his business activities and access to the stability and social benefits that permanent residents receive.

On October 16th, 2013, he filed an application for leave and judicial review at the Federal Court, requesting an order for mandamus to compel the Minister to finalize his application.

In November 2013, he was charged under the Criminal Code for theft under $5000, fraud, and making counterfeit money. He challenged these allegations in Criminal Court.

Leave to the Federal Court regarding the application for mandamus was granted and the application was heard on January 28, 2015. At the time the application was heard, the criminal charges against him were still pending. The Federal Court found there had been a significant delay in processing the H&C application but concluded it was reasonable because of the security concerns and pending criminal charges.

On August 18th, 2016, Mr. Horrace was found guilty of theft under $5000 and granted a Conditional Discharge with 12 months of probation. The other two charges were withdrawn by the Crown. He successfully completed his probation period on August 18th, 2017, meaning the criminal conviction was discharged and could not have any impact on his admissibility to Canada. He informed immigration of the discharge and requested that his permanent residence application continue to be processed.

The IRCC requested some additional information and he complied with the requests.

Months and years continued to pass without a resolution to his case. Mr. Horrace continued to request status updates on the case and the response was always the same: the case is pending a security assessment.

Motive for Killing: More Criminal Than NPFL Link

On April 4, 2019, Mr. Horrace received the devastating news that Mabinty Kamara, the mother of his two daughters in Sweden, had died of cancer. He was unable to travel to Sweden to support his daughters because his permanent residence application still has not been finalized. He made arrangements for his sister to travel to Sweden to stay with the girls and care for them until another plan could be put in place. Mr. Horrace would like to sponsor his daughters to join him in Canada but he cannot do so unless his permanent residence is finalized. His sister is unable to work in Sweden so he is financially supporting her and his daughters there. The situation has caused significant emotional and financial hardship.32

Mr. Horrace has had to maintain a valid work permit for his over 17 years in Canada, continuously renewing it. He has also been reporting to CBSA every two months.

On October 21st, 2019, the Mr. Horrace wrote to IRCC to make a final request that his permanent residence application be finalized. He explained the situation with his daughters in Sweden. The response from IRCC was the same as it has been for many years - that his case was in queue pending review for security concerns and no estimated time for completion could be provided.

Although much of the controversy surrounding Horrace has been linked to the civil war in Liberia, early investigation appears to have ruled out his death being tied to the war.

In fact, police in Canada say Horrace's past was not a priority of the investigation into his killing last Sunday morning. "I can confirm that the Bill Horrace, 44 years of age of Toronto, is believed to be the same Bill Horrace who was allegedly a member of the National Patriotic Front in Liberia," said Det. Supt. Chris Newton.

Instead, investigation is likely to explore ties to the alleged criminal side of Horrace.

His February 9th, 2012 interrogation in which he was interviewed regarding a photograph linking him to an arrest in the US points to something more.

Close friends of Horrace, speaking on condition of anonymity said the uncertainty over his status in Canada pushed him to a life of crime. This resulted in his November 2013, incident after which he was charged under the Criminal Code for theft under $5000, fraud, and making counterfeit money. Although he challenged these allegations in Criminal Court, he wad found guilty on August 18th, 2016, of theft under $5000 and granted a Conditional Discharge with 12 months of probation."

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