Liberia: Businessman Sentenced to 1-Yr Imprisonment for ‘Menacing and Criminal Malevolence’ against Lawmaker

Businessman James Cooper has been sentenced to a one-year prison term at the Monrovia Central Prison

Monrovia – The Monrovia City Court has found a Liberian businessman guilty of the crimes of Menacing and Criminal Malevolence against Senator Sando D. Johnson of Bomi County.

Report by Augustine T. Tweh, [email protected]

Sen. Johnson is the Chair of the Liberian Senate’s Committee on Concessions and Investments.

According the court’s ruling, businessman James Cooper will serve a one-year prison term at the Monrovia Central Prison for creating fear and threating the life of the lawmaker.

Magistrate J. Kennedy Peabody said the evidence adduced before the court concludes that there is sufficient evidence in the record to conclude that the private prosecutor’s reputation was injured and that the defendant’s action undermined the official status of Senator Johnson.

Judge Peabody noted that during the arguments in court, defendant Cooper never rebutted private prosecutor witnesses’ testimonies, but rather admitted to committing the crimes.

“The fact the witnesses testified that defendant Cooper is a cop and carries gun on him and had said that he will deal with Senator Johnson and he will bring him down which testimony was never rebutted but rather admitted, obviously places the defendant at committing the crime of menacing and criminal malevolence.”

It added: “Defendant never made any attempt to deny the allegation of the criminal malevolence and menacing nor did he offer any explanation for his conduct, except for an offhand expression made casually to say that he was speaking figuratively.”

According to Magistrate Peabody, the state prosecutors met and established prima facie evidence that the crimes were committed by the defendant by proving their case beyond all responsible doubts required by law for his conviction.

The court’s ruling also indicated that having carefully examined the evidence and testimonies of the private prosecutor’s witnesses, Defendant Cooper’s admissions to the crimes reflects vital incriminating evidence.

In the ruling, Magistrate Peabody further said that the defendant maintained a false version of the occurrence during the arguments of the case in court, as he would not prove his case.

“In light of the circumstances, it is our holding that the evidence adduced by the state met the legal standards. Hence, the defendant is hereby found adjudged guilty of the crimes charged and he is to be turned over to the Sheriff of this court and be incarcerated at the Monrovia Central Prison for a period of one year certain,” the ruling said.

After the ruling, the legal counsel of the businessman, Cllr. Dempster Browne took an appeal to the Criminal Assizes “A’ sitting in its November Term of Court.

Cooper, owner of a rubber processor in Bomi County, has been embroiled in a dispute with the Bomi County Senator since he released an alleged damaging tape on the lawmaker. In the recording, a purported voice of Senator Johnson can be heard seeking bribe from the businessman to help him secure a loan deal from government.

Following the leaked voice recording controversy, the legislator filed a complaint against the businessman to the Liberia National Police, where he was charged with Menacing and Criminal Malevolence based on preliminary investigation and forwarded to court for prosecution.

On July 30, 2018, he was issued a Writ of Arrest by the Monrovia City Court to answer to the crimes of Menacing and Criminal Malevolence, where he was found guilty on the 13th of November 2018 by Magistrate J. Kennedy Peabody.