Liberia: Alleged Murderer Freed from Police Custody, without Court Trial
Monrovia – A suspect, only identified as John Johnson, who allegedly killed his girlfriend a few weeks and was taken into police custody while awaiting trial, is now outside and walking as a free man, claimed the deceased relatives.
According to the dead lady’s brother Amos K. Matadly, the alleged perpetrator killed his sister, Korpo Matadly, on June 20th and called the family on the 21st to say she had died from cold.
“When we arrived at the house where our sister died, we met Johnson had finished digging a grave and was about to bury our late sister in our absence. We told him not to go ahead with it; we could not allow him to bury the lady without knowing what killed her. So, we called officers at the Zone 6 Police Depot; they came, arrested him, and put him in jail after questioning him,” Amos disclosed.
According to neighbors, Johnson was fond of always beating on the deceased, and many times they (neighbors) had to intervene and stopped him from further beating on her.
“He always used to beat his woman; so, when we heard her crying that night, we thought it was one of the usual fights they were having. Nobody intervened until we saw her dead the next morning,” one of them said.
The death certificate from City Laboratory and Clinic in Virginia, Brewerville City, outside Monrovia, signed by Dr. Boakai Fofana on June 22, 2021, indicates that the lady died because of a fracture neck or broken neck and internal bleeding.
Expressing their disappointments over how the police released the perpetrator from custody, Mr. Matadly said they saw the perpetrator walking a free man in the community a few days after he had been placed behind bars.
“We do not know how he got out. It is the government’s responsibility to investigate a murder and bring the perpetrator to book. So, we want to know how the killer was freed from jail and when was there a court case that set him free. We want justice and the government should intervene,” he said.
According to the family, after two days of their sister’s death, they asked the police to release her body to them for burial because it was decomposing. They alleged that the police commander wrote a letter and made them affixed their signatures to say they were withdrawing the case, or else they could not take delivery of their sister’s body, so they did.
When FPA contacted the Zone 6 Police Depot, CSD Commander Gabriel Sudue denied the family’s accusation and said their allegation had no iota of truth. According to him, it was the family themselves, who wrote the letter and because they had affixed their signatures, the alleged perpetrator was set free to go.
“We kept the man in jail over time. The perpetrator was in jail from June 22 to July 6 before he was released. He was still in jail when the family even went to Bong County to bury their sister. The family said they were withdrawing the case and they signed a letter to that effect of which I have my proof,” said Commander Sudue.
According to him, he had told the deceased family to wait for an autopsy to establish if there was any foul played, but they had insisted that the lady’s body was fast decomposing and they wanted to take delivery of it.
Because the body was the “government’s body,” the family could not just take custody of it without a proper procedure, so they (family) had to write a letter before taking delivery. According to him, it also meant that all charges were dropped.
A letter dated June 23, 2021, which the family share with this newspaper states,
“We the undersigned family members and relatives of Korpo Matadly, do hereby withdraw the death-related case in which Dr. Boakai S. Fofana signed the death certificate indicating that the victim died as a result of a broken neck, fracture of neck, and internal bleeding. We, therefore, affix the signatures that we have no claim for any further probe,” the letter indicated.
The letter was signed by Joseph Matadly, father, Anthony Matadly, brother, Patience Matadly, sister, Neyaugba Barlee, aunt, and Massaquoi Kamara, community chairman.
Despite this, one legal practitioner told FrontPageAfrica that it was unlawful for the police to have released a murder suspect. According to Atty. Samwar S. Fallah, a private lawyer, murder is a capital offense and cannot be settled through withdrawal by any party.
“Such a crime is committed against the state; the state is the complainant. No individual by law is allowed to withdraw a murder case. The Police acted illegally to release a murder suspect based on an alleged agreement by family members of the deceased. The Police and all parties involved in the release of a murder suspect need to be arrested and prosecuted,” stressed Atty. Fallah.