Liberia: Commercial Court Pauses Contempt Charges Against Human Rights Lawyer Gongloe
Monrovia – The ground of the Temple of Justice Tuesday, September 11 was a scene of jubilation when fans and supporters of human rights lawyer Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe were told that contempt charges were dropped against him and two of his staffs.
Report by Kennedy L. Yangian, [email protected]
Fans and supporters from various intellectual centers across Monrovia gathered to witness the court’s ruling against the popular lawyer on Tuesday, singing and chanting their support.
Last week, the Commercial Court at the Temple of Justice issued a contempt charge against the popular human right lawyer and two of his office staffs – Cllrs. Momolu Kandakai and Philip Gongloe – ordering their detention for 20 days.
The move by the court to hold Cllr. Gongloe and his staffs in contempt, according to court records, grew out of lawyers’ alleged refusal to advise his client businessman Amos Brosius, who had accused the Resident Judge of the court Eva Mappy Morgan on a talk show (The Costa Show) of allegedly withdrawing US$ 3.4 million out of his account at the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI).
The Monrovia Oil Trading Company had sued the Manager of the Ducor Petroleum Company Amos Brosius for allegedly failing to account for over US$1M petroleum products allegedly supplied to the Ducor Petroleum Company.
Brosius, however, denied the allegation.
However, on Tuesday, September 11, while appearing on the Power FM talk show, Cllr. Gongloe was arrested and taken to the court alongside Cllrs. Kandakai and Gongloe – his sibling.
During the contempt hearing, Cllr. Gongloe backed by several lawyers including Cllrs. Roland Dahn and Slyvester Rennie, pleaded with the court to exercise justice with mercy.
When asked by the court to comment on the contempt charges against him, Gongloe said the two other lawyers pleaded with the court to avoid jailing lawyers.
He said the law forbids holding lawyers responsible for the action of their clients, citing Article 21 (i) of the 1986 Constitution.
“Article 21 (i) of the 1986 Constitution provides that no lawyer shall be prevented from or punished for providing legal services regardless of the charges against or the guilt of his client or no lawyer shall be banned from practice for political reasons.”
Commercial court Judge Eva Mappy Morgan said in her ruling that the case, involving businessman Brosius and MOTC commenced at the court and an agreement was signed by the parties that no one should discuss anything about the case outside of the court but the defendant contradicted it.