Liberia: Court Sentences Journalist Mbayo and Husband, Following Lawmaker’s Lawsuit against Them
Paynesville – Liberian Journalist Bettie Johnson Mbayo and her husband, Moses Mbayo, have been sentenced to one-month imprisonment and 90 days imprisonment each by the Paynesville Magisterial Court, after being found guilty in an ongoing case brought against them by Bong County District Number Three Representative Josiah Marvin Cole.
Mrs. Mbayo was found guilty of Disorderly Conduct, while Mr. Mbayo was found guilty of Felonious Restraint.
The sentencing comes following a series of postponements into the final ruling by the Paynesville City Court.
The court, however, drop charges of Terroristic Threats against one of the defendants in the case, Johnson Kerkula.
Mrs. Mbayo, her husband Dr. Moses Mbayo, and one Johnson Kerkulah were taken to court by Representative Cole for the alleged commission of the crime of felonious restraint, terroristic threats, and disorderly conduct which violates sections 14.24; 17.3, and 14.51 of the New Penal Code of Liberia.
The writ claimed that on January 15, while parked in Rep Cole’s driveway, the Mbayos were requested to remove their vehicle to enable the ‘honorable’ man to enter his yard.
It added that journalist Mbayo and team referred to the lawmaker as a ‘madman’ and allegedly took a stone and immediately hit Representative Cole on his chest.
The prosecutor informed the court that Defendant Kerkulah even removed his waist belt to flog the lawmaker; even though the defendants ran to the police to report the matter.
The pair, through their legal counsel, have announced an appeal at the Circuit Court in Monrovia.
They have up to 15 days to file their appeal.
Meanwhile, several media groups, including the Press Union of Liberia have condemned the lawsuit against Journalist Mbayo and their husband.
According to PUL, It is shocking that a petite issue will take national service minutes away from a medical doctor and top investigative journalist at the behest of a lawmaker who should shy away from filing lawsuits against ordinary people, the PUL asserts.
PUL in a release said the Bong County lawmaker and police officers ignored the health of Dr. & Mrs. Mbayo but choose to charge them with misdemeanors and a third-degree criminal offense after seeing the defendants bodily bruised and the clothes of Dr. Mbayo particularly torn up.
‘Rep. Cole who should have been charged with assault and battery for inflicting wounds on Journalist Bettie Mbayo and her doctor-husband was let go while the victims were charged and sent to court. Article 21 of the Constitution of Liberia among other things guarantees party litigants the right to a speedy trial,” PUL maintained.