Liberia: Prosecutor Hints Possible Flight Risk, Says Bond for ’26 Violence Suspect Not Sufficient to Guarantee Bail

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Monrovia – State prosecutor, Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh, has expressed fear that the bond filed by the seven CDC-COP suspects linked to the July 26 political violence and brutal humiliation of Christopher Sivili is not sufficient to ensure that they do not abscond justice by fleeing the country.

Cllr. Wesseh’s argument that the suspects were at flight risk, therefore the need for the satisfaction of high risk conditions was not considered by the judge of Monrovia City Court, Joma Jallah.

The seven men have been charged with attempt to commit murder.

Attempted murder is a second-degree felony and is bailable under the law and the bail must be satisfied by condition before the individual is released on bail. Only capital offenses like murder, armed robbery, and statutory rape, among others, are not bailable under the law.

Cllr. Wesseh fear of flight risk comes amidst the granting of a human surety bond by Magistrate Jomah Jallah, which prevented the Defendants from being incarcerated at the Monrovia Central Prison.

The Magistrate cited Section 13.5 of the Criminal Procedure Law as his reliance to grant Surety Bond.

Even though Judge Jallah did not state or show the names of those individuals who stood as surety to temporarily release the defendants, he maintained to reporters that his action is in line with the law.

Before Magistrate Jallah’s decision, Defense Lawyer Lawyer, Cllr. Arthur Johnson during his argument noted that the crime charged is billable under the Criminal Procedure Law of Liberia.

Though Government Lawyer argued that the City Court does not have authority to grant bond to the Crime “attempt to commit murder and aggregated assault” on grounds that only circuit courts have jurisdiction over said matter, Cllr. Johnson said the Defendants invoked the statute (Chapter 13.5) and constitutional right (Article 20) and also called for the separation of the crimes charged by the Police.

Though he filed a bond at the Monrovia City Court, Cllr. Johnson, on the other hand, requested the Monrovia City Court to abstract the crimes, “Criminal Attempt to Commit Murder and Aggregated Assault,” which is felony of the second degree, and are only triable at the Circuit Court.

Despite video footage showing members of CDC-COP mercilessly beating members of the Students Unification Party, who had gone to peacefully present their grievances to the US Embassy, and stripping one of them naked (Christopher Sevilla),    Cllr. Johnson is also challenging the charges. He has called for a preliminary examination, which falls in line with Chapter 12, Section 12.2 of the Criminal Procedure Law.

His request was resisted by State Prosecutor, Cllr. Wesseh, on grounds that even though the offenses charged are billable under the law, the court does not have triable jurisdiction over the two crimes, therefore, the Magistrate should deny Defense the right to bail and send the defendants to Court “A” to allow the court to determine any Bail-bond that the defendant may have proffered.

The Prosecution argument is based on the fact that the Monrovia City Court had no jurisdiction over two of the crimes, and as such Judge Jallah has no constitutional authority to determine the Sufficiency of the Bond, provided by the defendants.

The prosecution also raised doubt over whether there was a bond presented, for which the court may consider granting the defendant bail.

Members of the CDC-COP, heavily escorted by several members of the Congress for Democratic Change appeared at the Monrovia City Court Thursday, August 4, after being charged and sent to court by the Liberia National Police, following two nights of detention.

The members of CDC-COP include, Defendants Ben B. Togbah and Co-defendants Pukar S. Robert, Kendrick C. Pelenah, Joshua Saye Karr, Foday N. Massaquoi, and Abdurahman Barry.

 They were charged with the commission of Criminal Attempt to Commit Murder, Aggravated Assault, Criminal Mischief, Criminal Conspiracy Theft, Rioting Failure to disperse and Disorderly Conduct, in violations of Chapter 14 Section 14.20, Chapter 15, Sub-Chapter “A” Section 15.5, Chapter 10.4, Chapter 15, Sub-Chapter D Section 15.51, Chapter 17, Section 17.1 and Chapter 17, Section 17.3, while other defendants who are at large include, Co-defendants David B. Saylae, Vasimie Sheriff, alias “Waterfall”, Hassan T. H. Trawally, Gaiyaizohn Aba Davis, and others to be identified are charged likewise in absentia with the crimes, Criminal Attempt to Commit Murder, Aggravated Assault, Criminal Mischief, Criminal Conspiracy, Theft, Rioting, Failure to disperse and Disorderly Conduct, in violation with Chapter 10, Section 10.1, Chapter 14, Section 14.20 Chapter 15, Sub-chapter A Section 15.5, Chapter 10.4, Chapter 15,.Sub-Chapter D Section 15.51, Chapter 17, Section 17.1, and Chapter 17, Section 17.3, of the revised Penal Law, pending trial by a court of law.

On its charged sheet, the Police noted that the CDC-COP Members intentionally went to disturb the peaceful gathering of members of SUP, at a place they had no right being at the time.

The charged sheet further noted that during the investigation, it was observed that CDC-COP chased members of SUP from the scene and later transfer their aggression to community members, destroying properties of over a thousand United States Dollars.

Though video footage shows members of SUP escaping in a non-combatant mood, the Police Charge Sheet maintained that victim Christopher Water Susulu Sivili, having recognized that the situation had escalated, ran from the main road into the community for safety, but was chased and apprehended, beaten, stripped naked, stimulated publicly, and violently taken back to the main road, while blood was seen oozing from his face and mouth.

Nevertheless, the police noted in its charge sheet that the appearance of the CDC-COP on the University of Liberia campus, where SUP is based on July 26 validates they were well prepared for violent protest.

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