Liberia: Thinkers Village Residents Demand Justice for Man Who Died in Police Custody


Paynesville City – Residents of Thinkersvillage in Paynesville on Thursday staged a protest in demand of justice for a 49-year-old man, Paul Sonako, whom police in the area claim hung himself while in jail, but the residents believe he was killed by the police through a tussle.

Report by By Jaheim T. Tumu, [email protected]

A member of the deceased family, Aaron Patrick Bedell, told FrontPageAfrica that Sonako and his wife Kerbbeh Sonakoi had a domestic issue at 11PM on Tuesday for which his wife decided to take the matter to the police depot in the area.

Mr. Bedell said Sonako decided to follow his wife to the station and after the case was heard, the police decided to put in him behind bars but the wife and children were against him sleeping behind bars, but the police refused to let him go home at their request.

“My sister told me that her husband had money on him because he had problem he didn’t want to give it to me,” Mr. Bedell revealed.

To the dismay of the family, they were informed by the police the following morning that he had hung himself using his boxer shorts which he tore and used as a rope.

But the family and members of the community are not believing this explanation given by the police. Eyebrows were raised because the police failed to allow the family members see the body before removing it from the cell.

Protesters, including children, took to the streets on Thursday to mount pressure on the police as they paraded from Thinkervillage Kpelleh Town to ELWA Zone 8 police depot.

According to them, they were marching against police brutality and demanding justice for the 49-year-old.

The protesters were also demanding the release and the whereabouts of the deceased’s son, Gabriel Sonakoi, who out of anger, forced his way into the police depot demanding to see his father’s remains. The remains, according to family members, at the time had already been removed by the police without informing the family.

What remains confusing is why the police suddenly released two others who were imprisoned along with Sonakoi upon discovering his remains on Wednesday morning.

FrontPageAfrica managed to find the home of one of the inmates but he suddenly left his house upon being told a journalist wanted to talk to him on the incident he witnessed.

Jumanie Amos, another family member said they are not satisfied with the death of their brother and called on human rights organizations and the government to investigate the matter.

Amos explained after the police called the family about the death, and the family immediately went to the station but upon arrival this deceased body was not there.

He added that the police only showed them a photo of the remains and informed that it was taken to a mortuary.

Amos: “The police said our brother committed suicide and the family members should not go there and see the body. How can man use his boxer as rope to hang himself? What did he have on him to cut the boxer into rope? The rope I saw in the police computer is very long and the man is very tall.

“We know our brother will not come back to life but we want to know how he died because the police are here to protect us; why this man will go to the police station and die?”

A community member, Madam Janet Massaboi said the Thinkersvillage community has seen enough and they demand justice for the deceased and his family.

Madam explained that for a domestic incident to happen at night and by daybreak police call family members to tell them that their relative has committed suicide is strange.

She further explained when the community members went on the scene, the forensic team from the Liberia National Police headquarters were already on the scene and finished doing check on the body in the absence of the family and they just took body away

Madam Massaboi further explained that the police are covering the actual cause of death of Mr. Sonakoi. She alleged that they were informed that man died while he was being tortured.

Madam Massaboi said instead of common citizens being lawless, it is the police who are far becoming lawless in the country.