The director for litigation (court matters) at Garlawulo and Associates Law Firm, Cllr. Wellington G. Bedell said Dr. Malachi Z. York should be released and repatriated based on the fact of his status as a Naturalized citizen, Consul General and Diplomatic Agent for the Republic of Liberia, and the fact that his health is swiftly fading away while he is still serving his prison sentence.
“With his health fading away while having served almost sixteen years of the 135 years as ordered by the court in the U.S. for a crime, that we believe he is innocent of, that could warrant just for five years of imprisonment in Liberia is a serious matter to look into,” he said, noting that international laws supersede the domestic laws of the U.S. in Dr. York’s case because he was arrested and jailed while serving a diplomatic post for Liberia in Georgia, USA.
According to him the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and the Vienna Convention on Consular relations forbids any nation the right to arrest and penalize a foreign diplomat unless sanctioned by the country from which he or she comes from.
He said ever since a judgment came from the civil law court of Liberia, ordering government to engage the U.S. in order to free Dr. York and repatriate him to Liberia, hence there are available pieces of evidence depicting his innocence and diplomatic status. Including an Amicus Brief filed on behalf of Dr Malachi York by the Republic of Liberia in 2004 expressing his innocence of all charges due to witness tampering by the United States prosecutors.
“Dr. York’s family has long since engaged our boss, Cllr. Francis Garlawulo who is the executive director of this law firm to represent his (York) legal interest and that has begun even as far back as in 2004. What has caused the delay in going forward with the case has been a communication gap and the approval of the Liberian government to get a legal representation from here that will work with another legal team in the U.S. to fast track Dr. York being released and repatriated,” Bedell noted.
About what his law firm is doing now to fast track the case, particularly so to avoid the wrongful death of Dr. York in prison due to lack of healthcare for his angiodema hereditiary disease, he said consultations are ongoing at the level of the Foreign Ministry of Liberia and is confident those consultations will yield good results.
“Dr. Malachi Z. York personally knows Cllr. Francis Garlawulo and as such we have gotten the chance to review all claims made by him that he is a Liberian citizen by naturalization and that he held the post of Consul General. It was confirmed true that he was indeed appointed by former President Charles Taylor and was serving the post when he was arrested. This act is a violation of international laws protecting all persons serving on mandates from their governments in foreign countries,” he said, adding that York has denounced the American citizenship as shown in documentation before taking on the Liberian citizenship and as such Liberia has jurisdiction over him than any other country.
“Our records gathered show that Dr. York came to Liberia and naturalized far back in 1999 and upon his gain of Liberian citizenship, and his influence in Atlanta, Georgia, former President Taylor saw the need to appoint him to the Consul General post,” he said.
Bedell said the filing of a petition before the civil law court headed by then judge Yusuff Kaba clearly paved the way for Liberia to uncover the facts surrounding Dr. York’s arrest and imprisonment and provides an opportunity to for the Republic of Liberia to engage the U.S. diplomatically that York deserves freedom from jail and granted the right to return to Liberia.
He pointed out that Cllrs. Garlawulo, Jenkins Scott (deceased and former Minister of Justice in Liberia) as well as Atty. Morris Kaba were appointed by the Liberian government in 2004 to assist in bringing York back to the Republic of Liberia.
“As a start, the three legal minds engaged the Liberian Foreign Ministry to write a diplomatic note to the Liberian Embassy, ordering the then Ambassador, Charles Minor to go on a fact finding mission to the State Department. He went and submitted a report requesting the presence of Liberia’s legal team to the U.S. but things did not go as should have been,” he recounted,” noting further that time is still in Liberia’s favor to help save the life of Dr. York.
He admonished that there is a need for a cohesive team work. “We are hopeful that after our meetings with the government here a communication will be sent to the Liberian Ambassador to the U.S. now to start working with the family of Dr. York getting things in place for the team that will leave from here, based on government’s mandate to reengage the U.S. on the need to release of their client.
Bedell said the reason the process is a little bit slow now is because, almost all of Weah’s led government’s ministers are new with no understanding of what is required of them now, unless instructed. “We have to be patient because our current Foreign Minister is a new guy to the job who needs a little bit of time to understand some things,” he said.