‘US Embassy Has the Keys’ – Police IG Refutes Contempt of Court Charge in ‘Stolen’ Vehicle Case
Monrovia – The Inspector General of the Liberia National Police has refuted allegations that he disrespected the Criminal Court ‘C’ and insulted its ministerial officer. The sheriff had gone to serve a write of summons on the police chief.
Patrick Sudue, speaking to reporters in Monrovia Tuesday, January 21, said he respects the court and will not do anything to impede its functions.
“I will like to say that the Executive and the Judiciary cannot go at loggerhead, and I will never, in no way, disrespect the court – the court and the police work hand-in-hand,” he said.
The Police chief comments come after Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge Nancy F. Sammy issued a contempt charge against him for allegedly disrespecting and refusing to honor the Supreme Court’s ruling in a theft of property, smuggling and Criminal Conspiracy and facilitation case involving the Republic of Liberia and Armstrong Tony Campbell, Sheak Brown and Kadakai Sherman.
The case grew out of an allegation by the US Government that seven luxury vehicles were stolen in the United States and smuggled into Liberia.
When the cars arrived at the Freeport of Monrovia in 2016, they were confiscated and have since then remain in the custody of the LNP.
Fast forward, the Supreme Court rule against the government, ordering that the vehicles be turned over to the three defendants in the case.
Sudue disclosed that the keys of the vehicles were in the possession of his predecessor, Gregory Coleman, while the case was being tried at the Criminal Court C.
The keys were later turned over to the United States Embassy through its regional Security Office represented by Mr. Sam Fazzah.
Sudue said he was unaware of the transfer of the keys to U.S. Embassy in Monrovia because, at the time, he was not the head of the police.
However, Judge Sammy wrote on January 7, 2020, to the Police IG, requesting him to turn over the keys of the seven vehicles to the sheriff of the court.
“The decision to turn the vehicles to the defendant is in full compliance with the Supreme Court’s mandate sent to this court, ordering the court to execute its mandate with immediate effect,” the Court said in its letter to Mr. Sudue.
Sudue claimed because he was “too overwhelmed” with the aftermath of the January 6 protest he didn’t respond to the court’s request until January 9.
He said while he made efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of the keys, he was shocked to see a writ of summons for contempt against the court. He said he had earlier met the Judge, who said she was making a foreign trip.
“When she travelled, I made contact and found out who had the keys [at the US Embassy] and then I presented the name and the number of the person, and we placed a call, but the guy from the embassy said ‘we have the keys but we want official documents from the government’, ” he explained.
He expressed dismay that the Judge did not attempt to establish the facts about the vehicles keys but rather opted to summon him for contempt.
“I think what the judge felt that the keys for the vehicle are in my possession and that I am intentionally refusing to turn them over, which is not true,” he added while denying using invectives against the sheriff who had gone to serve the writ of summons.
Meanwhile, in a letter to the Ministry of Justice, the Police boss requested Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean to “use your good office to contact the US Embassy Ministry of Foreign Affairs as it relates to the keys of the vehicle and to find the remedy at law.”
He denied social media reports that he was detained, while at the same time disclosing that the seven vehicles are still in the custody of the Police and will be turned over.
“People are only saying that I disrespected the court because I cannot turned the keys over but in actuality, I do not have the keys. The judge was only convinced when she heard the man from the embassy saying that they have the keys from the embassy,” Sudue said.