Supreme Court Sentenced Armed Forces Of Liberia Soldier To Prison For ‘AWOL’

Melvin Tolbert In Handcuff Heading For Prison- CREDIT/FPA
Melvin Tolbert In Handcuff Heading For Prison- CREDIT/FPA

The Supreme Court of Liberia Associate Justice Cllr. Jamesetta  Wolokollie this week sent back to prison Melvin Tolbert who is being  accused by the Defense Ministry of Absence from Duty without Leave (AWOL) at the Edward Binyah Kesselly Barrack in Schiefflin on the Robertsfield highway.

The  Presiding Judge of Criminal Court “A” , Boima Kontoe at the Temple of Justice announced the decision  of the  high court  Associate In-Chamber Wolokollie Friday afternoon through a  special mandate which came at the time when the court was all set to rule on the  Writ of  Habeas Corpus filed  by lawyers representing the detained AFL personnel.

In the Writ of Habeas Corpus, Cllr. Charles Abdulai one of the lawyers representing the AFL soldier told the court that Tolbert had served the military for five years and decided to quit based on the contract signed during enlistment which provides for soldiers to serve a period of five years.

Cllr. Abdulai further said besides the expiration of Tolbert’s five years term he sustained a wound from a grenade blast during training and he wrote the Defense Ministry based on advice from a doctor to get medical attention abroad but his request was downplayed by the Ministry an action that constrained him to leave.

But the Ministry of Defense through its legal Counsel Wilfred Sayeh told the court that the military was not a step in step out organization and that before anyone resigns from the army, that person must be duly discharged with honor.

The mandate from the high court to the judge states: “by directive of her honor Jamesetta Wolokollie, Associate Justice presiding in Chambers, you are hereby cited to a conference with her honor in the Chamber on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 at the hour of 4:00 p.m in connection with the above captioned case, petition for the Writ of Prohibition”.

Other part of the mandate states: “In the meantime, you are hereby ordered to further desist in the handling of this matter and have the informant Melvin K.

Tolbert remanded to the military barrack pending the outcome of the conference”.

The Supreme Court mandate was issued based on a petition for a Writ of Prohibition which was filed by the Minister of Justice, Deputy and Assistant Ministers,

Attorney for Montserrado County,, Director, Deputy& Minister of National Defense, Solicitor General and the Chief of Staff.

Following the reading of the mandate which was honored by Judge Kontoe the AFL personnel who was in court during the reading of the mandate in court room surrendered  and was escorted to the clerk’s office where he was signed for, handcuffed and taken away in a white van that bears no license plate.

Family  members and friends who were in court upon receiving the ruling stood in agony while the AFL personnel aging mother burst up in tears outside of the court room weeping while other family members consoled her as her son was taken back to  jail under a military escort by a group of military police.

“My son has done nothing wrong that you are taking him back to jail but make sure that nothing happens to him” said the weeping mother as the military police escorted Tolbert to the waiting van.

As Tolbert and the group of military police moved up to the waiting van to be taken to jail in the midst of weeping family members, he raised his hand with the cuff high adding “I have no fear, I am a soldier, go and write and tell the World of what is taking place in the re-structured military in Liberia”.

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About Cholo Brooks 14528 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.