LIBERIA: Criminal Court “A” Re-arrests Seven Ivoirians Released From Detention

The Criminal Court “A” has re-arrested seven Ivoirians in connection with a motion to rescind the judgment filed by state prosecutors.

Judge Roosevelt Willie’s decision ordering the Sheriff of Court to arrest the seven men was based upon a motion to rescind his judgment of releasing the defendants to the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRC).

Handing down the ruling, the Presiding Judge of Criminal Court ‘A’ said “the ruling of June 24, 2019 is hereby rescinded based upon the reasons stated and the Sheriff of this court is hereby ordered to re-arrest the defendants and incarcerate them at the Monrovia Central Prison.”

The defendants were immediately escorted to the Criminal Court “A” along with representatives from both UNHCR and LRRRC. They said they were not happy because, according to them, they have been languishing behind bars for seven years now without any evidences adduced against them.

Prosecution in their motion stated that the case came upon an appeal from the Monrovia City Court presided over by Kennedy Peabody, where he ruled and granted the Republic of Ivory Coast through the petitioner Republic of Liberia’s request to extradite the seven Ivoirians to Ivory Coast for allegedly committing the crimes of murder, theft of property, rape, and arson for which they were arrested.

The seven men were in August 2012 arrested and detained based upon an extradition treaty executed between the governments of Liberia and Ivory Coast.

The seven men were accused by the Ivorian government of committing the crimes of murder, attempted murder, and armed robbery, theft of arms and ammunition, and deliberate destruction of properties of others.

The defendants, after allegedly committing the crimes, fled to Liberia to prevent the Ivorian government from prosecuting them.

Defendants Komande Mohegman Varney, Nemlin Perik, Anbtiube Djikezon, Guei Martin, Njoule Frank Oliver, Junior to be identified and Edward Toure Badison were arrested in Liberia in November 2012, following an arrest order issued by the Ivoirian government to have them arrested to stand prosecution in their country.

After the order was issued, the defendants were arrested in Liberia and incarcerated at the Monrovia Central Prison, but the defendants refused to be prosecuted in their country, and begged the government of Liberia to prosecute them in Liberia.

Lawyers representing the defendants filed a motion for the court to dismiss the extradition proceeding because it was a violation of their rights and the statute governing the maximum period of detention under the certificate of committal.

According to the lawyers, the Monrovia City Court ruled that the defendants be extradited to their country for prosecution, following the ruling from the lower court the defendants took an appeal to Criminal Court “A,” citing that they had been in jail for six years now.

But Judge Willie granted the motion to dismiss and release the defendants from further detention on June 24.

The Judge further stated that Liberia being a signatory to the international convention on civil and political rights of the United Nations, particularly Article 14 which requires speedy trial as well as the Constitution of Liberia, Article 21(f) and Section 8.1.1 of the criminal procedure law, saying that it hereby grants movant’s motion for dismissal of the extradition proceeding against the defendants who have been languishing behind bars.

Meanwhile, Judge Willie has said “the court having rescinded its ruling to release the defendants hereby sound a caveat to the Liberian government to work out the processes as provided for by law to have this matter concluded,” adding, “Otherwise this court will be constrained during the August Term to issue a Writ of Habeas Corpus for the government of Liberia to bring forth the defendants before court to show cause for their continued incarceration.”

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