LIBERIA: Police In Zwedru Investigates Alleged Rape Of Girl, 13, By Man, 45
ZWEDRU, (LINA) – The Liberia National Police (LNP) in Grand Gedeh County is investigating the rape of a 13-year old girl by a 45-year old man identified as Zaiya-Popo who is a staff in the office of the Traditional Council in Zwedru.
The incident was reported to the Women and Children Protection Section of the LNP on January 8, 2022 by the mother of the victim identified as Linda Gbaryee.
Linda explained that the incident occurred when she was detained along with her daughter in a holding cell at the Traditional Council’s office in Zwedru after being accused of being involved in witchcraft activities.
According to Linda, they were held for over six months during which they were maltreated by the council.
One day, she said, her daughter was asked to clean up some of the rooms by a man identified as Zaiya-Popo who is a staff at the council.
She narrated that while she was cleaning up, Zaiya-Popo, the alleged perpetrator, jumped on her and forcefully had sex with her. She said the girl did not complain because the perpetrator threatened to harm her if she did.
This act by the perpetrator, according to her, continued for several months until she and her daughter escaped to a relative home.
While at the relative’s house, the victim then narrated her ordeal to her mother, who alerted civil society and human rights actors.
She was advised to report the case to the Police Women and Children Protection Section for redress.
During a follow-up visit to the police, the Deputy County Commander for WACPS, Sackor Gibson, told LINA that the victim was sent to the Martha Turman Memorial Hospital in Zwedru where she was examined.
Gibson revealed that the medical result showed that the victim was sexually abused.
He immediately ordered the arrest of the alleged perpetrator at the traditional council’s office.
The Deputy Commander disclosed that Zaiya-Popo, the alleged perpetrator, left the office and is currently at large.
He indicated that the police are currently on a robust search for the perpetrator to ensure that he is brought to justice, while the victim is presently at home with her family.
The nature of the case drew the attention of the National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections (NAMOTE), Partners for Democratic Development, represented by Lawrence Myers and the Independent National Commission for Human Rights (INCHR).
According to Myers the traditional council does not have arresting power, nor any right to detain suspects.
Their advocacy continued until the council released 15 persons who were unlawfully kept in their custody.