By Lincoln G. Peters & By Emmanuel Wise Jipoh
Ringleaders of the Coalition for Democratic Change-Council of Patriots (CDC-CoP), who mastered minded the brutal attacks against protesting students of the University of Liberia have been charged with attempted murder.
The Liberia National Police (LNP) on Thursday forwarded seven of the accused persons to court on Thursday to face their charges.
The mob and their ringleader defendant Ben B. Togbah, 25, are charged with criminal attempts to commit murder, aggravated assault, criminal mischief, theft of property, rioting, failure to disperse and disorderly conduct.
The other defendants named in charge sheet are Kendrick S. Pelenah, 30; Joshua S. Karr, 28; Pukar Roberts, 36; Foday N. Massaquoi, 23; Aaron K. Chea, 26; Abdurahman Barrie, and others to be identified.
After being turned over to the Monrovia City Court Thursday, 4 August, the defendants were released based on a bond signed by their lawyer Cllr. Arthur Tamba Johnson.
They are awaiting court trial. According to LNP, the defendants’ action is in violation of multiple provisions of the Revised Penal Law of Liberia.
On Liberia’s 175th Independence Day, the defendants calling themselves Coalition for Democratic Change Council of Patriots (CDC – COP), mercilessly attacked and badly wounded protesting members of the UL-based Students Unification Party (SUP).
The university students had assembled outside the United States Embassy near Monrovia to protest and demand President George Manneh Weah’s government fix the country when they were attacked by the CDC – COP.
In the process, the attackers stripped student protester Christopher Sivili Walters naked and paraded him in front of live videos which went viral on social media.
SUP leaders say student Walters has been taken out of Liberia to help him seek medication.
The incident reminded Liberians of the inhumane treatment and painful murder of then-sitting Liberian president Samuel Kanyon Doe by rebel fighters under the command of now Nimba County Senator Prince Yormi Johnson (PYJ).
Besides Sivili, several other members of SUP were badly injured when they were attacked by the CDC – COP outside the United States Embassy near Monrovia.
The police stated that the arrest of the defendants was due to a communication received from the Crimes Service Department of the Liberia National Police.
Accordingly, the police were instructed to immediately conduct an investigation relative to the incident that occurred on 26 July in which student Walters was seen in multiple video recordings on social media being attacked, beaten and stripped naked.
The police investigative finding disclosed that stones were thrown by both the so-called CDC-COP and SUP members during the incident.
Police said the stone throw left several residents, especially the zinc, damaged.
“Victim Christopher Walker Sisulu, having recognized that the situation had escalated, ran from the main road into the community for safety,” the police said.
“But [he] was chased and apprehended, beaten, stripped naked, humiliated publicly and violently taken back to the main road while blood was seen oozing from his face and mouth as seen on the recording,” the police added.
According to the police, neither the CDC-COP, nor SUP got a permit from the Ministry of Justice to assemble or protest.
SUP militants assembled on 26 July for their planned “Fix the Country” protest, lamenting unemployment, mysterious deaths of some citizens, allegations of Government corruption and poor governance.
In resistance, the CDC – COP staged a counter-protest at the same site where SUP members had already assembled.
The clashes that erupted left several injured before police intervention. No arrest was made until the sixth day after the incident, prompting public anger and condemnation of the police here.