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Liberia news

Cllr. Tiawon counters libel against Pres. Sirleaf

The legal team representing indicted self-proclaimed advocate Vandala Patricks is seeking the dismissal of the indictment containing charges of sedition and criminal libel against President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, arguing that it is “unconstitutional” for an executive action to limit or curtail free expression in the form of police arrest.

In a motion submitted at the Criminal Court “A” in the Temple of Justice on 17 March, lead counsel Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe also wrote that sedition and criminal libel against the President of Liberia are not among actions specifically named in the Constitution of Liberia by which free expression may be limited or curtailed by the Court.

But he contends that a judicial action which is preceded by an arrest of a person by the police and an indictment by the grand jury, followed by a writ of arrest is a violation of Article 15 (e) of the Liberian Constitution.

Defendant Patricks was indicted on 24 February after alleging President Sirleaf and her government’s involvement in murdering political opponents, while also citing alleged hired assassins for the killing of former Liberian Petroleum Refining Company or LPRC Managing Director, Mr. Harry Greaves.

It took roughly a week for his counsels to secure a US$3,000 cash bond for his release from the Monrovia Central Prison or South Beach, while political supporters staged series of protests at the Temple of Justice on Capitol Hill.


His lawyer is raising argument here that the Constitution did not give any authority to the Executive and Legislative branches of government to take any action against anyone for free expression, but instead, the judicial branch.

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“Hence, Movant [the applicant for a judicial order] says the indictment should be dismissed because same is inconsistent with the Constitution of Liberia,” the counsel said.
The council also insisted that the Constitution here protects citizens’ rights to freedom of thought, opinion, conscience and expression, saying these rights can only be limited in a manner provided by the Constitution.
Following Mr. Greaves’ gruesome death subsequent discovery on 31 January ashore behind the Executive Mansionin Monrovia, businessman and presidential hopeful Mr. Simeon Freeman, who first began publicly pointing fingers at the Sirleaf regime for allegedly having list of 10persons for elimination, including himself, fled the country after he was reportedly called in by the police for questioning in connection with the allegation.

At least defendant Patricks and one other protester who bears more charges, Archie I. Sannoh have so far been charged with various crimes, while an official of the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change or CDC Mr. MulbahMorlu only faced police inquiry.

Police authorities had released Morlu to his lawyer after sometime of interfacing, but said he would be reporting when needed.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Jonathan Browne

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