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Court denies government petition in Root FM case

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Criminal Court “A” presiding Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie has dismissed prosecutors’ request to reverse previous ruling by Acting Monrovia City Court Stipendiary Magistrate Ernest Bana Flomo that had denied their petition for the city court to dismiss Roots Holding’s request to return Roots FM’s seized equipment.

Roots FM 102.7 which is one of the subsidiaries of Roots Holding Inc. that had government critic and talk show host Henry Costa as its key voice, has been off the air since state securities in October 2019 raided its facilities, seizing equipment including keyboard, mixers, microphones and computers allegedly used to commit serious crimes against the Republic.

While denying the government’s request to reverse the magisterial court’s ruling, the Criminal Court “A” on Monday, 6 July affirmed the Monrovia City Court’s ruling and mandated it to resume jurisdiction of the case and proceed into disposition of Roots Holding’s motion to return property and suppress evidence.

“In view therefore, the summary proceeding or petition/petition filed by the Government of Liberia / Ministry of Justice to reverse the ruling of the then Acting Stipendiary Magistrate is denied and the ruling of the magistrate is hereby affirmed and confirmed,” Judge Willie rules.

According to the court document, the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice filed a petition before Magistrate Flomo on 9 October 2019 to search, seize and arrest the Management of Roots FM 102.7 by and through its Chief Executive Officer, General Manager, Station Manager and the Management of the radio station.

The document continues that the petition filed by the Ministry of Justice indicated that the basis for the petition was that the radio station or respondents were in violation of Section 15 of the Telecommunication Act of 2007 and Chapter 11, Section 11.2(d) of the Criminal Procedure Law.

The government accused the respondents or Roots Holding Inc. of operating a radio station without valid license and illegally using their broadcasting equipment for the commission of serious crimes against the government of Liberia.

The court document notes that Magistrate Flomo granted the petition of the Ministry of Justice and court officers proceeded to the compound of the station, searched, seized, and arrested the equipment.

Further, it notes that immediately following the execution of the said petition, the Roots Holding Inc. represented by its station manager, Fidel Saydee and all authorized representatives, relying on Chapter 11.10 of the Criminal Procedure Law, filed a motion before Magistrate Flomo for the court to return the properties of the station and suppress evidence.

Thereafter, the court says the Ministry of Justice filed its returns to the motion to return the properties of the station and suppress evidence, praying the court to dismiss the motion filed by Roots Holding Inc. because Fidel Saydee lacked capacity or standing to file such motion.

The government contended that there is no notarized Board Resolution attached to the motion authorizing Saydee to act on behalf of the corporation as required by the Corporation Laws of Liberia.

However, Magistrate Flomo denied the Ministry of Justice’s motion to dismiss the motion filed by Roots Holding for return of its properties and to suppress evidence, a decision affirmed by Criminal Court “A”.–Edited by Winston W. Parley

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