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Crime & PunishmentGeneralLiberia news

Court hears final arguments

-In RLJ Kendeja Hotel’s physical assault case

By Emmanuel wise Jipoh

Prosecutors at the Paynesville Magisterial Court have concluded final arguments in the inhumane treatment and malpractice case between the operational manager of the RLJ Kendeja Beach Resort and Villas Hotel, Roberta Torkornoo, and one of its former employees, Daniel Fallah Flomo, who alleges that he was illegally dismissed by the management in December 2023.

A former contractor of the renowned hotel, Mr. Flomo had sued the RLJ Kendeja Hotel Management at the Paynesville Magisterial Court, after he suffered inhumane treatment and was allegedly dismissed illegally by the  Management without benefits, after nearly 14 years of service, dating from 2009-2023.

He is among more than 300 workers who were illegally redundant between 2022 and 2023 by the Hotel Management.

He had initially complained of bad labor practices and malpractices by the management, but his vocal stance against management led to physical assault allegedly by the RLJ operation and policies manager Roberta Torkornu, before his subsequent dismissal.

In the lawsuit, Flomo accused Manager Roberta Torkornu of Simple Assault and Disorderly Conduct, inflicting severe pain on his body, specifically in his chest, which caused him to have have series of medical examinations.

However, in a writ of summon and statement of claims dated 18th December 2023, issued by the Clerk of Court, Hector M. Dolo, Flomo, alleged that his former boss, defendant Roberta Torkornoo was in a constant habit of assaulting him at the workplace.

The plaintiff whose service with the RLJ Kendeja Hotel ended on December 2, 2023, narrates in the Writ of Summon that “On the 1st day of December 2023 at the Kendeja Community, the defendant, with criminal intent, intentionally and illegally hit him in the chest for which he is going through severe pain as a result of the hit, thereby committing the crime of Simple Assault in violation of Section 14.21 of the law.

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The Paynesville Magisterial Court during trial on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, listed the matter for final arguments between both the defendant and the plaintiff after at least three witnesses namely, Martha M. Thompson, head of the hotel workers union; Maria Meekie, a Liberian staffer and Reuben Twumasi, a Ghanaian, testified of exchange of words between Flomo and his former boss Torkornoo, but couldn’t say there was physical assault.

During recording of their statements in court, head of the workers union, Martha M. Thompson told prosecutors that complainant Flomo had complained Madam Torkornoo of hitting him in the chest while listening to his concerns.

She continued that Madam Torkornoo had pointed her finger in the face of Daniel’s as she tried to calm down the situation, but there wasn’t any hit between the two.

She told lawyers that the situation was resolved and Daniel returned to work.

For his part, Witness Reuben Twumasi said Madam Torkornoo had asked for way to pass, as Daniel stood in the way to the kitchen, but she didn’t witness any assault, only exchange of words between the two.

Earlier during the hearing, Madam Torkornoo claimed innocence but admitted there was heated exchange between her and Daniel.

She admitted pointing finger at him for issuing her gross disrespect but didn’t hit him his chest.

She alleged that Complainant Flomo was in the constant habit of arguing with her, and exhibited actions that were inappropriate to the policies of the hotel, which may have led to his dismissal.

Meanwhile, during final arguments between both prosecution and defendant lawyers, the court asked series of questions to inform its ruling.

According to Section 14.21 of the penal law of Liberia, a person is guilty of a simple assault if he: (a) Purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or (b) Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. 

Section 14.22 which talks about offensive touching, says “A person who, with the purpose of offending another person not a member of his household, by any means strikes or touched such other person, is guilty of an infraction. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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