Liberia’s Police Director, Col. Chris Massaquoi and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s son, Fomba Sirleaf, who heads the National Security Agency or NSA here, risk arrest today, if they failed to produce prisoner Jefferson Sanoe before a circuit court in Monrovia, according to Judge Johannes Zogbay Zlahn’s order.
In a ruling handed Tuesday, 4 November Criminal Court “A” Presiding Judge Zlahn described the two security officials as “arrogant and disrespectful”, while ordering the court clerk to serve Mr. Massaquoi and Mr. Sirleaf citations for contempt of court.
The case in hand draws from disregard to repeated habeas corpus and two compulsory writs of summons served on the security chiefs by court sheriff, demanding the living bodies of prisoners Alfred Cruwu and Jefferson Sanoe’s.
But lawyer representing the police claimed the prisoners had been transported to the Gbarpolu County Police Detachment, something the court has since rejected “because it is not supported by credible evidence.”
After being pressurized by the court through the service of the various instruments stated here, Judge Zlahn said only prisoner Cruwu was produced in the court, while Sanoe is still in the custody of the Liberia National Police in gross disregard to the court’s order.
“The conduct on the part of the respondents does not only constitute flagrant disrespect of the court, but constitutes a violation of the Constitution of the Republic as well as statutory laws,” Judge Zlahn said.
In a very angry tone, he warned Directors Massaquoi and Sirleaf that regardless of their positions or relationship with the President, they were subject and bounded by the laws of Liberia, adding that Liberia is a country of law and not of man.
“Their conduct in disregarding the writ of habeas corpus served on them by the court brings the entire government of the Republic in public disrepute in the eyes of the international community; this country is not a property of anyone, including Massaquoi and Fomba Sirleaf,” said the Judge.
Judge Zlahn said based on advice the court got, he “reluctantly” ordered the issuance of a contempt citation on Massaquoi and Sirleaf to appear in court today, Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 10am.
He warned that failure to appear with the living body of Sanoe will this time leave the court with no other alternative but to issue an arrest order to be executed by the Court Sheriff with the aid of citizens in accordance with Chapter 16.66 of the Criminal Procedure Law.
In closing, Judge Zlahn ordered the clerk to have the copies of the court’s minutes served on both officials “so that they will be aware of their deliberate, arrogant, and disrespectful action [to] the order of the court.”
Meanwhile, the lawyers representing petitioners Sanoe and Cruwu, Attorneys J. Awia Vankan and Mark M. Marvey have taken exception to the court’s ruling, saying they will take advantage of available remedies under the law.