Reporter Edward Mortee of the National Chronicle Newspaper has been released from detention by police in Monrovia after he was charged with criminal coercion.
Mortee was jailed on Thursday at 12 noon, January 12, 2012 following complaint filed against him by Liberia National Police (LNP) Chief Highway Patrol Officer Victor P. Gboyah.
Officer Gboyah had accused Mortee of falsely linking him to the alleged arrest of one Sam Roberts on January 4, 2012 from his Hotel Africa residence through a publication in the Tuesday, January 10, 2012 Edition of the National Chronicle.
Gboyah told our reporter at the Monrovia City Court in Monrovia Thursday that he wanted a retraction to the story, but the defendant failed to comply, thus prompting the court action.
Mortee’s lawyer Attorney Augustine S. Togba, was seen processing a US$30.00 bond after the defendant was sent to the Monrovia Central Prison at South Beach to guarantee his release from detention to enable him go for a pre-trial conference. The court had earlier said it did not want cash bond, but a property bond.
The management and reporters of the Chronicle were ordered through a writ of summon to appear before the Monrovia City Court to answer to criminal coercion charge. The writ said the act was in violation of Section 15.27 of the New Penal Law of Liberia, adding that it “was unlawful, illegal, wicked and intentional.”
The reporter alleged to have gathered through investigation that an agent of the United States Government Damon Browne, who came to Liberia to serve as Advisor and Training Officer to the Security sector Reform program, allegedly broke into and damaged Sam and Amelia Roberts’ relationship.
He claimed that Mr. Roberts was arrested on January, 4, 2012 on the order of officer Gboyah, based on complaint filed to the police by his wife (Amelia Roberts) of allegedly brutalizing her.
Reporter Mortee claimed that Mr. Roberts was released, but later re-arrested and taken to the National Police Headquarters on Capitol Hill in Monrovia. Mortee said when he contacted officer Gboyah, he initially denied knowledge of the arrest.
He told our reporter at the City Court yesterday that when he contacted Gboyah via mobile phone about the story, the officer allegedly told him to go to the police station to get his side of the story, but responded that he could not go there because it was news time.