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GeneralLiberia news

Rep. Mensah seeks Legislative inquiry

-Into judge’s ruling

Bong County Lawmaker wants court’s verdict review.

By Bridgett Milton 

Monrovia, Liberia, April 19, 2024—Bong County District #6 Representative Moima Briggs Mensah has written to members of the House of Representatives seeking a legislative inquiry into the case involving an American missionary, Lucas Richards, and his Liberian fiancé, Jessica Llyod.     

Rep. Menseh recalls that President Joseph N. Boakai noted in his annual message in January that the justice system in Liberia, which is meant to protect the innocent and punish the guilty, has been marred by inefficiency, corruption, and lack of public trust.

She laments that on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, Liberians realized the shocking truth of a young Liberian lady who was left vulnerable to the justice system when her assailant, despite all the evidence adduced, was found not guilty and acquitted by the judge of Criminal Court B, noting that the verdict met the appalling despair of thousands of Liberians across the country and many around the world.

The Bong lawmaker stresses that the legislature has the Responsibility to conduct oversight across the entire government and to determine where justice is derailed or denied.

Rep. Moima Briggs Mensah, who chairs the House Committee on Gender, Children, and Social Protection, criticizes the court’s decision, suggesting that it reflects a troubling bias in favor of foreign nationals within Liberia’s legal system.

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Speaking before the full plenary on Thursday, April 18, 2024, she told her colleagues that it was time to investigate the matter further and bring those responsible to the plenary to ask them more questions to really understand what went wrong.

She observes that the court’s decision is sad and believes it was not done correctly, so as the people’s deputy, they cannot keep quiet.

Also speaking, Rivergee County District #1 Representative Alexander Paul says if he can be recalled according to their rules and the Constitution, he doesn’t see any provision of the law that gives them the oversight responsibility to invite or investigate judges’ decisions; rather, he notes, it gives them the mandate to impeach them for a cause. 

Nimba County District #7 Representative Musa Bility bluntly reminds his colleagues the House of Representatives has no authority to question the decision of the judiciary, but what they are questioning is the process that saw justice denied and abused in such a manner that is so sad.

He explains that there were people who represented the complainant for the government in court, and those people are subject to the Honorable House. They should come and explain what happened.      

The verdict handed down by Criminal Court B Presiding Judge Nelson B. Chineh has shocked and angered many, with numerous women’s advocacy groups joining Mensah in calling for a reexamination of the evidence. Critics argue that the court’s ruling dismisses the seriousness of the case and undermines justice for Lloyd, who narrowly escaped death in the alleged attack.

Lloyd herself was seen in a video expressing disbelief and condemnation of the verdict, stating that the evidence against Richards was clear and convincing. Her emotional reaction, shared outside the courtroom, reached many, who believe the outcome reveals a failure of the Liberian legal system.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has instructed its Committee on Judiciary and Gender to report within a week. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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