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Crime & PunishmentGeneralLiberia news

S/Court rejects Bong lawmakers’ request for pardon

–orders arrests of kinsmen

By Lincoln G. Peters

The full bench of the Supreme Court of Liberia has unanimously denied a request by members of the Bong County legislative caucus to pardon local officials’ offenses against the court.

Through a communication dated 23 January 2023, the Judiciary’s communication department said the Supreme Court had ruled that granting the Bong County lawmakers’ request will undermine the integrity of the Supreme Court.

It said such a move will also destroy the independence and neutrality of the nation’s highest court.

The Supreme Court has therefore requested the Ministries of Justice and Internal Affairs to have Mr. Ernest White and Mr. Joseph Kollie (CKA Choko) arrested.

The Supreme Court in December rendered an opinion in the contempt proceeding against Daniel Tubman, Commissioner, Clinton Brown, Acting City Mayor of Totota City, Robert Sulu, Acting General Town Chief of Totota City, and Miller Bondo, Youth Leader of Salala District.

Others in the case were Varney Sirleaf, Poro Grove Operator in Salala District, Ernest White, Cultural Advisor, and Joseph Kollie (CKA Choko), Acting Paramount Chief of Fuamah Chiefdom

The Court held the defendants in criminal contempt for vandalizing the Magisterial Courts in Salala, Bong Mines, and Gbartala, Bong County.

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The court ordered that the men be immediately forwarded to the Office of the Marshal of the Supreme Court so that they commence serving the sentence as was imposed by the Supreme Court in its judgment of 15 December 2022.

Bong Legislative Caucus Chairperson Moima Briggs Mensah, and Representative J. Marvin Cole had sought pardon on behalf of seven local county officials.

The local officials were held for criminal contempt of the Judiciary Branch of Government and the Supreme Court of Liberia and sentenced to six months imprisonment.

In communications dated 15 December 2022 and 5 January 2023, and addressed to Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh Representatives Mensah and Cole acknowledged the wrong meted out against the court by their kinsmen.

The lawmakers thereby rendered apologies to the court on behalf of their kinsmen and begged the Supreme Court to temper justice with mercy.

They pleaded with the court to release their kinsmen, saying they were sure that the men had learned their lessons.

But the communication department at the Judiciary disclosed that the Supreme Court, in an official response to Rep. Mensah, dated 20 January 2023, denied the lawmakers’ request.

The Court cited Articles 65 and 66 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, reminding the Bong County Representatives that the Supreme Court is the highest Court within the bailiwick of the Republic of Liberia.

It indicated that the decisions taken are conclusive in all respects and are binding and enforceable against all parties brought under the jurisdiction of the Court, irrespective of their social or political status, and it is also final and unreviewable.

“Considering your request in the light of the above-referenced constitutional provisions, we are unhesitant to state here that the granting of reprieve as requested, will not only undermine the Supreme Court’s integrity but same will create an avalanche that will destroy the Supreme Court’s independence and neutrality,” the court said.

It stated that this will also portray the Court as being biased, selective, weak, and susceptible to legislative influence.

“To grant your request and release those defendants that are held in criminal contempt will be a clear manifestation of favoritism and a departure from Article 11 (c) of the Constitution,” the court reminded the lawmakers.

In addition to the vandalism, Magistrate William G. Capehart was stripped naked, along with certain court staff of the Salala Magistrate Court.

The victims were abducted and initiated into the traditional school, causing other disturbances at the Bong Mines Magisterial Court.

It was based upon these dreadful acts that the Supreme Court held the defendants in criminal contempt and sentenced them to six months imprisonment at the Monrovia Central Prison.

The court said it is using this to set a deterrence and for the defendants to re-evaluate their actions.

However, only five of the defendants in persons of Daniel Tubman, Clinton Brown, Robert Sulu,

Miller Bondo, and Varfee Sirleaf were committed at the Monrovia Central Prison.

Ernest White and Joseph Kollie remain at large.Edited by Winston W. Parley

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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