Liberia’s Supreme Court has partly affirmed a lower court’s judgment and has sentenced nine convicted Liberian mercenaries to lifetime imprisonment, while dismissing all charges against four others.
“[That] the State satisfactorily proved the crime of mercenarism against: NyazeeBarway, alias Joseph Dweh, Morris k. Cole, alias Edward Cole/General Girl, Steven Gloto, alias Rambo/Ninja, Emmanuel Saymah, alias, Trainer, Moses Baryee, alias Moses Sarpee, Sam OforiDiah, Alfred Bobby James, Jr., alias Bobby Sarpee, Jacob Saydee and Mohammed Massaquoi,” the Supreme Court’s opinion read on Thursday, 22 September.
After receiving the Supreme Court’s judgment, defense lawyer Cllr. TiawanGongloe told reporters outside the court, “The rest of it can now be political inducement at the Office of the President” to get the rest of the nine convicts released.
Dozens of Liberians dominated by Grand Gedeans were indicted in 2011 for allegedly fighting and killing several victims, including seven UN Peacekeepers in post-election violence in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire.
After prosecution dropped charges against some of the indictees and used some as witnesses, a total of 13 were finally convicted by the Criminal Court “D” in 2014 after which defense counsels appealed to the Supreme Court.
But the nation’s highest court ruled Thursday, 22 September that nine of the defendants were “adjudged guilty of the crime of mercenarism and sentenced to life imprisonment.” Regarding the four defendants that were set free, including Isaac Taryon, alias WolieTaryon; Prince Youty, James Lee Cooper and Sam Tarley, alias Bull Dog, the Supreme Court said “there was not sufficient evidence to connect and satisfactorily establish the guilt of the co-defendants.”
As such, the high court ruled “… the crime of mercenarism with which they are charged is hereby dismissed and they are ordered released … from detention.” Family members, officials from various counties where some of the defendants hailed and other members of the public assembled at the Supreme Court to hear the Court’s final decision on Thursday.
After the ruling, many of the friends and sympathizers that had turned out to hear the Court’s final decision were seen in a rather worrying mood, even though four of the defendants who were earlier convicted at the lower court were released by the Supreme Court.
By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne