A group of soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia has reportedly invaded a magisterial court, held the judge and his staff under hostage for nearly six hours, and forcibly taken away two defendants along with evidence in an alleged criminal trespass and mischief case.
The judge of the Bensonville City Magisterial Court in Montserrado County, Edwin K. Gayflor, has forwarded a complain to the Court Administrator at the Temple of Justice, detailing how armed soldiers accompanied led by Lt./ Col. Theophilus Dahn, , walked into open court and demanded the immediate release of two criminal defendants [without being authorized].
Magistrate Gayflor said he and his immediate staff were placed under hostage from 1:00pm up to 6:30pm until defendants James Kerkulah and Robert Togba of Mount Barclay, including evidence “used in the perpetration of the offense…” could be forcibly taken away by the armed officers.
But when contacted via mobile phone on Friday, January 9, 2015, Assistant Defense Minister for Public Affairs, David K. Dahn, said once the complaint was before the Court Administrator, it has become a judicial matter and the Ministry of National Defense could not step into it.
He additionally said the Ministry did not receive such complaints and was not there when the incident occurred; adding that only the Court which receives the complaint knows exactly what to do and the Ministry would cooperate with it.
In a letter of complaint addressed to the Court Administrator Cllr. Elizabeth J. Nelson, Magistrate Gayflor narrated that while hearing a case against defendants James Kerkulah and Robert Togba both of Mount Barclay, Montserrado County, officer Dahn led a military team to the court and held him and the staff hostage for several hours.
“Madam Court Administrator, as the two criminal defendants were given their right and preliminary examination began, Lt./Col. Dahn ordered me to immediately release the two defendants to him or I will see what he will do to me, which I refused and told him that only a Lawyer can bail these defendants through a proper valid criminal appearance bond,” the judge complained.
He said to his surprise, Lt./Col. Dahn walked into the open court and personally held the hands of the two defendants and led them out of the court.
Magistrate Gayflor said Officer Dahn additionally entered his Chamber “illegally” and took away the Fruit of the Crime or FOC, two power saws and a bag of contraband used in the commission of the crime of criminal trespass and criminal mischief against the property of one Mr. Siafa Bright of Mount Barclay and the State in particular.
He further narrated that the armed soldiers forcibly took the defendants and evidence away while issuing terroristic threat against “our lives as judges of said honorable court.”
Continuing, he said during preliminary examination, it was established that Lt./Col. Dahn ordered the two defendants to cut down rubber trees belonging to Mr. Bright.
But Magistrate Gayflor however said Lt./Col. Dahn realized his wrong doing and apologized to the court, vowing never to repeat the act. He said the officer was returning the two defendants as well as the power saw he forcibly took from the court while in session.
Meanwhile, the magistrate has complained of one Theophilus Gbadeh in the same Mount Barclay area, who allegedly impersonates as a lawyer.
He said the criminal conveyance of land by criminal-minded individuals is being supported by Mr. Gbadeh, who was denied as counsel for the defendants in the criminal mischief case.