The NEWS (Monrovia)

30 November 2012

Liberia: 'Detention Without Trial'

Grand Gedeh County Senator J. Alphonso Gaye is reported to be infuriated and disappointed over the prolonged detention of two of his kinsmen who have been held far beyond statutory period without trial.

He's advocating for the release of Ophoree Diah and Alfred Bobby James who were arrested in October by the Liberian government for their alleged involvement in the Ivorian crisis.

Senator Gaye said the prolonged detention of the two men was a violation of their constitutional rights and recommended that they be set free since the government appears not to come out with a formal indictment.

The lawmaker said he wants the Liberian government to begin speedy trial for the two men instead of keeping them far beyond statutory period without trial.

Senator Gaye indicated that speedy trial for the two men would disperse allegation of witch-hunt against the accused.

The lawmaker said the prolonged detention of Diah and Bobby James is a violation of Article 21 (f) of the Liberian constitution.

Article 21 (f) of the Liberian constitution says: "Every person arrested or detained shall be formally charged and presented before a court of competent jurisdiction forty eight hours. Should the court determine the existence of a prima facie case against the accused, it shall issue a formal writ of arrest setting out the charge or charges and shall provide for a speedy trial. There shall be no preventive detention."

However, contrary to this provision, the Liberian government has already charged the two men with mercenarism.

Lawyers defending the two men say they have made efforts to accelerate the trial. The defence team explained that a motion for pre-trial was denied by the court and subsequently they filed another motion for speedy trial which was also denied. Not discouraged, the defence team said they've filed a motion to admit to bail, but court again quashed the request citing that prosecution is preparing a formal incitement against the accused.

The two men, already charged by the state, are under the custody of the court and not the LNP.

Diah and Bobby James are two former Generals of the defunct LURD rebel movement who were arrested for their alleged involvement in the cross-border attacks in neighbouring Ivory Coast.

They were charged in October by the Liberia National Police (LNP) for "criminally" facilitating paramilitary activities in Ivory Coast resulting into death of peacekeepers, rape of women, and theft of properties, among others.

The state says they have probable cause to indict the accused. It said voluntary confession of the two men during police investigation is an indication of some of the level of Liberians' involvement in the subversive activities in neighbouring Ivory Coast.

Separately, on October 15, 2012, at about 12: 00 midnight, Alfred Bobby James Jr. alias Bobby Sarpee, former LURD rebel movement general was arrested by the Liberia National Police, acquainted of his Miranda Rights, investigated and duly charged with criminal facilitation and Para-Military activities which contravened section 10.2 and 11.5 of the revised penal code of Liberia and placed behind bars.

LNP revealed that Alfred Bobby James Jr. was identified by an eyewitness believed to be in alliance with defendants Moses Baryee, Nyezee Barway, Griah Didier-Ivorian-at-large, Gee Maio-Ivorian-at-large, Abel Wleah-Ivorian-at-large, Isaac Cheabo alias Bob Marley-at-large, among others, that had engaged themselves in criminally facilitating Para-Military activities in the Ivory Coast which led to Murder, Rape, Arson and Theft of properties.

Police investigation also established that the former LURD general admitted being introduced to the mission by his father-in-law Griah Didier-Ivory Coast former customs officer in the Gbagbo's government in 2011.

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