7 December 2012

Liberia: Revenge Suspects Demand Freedom

Five persons arrested from among a group of community residents who doused a top policeman with gasoline and set him ablaze in revenge for the murder of another man on Capitol Bye-pass have asked prosecutors to release them if they cannot be tried as charged.

Kwame Akakpo, Aaron Lackay, Nicholas Wleh, Mitchell Davis and Paul Andrews said they have been held in custody without trial since they were arrested over the death of Police Chief Inspector Amos Tutu in 2010.

Their arrest followed a mob attack on the Chief Inspector by enraged residents on Capitol Bypass who swung into action and set the police chief ablaze after he shot dead one Preston Davis, a landlord over rent arrears.

The accused were taken to court few days ago only to be remanded in custody for unspecified reasons.

Speaking to our reporter, they called on state prosecutors to either try or release them because they have been in detention without trial beyond the statutory period.

Sources said the killing of Chief Police Inspector Amos Tutu of the Police Support Unit (PSU) took place two years ago and six terms of court have elapse without the accused being tried after pleading not guilty to the PSU officer's murder, thus joining issue with state at the Criminal Court "A."

According to a relevant section of the criminal procedure law, any one accused of an indictable offense must be indicted and tried within two terms of court.

Speaking on behalf of his fellow accused, suspect Aaron Lackay said they were frustrated over their prolonged detention at the Monrovia Central Prison without trial. He said their rights are being violated daily contrary to law.

"Since February 27, 2010 we were arrested for allegedly killing the Chief Police Inspector Amos Tutu but we are yet to be tried. We are not refusing to go to court. They claimed that their evidence was overwhelming against us. We are frustrated by the prolonged detention. If there's no case against us, then let us go because we are family people and we've children," he pointed out.

His statement came at the time when the Montserrado County County Anttorney Cllr. Darku Mulbah made it clear recently that those with cases in the court should go forward for prosecution or such cases would be dismissed in keeping with law.

Cllr. Mulbah "We cannot fight your cases without you. You have to come to court and testify in order to prove your case against the accused. Moreover, the defendants cannot be in jail without trial. So, no evidence, no trial in keeping with law,"

A four-page indictment against the accused alleged that on 27 February 2010 Chief Inspector Amos Tutu of the PSU allegedly shot and killed Preston Davis while both men were in a scuffle over rent arrears the former owed Mr. Davis.

The indictment claimed that the accused men and some members of the Capital Bye-Pass community attacked Inspector Amos Tutu, doused him with gasoline and set him ablaze.

Defence lawyers had argued for the suspects to be set free or granted bail bond. They contended that the government had "failed to prosecute them more than two year since they were arrested and detained."

Prosecutors, on the other hand, pleaded with the court to disregard the defence's argument to grant the defendants bail, claiming that there was enough evidence to convict the accused.

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