New Democrat (Monrovia)

Liberia: Inmates Cry for Justice

Several inmates of the Monrovia Central Prison who have been in jail for a protracted period of time without trial have expressed their frustration at the way authorities were violating their rights under the law.

Speaking to our reporter Wednesday, they argued that they have been in detention for more than a year on mere suspicion of committing various charges but have not been taken to court to test their fate.

According to the, such an act was in violation of the relevant sections of the criminal procedure law which say "Anyone that is accused of an indictable offense much be indicted and tried within two terms of court."

The detainees are awaiting trial murder, armed robbery, rape and property theft, among other crimes.

Aaron Lackey along with three others who are facing murder charges, said Wednesday that they were frustrated over the justice system in Liberia.

"We were charged in 2010 with allegedly killing a police officer. We have since denied the state' claim but are yet to be tried. We are too disappointed as to the way thing are going here. Try or release us because we are family people," he pointed out while en route to court.

For his part, rape suspect Prince Wright believes that the state has no case against him as he said he was wrongly accused by the victim's parents.

"Since January 18, 2012, I was accused of rape and I'm yet to be indicted by the state.

I'm only living in prison by God's mercy because the way out for me is unclear.

"It's painful for a person accused of committing rape or armed robbery, which are felonies of the first degree and capital offense under our laws are yet to be tried," he lamented.

"We must be judged in keeping with law, and if found guilty, be punished to serve as deterrent to would-be offenders," Wright told our reporter.

The Liberian government in 2009 admitted that it indicted about 200 people in pre-trial detention but has apparently done nothing to release or try them.

Meanwhile, the Johnson and Sasey Associates Law Film Wednesday filed a 25-count motion to force the government to release the pre-trial detainees.

According to them, the action by the state was a complete violation of the law especially where, as they said, the defendants are yet to be indicted.

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