22 February 2013

Liberia: Police Give Conflicting Accounts On Riots

The Liberia National Police (LNP) appears to be caught in a conflicting account over its failure to have arrested members of a rioting group who had besieged Montserrado County District #8 Representative Acarous Gray's residence on Monday before arresting nine suspected rioters from another group, who subsequently besieged Finance Minster Amara Konneh's residence on Tuesday.

Addressing a news conference Thursday at the LNP Headquarters in Monrovia, Police Director Chris Massaquoi reported the arrest of nine suspected rioters from Minister Konneh's residence on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 over charges of rioting, disorderly conduct, obstructing highways and other public passage, criminal attempt to commit arson and criminal facilitation.

Director Massquoi said some of the suspects arrested from Minister Konneh's 8th Street, Sinkor residence, including Abubakar Corneh, Harris Flomo, Boakai Siryon, James Varney, Isaac Gweh, James Kollie, Jr. Mohammed Kromah, Samuel Washington and Mohammed Toure were carrying petrol (gasoline) and matches with the intent to cause arson.

Among several counts warranting the suspects' arrest, Director Massaquoi said police investigation established that the rioters did not apply and obtain a permit from the Justice Ministry to protest as required by law...

But regarding Monday's protest at Representative Gray's residence on Capitol Bye-Pass, Director Massaquoi said the two incidents were quite different, arguing that police did not observe rioting at Gray's residence, even though he did not provide further clarity whether or not, the protesters obtained permit from the Justice Ministry.

Due to the unfolding circumstances at Representative Gray's house, Deputy Police Chief for Operations Abraham Kromah and officers of the LNP responded to the incident scene, but made no arrest.

"The incident at Acarous Gray's house was quite different from what happened at the Finance Minister's house. As I said, the incident at Gray's house - we did not observe any rioting; we did not observe any disorderly conduct; we did not see in plain view any attempt to commit arson - all these things were performed at Minister Konneh's house," said the police chief.

However, following the incident at Representative Gray's house, the Deputy Police Director for Operations Kromah told a local radio talk show here that the police acted on the instruction of the lawmaker that they should not carry on arrest against the protesters at his residence on grounds that they had the right to protest.

Notwithstanding, the police say it retrieved one gallon of gas, 34 pieces of placards/posters and a casket bearing the name of Minister Amara Konneh, including L$2000.00 from one of the protesters identified as Mohammed Kromah.

Director Massaquoi told reporters at the news conference on Thursday that they were sending the suspects to court for prosecution within the statutory period of 48 hours.

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