13 July 2014

Liberia: Court Fines Journalist Williams U.S.$75.00 - for Using Foreign License Plate

Following days of legal battle between the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Journalist Octivan Williams, Managing Editor of the Nation Times Newspaper, in a traffic violation case at the Monrovia Traffic Court at the Temple of Justice, presiding Judge Jomah Jallah has brought down a guilty verdict against defendant Williams.

Judge Jallah, who handed down the guilty verdict against the Liberian journalist on July 12, 2014 in open court, informed defendant Williams that driving with a foreign license plate is a total violation under Liberia's traffic laws.

Defendant Williams has since pleaded guilty to the crime charged, meaning that he has realized that using a foreign license plate in the country is a total violation of the country's traffic laws, but maintained that he was driving said car with a driving license.

However, the Traffic Court Judge fined defendant Williams seventy five United States Dollars (US$75, 00). Mr. Williams was ordered to pay the money to the Government of Liberia's revenue within twenty four hours or risk being arrested and placed in a common jail.

Minutes after Traffic Court Judge Jallah handed down the guilty verdict in the presence of journalist Williams and other Liberian journalists, the Nation Times Managing Editor immediately walked to the Central Bank of Liberia's sub-branch at the Temple of Justice and paid the US$75, 00 fine.

The court ordered the immediate release of journalist Williams' vehicle which had been impounded ten days at the headquarters of the Liberia National Police as result of traffic violation (Using foreign license plate).

Police authorities in Monrovia recently arrested journalist Williams and charged him with the crimes of improper parking which police said is a violation of section 10.80, operating unregistered vehicle which is a violation of section 3.1, a non-insured vehicle among others of the traffic laws of Liberia.

Meanwhile, police authorities in Monrovia have welcomed the ruling of the Traffic Court and said the case won should send a clear cut message to the general public that no one is above the law and admonished all living within the country to be law abiding.

According to a press statement issued on July 12, 2014 from the headquarters of the Liberia National Police, the issue raised by the force (Police) against journalist Williams was not on the basis of mere malice as it is being construed by some members of public, especially the Liberian media, but on the basis of law.

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