4 August 2017

Liberia: Insufficient Evidence May End Case Against Rep. Waylee

Days after Magistrate Kennedy Peabody of the Monrovia City Court held authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP) in contempt for "refusing to follow-up" on Grand Gedeh County District#2 Representative Morias Waylee's alleged rape case, the magistrate yesterday disclosed that the trial has been abandoned by the prosecution. "I don't know what is happening with the case because the government charged Rep. Waylee and his wife, but the prosecution is yet to ask for any assignment to continue with the matter," Peabody said. "You cannot blame the court for not doing much to proceed with the matter; it is the accusers that should come to court to make assignment if they are not doing so. Because we were interested to have a speedy trial of this matter, we were even compelled to fine authorities of the LNP for their unwillingness to prosecute Rep. Waylee, but they have refused to do anything to have the case resumed."

Rep. Waylee was reported to have impregnated his 12 year old niece (name withheld) who was reportedly staying with him but was later moved to an unknown location after the alleged rape was reported, with the intent to destroy evidence. The incident allegedly took place in May this year, according to a local newspaper. The girl's father was also reported to be Rep. Waylee's driver.

The Liberia National Police arrested the lawmaker and charged him and his wife with multiple crimes that included criminal conspiracy in violation of chapter 10.4. However, due to insufficient information, the LNP could not charge him with rape. The lawmaker was also charged with 'tampering with witness,' which is a violation of Chapter 12 sub-chapter C 1240b1 and Chapter 12 sub-chapter C section 12.411, according to the Revised Penal Code of the Republic of Liberia. To obtain a conviction for sexual assault, the prosecutor must prove all of the elements of the statute beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, if the government fails to prove even one element of the crime, the defendant will be acquitted, a legal expert explained.

It may be recalled that Inspector General Col. Gregory Coleman said, "With the investigation thus far by the LNP, along with its collaborating partners, it has been established that a minor named Regina Barway, known to be a niece of Rep. Waylee, has lived with him and was in school through his sponsorship at a school in Careysburg, along the Kakata-Monrovia highway. We have come to make it known that Hon. Waylee has been arrested and charged. His actions are in violation of our penal code."

He added: "In view of the evidence gathered and circumstances surrounding this matter the investigation has resolved to charge suspect Morias Waylee and Wedeh Waylee, the wife of the suspect, with criminal conspiracy in violation of chapter 10.4. And in addition to that, for tampering with witness, which is in violation of Chapter 12 sub-chapter C 1240b1; and Chapter 12 sub-chapter C section 12.411, for tampering with the criminal investigation - all of which contravene the Revised Penal Code of the Republic of Liberia." Col. Coleman said at the time that the suspect, who was not charged with rape, was not overlooked because the investigation was still ongoing, and there is a need to establish all the facts to make sure the act was committed before coming up with such a charge.

It is the opinion of legal experts that the prosecution's lack of drive in the case is simply because the case against the lawmaker has not been established beyond a reasonable doubt, which means the LNP has not been able to accumulate substantive evidence to prosecute the lawmaker. "The LNP's statement that there is a need to establish all the facts to make sure the act was committed," said a legal expert, "is an admission that police investigators don't have facts to prosecute the case."

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