Liberia: Police Charge Several Protesters

Several protesters have been charged by police here and subsequently incarcerated at the Monrovia Central Prison for multiple counts, following peaceful protest staged Monday, 6 January by the Council of Patriots (COP) which later turned violent.

The protesters have been charged with riot, failure to disperse, recklessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct and were sent to court Thursday, 9 January.

The protest which is the second biggest assembly led by the COP in less than a year was held to demand President George Manneh Weah to tackle corruption, publish his assets, dismiss some of his key cabinet officials, and give the outcome of an audit into US$25m mop - up exercise conducted.

But it turned violent and resulted to the injuries of others after joint securities used teargas canisters and water cannon against the protesters following a disagreement with the protesters' demand to cook, eat and sleep at their protest site between the Executive Mansion and the Legislature.

Police have listed in the charge sheet defendants Josiah Tarphen, Sr., Aaron Kennedy, Emmanuel Johnson, Josiah Tarphen and Alexander Sampson as the accused.

After using teargas to disperse the protesters, police say one 9mm pistol was found in a light green Toyota RAV4 with license plate HOR-65, which is allegedly owned by opposition lawmaker and key COP member Rep. Yekeh Kolubah.

Further, police say another 99mm pistol bearing the name "High Point" was found in an abandoned white Ford Ranger with license number A619132 that was recovered from the scene.

The police indicate in the charge sheet that at about 1623 hours on the day of the protest, joint security members realized that COP members lit fire and were now cooking at the front of the Capitol Hill and Executive Mansion corridor.

According to the police, the cooking was being done not distant from a blue KIA motor which had on it a drum of gasoline which was hazardous to every other persons within that corridor.

According to the police, the failure of the joint security to act would have rendered the security ineffective and not in the interest of providing that much security that the COP was promised.

Despite the involvement of the Independent Human Rights Commission through its coordinator Adama Dempster to ask the COP to put off the fire, police say the protesters partly yielded to the intervention but suddenly blaze the fire much more that they had earlier.

Following failed intervention by both the police and the commission, the investigators say the police resolved to use its water cannon to put off the fire.

According to the police, it was during this time that protesters allegedly started to throw stones at the joint security which again had to announce that protesters should leave the streets because they had become violent. The police say the protesters were in active aggression when they were arrested.By Winston W. Parley

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