Liberia: Police Arrest Two Over Brutal Homophobic Attacks On Several Individuals in Paynesville

Paynesville — The case of the brutalization of two men and a teenager by a community watch team in the Gobachop community of Paynesville over unfounded allegations they were gays took a twist on Tuesday, May 11, when the Liberian National Police caught the ringleader of the marauding men.

David Korboi, Jr., reportedly the ringleader of the gang was arrested based on the cooperation of Lamie J.J. Dennis, one of the suspects initially arrested by the Liberia National Police. Dennis, 38, is the brother of the landlord of one of the men who was brutalized.

Police spokesperson, H. Moses Carter, in a telephone interview confirmed the arrest of the two men and added the Police are seeking the others in a bid to bring all the perpetrators to book. They are reported to be around 16 in total.

"We are working with the Police detachment to have the rest of the people arrested," Carter said.

During the Police investigation, Korboi, according to the Crimes Services Division of the Gobachop Police Depot 1, revealed that the instructions to beat the trio came directly from Dennis who told them the three individuals were "faggots who roll with criminals."

The Police CSD said based on the nature of the crimes, the men will be charged--within a period of 48hrs--with Aggravated Assault, Aiding and Conservation of Crime, and Criminal Solicitation.

LGBTI persons continue to come under threats and record instances of assault, harassment, and hate speech, according to the 2020 U.S. State Department Human Rights report on Liberia.

Last October, ex-personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia, Cheeseman Cole, was arrested, for reportedly catfishing over 27 men from social media and brutalizing them when they showed up at his residence, claiming that he was on a divine mission to cleanse Liberia of its LGBT population.

Two men--Dominic Renner and Winston Toe-- remain missing from Cole's alleged freakshow. The Liberia National Police continue to remain tightlipped on the status of the investigation.

Though Cole was investigated, forwarded to the court, and detained for a brief period at the Monrovia Central Prison, he is currently out on bail awaiting prosecution from the Ministry of Justice. The spokesperson of the Ministry of Justice, Maude Somah, said her boss, Solicitor General Syrenius Cephus, is following up with the county attorney on the status of the prosecution.

Liberian law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults. Article 14.74, 14.79, and 50.7 [of the Penal Code of 1976] consider voluntary sodomy as a first-degree misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to one year imprisonment.

The country has not defined its stance on the protection of the rights of its LGBT population. But Attorney General, F. Musah Dean, during the launch of the UN SOGIE report in November 2020 said the Liberian constitution guarantees protection for all.

With the election of President Joe Biden who promised protection of LGBT people worldwide, the Liberian gay community continues to remain hopeful.

Victims Appeal for Relocation

While the men are languishing behind bars, Daniel, one of the victims said he is worried for his safety as he is a tenant of Dennis' brother who has been subtly threatening him.

"My landlord is angry, he said we lied on his brother and he will kick us out of his house. Me, I am afraid. My friend Richmond's mother was rejoicing over his injury," he said.

"If anybody out there can help us to move from here, we will be happy. Those people can kill us in the night while we sleeping."

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