Languishing Behind Taylor's Locks and Keys Without Trial

The Perspective

August 27, 2001

Recently, the legal counsel for former Auditor General Raleigh Seekie and five others detained at the Monrovia Central Prison on charges of treason filed a motion to dismiss the charges against the detainees.

According to the Inquirer Newspaper, the motion to dismiss the charges was filed on behalf of the defendants by their legal counsel, Attorney T. Dempster Brown of the Center for the Protection of Human Rights (CPHR), to the Criminal Court "A" of the First Judicial Circuit in its August Term.

Among other things, the motion to dismiss contends that Jardia Farley, Charles Soubue, Kayee Gbagba, Alpha Massalay, Roosevelt Togba and Raleigh Seekie were arrested and subsequently detained in November 1998 and August 2000 respectively and charged with treason followed by an indictment.

The motion to dismiss further noted that defendant Raleigh Seekie contends and avers that since he was indicted, it has been four succeeding terms of court without trial in contravention of Article 21(f) of the Liberian Constitution.

The motion also added that defendants Jardia Farley, Charles Soubue, Kayee Gbagba, Alpha Massalay and Roosevelt Togba contend and aver that since their detention followed by an indictment, it is now two years and eight months, which is nine (9) succeeding terms of court without trial, which also violates their constitutional rights and contravenes the doctrine of the due process of law.

The document also said that under section 18.2 of the criminal Procedures Law of Liberia, the court has the statutory right to dismiss any proceedings be it treason or any other indictable offense for the prosecution (state) failure to proceed with (trial) prosecution.

Article 21 section (f) of the Liberian Constitution states: "Every person arrested or detained shall be formally charged and presented before a court of competent jurisdiction within forty-eight (48) hours. Should the court determine the existence of a prima facie case against the accused, it shall issue a formal writ of arrest setting out the charge or charges and shall provide for a speedy trial. There shall be no preventive detention."

Accordingly, we urge the court to dispense justice by dismissing the charges against the defendants immediately. The maligned Liberian justice system would redeem itself by taking this action right away. A justice delayed is a justice denied.