-- MoJ calls for their rearrest, prosecution
The Ministry of Justice has ordered the Inspector General of the Liberia National Police to rearrest the three officers accused of being connected to the death of a truck driver on July 29, near the National Transit Authority (NTA), along the Japan Freeway.
The rearrest order disclosed by Deputy Justice Minister for Codification, Nyenati Tuan, now Acting Justice Minister, came for officers Samuel N. Borbor, Harris Monger, and Alexander Seakour, who, on the morning of July 29, reportedly went into a tussle with Alieu Sherif, who died in the process.
The government said the three suspects will be processed in 48 hours and sent to court. The suspects, after a preliminary investigation into the death of Sherif, were released to trusted individuals to be under their custody until the autopsy report is released. According to Acting Minister Tuan, they also had to respect human rights protocols and other legal instruments that encompass the rights of everybody.
“When we received the information earlier before the autopsy, the Ministry of Justice ordered the Liberian National Police to arrest and conduct a preliminary investigation of the suspects. They were kept in detention in keeping with the statutory period at the police headquarters,” Cllr. Tuan said.
However, Cllr. Tuan said consistent with Article 21(f) of the Liberian Constitution of 1986, the alleged suspects were released in keeping with the Constitution and human rights best standards to individuals having moral influence over them and to appear when requested. Since the incident, the kinsmen of the deceased, who are mostly Muslims, have been calling on the government for justice and a speedy trial. During one of their recent protests, which began with a march from the Barnersville Junction to the Police Headquarters on Capitol Hill, the aggrieved protesters were dispersed by the Police when they suddenly increased in number and hindered the free movement of traffic and pedestrians.
At the protest, which took place on August 5, the LNP went on the offensive to disperse the crowd protesting against police brutality and lawless behavior. Decrying the injustice, the driver’s family mobilized hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds to converge at the headquarters of the LNP, demanding an impartial investigation of the death of the driver and for the police leadership to do more to combat police brutality.
The victims' family was joined by many others who claimed to have been victims of police brutality and railed against what they said are limited investigations, not only in Sherif’s death but other cases of police brutality. But at that time, the Police authorities said they were conducting an autopsy to establish the circumstances surrounding the death of Sherif and afterward, the government would come forth with the right decision in the interest of justice.
At a major press conference on August 31, the Ministries of Justice and Internal Affairs released the long awaited autopsy report indicating that Ali Sherif died unnaturally due to “blunt force injury” to the back of the head.
It all started during the morning hours when the three officers tussled with Sherif, during which he fell unconscious. A call was immediately placed to the police headquarters for other officers to go to the scene of the incident and, upon their arrival at the scene, they saw the deceased lying in an unconscious position. Based on Sherif's critical condition, he was quickly rushed to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival by medical doctors.
Cllr. Tuan further assured the public, especially the aggrieved Muslim community, that all will be done to ensure justice is dispensed without prejudice, fear, or favor. As sensitive and grievous as the issue is, Tuesday's press conference compellingly brought together Liberia’s Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf and Deputy Police Inspector Inspector for Crime Services Department Prince Mulbah. There were also hundreds of protesters outside the compound of the Ministry of Information and their representatives in the hall.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Ledgerhood Rennie opened the conference by assuring the public that the government will always bring information relating to the country to the people, and in the instance where an incident such as the death of Sherif occurs, the government will do its best the investigate the cause(s) to build the trust in the people that the country is one of law and not of men.