Liberia: Civil Law Court Reserves Ruling in US$15M Damages Case Against Cavitas Maxima

The Civil Law Court 'A' has reserved its ruling, as to whether to compel Alain Werner, a Swiss national, and Cavitas Maxima (CM), an organization that provide access to justice for victims of war crimes, based in Geneva, Switzerland, to come to the country, and answer to US$15 million damages lawsuit filed by Mrs. Agnes Reeves Taylor. Werner is the director of the Swiss organization.

A lawsuit "Action of Damages for Malicious Prosecution /Wrong" against both Werner and Cavitas Maxima (co-defendants) was filed by the International Law Group on behalf of Madam Agnes Reeves Taylor (plaintiff), ex-wife of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, the leader of the defunct rebel faction, National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL).

Alian Werner

However, Judge Scheaplor R. Dunbar, on February 8, 023 reserved judgment in the case after entertaining legal argument on a motion to dismiss the suit without Werner and Cavitas Maxima appearing before the court to exonerate themselves from Taylor's claims.

Cavitas Maxima has been working alongside the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), a local non-profit organization, on cases involving perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity dating back March 27, 2017.

Hassan Bility, one of Liberia’s lead war crimes advocates, is the head of GJRP.

Cavitas and GJRP are involved in the investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by alleged perpetrators in Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Ivory Coast, and preserves the testimonies of witnesses and victims of war crimes for subsequent prosecution around the world where the victims cannot get justice in the country where the crimes were committed.

In the lawsuit, Madam Taylor's lawyer, Jonathan T. Massaquoi, maintained that Werner and his organization provided testimonies to the United Kingdom (UK) Metropolitan Police War Crimes Unit and Magistrate Court of UK, while she was still residing as a professor, of allegedly authorizing the Killing of civilians, during the first Liberian civil war.

It was based on the testimonies of Werner and Cavitas Maxima that Taylor was arrested, detained and incarcerated in the UK, according to Cllr. Massaquoi.

However, the UK authorities dropped the war crimes charges against Taylor due to what they termed as procedural errors, and that Werner and Cavitas Maxima's evidence did not meet the required standard to convict her.

She subsequently asked to leave the UK, where she had lived for years. It was based on the decision of the UK authorities to drop the charges against her that led to her now seeking the justice within the Liberian jurisdiction–seeking a compensation of the US$15 million for allegedly ruining her reputation.

But, the defense counsel, Jamal A. Dehtho of the Dehtho and Partners Law Firm, petitioned the court to dismiss the charges against Werner and Cavitas Maxima.

Justifying his action, Cllr Dehtho argued that the Liberian legal system lacks jurisdiction over the case because of Werner and the Cavitas Maxima prosecutorial authority, meaning the UK Magistrate Court, and they should not be held to answer in any court around the world for the prosecution of individual based solely on the decision of a foreign prosecutorial authority, as such the lawsuit against the defendants should be dismissed.

Cllr Dehtho further argued that Agnes Reeves Taylor alleges that she was arrested, detained and incarcerated by the UK criminal prosecution authorities which is a sovereign nation and has absolutely no bearing on the co-defendants, and as such, the court does not have jurisdiction to determine the validity of the actions of a foreign government, in this case, the UK.

"Plaintiff was arrested by the UK Metropolitan War Crimes Unit and subsequently indicted by the Crown Prosecution Service and not Werner and Cavitas Maxima, as plaintiff would want the court to believe otherwise," Dehtho further argued.

He said all the acts that the plaintiff complained about, such as her arrest, indictment and incarceration, happened in the UK, a sovereign nation that should be held liable and not the defendant or co-defendant.

The plaintiff's claims should rather be against the UK criminal enforcement authorities and not the co-defendants, prosecution argued.

In counter-response, Cllr Massaquoi argued that the UK authorities never came to Liberia to launch any criminal investigation relating to war crimes or crimes against humanity nor conduct any interview with what he termed as "coached witnesses, but only relied on the alleged bogus information of Co-defendants Alain Werner and Cavitas Maxima, to arrest, detain and incarcerate the plaintiff in the UK.

According to Massaquoi, co-defendant Werner testified before the UK authorities that he started working on Liberian cases for an organization named and styled "the Aegis Trust" in the UK, at the end of 2009, when he first got in touch with Hassan Bility, and started working with Bility on some investigations in 2010, after Bility testified as a witness at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

"This, such action of Co-defendants Alain Werner of Cavitas Maxima in the regard, is overwhelming because he (Alain Werner) conspired with Bility of GJRP to investigate alleged perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity to include Agnes Reeves Taylor, in Liberia and abroad, Cllr. Massaquoi maintained.
Massaquoi further argued that the co-defendants presented unreliable sworn statements and bogus testimonies of coached witnesses with actual motive to the UK authorities, to malign the good reputation of Agnes Reeves Taylor.

Massaquoi also argued that the co-defendants did not only transact business with GJRP and Hassan Bility, to investigate and document alleged international crimes of the Liberian civil war, but they falsely accused the plaintiff of the commission of international crimes and torture without any evidence to substantiate such a bold face lies, all to the detriment and injury of Agnes Reeves Taylor, contrary to the law.

"This is an open admission to the effect that the co-defendants have intentionally orchestrated a diabolical scheme with the acquiesce of GJRP and Hassan Bility, only intended to malign the good reputation of Agnes Reeves Taylor," Massaquoi argued.