.... “President George Weah just wanted to please Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio,” Gongloe, who is also a respected human rights lawyer, said. “One thing that was extremely striking there was [Turay’s] inability to have been heard under the Liberian jurisdiction, as provided by the extradition hearing.”
Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe has denounced the extradition of ex-Sierra Leone Police Chief, Mohammed Turay, as a “conspiracy” between the governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone, specifically implicating President George Weah in the process.
Turay, who was extradited a day ago, is expected to be prosecuted in Sierra Leone for his alleged involvement in a coup plot against the government of President Julius Bio.
Gongloe, a presidential candidate, who is known for his outspoken criticism of the government, alleged that Turay's extradition was a result of political collaboration between the two countries' presidents.
“President George Weah just wanted to please Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio,” Gongloe, who is also a respected human rights lawyer, said. “One thing that was extremely striking there was [Turay’s] inability to have been heard under the Liberian jurisdiction, as provided by the extradition hearing.”
“The extradition was politically biased, inadequate, and subject to external influence and so, basically, from my point of view, the action is a conspiracy,” he added.
Bio’s government has claimed that Turay was involved in the planning of a coup plot that recently failed in his country. Turay has been residing in Liberia since March 2022, after he was dismissed from the Sierra Leone Police in May 2020.
He was arrested by the Liberian National Police (LNP) a few days ago on the orders of Bio’s government and later extradited to Sierra Leone Police a day ago for possible prosecution. The ex-Sierra Leonen officer was extradited just as Montserrado County Attorney, Cllr. Alhaji Sesay had requested Criminal Court ‘A’ to subpoena two telecommunication companies for Turay calls logs.
The subpoena was intended to review Turay's call from the period of June 1 to August 4 — “the period of the planning of the alleged coup and after it was foiled.” However, Turay was extradited before the Court would even review the merit of the subpoena.
For Gongloe, the timing and circumstances of the extradition raised suspicions, saying that it is in complete violation of 1994 ECOWAS protocols and the rule governing extradition.
He claimed that rushing extradition falls short of the country’s legal system as Turay was without any legal representation.
“It is after a hearing by our court, particularly the Monrovia City Court, where he should have been represented by a lawyer before his extradition, which did not happen. Our government should have carefully analyzed the extradition request through the lens of Liberian law,” Gongloe noted.
Sierra Leone’s ‘Assurances’
Meanwhile, the Weah government has in a release yesterday said that it decided to extradite Turay based on assurances it received from the Bio government that the accused rights will be protected.
“The Sierra Leone government gave us assurances that the rights of the accused will be respected, including his rights to a free, fair, and speedy trial. And based on an investigation that we conducted, it is appropriate to hand over Turay as requested,” the release said.
Turay’s extradition, the government added, is in keeping with the laws of Liberia and the 1986 Non-Aggression Security Treaty entered into by the Governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
“The decision is also in line with the 1994 Ecowas Convention,” Information Minister Ledgerhood Rennie said.
Gongloe claims also just as the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INHCR) has warned the Weah government against the extradition of Turay. The Commission argued that Turay's extradition was not necessary in the absence of serious consideration of the international human rights treaty.
“Under our Criminal Procedure Law, Section 8.3 and the Geneva Convention which Liberia signed and ratified, the government should not have honored the request of the Sierra Leone Government to extradite Turay because there is no extradition agreement between the two countries,” the Commission added.
The Commission believes that the Weah government's action would lead to Turay being subject to torture or cruel, inhumane punishment — in violation of Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights or other fundamental principles of human rights.
Meanwhile, the Weah administration's actions come three years after it requested the Bio administration to extradite popular talk-show host Henry Costa after he allegedly evaded justice.
Bio government rejected the request and gave Costa the green light for Costa to fly from Freetown to the United States.
Sierra Leone Information Minister then, Mohammed Swaray told the BBC Focus on Africa program: “We just want to ensure that we fulfill his rights, he himself can attest to that, he’s been very well treated, we cannot take dictation from any other government, we’re a democracy, and we value that.