Liberia: Lewis Brown’s Attackers Appear in Court

..... The four individuals who were arrested among the many, have been charged by the police with multiple offenses including criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, and obstructing highways and public passages. They are now being trialed at the Monrovia City Court.

The Liberian National Police has forwarded to Court four persons held responsible for the attack on former Information Minister, Lewis Brown.

Brown came under attack on December 5, when he appeared as a guest on a local radio station, Voice of Liberia, to explain the rationale behind  December 17 protest, which is meant for Liberians to vent their frustration against bad governance and poverty.

The four individuals who were arrested among the many, have been charged by the police with multiple offenses including criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, and obstructing highways and public passages. They are now being trialed at the Monrovia City Court.

Defendants Fofee Marvie Jr, Henry Jallah, Francis Mawolo, and Alvin Soe were arraigned before the  Monrovia City court, after being turned over by police.

They were subsequently remanded at the Monrovia Central Prison after their legal team could not secure a criminal appearance bond, which could have prevented them from being sent to jail.

The crimes for which they were charged qualify each of them for bail. The police charge sheet obtained by the Daily Observer from the Court claimed that defendants were charged with riot, failure to disperse, in violation of chapter 17, section 17.1, obstructing highways and other public passages, in violation of chapter 17, section 17.7, criminal mischief in violation of chapter 15, section 15.5 and disorderly conduct, in violation of chapter 17, section 17.3 of the revised penal law of Liberia pending trial by a competent jurisdiction.

According to the document, other defendants, who are at large, were likewise charged in their absence.

The court record explained that on December 5, at about 1630 hours or thereabout, Brown, a member of the Collaborating Political Parties,  appeared at Voice of Liberia, located on the Capitol Bye-Pass, in Monrovia, just a walked to the Headquarters of the LNP, as a guest on a program called “Issue Today Show.”

The show, according to the record, was hosted by Sekou Sheriff, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of Voice of Liberia.

Brown, the document alleges, had gone to the station to discuss national issues such as government, the rule of law, and the planned December 17 protest, scheduled by the Alternative National Congress (ANC), one of the parties to the CPP.

While Brown was being interviewed by his host Sheriff, the defendants assembled outside the premises of the Voice of Liberia where they blocked both human and vehicular traffic.

The defendants held on their persons sticks and other deadly objects and were heard chanting “Lewis Brown, that rouge, Lewis Brown wants to bring back war,” the police said. 

Accordingly, as the defendants were chanting anti-Lewis Brown slogans, the threat level to spark conflict increased.

The document also claimed that police made several requests to the defendants to leave the main streets and sideways, but the defendants remained disobedient to lawful instructions.

When Brown exited the radio station and got outside from him and his men to board his vehicle, the police provided protection for him to board his vehicle, but the defendants regrouped across the street and started to throw stones at the directions of Brown, the police, and other innocent persons, according to the court records.

“Despite the heavy rain of stones and objects that were thrown by the defendants and their cohorts, the police was able to escort Minister Brown and followers from the scene by driving towards Bye-Pass and Benson Street direction,” the document claims.

The police put the value of the damaged windshield to US$250.00

According to the document during the police investigation, all of four defendants denied any involvement with the attack on Brown.

Soe in his testimony claimed that by 9:00 pm, he was going to Perry Street to buy food, when he saw his friend, whose name he did not mention, across the road opposite Voice Liberia. 

He further explained that, while standing with his unnamed friend, his friend left him there. Minutes later, a police officer walked to him and started to beat him. As such, he crossed the road to the radio station, complaining to the journalist, but the vehicle came back and the police arrested him.

Likewise, Marvin said he was on his way on the Bye-Pass when the riot was going on, but he left the place and went into a compound where he was playing a game on his phone. 

Accordingly, before he looked, he saw three police officers passing; they later came back and one of the officers told him to get on the pick-up. “I did not say a word. Instead, I walked to the pick-up,” defendant Marvin’s testimony alleges.

For Mawolo, he explained that he lived on Camp Johnson Road, and on December 5, he went to watch a football game and on his way home, he passed on the Bye-Pass where a riot was going on.

It was when he claimed that he decided to wait for the riot to cease as such, he entered the MJK Compound opposite the Voice of Liberia, and people started to throw stones at the police vehicle, which he saw from where he was standing.

He said the police vehicle was parked ahead of another vehicle believed to be owned by Brown.

According to Mawolo, he witnessed the police vehicle escorting Brown's vehicle from the same scene, and at that point, he decided to check something on his phone, and while standing in the yard with his brother who he only identified as Henry.

“We saw people running in the yard from the road and the police who were running behind the people arrested me,” Mawolo further testified.

Jallah, for his part, explained that on December 5, at 8:23 pm, he and his brother, defendant Francis, were standing on the road when a group of people were running and knocking drums calling the name of Brown.  

“The officers came from the Perry Street side and entered the fence and held me and my brother. We were not around the group that damaged the police vehicle,” Jallah claimed.

Before the attack, Brown had repeatedly appeared resolute in leading a planned protest here on December 17, despite attempts by the Government of Liberia to stop such gatherings.

The CPP says no degree of threats and intimidation by government-sponsored “thugs” will stop its December 17 rally, which is intended to bring the government's attention to issues of bad governance.

The rally is planned outside the SKD Sports Complex in Paynesville. However, the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS), has denied CPP the rights to the venue. The CPP comprises the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the faction of the Liberty Party loyal to its chairman, Musa Bility.