Seven of the 41 persons detained for allegedly staging a violent protest that damaged millions of dollars worth of properties at ArcelorMittal's iron ore mines in Tokadeh, Yekepa were on Monday, July 14, released by the government.
ArcelorMittal is an iron ore company that is currently operating in Nimba County.
Those set free by the government on Monday, were identified by a source as Sam Ta-kruah, Jr., Nelson Korquoi, Saye E.L. Mussah, Terrence Dolo, Daniel Reeves, Abartoe Nengbein, and Elder Joseph Dahn.
It is not clear what prompted the latest decision, but the source hinted to the Daily Observer that they were released to help government identify the main perpetrators of the riot.
The Solicitor General of Liberia, Cllr. Betty Lamin Blamo, appearing before the Civil Law Court, vowed that if any probable cause is found in the case, government would arrest more people for instigating the riot.
She further told the Court that “As I’m speaking, officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) are arresting people in the county, and we will continue to carry out more arrests.”
Immediately after her public pronouncement, a former Nimba student leader, who walked to the McDonald Street offices of this newspaper Monday, alleged that he was picked up by some plain clothes officers on Friday, July 11, and taken to the headquarters of the LNP, where he was detained, but was subsequently released upon the intervention of his lawyer.
“I was advised not to speak to the press on the issue, but I’m afraid that I would be re-arrested. So I want for people to know what had happened to me,” Mr. Lawrence Sua, an employee of the First International Bank explained in tears.
The detainees, who included two females, were arrested on Thursday, July 3, in Nimba County, for their alleged involvement into the violent demonstration that led to the ransacking of millions of United States dollars worth of properties belonging to ArcelorMittal, an iron ore company operating in the county.
They were released by Judge Emery Paye after the judge granted a “Writ of Habeas Corpus” asked for by lawyers representing the detainees, contending that they had been in police custody over 48 hours, and had neither been charged nor forwarded to court for prosecution.
Habeas Corpus directs the custodian of a prisoner to bring that person before a court, and explain the reason for his or her confinement.
It is also a judicial remedy aimed at preventing the arbitrary use of executive power to imprison individuals without any just cause.
Surprisingly, the accused were subsequently re-arrested, after the Sanniqulle Magisterial Court in Nimba issued a writ of arrest on them.
It may be recalled that on Thursday, 3rd July 2014, a youth group identified as “Tokadeh Progressive Youth for Peace and Development,” began what they claimed was a “peaceful demonstration” in the concession town of Zolowee along the Sanniquellie-Yekepa highway, at the junction of the road leading to Mount Tokadeh.
The aggrieved youths' spokesperson, Sayetee Zowehyee told this newspaper via mobile phone on the day of the standoff that their protest was due to what he called, “the failure of ArcelorMittal” to adhere to their plights and demands.