Just over four years after the Monrovia City Court sent back home 41 Ivoirians to face multiple charges for their alleged role during their country’s 2012 post-election violence, another eight Ivorian nationals are currently fighting not to be sent home.
The eight are said to be among several pro-Laurent Gbagbo militia forces held responsible for a series of attacks that led to the death of seven Nigerien members of UNMIL.
They were charged in absentia by their government with murder, rape, arson, illegal possession of firearms, criminal conspiracy and theft of property.
Gbagbo is a former La Cote d’Ivoire President who lost the election to current President Alhassan Ouattara.
The men were arrested by Liberian security forces in 2012 in Grand Gedeh County and since then, they have been detained at the Monrovia Central Prison awaiting extradition to La Cote d’Ivoire. Their government is pressing the Liberian government to send them back home for trial.
At Tuesday’s hearing, defense attorney Amara Sheriff accused the lead state lawyer and County Attorney for Montserrado County, Counselor Daku Mulbah, for not paying his 2016 dues to the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), one of the requirements for practicing law in Liberia.
Sheriff’s claim was defeated on Tuesday when Cllr. Mulbah publicly displayed receipts establishing that he met all requirements to press for the extradition of the Ivoirian nationals.
Sheriff gained notoriety for successfully winning a case using the same tactic of nonpayment of dues and lack of license to practice law in the country. It was the case involving 15 Liberian ladies who were allegedly taken to Lebanon on false promises and ended up being abused by their hosts.
During his argument, Cllr. Sheriff said although there was an extradition treaty between Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire, there is no instrument to show that it was ratified by the Liberian Legislature.
“Dismiss the entire proceedings on grounds that the sole basis of the extradition was on the strength of the treaty that was never approved or ratified by the Legislature,” Cllr. Sheriff argued Tuesday.
In his counter argument, Cllr. Mulbah said the Liberian government took the action based on an extradition treaty entered into with La Cote d’Ivoire on August 24, 1972, and later ratified it on August 18, 1973, by the Legislature.
The case continues.