Supporters of Sheikh A. Kouyateh yesterday blocked the convoy of Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor from entering the premises of the Temple of Justice and access to the main entrance. Justice Korkpor’s convoy later retreated to the headquarters of the Liberia National Police (LNP) on the advice of security officers who managed to enter the courtyard through the basement. Korkpor was unharmed, and the protesters did not damage any of the vehicles in his convoy.
Minutes after the incident, the Monrovia City Court dropped charges against General Services Agency director Mary Broh, whom the protesters had wanted to appear in court to answer to charges levied against her. The court explained that its action was based on a letter under the signature of Assistant Minister of Justice for Litigation, Cllr. Augustine C, Fayiah, who argued that the “Ministry is the prosecuting arm of the government responsible for criminal cases, but does not have the legal grounds (or) sufficient evidence to prosecute defendant Broh, therefore, the case was nollie prosequoi,” meaning that they were dropping all charges against Broh until the Ministry can obtain sufficient evidence to be able to prosecute the defendant.
Magistrate Kennedy Peabody, who accepted the letter, said under criminal procedure law, the court will listen to the complaint, and if there is no probable cause, it can order the issuance of the criminal writ as it was done in the case of Madam Broh. “The right of issuing a criminal writ is exclusively at the discretion of the Ministry of Justice,” Peabody said. However, he declared, “the Ministry, clothed with the responsibility for the production of evidence having dropped charges against the defendant, said the case is dismissed without prejudice.”
Immediately after Peabody’s ruling, Kouyateh‘s lead lawyer, Tiawan Gongloe, rejected the decision arguing that there was not sufficient reason to dismiss the case. “The letter written to the court was without the knowledge, information, and consent of the victim,” Cllr. Gongloe argued, “and it contravenes the supreme reason for which the court and prosecution exist in our jurisdiction.”
After hearing the dismissal of the case, the protesters attempted to force their way into the compound of the Temple of Justice, for which they were prevented by riot police officers assigned to the court. During the incident, police arrested the suspected ring leader Sheikh A. Kouyateh.
Kouyateh’s supporters’ action was in protest against the absence of Mary Broh from yesterday’s trial.
Kouyateh had earlier alleged that Broh authorized three of her bodyguards to assault him at the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Monrovia, based on which complaint, the Monrovia City Court charged Broh on multiple criminal offenses, including criminal solicitation, facilitation, simple assault and official oppression.