Chinese nationals working with Chinese-owned CNQC construction firm in Monrovia have been arrested by officers of the Liberian National Police (LNP) for allegedly beating a Liberian contractor who they suspected of stealing a laptop, one Chinese-made cellphone and an unspecified amount of money.
An angry crowd of Liberians that gathered at the Monrovia Metro 1 police station on Center Street attempted to avenge the reported maltreatment their compatriot encountered at the hands of the Chinese, but police swiftly intervened when they whisked off one of the accused Chinese nationals in a waiting van to the LNP headquarters on Capitol Hill.
The incident reportedly started a fortnight ago when the Chinese accused Archie Paye, 28, of stealing the items in question.
Paye’s ordeal became worse when the Chinese, with the help of two Liberian contractors, brought a soothsayer to administer what is referred to in Liberia as ‘sassy wood,’ which linked Paye to the crime.
“After I denied ever stealing the items, the witchdoctor said his medicine had already linked me. Right after that, two Chinese and two of my own countrymen started torturing me with sticks and other deadly weapons to the extent that I passed out,” Paye told the Daily Observer as he displayed his badly bruised body to be photographed.
Paye, a resident of Harbel, said he has worked with the Chinese for about seven months starting in Harbel at the Baptist Seminary on the Monrovia/Robertsfield highway and finally to Monrovia where until the recent incident he was assigned with CNQC that is constructing Liberia’s first ever shopping mall on UN Drive.
Following the incident, Paye claimed those who beat him later held him in solitary confinement for three days in a room near the construction site without food and water until yesterday when he escaped to the police, who received L$4,000 from the Chinese as his medical bill.
“Go and treat yourself. When you get well, we will investigate the Chinese and charge those linked to the commission of the crime of ‘assault with a deadly weapon under the color of authority and battery,’” Paye quoted the police, who handed the money over to him and left.
As soon as the police left the scene, the community members in their numbers mounted pressure to seek redress. Their actions drew the attention of the police who returned to the scene and suddenly invited the Chinese to Metro One. At Metro One, the crowd swelled in support of victim Paye, prompting the police to again transfer the case to Central.
The general manager of the Chinese owned CNQC (not named) is reportedly in China. As such, none of the Chinese employees could speak on the matter. The one taken by the police was later identified as a “language interpreter,” but is not connected to the reported crime.
Police spokesman Sam Collins is yet to confirm the incident, but a police authority assigned to the case said both parties in the conflict would be investigated before addressing the matter in the press.
The police assured members of the UN Drive Community that the Chinese would account for their alleged actions against Paye.