An officer of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Cyrus Slewion on Wednesday, July 16 took the witness stand and declared his innocence in allegation of drug smuggling.
Defendant Cyrus Slewion and his accomplices including, Perry Dolo, head of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s convoy, were arrested in November 2013 of allegedly smuggling 10 bags of marijuana weighing 315 kilograms and valued at L$330,750,000, after crossing over from Sierra Leone.
The jeep that was allegedly used to carry out the mission is "Escort 1", which normally leads President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's convoy.
But, testifying at Criminal Court ‘C’ yesterday, the defense first witness alleged that since his arrest and incarceration at the Monrovia Central Prison, he had been tortured and beaten by state security.
Explaining about his alleged implication, witness Slewion said that before his arrest, he received a call from Dolo, whom he said had been his childhood friend.
He further testified that Dolo during the conversation informed him, Slewion that he had a very serious break down at the Bo-Waterside border crossing point in the town of Tienne, in Grand Cape Mount County.
The witness said Dolo also told him that he (Dolo) needed his immediately intervention. “It was based on the urgent call that Dolo sent Mohammed Bah, a Guinean national and another defendant, with a taxi that took me from Monrovia to that county,” he added.
Slewion maintained that “At that moment I had just returned from assignment and I was resting at my house when I received that emergency call. Because of Dolo being my friend and he was in problem, it was how I took the risk that night and drove along with Bah.”
“When we arrived at Senji’s check also in Grand Cape Mount County,” the defense witness said, “we were stopped by the joint security and advised not to continue with the journey. I insisted that I was an officer of the ERU and I was on an urgent business. That was when they allowed us to cross the check point that night.”
He further alleged that after they crossed the check point and on their way to the Bo-waterside in Tienne, it was when they were arrested by officers of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) assigned at that border.
He testified that while they were detained in Tienne the DEA officers used several torture measures to compel them to sign a confession statement that were written by the officers.
“We told them we would not sign the document in the absence of our lawyers. But they insisted that we should sign it. We were also beaten after refusing not to do so without the presence of a lawyer,” the defense first witness claimed.
“We were denied food and water for days. Because of such treatment, we were compelled to sign the alleged confession statement that was written by the DEA,” Slewion further alleged.
However, the crime that defendants allegedly committed is a bailable offence, but a request to have them temporarily freed on bond was denied by the court, before the start of the proceedings.