Government prosecutors have dropped all charges against rights advocate Vandalark Patricks indicted in February this year for alleged sedition and criminal libel against President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
“That though the government believes that it was right to press legal action against the defendant to deter others from the abuse of freedom of speech as enshrined in the Liberian Constitution, government, however, chose to exercise its right as provided in Chapter 18, Section 18.1 of the
Criminal Procedure Law of Liberia by dropping all charges against defendant Partricks without any reservation,” prosecution said at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia on Wednesday.
Shortly after the pronouncement, Patricks’ lead lawyer, Cllr. Tiawon Saye Gongloe, took exception to the prosecution’s request to dismiss the indictment.
He responded that the “government should not abuse the right of its citizens by arresting them and getting them indicted under criminal laws that are not supported by the Constitution.”
Patricks was indicted on February 24, less than two days after he was arrested for accusing the Sirleaf Administration of allegedly advocating the murder of its political opponents to attain and maintain state power.
His relief from further charges came at about the same time that the State also dropped all perceived claims and charges against businessman turned-politician, Simeon Freeman, who went into hiding after police invited him to provide clarity into claims that government kept a black list of politicians to be eliminated.
Mr. Patricks’ accusations against the Sirleaf led-government were made at the time when there were numerous questions from the public regarding the “mysterious death” of former Liberian Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) managing director, Harry A. Greaves Jr., whose naked body was found on the beach near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.
Patricks was incarcerated at the Monrovia Central Prison for several days following his indictment before lawyers representing him secured a bond for his release.
The Justice Ministry, through Montserrado County Attorney, Cllr. Darku Mulbah’s office, wrote a letter to the assigned Criminal Court “A” Judge, J. Boima Kontoe, announcing that it was dropping all charges against Patricks.
Upon the pronouncement at Criminal Court “A,” Patricks’ lead lawyer, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, took exception to the prosecution’s request to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that the “government should not abuse the right of its citizens by arresting them and getting them indicted under criminal laws that are not supported by the constitution …. only to ask the court to dismiss such indictments…”
Cllr. Gongloe contended that it was abuse of the rights of citizens, claiming that such actions were tactics only associated with “dictatorships, and not democracies.”
He, however, raised no objection since dismissing the indictment was the right of the state.
Judge Kontoe has meanwhile granted the prosecution’s application to dismiss (Nolle Prosequoi) Patricks’ indictment as requested by the state.