Police ‘Invites’ Vandalark Patricks

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The Liberia National Police (LNP) says it has invited Vandalark Patricks, a rights activist, in connection to a statement he made on Sunday, February 21, insinuating that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf gave direct orders to shoot at the then Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) standard bearer, Winston Tubman, vice standard bearer, George Weah, and murdered innocent and defenseless citizens on November 7, 2011.

He also accused the government of hiring “assassins to murder the former Liberia Petroleum Refinery (LPRC) Managing Director, Harris A. Greaves Jr., and eliminate other political opponents to maintain state power.”

In a statement issued in Monrovia yesterday, the LNP said, “Mr. Patricks was called in to assist security authorities establish facts surrounding his statements, which has the potential to undermine the peace of the state.”

The LNP maintains that the statement by Mr. Patricks “is grave and requires the establishment of its truthfulness for the common good of the Liberian society.”

The LNP also notes that speech that incites violence and maliciously defame the government does not fall under the category of “protected free speech,” and as such, emphasizes that this action ought not to reflect on the enviable record of the government in protecting freedom of speech and the press.

Meanwhile, the LNP has advised the general public that “no one is exempt from the law, and that those who violate its provision will be held accountable,” adding that Mr. Patricks “will be accorded his fundamental rights.”

Barely three weeks ago, a similar invitation from the LNP was extended Simeon Freeman, political leader of the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC), who called a press conference alleging that the government had organized a death squad to eliminate 10 leading opposition figures including himself.

Freeman also said, “if anybody was an enemy to the late Harry Greaves, it was the government,” insinuating that the government should be directly held responsible for the death of Mr. Greaves, who went missing on the night of January 31 and was found dead on a beach near Capitol Hill two days later.

Given the public response to his remarks and the subsequent police invitation, Freeman declined the invitation and went into hiding. Mr. Freeman is still wanted by the police to provide proof for his utterances.

Having failed to honor the police invitation and discovering he had gone into hiding, police surrounded his Brewerville home for several days not allowing anyone in or out of the compound.

“The claims by Mr. Freeman are very grave and as such the LNP is entreating the matter with the utmost seriousness it deserves. Hence, the police encourages Mr. Freeman to cooperate fully by turning himself over; and as well calls on those having information regarding Mr. Freeman’s location to contact the nearest police station,” said Isaac Jackson, Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs, in a statement released on behalf of the Government of Liberia.

Mr. Greaves reportedly went missing on January 29, but his lifeless body was discovered two days later near a beach behind the old Ministry of Planning on Capitol Hill in Monrovia. Circumstances surrounding his disappearance and death are being investigated.

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