The Inspector General (IG) of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) have refused to turn over two men allegedly being held in their custody.
IG Chris Massaquoi and NSA Director Fomba Sirleaf say that they have already transferred Jefferson Sanoe and Alfred Cruwu from Monrovia to Gbarpolu County despite numerous orders from the Court to turn the prisoners over to Criminal Court ‘A’ at the Temple of Justice.
Sanoe and Cruwu are believed to have been arrested based on diamond smuggling allegations.
They were arrested on October 21, by joint security assigned in Gbarpolu County.
State security is yet to account for the prisoners.
Besides, their families are yet to have access to them.
At last Friday’s hearing on the government’s request, Judge Johannes Zogbah Zlahn of Criminal Court ‘A’ denied the appeal seeking for the two men to be transferred from Monrovia to Gbarpolu County.
After denying the request, the Criminal Court Judge immediately issued a compulsory writ of “Habeas Corpus” against them.
A writ of habeas corpus is a judicial mandate to a prison official ordering that an inmate be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he should be released from custody.
It is also a petition filed with a court by a person who objects to his own or another's detention or imprisonment.
The LNP and NSA directors are expected to appear before the court today, to give reason, why they should not be held in contempt of court for their failure to produce the men.
Enforcing the court’s decision, Judge Zlahn declared that “LNP is under an obligation to have produced the living bodies of the prisoners to this court as demanded by the writ of habeas corpus.”
He further declared that the “alleged transfer of the prisoners from Montserrado County to Gbarpolu County by the LNP, after they were served with a writ of habeas corpus was an attempt to circumvent the Constitution and statutory laws of Liberia.”
Judge Zlahn continued the “compulsory writ of habeas corpus served on the LNP, the NSA and the Minister of Justice shall remain in full force,” adding “This court demand the respondents to produce the living bodies of the prisoners into their custody to the sheriff.”
Concluding, the Criminal Court Judge ordered that, “Their failure to comply with this ruling, the court shall issue an arrest warrant against them.”
Prior to the Court’s decision, one of the state lawyers, Atty. David Woah said, “As a matter of law, this court lacks jurisdiction to issue a compulsory writ of habeas corpus.”
Atty. Woah argued “that a habeas corpus for the said plaintiffs must and should be filed in Gbarpolu County, the 15th Judicial Circuit, which is presided over by a Circuit Judge.”
In a counter argument, the Heritage Partners and Associates that is representing the two men, insisted that the “state lawyer over jurisdiction does not hold water in the instant case.”
They added that “because the court has jurisdiction over writs of habeas corpus and, as such the issuance of the writ against the defendants is proper and legal.”
They further argued that there is no evidence to establish that their clients have been transferred to Gbarpolu County.