After more than three hours of negotiation, lawyers representing jailed Radio Talk Show Host, Henry Costa, were successful in securing a US$3,000 bond that released him from further detention at the Monrovia Central Prison, on Monday, March 24.
He was incarcerated by the Monrovia City Court since his legal team could not secure the US$3,000 bond, when they appeared with him before Magistrate Nelson Chineh, last Friday, March 21.
His charges include making a terroristic threat, menacing and criminal cohesion, which are first degree misdemeanors that carry fines of US$1,000 each, under the Amended Title 26 of the Liberian Code of Laws, Revised Penal Law.
The charges were brought against him, following a complaint from one of the sons of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Fumba Sirleaf, who is the head of the National Security Agency (NSA).
He claimed that Costa used threatening remarks against him on his Costa Show on Radio HOTT FM.
Costa, however, described it as “political calculation” used by the first family to silence his stance against corrupt practices in the Sirleaf-led government.
However, a legal expert hinted to the Daily Observer and angrily protested that the US$3,000 as a bond fee within the Amended Title 26 of the Liberian Code of Laws was very high, especially for a country whose citizens were living on just a dollar per day. He said with the unemployment rate remaining very high, adjusting the laws in connection to bond fees needed serious consideration.
Before the amendment, the expert further explained that the crimes were considered as third degree felonies, which carried a fine of three thousand Liberia dollars (LD$3,000).
The judicial source argued that Magistrates around the country were using the amended law as a bond fee even though it was not meant for that purpose.
But, the Amended Title 26 of the Liberian Code of Laws, Revised Penal Law, Chapter 50.9 under the Title “Authorized Fines and restitution states “for a Misdemeanor of the first degree US$1,000 or its equivalent to Liberian Dollars or double the gain realized by the defendant.”
In Addition, 50.2, under another title “Classification of Offenses” states “all prior references in the existing Penal Law to third degree felony shall be hereby reclassified as first degree misdemeanor or shall be reclassified as second degree misdemeanor.”
Also 50.8 under the Title Sentence for reported misdemeanor or Infraction says “A defendant convicted of the first degree may be sentenced as for a felony of the second degree, if the court is satisfied that there is an exceptional need for rehabilitation or incapacitative measures, for the protection of the public in view of the fact that this is the third conviction against the defendant within five years for misdemeanor of the first degree or more serious crimes.”
Meanwhile, a drama occurred at the court on Monday when hundreds of Costa’s admirers, who assembled at the City Court to give him a rousing welcome from prison, could not do that at the Temple of Justice.
He was released by bailiffs of the court and immediately turned over to his hundreds of supporters at the Monrovia Central Prison instead of the Temple of Justice.
It was not clear why the court decided to do that.
Earlier, at the Monrovia City Court his supporters was seen chanting political slogan, “I say o-o-o, I say o-o-o,” while others were heard saying “the court’s action was mainly intended to muscle freedom of speech and freedom of information,” which they said were championed by Costa.
“This is the end to injustice in our country. We will not sit here and allow one family to infringe on our rights to freedom of information,” the group said.