The first witness for the defense in the trial of those accused of mercenary activities alleged on Monday, May 12, that he was tortured and denied medical care since he was arrested and detained in 2011 by the government.
The allegation comes days after Criminal Court ‘D’ at the Temple of Justice dropped the charge against five other defendants.
At Monday‘s hearing, the remaining 13 defendants appeared in the dock wearing orange prison uniforms, including Bobby Sarpei, who testified.
Sarpei is the son of the notorious former General of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), the late Charles Julu.
Sarpei was arrested in 2011 in Ganta, Nimba County. He told the court that officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Liberian National Police (LNP) burnt plastic bags and dropped them on his back.
“Look at my back; you would see the scar from the plastic fire that was used by the officers to burn me. I was treated like this because they said, I was the rebel leader that was recruiting Liberians to go and fight in La Côte d’Ivoire. ”
Witness Sarpei took off his shirt and showed the marked in open court.
“At the result,” he alleged “I’m urinating and toileting with blood. I have complained about the treatment, but nobody is listening to me, neither to take me for medical attention.”
Sarpei claimed he was also tortured and beaten badly when he was taken to the Nimba County’s Police Headquarters in Sanniquellie, the provincial city.
“There I was additionally beaten and made to drink my own urine,” the defense witness further alleged.
Before his arrest, Bobby claimed, he was shot twice in Grand Gedeh County, but he managed to escape from one group of the ERU officers that were searching for people in connection with the alleged cross border raid in neighboring La Côte d’Ivoire.
Explaining the shooting incident where he said he managed to escape unharmed, Sarpei alleged, “When the officers entered Grand Gedeh County, they arrested me; and while attempting to escape in the forest, they shot twice at me, but I managed to run into the bush unharmed.”
He added, “I remained in the forest for three months before I arrived in Ganta, Nimba County where I was rearrested by the police.”
Sarpei insisted that he was not part of the group of Liberians that staged the cross border attacked in La Côte d’Ivoire, but that “they just wanted to treat me in this way, because they accused me of being the son of a former AFL General, late Charles Julu.”
“They said my father played a very important role in our civil war. This is why I’m being persecuted in this manner — to pay back what my father reportedly did in the war.”
Prior to Sarpei’s testimony, Atty. Arthur Johnson pleaded with the court and jury to free the remaining defendants on grounds that prosecution’s 11 witnesses failed to link all of them to the commission of the crime of mercenary.
The young lawyer argued that during the entire trial, prosecution had not established that the state arrested any of the defendants with arms.
The 18 men were accused of staging mercenary activities in neighboring La Côte d’Ivoire, where several persons, including seven United Nations peacekeepers, were killed in ambushed.
The case continues with other witnesses expected to testify.