The Grand jury for Montserrado County yesterday afternoon indicted political activist, Vandalark Patricks, with “sedition and criminal libel against the President.”
Amidst tight security presence, Patricks was escorted by armed officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) to his cell at the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP), where he is expected to spend the night before he is brought to court, “because his lawyers could not file a bond to prevent him from going to jail yesterday,” the Daily Observer learnt.
The crimes are bailable offenses. But in law, according to a source, sedition is unconcealed conduct, such as speech and organization that tends toward insurrection against the established order. It often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to lawful authority. This may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. Seditious words in writing are seditious libel. Typically, sedition is considered a subversive act, and the overt acts that may be prosecutable under sedition laws vary from one legal code to another.
Patricks was previously charged by the police when he was brought to the court for indictment.
On Tuesday, February 23, the LNP said it “invited Patricks 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.
Patricks also said the government hired “assassins to murder the former Liberia Petroleum Refinery (LPRC) Managing Director, Harry A. Greaves Jr., and eliminate other political opponents to maintain state power.”
In a statement, the LNP said, “Mr. Patricks was called in to assist security authorities establish facts surrounding his statements,” which the police believe, “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 defames 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.
However, late yesterday, Patricks, in the presence of several police officers, was escorted to the grounds of the Temple of Justice on Capitol Hill where he was formerly charged and forwarded to court Criminal Court ‘A’ for prosecution.
From the Police Headquarters, Patricks was brought with charge sheet in the presence of his lawyer, Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe, but instead of taking him back to the police since he arrived at the time the court has closed, he was taken to the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP) to the disbelief of the huge crowd of supporters that had gathered to witness the case.
Patricks was handcuffed when he was escorted to the office of Montserrado County Attorney heavily guarded by armed police officers, and did not enter the court.
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.”