Ritual Killers, Accomplices Get Death Penalty

Some members of House voting to amend the penal code of Liberia.

The House of Representatives has voted to amend a penal code of Liberia, to either checkmate, curtail or stop ritual killings (human sacrifices).

In a unanimous head-count vote, members of the House of Representatives approved an "Act to amend Chapter Fourteen (14) Sub-Chapter A of the Penal Code of Liberia to create Section 14.5. 'Act of Human Sacrifice.'

The House's action was due to a report and recommendation from the House's Judiciary Committee.

The newly created Section 14.5, Act of Human Sacrifice, has spelled out offenses of human sacrifice; financing of human sacrifice; attempt to commit human sacrifice; and the possession of human body parts and instrument of human sacrifice, and that a person who commits any of such offenses shall be liable, on conviction, to death or life imprisonment without parole.

The 'Act of Human Sacrifice' also provides means of admissibility of accomplice evidence, psychological support to victims of human sacrifice or attempted human sacrifice.

It also provides means for compensation, rehabilitation or restitution to be made by the court in certain cases, as well as the setting of regulation by the Minister responsible for justice for the purpose of giving effect for the provision of the act.

The 'Act' has been sent to the Senate for concurrence.

The amendment of  Chapter Fourteen (14) Subchapter A of the Penal Code of Liberia to create Section 14.5. to create  'Act of Human Sacrifice' was sponsored or the chief proponent was Maryland County District #1 Rep. P. Mike Jurry, Chairman of the House's Labor Committee.

Maryland County - Hot Spot

Among the 15 counties, Maryland County, from whence the sponsor or chief proponent of the 'Act of Human Sacrifice' hails, has been considered the hot spot for human sacrifice, dating as far back as the 1960s.

Sourced estimate that, between 1965 and 1977, over 100 murders occurred in Maryland County, many of which were considered ritualistic due to the mutilation and removal of body parts. During the 1970s, Liberians in Maryland County were constantly under the threat of ritual murders. Between November 1976 and July 1977, 14 people had disappeared in the county, prompting Liberian president William Tolbert to fire Superintendent of Maryland County, James Daniel Anderson, who failed to report the missing people. Tolbert publicly declared: "Anyone who kills deliberately: The law will kill that person".

These murders went unreported and uninvestigated until the murder of a local fisherman and popular singer, Moses Tweh. Tweh was abducted on June 26, 1977. His body was discovered on July 4, 1977, heavily mutilated with his eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and private parts removed. 

Prior to the discovery of Tweh's body, Wreh Taryonnoh, the girlfriend of Assistant Supervisor of Schools, Francis Nyepan, was allegedly heard by a group searching for Tweh saying that "if they would be so lucky to find him, only his bones they might see". This resulted in the arrest of 12 people who were subsequently hanged, the majority of whom were government officials.