Swiss Rights Activist takes US$15M Damages case to Supreme Court
--- Werner is being sued for ‘criminally and maliciously aiding the prosecution team of the London Metropolitan Police to file alleged war crime charges against Taylor, an ex-wife of former Liberian President, Charles Taylor.
The possibility of bringing Alain Werner, a Swiss human rights advocate, to Liberia in order to testify in an ongoing US$15 million damages suit for malicious prosecution, seems elusive for now or may not happen any time soon.
This is because Werner’s lawyer, who was fighting legally not to have his trial be held in the country, is now seeking for a writ of certiorari from the Supreme Court.
The wirt, If granted, would impose a stay order on the Civil Law Court's verdict, which allowed the trial against Werner to begin in Liberia.
Judge Scheaplor R. Dunbar, who is the first respondent in the new case had earlier ruled denying Werner’s lawyer's motion to dismiss the case on grounds that the Liberian judiciary lacks jurisdiction.
Dunbar in his ruling said for the fact that Werner and his organization, Civitas Maxima, voluntarily submitted themselves to the authority of the court when they filed an answer to Agnes Reeves Taylor’s complaint.
“Having voluntarily submitted themselves to this court by appearing and filing an answer to the plaintiff’s complaint, they are legally stopped from arguing that this court lacks jurisdiction over their persons,” Dunbar said.
However, in the petition, Werner's lawyer is asking the Supreme Court to review and correct the “errors committed by Dunbar in his ruling.”
The lawyer also asked the Supreme Court to instruct Dunbar to refrain from further proceedings with the matter before him and to review and correct the reversible errors contained in the case.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Chamber Justice Yamie Quiqui Gbeisaye has scheduled a hearing into Werner’s lawyer petition for March 20.
Werner is being sued for ‘criminally and maliciously aiding the prosecution team of the London Metropolitan Police to file alleged war crime charges against Taylor, an ex-wife of former Liberian President, Charles Taylor.
Her prosecution in the UK stemmed from claims by Werner Civitas Maxima and Hassan Bility Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) that she committed alleged war crimes while a member of the rebel group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) — a claim that prompted the prosecution by the Metropolitan Police.
Taylor was arrested on June 2, 2017, in London by the Metropolitan Police and charged with torture on the grounds of her suspected involvement with the NFPL rebel group, which was led by her ex-husband during the First Liberian Civil War, from 1989 to 1996.
However, the case was dismissed by the London Central Criminal Court on grounds that the evidence presented by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) failed to prove that the NPFL had the requisite authority over the relevant territory at the time the crimes in question were committed.
And now she is suing Werner and his partner Liberian Hassan Bility, in a class action lawsuit — an action of damage for malicious prosecution and wrong — alleging negligent investigation and malicious prosecution, seeking US$5 million as punitive damages and US$10 million as general damages.
The suit claims that Werner and his collaborators' actions inflicted emotional distress and defamed her hard-earned character, leading to emotional distress.
Taylor is hoping to use the Liberian Court process to hold Bility, and Werner to account for their alleged false statement which led to her prosecution in the UK, though the case was later dismissed.
However, Werner's lawyer argued that Taylor’s claim should be against the UK’s Criminal enforcement authorities and not against him and his organization.
The Swiss national lawyer said his client was not the one that arrested and incarcerated Taylor, which the lower court is made to believe otherwise.
“The complaint is false and misleading and has absolutely no bearing on Werner and his organization, and as such, the lower court has no jurisdiction to determine the validity of the actions of a foreign government, in this case, the UK,” Werner's lawyer said.
The lawyer also argued Civitas Maxima did not initiate a criminal prosecution against Taylor; as such, it cannot be held in an action for malicious prosecution, nor can it be held for slander.
But Taylor had constantly argued that Werner and Bility “can in no way, form, or manner disclaim liability or shift liability to the Metropolitan Police War Crimes Unit or the UK Magisterial Court who were only privileged to have knowledge of and thereby reacted based on the foreign evidence.”