For Three Consecutive Years, Prosecution Wins More Cases Than Loses Under President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
By Tiawan S. Gongloe
Solicitor General, R.L.
Out of the cases won by government 31 were murder cases, 41 rape cases, 9 armed robbery cases and 27 aggravated assault cases, with the rest being other criminal cases. One of the murder cases won by government was the one in which a Ghanaian Bishop was Killed in Logan Town. There was also the River Gee murder case in which 14 young men killed 6 elderly persons by sassywood. In the case of rape, the case of the four little girls that were raped by three members of the Never Die Church was one of the cases won by the government. Another high profile case that the government won is the case of the half a billion dollars worth of cocaine that was seized by government. For theft of property, the famous, among the cases won were the theft cases involving Rechelieu David of LBDI who, through electronic fraud stole over United States two hundred thousand dollars from Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) and that of Chris Eugene Taylor and others who, also by electronic fraud, stole over one hundred thousand United States Dollars from the Central Bank of Liberia. There was another theft case won by government, involving one Ernest Cholopray and others, employees of ECOBANK, who were accused of using their positions to steal over three hundred thousand United States dollars from ECOBANK. It should be noted that this is the first time in the history of Liberia that prosecution has won this number of cases in three years. Prosecution challenges anyone to show that there has been a better record than this one on prosecution in the history of Liberia.
These prosecution results show that government is succeeding in combating impunity through justice and that the obligation of the government to provide personal protection for its citizens is being met, irrespective of existing challenges. Liberians should be proud that their government is protecting them by the rule of law.
In spite of these positive developments in prosecution, the acquittal of Orishall Gould, the former Managing Director of National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) and others indicted for Economic Sabotage, and the acquittal of Charles Gyude Bryant, former Transitional Head of State of Liberia, Edwin Melvin Snowe,
Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC) along with Senator Richard Devine, his former deputy and others for also indicted Economic Sabotage, as well as the acquittal of Senator Roland Kaine who was charged with murder along with fifteen (15) others, have made some Liberians to disregard the gains made by the prosecution, in strengthening the rule of law in Liberia. There is developing, unfortunately, an erroneous perception in Liberia that when a high profile person in Liberia is charged, he must be convicted. And when this does not happen then the prosecution is weak. If this perception were to be true, then the Americans would have concluded that the prosecution in the United States is weak because it lost the murder case: United States v. O.J. Simpson and the child molestation case: United States v. Michael Jackson. Also, if such perception were to be true, then the government of South Africa would have dismissed its prosecutors because the state’s case against its former Vice President Jacob Zuma was dismissed and that dismissal caused a sitting president, Thabo Mbeki to resign his post as President of South Africa. There are many examples, where highly placed persons charged with crimes have been acquitted. This has nothing to do with the weakness of the prosecutors in those countries. Right here in Liberia, Mr. Hillary Dennis, then, president of the National Housing and Savings Bank was acquitted by the First Judicial Circuit, Montserrado County in 1983, having being indicted for misapplication of entrusted property involving millions of United States dollars. The military government of Samuel K. Doe and the people of Liberia accepted the outcome of that case and moved on.
Let it be noted that in the Economic Sabotage cases that the government has lost, it was assisted by very highly qualified lawyers. In the case of Orishall Gould, NASSCORP retained the services of Counselors Beyan Howard, Charles Abdullai and Cyril Jones and in the case of Bryant, Snowe and others government retained the services of Cllrs. J. Emmanuel Berry, M. Wilkins Wright and Emmanuel James to assist the prosecution. Therefore, the issue of weakness of the prosecution has no factual basis when one considers the number of cases that have been won by the prosecution and the caliber of retained lawyers who participated in those cases that the government lost. Winning and losing cases are central to the judicial process. Prosecution has dealt with four anti-corruption cases. It has won one and lost three. In a society in which corruption is almost an acceptable cultural norm, these results should not surprise anyone.
Prosecution calls on Liberians to understand that the important development that is taking place, in the area of prosecution, under this government, is that anyone who commits crime is subjected to the judicial process, irrespective of the person political position or financial status. Prosecution remains committed to the Article 11(c) of the Constitution of Liberia which provides, “All persons are equal before the law and are, therefore, entitled to equal protection of law.” Those who have closely followed the activities of the prosecution under the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Government will testify to the fact that all persons accused of crime are treated the same way. For example, in the case of Senator Roland Kaine, he was handcuffed, placed in the same jail under the same condition like all those were accused along with him. Prosecution recognizes no big person or small person when it comes to the application of Liberian Law. The Goddess of Justice is blind and holds a spring balance that has equal weight on both sides. Prosecution will not be influenced by public sentiment or any other consideration, but the evidence in each case. .Also, it should be noted that the fact that the cases that government seems to be most concerned about are lost by government is an indication that the Liberian judiciary is now truly independent of the Executive Branch. This is a positive development for Liberia because it is the independence of the judiciary that will sustain peace in Liberia and make Liberia more attractive to investors.
Finally, let it be known to all Liberians that the role of the prosecution is not merely to get conviction but to see that justice is done in every case. Prosecution, therefore, calls on all Liberians to support the work of the prosecutors throughout Liberia, who, sometime under very difficult conditions, are prosecuting those who commit violent crimes such as murder, rape, armed robbery, aggravated assault so that Liberians can live in Peace.
Tiawan S. Gongloe
SOLICITOR GENERAL, R.L.