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Jailed for Journalism in Liberia!
The guilty verdict and the subsequent detention of Frontpageafica’s Managing Editor (Rodney Sieh) have painfully revealed the weakness and corruption of our judiciary! (Re “Jailed for Journalism”, NY Times)..
In 2011 (February), a court convicted Rodney Sieh, Samwar Fallah and Frontpageafrica of criminal libel and ordered them to pay US$1.5 million in damages, plus US$90,000 in court costs—but 2 jurors admitted taking bribes to rule in favor of the plaintiff (Dr. J. Chris Toe)!! Jury tampering is NOT a crime in Liberia!!!
If you don’t believe what I just said, and then let’s look at some of the inconvenient truths of our jury system (judiciary), shall we??
1) Convicted felons are allowed to serve on juries in Liberian courts! That’s why a “jury of their peers” found Rep. Snowe, Senator Divine and Chairman Gyude Bryant NOT guilty of stealing from the Liberian people!” Bryant is writing a book: “How I Stole Millions and Didn’t Get Caught”! (Re “Charles Gyude Bryant Indicted for Economic Sabotage” Daily Observer, Mar 17, 2007)
2) Investigative journalism has been our BEST weapon in fighting corruption….But when you see Frontpageafica’s Managing editor, Rodney Sieh, who is known for exposing old rogues (Knucklesgate, Medinagate, Matildagate, etc) in our government, being found guilty of libel by our jury system, you have to wonder: “How the hell did that happen in court”
Memo to future jurors: If you allow crooks to use our courts (libel lawsuits) to intimidate and silence journalists, not only the journalist loses, but our whole country loses! Who do you think is going to exposed these crooks in our country??…..MICAT??? Please.. (Re “Jailed for Journalism”, New York Times, August 2013)
3) If a jury awards the plaintiff a huge cash settlement, each member of the jury, including the judge is entitled to “cold water”! That’s why the jury awarded Former Agriculture Minister, Chris Toe, US$1.5 million, plus US$90,000 in court costs, in a criminal defamation (libel) lawsuit against Rodney Sieh..! Because Judge J. Boima Kontoe needed money to pay back child support!!! (Re “Former Syracuse Journalist Jailed in Liberia after Losing Libel Suit” The Post-Standard, Central New York)
4) We all know that 90 percent of public officials have corruption in their DNA! No, wait, I take that back!.. 99.999999999999 percent of our public officials are born rogues, including Rep. Forh, Grace Kpaah and LTA commissioners! (Re “LTA Refutes GAC Report for the 10,000th Time”, New Dawn Liberia, August 2013)…..
But what’s even more troubling is, that we have a judiciary that has yet to convict any of these crooks of stealing except for Albert Bropleh, the Former Chairman of the Liberian Telecommunication Authority!.. The reason Bropleh was found guilty is because Judge J. Boima Kontoe told Bropleh to “fart, let me smell it”! But Bropleh’s fart wasn’t “stink” enough for Judge Boima! so Bropleh ended up behind bars! (Re “Bropleh Guilty, Goes to Jail Tuesday!”, MICAT, August 2012)
5) According to the U.S. State Department 2010 Human Rights Report on Liberia, “corruption is widespread and systematic in government” and that the Liberian judiciary was the weak link in the corruption food fight! (Re”2010 Human Rights Report: Liberia”, www.state.gov and Madame Sirleaf)
6) Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Index ranks Liberia’s judiciary as the third most corrupt Liberian government institution, behind the Liberian lawmakers and the Liberian Mosquito Police! (Re “Transparency International”)
7) Former Chief Justice, Johnnie Lewis told a Lebanese National (Nicholas M. Fayad) to bring “cold water” (a case of Johnny Walker Whiskey) to his house, but the Lebanese National commonly known as “cousin”, brought the “cold water” to his office (Temple of Justice). That made Justice Lewis mad, so he ordered the arrest of the Lebanese man and his driver for attempted bribery! By the way, Johnnie stayed drunk while he was adjudicating cases from the Bench! (Re “Chief Justice Arrest Lebanese for Whiskey, Other Gifts”, Daily Observer, September 17, 2008)
As you can see, our judiciary is corrupt from head to toe! But you also have to remember this: There are 2 sets of justice systems in Liberia–one for the criminal class (government officials) and the other for ordinary Liberian like you, me and Rodney!. That’s why Rodney Sieh, a journalist, is still in jail and Edward Forh, a notorious rogue, is still in the House of Representatives!
Photo credit: Editor Rodney Sieh, FrontPage Africa