THE RELEASE OF FOUR GRAND GEDEANS, THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO CLAIM CREDIT BUT RATHER THE TIME FOR SOBER REFLECTION
Upon hearing of the decision of the Supreme Court of the Republic /of Liberia to release four of our imprisoned brothers but continue to insist that the remaining nine are guilty and will remain in prison for the rest of their lives, I decided to speak to you from my heart.
At the onset of this entire mercenary trial that has taunted Grand Gedeans and other well-meaning Liberians for years, twenty one Grand Gedeans were arrested and charged with mercenarism, on the account that they were complicit in the war in neighboring Ivory Coast.
Few months into the saga, before the case could even go to trail, two of the twenty one were released on the ground that they were Ivoirians and could therefore not be tried by a Liberian Court.
In May 2013, the Grand Gedeh Association in the Americas Inc. (GGAA) received a communication from Rev. Emmanuel Zabay, the head of a newly constituted Committee by Grand Gedeans in Liberia to spearhead the legal fight for our brothers in detention.
In that communication, Rev. Zabay introduced himself and members of his Committee to the GGAA leadership and outlined their mandate and asked for the help of Grand Gedeans in the diaspora in fighting the legal battle of our detained brothers.
Upon the receipt of this communication, then GGAA national president, Tillman N. Collins, dispatched me, then Secretary General, to Liberia with the following mandate:
1. Meet with Rev. Zabay and members of his Committee
2. Meet with the defense council that included Tarwion Gonglo, Dexter Browne and others
3. Meet with the detainees and their family
4. From these meetings, report back to us on what role we can in relieving the plight of our brothers.
Based on my assessment and recommendation when I was in Liberia, the national administration of GGAA sent $5,000.00 to the Zabay Committee in June of 2013. I was with them at the bank when they received that money.
During my visit to Liberia, I went to the Criminal Court D where the trial was being held on several occasions. I also visited the detainees in prisons and had discussions with their families. I even sat with them in court and with the permission of the judge took several pictures that were well circulated on social media.
At the end of that trial, the Judge released six of the nineteen accused on the ground that there was no sufficient evidence against them to prove their involvement in the crime with which they were being charged.
The Collins-Poah administration did not go celebrating nor take credit for the release of the six on the ground that their release has nothing to do with the effort that we were making but on legal grounds. The judge said there was no evidence against them not because GGAA negotiated with the court or play any other role.
Secondly, there were still thirteen Grend Gedens in prison kept from their wives, children, mothers, fathers, friends and loved one. So to go ahead and claim credit and celebrate would have been insensitive on our part.
Today, we have received news again that four of the remaining thirteen prisoners have been released on the same bases of no sufficient evidence against them to warrant their continuous detention.
Surprisingly however, the current national administration of GGAA is taking credit for the release of these four individuals and touting their own horns all over social media. The question however is, what has the administration done for which they are claiming credit for the release of the four? These people were released on purely legal grounds. The Supreme Court said there was no evidence against them. So if there is anyone who should take credit here it should be the lawyers since this is a legal victory.
What I want us as a people to do as this time is to start carefully reflecting on the facts surrounding this entire case. Twenty one persons were arrested from the onset and charged with the same offense. Twelve of the twenty one have been released piece by piece by various courts on the ground that there is no evidence to prove their guilt. What is this telling us about this case?
If the GGAA leadership wants to take credit for anything, this is the time for them to get to work to see if they can secure the release of the remaining nine Grand Gedeans in jail. Let us not rejoice for the release of four when nine of our kinsfolks are languishing in prison for something we all know they did not do.
This is not time for celebration but rather a time for sober reflection as a people. People of Grand Gedeh County, what do we do next?
Former National Secretary General
Grand Gedeh Association in the Americas Inc