34 Maryland Youths Freed on Bail in Rioting Case

PLEEBO, Maryland – The 34 youth who were arrested for rioting in late March that resulted in US$2.3 million property damage across Maryland have been released on bail.

They were being held at the Zwedru Correctional Palace in Grand Gedeh and were returned to their homes in Maryland. In Pleebo, a large crowd gathered to receive them.

The unrest began after the alleged ritualistic killing of a commercial motorcyclist on March 25. The five suspects of that killing have since been arrested. However, before the perpetrators’ arrest, protesters had marched across Maryland, calling for justice. They set up roadblocks and looted and vandalized properties, including the private home of House Speaker Bhofal Chambers. Protesters also stormed the Harper Central Prison and set the ground floor ablaze, destroying documents and equipment. Their actions also led to the escape of 91 inmates from the facility.

Among those arrested in connection to the rioting were the heads of the Maryland Youth Association: Thomas Kumah, Mohammed Senneh, and Fasu Konneh. The 34 persons were charged with arson and criminal conspiracy, among other charges.

Angry protesters vandalized the Harper Central Prison. Photo: Bryan Dioh Jr

Sources at the court who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak publicly told The Bush Chicken that the alleged rioters are expected to face trial during the August 2021 term of court, but it is not yet clear whether the hearing will occur in Maryland, where the crimes were committed, or Grand Gedeh.

Thomas Kumah, who was among those recently released, told reporters he was grateful to God that he and the others were released from prison to be reunited with their families.

“What I can say to you is that whenever the case is called [to court], we will all appeal and explain our side of the story,” he said. “But we were falsely accused and we will be free in the end.”

The violent protest was condemned by civil society organizations in the county and the Maryland County Legislative Caucus.

Voice of Pleebo’s David Kpanie contributed to this article. Featured photo by David Kpanie

George Momo

George K. Momo is also a correspondent of Liberia Broadcasting System and manager of Cape Rock Radio. He serves as acting president of the Maryland Press Association and the secretary-general of the South Eastern Journalist Association of Liberia. He is the Press Union of Liberia 2018 Human Rights Reporter award winner. George started his journalism career in Kakata at Atlantic Radio; he has over eight years working experience in community radio journalism. George is also a senior student of William V.S. Tubman University College of Education majoring in Early Childhood Education.

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