MONROVIA, Montserrado – Four persons have been incarcerated at the Monrovia Central Prison for their involvement in last Thursday’s protest at Catholic Junction in Congo Town.
A group of protesters had gathered to demand the release of Jestina Taylor, a patient who was receiving medical treatment at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital. The protestors believed that the police was preventing Taylor, who had already been already discharged by the hospital’s administration, from attending a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy.
Taylor, who is a former women’s wing leader of President George Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change, was taken to the hospital after being allegedly abducted by unknown individuals who she said beat, drugged, and gang-raped her and later dumped her in an unfinished building near the ocean. She had appeared in a live video making strong allegations against the ruling party, as well as some officials of the government, including Monrovia’s Mayor Jefferson Koijee.
According to her, Koijee and other officials had trained armed men in a neighboring country and were involved with carrying out extrajudicial killings.
The government said the protesters’ actions were criminal as it violated the rights of other citizens to move freely.
The Liberia National Police charged the defendants with multiple crimes, including rioting, obstructing highway and other public passages, aggravated assault, disorderly conduct, and criminal mischief.
The defendants are 40-year-old Mustapha Kromah, 38-year-old Richard Paye, 20-year-old Jerry Paye, and the 18-year-old Emmanuel Doeyoue.
According to the police charge sheet, Mustapha Kromah is a taxi driver and was seen on Thursday in the midst of a group of protesters who had gone to forcibly remove Taylor from the hospital, where police had been providing security for her for more than three months.
While he was in conversation with police officers, the charge sheet said the other defendants disembarked from a bus and tried to force their way into the hospital, where Taylor had been seeking treatment.
The police said when they denied entry to Kromah, an angry crowd decided to jump over the fence and make their way into the hospital.
Police also said the crowd also blocked the intersection of Tubman Boulevard and VP Road, near Catholic Hospital, preventing the flow of traffic. Additionally, it said the protesters’ actions led to four police officers sustaining major injuries from stone-throwing. Those officers are currently undergoing treatment at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, the police said.
The defendants were represented at the court by their legal counsel, Findley Karngar, who made attempts to secure their release but did not complete the process of filing their criminal appearance bonds.
The men are currently being held at the Monrovia Central Prison.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah