Gov’t Blunders Again - Court Releases Melvin Page
The Liberian Government has suffered a complete “slap-in-the face” in a Criminal Court “C” ruling, setting free human rights activist J. Melvin Page and legal counsel Attorney Jallah from further custody.
Both individuals were illegally arrested and detained on October 15, 2012 by the dissolved National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Page and Attorney Jallah were held based upon a complaint filed before NBI boss Al Karley on October 2, 2012 by an American M.P. Dhaliwal.
Dhaliwal accused Page of extortion, terroristic threats, and criminal cohesion, while being in possession of documents about his (M.P. Dhaliwal’s) daughter Marpu Dhaliwal.
Further to the claims made against the defendants, complainant Dhaliwali told the NBI that on October 24, 2012, Page’s lawyer Attorney Jallah intimidated him via mobile phone text message to make available US$25,000.00 before the expiry of seventy-two hours.
On October 26, 2012, Page and Attorney Jallah however proceeded to the Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus against the state on grounds that their arrest and detention were illegal.
In their argument Tuesday, Counselors Vamah Blamah and T. Dempster Brown, representing activist Page and Attorney Jallah contended that the Justice Ministry is aware that the NBI was dissolved in 2011, thus, it had no power to effect arrest, but rather the police.
In their resistance however, the state failed to defend the action of the dissolved entity, only identifying it as “an extension of the Justice Ministry.”
Montserrado County Attorney Darku Mulbah argued that the defendants’ petition was untimely on grounds that prosecution did not complete 24 hours of the statutory period of 48 hours required for investigators to charge and forward an individual to court. But Judge Peter W. Gbenewleh ruled that the NBI had no legal authority to arrest, and therefore granted the habeas corpus filed by Page and Attorney Jallah.
The judge however deemed as important and “in the best interest of the Republic of Liberia”, concerns brought against Marpu Dhaliwali activist Page and mandated the Justice Ministry to conduct an inquiry and proceed to court where there is probable cause.
At the same time, Judge Gbenewleh said the claims against Page for criminal cohesion, extortion, among others should be investigated by the Justice Ministry.
The judge among other things recalled that the Act of Legislature creating the NBI in 1998 was repealed by the very Legislature in 2011; therefore, the entity does not exist under the laws of Liberia.