By: Lisa Tenneh Diasay
Capitol Hill, Monrovia-June 21, 2023: The First Judicial Circuit, Criminal Court C in Montserrado County on June 21, 2023 ruled in favor of Former Chief Justice Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott Petition for Habeas Corpus amid a controversial murder and criminal conspiracy charge.
The ruling came as a result of a petitioner petition filed by Lawyers representing Cllr. Scott and family. Following the arrest, detention and incarceration of their clients, the Counsels prayed the court, citing Article 21F of the Liberian Constitution on a writ of Habeas Corpus.
On June 20, 2023, Cllr. Scott along with three members of her family were arrested and subsequently charged with murder, criminal conspiracy and providing false information to police investigators linked to the murder of Charloe Musu, daughter of Cllr. Scott.
On June 21, 2023, Judge Blamo Dixon in his ruling noted that the court is inclined to grant petitioners petition for the writ of Habeas corpus
due to the fact that the Petitioners have been in ‘constructive detention’ or wrongful detention and protective custody from February 22, 2033 up to and including June 20 2023.
“Our law provides that the Liberty and rights of a citizen of Republic of Liberia is restrained the appropriate reliance at law is Habeas corpus. The Constitution did not say after 48hrs but within the period. In that light, the Petitioners Petition writ for Habeas corpus is not premature but within the confines of the constitution and statutory laws of Liberia”, Judge Dixon ruling emphasized.
The Court in its ruling further set free the petitioners (Cllr. Scott and the three others) from all and any holding cell until a writ of arrest and or indictment is drawn against them through a competent court of jurisdiction.
“The Petitioners are hereby released from the holding cell of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and entrusted to the custody of their legal counsel headed by Cllr. Augustine Fayiah and other counselors of records. The Petitioners shall not go back to the headquarters of LNP from the court house of the first judicial circuit criminal Court ‘C’ Republic of Liberia. The presence of the heavy armed police officers assigned to the residence of the petitioners are hereby ordered reduced or withdrawn. The resistance of the prosecution is hereby denied and order the petitioners placed in an office until a writ of arrest from a court of competent jurisdiction is issued”, the ruling noted.
Earlier, prosecution represented by Cllr. Lafiayette Gould argued that the Petitioners Petition was on the basis on sentiments and that as to Article 21F, the Petition was a premature due to the fact that 48hrs had not ended.
“Your Honor, this petition is premature. All the arguments of the petitioners are based on sentiments that the petitioners are placed in a male cell. The prosecution has not violated any rights and that they (Petitioners) should wait till the number of days are exhausted according to Article 21F. The issue of investigation is a process and not an event.
All the times they (Petitioners) have been appearing at the LNP, they were appearing as persons of interest but they appeared as suspects on June 20, 2023. We most respectfully pray Your Honor and this court that
this writ should be ignore, deny , set aside and dismiss said petitioners petition in it’s entirety and grant unto prosecution all singular the rights”, Prosecution Counsels noted in their argument.
In response, Petitioners’ Counsels represented by Cllr. Augustine Fayiah indicated that their clients be set free of detention and granted their full human rights as enshrined in the constitution. He noted that Co- petitioners rights were violated by being placed in a male cell and all belongings taking away.
Petitioners counsels argued that State has humiliated, tortured, and provided no access to due process for co petitioner Cllr. Scott.
“Lawyers can not based their claims on speculation instead with facts. The continuous violation of Petitioners rights through constructive Detention is not investigation and it amounts to miscarriage of Justice. Co Petitioner Cllr. Gloria Scott served this country as Chief Justice and so she should be granted personal reconnaissance. We pray this Court to act promptly to grant the rights to petitioners. The petitioners pray the immediate release of petitioners ; that the heavy police presence around her be determined by her; given to her that is legal under the law”, Petitioners Counsels noted.
Following the ruling, Cllr. Scott and three others were driven away from the court yard in black Jeep.
Prior to the hearing of the writ in the Criminal Court C, over 40 heavily armed riot police officers sandwiched Cllr. Scott and the three family members presumably charged with Murder and criminal conspiracy.
They were escorted from the LNP headquarters to the courtyard. Following Judge Dixon’s ruling, the heavily armed officers vacated the curt yard on to the Police headquarters.
Sympathizers on the grounds of the court noted that the presence of heavily armed officers was a representation of intimidation by the state over the matter at hand. They told WOMEN’s TV-Liberia that Cllr. Scott and the three others are innocent and government may not be able to prove the case otherwise.
There are Speculations that the government of Liberia is preparing an official indictment and writ of arrest from the city court to be issued in due course against Cllr. Gloria Scott and others.
Meanwhile, the government of Liberia is yet to release the body of victim to family for burial.
On February 22, 2023, Charloe Musu was gruesomely murdered at the home of Cllr. Scott in Brewerville, outside Monrovia. Police have since been investigating the matter.