Lawyers and several journalists of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) as well as sympathizers were disappointed Tuesday after they spent at least an hour at the Temple of Justice to hear the case between Deputy Police boss AB Kromah and Journalist Octavin Williams of the Nation Times Newspaper.
Octavin was arrested last week and bundled up in jail for reportedly driving a vehicle with a foreign license plate. He was charged last Friday with multiple offenses including simple assault, disorderly conduct and driving an undocumented vehicle after he had spent two nights behind bars.
Charged Friday, Williams and his lawyers were expected in court Monday for pretrial hearing, but the hearing was pushed to Tuesday. Unfortunately, on Tuesday, July 08, 2014, the hearing failed, when the complainant, Kromah, was absent from court.
Many of the journalists who turned out at the court expressed disenchantment in the “failure” of the court to hear the case and especially scorned the absence of Kromah.
Kromah is reported to have been in Nimba County on “duty”, but one legal mind said he would have sent one of his deputies to Nimba since he has a case he had filed.
The PUL has since described Octavin’s arrest as an “act of harassment” and “intimidation.”
“This was shocking and makes one to believe that the state is not serious to press charges against the journalists who they kept in jail for 48 hours,” said journalist Jallah Grayfield, PUL Vice President.
“This is an intimidation and harassment in capital letter by the police,” he continued. “I am very appalled and flabbergasted that this government [which] professes to respect and protect press freedom will begin to arrest and detain journalists for free expression and malice.”
The next day of the case remains unknown, but some PUL members are suggesting that if nothing happens in 10 days, counting from last Friday (July 4), a lawsuit should be filed against the complainant instead.