Journalist Case Shelved Again

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.

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Author: D K Sengbeh

Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh (author of Sengbeh's Weblog) is a respected and renowned Liberian journalist, poet and writer with with journalism experience since 2001, of working both as a mainstream journalist and a communication/media consultant in Liberia. He is Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (elected Dec 2013). He was Assistant Secretary General of the Union Dec 2011 to Dec 2013. He is also Editor-In-Chief of The Informer Newspaper—one of Liberia’s credible dailies. Before joining the Informer, Danicius had served as reporter, chief reporter, sub-editor and News Editor at The Independent Newspaper between 2002 and 2006. Before then, he was reporter at the defunct Patriot Newspaper and Kiss FM 2001-2002. Danicius is a UN Media Fellow and Liberia’s first UN Medal Award-winning journalist for his contribution to journalism and for being the second Liberian journalist in 15 years to qualify for and successfully attended the United Nations’ Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalist Fellowship Program in New York and Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Sociology from the University of Liberia and a Diploma in Journalism from the International School of Journalism. He holds several awards and recognitions both in and outside of journalism, and carries dozens of certificates in journalism and communication from studies in Ghana, China, United States and Switzerland, among others. He volunteers as Chair of the Information and Communication Committee of his local Bardnersville community. He can be quickly reached via (+231) 886586531/777586531/777464018/ dakasen1978@yahoo.com

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