The Liberia National Police (LNP), acting on behalf of the Government of Liberia, arrested journalist Darlington C. Pelenah on July 29, 2012 and charged him, along with Benjamin Bokie Gbar and William Randolph, with the crimes of criminal conspiracy and armed robbery.
The three were charged based on a complaint by an alleged victim Weeks Thomas that he and two others were held at gun point by the defendants and robbed of US$17,000.00. Weeks Thomas reported that one of his boys, Edwin Thomas was shot in the head by journalist Pelenah on the night of the alleged armed robbery.
Journalist Pelenah and the others were subsequently indicted by a grand jury on 12 counts and have been in detention at the Monrovia Central Prison since their arrest in July 2012.
Since the arrest and detention of journalist Pelenah and co-defendants, their trial has been suspended and postponed several times on flimsy excuses. Many people, including media practitioners, the defendants, and family members believe the repeated suspension and postponement of the trial is a deliberate violation of the right of the defendants to a fair and speedy trial in keeping with due process of law.
The action by the state puts the lives of journalist Pelenah and co-defendants at risk, as armed robbery is a capital office punishable by life imprisonment or death based on its degree.
Journalist Pelenah, Benjamin Bokie Gbar, and William Randolph are now in prolonged detention, crying out for freedom and justice.
Every single document and statement that the police and prosecution have issued so far in relation to the case lacks consistency, relevance and reliability. None of the defendants was arrested on the alleged crime scene. There are no forensic reports or on-the-scene photographs linking the defendants to the commission of the crimes for which they’ve been charged.
Accounts by the alleged victims, which formed the basis for the charges brought against journalist Pelenah and co-defendants, have also been grossly inconsistent.
Since journalist Pelenah’s arrest in July, 2012, the Government of Liberia has had many opportunities to prove its case beyond every reasonable doubt but have failed miserably. The government has employed every known legal trick to delay his trial, ranging from unexplainable postponement and suspension to disbandment of trial jury. By so doing, the Government of Liberia continues to deny him the right to a fair and speedy trial in keeping with due process of law.
Journalist Pelenah and co-defendants have all denied the charges and pleaded not guilty to the alleged crime. And, from all indications, the Government of Liberia does not have a case against and will go to great length to apply every known legal trick to delay their trial and keep them in detention for the rest of their lives.
As the government continues to fail to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt, we request the unconditional release of journalist Pelenah and co-defendants.
We, the undersigned citizens of Liberia and other nations of the world, friends, well-wishers, and advocates for global justice and freedom, draw your attention to the prolonged detention of journalist Darlington Pelenah without conclusive trial.
Ever since his illegal arrest and detention in July last year, journalist Pelenah has categorically denied the charges brought against him by the Liberian National Police, as he still does, and has termed the charges as lacking merit and politically motivated due to his work as a journalist.
Credible defense witnesses have even established, defended and confirmed journalist Pelenah's alibi, with at least two defense witnesses, testifying under oath in court that they had in fact interacted with the journalist at home on the exact date and time of the alleged incident.
For two terms of court now, state prosecutors have failed to prove the case against journalist Pelenah and co-defendants beyond all reasonable doubt. The trial has been suspended and postponed several times under questionable circumstances. This we believe is a deliberate violation of the right of the defendants to a fair and speedy trial in keeping with due process of law.
Therefore, your petitioners request the unconditional release of journalist Pelenah and co-defendants.
The Free Detained Liberian Journalist Darlington Pelenah petition to Preident Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was written by Kerian N. Pelenah and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.