It seems that the defendants charged for multiple offences might be locked up for a protracted period as State lawyers have notified the court of producing several rebuttal witnesses just after cross examining four of the defense witnesses. Defense witness Ofori Diah who testified that he was taken to prison under the government’s sympathy of securing him protection since he reported that unknown individuals had burned down his home, told the court that he was falsely accused and wrote no statement on his alleged involvement in the Ivorian crisis.
Defendant Diah admitted that as far as he was concerned he was accused by the Minister of Information and Tourism (not named) on June 14, 2012 when he heard on a local radio station that he (Ofori) was involved in the murder of some United Nations peacekeepers whereas he was in Monrovia at the time.
He told the court that immediately upon hearing the news, he reported himself to the Liberia National Police and demanded that the Minister of Information retracts his statement, and that he with the police and then Minister Piah went to see the minister at which time the police gave him clearance informing the public that he was a free man and was not involved in any such act.
Defendant Diah said four days later while on some errands, he received a call from his wife informing him that their house had been gutted by fire and that everything was left in the fire. He said she even told him that their daughter said she was quizzed by some men wearing masks about the location of her father’s document and when she ran away from them to her mother who was resting at the other side of the house, it was noticed that the house was on fire.
He stated further that his wife could not tell him about the whereabouts of his children because she was in tears so he requested to speak to the child who informed him that they were all fine and that it was only the house that caught fire and all their belongings were burned.
“When I got home, I decided to call my Senators and Representatives first but then I called the aid-de-Camp to the President, Jeremiah and informed him about what had happened. Then I called Minister Piah and 104, Darlington, Fumba Sirleaf and informed all of them,” he explained.
He said at about 7-8:00 p.m., a vehicle with armed police officers entered his yard and said they had been instructed to protect him that night but insisted to serve guard inside the house since it was not totally destroyed.
“I insisted guard is served outside and that if they had come to protect me and my family they should not be sleeping inside the house well armed with my children. We entered into argument and I finally decided to sleep somewhere else so that they remain and take care of the house because I cannot allow them to enter the house but they refused,” he said.
The witness further explained that the officers called and informed whoever sent them and agreed to leave and return the next day at 7 a.m. At the time they decided, some CID officers arrived and when they entered the house they said, “Look, here is a bomb, it would have killed you and your family and I said now that you have seen it what next?”
“I was taken to zone 8 and later on to the Central Police Headquarters where I was kept from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. when I saw someone who I knew and they tried to inquire. As soon as I said I did not know why they had chosen to keep me all that time when I was having problem about my house, the next thing I knew was I was told to take off my shoes and belt and later taken to prison,” witness Diah told the court.
He said he was taken to an office and questioned if he knew any Bobby and he answered that he knew only his mother and wife who were in Ivory Coast. Again he answered that since 1974; he had not seen Ivory Coast until the war ended.
“After that Abraham Kromah asked me where I intended to live because my house was unsafe for me to live there. Bobby was brought infront of me burned and his body was melting. Bobby could not speak anything sound even when he was asked. While we were there Isaac Quiah tore the statement I was told to write because he got vex,” he said.
“That is the jail I am in today. My house got burned and that is what led me to jail even though I was told while in prison that Bobby informed them that I was involved in the Ivorian war,” he told the court.
While being cross examined by the prosecution, defendant Diah told the court that he was the Chief of Staff of the defunct rebel movement, LURD adding, “I am no small man. I made no statement about Ivory Coast war. All I ever wrote was on the burning of my house and that is what I can answer to”.
The state lawyer who focused most of the questions on the statement released by the police as one written by defendant Diah, said, “I told you that the man tore the paper so that is not my signature on the paper presented to me as my statement. I went to jail for protection not for the Ivory Coast trouble.” The trial continues today at Criminal Court “D” presided over by Judge Yussif Kaba; C. Winnie Saywah writes.