Frontpage Managing Editor, Rodney Sieh has been released from his Central Prison detention temporarily on the request of his legal counsels who took advantage of the Criminal Procedure Law 34.20.1.
34.20 titled Leave from Prison Section 1 under Compassionate Leave states that the Attorney General shall formulate rules or regulations governing compassionate leave from institutions and in accordance with such rules and regulations, may grant any prisoner to leave his institution for short periods of time, either by himself or in the custody of an officer, to visit a close relative who is seriously ill, to attend the funeral of a close relative, to return to his home during what appears to be his own illness or to return to his home for compelling reasons which strongly appeal to compassion.
However, during such leave, the law states that “they shall also provide for the manner in which the expense connected with such leave shall be borne, and may allow the prisoner or anyone in his behalf, to reimburse the State for such expense.
According to the Public Affairs Department at the Ministry of Justice, Rodney represented by Cllrs. Beyan D. Howard and Fonati Koffa wrote a letter of request to the Minister of Justice Christiana Tah on the release of their client thereby evoking the law controlling.
The counselors among other things informed the AG that besides the statute, reasons for which their request should be granted were that Mr. Sieh has not been convicted of criminal offence or is he a danger to the public; that he apologized to the court for disrespect he showed in his attitude, writings and utterances; that he has no dealings and has not written for frontpageafricaonline.com website; that his continuous confinement may likely lead to a lapse of debilitating mental illness.
They assured Minister Tah that both parties are currently working to resolve the underlying action and that the request if honored under the terms and conditions befitting the law will allowed Mr. Sieh serve his time under home confinement.
Upon receipt of the communication dated September 27, 2013, the Attorney General granted the request and instructed the Acting Superintendent of the Prison, Major Eric David that Mr. Sieh is not allowed out of the bailiwick of Liberia without the permission of the Assistant Minister for the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, Mr. Sieh has been languishing behind bars for the past 47 days though he had been taken back and forth from the hospital where he had been undergoing medical care from time to time. The publisher was jailed for his failure to exhaust the appeal process entered by his legal counsels on his behalf at the Supreme Court.
Already, Mr. Sieh was taken at the court by former Agriculture Minister Chris Toe on a libel suit for some US1.5 million damages to his person and despite blind loyalty played by some members of the media both internationally and nationally thereby creating a political scene, a former Solicitor General Tiawon Gongloe told the media sometime ago that Mr. Sieh did not follow the law.
He said Mr. Sieh’s case was an opportunity for the Judiciary to repeal some of the undemocratic media laws currently on its books but by forfeiting his appeal, he lost the opportunity and that even the ECOWAS Court cannot hear his case therefore he has to wait for another opportunity of such nature.
He is expected to return to prison on November 9, 2013 if negotiations are not consummated with Mr. Toe’s terms and conditions.